The “R” Word and the way in which culture perpetuates stereotypes


There are over 250 words/ labels that have been used throughout the course of history to describe the population of people with mental and physical handicaps. From psycho to demented, mongoloid to retarded, these words, although changing over time, all refer back to a group of highly stigmatized, marginalized, and discriminated peoples. Although these terms are strongly charged and rarely paint a full and unbiased picture of the population in which they label, other terms, at their core, provide very well rounded definitions. Retarded, for example, means “less advanced in mental, physical, or social development than is usual for one’s age”. This to me seems like a perfectly harmless, well thought out, and fairly unbiased definition. So why does it create such hate-provoking reaction?

When taken out of the context of describing the population the term was intended for, and used in a negative connotation to describe a different population…

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