LIZZO, BEYONCE AND ABLEISM
This week two musicians learnt that words hurt.
Essentially ableist slurs to be more precise.
The word in question “spaz” isn’t an ableist slur in the US, but in other countries it is.
Now let’s compare the two singer songwriter’s responses in question.
First up we have Lizzo, she releases a song called Grrrls which contained the aforementioned word above.
Here are different meanings of the word “Spaz”.
A stupid or incompetent person.
A hyperactive person.
A tantrum, a fit.
A person with spastic paralysis or spastic cerebral palsy or epilepsy.
In the US it means a stupid of incompetent person, but in other countries it refers to a person with spastic paralysis or spastic cerebral palsy or epilepsy which is how Lizzo came to cause such a backlash and offend the disability community.
This is the statement that Lizzo put out.
It addresses the word in question, acknowledges her mistake (she’s only human after all), and she’s taken accountability for her actions and re-released the song with a different word in its place.
Now Lizzo could’ve ignored all of this, and simply sat back and simply gaslighted the disability community, but she didn’t, she put out a response all because she listened to what her fans and those from the disability community were saying.
After Lizzo’s dealings with the disability community, the spotlight fell to Beyonce. Now you’d think that after seeing how after being called out for using an ableist slur by her fans, that Beyonce would have seen what she should’ve done.
Well, you’d be wrong.
In a song “Heated” Beyonce used the same word as Lizzo.
Cue the outrage and quite rightly so, if Lizzo can be so humble and hold her hand up and say “you know what, yeah I had no idea that the word that I was using didn’t mean the same to me as it does to the disability community and for that I’m sorry.”
The response from Beyonce was this.
A representative for Beyoncé said in a statement that “the word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced.”
Wow just wow.
Lizzo takes to putting out a well-crafted, heartfelt statement because she’s genuinely sorry and all Beyonce can do is to put out a simple 12-word statement through a representative!
It genuinely speaks volumes.
After all of this, I started to see many articles being written around this mainly they were opinion pieces written by disability advocates and off course you see where I’m heading with this – yes, the trolls came out to attack anyone who dared to educate and make both Lizzo and Beyonce and her representative aware of the reasoning behind why the word is a slur and why it’s outdated and offensive.
MY TAKE ON IT
A slur is a slur.
Words hurt and can have a lasting effect on that person.
If you are unsure of the language that you are using around someone with a disability, here’s a tip Google it.
We are an already marginalised community as it is, we are consistently having to prove our worth in the world, we are getting sick and tired of coming up against these types of slurs and having to explain time and time again why using outdated hurtful words does matter.
It’s also tiring having to explain that we don’t use these words anymore and what words we use in 2022.
We need to do better here when it comes to words that are being bantered around and being freely used by people who have no understanding of what the disabled community has gone through in order to replace those hateful horrible words.
Here then are some other offensive words that we really shouldn’t be using.
These terms are offensive “handicapped,” “differently-abled,” “cripple,” “crippled,” “victim,” “retarded,” “stricken,” “poor,” “unfortunate,” or “special needs.” “spastic”, “spaz” “retarded” just in case either Lizzo or Beyonce are looking to release another song.
If you are unsure of what words and language to use when talking to or engaging with a person with a disability, then these tables can help you out.
The full guide titled “A guide to language about disability” can be found here https://pwd.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/PWDA-Language-Guide-v2-2021.pdf
CARRY ON THE CONVERSATION
How did you feel when you heard those ableist slurs?
How have you dealt with being on the receiving end?
Have Lizzo and Beyonce done enough here?
Let me know in the comments section below.
As always, I can also be found on Twitter:@AutisticNickAU and on the Official Autistic Nick Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/AutisticNickAU/ Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.
1 thought on “LIZZO, BEYONCE AND ABLEISM”
Frankly, I didn’t know Lizzo and Beyonce’ were using slurs – I don’t really follow news or pop culture anymore.. Secondly, having been called one slur after another since as early as I can remember, I guess I am just numb to it and don’t take it personally anymore. I have learned that when people use slurs or make derogatory remarks, it’s usually aimed at themselves and has absolutely nothing to do with me; it generally shows their ignorance. In this case Lizzo acknowledged her ignorance and showed some humility about it. The other one, well she was just arrogant about it. I absolutely think slurs are wrong.