Feminist Aspie

The Elephant In The Room: Emotional labour link round-up

Every time I come home from university and get properly re-acquainted with domestic family life again, I always end up wanting to blog about the same topic, yet I don’t think I’ve ever made it beyond a muddled outline in my drafts. It’s difficult to articulate without feeling like I’m making a fuss over nothing. It’s a big pattern of smaller things that, taken in isolation, seem barely worth mentioning. It’s definitely there, and it definitely scares me as a young autistic woman who only just about manages to look after myself without hitting total overload half the time, but I can never quite manage to convey it in words in a remotely satisfactory way.

Luckily, a load of other people already have. Over the past few weeks I’ve come across some really great pieces online about emotional labour, constantly left to women and constantly unnoticed and unappreciated, so I thought I’d share them here:

“Housework is not work. Sex work is not work. Emotional work is not work. Why? Because they don’t take effort? No, because women are supposed to provide them uncompensated, out of the goodness of our hearts.”

Do feel free to share further recommendations (and yes, that can totally include self-promotion) in the comments!

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The 3rd obligatory blogversary post!

My blogversary is 30th December, so these posts always end up basically being New Year posts. To that end, I’ve made my 2015 WordPress report public; you can see it here. The first thing I noticed about this is that recent posts have been few and far between! Final year of university is now officially a thing, and will become even more of a thing over the next six months, so I haven’t been able to post as much as I’d ideally like and I’ll probably disappear altogether as exams approach, but hopefully I’ll at least vaguely keep the blog ticking over for 2016.

I’ve noticed that as New Year approaches, a few people have linked back to some of the posts they’ve made over 2015, so in case anyone reading this happens to be really, really bored:

A huge huge huge thank you to everyone who’s read/liked/commented on/shared/etc my posts – this started out as me rambling into a digital void when I couldn’t face IRL confrontation, and the idea that other actual human beings pay attention to said rambling is still a very odd concept to me.

Happy New Year everyone!

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Three Day Quote Challenge – Day 3

(EDIT: This is my 100th post! That’s a bit weird to think about…)
(ANOTHER EDIT: A previous version of this post linked to You Are Not A Burden as republished on The Mighty; following recent concerns about this site I have found the same post on Lydia Brown’s own blog, Autistic Hoya, and changed my link accordingly.)

I made it! Three whole blog posts in three consecutive days! Hopefully I won’t disappear for months on end now… Anyway, this is the final post in the Three Day Quote Challenge as nominated by A Willful Woman. Here are the rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Publish a quote on 3 consecutive days on your blog. The quote can be one of your own, from a book, movie, or from anyone who inspires you.
  • Nominate 3 more bloggers each day to carry on this endeavour.

Today’s quote is from “You Are Not A Burden” by autistic activist Lydia Brown:

“Your only debt to society is to change the world for the better, even if all that means is a perfunctory encounter with a stranger that leaves another’s life a little bit better, another’s worries a little bit less daunting and frightening.

You don’t owe society anything else.”

I think that pretty much speaks for itself, really.

This is maybe cheating slightly, but in my last two posts I’ve simultaneously felt like I was struggling to think of possible willing participants to nominate and like I was probably missing a load of people out, so I’m going to open the challenge up to whoever’s reading this – if you want to have a go, have a go! Particularly recommended for anyone trying to restart a blog they’ve been massively neglecting because life got in the way… hopefully I’ll get a couple more posts in before next term, at least!

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Three Day Quote Challenge – Day 2

This is the second in a series of blogs I was nominated to carry out by A Willful Woman, and the rules are as follows:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Publish a quote on 3 consecutive days on your blog. The quote can be one of your own, from a book, movie, or from anyone who inspires you.
  • Nominate 3 more bloggers each day to carry on this endeavour.

This quote is from an article I read earlier this week, “Leveling both sides of the playing field” by Elaine Filadelfo:

“What if, instead of teaching women that they have to raise their hands to speak at meetings, we taught men to be more reflective and circumspect; instead of telling women to tamp down their emotions at the office, a man was told that he didn’t appear committed enough to the job because he’s never shed tears over it; instead of pushing women to take public credit for their work, we publicly admonish men who don’t properly acknowledge others’ contributions? I was just invited to a seminar on public speaking skills for women — where’s the class on listening skills for men?”

