Saturday, April 27, 2013

Politically Incorrect...again.

Some friends of mine posted this link to Facebook, prompting a discussion in which I found myself in the position of having to disagree with them all: Street Harrassment and Legos I don't want to get into a long, controversial argument on Facebook (it wouldn't be the first time I strongly disagreed with these friends on certain issues) so am bringing the topic here instead. I like and respect these people, but sometimes we don't see things in the same way.

My response was: "I guess that I wouldn't consider a single expression of admiration street harrassment. If it was loud, obnoxious, or repeated, then yes, but saying "Hey Babe", once, in a reasonably polite tone, wouldn't offend me, nor would I personally consider it harrassment. Conversely, I have walked by a couple of attractive dykes as I walked into a coffee shop and said, "Hey ladies!", and they smiled back at me. Was that street harrassment? All I meant was to let them both know they were attractive."

The reply was that the reason it's not OK for guys to express admiration, even within the parameters I listed, is basically because the guy is A: male, B: bigger and stronger and C: a construction worker, and that this sort of thing is the most common form of sexual violence.

Frankly, this point of view is more offensive than any guy of any size or occupation saying "Hey Babe!" once in a non-threatening way. Here's why I feel this way:

  • My personal sense of power as a woman is not compromised by my gender or my size. To say that I am weaker and therefore need to be handled in a way that is different than if I were bigger or male goes against my idea of feminism and equality. Yes, I am smaller. Yes, I am physically less strong. I am also faster, can be mean under the wrong circumstances, more intelligent than most foes, have had self defense classes, and am not about to live and feel like a victim simply because I am smaller than average and happen to have a vagina rather than a penis.
  • If we as women are going to claim that we are equal, deserve equal pay, equal rights, etc, then don't we need to assert our equality by believing and acting as if we are equal? Equality starts right here, in my court, with my identity, actions and expectations. While we're at it, I'm going to really piss people off and say that I have no use for the phenomenon in which women do less work and still demand equal pay. That's not equality and it isn't feminism; it's asking for special treatment based on gender.
  • Let me be clear: I am not OK with sexual advances made in an intimidating or threatening manner...but that's not what we're talking about here. I do not consider a whistle or a "Hey Babe" to be intimidating, threatening advances. If my boss did this, then yes, because his position as my boss places him in a power differential. It's not because he's male or because he's bigger, it's because he's my boss and has the power to threaten my job security if I don't comply.
  • Stepping in even more politically incorrect shit: let's be honest, we sometimes dress in such a way as to attract attention. Dressing in a sexy manner and then bristling and labeling male interest as sexual violence is stupid and contradictory. Of course it is not OK for a man to grab, grope, harrass (show interest *after* it has been made clear that the woman is NOT interested) etc a woman because of how she is dressed, even if she is walking down the street nude. If a guy expresses admiration and is rebuffed, then it should end there. She's not interested, you got to see a hot chick, leave her alone now, period. I'm dressed in a slightly provacative manner today: spandex bicycle shorts under a short, snug little dress whose hem barely covers the shorts. I felt sexy, wanted to act sexy, so I dressed the part. I got ogled (silently) at the store an hour ago and that was fine. Guess what? I never, ever get ogled or commented on when I wear my work clothes (Carhartt's and T shirt). When I'm working, I'm there to work (pruning berry bushes and landscaping), so I dress for work, not sex appeal. If I am dressing so as to be on display, then I am inviting attention, and I am aware of this fact. If I don't want attention, then I don't dress for it.
  • I have been raped and molested and sexually harrassed and taken advantage of. I have experienced real sexual violence often enough to have serious trauma issues from it. It really offends me to hear something like a wolf whistle classed with rape. Doing so waters down the definition of sexual violence and sexual harrassment and detracts from our credibility. It's sort of like the little sister who screams "Johnny hurt me!!!!" and bursts into tears, just because he made a face at her, and sometimes after she made a face at him first. Her parents start ignoring her because she whines over the slightest thing. They are less likely to listen when Johnny does hit her, because she's always squawking. I don't appreciate having the violence that has been done to me minimized by other people because some women draw no distinction between a non-threatening verbal expression of interest and having their ass grabbed.

tire topic makes me very glad that I was not born male. :-(

"Anxiety is love's greatest killer. It creates the failures. It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you. You want to save him, but you know he will strangle you with his panic." -Anais Nin.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Also: what kind of relationship would that be, anyway? One cannot attain a goal which has not been defined.

