Beyoncé will re-record ‘ableist’ lyric on her new single – after backlash from disability campaigners

Beyoncé has announced she will be rectifying an “ableist slur” in the lyrics of a song on her new Renaissance album.

It comes after the global superstar was criticised for the use of the term “sp**” in her song, ‘Heated’ – “Sp***in’ on that ass, sp** on that ass – an offensive colloquial term derived from the medical term “spastic” or “spasm” which refers to the muscle spasms sufferers of cerebral palsy experience. The song formed part of her new album, Renaissance, which was released last Friday 29 July. 

It’s believed, according to The Independent, that the colloquial use of this word is generally understood as more offensive in the UK compared to the US, where Beyonce is based. However, it is globally considered to be offensive towards those with disabilities, according to disability rights blogger the Rolling Explorer.

It wasn’t long before disability campaigners pointed out the lyric’s inappropriateness. Warren Kirwan, media manager at Scope, a disability charity, noted the singer’s use of the “deeply offensive term” and called it “appalling”. Hannah Diviney, an Australia-based writer, disability and women’s rights, said Beyoncé’s lyrics felt like “a slap in the face” to herself and the disabled community. 

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“Beyoncé’s commitment to storytelling musically and visually is unparalleled, as is her power to have the world paying attention to the narratives, struggles and nuanced lived experience of being a black woman – a world I can only ever understand as an ally, and have no desire to overshadow,” wrote Diviney for Australian site, Hireup. “But that doesn’t excuse her use of ableist language – language that gets used and ignored all too often.”

Thankfully, it seems Beyonce and her team have been quick to respond to the backlash, and will be making amends to the star’s long-awaited seventh solo album. The offending term will be replaced, a publicist for Beyonce confirmed to Sky News – adding that it was not “used intentionally in a harmful way”. 

Beyonce has not at present released a response directly. 

It’s notable that, as Hannah Diviney highlighted in her tweet, it’s not long since Lizzo was criticised for a similar usage of the same ableist term  in her song ‘GRRRLS’. She went on to replace it with the phrase “hold me back”. 

“It’s been brought to my attention that there is a harmful word in my new song ‘Grrrls’. Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language,” Lizzo responded on Instagram at the time.