"She has a prosthetic leg anyway…" Disability shaming

The Avengers – Age of Ultron press tour has kicked off and some questionable comments from Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans are overshadowing the film itself.  When asked about Scarlett Johannson’s character the Black Widow they called her a “slut”, because this is acceptable right?

These actors discussing what is essentially a children’s movie calling a female character a slut and a trick shows the levels of sexism in our current climate. It has also been discussed that the female characters of many films are not promoted in the merchandise.

Sexism is rife in Hollywood and has been written about a lot but one comment that stood out for me was when discussing how the female character Natasha Romanoff has a romance with someone other than him, Jeremy Renner says;

“She has a prosthetic leg anyway”  The inference being that he wouldn’t want to date a woman with a disability.


They may be joking but this easy sexism and ablism has an impact on how society sees women, especially women with a disability.  His laughter at the idea of having a relationship with someone with a prosthesis is offensive and reinforces old fashioned and ridiculous ideas that people with a disability can’t be a sexual being or be found attractive.

Watch the interview here…

Well screw you Jenner… Living with a disability is fucking hard and having over paid, ignorant men openly mocking it is wrong.  For those reading this with an illness or disability, don’t let it make you sad, allow yourself to get angry and speak out.  More and more I find myself championing campaigns for people with disability and I think we should call out people who use casual ablism, who make disability the butt of their jokes.

My campaign #MoreThanMeetsTheEye is about bringing disability into the public eye, about encouraging kindness and openness, about getting people to open up and talk to reduce stigma and getting society to understand.

I blogged last week about how I had been called out on “sexualising disability”, I argue that I am simply normalising illness, my sexuality is a part of me and my illness doesn’t stop that.  At a talk I did for the Seven Hills WI, a lady came up to me afterwards and said “you had your colon removed not your clitoris”, after doing a big spluttering laugh I totally agreed!

sam cleasby sexualising disability

But society doesn’t seem to want to see people with disabilities as sexual beings.  Perhaps it makes them uncomfortable?  I came across a great bloke on twitter called Andrew Morrison Gurza who runs a campaign called #DeliciouslyDisabled getting people talking about sex and disability.  It’s amazing and I implore you to go follow him on twitter now!



The more we allow these sorts of comments to slip, the easier it is for society to make people with illnesses and disabilities feel like outsiders, to isolate them and create an environment where it is ok to mock those different to us.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Sam x

15 replies
  1. D. Parker
    D. Parker says:

    I think interviews like this are a stark reminder that these men just pretend to be superheroes in movies, in real life, they’re just people who too often say stupid or ridiculous things.
    They may be rich and famous, but they appear to be missing qualities that would make them real heroes, like compassion, empathy, or sensitivity.
    People are people, not matter if they’re disabled or superstars, although clearly some are more human and humane than others.

    • anonymous
      anonymous says:

      They didn’t seem to be lacking that compassion, sensitivity, and empathy when they visited a children’s hospital months before AoU came out, so.

    • sam
      sam says:

      If the comment was “she is black anyway…” With the inference being he wouldn’t want a relationship with a black woman, would that have been ok because it’s a fictional character?

  2. Pandelirious Malifecto
    Pandelirious Malifecto says:

    Great post Sam. I’m a thalidomide survivor with highly visible birth defects. I’m going on 23 years of marriage with 5 kids. Sexuality and disability is a tough nut for some Ableds. They can’t get past that Western Beauty Ideal. My own Mother had the notion that no woman would find me attractive. LOL, she was so wrong. I applaud your efforts. Here is a link to one of my short stories that deals with disability and sexuality.

    P. Malifecto

  3. Miriam
    Miriam says:

    Well, is it possible to disagree with you? No, it isn’t. Because you say a lot of great and right things that should be embraced in the wider society.
    Thank you for this article, it made my day 🙂

  4. Will
    Will says:

    I wasn’t offended in the slightest. I joke about being one legged all the time. You can spend your time getting upset about every stupid little joke and comment you hear or you move on with your life.

  5. Dr. Ashton
    Dr. Ashton says:

    I’m a burn victim, so I’m completely covered in scars and I’m not offended in the least bit. The man has a type, heaven forbid. People have a specific type, I’m sure you do too. If he doesn’t want to date someone with a disability, that’s his business, not yours. And it’s a hypothetical situation about a fictional character. Please grow up. You’re one of those disabled people who makes everything an insult about your disability, and some of us just don’t give a shit. My wife calls me her deep fried crispy critter and you know what? I think it’s funny!

    • sam
      sam says:

      My husband and close friends have in jokes too, I’m not one to take offence. But there are times and places. If a stranger walked up to you in the street and called you a crispy critter would you find it as endearing as when your wife calls it you?

      I’m glad you’re confident, have good self esteem and are in a relationship but I can’t help feel that younger women with physical disabilities would feel upset by the comments.

      If his type is someone with two legs and forget EVERYTHING else about that person, then how sad!!

      It’s throwaway comments like this that make society feel easier about judging those with disability.

  6. Mouse Cop
    Mouse Cop says:

    Not to be that guy, but dude just shut the hell up already please! There are SO much more things in this world to fight for and worry about. No shit these guys said these kinds of things, you act like they’re Jesus Christ himself without flaw.. They’re regular people, you here way worse shit than this on tv, radio, internet, movies, all media, real life- school/ work/ home/ etc…you literally cannot force a person to be righteous or believe as you do…the Catholics tried it, Lucifier tried it (I guess still pursuing it) because whatever it is YOU or ANYBODY else BITCHES about online or in person, it all ties and comes back to the same major factor no matter what you think do or say..the gospel of Jesus Christ. Do you follow after super stars and idols? Then shut the fuck up and stop crying because neither one of them can force you to make any decision or determine the course of your life, YOU DO! You want to fault find? Look in the mirror Dawg…cast the beam from your own eye before trying to cast it from your neighbor. Not trying to preach, just being real. I don’t like that these dudes are being imature but it makes sense to me. Do they know the gospel of Jesus Christ and if so do they do and pursue after those things? No? Huh…then why the hell are you expecting them to be more than Christ? They don’t have the gospel in their lives, its like expecting a child to do advanced physics and getting butt hurt when they can’t do it. I’m not trying to justify their behavior, its just that the world overreacts about every little thing and acts like its brand new or they’ve never heard it before…you want the world to change? Then stfu and change yourself is all I’m really trying to say in conclusion. Please stop complaining about everything if you don’t plan on doing anything to resolve the root problem. Good night and sorry if I offended anybody like these guys did, we are all human and have done way worse shit than both these guys tbh things we wished we’ve never done and I’m sure they’ve realized this as well

  7. flipflop
    flipflop says:

    I realise this post is a little old but it caught my eye. Renner really hasn’t learnt much over the past year. He might not want to date a disabled person, but apparently he’d be happy to appropriate a disability and become ‘Captain Narcolepsy’. Never mind that it’s a bloody awful disorder that can be as disabling as many better known conditions such as Parkinson’s…. it’s all just a joke, right?


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