Retarded, Take Two

Hi. It’s been a while.

I just wanted to introduce and discuss a conversation I had with a psychology major (friend) about the use of the word retarded. I also wanted to discuss the new wording. It sounds disjointed but I promise there’s a connection between them! And as a teaser: I have started a post on race and although I am focusing on one aspect of racism, IT’S A DOOZY. (In APRIL was the last time I tried to write it!) Particularly a doozy because of some current-ish events, which is why it’s been since April that I was writing. Also, I will need my notes, which are not at the house I am currently staying. So watchouteverybody, I’m getting on a new roll! (Once I find those notes in the pile of boxes I have at my mom’s… drat!)

Not very long after my post about the R-word, my psychology majored friend was arguing about it on facebook. I think she made a good point, so I’ll talk about it. She claimed that the problem with the word retarded is that it was not being used in the proper way. People use it to call each other stupid, when the word retarded actually means slowed. She felt that instead of banning the word- which she felt just made the problem worse- we should be using it correctly. “My learning in U.S. History is more retarded than my peers.”

No offense, friend, but NO. I completely disagreed with her point of view. Not because it isn’t valid, but because I don’t see preteen (excuse me, tween) boys thinking that the usage there means slowed down. I see them thinking “She’s stupid in U. S. History.” Thanks, tweenie boys! But I meant to say that it takes me a longer time to learn the things I can learn. So just a slower version of everyone else learning U. S. History.

I was going to say more on the subject of the word retarded, but dang it if the DSM-V tripped me over all my ideas. The problem with the r-word exists, but now it’ll be more difficult to remedy. BECAUSE THEY CHANGED THE VOCABULARY FOR MENTAL RETARDATION. Seriously, guys? I realize I only have a BA in music and prerequisites for OT (I’m applying this year! Woohoo!) but I KNOW THINGS. Lots and lots of things. And I’m not okay with the change.

For one- intellectual disability? What the f*ck does that even mean? Intellectual disability! My dad, stepmom and I were flabbergasted for the same reasons. (They’re a psychiatrist and social worker, respectively and have more legitimate say in it than I do) Mental retardation means slower brain function. Intellectual disability…. disabled in the brain? Seriously, MDs and PhDs of the world??? That’s all you can give me??? Like that actually helps the stigma!

Some claim it will help with the use of retarded. I can see some misinformed docs right now! “If we don’t call them mentally retarded, the word retarded will not be used against them in a derogatory way! Everything will be fixed!” No. Everything will not be fixed.

No. 1! Sorry tween boys, but you’re the biggest offender where I live. I’m totally generalizing and stereotyping every other guy here for effect-you can yell at me later. Ahem! But No. 1! Tween boys will still refer to people as retarded, act like they have CP, and refer to those with “intellectual disabilities” mental retardation derogatorily anyway.

No. 2! Just as with people with Aspberger’s, many with MR will refer to themselves in the same way. So your idea is moot there, too. (don’t know if I used the word moot correctly, but I’m too fired up to care.)

No. 3! By changing the name, I feel we’re telling those with MR that we’ve given up on fighting for them. I feel that we are just taking the unsuccessful route because it’s easier. I don’t want to be that kind of person. Dear people with MR: I will keep fighting for you! Even when the word retarded turns into the words imbecile and idiot (Those two used to be psychological words too!) in 50 years and people find another way to make fun of you.