So here’s the story, internet: I fed my sick baby during feminist anthropology class without disrupting the lecture so as to not have to cancel the first day of class. I doubt anyone saw my nipple, because I’m pretty good at covering it. But if they did, they now know that I too, a university professor, like them, have nipples. Or at least that I have one.
NSFW: I use swears/slurs in this post.
I recently got into a discussion with a few of the other bloggers on this site about insults and blog etiquette, particularly in light of ableism.
(Here’s a starting point if you’re not familiar with the concept. If you are interested in reading more on ableism or activism for mental health, I recommend the blogger Daisy Bee at Suicidal No More, who is a fantastic writer and incredible human being and Renee at Womanist Musings who has an seemingly endless amount of stamina when it comes to social justice and calling out bullshit. Neither of these blogs are of the ‘101’ variety so please be aware of that should you choose to leave a comment on either.)
To sum up the issue at hand: I think using the word “crazy” to insult people is somewhere in the territory of using a slur. I think it only works as an insult because it is relying on the stigmatized status of people with a mental illness. It’s an easy and nasty way to silence people, claim that their perspective is illegitimate, and dehumanize them. In future posts of my own I’m probably going to ask commenters to not use that word or similar words in this manner.
This is a controversial stance, though, even in the context of anti-ableism and anti-sexism. I invite others to think about this along with me. My own thoughts on insults and especially the word “crazy” have changed drastically in the past five years, and I expect them to morph further in the years to come. While personal insults might seem trivial in the grand scheme of things politically, I take the concept of “safe spaces” very seriously, even if they are ultimately ideals that are unachievable in theory or practice. (This is not to imply that others don’t take this seriously, but only to articulate my own priorities.)
Also please note: I’m not arguing that the word “crazy” should be stricken wholly from the English language. Also, in this context, I’m much less concerned about words with sketchy histories than I am with words that trade on current oppression to silence and insult people. However, maybe I’m wrong in thinking that I can make that division and at least temporarily avoid the slippery slope concern.
(much more after the jump)
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