Hi, Im just watching an episode of Call the Midwife``. A situation where a family has a newborn baby, with spina bifida.
Now the programme is set in the 50s/60s and I just heard something which has made me gasp and urged me to post about it.
As mums used to do back then, babies were wrapped up and put outside in their prams for fresh air.
A neighbour said to the babys mum, I see youve left your baby outside, but then no-one would steal a cripple, would they?
Oh I am horrified! Just thinking about how attitudes have changed, but I myself have been called a cripple twice. The very word to describe someone with mobility problems is appalling, but to actually be called it is insulting and shocking.
I love Call a Midwife. Loved the books too. I watched that episode the other day too Poll. The woman who said it was a right cow and was being as nasty as she knew how to the new Mum but just as habits in child rearing have changed so has language. People with mobility problems were called cripples then. Kids with cerebral palsy were called spastics and kids with developmental issues were called retarded. Yes, we might consider those words harsh now but it was the language of the time.
Who knows, in another 50 years saying someone has mobility problems might be considered very politically incorrect!
Anyway, I cheerfully call myself a cripple at times… and today when I was out with a really good mate and nearly ran her over with my scooter she said, “God these cripples are a liability!” Offensive? Not to me and her… we shrieked with laughter…
To be honest, I think the actual words used are less important than the emotion behind the word. For me or my friend to call me a cripple in a laughing, good humoured, taking the mick way is fine. Conversely for someone to use the word disabled as a put down would be completely unacceptable…
Guess for me it is the context and how it is said rather than the word itself.
The first time I was called a cripple was by a carpet fitter at our house. The way he said wasn`t meant to be offensive.
But the 2nd time it certainly was meant nastily. I was at a birthday party, in a pub and had postioned myself in a place where I knew I wouldnt cause a blockage to the walkers. I always do this. And some oaf, decided he wanted to sit where I was and attempted to move me, by taking a pull at my chair. I quickly said, Im sitting here. Find somewhere else!`
I remember when I was young that the attitude of people to the disabled was pretty awful. Some of the older members of my family still have a weird way of dealing with it, pity mixed with not quite equal with normal people. Thank goodness these attitudes have changed. There are a lot of things about the modern world that I’m not comfortable with (but then I’m getting old) but the way the disabled are treated and the fact that they expect to be able to take part in normal society is so much better.
I like the Call the Midwife programme but it does show up the predjudices as well as a slower more caring way of life.
I love Call The Midwife too. Always makes me cry (actually it’s about the only time I do cry!) and thought the episode with the disabled baby was very well done. I also think the actors in the institution were real disabled people and I do wish there were more shows that had disabled actors.
I sometimes laughingly call myself a cripple… and it’s ok in joking… but I think very offensive otherwise.
The other one that gets me is ‘invalid’. If you think about it it means ‘not valid’… Luckily hardly ever used now.