white male aspie elitism, surprise! gay!/trans! autistics!, and peak baron-cohen

see my first post here!

see dani’s response here!

this is a “response” to dani’s response.

note to dani: if we don’t start ordinally numbering these soon, shit’s gonna get rough. also like almost this entire post is me being me, aka tangential, so like…please keep talking about the autistic dating guides, if that’s what you’re still on, because there’s so much more to still pull out of those. it’s just not what my brain is doing right now, ya know? i love this back-and-forth format, because it allows me to like, blah blah blah in my own random rants, and then you can blah blah blah in your own random rants, and they’re related, but we don’t have to go in straight lines. you know how i feel about lines. and straight things, for that matter.

ANYWAYS.

while i agree with you that there’s nothing specifically “aspie” about the kinds of normalizing instructions that those dating books contain, i do think it’s important to talk about all the ways in which the “white, straight, aspie dude” identity they’re tapping into makes use of aspects of “neurodiversity” rhetoric in really gross, misogynistic, elitist ways. there’s a number of useful connections to be drawn between the pop cultural aspects of “white male aspie identity,” the emphasis on “genetic,” “hereditary” autism within  aspie neurodiversity rhetoric, and retroactive diagnosis fad frenzies (which are almost always entirely made up of famous affluent white male “geniuses”) etc. [there’s an entire part of this rant having to do with ‘genetics’-obsessed ‘neurodiversity advocates’ that i’m not writing out right now, because it’s a bit too tangential for today]

i’m specifically referring to that vein of not-really-disability-history that goes around shouting “hey, it doesn’t matter that you think we’re socially awkward, because socially awkward nerds like RUN THE WORLD and all the best people in history were actually like us, not like you boring people! YOU’D ALL FAIL WITHOUT US HERE TO BE SMART AND DO THE SMART THINGS FOR YOU.” these same dudes then tend to also want to appropriate the history of “eugenics” and describe  themselves a persecuted population, or a population that needs to “get human rights finally!” despite the fact that up until about…fifty or so years ago, most affluent white dudes with “aspergers” style diagnoses would not have been considered “defective” or “disabled” or “crazy” at all. really, it’s via the process of “retroactively diagnosing” famous iconoclasts/innovators from white western history that the aspie dude even manages to establish himself as a member of a “select” or “atypical” or “misunderstood/unappreciated” historical population! without their own selective list of “unusual” famous historical figures to identify with, they’d have to fucking admit that their historical counterparts were mostly normative, privileged white dudes fucking other people over like all the rest of their bros.

and that whole “WE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO HAD ALL THE IMPORTANT IDEAS/INNOVATIONS” spiel that these dudes get into is TOTALLY part of their particular attitude towards women, where they’re like “it doesn’t matter how gross or awkward you think we are, you just don’t appreciate our brilliance and importance, so if you don’t love us, you’re being privileged and discriminatory!” (note the number of parallels between this attitude and dudes who feel the need to play “devil’s advocate,” in every discussion: no matter how upsetting it is to other people, and no matter how many times people tell them that what they’re doing is unnecessary, such dudes are convinced that no conversation can really have practical or intellectual value unless they’ve “fact-checked” it and “challenged” it by being an uninformed, entitled asshole).

the irony, of course, of a bunch of nerdy white dudes telling other people (especially women) that 1. all of history was actually them and 2. normal stupid (especially female) people need them even if they hate them, because they do all the important things, and THEN ALSO  being like “BUT WHEN YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT HOW I BEHAVE, OR TURN ME DOWN, OR DENY ME LITERALLY ANYTHING, YOU’RE DISCRIMINATING AGAINST ME AND MY HISTORICALLY OPPRESSED IDENTITY” is….well, that shit is fucking rich.

GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY. TRANS TRANS TRANS TRANS TRANS TRANS. AUTISTICS.

so like, to reiterate what you (dani) said, like…autistic people are, as a group, exceptionally likely to be gay/queer or trans. (NOTE: straight autistics, now would be not the time to respond/comment being like “there are straight autistics too! things are hard for us too!” because, breaking news: we know. we like really, really already know.)

a very common thing in see goes as follows:  an adult (often a parent, but sometimes an autistic adult) discovers one or more of the scientific studies on the correlations between autisticness and either queerness or trans/non-binary gender identities. they are like “oh my gawsh, we need to talk about this correlation! what do you all think! whoa!” at this point, the actually queer/trans autistic people sit and roll their eyes together, because this is only news if you don’t already know lots of queer/trans autistic people.

and, to be clear, at one point the other day, dani and i were talking about this stuff, and paused for a moment to see if we could think of autistic adults that we knew personally who were cis and straight. we limited it to people we know freals because we weren’t big on going around guessing the identities of strangers? anyways. it was a long pause. long. very, very long. it’s actually a still ongoing pause. that’s how gay and trans our autistic friends are. i might not have the most representative autistic friend group of all time, given that like…portland, or plus smith fucking college equals rainbow/LGBTQ explosion? but like, dani lives in the midwest and married a straight dude, so she totally counts.

i have a joke about the queer/trans identity-autism connection. it goes like this: “breaking! scientific! news!: people whose experiences/needs don’t conform to normative societal expectations ARE AT GREATER RISK of having experiences/needs that don’t conform to normative societal expectations.”

in other, quite timely, autism-and-gender news, repeat offender simon baron-cohen has just out-simon-baron-cohen’d himself.

if you go back to my very first “autism science comedy hour” post, and look at the last theory i made fun of (crespi and badcock. yes, badcock. and yes, jess had to point the name out to me before i even realized it was funny), you’ll see like…the worst fucking sexist autism theory/diagram of. all. time. it’s that whole “autism and psychosis as diametric gendered opposites in the brain” bullshit parade. i’m not going to talk about all the reasons why the theory is bullshit, because there are so many, but here’s a short overview: 1. history of autism and psychosis/schizophrenia research says FAIL. 2. people! actually! have! both! all the time! 3. LITERALLY DRENCHED IN SEXISM. DRENCHED. DRIPPING SEXISM. 4. the science is also terrible, and embarassingly outdated, but that’s pretty beside the point.

so like, obviously simon baron-cohen encountered this theory, and was like “this theory is so sexist, i must do research to support it!” because less than ten days ago, his lab published an article claiming to support correlations, within an autistic sample group, between–wait for it–being female, scoring high on the “EQ” or “empathizing quotient,” and experiencing psychosis. so, to be clear, this research is all saying that  if you’re a lady who is very lady-feelings according to baron-cohen’s own scale of “person-feelings-mostly-ladies-have,” you’re more likely to have been diagnosed with some kind of psychosis. Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 9.32.40 PM caption: a screenshot of the top of the first page of baron-cohen’s article, which is titled “Testing the ‘Extreme Female Brain’ Theory of Psychosis in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder with or without Co-Morbid Psychosis,” and was published in PLoS ONE a little over a week ago. (the asshole in me is laughing because like, of course this is in PLoS ONE).  

so yeah. just…you know…that is something that actually happened. this month.

that’s all for now.

TAKE IT AWAY DANI. TAKE IT AWAY.

an autistic’s guide to being a straight white dude with aspergers

This is the first post of what Dani Alexis and I are hoping will be a fun, and constructive series of angry rants. See, we’ve been talking for ages about how much we want to write giant “sex/gender bullshit and autism” super-posts, because we have so much to say on those topics. So when I was considering doing this post (I’d collected the images of E-books a few months ago, I think) for reals, I asked Dani if she’d wanna do a back-and-forth kind of post conversation on the topic, and she was down. I know that I benefit from having some kind of dialogue with another person while thinking, and I tend to get stressed about whether or not I’m “including everything” when writing, so this should be fun and also helpful for me. Plus I mean angry ranting is always a bonus for me. Always.