I’d really recommend reading the whole thing, which explores how and why the problem sexism in the workplace is often left for women to resolve; as well as ignoring the fact that when women do act more stereotypically “like men” they’re criticised and punished for it, this can also stray into blaming women for their own experiences of discrimination.

Today I’m nominating Spectrum Perspectives, ischemgeek and TARDISTIC. This challenge concludes tomorrow!

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Three Day Quote Challenge – Day 1

So I was nominated for this challenge by A Willful Woman what seems like billions of years ago now, and I’m only just getting round to doing it after a month and a half with no blog posts. Thank you for the nomination, and I’m really sorry for the delay – I’m officially a final-year law student now, so things have been pretty hectic recently and unfortunately I can’t be as glued to WordPress and Twitter as I’d like!

Anyway, the rules of the challenge are as follows:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  • Publish a quote on 3 consecutive days on your blog. The quote can be one of your own, from a book, movie, or from anyone who inspires you.
  • Nominate 3 more bloggers each day to carry on this endeavour.

After a little while trying to find the right super-inspirational quote to use, I’ve ended up deciding to start off with something funny instead… I suppose I’ve got two more days to make a serious point with, right? Anyway, this is from the weird and wonderful podcast Welcome to Night Vale, performed as a radio broadcast in a desert town where nothing is quite as it seems; more specifically it’s from the episode “Summer Reading Program”, and I’ve chosen it because it’s relevant to what has accidentally become a recurring theme on my blog…

“Some summer tips to beat the heat:

First off, have you tried to reason with the heat? Humans, temperatures, angels, and chairs are all equally real and sentient – which is to say that we’re all not real, nor are any of us actually sentient. But give reason a shot. It has never, not once in history worked, but it might just work this time!

If the heat won’t listen to reason, try denying that it’s hot. “Doesn’t seem hot today,” you might say to your profusely sweating neighbor. “A little chilly even,” you could continue, slipping on a sweater and making an exaggerated “brr!” noise as the glaring sun plants the idea of cancer in your skin.

And, if denial does not work, then your best bet – as with all problems in life – is exhausted resignation.

This has been summer tips to beat the heat.”

…Yeah, Night Vale is an unusual place. But this episode was part of the initial batch I listened to when I first got into the podcast during what was a pretty rocky time in my life, and this is still one of my favourite segments because turning something scary into something funny can often be really helpful, and also because it’s nice to be able to laugh at yourself sometimes!

Today I’m nominating Full Spectrum Mama, Alex Forshaw from Married With Asperger’s and HJ Street from Geeky Scribbles.

As stated above, this challenge goes on for three days, so I promise the gap between this post and the next won’t be quite as long this time!

 

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Autistics Speaking Day 2015: IRL

(As always, 1st November is Autistics Speaking Day – please do check out the other posts on the website!)

I haven’t been on here much recently; university is really hectic at the moment, and the time and energy that isn’t going into my studies is going into various other little side-quests. I don’t feel too disconnected though, because some of those side-quests are autism-related. Firstly, whilst I don’t want to go into details for anonymity reasons, I’ve recently embarked on a new project which involves writing about autism someplace else – publicly. It’s still online, and yet it feels more, y’know, IRL. It’s me, not just an alias I created specifically to express what I never felt I could around the people I care about, and it feels like a big step. The second thing I’ve been doing recently is starting, slowly and tentatively, to properly address some of the problems I’ve been having over the last couple of years and, I suppose, seek support through more formal channels. It sounds big and scary when I put it like that, but in reality it’s more like tiny baby steps that, taken individually, don’t seem worth worrying about.

I bring this up because I’m thinking about the year that’s passed since last year’s ASDay and realising that, in seemingly small and unconnected ways, I’m beginning to accept and embrace my autistic self not just in theory but in practice. The idea of learning now, as an adult, what sets me off and how to minimise the risk and how best to recover afterwards and how to explain all that to people seems like a bizarre concept, but it’s been happening to me for a while and it’s an ongoing process. For those of us who grew up believing that passing for neurotypical was the ultimate goal and that our differences were purely behavioural without considering sensory and other underlying differences in autism, it’s surprisingly common to have to re-learn how your brain wiring works and how to work with rather than against it. Some things that I thought were harmless need to be dealt with carefully or they can build up and lead to overload; on the other hand, some things that I thought were Very Very Bad can be mitigated and dealt with or even sometimes enjoyed, with some forward planning and supportive family and friends. My biggest challenge, as perhaps made evident by the whole “secret WordPress” thing, has been and is still opening up to people IRL (by the way, I include online communication with people I know in my definition of IRL, because why should that communication be less valid?) and again, the progress is slow, but steady, and perhaps increasing in pace. Even if the potential worst-case-scenarios never arise, I’ve found that just knowing there are people on side makes a world of difference.

