Ableist language and political correctness.


I like to think that with every day that passes I am learning more, growing as a person, and living the most fulfilled life I can possibly live.  There’s so much in this world that I have yet to discover and learn.  I wish to grow as a person, and be the best I can possibly be.

I wanted to briefly discuss a matter that I am becoming more and more aware and sensitive to as each day passes – ableist language.  Ableist language is a language used to demean beings with individuals with disabilities.  Thomas Hehir popularized the term, and defined it as “the devaluation of disability” that “results in societal attitudes that uncritically assert that it is better for a child to walk than roll, speak than sign, read print than read Braille, spell independently than use a spell-check, and hang out with nondisabled kids as opposed to other disabled kids.”  I’m not even talking about blatant use of deliberately making fun of someone with disabilities.  We all know that wrong.  I’m talking about demeaning language, typically slang terms (such as “retarded,” “insane,” “lame,” etc).

This goes along with sexist, racist and homophobic language, as well as political correctness.  I feel like we should all be a bit sensitive when it comes to others.  Ableist language, as well as the above mentioned, takes being’s identities and turns them into insults.

Using words such as “retarded,” or “gay” to describe something that’s unfavorable can be offensive to individuals.  I’ve been becoming more and more aware of my (and other’s) slang language use lately, and am completely blown away by how often offensive and derogatory language is thrown about so freely.  If someone is complaining, we often say they are being “bitchy.”  If something irritating happens, we often refer to it as “lame.”  Sexist language is also thrown into this mix, when we tell people they “hit like a girl” or “whine like a bitch.”  This insinuates that women are inferior to men, and portrays men as aggressive.  I call shenanigans!

I think it’s important to be aware of our language because there are so many people in this world from different backgrounds and demographics, who live different lifestyles and have different preferences.  Even at The Radical Uprise, I try to take the next step and write gender-neutrally.

So, here’s the deal – I want to be more aware of my language and I want you to call me out if you see/hear me using ableist language, or any other condescending language for that matter.  Call me out on it.  It’s actually a pretty hard habit to break, once you realize how frequent derogatory slang is used.  I actually just caught myself using the phrase, “Grow some balls,” and offended myself.  As soon as I said it, all I could think of it, “Why in the hell would I say something like that?!”  I mean, literally, what does having a pair of testicles have to do with anything, unless, of course, you’re talking about reproductive functions?  In which this case I was not…

Lead by example.  Mind your language.  If you feel comfortable, call a friend out on their   offensive and misuse of the word “retarded.”  We can continue to make this world a better place by minding other’s, and being more open, understanding and compassionate.  Rid your vocabulary of ableist language today. (;



One response »

  1. Pingback: Seven ways to kick this week’s ass. « The Radical Uprise : Zine & Podcast for TRU Beings

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