Content warning: ableist slurs.
When discussing the current president of the United States of America, Donald Trump, it is easy to write him off as “crazy”, “dumb” and an “idiot”. It is a short and simple way of describing what we think of him, which often ridicules his intelligence and is funny to all of us, right?
Actually, dismissing Trump as someone who is “crazy” is quite harmful. A quick look into the history of the word shows that it originally referred to people who were “diseased” and “sickly”, and it soon became a popular slur targeting people with mental illnesses.
In fact, ableist slurs such as “idiot”, “dumb”, “psycho”, “insane”, “spastic” and “r*tard” have all had a history of discrimination towards people with mental illnesses, disabilities and people who are neurodiverse.
Ableism is so normalized in our society that we often use these slurs without actually knowing the full impact they can have.
Although many might think the term quite inoffensive, even “lame” shares this history. The word refers to someone who is unable to walk or who walks with difficulty.
Keeping this all in mind, it is important not to write anyone off using ableist language, including Donald Trump. While I for one certainly dislike him with every fiber of my being, resorting to ableist slurs to express my feelings is harmful and counterproductive, not to mention imprecise.
By cycling ableist language out of my vocabulary, I have personally found that my criticisms of people and things I dislike are more precise and accurate. Instead of dismissing Trump as a “dumb idiot”, I am able to pinpoint exactly what it is that I dislike about him, which is that, among other things, he upholds and encourages white supremacy.
Ableist language has become so normalized that many of us are unaware of the harm we are causing. We simply do not know the history of pain behind these slurs. This is why I urge you not to disregard what I and many disability activists are saying. I urge you not to look at these slurs and think that we are overreacting. I urge you not to think that this is political correctness overload.
The reality is that these words cause harm and are offensive to a whole community of people. If you call yourself a feminist yet fail to acknowledge how these slurs are harmful to people with disabilities, mental illnesses and people who are neurodiverse, who is your feminism even for?