What does this all mean? Well, in short, I’m one month into term and haven’t gone into shutdown yet (although who knows, maybe I’ve spoken too soon), I remain absolutely terrified of the future but I’m working towards making the future seem like an actual possible thing, and I’m feeling more like myself, like this version of me, in the big and scary realm of IRL.

Baby steps, as it turns out, can go a long way.

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10 Downsides Kids With Autism Get From Bullying (because apparently it isn’t obvious…)

Autism Daily Newscast has published an article by an ABA practitioner entitled “Ten Perks Kids With Autism Get From Bullying”. Yep, really. That’s a thing that now exists. (I won’t link, but I like Wandering Autistic’s “honest version” if you want a quick summary…) So, in the interests of balance, and because it apparently isn’t obvious, here are just some of the negative effects bullying has on autistic children:

  1. The physical and emotional abuse. Honestly, the list could just end here. No ~important skill~ or ~valuable life lesson~ is worth that. Ever.
  2. You learn, very quickly, not to trust anyone. If you are your honest self, they might turn against you. If they seem friendly, they might be using you or laughing at you behind your back.
  3. You get the impression that everyone hates you and/or thinks you’re whatever the bullies call you, it becomes so ingrained that those thoughts begin automatically wherever you are and whoever you’re with. In other words, the foundations of an anxiety disorder.
  4. The realisation that the adults who are supposed to help you just agree with the bullies, even if they use more technically-polite words to express it. Everyone seems to be taking the same victim-blaming stance – if you could just “act normal” you wouldn’t get bullied, and because you won’t or can’t, you must deserve it.
  5. Low self-esteem – because if everyone constantly tells you that your way of being is wrong, you start to believe it, and you start to believe that it’s your fault for being who you are.
  6. All of the above is likely to be detrimental to engaging in social activity and making friends in the future.
  7. The fact that we have to justify not being abused by saying it’s detrimental to social skills, because our social skills (often used just as shorthand for “passing for neurotypical”) are seen as more important than our humanity.
  8. Other people deciding that everything’s fine because they can use your pain for their ~inspiration~ or ~teamwork~ or ~awareness~.
  9. The frustration of adults telling you “we can’t stop bullies” when they’re not even trying; treating bullying as if it were a natural disaster they are powerless to stop, when in fact it’s a product of a society they created. Where do you think bullies learn their prejudices from?
  10. Knowing that the bullying of people like you never totally goes away even in the adult world. We just stop calling it bullying and refer to it as what it is – ableism.
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Don’t You Mean “Person With Ableist Derailing”?

Earlier today, I came across this great comic strip by Christine Deneweth about her experiences with schizophrenia and neurotypical privilege (link includes a transcript and image descriptions), in which she discusses the media’s damaging portrayal of schizophrenia, the pressure to “act neurotypical”, and the risk of workplace discrimination and even unfair incarceration faced by schizophrenic people. It’s really worth a read. Go on. I’ll wait.

After I read the comic strip, and because apparently I never ever learn my lesson, I read the comments on Everyday Feminism’s Facebook post promoting the piece – only to discover that most of the comments didn’t engage with the actual content at all, and instead criticised Deneweth’s use of the identity-first term “schizophrenic” (as opposed to person-first language e.g. “person with schizophrenia”). In other words, mostly neurotypical people telling the artist she’s somehow managing to stigmatise herself rather than thinking about the actual stigmatisation and ableism she’s described as coming from neurotypical people. Because obviously neurotypical people themselves are never the problem amirite?(/sarcasm) To be fair to Everyday Feminism, they responded to the worst offenders with this article by Caley and Creigh Farinas about the problems with policing disabled people’s identities (also really worth a read), but the fact that articles like this have to exist just goes to show that this same thing happens to disabled people talking about their experiences all – the – time.

