How to Change Your Ableist Vocabulary Part II: Sarcastic Snowflake Edition

Emily Perry-Musgrave
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Emily Perry-Musgrave

Artist & Writer at Under The Art House
Northerner with a passion for lingerie, art, guinea pigs and sarcasm.
Emily Perry-Musgrave
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We’re almost at the end of 2017 and yet on a regular basis I’m still hearing and seeing ableist vocabulary used in a malicious way – but also in other situations, used in a naive context. I was sat in a pub yesterday near St Paul’s and heard some bloke use the term “retard” to describe a female colleague whom he was criticising. As soon as I caught that word I couldn’t not look up.

These words catch me off guard constantly because I don’t expect to hear them in an average conversation. While there are many words that are obviously offensive, there are plenty that we still struggle to fully remove from our vocabularies because there isn’t a well known awareness of how and why those words are so uncomfortable for some to hear. Like everything, the more we listen to those who suffer because these phrases, the more we can learn and change.

A continuation of my last post on this topic, below are more phrases and words that we can change:

 

“I have a phobia of…” can be changed to “I am afraid/nervous of…” Some people suffer from PTSD because of phobias and are actively working on a daily basis to manage them. It’s a word that needs to be used only in the most serious and genuine context.  No one will judge you if you admit to being afraid or nervous of something and your feelings are valid.

“Snowflake” can be changed to something along the lines of “Your feelings are valid and I’m sorry I hurt them. I will work to be more sensitive about this topic”. But realistically we know that when somebody calls you a snowflake it means “oh crap, you’re right, I’ve got no argument left”.

“This post gave me cancer” can be changed to “I don’t like this post and I’m also a douchebag with no respect for the 38.5% of people that are diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime”

“LOL triggered” etc. – The terms trigger and trigger warning exist for a reason and it’s not to be mocked or taken out of it’s original context. A big middle finger to those who use it as a punchline when people rely on this phrase to be able to feel safe in almost all conversations/situations. It should be of concern to everyone that people can relapse because of a topic, word or image and be taken incredibly seriously.

When anything vaguely pregnancy related is mentioned and the reaction is “Is there something you want to tell me?” MIND YA OWN DAMN REPRODUCTIVE BUSINESS. Me and my polycystic ovaries are tired of people assuming pregnancy is easy (or wanted) for everyone. For some people being pregnant it is not a positive thing and hearing jokes being made about it can have a huge negative effect.

“This post is autistic.” Using autism as an adjective is doing a disservice to autistic people and continues the stereotype that there is something negative about it.

Unbalanced – My mental illness leaves me constantly feeling like I’m experiencing a balancing act. Certain people may be unpredictable arseholes, but don’t go straight to the assumption they must have a mental illness to be able to act in such a way.

“I look deformed!” – Again, another word which shouldn’t be used as an adjective. Do I really need to explain?

“But why can’t you save money? It’s easy!” – Do people realise how hard it can be for those with disabilities to be able to save money? Do they realise how hard it is to attain life goals, including owning a house or a car, when so many of them don’t accommodate disabilities? A lot of resources go on trying to maintain a lifestyle that is as comfortable as possible with the bare minimum assistance from the government.

“Eat more! It’s Christmas, you’re allowed!”/ “You’re having another helping?!” – Coming up to Christmas it’s so important to be conscious of not forcing people to continue eating if they say they’re full or don’t want any more. Eating disorders are incredibly hard not to relapse into and those that suffer from them shouldn’t have to make excuses when they say they don’t want to eat any more food. Nor should they be judged when they’re comfortable and happy with eating more.  Getting to a place where you’re comfortable with your eating habits can be a long and difficult journey. It should not be undone by flippant comments.

 

Can we please also mention how often people are still assuming that disabilities are only visible? And how often even when arranging social occasions people forget to accommodate all possibilities, from social anxiety to disabled access issues? How is this STILL a problem? The media still perpetuates stereotypes that disabled people can’t have hobbies and claim benefits. Here’s an example (and also an amazing thread on the matter) from twitter:

This post has been sponsored by Emily’s chronic muscle condition that makes her feel like she is going to fart all the time.

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