Hate speech and dwarfism: The influence of cultural representations.

Pritchard, Erin (2019) Hate speech and dwarfism: The influence of cultural representations. In: Disability Hate Speech. Routledge, London, pp. 116-128. ISBN 9780367193423

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Dwarfism has strong links to the entertainment industry. However, how people with dwarfism are represented within the entertainment industry often encourages unwanted attention towards them (Pritchard, 2017), including in the form of hate speech. One of the most prominent representations of people with dwarfism is the freak show, where the term ‘midget’ is derived from. Despite the demise of the freak show during the turn of the 20th century the term still remains popular within society. Where the term originated from and what it means aids in presenting people with dwarfism as sub-human. Kruse (2002:176) points out that ‘using the term midget towards a person with dwarfism is the same as calling a person of African descent a nigger’. This paper will unpack the origins of the term midget and its use in society, arguing that whilst it is considered a derogatory term among people with dwarfism it is still widely accepted within society. This includes the use of the term on everyday products, from cars to sweets, as well as within television shows and films, which can encourage the term’s use by others. Using empirical data, this Chapter will show how the term is used as a form of hate speech in society and can affect how people with dwarfism negotiate public spaces, including avoiding particular spaces. It will also explore how people with dwarfism are objecting to the wide use of the term in society.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Dwarfism, Cultural representations, Hate Speech, Disability
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Education > Disability and Education
Depositing User: Erin Pritchard
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2020 09:39
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2020 09:39
URI: https://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/2996

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