Once upon a time there was a husband, a wife, and a baby girl.
The wife was sick, and the sickness affected her legs after the baby girl was born. The wife had trouble walking. She worried about dropping the baby. So one day she bought a cane to help her walk. It was so much better. She felt so much steadier when she walked and she no longer had so much fear of dropping the baby.
The husband didn’t like it. He didn’t believe she was really sick, anyway. She was just whining and lazy. She needed to get off her fat butt and exercise and she’d be fine. She didn’t need a cane.
But she knew she needed it. He was gone so much of the time and she was alone to tend to the baby, and she needed the reassurance that she wouldn’t drop the child. So she used the cane.
One day later on, when the baby was a little girl who could walk, the wife still needed the cane. It was Christmas time and the husband had agreed to go shopping with them. The little girl was excited. The husband was gone so much, she rarely got to see him, but now he was going shopping with them. The little girl could barely stand still for the wife to dress her and to get the diaper bag ready. The husband was ready. The wife picked up her purse and her cane and they were set to go.
Then the husband put his foot down. If the wife took the cane, he would not go with them. The wife looked at the little girl: so excited. So ready to go on a shopping trip with both her parents. The wife couldn’t disappoint her. Reluctantly she left the cane at home.
The little girl had lots of fun. The wife, unable to walk steadily or fast, lagged far behind the husband, so the little girl toddled back and forth between them, laughing, walking with each one for a few yards before running to the other.
The husband didn’t speak to the wife.
The wife came home exhausted and in pain from trying to keep up.
The little girl, still too little to understand, had a great day.
A couple weeks ago, I learned about a new movement. It’s called “cripple punk”. It is awesome. Unfortunately it is not a very well-known movement, but it is awesome nonetheless.
I chose this story because it illustrates what “cripple punk” is not. It is not apologizing for being sick. It is not hiding your illness or your disability. It is not accusing sick people of making it up. It is none of those things, and it’s more.
If the wife in this story had known about cripple punk, she might have done things differently. She could have painted her cane neon colors, maybe, or tied it up with ribbons and bows. When the husband told her he wouldn’t go shopping with them if she took her cane, she would have reached for it anyway and said, “If you want to disappoint your daughter, go right ahead. But I am going Christmas shopping with her, just like I promised.” And then she would have taken the cane in one hand and the little girl’s hand in her other, and the wife would have left. And they’d have had a great time Christmas shopping at the mall, with or without the husband.
We need more cripple punks in the world. Being sick or disabled is hard enough on its own. We don’t need to apologize for it. We don’t need the added stress of shame. I want to be more of a cripple punk: strong and proud and unapologetic. I’ve had it with apologizing. Husbands, friends, family, co-workers, even doctors can make cripples feel like we should be grateful for the crumbs they throw us. But not any more. I’m just as much a human as they are. I’m not a servant, not a slave, not a whipping boy. I’m a human.
I’m a cripple punk.
Sound interesting? I couldn’t find one central location, one headquarters for the movement, but many people talk about it. Below are some of the links. There are many cripple punks out there.
Maybe you need to be one, too.
For further reading:
This appears to be where it started:
This is where I first heard of it:
Not cripple punk specifically, but the same idea can be found at Liz Jackson’s blog. www.thegirlwiththepurplecane.com.