Feminist Aspie


on May 31, 2014

TW: Murder, violence

It seems that the misogynistic Santa Barbara shootings evoked powerful, painful, visceral feelings in all of us. For me, still reeling from family issues which I’d really rather not talk about in any detail but to which misogyny is (in my opinion) inextricably linked, these feelings consisted mainly of frustration and hopelessness. A realisation that this stuff is very real, it’s everywhere, and it kills.

Although, of course, outside of the internet I haven’t really spoken about it. Because, well, not all men. It’s not even that I’m worried about not having an answer for that sort of response; the Tumblr post I’ve linked to above pretty much nails it. Choice quote:

Not all men.

But enough men that all women are now afraid of most men.
It’s gotten so bad that we have to be afraid of even telling you we are afraid.

It’s a fear that I still haven’t been able to articulate in a way I find satisfactory. The particular, unique fear of speaking out about patriarchy; a fear I’ve had to analyse recently. I can’t put my finger on it. I’m not expressly thinking “I can’t say anything in case he turns aggressive/violent”, although of course many do have that in the forefront of their minds. It’s more… implicit, subtle, ingrained. Learned gradually over time. Normalised. And if this weekend has taught me anything, it’s that this fear is a very common and very gendered experience. “Not all men” becomes irrelevant; the actual threat of violence doesn’t need to be present, because enough men are like that, along with our entire culture, for virtually all women to have good reason to be afraid. Because the very possibility of it, as well as stereotypes and double standards supporting the idea of women catering and submitting to men, has been drummed into us all our lives, often subconsciously.

We don’t talk about this fear enough, precisely because of this fear. Instead, we assume there’s something wrong with us. Anger, fear, guilt, shame, self-loathing.

And it applies to all of it, be it something as major as the events of last week, or the more seemingly minor everyday incidents. I say “seemingly” because I don’t find them to be minor at all. They add up. They’re based on the same attitudes, the same foundations, as those which make the headlines. There’s still the same unidentifiable, inescapable, entirely normal fear. We’re too used to it to notice anymore.

I spend far too much of my life terrified, and it seems I’m not alone.

I need to be braver.


10 responses to “Afraid

  1. Amy says:

    Excellent post as always but don’t be hard on yourself or feel you need to be “braver”. You’re doing a great deal in speaking out here and beyond. You have to look after yourself and only challenge when you’re comfortable to do so. When you do, though, always remember you’re not alone.

  2. Still staying anonymous says:

    Another excellent post. What is continuing to tear me up is what can people like me – male aspies who are likely to miss social cues, and thus be perceived as part of the problem (some of us certainly are, and I continue to call out and try to educate), can actually do about it – preferably not turning ourselves into self-hating recluses.

    • Thanks! This is a massively difficult issue, maybe because in an ideal world this intimidation wouldn’t exist so women would feel able to be more open and clear about what is and isn’t okay (and tell those who are genuinely oblivious that they need to change something), and I’d love to hear from others who may have more helpful replies than that 😛 This doesn’t really answer your question, but since writing the consent post you first commented on I’ve come across a few other links about the issue:

      http://realsocialskills.tumblr.com/post/79661763197/clueless-creepiness-vs-skillful-creepiness – Essentially a post on how to tell whether someone is being deliberately creepy or is genuine unaware of their actions, and what to do about it. Please don’t be put off by the “social skills” phrase in the URL – the Tumblr is run by an autistic person and is actively trying to counter the harmful “have you tried NOT being autistic?” rhetoric of traditional “social skills training”.

      http://autisticacademic.com/2014/05/29/fine-well-talk-about-autism-and-misogyny/ – Another blog post about the autism and consent thing. So much better worded than mine. 😛

  3. Abdul Alhazred says:

    One of the interesting things about certain minority groups in America is that it is the male members of these groups that are more stigmatized than the female members. Here are 3 examples: black people, gay people, and autistic people. Black men and autistic men are vilified more than women with those traits because they are seen as threatening and dangerous, even if they haven’t done a damn thing wrong and never would. This leads them to be rejected, excluded, denied employment, wrongfully accused of criminal acts, and given harsher sentences as part of an attempt to remove them from society.

    That’s what’s pernicious about American culture: The law and society are far more zealous about eliminating things that make people uncomfortable than things that are actually dangerous. Everytime a mass shooting like this happens, the perpetrator is someone who seemed like a quiet, mild mannered gentleman.

    It really doesn’t help when neurotypical feminists like Lisa Gehring(autistcorner) try to kiss up to NT feminism’s demonization of men who are socially inept through no fault of their own and characterize them as rapists. 50 years ago the popular image of a rapist was a black man, now it’s an autistic man. Or blogs like manboobz which mock and ridicule socially inept men but never use the qualifier “autistic” or “aspie” to avoid being called ableist. Because of these pervasive attitudes, more and more isolated men with autism are becoming MRAs and are increasingly angry at society. And with the Isla Vista shooting their anger has exploded into the national forefront. Do not pull a strawman and try to accuse me of justifying Roger’s rampage because in fact, it solved nothing and made things much worse for us. I just thought I’d give an autistic man’s perspective.

  4. I agree that blaming the Isla Vista shootings on autism (or blaming any misogyny on autism) is awful; it gives all autistic men a bad name, gives all neurotypical men a free pass, and conveniently forgets that autistic women exist. The problem here isn’t autism. The problem here is misogyny.

    I’ve linked to a couple of other posts in the comment above, and I think they’re very relevant here too:



    Also, I can’t find autistcorner? All that came up was a blog called autistscorner by someone who is called Lindsay, actually on the spectrum herself, and hasn’t posted since early May.

    • Abdul Alhazred says:

      I believe in general that the real problem is prejudice against autism. Women as a group have a lot more power than autistic people(men and women combined) do. But most of all, autistic people need to stick together! That is, autistic men uniting with autistic women.

      I see a grave danger of these gender wars between neurotypicals(feminists versus MRAs)causing permanent division between the sexes of autists. Time to resist.

      Here’s the blogpost I was referring to: http://autistscorner.blogspot.com/2009/10/but-what-about-aspie-men.html

      • Still anonymous says:

        From Abdul’s link:
        ” I insist that, if a man can’t get a reasonably clear idea of whether his partner is enjoying herself just by looking at her, he should stop and ask her. Is that really so hard?”

        No, it’s not. Personally, I regard active consent (by which I mean phrases like “Please can we do [this thing I find really pleasurable] together?” as distinct from “Yes, okay”) extremely hot. It tells me I’m wanted which, for someone who is used to rejection, is exciting.

        That’s not – to me – where the problem lies. This is the kind of rule anyone can have drummed into hir skull. Even when trying to develop purely platonic relationships – or even just trying to have a civilised conversation – you run across the problem of conditioned compliance (see http://www.thinkingautismguide.com/2013/02/no-you-dont.html ), wherein an interlocutor, especially a female interlocutor, especially a female aspie interlocutor, will give consent to continued conversation or more intimate contact out of social conditioning as opposed to hir own desires, which is exactly what Feministaspie was writing about.

        I want to be able to ask and for the person I do ask to feel able to tell me what they want, whether that is to courteously end a conversation, or to find somewhere private and do pleasurable things for each other until we collapse into a replete sweaty heap, or anything in between.

        I *don’t* want to be “humoured”. This implies stupidity, which I reject, rather than neuroatypicality. It’s also patronising.

        While I am in the superposition of Potential Threat, that isn’t possible. It also leaves women, especially aspie women, in an even more invidious position. I’m worried about being driven back behind my locked door. She is worried about a lot worse, for reasons already discussed.

        This is where we run into the problem with the Tumblr post. It is not anyone else’s responsibility to tell us inadvertently creepy people where, even if, we went wrong. Equally, just telling us that we did do something “obvious” wrong is unhelpful and liable to perpetuate the problem.

        I still don’t know how to resolve this.

  5. alexforshaw says:

    This. Even back when I was living as male I found men intimidating. There is an air of potential aggression that I find menacing. I know that it’s “not all men”, but because it is some men I feel wary around all of them.

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