So since Tumblr decided to drop this the first time that I posted it, here’s a briefer version of this:

I’ve been seeing it go ‘round the internets that ‘using the spoon theory when you are not disabled is appropriation.’

Lemme be the first person to say that a) that is not a universally-held view in the spoonie community b) we don’t have any universally-held views, c) I actually think that view is actively harmful and d) I’m not interested in arguing about it, just please stop saying “this is so.”

This is not so. You are not the gatekeeper to who can or cannot use a word. Unless you are the writer of the original spoon theory essay, you cannot say who can and cannot use that phrase.

Now, on to why I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

1) As neologisms become more common, they become more useful. If an able-bodied friend says “I’m running low on people spoons, can we skip the next thing?” I say “sweet, yes, I was feeling the same thing, let’s go home and watch TV.” Those able-bodied people are speaking my language, and they understand what I mean when I say spoons, and that’s because they’ve taken the time to figure out what that phrase means and how it works and how to use it. HOO-FUCKING-RAY.

2) Using “appropriation” in relation to a word that is younger than my middle dog is, uh, not good, y’all. Appropriation is for white people wearing dreadlocks and girls at Coachella wearing bindis and fucking Chief Illiniwek and the Redskins. Appropriation is for Whole Foods putting peanuts in collard greens and white girls with no training or appreciation painting their hands with random hearts and flowers in henna and buying cheap-ass turquoise jewelry made in China rather than getting it from Native artists. 

Spoonie culture is a baby culture. (Note: this does not apply to all disabled culture, for example D/deaf culture is pretty long-lived.) We should maybe just chill the fuck out before we start yelling appropriation! because yes our problems are many but people using spoon theory to describe how tired they are is not one of them. 

3) AND THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: By saying “able-bodied people should not use this,” you are setting yourself and other visibly or openly disabled persons as gatekeepers for the use of this term. You are saying: “you better be out about your disability or you can’t use it, because we’re gonna drag you/call you out about it.”

No one – not you, not me, not anybody else – gets to check anybody’s Cripple Card ™, unless it’s the police literally checking to see if I have my wallet card for my disability placard with me. No one does. No one gets to say “nah, you’ve only got anxiety, you’re not disabled enough.” No one gets to say “you have to disclose your disability or you do not get to use this term.”

Because that’s basically what the upshot of this is: unless you are openly out as disabled, you will not be able to use this term without fear of repercussion – and this site especially is fucking heartlessly beastly sometimes. We eat our own, especially in this baby community of spoonies where we should take best care of each other. 

So, tl;dr: please stop saying ‘this is appropriative’ like we had some spoonie meeting and decided on it, because we didn’t; use of a term makes it more accessible; appropriation as a term doesn’t actually belong to us, we should kinda stay in our lanes here; and please think through what it means when you say ‘no one able-bodied should use this.’ It means you’re saying you feel like you get to determine who can use a term, therefore who is disabled enough, therefore you’re gonna be checking Cripple Cards™ at the door.

No you’re not. 

(Yes, I realize some disabled persons feel Cripple is a slur. I use it as a word of pride. I will not star it out. If it offends you, I’m sorry for the hurt that causes you, but I will not stop using it.)

I’m going to highlight one part of this:  “…you are setting yourself and other visibly or openly disabled persons as gatekeepers for the use of this term.“  This is doubly problematic because not all visibly disabled people are spoonies

Look, I’m disabled: visibly, openly, proudly.  I’m paraplegic and I use a wheelchair, so my disability is not something I could hide even if I wanted to. What I’m not, however, is a spoonie, when we describe “spoonie“ as “someone with a chronic illness or disability that regularly impacts their energy levels and/or ability to get things done“.  I use a wheelchair, yes, but I have no problems whatever with energy or getting stuff done (aside from just generally being lazy).

So when people try to gatekeep this terminology and say that only disabled people can use it (which, as stated above, really means only visibly or openly disabled people can use it), what I hear is:  “Hey!  You there, in the wheelchair!  I’ve decided that you are Disabled Enough to use the spoon theory.  I know nothing about you or your disability, but you look crippled so I have decided that I know what you can and cannot do.“

So when you try to play gatekeeper for this, what you’re really doing is giving the rest of us bingo on the “ableist shit” scorecard.  You’re telling us that:

  • those with invisible disabilities have to prove their disability, because otherwise they are not Disabled Enough, and
  • those with visible disabilities are obviously worse off than everyone else, because they don’t have to prove how disabled they are, and
  • there is such a thing as a “real“ disabled person, and you can tell who is and is not one based on… some arbitrary criteria that can not and will not apply to everyone.

Long story short:  as a visibly disabled person who is not a spoonie, I am not okay with being designated some kind of judge of who is and isn’t disabled, and I’m frankly offended that people think they get to put me in that position by proclaiming that certain words are only for “”real”” disabled people. 

I have some fucking magical followers, y’all. Read all this.