Personally, I am autistic and I (like many others, although of course not everyone) prefer to use identity-first language to describe this fact. This is because I don’t think “autistic” is a bad thing; it’s not a negative quality, it’s a neutral quality. I feel that shoehorning in “person-with” where an adjective better suits the sentence sends the message that you can’t see “autistic” as a person without trying to separate the autism from the person, which isn’t possible; autism is a part of who I am, and I wouldn’t be the same person at all without it. Using identity-first language doesn’t mean I’m defining myself exclusively though autism – to give just one example, my gender doesn’t define me either but you don’t often come across the term “person with femaleness”! In my opinion, if neurotypical people are so keen on “putting the person first” then they need to demonstrate that in their actions, not just their words.

But my opinion doesn’t matter one iota here. The only person whose opinion matters is the person describing their own disability, and nobody has the right to police how someone identifies. It doesn’t matter if you’re some sort of professional expert on the relevant condition. It doesn’t matter if you know someone with the relevant condition (something that neurotypical people, apparently unable to imagine any of us having our own perspective, often equate to being that someone to claim authority). I don’t even think it matters that much if you share the relevant condition, although of course you remain free to use different language to describe yourself. You do not have the right to police how someone else describes themselves, especially regarding marginalised groups you don’t belong to.

The main reason this infuriates me so much has nothing to do with any of my concerns about person-first language itself. Instead, it’s because abled people seem to use this same-old-same-old argument to prevent meaningful conversation about disability and ableism, and to conveniently avoid engaging with the problems being highlighted (and, in turn, their possible roles in those problems).

Neurodivergent people are saying, over and over again, “we are being discriminated against, we are being portrayed unfairly and harmfully, we are not given adequate support and accommodations, we are mocked and bullied, we are excluded from the workplace and social spaces and other aspects of public life, we are sometimes incarcerated or abused or even killed just because our brains are wired differently to yours”.

But the only thing neurotypical people ever seem to take from that is “you’re the one oppressing yourself with your sentence structure”.

Telling someone how they should and shouldn’t describe their disability – especially at the expense of what they’re actually saying – is ableist. Or maybe it’s an action with ableism. Either way, it really needs to stop.

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People, Not Burdens

A person is more than just the sum of the resources they need to survive.

Refugees are more than just burdens, they are people, although the way the government and the media have framed the issue would have you believe otherwise. Migrants generally are seen as “coming over here and taking our jobs/benefits/houses” – despite evidence suggesting immigration can actually create jobs – and headlines about the refugee crisis in Calais are more concerned about British holidaymakers than the refugees themselves; essentially, many of those of us lucky enough to have safe homes to go to are hearing these stories from Syria and around Europe and never bothering to think beyond “but how does this affect ~me~?” as if the devastation of those people actually affected doesn’t matter. They might be slightly less likely to refer to the refugees as “a swarm” or “cockroaches” in recent days, but the dehumanising attitude still remains.

An argument I’ve seen a lot recently goes along the lines of “I bet all these people signing petitions wouldn’t be happy housing refugees personally in their home”, again viewing them only as burdens on others. Firstly, this is a really unfair comparison considering that very few people have the same level of resources (financial or otherwise) that governments have. Secondly, refugees are not burdens, they are people, and many would be very much capable of looking after themselves if only they were allowed the chance to settle in a safe place and get back on their feet. On the “Syria is Calling” Facebook page set up in Iceland this week, Bryndis Bjorgvinsdottir writes:

Refugees are human resources, experience and skills. Refugees are our future spouses, best friends, our next soul mate, the drummer in our children’s band, our next colleague, Miss Iceland 2022, the carpenter who finally fixes our bathroom, the chef in the cafeteria, the fireman, the hacker and the television host. People who we’ll never be able to say to: “Your life is worth less than mine.”

I would add that even if a refugee doesn’t become a carpenter or a chef or somebody’s spouse, they are human. They have likes and dislikes and hobbies and memories and experiences and thoughts and feelings. They have intrinsic value. A person is more than just the sum of the resources they need to survive.

Of course, people do need various resources to survive, as is pointed out relentlessly by the “but we’re not even looking after our own” crowd, which seems to mainly consist of people who call for benefit cuts and funding cuts right up until immigration hits the headlines, at which point they suddenly become outraged about poverty and homelessness because they can blame immigration rather than the real causes… But the thing is, we do have the resources. The UK government is spending millions of pounds on keeping out the refugees in Calais, and is considering military action in Syria; imagine how many refugees that money could feed and house, or how it could improve infrastructure to meet the demand. Austerity and government cuts are more than simply “sorry, we’re out of money”, they involve political and ideological choices, and refugees are not to blame.

