A recent situation and article I read made me really contemplate how much our language can really disempower and limit people with disabilities. I guess “Ableism” is the best term to encapsulate this!
My younger dog Molly has taken to sitting in my frame’s basket. Cute huh?
So, whilst I soak up the morning’s sunshine & sip my warm coffee, Molly chooses to stay curled up in her wire haven.
Common remarks from passers by include-
“That is so adorable!”
“How lucky is she to get a ride!”
However, today an elderly lady stopped in front of us. She pointed her wrinkly finger at Molly and after catching her breath muttered to her friend –
“Look at that poor dog in that chair!” Obviously disgusted she stood at a distance and asked-
“Is it handicapped, poor thing?”
I felt quite thrown by her words. My protective motherly tendency kicked in. Defending my fur baby I said-
“No, she’s not disabled, but I am’. I continued “…and she’s certainly not poor, just lazy!”
I’m sure the lady didn’t intentionally use discriminatory language. However, her ableism slurs were certainly disempowering.
The article I read speaks about disability terms to use & not use. The powerful influence of language in shaping peoples’ perception & the culture of disability.
Perhaps become mindful of the language you use when referring to people (or animals) with disabilities….
Is labelling Molly “handicapped” or “cute” more empowering?