Hmmm. I guess I want to be free to love, to be loved in return, to have what the books call "comapanionate love", to know that when life gets difficult, I'll have a ally, not an adversary or worse, a gap where soemone used to be right up until the shit hit the fan. Loyalty and getting through the hard stuff together is pretty important to me; fairweather friends and lovers can be found anywhere. I want to know that if I get cancer or some other kind of sick, someone will be there visiting me at the hospital...that if life deals me a blow, there will be comforting arms to enfold me....that sort of thing. :-/

Friday, April 19, 2013

Starting to do art again...will post a link when it's done.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

This looks like possibly the most useful site I have found yet to deal with the problems I have been having. The difficult thing has been that I am aware in some part of my mind that the thoughts which are tormenting me are not reasonable, realistic, or rational, but it's sort of like having really bad music piped into your bedroom 24/7- at some point it is going to get to you and it's so loud that anything else can hardly be heard. I have got to find a way to unplug the speakers and throw them out the window.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 brain is tormenting me again with the idea that my partner doesn't love me anymore (is it OK to call him a partner? Unsure). The smallest gesture, things said, not said, every variation in routine, language, action, becomes confabulated into a specter of impending rejection/dying relationship/not being wanted any longer, just convenient, etc. Everything hurts, completely out of proportion, or worse, things that shouldn't hurt at all. It's a special kind of hell. :-(

How to make it stop? Clearly there are things unsettled that need to be settled, but if I were able to do that myself, it would have been done with already. Something triggered me, but the time for being triggered is over and I just need for this to stop and go away already. Worse, it isn't easy for other people to deal with, which only feeds the cycle and exacerbates matters. Then I hate myself for being this way, and again, this doesn't help either. It is becoming a self-perpetuating source of pain. Meanwhile, I am feeling needy/touch hungry, but my behavior is off-putting. Ugh......

Many of you have probably already heard of Amanda, but if you haven't, I would encourage you to meet her, via her blog. She is just out of surgery, following a not very subtle attempt to convince her that death was a better option. Yes, that is pretty much what happened. :-( I'm happy to say that she's still alive and well- the world needs more like her, not fewer!
When will the carnage end? Why do people feel the need to kill others? It's very hard to grasp the enormity of this kind of loss/violence/horror....and then one thinks about all the wars and sensless violence on a worldwide level....why? Why do people do this sort of thing?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

On "Suffering from Autism".

We hear these words a lot. I am not an autistic person, or an aspie, because that is not considered politically correct, person first language. The "correct" way to refer to me is apparently to say that I am a person who suffer froms autism/Asperger's syndrome. Well, newsflash: that so called correct terminology is very offensive to me, whereas referring to me as an autistic person or an aspie is not, just as referring to me as a woman is not offensive. It is a simple, descriptive statement. I am a person with female parts and identity, also I am a person with Asperger's. Not offensive, merely factual.

Why is the "suffering from autism" phraseology so aversive?

Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder. "Pervasive" means that our entire personality and identity is affected/colored by autism. Autism is an integral part of who I am, just as being female, artistic, introverted, etc is an integral part of who I am. If the curebies had their way and managed to "cure" me of autism, the person I am would no longer be here. I wouldn't be me anymore, I'd be a complete stranger. Saying that I suffer from autism is just as offensive as saying that I suffer from femaleness. Now, it is true that there are disadvantages to being female, particularly in a culture in which gender equality is still not yet a reality. However, no woman wants to be referred to as "a person suffering from female gender"- they are less offended by being referred to as a woman, or better yet, simply as a person, period. The same is true for me.

Here are some things related to autism that autistics/aspies do suffer from.

