Monday, June 29, 2015

Stop Saying "Able-bodied"

What's up? I know. I know. I've been away for a while but I'm back. Alexis, my girlfriend if you didn't know from my past posts, and I just moved in together, so I've definitely been busy. But we're all moved in now, so I can put my energy into one of my other loves; making you all laugh, think, or whatever, all while giving you a glimpse into this Cripple life of mine. So I hope you've missed this, because I've missed it.

Well now that that's out the way, back to the topic at hand. And that topic is the expression "able-bodied." It's one that I've heard quite a bit throughout my life, and one that quite frankly I find pretty annoying. Now I know some will say I'm being nitpicky, and that's totally their opinion. And don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to fight every time I hear that dumb ass expression. But here's my issue; what in the hell does "able-bodied" mean? Last time I checked, my body is pretty damn able. Can I walk, run, or jump? No. But I'm pretty "able" of doing a lot of shit. Now before I go any further, let me just say, get your mind out of the gutter. Somebody reading this was thinking it, so why pretend. I'm not even going there with this, but don't worry about me. Now where was I? Oh yeah, "able-bodied." As I was saying, that expression makes no sense. You're probably wondering how I just thought of this out of the blue. Like I said earlier, it's a pretty common expression, but it actually jumped out at me again most recently during the 2015 NBA Celebrity Game this past February. One of the participants in this game was Blake Leeper. Blake Leeper is a US Paralympic athelete who was born missing both his legs below the knee. Before the game, he was interviewed by ESPN's Cassidy Hubbarth, and while interviewing him she mentions that he is attempting to be the first American Paralympian to participate in the "able-bodied" Olympics in 2016. You can see what I'm talking about here. Now let me say, I have no problem with Ms. Hubbarth at all. I don't even have a problem with ESPN which is the channel that aired the game. My only issue is with the mentality that goes into this word usage and the idea of what it means to be "able-bodied." As I've eluded to before in previous posts, unless you're dead, everyone is "able" to do something, and unless you're Superman, everyone is "unable" to do something. Well then again, even Superman has been killed, and tends to have a pretty violent reaction to Kryptonite, so I stand corrected. My point is, this way of describing people is wrong, and if you don't notice that, you have issues. Sure, it might seem like to some that it's extra work to think of words to use when describing things and issues around people of different abilities. But honestly, I don't care, and neither should you. In this Olympics example, the interviewer could've simply said "Olympics" without the qualifying word of "able-bodied." Sure I get at how significant Leeper's achievement could be, and I'm all for that. And I get that using the word makes a bigger impact to everyday listener and viewers, allowing them to understand easily. But as long as words like this are used, people in my and similar situations will forever have a negative connotation associated with us, and will continue to be viewed as less then.

So think about how you describe someone in a wheelchair, blind, deaf, speech impaired, etc. to someone else, and you even think about using "able-bodied." If they're a Paralympian, say that. If they're in a wheelchair, say that. Especially if you've read this and/or been told something similar by someone like myself. Because if you have you have and you don't, and you say something stupid, let's just say I've run over a toe or two on "accident," and I'm not the only one to do so. You thought we'd let that shit slide? Cripple Please!
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