Elizabeth Jameson explains cussing
Why shouldn't people with disabilities say, uhm, stuff?
Elizabeth Jameson has a disability and, as she explains, she also cusses. Now, before I get into the cussing (and some readers will know that I qualify as a pretty good cusser), let me just provide perspective about Ms. Jameson’s cussing.
As did my pal and colleague, Dan Willingham, Ms. Jameson encouraged people to consider other’s (her own) disabiliity. Dan (2018) expressly recommended that parents encourage their children to talk with Esprit, the daughter Tricia and Dan had. Esprit had a rare genetic trisomy that prohibited her from being able to care for herself, eat on her own, independently navigate the physical environment and more.
I never heard Esprit utter a cuss word. The most verbal interactions I had with Esprit were some cuckle-gurgles when I held her on my hip and we “danced” a bit. She had a great grin that time. I think she was having fun.
Now, Esprit didn’t tell me much, But Ms. Jameson is more vocal. Here’s a snippet from M. Sachs’s (2018) article about Ms. Jameson.
Eizabeth Jameson wants you to look at her. Really look at her. See her high-tech wheelchair, custom fit to her slender body. See her immobile legs and arms, her carefully folded hands. See her shiny blond hair and her penetrating hazel eyes.
People often look away from those with disabilities, says Jameson, in the same way they avoid talking about illness. But it is time to change that.
Ms. Jameson is right about this. We humans need to embrace disability. Disability is not bad. It is OK. To be sure, society should want to help individuals with disabilties live comfortably…to provide curb cuts for individuals who must use wheelchairs, to provide audio signals where the street lights might be invisible, to provide instruction that allows children to learn to read, write, compute….
Right…and I admire Ms. Jameson for explaining that it’s OK for people with disabilities to cuss. In her 2022 article for the Washington Post she makes a great case:
I cannot drive my own wheelchair or hold a cup of coffee. I can’t scratch the itch on my nose or quench my thirst unless someone lifts a cup and straw to my mouth. I have to be fed by others, who don’t necessarily know to offer up the right thing at the right time. Words only go so far, and I don’t want to seem too difficult. If crumbs fall while I’m being fed, I’ll often just resign myself to the mess. Would it be nice if someone noticed and intervened? Sure. Is it worth having to make yet another dreaded ask? Probably not.
It has taken a long time, but I have found ways to use my voice beyond everyday requests and niceties: cursing with abandon.
Please let me recommend Ms. Jameson’s article and, at the risk of offending some readers, say, “Way to fucking go, girl. Testify. Tell it like it is!”
Jameson, E. (2022 -07-29). How I learned that swearing can be good for the soul: I was once a cautious curser, but living with multiple sclerosis taught me that it can be freeing to be foul-mouthed. The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2022/07/29/swearing-therapeutic-multiple-sclerosis-chronic-illness/
Jameson, E. http://www.jamesonfineart.com/
Sachs, M. (2016-12-05). What Elizabeth Jameson wants you to know about human fragility: After being diagnosed with multisclerosis, the former civil rights lawyer began creating provocative works of art from the scans of her own diseased brain. Stanford Magazine. https://medium.com/stanford-magazine/elizabeth-jameson-stanford-using-multiple-sclerosis-to-inspire-art-ab8c1a7a42e5
Willingham, D. (2018-03-22). Op ed: My duaghter’s disabled: Please don’t look away from her. Los Angeles Times https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-willingham-how-to-interact-with-a-disabled-child-20180322-story.html