February 13, 2013 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Story by Kaleigh Rodgers

Leading Disability Studies scholar and blogger-activist William Peace recently spoke to students of Interdisciplinary Studies 3316G, Representations of Disability and Madness in Media. Peace is the author of a popular blog entitled ‘Bad Cripple’, which chronicles his journey living with a disability and his experience in the Disability movement.

Professor Pamela Cushing explains that her class aims to provide students with the tools to critically consume popular media representations of disability and mental health conditions. Through exposure to both positive and problematic representations of life with disability, Cushing provides students with critical insights into the typical media narratives that often play into notions of pity, incapacity and stigma.

Cushing believes that Peace is a positive example for her class of an individual working towards significant cultural change for all people living with disabilities. Through his blog, he aims to draw attention to often-overlooked events, media and policy that affect the Disability movement.

“Much of the discrimination against people with disability and mental health conditions can be unnoticed because most of us take for granted that living with those conditions will mean you will be poor, under-educated and unemployed. We almost think it's natural,” says Cushing. “Dr. Peace illuminates events where those assumptions are at play and provides a picture of how things could be different if our cultural understanding generally would advance to where the Disability movement is at.”

Peace entitled his blog ‘Bad Cripple’ in an effort to re-appropriate the term, which is sometimes used in a discriminatory sense towards individuals living with disabilities. Cushing suggests that some members of the Disability movement have taken to using the terms ‘cripple’ or ‘gimp’ self-referentially in an effort to remove the negative power of these terms from people who use them in a discriminatory fashion.

“People in the movement often feel there is a social pressure for them to be 'good patients' and uncritical, passive recipients of care or charity from society,” explains Cushing. “So [Peace’s] blog-title 'Bad Cripple' is a riff on that issue in that it suggests that he does not plan to be passive, obedient and so forth in what he writes; he's here to take a stand for his and others' right to be accurately represented.”