There seems to have been a general shift in popular opinion this week, but that hasn’t been total; many people have simply shifted to “I feel sad for them now, but it’s for other countries to deal with, not us”. Somebody else’s problem – do we not realise that those other countries are saying exactly the same thing about us?

While we’re all squabbling over who should “deal with” a perceived burden, people are dying, drowning, suffocating, as a result of a crisis fuelled by racist, xenophobic anti-immigration narrative across Europe.

People, not burdens.

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Expectations, Expectations Everywhere!

Being autistic, like being human in general, comes with a lot of false and contradictory expectations to meet.

I often find myself caught between the belief ingrained in me for years that my autism means I’m Being Neurotypical Wrong, and the the more recently-developed feeling that I’m Being Autistic Wrong. In the past I rarely bothered asking for accommodations or disclosing disability beyond the standard equal opportunity tick-box in applications, worried that people would think it was fake, but now I’m also worried that not doing that makes people think it’s fake. I still can’t quite shake off the passing-for-neurotypical mask I put on automatically around other people, which makes me feel insincere and (again) fake, but at the same time I still stim and generally am sometimes more obviously autistic and people react badly to that too. Some people who only see me in certain contexts think I’m too quiet these days; others see me in certain contexts and think I’m too loud. And, of course, neurotypical people have that tendency to either only see an autistic person’s weaknesses but not their strengths or vice versa, creating a tightrope of constantly trying to prove “I’m not faking” and “I am capable of these things” to other people at the same time.

Like it or not, the expectations of others are powerful. We often look to what other people are saying and doing in order to work out what is required of us, what the ideal outcomes are, and what is and isn’t appropriate. Importantly, though, looking at what other people do shows me what is considered to be normal – in a world that’s also constantly telling me that “normal” should be my ultimate goal.

So by extension, I feel like I have to generally do what other people are doing. Blend in with other people. Wonder what other people think about me, to the point of fixation. As it turns out, there are lots of potential reasons for people to judge you – what you do with your free time, how you socialise and how often, how you look, what you eat and drink (or what you don’t), the extent to which you express emotions and how, how you carry yourself generally, how you react to certain events and experiences in your life, how vocal you are (or aren’t) about various topics and issues… and in case it wasn’t complicated enough, different people expect different and often contradictory things from you. I can’t please everyone even if I wanted to.

As I head into my final year at university, the future is becoming more real and more scary, and the bigger long-term expectations of other people are playing a significant part in that. The combination of what and where I’m studying means I’m currently in a world of “well obviously you’ll want this career and these are the steps you have to take and even though it’s not statistically possible that everybody does the same thing it’s all we’ll ever talk about ever“. In the graduate recruitment context, everything seems to have rough ages and degree stages attached to it too, and the fact that I’ve just done an Erasmus year abroad (which, of course, I spent constantly worried about whether or not people thought I was making the most of the experience!) makes me feel like I’ve fallen behind my graduated friends, and watching them all go on to do these great impressive things just adds to the pressure.

Having said that, over the past year I’ve learned that other people’s expectations are mostly rubbish and it’s not healthy to constantly compare your whole reality to other people’s Facebook statuses, funny anecdotes and general highlight reels. Slowly but surely, I’m starting to think “You know what? This stuff really doesn’t matter. I don’t need to fit exactly what everyone else expects of me, and it’s better for all parties for me to be honest, be myself and work towards goals I really do want to achieve.” Sounds good so far, right?

One small hitch: I’m so used to relying on what other people want me to be that if you take all that away, I’m not sure how to figure out what I want to be anymore.

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drcable sTRANge notes

notes on the sTRANge

A Willful Woman...

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

Musings Of A Wandering Autistic

I'm Autistic, I like walks, there's probably water nearby.

searchingtounderstand

When I understand, I feel better. This condemns me to a lot of reading and thinking.

21andsensory

Im 21 and have Sensory Processing Disorder

Michy's Mess

The Mess of my Ups and Downs and All Arounds

The (Trans)cendental Tourist

Transgender scholarship for the riotous of heart.

allthecoolkidsrusticate

Dealing with Oxford and depression

feministkilljoys

killing joy as a world making project

Asperganoid

POSTMODERN

Autism Mom

One mom, one child, one experience on the Autism spectrum

0olong Messes About On WordPress.com

but probably doesn't do any actual blogging

chromegurl

The trials and tribulations of a 40-something year old gurl

lettersfromapillbottle

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

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