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How Online Movements Like 'Cripple Punk' Empower People With Disabilities

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I am a huge fan of the Internet, and have written about all it has done for people with disabilities. It’s helped us find each other and not feel so alone. By bridging the gaps in education, communication, and more, it has moved our society forward towards equality for people with disabilities.

The Internet is always ready to rally in the face of inequality. Some people are quick to say that tweets or Facebook posts using a hashtag don’t really do anything — they say nothing changes in the world because you tweet a hashtag 12 times. But I disagree; I think using a hashtag shows support to a community, to the families of those affected by what’s happening in the world. And that is not nothing.

I’ve been blogging and writing online for about six years now. I admit, I’ve only begun taking it seriously within the last year or two. I’ve used a few different platforms, trying to find the best place for me and my content. I’ve recently moved my blog back to Tumblr and found endless tags related to having a disability, including:

  • Spoonie
  • Physical Disability
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Disabled
  • Disability

While these are all important, I found something really cool when I started seeing the tags “CPunk” and “Cripple Punk.” I didn’t know what the tags meant at first, but under them I found a wealth of blogs and content I wished I had found sooner. Tumblr doesn’t have a definition for their tags, so I did a Google search. Cripple Punk as explained on Urban Dictionary is:

Cripple Punk: also known as cpunk. A movement that is exclusively by the physically disabled for the physically disabled, started on tumblr. It’s about rejecting pity, inspiration porn, & all other forms of ableism. It rejects the “good cripple” mythos. Cripple Punk is here for the bitter cripple, the uninspirational cripple, the smoking cripple, the drinking cripple, the addict cripple, the cripple who hasn’t “tried everything.” Cripple Punk fights internalized ableism and fully supports those struggling with it. It respects intersections of race, culture, gender, sexual/romantic orientation, size, intersex status, mental illness/neurotypical status, survivor status, etc. Cripple Punk does not pander to the able-bodied. Rules:

  • Cripple punk is not conditional on things like mobility aids and “functioning levels.”
  • Always listen to those with different physical disabilities and different intersections than yourself. Do not speak over them.
  • Disabled people do not need to personally identify with the words “cripple” or “punk” individually to be a part of cripple punk.
  • Able-bodied people wishing to spread the message may only ever amplify the voices of the disabled.
  • Able-bodied people may never use uncensored slurs themselves and never censor our language.
  • Able-bodied people must always tag things like reblogs with “I’m able-bodied.”
  • Physically disabled people wanting to be a part of the movement who are uncomfortable using the slur may refer to it as “cpunk.”

I know not everyone will agree with this movement. But I think it is amazing. You don’t have to agree with everything a hashtag or an Internet movement brings forth, but as a means of finding something or someone you can relate to, I think it is wonderful.

What hashtags or Internet movements do you support?

This story was originally published on Cerebral Palsy News Today.

Originally published: August 14, 2016
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