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Caption: Image of an entry in an E-book database. The book has a light brown/grey cover, and is titled “What Men with Asperger Syndrome Want to Know About Women, Dating, and Relationships.” Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 3.12.29 PM

Caption: An E-book with a white cover and grey/black lettering, titled “Decoding Dating: A Guide to the Unwritten Social Rules of Dating for Men with Asperger Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder).” 

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 3.13.06 PM Caption: An E-book with a pink cover, red and pink hearts, and mostly black lettering, titled “22 Things a Woman Must Know If She Loves a Man with Asperger’s Syndrome.”
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Caption: An E-book with a blue and yellow cover, with white lettering, titled “22 Things a Woman with Asperger’s Syndrome Wants Her Partner to Know.”
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Caption: An E-book with a purple and orange cover, titled “Safety Skills for Asperger Women: How to Save a Perfectly Good Female Life.” 
Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 3.12.51 PM Caption: An E-book with a green cover and yellow lettering, titled “The Aspie Girl’s Guide to Being Safe with Men: The Unwritten Safety Rules No-one is Telling You.” 

These are all par-for-the-course books on “autism and dating” (because autism goes on dates, apparently?).

What we learn from this shit:

  1. Men need help and advice about how to get their (implicitly female) dates to like them, while women need help and advice on how to not do stupid things that are going to get them raped.
  2. Autistic men must be accommodated by their female significant others, and if their significant other does not accommodate them, it’s because they don’t love them.
  3. Autistic women don’t have needs, only wishes, and their partners have no idea what any of them are yet.

I wish there was a way for me to express the absolutely minuscule amount of fucks I give about the dating needs of Aspie men without sounding like a really mean person. But I’ve decided that I don’t feel like trying, so I’ll just leave it at this: I really could not give fewer fucks. Ignoring the direct, unambiguous messages that women give them, and acting entitled to their bodies and affection, are not things that an autistic man would do because he is autistic, they are things he would do because that is how our society socializes men to treat women. And I want to ask, now: is it just me, or is the “White Male With Aspergers” stereotype seem constantly defined by his inability to “get girls”? He has a job, usually, and a place to live, maybe even some nerdy friends, but we are supposed to sympathize with his difficulties solely because he “can’t get a date.”

While Dani and I have been talking about this stuff, it’s seemed clear to both of us that the narratives of “normalization” and “development” that we encounter so often in autism discourse are also narratives of gender and sex, often in the most absurdly stereotypical ways. We see how these books present dating as something autistic men must go through as a natural step in life–a guy has to go on dates in order to find a woman who will marry him. The question is not “is there a woman that wants to marry him,” but instead, it is “how does he get through the dating stage in the process without scaring away the women who eventually, will totally want to marry him.” We should note, also, that there are apparently only two states an autistic woman can exist in: she is living every day alone, trying to “keep safe” despite the world around her, or she is already in a relationship with a partner who doesn’t really know her. Guides on how to date, or how to “not get raped,” or how to be the perfect partner, are implicitly (and explicitly, at least in these cases) guides on how to act more neurotypical, just like they are also guides on how to act straight, on how to act middle-class, and on how to act white. We have a model of what it means to be an adult, what it means to have adult relationships, what it means to live a fulfilling life, and these models of how life should (must) progress are supremely destructive.

So most of us don’t even get a chance to be included in the narratives of success and maturity that our white, male peers are expected to live out–but somehow that does not prevent us from being made to think that our safety and value is determined by how closely we can make ourselves resemble said narratives. We just play different parts, is all. In a story where a man needs a wife, and married life is the only acceptable way for a woman to live as an adult, an autistic woman learns to enter into relationships with men because men need wives, and the only way she will be able to live “as an adult” is if she marries a man. Her autisticness is cited as the reason she cannot afford to live on her own, or with anyone besides her parents or spouse, and simultaneously provides ample justifications for the abuse and emotional manipulation that her caregivers or spouse may exert. She is told that nobody would have to yell at her if she could just make dinner like she was supposed to, that nobody would have to hurt her if she wasn’t so bad at having sex, or that nobody else would tolerate someone as messy and useless as her.

