Feminist Aspie

Scary Thoughts I Had In A Group For Autistic Women

on June 12, 2015

(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.


11 responses to “Scary Thoughts I Had In A Group For Autistic Women

  1. May says:

    I’m so glad that you led me to Quiet Hands when you linked to the post before – I look after a boy who doesn’t have any diagnoses but definitely stims and doesn’t have “quiet hands”. I’ve never told him to keep his hands still anyway, but was grateful to be alerted to the fact that this does happen and how damaging it is – it is very helpful to be consciously aware of the reasons not to tell him to keep still and stop “fidgeting”.

    Your explanation of how ableism reinforces sexism makes so much sense and is quite frightening. Thank you for always having thought-provoking things to say.

    • Thank you for reading!! I’m really glad you liked Julia Bascom’s piece, and I’d also really recommend “On Being Articulate” on the same blog; personally it sums up my communication issues so well it’s scary.

  2. cambriaj1977 says:

    This is exactly what happened to me. I grew up in an abusive household…my autistic stims were dismissed and “gotten rid of” (for lack of a better phrase), then I was told to be afraid, my money taken away, and eventually my freedoms, the threat of physical abuse, and finally I was thrown out and sent back to my mother with scars on my heart, and on my face.

  3. I quite agree. Some disabilities and some peoples responses to disabilities are very very abusive, thus having a disability itself is already an indicator of abuse, sadly. Even sadder, this constant minimising, gaslighting, invalidating, blaming and shaming leads to many terrible consequences, including people who just do not say no to anything anymore. Who think everyone has the right to do whatever they please to them. This opens people up for all sorts of crimes where consent is normally the indicator of whether or not this is criminal behaviour.

    Is it really harassment if not one feels harassed anymore? Is it rape if there is no concept of consent present? That’s raising the type of person that jumps out of the window with no questions asked just because you said “jump!”. At some point you become so paranoid about everyone crossing your nonexistent boundaries that you simply trust no one anymore…

  4. […] Feminist Aspie on autism and gender violence […]

  5. Cyndi says:

    My emotionally abusive dad asked me “what did YOU do to make these kids start teasing you?” when he overheard me complaining about the constant bullying I went through in high school. I was short, thin and didn’t look or act my age due to my PDDNOS.

    I took it as meaning I deserved it for “existing wrong” and stopped reporting the bullying. Then I tried to commit suicide and self-harmed every day. I just turned 35 yesterday and I could not love myself at all between the ages of 18 and 32. I spoke at length about it in a video series I posted on my Youtube two weeks ago: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpaI9mLOtRhpJcarobFpOYY49fQBHsuhU

    The ironic thing is my dad is severely disabled by Parkinson’s disease now. If he has difficulties it’s the Parkinson’s, if I have difficulties it’s because I’m making excuses to not try hard enough to be normal. My mom is an ally and she tells him to shut up when he starts on that. He can’t intimidate me or prevent me from leaving the room when I’m melting down like he could when I was younger, but he can still cut me apart with comments or by making me feel emotions and then berating me as being wrong to feel them. He never accepted my diagnosis and calls it a big excuse. I’ve learned it’s a HIM thing and it’s not ME. That was the hardest lesson to learn.

  6. […] Scary Thoughts I Had In A Group For Autistic Women – Fairly self-explanatory, ableism and sexism are both very scary things! […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

the silent wave

life through one female Asperger's lens

Living In Limbo

The rants, writing and ramblings of a queer, autistic, chronically ill young adult.

Little Bird, Dreaming

Welcome to the landscapes, mindscapes, and futurescapes of my geography journeys

Sacred Liminality

musings of a genderfluid Fae

the uninspirational

I'm not aspiring to inspire you

Elephants Remember

Living and working with autism in a non-autistic world

that Bloody Cat

Love and chaos deep in the Midwest

Just One Autistic Girl

Be As Younique as your own Fingerprint

drcable sTRANge notes

notes on the sTRANge

A Willful Woman...

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

A Hell On Earth

Researching the history of the Huronia Regional Centre from a neurodiversity perspective.


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


I'm Emily and I have Sensory Processing Disorder

Michy's Mess

The Mess of my Ups and Downs and All Arounds

%d bloggers like this: