Thursday, November 13, 2008

The One Where I Finish Turning Off My Readers

I'm sure you've noticed recently that I went out on a limb and I used the word retarded to describe myself. Being the uber-sensitive, easily hurt person that I am, I thought about this before I did it. I thought a lot.

I stopped using the word retard for a very long time because too many people associated the word, for obvious reasons, with the mentally challenged.

I get that. I get that it is used in a hurtful manner and I would never use that word to describe anyone other than me, or my husband at times. And only because he has issues. He lives with me and loves me.

When I use the word I'm not even using it to say that I'm mentally challenged. I'm using it to say that my thought processes at that very moment were retarded in their development.

So when an email popped up in my inbox just moments ago that addressed my very usage of the word, my heart strings just about popped straight out of my chest. I expected it to happen. I had attempted to take back a word that has been so dirty and hurtful and use it in a light hearted way because, well, because I challenge society and stigmas like that.

The email I received was very thoughtful, kind and from the mother of a boy with Down's Syndrome. My response was this:

Hi "super mama of a very lucky little boy",

Thank you for the extremely thoughtful response to something that could be viewed as horrible.

I realize that. If only you knew how much thought I put into the use of the word retard and let me tell you why.

I would never use this word to describe anyone other than myself. When I was pregnant with my daughter I went through tests and sheer torment because they thought she was going to be born with Down's Syndrome. I wasn't tormented because I thought she might have it, I was tormented that I didn't know. And I wouldn't have the test to find out.

And then many years later I gave birth to my son who had so many problems, we can't know if he was mentally challenged or not. Chances are that he was deaf and we know he didn't have a left lung among many other things.

I put absolutely no stock in the word retard, none at all. Which is why after questioning my use of it, I thought to go ahead and say it anyway. My inclination was that it would take away a stigma.

Children with Down's Syndrome are NOT retarded. They are beautiful and wonderful. Mental retardation is just that. A mental retardation. I use the word retarded as an adjective as in my thought processes are obviously retarded at times. And again, I have to explain that the process is retarded in it's development. I don't think things through.

Again, thank you for your kind and thoughtful note. Retarded does not mean the same to me as it does to you and that is again, why I relented in my hold on using it on my blog.

Please accept my apologies on hurting you. I know your little man is wonderful and what an awesome mommy he has.


With that being said, if I was viewed as being thoughtless or hurtful, well that is the chance I took.

And a chance I won't take again. My apologies.


Immoral Matriarch said...

I think your reply was awesome. Just like you, of course.

J said...

I agree. You are awesome!! I get that someone might have been offended, and I think you handled it very well.

Don't be so hard on yourself, BB. We all love you so much. I called you last night to tell you that, but you didnt answer.

Dirty Pirate Hooker said...

Dude, you call me a retard all the time.

Betsey Booms said...

DPH - You're an asshole. You are the exception to all the rules.

Dirty Pirate Hooker said...

True story.

Lily's Mommy said...

The problem is that it's so easy to insult someone without trying. Do you stop speaking at all for fear of offending someone? (something I've considered a lot lately) Or do you say fuck it, they'll get over it?

I don't think you meant any malice and you can't tip toe around everyone's feelings. Get GoK to help you. That dude is hardcore.

Anonymous said...

I know what you meant and I wasn't upset by that. I use that word toward myself all the time. For the same reasons YOU use it. I don't use it toward other people nor do I look at those that are different from me as being "retarded". They're different. Just like you're different than I. We're all different.

Sweet Mary Mother of Shoes, what the HELL is my point?! None, apparently. Just know I think you're awesome and I love your hair and your shoes.


ConverseMomma said...

As someone who is always putting her size 8 and a half foot in her mouth, I think it was pretty gracious the way you handled it in the aftermath.

Kat said...

Obviously I am a retard because I didn't save your email address... I'm kidding using the word after this post but OH MY GOD I LOVE MY APRONS!!! THE BLACK AND WHITE IS INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!

A Free Man said...

One of the reasons that I'm happy to be living overseas is the excessive political correctness in the States. If anyone got offended because you used "retarded" in a self-deprecating manner they have far too much time on their hands and are far too sensitive. Rather than posting an apology you would have been better served to tell them to get over it!

Maggie, Dammit said...

Well done, babe.

Anonymous said...

I like you and your blog. I don't think you suck and I used retarded the other day and felt like I had done something evil, too. So, let's be friends, ummkay?

Sarah said...

Awesome post!

Anonymous said...

I have an uncle who is retarded, yet I say retard all the time, but obviously have some kind of disconnect, and don't actual think I'm referring to the mentally handicapped. But I know I shouldn't say it at all.