“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


12 thoughts on ““She has a prosthetic leg anyway…” Disability shaming

  1. 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.


    • 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.


    • 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. 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. 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. 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. 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!


    • 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.


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