Feminist Aspie

On Condition

Content note: This post discusses rape culture.

There’s a tendency, particularly amongst the “I’m a feminist/ally but” types, to respect women if, and only if, said women appear to be invulnerable, perfect machines.

A woman is deemed worthy of respect on condition that she dedicates all her time and energy to her work and/or to other people. Self-care is viewed as selfish.

A woman is deemed worthy of respect on condition that she does not show emotion under any circumstances, because emotion is considered feminine and feminine is considered bad, so she’ll get every stereotype in the book thrown in her face.

A woman is deemed worthy of respect on condition that she “respects herself”, a phrase that usually seems to have nothing to do with actually respecting herself and everything to do with following all the old tired nonsense rules about how to Not Get Raped, which doesn’t sound a lot like respecting her to me.

A woman is deemed worthy of respect on condition that she is “strong enough”; that she “can take it”. Nobody stops to question exactly what she has to take and why she should have to take it.

A woman is deemed worthy of respect on condition that she does not make requests, whether that’s accommodations for childcare, for disability, or anything that even as much as puts her on a level playing field with others. She has to just take it, otherwise she’s considered weak.

A woman is deemed worthy of respect on condition that she doesn’t “let herself be a victim”, which is apparently still a phrase that exists and is used on a regular basis. Victim-blaming in its purest form. In order to not “let herself be a victim” (again, what???) she has to just take it, not make a big deal out of it (read: keep quiet). Any trauma she has experienced must not manifest itself, for example in the form of PTSD, because (even though she obviously doesn’t have a choice about that) then she’s “letting herself be a victim”. And woe betide her if she asks for trigger warnings.

I use “a woman” because, if she goes against any of the above, she’s suddenly considered to be representing all women – in many cases, she’s told she’s “letting her gender down” or “making women look weak”. The aim of this is to turn other women, sadly including feminists a lot of the time, against her in order to protect themselves (because women are already deemed to be weak too much as it is), leading to a situation where we’re all competing for scraps of respect and validation because we have no other choice.

Meanwhile, at least in terms of his gender (other axes of oppression may of course apply), a man is deemed worthy of respect… full stop.

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Scary Thoughts I Had In A Group For Autistic Women

(TRIGGER WARNING: This post discusses ableism, misogyny, harassment, relationship abuse, and sexual assault)

If you grow up surrounded by social norms you find confusing, unnecessary or uncomfortable and are told you just have to learn to accept it, then patriarchy and gender roles might not seem any different.

If you’re constantly mocked and teased by people who assert that it’s “just a joke” (and therefore your fault for not finding it funny), then you might also blame yourself for reacting wrongly when men insist that catcalling and harassment is “just a compliment”.

If your facial expressions are always perceived as wrong and as a problem to be fixed, then “smile, love!” might seem like helpful advice.

If your requests for people to meet you halfway or even 10% of the way in an ableist world and make minor accommodations for disabilities have always been deemed uncompromising, selfish, manipulative or controlling, then you might not notice a problem when requests for a partner to do even part of their fair share of the housework are met with a similar response. Or you might have learned not to make requests at all.

If you’ve been taught to move, speak and act exactly how other people want you to, you might not recognise this sort of control as wrong, or as anything less than normal.

If you’re always told your autism isn’t enough to count, you might assume your abuse isn’t enough to count either.

If you’re taught that standing up for yourselves isn’t worth it, you might not stand up for yourself anymore, and then everything must be fine because you’re not arguing over it, right? Why don’t you just confront him?

If you’re told that things you find painful don’t really hurt at all, that your feelings and perceptions are incorrect, that nothing is as important as passing for neurotypical which usually means compliance, if you were never given the tools to say no, then… you do the maths.

In “Quiet Hands”, Julia Bascom uses the phrase “And when you’re autistic, it’s not abuse. It’s therapy.”, something that I think could be extended to other disabilities too. This pervasive ableism leaves all disabled people vulnerable to further abuse. Throw in the prevalence of gendered abuse and violence against women (as well as other intersecting oppressions) and the way we treat disability becomes all the more chilling.

Because if you’re constantly told you’re a burden, you’re always to blame, you should be grateful when people don’t outright dismiss you and laugh at you, then you might start to believe it.

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Aestivation

Honestly, I’m not sure I really want to publish this post now that it’s written; so fair warning, it may well end up being part of my fairly small group of previously-published hidden posts soon. But at the same time, I think I needed to vent like this, and I haven’t blogged for a while because of exams and kinda feel like I should explain why I didn’t rush back to the blog as planned once I’d finished. I promise I’ll be back writing proper posts that aren’t just pathetic-whining-about-my-life really soon, though – there’s an outline sitting in my drafts already!

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Nope. First comes the initial panic. Nope nope nope nope nope nope nope. But funnily enough, repeating “nope” and other stronger words to the screen does nothing to change it. The internal panic button has already been pressed. Fine then. It will come, and it will pass, and everything will be okay. If I know it’s coming, I can prepare.

So that’s me for a few days; knowing it’s coming, knowing I have to do all in my power to avoid it, and knowing that avoiding it isn’t possible – but at least I can plan ahead. The days stop having names and start having numbers, and everything’s leading up to a peak. I prepare for the event, cramming all adulting tasks into the space before it arrives, making sure the clothes with materials I’ll tolerate are clean and I’ve got in enough food I’ll be able to make myself eat. I joke to myself that I feels a bit like a hedgehog preparing for hibernation, except with absolutely awful timing (hence the post title – a word I never seem to think of at the time). In the early stages, I push through the anxiety and the sensory overload as much as I can so that when it really begins, I’m ready. Part of me knows that I’ll never be ready enough, though; it just inherently makes me panic and it already has, and the fact that I’m already not handling it terrifies me.

…And usually, that’s it. The End. Everything is okay. The only thing that brings me down at all is my own silly irrational terrified brain, which I spend the next little while beating myself up over because how can I still be this pathetic. The reality doesn’t match up to the Absolute Worst that was in my head.

Except, of course, for when it does – and I think I’d forgotten how that really feels.

I woke up at 6am yesterday morning, and time had slowed to a crawl as the world around me warmed up at an alarming rate. There was one last bit of admin which I couldn’t get under control in time, but I was with a friend, we were going early and we didn’t have to go far so I was feeling positive. I psyched myself up for The Outside World with music and selfies. It went really well. Within an hour of that, all the air around me seemed to disappear and sensory overload was setting in and I felt sick. The cool-shower-and-a-nap plan maybe sort of made everything okay for about half an hour. I spent the next five or six snail-pace hours hovering over full-scale-meltdown point, wanting desperately to be unconscious but not being able to sleep, or eat, or think straight, being fully aware that I was lucky to have just finished exams beforehand and to be able to hide away and not have to be a fully functioning adult and feeling absolutely pathetic because clearly other people have more to deal with and yet are dealing with it so much better than me, taking an hour to type out a simple gift message because I kept freaking out and moving away from the laptop and rocking and clawing at my neck and shoulders because icantbreatheandeverythingsburningandnothingidoismakingitstop, and when it began to slowly ease off, that turned into slightly more articulate-able panic about whether the storm would come or whether I’d be stuck in this mess for a day, an hour, a second longer. Then there was a really loud downpour, and then everything was okay. Today, I’m a bit post-meltdown-drained but those feelings are starting to fade now, and everything is okay.

Well, except for the reminder of why I’m so ridiculously afraid of a little screen full of big numbers in the first place.

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