Spaz is slang for spastic and can be seen as a derogatory term in by major of cases but for some people with cerebral palsy, including myself, it can be a term to be reclaimed as a part of our identity.
I often called me a proud spaz or the Proud Spaz because it embraces the freak side of my nature and how society sees me. By using the term I am making it clear I know I make some people uncomfortable and that I am taking control of the situation in the way black people use nigger and gay people use queer. I am not saying it is a publicly acceptable term but that it is a term I use and take responsibility for, as I expect a reaction.
I believe this is what Ian Dury wanted when he wrote the song “I’m Spazticus”, a reaction to make people think. And this is what the comedy of the same name also wanted, for tv shock value more than anything else. Those ‘disabled people’ who find Spaz inappropriate are most likely those who do not relate to it as language is a personal choice.
2 thoughts on “Reclaiming the term ‘Spaz’”
Hello, Simon. Excuse me for nearly being a decade late, but here I am in one piece. I’m pleased that you have the courage to know about your own person choices. I’m also disabled, myself. I have Autism Spectrum Disorder, which is a mental disability. Autistic guys, like myself, tend to act “spastic” too. When I was a kid, it was certainly the case. I used to flap my arms about, clap my hands, scream high-pitched noises like what King Diamond does in his music, and feel hyper as hell. But that’s not a bad thing, Simon. You have also noted that it’s just as bad as the racist and homophobic slurs, as well as the misogynist slurs that isn’t mentioned on here (‘bitch’ and ‘whore’ come to mind when insulting women).
There shouldn’t be any big deal over that term, because ‘spastic’ is one of the oldest words in our glorious language. The UK is the only country that has zero-tolerance over that reasonable word that has been turned into an insult, just because some kids who have watched Blue Peter didn’t understand the elderly disabled guy named Joey Deacon. The US say that and ‘spas’ sometimes (‘spas’ is my preferred spelling of the term, because it’s more British sounding; us English lot don’t like to over use our z’s). If I decide to take back ‘spasser’, then it would be because I’m owning my flaws as an autistic person. The Disabled don’t get enough love sometimes, just like Disney’s Treasure Planet. Take care, Simon, and keep safe for me. 🙂
Thank you for comment, I remember Blue peter and joey as a child.
We need to reclaim ourselves and I am proud with my opportunities like I’m Spaztcus, London Gay Pride and my pink ‘retard’ helmet.