Thursday, January 6, 2011

Awareness of Ableist Language

TW: For offensive language such as homophobic and ableist slurs.

As I've read more and more things on the internet, I've encountered, for the first time in my life, the idea that the words 'crazy' and 'insane' are offensive words. Not in the sense of being offensive as insults, but in the same sense of how 'retarded,' 'gay,' and 'faggot' are offensive. And honestly, it's a concept I'd never encountered before the last few months, which at first made me feel like it was dumb, like it was political correctness going too far, that it was using those words in a metaphoric sense.

But the more I thought about it, I couldn't feel good about using those words when I don't use 'retarded' and 'gay' to mean stupid or boring, and how I hate even the sound/appearance of the synonym for british cigarettes. It's the same thing, it just offends different groups. All of the things I've ever argued for not using gay-bashing words, that applies to words that stem from mental health slurs.

So, I intend to try and avoid saying 'lame,' 'crazy' or 'insane' anymore, excepting the cases where either lame or insane is applicable in the sense of an injured person or animal, or someone with an actual mental health condition. If I don't I can't help but feel like a hypocrite, and I don't want to feel that way.

No, I will not be demanding others stop using the words, yelling at people, or boycotting things that use those words. For one, I'm going to slip up a lot, these words are in my common lexicon. It will take quite a while for my own attempt to censor these words from my everyday vocabulary to become habit. For another, a lot of people don't realize what they're saying. I might let them know that what they're saying might hurt someone, but I'm not going to be angry to someone without attitude/tone setting me off as well. And lastly, this is just my personal decision. I might think it's a good decision to make, but I can't make it for anyone else. For an example, I loved the South Park episode that talked about redefining offensive words that have always had changing definitions, and they make a really solid point-but it's not something I'm personally going to do. (Because, like I said, I hate that word.)

Some other resources that talk about this:
The Crazy Doesn't Equal Series [Carries a trigger warning, written by DesertRose, who has PTSD and schizoaffective disorder, on Shakesville]
Word Profile on 'crazy' [Written by RMJ on Disabled Feminists]
Changing Ableist Language [Written by Jill on Feministe]

No comments:

Post a Comment