Archive for April 27, 2015

Minorities Who Speak Up & Want Representation are Selfish, Says Autistic Woman…

At this point there have been enough books written and movies made with autistic characters (fictional & nonfictional) that I think it’s pretty reasonable to hope for more representation of diversity.  I saw a link about Autism in Love, an MTV documentary about autistics in relationships, and mentioned that gee, I hope not everyone in this is white and (assumed) heterosexual. I actually didn’t mention gender, because there are plenty of autistic women who have written books and appeared in some movies (even if played by other people). But apparently I burst the bubble for people who are still in “I’m grateful for any crumb of representation, no matter how narrowly done” mode.

CW for “I’m not racist/homophobic but…style ‘splaining…

Comment from someone named Tempest (leaving off last name because I’m not a fiery Social Justice doxxing ninja

“Well, gee, if the majority of people are white and heterosexual (which doesn’t matter because love can also come from a parent or sibling, too bad you feel the need to complain and think that love is only something sexual), and it helps them relate, why would it show something they CAN NOT relate to? I for one have trouble understanding when people of other races speak, I even have trouble understanding when southerners speak because of the accents they have. This is like saying that you’re going to go complain that a nail polish store isn’t advertising to men. Well, when the majority and most relevant customers are females, then why would they need to advertise to men? Same here. Sticking to the things people can understand is the best option, it helps the most people understand. But of course life is all about you and what you think, so go make your own and confuse a variety of people. I’m sure it won’t help as much as you want it to”

My reply– It’s about romantic relationships- not love in general and yes I understand that doesn’t always include sexual activity. (Heck the main reason I’m aware of the asexual community is their heavy intersection with autistic activism!) I haven’t seen the movie, so to be fair I can’t criticize it one way or the other- my comment is mostly in relation to depictions of autism that already exist. Interesting how people of color are always expected to relate to white characters-the global minority. By your argument we also shouldn’t have movies about autistic people because the poor neurotypicals wouldn’t be able to relate. There is actually research to suggest that there is a higher number of autistics who identify as something other than heterosexual- I think that may be partly because we are more honest and less self-conscious in our responses to surveys! Not every person of color speaks with a heavy accent.  Frequently I can’t understand people regardless of ethnicity, because of being in places with lots of background noise. (Insisting that stores & restaurants stop playing music, or lower high ceilings would be totally oppressing the neurotypical majority, of course.) For now leaving aside all the men/boys, and genderqueer/nonbinary folks who enjoy painting their nails…can save that for another day..

Then I went to her FB page…this is just an excerpt…

“People think that documentaries shouldn’t show the general audience. Showing a flaming homosexual African/Asian female autistic person with a thick and heavy southern accent wouldn’t portray the same message as a heterosexual (or just not mentioning sexuality at all because it doesn’t fucking matter) white male autistic person with no accent. Get over your inequality issues, it’s about the audience to which you are speaking THE WHOLE AUDIENCE, NOT SOME SELECT GROUPS. If people see the stereotypes of certain things, it actually helps them understand better because they aren’t distracted from the confliction of their emotions. Every single person can watch the latter example, but only non-racist, accent-understanding, non-sexist, pro-LGBT viewers can watch the first example without feeling any anger or strong emotions. If the world revolved around those kind of people, then that would create an even stronger barrier between the two groups, and would most likely cause hate out of ignorance. If only those groups get to understand the meaning of a documentary because the other group couldn’t watch it, then how is that helping anyone?”

Now, I grok that more white males are diagnosed with autism, but I believe that is due to systemic and cultural biases. Women (of all races) African-American and Latino adults & children who are diagnosed with autism frequently are diagnosed later and after seeing more doctors and going thru more inaccurate labels. Often when they seek a diagnosis of autism based on their self-knowledge and research, they meet with resistance. White males may have to go thru more than one doctor as well, but they don’t get as much resistance to the idea that they could possibly be autistic. So which people and what audience can’t possibly understand that more racial diversity in autism could possibly exist, regardless of whether mostly white psych doctors and special ed teachers recognize it? The only legit real audience that matters, is middle class white people who can’t possibly be bothered with anything outside of their comfort zone.

Coming out as bisexual was for me, a radical act. Not just because many people still don’t acknowledge bisexuality exists. But because I’m autistic, and growing up, the idea that autistic people could grow up and have romantic and sexual feelings at all wasn’t depicted anywhere. We were either perpetual children who couldn’t give consent, or we were nonsexual like Temple Grandin, whose dating advice in her book “Thinking in Pictures” was based on zero dating experience whatsoever. I don’t expect all of us to be interested in, or even capable of romantic and sexual relationships, but I don’t see why she wrote about it all. It’s like the people I know who went directly on disability benefits without looking for work giving employment advice. OK, I’m not judging you for that, goodness knows the rest of society already does enough, but no, I’m not taking advice from you about this! Whenever people with developmental disabilities are depicted in relationships, it’s typically in a way that doesn’t threaten the public’s idea of us as sweet, innocent, overgrown children. Heterosexual relationships are adorable non-sexual puppy love for DD people. That DD individuals are sometimes denied the right to marry and live with each other, engage in sexual activity in unsafe situations due to their lack of privacy and independence and are highly subjected to every type of abuse, from both parents, caregivers and intimate partners- all of these facts get in the way of a sweet innocent story. The parents are always kind and understanding. The teachers and doctors always get the labels, treatments, and therapies and teaching techniques right, maybe sometimes with a little nudging or a lawsuit here and there from the parents, but ultimately they know best. And DD and autistic people are all magically taken care of by their wealthy immortal parents, or the government, and Regular People don’t have to do anything inconvenient, like hire them for jobs, and rent rooms to them, and make accommodations. Or put up with group homes or social services existing anywhere in their neighborhoods.


April 27, 2015 at 10:39 pm Leave a comment


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