Monday, June 3, 2013

The continued casual use of the C-word just baffles me…

General Vocabulary Lesson:
POSITIVE:
"So-and-so’s brother."
(We are people, first and foremost. Treat us as such. Extra attention paid to what we use to get around is unnecessary.)

[Image is: a blackboard with WORDS HAVE POWER written in chalk]

ACCEPTABLE:
"So-and-so’s brother, who uses a wheelchair, crutches, etc."
(If you feel you MUST draw attention to it, always put the person first. We use a wheelchair. We are not “wheelchair-bound.” The same goes if you are speaking of a person with Down Syndrome, or autism, or anything else.)

NEGATIVE/UNACCEPTABLE:
"So-and-so’s crippled brother."
(Defining people with disabilities by offensive and outdated language is just plain rude. Why? Because of the undue emphasis put on what we cannot do. Cripple, for example, is synonymous with “impaired”, “flawed” and also refers to “a wounded animal shot by a hunter.” Imagine if someone introduced you this way to strangers, and before they got the chance to know you, they already made a snap judgment about you based on that one word. You are broken, less than, wounded, better off out of sight. That is what I hear, as a person with a disability when I see an offhand reference to “so-and-so’s crippled brother.”)
OTHER WORDS THAT FALL INTO THIS CATEGORY:
handicapped (synonymous with crippled, limited, restricted and restrained.) Any and all variations of this word including, but not limited to: handicapable, handi-centric, etc.

2 comments:

  1. Love this post!! I know you saw (and commented on! thank you!) my post about the word "cripple" as well, so I'm right there with you! I know it used to be acceptable a long, long time ago, but I was shocked to see that when I went to go see my ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON a couple months ago, he has an award/certificate thing hanging in his office that says something about his work with a "Society for Crippled Children" or something like that. It wasn't even that old either - maybe from the late 80s?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh, yes that word just makes me feel so gross. And yes, people use it all the time, who shouldn't. It bothers me when people use it in a professional context (like surgeons or pastors or professors) or really anyone other than those of us who choose to reclaim it for ourselves... I opened up the commenting option so I guess I need to start checking it more frequently now :)

      Delete