  • Depression- is pretty much endemic among us. I think it is safe to say that if you were to erase depression from any autistic person's world, their improvement would be impressive- without touching the autism at all. Depression kills an awful lot of us, and it sucks the life, ambition and hope out of our lives. It can be accurately and fairly stated that we do suffer from depression.
  • Bullying. If you find an autistic person who hasn't been bullied throughout their life, please let me know. Probably they will have been raised in a bubble. Bullies torment us from early childhood on, into adulthood, taking advantage of our naivete and making school- which could be our ticket to success in life- a living hell rather than a place of learning and growth.
  • PTSD. Many of us have been abused: by parents, adult authority figures, bullies, spouses and partners, strangers....we tend to lack the ability to detect danger until it's too late to run away. Many of of have been sexually abused or raped, and physical abuse by parents against autistic children is also common. Combine the abuse with a mind that replays everything unpleasant and whose wiring is already set to be easily stressed, and you have PTSD + autism, not an easy combination to live with or deal with.
  • Anxiety: That brain that constantly replays everything traumatic, with a hairtrigger amygdala? Anxiety central! When you see autistic people stimming (rocking, making funny movements with their hands, squiting their eyes, and other things that look funny to you), it is because they are stressed and anxious. Stims are a coping mechanism.
  • Stress. I hate to say it this way but, when normal people talk about stress....they have no. idea. what we live with and have to cope with every day. The world is tailored for neurotypical people and as a result, it's very stressful to us, even without all the bullies, loud people, people who misunderstand and or treat you like you're stupid, etc. Imagine heavy metal music turned up to full volume, in 3-d physical reality, spinning and swarming all around you while you're trying to go through your day. That's what it's like for me to be in a crowd of people or at Wal-Mart. Life is overwhelming. Everything is so loud, so bright, so smelly, so fast, so demanding, so right! now!, so flashy and busy. Normal people seem to have systems that are dulled to subtlety and delicacy, so they inflict their need for extreme sensory experiences onto us all. It's fairly awful.
  • Discrimination. Despite what everyone says, it is legal to discriminate against us at work, etc. All they have to do is claim that you are unable to do the job, regardless of whether or not this is actually true. It is also fully legal to screen us out in the first place by the use of questionnaires designed to select only hyper-social sheeple who will follow orders mindlessly. For example, Starbucks and Walmart both use these questionnaires as part of their job application process. If you answer "disagree" to a statement like "I love to be around people and find social interactions energizing.", you will not get hired, despite experience and competence at the job. It doesn't matter if you can put on your customer service mask and do the job just as well as the natural socialite- you will never even get an interview, because you answered that question honestly. They only way to get past the questionnaire is to lie, and of course, they can fire you at any time if you lied on any part of the application, even if you can bring yourself to lie about such stuff, which I am unable to do.
  • Poverty. It's hard to get a job, hard to keep a job, hard to get on disability, hard to win divorce/custody battles in court. I have seen people on the autism spectrum who were not poor, but they seem to be the exception rather than the rule. Poverty increases stress, anxiety and depression, feeding the cycle of true suffering.

I've probably forgotten a few things that should have been on that list, but my point is that none of the above items have to be associated with autism, and several of them are external; i.e. could be changed by normal people if they cared as much as they claim to. If as much focus were put into preventing discrimination and bullying as is being directed towards a mythical cure, our lives would improve. Even better, we'd still be ourselves, we could express our potential, and the world woudl be a better place for everyone, not just us, because things like discrimination and bullying hurt everyone.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Don't know if I am ever going to be the same. I try as hard as I can, but it isn't getting noticeably easier, whereas I am losing hope and becoming disheartened. Understatements, all of it....

At any rate...a good first step towards rebuilding my life would be going back to school. It's been so long since I took any math that paying $300 for the college algebra class would be a total waste of money (along with also being another nail in the coffin or demoralizing event or whatever you'd like to call it). I don't remember the math prior to college algebra well enough to be able to do that final class (which, recall, has already been taken, unsuccessfully, 6 times). But here's the thing: I didn't do well in beginning algebra either, passing only with a C, and the same with intermediate algebra. So what I need to do, even though it will be expensive and time consuming, is to start over at the beginning. I should take the beginning algebra class this summer. Most of the material will be familiar to me and I should do OK with it, which is good because the summer classes are accelerated. Then in the fall, intermediate algebra, since I'll have the entire semester. If I''ve passed the prior two classes, by spring, college algebra should be doable. This will not only enable me to pass the class that's been such a hurdle, but also I'll have the opportunity to improve my GPA by hopefully getting better grades on those classes. I could also conceivably take psych classes if that's the degree I'm after...a question I can't quite answer yet.