When you teach boys and young men (autistic or otherwise) that anyone who fails to accommodate their needs is a bad person, and then turn around and teach girls and women (autistic or otherwise) that they aren’t allowed to have needs, you are helping make sure that we will continue to live in a world where women are constantly blamed for their own sexual assault, and where men are trained to be so worried about their masculinity that they are unable to admit that they have hurt others, or that others hurt them. And autistic people are supremely vulnerable to this kind of manipulation and socialization, in part because these kinds of stories and lessons about “adulthood” and “independence” fill our lives, and are not in any way limited to the sphere of relationships and dating.

When you have lived, for so many years, according to lists of behaviors, rules, and skills that you’ve been told you must do in order to deserve safety, sustenance, love, and self-determination, it sometimes is easier to feel safe (for a moment, for a day, maybe). But these lists of “rules” are always coupled with the–conscious or subconscious–knowledge that the only reason people had to tell you these rules in the first place is because you suck at following them. This is how your pain and your punishment are justified: there were rules, and you did not follow them, and the only way to teach you to follow the rules is to punish you when you break them.

You are not allowed to need help cooking food for yourself.

You are not allowed to not like sex.

You are not allowed to dress in “unflattering,” “unprofessional” clothes.

You are not allowed to hate being touched.

You are not allowed to not like men, especially not men who say they like you.

I just wanted to say to people like me, maybe even the kinds of people who’d end up reading books with subtitles like “The Unwritten Safety Rules Nobody is Telling You”: There are no unwritten safety rules that nobody is telling you. There is no special set of rules that you can follow that will keep people with power from hurting you. This is the scariest part, sometimes. To discover that no matter how “good” you are, no matter how well you follow the rules, your compliance will not always protect you. But this also means that there is no justification for the way you have been hurt and manipulated. You did not do things to deserve it.

And I wanted to say to everyone else: Stop teaching us (women, autistic women, autistic people, autistic queers, and so on) that we only have “wishes,” while people with authority have “needs.” Stop teaching us that if we don’t respect everyone else’s needs above and beyond our own, it’s because we don’t really “love” them.

Stop. Now.


Wait with bated breath for Dani’s reply! And then my reply to Dani’s reply! We have way more thoughts about this, like seriously, this is something we talk about without end. We want to talk about queerness, trans-ness and autisticness; we wanna talk more about developmental narratives, and we really, really want to talk about the incredible amount of overlap between “Dudes with Aspergers” and “Dudes with Serious Cases of ‘Nice Guy’ Syndrome.” We have lots of stories, our own and other people’s, to tell. So stay tuned!

 

 

did u kno ur body affects also ur body specifically that part inside ur face?

Photo on 4-5-15 at 12.38 PM copy

(note: this is satire. for examples of what i am making fun of, go to google, or any online news platform, and search for “gut flora” or like, anything involving “neuroscience” and your goddamn body.)

in excite turn of events, nurr-o-science finds out that there is body also in head. also tummy touches this part of body, called “brain,” like character from arthur.

they found there are also tummy and then sometimes arm, leg, and breathing bags. “this is very excite” say lead nurr-o-science-face stephen pinkbutt. “who knows what happens when body affects other parts of body place. maybe magic. maybe sex because evolutionary psycholo-fuck-y.”

other nurr-o-science-faces also excite because tummy flowers. they are small but they exist in tummy. (technically there are flowers everywhere because back-teeriums are basically flowers rite?) so it possible that when sick the sick is a feeling that happens in that part of ur body behind ur face. “if sick tummy affect brain,” say other science-face, “this change everything in world. it completely new informations.”