If you’ve noticed, I don’t like to call it ableism when cripples freak out verts (which is what I call people who walk because it’s short for vertical).
It’s not that I don’t believe a lot of verts are freaked out by cripples. Lord knows they are. But ableism doesn’t seem like the right word for it to me. It just sounds too gratingly wimpy. I prefer to call it something like crippophobia because that’s what it is. It’s fear of cripples.
And the best word I can come up with for that is crippophobia. Because I looked it up and I couldn’t find a word for fear of cripples. There are a zillion weird phobias including fear of balloons and fear of chickens. But there is no word as far as I can tell for fear of cripples, which means that the people who come up with names for all the weird phobias must think there’s no such thing, which means none of them are crippled.
Because when verts are freaked out by cripples, it’s because they’re scared of us. It’s not the same type of fear some white people have of black people. They’re not afraid we’re going to move in next door and try to date their daughters. And they’re not afraid of us the same way people are afraid of the IRS. We can’t garnish their paychecks.
And it’s not like we’re all contagious. It’s not like if you’re in the same room with someone with cerebral palsy, you’ll suddenly become all spastic. If you breathe the same air as a little person, you won’t shrink.
Maybe people are scared of us for the same reason they’re scared of spiders—because they think we’re ugly. Most spiders can’t hurt anybody but they scare the hell out of people because they’re ugly.
But I think it’s probably more of an existential fear. The verts who don’t want cripples around them are scared because we remind them of the endless possibilities of life, and not in a good way. We remind them that anybody can be or become one of us, which we often find humorous because being one of us freaks them out way more than it does us.
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