So I now have a plan for how to handle this math class. The next question will be, how to pay for not one, but three classes? I'm not sure yet. I will be taking all of them online, to save on gas (also communting time) and also for grading strategy reasons. They won't all be taken at the same time, so the money doesn't have to be produced all at once either, but it would be good to have a plan for that, too.

And....there's so much that I don't tell anyone. So today, I told my therapist some of it, opened a window into the pain, the hell and loss and utter desolation within...and being a level headed sort, he didn't freak out, which was good. People don't typically want to hear the sort of stuff that's in here....and it just hurts nearly all of the time. Nobody wants to know about that. They just want you to get if I didn't want that, too...but it's against the rules.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Another link worth reading.
This was worth reading.
Feeling significantly better than I was yesterday, but am regularly disappointed in myself for being so brittle, so easily broken. Insecurity and fear wait around every corner, and my appetite has plummeted. All I ever seem to see are signs that he doesn't love me anymore....and I know that's not true. He's grown understandly weary of reassuring me, but I can see clearly through his actions that he does still love/care deeply for me. After all, why else would anyone put up with this much upset and overall difficulty from me?

I miss my dog so much. :-( I honestly do not feel OK at all since he's been fostered elsewhere until I find a place.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Fuck it. I can't just sit here and let this kill me...and that's what it will do if I don't fight it.
Not feeling OK. I don't know why, whether it's a calendar/time related thing, or maybe it's that I don't have my dog anymore (he is being fostered by a good friend and I will be able to get him back, otherwise I'd probably be a real mess). It feels like my soul has been crushed into little fragments. My BF is back, and I am happy to see him again, but it's very hard not to be all clingy right now. I feel so fragile and sad. :-(

Thursday, April 04, 2013

The thing of it is, most of the people who have those awful puzzle ribbons probably have the best intentions. They think they're doing something nice for people on the autism spectrum. They think most people with autism are kids (I guess that the perception is that we never grow up into adults?). They mean well, so they buy a sticker or a magnet or a T shirt.

But that isn't what we need.

What we do need is so much more involved that I can understand the urge to go for the hideous ribbon logos.

