21st century feminism

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Blogging Against Disablism Day: Inspiring Women

Today's Blogging Against Disablism Day. Have a look at Diary of a Goldfish for more info. 

For our contribution we want to send you over to a great discussion with two inspiring women here. Francesca Martinez and Victoria Wright deconstruct language and disability with Michael Rosen. 

The language around disability and ablism can be difficult and complicated and people who aren't disabled can feel nervous of getting it wrong. Francesca and Victoria talk openly and honestly about the issues. What I particularly liked was their attitude which moved attention away from actual words, but on to how the words are intended and said. 


  1. I haven't been able to bring myself to listen to the Word of Mouth programme, I'm afraid - language is one of a small number of disability-related issues that I find so difficult, I mainly avoid it! I taught A-level language as an English teacher - it certainly illuminates the topic to realise that, to some extent at least, the language we use frames our thinking. For that primary reason, I use certain words/phrases and not others when it comes to disability. At the same time, I don't condemn those who choose to use other (non-offensive) words/phrases - as long as they've considered the implications of what they're saying and what it means, including to listeners. There is power in language, and we have to use power responsibly.

    Great contribution to BADD, by the way! I haven't contributed for a couple of years now (I used to, in my 'other' online identity). Hopefully next year.

  2. I'd like to read what Martinez and Wright have to say, but I cannot find a transcript of the show anywhere. Perhaps if I can find the spoons to deal with deciphering speech, I may give it a try, though how much of it I'll be able to handle is still a question.

  3. naomi- I completely agree, the power of language can be a strong force for good and for ill. Sorry you feel you can't listen to it. Martinez and Wright raise some interesting issues. Their discussion about Ricky Gervais is particularly interesting. Martinez had taken part in Extras, but Wright had been particularly targeted in a bad way on Gervais' radio show.

    codeman38 - I don't think there is a transcript (at least not that I know of), sorry.

  4. I will give it a listen. The BBC always turns out provocative stuff. I do wonder though.

    What if, for example, a parent/guardian figure lovingly said to you on a regular basis ..."Oh, you're such a R****." In that case, the words themselves really WOULD matter.

    Intent isn't always good enough -- even in general places like work environments. Words shape realities. Even if it is politely meant, "handicapable" with all its overtones has a deep and problematic history. I wouldn't want to live in a world influenced by the effects of using it.


    BADD -- always a fabulous place to talk and exchange ideas.

    Respectfully and happily,


  5. WCD - that's a really good point. Actually, they mentioned the campaign to get the R word banned from public use (or something along those lines, can't quite recall exact details) so, in fact they were suggesting some limits. If you do get round to listening I'd be interested to know if you thought they were contracting themselves/each other. Or if I've misunderstood what they were saying (which may well be the case).

    Thanks for dropping by.