Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Gimp is slang for a person with a physical disability, refers to some sort of open source photo editing software. The word gimp is a combo term for gay wimp, and is used to describe a man who likes to wear rubber suits as part of sex play. And it is also a common term for plastic lacing used at summer camps around the world to make lanyards and other useless crafts.

Or at least is USED to be a common term for plastic lacing used at summer camps around the world.

Is there anyone out there who can explain to me how the derogatory slang for a person with a disability became associated with a summer camp activity? I'm not looking for conjecture, but rather an explanation. Seriously.

I was called on the virtual carpet by a colleague last week for sending an email to three people asking for information on where they buy "gimp" for student activities. This was after getting a request to buy "gimp" from a teacher, and asking three purchasing professionals in our business office if they had any idea where I could buy "gimp," AND searching the online catalogues of myriad retailers for "gimp" using multiple search terms including "boondoggle" and lanyard craft kits. All with no result. So, at the suggestion of a member of the purchasing team in my office suggested I contact colleagues in the summer camp division of our office where they buy the plastic lacing. And that's when my awareness was raised about the link between summer fun and making fun of other people.

Had it every occurred to you that gimp, the plastic lacing, was politically incorrect? It has occurred to me now, and I feel embarrassed about the email I sent around the office last week. Oh, and I found and purchased the plastic lacing online, using the search term "gimp".

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