  • We need for you to actually learn about us, from our perspective. This isn't selfish. We spend years in therapy learning to adapt to your world and to try to see things your way even when it makes no sense to us at all. We have to make major changes and pretend to be what we're not. Reading a few Temple Grandin books, watching the movie, isn't going to kill you or warp your mind.
  • Quit forcing us to stare at your eyes and stop baring your teeth at us unless it's a genuine, from the heart smile. Bulging eyes and a red clown-like mouthful of teeth and a phony smile are pretty frightening, frankly. If we are comfortable with making eye contact with you or can cope with giving it a try, we will...but for most of us, we are better able to listen to you and focus on what you're saying if we don't have to deal with the discomfort (sometimes extreme) of full frontal eye contact for prolonged periods of time.
  • Don't touch us without asking. Please. Please. Please. Also please be aware that many girls and women on the spectrum have been molested/raped because we had trouble reading social signs that would have signaled danger...and so unwanted/forced physical touch may be a trigger.
  • Understand that a meltdown is not the same thing as a tantrum, it isn't drama or manipulation and it definitely isn't something that can be turned on or off like a light switch. Meltdowns are scary and awful, which is why we are reacting so badly..... If you were experiencing it, you would be freaking out, too. Just be glad you don't have meltdowns and if appropriate, get us to a safe, quiet place in a non-punitive way until the meltdown is over.
  • When you see parents with autistic kids, don't say "I'm sorry" and act like the kid has a terminal illness! Would you gush sympathy like that if the kid had Down's Syndrome? Probably not. Probably you'd focus on the positive traits of Down's. Also, even if that kid is stimming like mad and not making eye contact, they can hear/understand that you are acting/talking as if he/she is a terrible curse on his/her parents. That does nothing good for our self esteem. Stop it. Also, may I point out here that an awful lot of these kids have a parent who is also on the spectrum, albeit high functioning and able to "pass" as normal? It hurts even more to be that parent and have people react that way! Autism isn't a death sentence!
  • Also, assuming that savant skills are present is just as unhelpful. We aren't all math genuises with freaky skills. Just accept us for whatever it is that we are, and know that every one of us is unique, just like you ostensibly normal people are all unique.
  • Don't judge parents of autistic kids. They're often sleep deprived and stressed out already. Their kids are even more stressed out. The kid doesn't just need to be hit/spanked more often in order to avoid meltdowns and if you think that's the solution then you're part of the problem, so just walk away.
  • Wear less/no perfume. No Axe. Some of us have sensory issues such that we're hypersensitive to smells and can get a migraine or feel like throwing up when you douse yourself with perfume. I can tolerate mild scents, and enjoy some of them. Subtle is always better anyway!
  • We aren't generally deaf. Talking loudly as if we are isn't helpful, especially if you're also staring us down. If it seems that an auditory processing problem is occurring, you can talk slowly and calmly and pause, also ask a question for feedback to make sure we understood what was said. Please don't get mad if we ask you to repeat yourself. We were trying to listen, but our brain sometimes needs extra processing time. This has nothing to do with intelligence, by the way, so you don't need to talk to us as though we're 5. Just slow down and be patient. The more extraneous stuff/sensory input there is, the more patience we will need.
  • Following high-input situations, environments, or activities, we will need down time, to zone out and recover. This is true even when we were really enjoying the exciting activity or place we were in. Refusing to allow down time will result in meltdowns and meltdowns are awful experiences that require even more down time.
  • If it isn't hurting anything, let us stim. Stimming is a coping mechanism for us. You people do weird stuff all the time; our weird stuff isn't any weirder, it is just different, and it is functional (coping).
  • Please be gentle, kind and patient with us. If you don't understand, that's OK. Just give us our space and keep an open mind and heart. We aren't cold and heartless people and we can be hurt more easily than you might think.
  • Boundaries need to be very clear, as we cannot intuit them with magical social skills. If we are doing something that is not OK, say so right away. Please try to keep boundaries rational, reasonable and respectful.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

It's only the second day of April and already I feel like snarling over the autism awareness shit being spewed by people who are not autistic and who do not, in fact, advocate for us. Looks, it's like this:

Westboro Baptist Church is to gay people as Autism Speaks is to autistic people. They both claim that the world would be better off without a certain kind of person and that a "cure" is in order. And if that "cure" entails eugenics, so be it. If that church were trying to get donations to "help" gay folk, the outrage would be instantaneous, particularly if they claimed to be THE VOICE for gay people. Oh, sorry, I forgot. We're like cancer. For us, it's different. We're a disease that needs to be eradicated. Our parents want to kill us (YES, they SAY that!! They even say it on national television and are responded to with sympathy!)

I'm sorry, was that supposed to be inoffensive? Fail

The gay rights movement was not spearheaded by straight fundamentalist christians. The civil rights movement was not led by the Ku Klux Klan. And the autism advocacy/acceptance movement cannot be led by Autism Speaks or by people who adhere to that brand of hatred. Yes, hatred. Call it what it is. Don't sugar coat it with smarmy good intentions. Saying that the world has no place for us, that we need to be cured (cease to exist), and that we are a plague, that life is just so difficult with people like us in the world, etc is not kindness or advocacy, it is hatred.

And that fucking puzzle piece....Oh god.... That puzzle doesn't even look like anything! It is just stupid meaningless blobs of primary colors! What kind of puzzle piece doesn't go together with others to make a picture? Is that the idea, that we're useless and won't make sense no matter what, that even if the pieces were to fit together, we'd still be incomprensible? That is not advocacy, folks, and it isn't helpful imagery. Ugh!

Corina Becker: Communication Shutdown for Autism Awareness? No Thanks!

Corina Becker: Communication Shutdown for Autism Awareness? No Thanks!