Hello, you are listening to the No Standing Ovations Please podcast Episode 3, and I am Erica Mones, your host.
Today I’m going to talk a bit about stuttering.
And this is a very personal topic for me because I stutter as you could probably hear if you’re listening to this, or if you’re reading the transcript on my blog, Running With Crutches then yes, I am a person who stutters.
I stutter because of my cerebral palsy and the way that affects my vocal chords and my muscles.
So let’s get into this.
Stuttering is kind of a hot topic right now because of vice president and Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden. He stutters a bit and that has caused some controversy. So I feel like I should add to this conversation as somebody who has stuttered my entire life. I know what it feels like to be made fun of for my stutter, or for people to assume things about me just because of how I speak.
I think it’s really important to talk about this topic because even in very progressive spaces that talk about accepting people for who they are, people still mock stuttering.
Even Trevor Noah, the South African comedian, has something to say about Joe Biden’s stutter. In 2019, he…one second. I’m just pulling up my notes. Sorry about this (chuckles).
He said that Biden was “a little out of practice when it came to saying words,” which is very offensive. Because I know that Trevor Noah is like a comedian, but stuttering is not something to make fun of.
Stuttering has no bearing on one’s intelligence, and it has no bearing on one’s ability to be an effective leader. For me personally, my stutter has been something that has caused a lot of shame and anxiety. Even though I’m very vocal about my disability on my blog and social media, I don’t talk about stuttering in particular that much because I feel like even in disability spaces, it’s still very stigmatized. Because as Disabled people, we like to have leaders that can speak eloquently and coherently. And if they cannot, a lot of times, we don’t want them representing our community. But the reality is that lots of Disabled people stutter. It’s just a part of disability.
Like I said earlier, I have stuttered for my entire life, and I am now twenty-three-years-old. I went to speech therapy for eighteen years of my life. So at this point, that’s most of my life I’ve been in speech therapy. And I mention that to remind people that not everybody that stutters can overcome stuttering. And that’s okay. That doesn’t need to be everybody’s goal. Because for me, my stutter is a direct result of my cerebral palsy, so no matter what I do, I’m always going to stutter.
So my last few years of speech therapy focused more on learning to accept my stutter rather than trying to overcome it. In my junior and senior years of high school, when I was in speech therapy, I would conduct interviews with people to kind of quell my anxiety around speaking. Because for a really long time, I was terrified of speaking in public. Because I would be made fun of, and people made some rude comments to me about the way I spoke.
But it was not until my second year of college that I fully became comfortable with speaking in public. And I say comfortable, but the reality is that I still don’t love public speaking. It’s not my favorite thing to do. But I’m much more comfortable than I was.
My second year of college, I would actually willingly participate in my classes without my professors having to call on me and ask me to participate in my classes.
And a lot of my confidence with speaking actually came because the year before, I went to treatment for an eating disorder. And there, I had to confront my internalized ableism.
And I think I may have covered what internalized ableism is in a previous episode. But if I didn’t, I’ll just give a quick kind of overview of what internalized ableism is.
Ableism itself is discrimination or oppression based on one’s disability or perceived disability. So internalized ableism is when somebody internalizes that discrimination and oppression, and they develop low self-esteem and kind of self-hatred as a result.
While I was in treatment for my eating disorder, I had to confront this. Because it was something that I buried very deep, and I didn’t think about a lot, and I definitely didn’t talk about it a lot. And my therapist would encourage me to speak up in group therapy. Because just because I stutter, doesn’t mean that I don’t have anything important to add to the conversation. And for a while, I didn’t believe that. I thought that just because I stuttered meant I should stay quiet and leave the talking to people that could speak fluently.
And that’s part of why I started this podcast. Because although I write my blog, and right now, I’m trying to pursue a career as a freelance writer, I don’t really talk a lot publicly because I still have a lot of shame surrounding my stutter. But that is something that I really want to work on. I want to work on being comfortable with speaking publicly and not really caring about what people think of the way I speak. So that’s kind of why I started this podcast.
I also started it just because I wanted to give people a new medium to hear what I have to say. Because I know that not everybody likes reading long blog posts. So I wanted to make something more accessible to more people.
And I think that’s it for what I really wanted to say for today. I may revisit this topic another time. Especially as this election comes closer. I feel like Joe Biden is gonna face a lot more backlash about his stutter, which is something I’m kinda worried about. But unfortunately, that’s the reality of this country today.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to this podcast. And I hope that you will listen again sometime soon. Again, my social media is @ericamones and that is e-r-i-c-a-m-o-n-e-s, and I have a blog called Running With Crutches, which can be found at www.ericamones.wordpress.com. Thank you for listening, and I hope you have a great day!