Cripple Punk is a movement for physically disabled people which focuses on embracing disability and calling out ableism. It seeks to challenge people’s perception of disabled people and rejects society’s expectation for disabled people to conform to a certain standard.
Alternative ways to refer to cripple punk include cpunk, cr*pple punk or crippunk.
Many people still use the word cripple in a derogatory way, and hence many in the community do not reclaim it. Disabled people may not be comfortable with the slur, but still identify with the movement.
Crip, cripple and crippling are all forms of this word that are derogatory. I often see the word misused to describe mental health as “crippling” anxiety or “crippling” depression. This is where it is important to recognise that not all disabled people can reclaim the slur.
Principles of cripple punk as written by Tai:
The good cripple is the ideal of what society expects disabled people to be. We are expected to be feeble and tame. Always grateful for accommodations, and never demanding or expecting them. Never getting angry, never calling out ableism and never doing anything that makes abled people feel uncomfortable.
Rejecting the “good cripple” mythos means accepting disabled people who get angry. Encouraging us to call out ableism, and demand our rights. Living as a disabled person who does not fit the “good cripple” ideal can make people uncomfortable, but they are made to see us for who we are.
Media Portrayals of disabled people are often only written for the benefit of the non-disabled. So often, a disabled character only exists so that non-disabled viewers are uplifted, inspired or taught some kind of moral lesson.
This trend is referred to as “Inspiration Porn” and while many of the disabled community understand and relate to this concept, it does not have a simple ‘definition’. My best attempt at coming up with a simple definition is as follows:
Inspiration porn is the exploitation of disabled people’s experiences in media, as a way of serving a non-disabled audience by providing emotional or moral fulfilment.
While it may be hard to define, it is easy to come up with examples. I’m sure you’ve seen these ‘inspiring’ videos of a disabled person ‘overcoming their disability’ to show the viewers that they can also overcome whatever difficulties they are having.
This type of media is harmful and insulting to the disabled community, as disabled people’s existences are shown to only be valuable for what non-disabled people can gain from it. The message that is sent is “if disabled people can do those things, then non-disabled people must be able to as well”, which implies that non-disabled people are better and more capable. Cripple punk celebrates disabled lives and experiences for everything that they are and heavily rejects and condemns inspiration porn.
The term “inspiration porn” was first used by Stella Young, an Australian comedian and disability rights activist, in a TED talk she gave about this topic which you can watch below.
The essence of cripple punk is disabled people living however they want regardless of what non-disabled people think or feel about it. It is taking pride in disability and embracing disability, rather than overcoming it.
Cripple punk means true acceptance of disability