Lizzo’s new song ‘Grrrls’ has been criticised for an ableist lyric

Disability advocates have expressed disappointment with the term's usage on social media

Lizzo has been criticised for using an ableist slur in her new single ‘Grrrls’, where in the opening verse, she sings: “Hold my bag, bitch, hold my bag / Do you see this shit? I’ma sp*z.”

While used colloquially in the United States with a similar meaning to ‘freak out’ or ‘go crazy’, the term emerges from the word ‘spastic’, which is used medically to describe the spasms one might experience from a condition like cerebral palsy. The term is often used in a derogative manner to describe those with disabilities, especially cerebral palsy.

After the single was released last Friday (June 10), fans and disability activists took to social media to acknowledge their disappointment over the lyrics. Some called for the track to be pulled down and re-uploaded with the line removed.

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“I’m disappointed in @lizzo for using the word “sp@z” in her new song ‘Grrrls’,” wrote advocate Callum Stephen. “There’s no excuse for using an ableist insult in a song in 2022. As someone who champions women, plus size people and others whom society treats poorly, Lizzo preaches inclusivity and should do better.”

“My disability Cerebral Palsy is literally classified as Spastic Diplegia (where spasticity refers to unending painful tightness in my legs) your new song makes me pretty angry + sad,” said advocate Hanah Diviney on Twitter, tagging the pop singer. “‘Spaz’ doesn’t mean freaked out or crazy. It’s an ableist slur. It’s 2022. Do better.”

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Lizzo is not the first artist to have experienced backlash over the use of the term in a song. In 2019, for instance, rapper Bhad Bhabie released a song titled ‘Spaz’ and faced similar criticisms from disability advocates.

Lizzo is yet to respond publicly to the criticisms. ‘Grrrls’ is the second song to be shared from her upcoming fourth album, ‘Special’, following lead single ‘About Damn Time’ in April. ‘Special’ is slated to arrive on July 15, marking her first album since 2019 breakout ‘Cuz I Love You’.

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