Beyoncé, Under Fire for Using an ‘Ableist Slur,’ Chooses Self-Censorship
“I’m Ike Turner, turn up baby, no, I don’t play/Now eat the cake, Anna Mae,” rapped Jay-Z on Beyoncé’s 2013 hit “Drunk in Love.” It was a reference to Ike and Tina Turner’s abusive relationship, and to the memorable diner scene from the 1993 biopic, What’s Love Got to Do With It, in which a jealous Ike smashes cake into Tina’s face.
It’s a clever line. It also arguably makes light of an abusive marriage. But that’s not the phrase that Beyoncé has decided to scrub from her discography. She’s striking “spazzing on that ass,” from her new track, “Heated.”
According to a certain subset of disability activists, any use of the word spaz or its derivatives is marginalizing. “Disabled people’s experiences are not fodder for song lyrics. This must stop,” tweeted the disability rights organization Scope. “When Beyoncé dropped the same ableist slur as Lizzo on her new album, my heart sank,” reads the headline of a Guardian article by the activist Hannah Diviney, who wrote that she has “no desire to overshadow” Beyoncé’s “lived experience of being a black woman…but that doesn’t excuse her use of ableist language.” Beyoncé’s publicity team quickly responded to the heat, saying she’d be changing that line and removing the word from the song, just as fellow artist Lizzo did two months ago when she came under similar scrutiny, led by some of the same activists.
But “disabled people’s experiences” are not being used as fodder for song lyrics. “Spazzing on that ass” does not reference a person with cerebral palsy having spasticity—muscle stiffness that hinders mobility. In parts of the Anglosphere, the word spaz is seen as a terrible slur; in America, where Beyoncé is from, it refers to freaking out, to moving crazily, to becoming overly excited, or, possibly, to something failing to function properly. You can see how that meaning evolved from the slur, and you can see why that would aggravate some listeners. But like “paddy wagon” before it, the word has lost those connotations for many people who use it. If these activists are really concerned about the harm the word does, which seems more harmful: constantly reminding people of the term’s origins, or letting it continue to drift away from its original co
Article from Reason.com