But, I also know there are some good aspects to political correctness. Psychologists have long known, that if you call someone stupid long enough, their confidence will suffer to the extent that, eventually, they will start thinking they are pretty worthless, and can’t achieve anything.
So, it’s a good thing then this ‘political correctness’? Well,… it depends how you look at it, and, of course, how genuine something that’s said, actually is. Sometimes people say something without being aware of its implications, or how other people may perceive it. Other times they might say something because of how other people perceive it, because it makes them shine, but they don’t actually mean it.
Lets take the word ‘disability’, for example. Considering it has taken over from ‘handicap’, and before that there were simply ‘cripples’, it doesn’t sound too bad at all. In between the creativity of the politically correct brigade gave birth to formulations like ‘physically challenged’, and, the even more sympathetic, ‘differently able’.
But back to ‘disability’. The problem with ‘disability’ today is that there is still a lot of negativity attached to it. When able-bodied people think about disability, they mainly think about the things a disabled person can’t do. Disabled people on the other hand think about what they can do.
At this stage I should probably use “people with disabilities”, also known as the social model. Put people before the disability. Lately the acronym PwD (people/person with disabilities) can be seen more often. It seems to be widely accepted. Maybe this is because that “dis” is not in your face.
Whatever it is called, it doesn’t change the disability many people have to cope with. Unfortunately there is no one term that would please everyone. Not the word disability is bad, but the stigma that’s attached to it
When dealing with an Individual it is a matter of politeness, isn’t it? We show respect by asking a person how he or she wants to be addressed, not by deciding what they should be called, no matter what politically correct label we pick.
A mother and wife once told me how much she did enjoy cooking for her children before her stroke. Nowadays it’s a chore. Even a simple task, like peeling vegetables, takes hours. When asked how she would feel about a new name for her disability, she answered that as far as she was concerned it was a struggle, and unless someone could take this struggle away from her, she really didn’t care.
Maybe PwDs have other things to worry about. It is not what one says, but how one means it.