Wednesday, 24 July 2013

"Autistic" is NOT an Insult

So I've considered linking to this article for a while.  When I first read it, it was kind of shocking to me, but also, unfortunately, not shocking enough.

The stories mentioned in this article have all had pretty substantial news coverage and I'm sure you've heard of them.

However, I'm still going to offer my two cents on this one.

In a song released recently, the artist Drake -- whose music, I'll admit, isn't my "style" and I've never really paid much attention to it -- uses "autistic" as an insult.  (The article linked in the above paragraph has the lyric in context of its verse in the song if you would like to see it -- I'm choosing not to post it here because it basically seems really offensive to me... it has a lot of words that I'd rather not use).

Um, excuse me?!  "Autistic" is not an insult!

I'm sure this, like the debate over the r-word, will have people crying out that using "Autistic" in this way wasn't meant to be hurtful and people should be less sensitive or whatever argument they're going to use.  But that argument is nonsense to me.  Because regardless of how it was intended -- I'm sure Drake wasn't purposely trying to insult a whole population of people -- I am offended, other Autistics are offended, parents of Autistics are offended, friends of Autistics are offended, loved ones of Autistics are offended...  The list goes on and on.

I think it's pretty well known that the r-word is offensive and I think most people steer clear of that nowadays.

But seeing "Autistic" as an insult really shocked me.  It really did.  Because "Autistic" is my identity.  "Autistic" is my diagnosis.  "Autistic" is such a big part of who I am and something I feel proud of.  It took me a long time to feel proud of autism and now that I do, it's like this line in this song could theoretically reverse all those steps forward that autism self-advocates have taken in recent years.  Using the word in this context really does "perpetuate the stereotype that individuals with intellectual disabilities are worthless and stupid" (to quote this article).