Why I Like The Word “Crippled”
I used the word “crippled” recently, and it didn’t go over well. People suggested I use disabled or something a little gentler. And this is my own fault. I’m somewhat in the closet.
Readers of this blog, my former HR, my doctors, family, and close friends know I’m…crippled. And that’s what I am. My right leg doesn’t work well. (Nor does my right lung, my right arm, my right ribcage, etc.) And SOMETHING crippled me—swine flu, pleurisy, thoracotomy cut, scar tissue. However, be that as it may, I look fine on the surface, particularly if I’m sitting down. I’m aware that everyone has problems, issues, ailments. I don’t want to stand out.
Is this a mistake?
Probably even if I come out of this particular closet the word “cripple” will still be rude. However, disability activists younger and hipper than me say it is ok to use whatever word you want to self-describe. Certainly many a rude word has been reclaimed that way.
Reasons to not come out in any situation (with a little risk assessment):
1. People will offer well meaning advice I have not asked for. Have I considered massage? Might I try to get off painkillers? I’ve been living in this particular version of my body for forty-five years. If I need advice, rest assured, I’ll ask.
2. People will pity me. Probably will. Maybe that’s ok, although I’d prefer protestations of desperate love or madly jealous admiration. Can’t have everything.
3. People will be cruel to me. A risk, to be sure. When I add my cane to my life—visibly coming out—people have been quite nasty at times. But mostly on airplanes, where people are already nasty.
Reasons to come out:
1. It’s honest (something which I am not completely.) This doesn’t seem super motivating.
2. It’s intimate. This is more motivational.
3. It’s true. Different than honest—not about me, but about reality. Which I’m in favor of.
And maybe people already know. And maybe they are not that interested? All of us tend to be mostly focused on…ourselves. Maybe what is on my mind really isn’t that big a deal to others.