Eater of Trees

Posts Tagged ‘neurodivergence

Okay most of this has been said before I think, but still, I got irritated by someone identifying as an ally being terrible recently, so! Large analytic post.  If you know why self-identified allies are often a problem, this probably isn’t anything new.

tl;dr: Being an ally means encouraging people to call you out more, not less.

Cis feminists will often expect to be treated as heroic “allies” for mentioning trans people in passing occasionally, while not doing anything to reassess their conceptions of gender and gender oppression, and like, they expect to be criticized less when they fuck up because “they’re on your side!”

And it’s actually not just cisfeminism, it’s more or less every sort of ally ever.

This seems to be very blatantly coming from a place where the only type of real oppression is the most violent overt harm, and maybe erasure, but from this perspective erasure is “nobody ever mentions you in passing ever” not “every narrative in society is constructed with the assumption that you are not possible”.

It all ultimately comes from the desire, common amongst privileged people, to use marginalized people for their own personal glory.  Your only worth is to make them seem like an awesome person for saving you.  Except they aren’t actually saving you, and they don’t want to actually put any effort into helping you.

And basically, this is just another way to marginalize you, objectify you, and force you out of the discourse.  People who say things like this are basically the enemy.  And when they say “attack the real enemy!” this is a blatant attempt to divert your energy from helping yourself into helping them.  You can be sure that these people never will consider diverting their energy into helping you; and once their oppressions have fallen, they’re more then happy to assume a new place in the status quo.

But this leads to a strange sort of twisted logic where allies think that because they’ve given some ground, they should be less a target of criticism.  This only makes the slightest bit of sense if your primary goal is to keep the status quo as intact as possible.  And moreover, it actually is entirely the opposite of what you’d think an ally should be.

See, a recurring part of a marginalized person’s life is being constantly bombarded by oppressive ideas.  Nobody has the energy to call these all out, or even to acknowledge them.  Especially when nearly everyone will respond hostilely to such attempts.

See, the person who’s an ally, in the actual sense that that word means, not in the “self aggrandizing privileged person who uses your struggles to make themselves look better”, would be someone who, when they do something fucked up, would be willing to listen to you if you explain how.

Like I will critique the actions of my close friends far more often then people I don’t know, because with my established relationship with my close friends, its far more likely that they’ll listen and productive discussion will ensue.

See, nobody is going to ever be not oppressive.  That just doesn’t happen.  There’s too many sorts of oppression.  Oppression is too ingrained in everything.  And oppressed people don’t all agree on everything.  And these things may be contradictory in their needs*. It may be possible to fix things in the future more or less, but now? Nope.

This doesn’t mean oppression is okay, which is why being open to listening is so important.  If you can’t be perfect, it becomes especially important to fix the and be aware of the damage that’s done.

But by saying you’re an ally, you’re saying you want to change things.  And that starts by reconceptualizing how you see the world.  Which starts by listening to marginalized people and acknowledging how the systems that are in place do not help them, and creating an environment in which they can openly discuss these things.

Basically, by saying you’re an ally, you’re saying “You should call me out more.  You’re saying, “rather then rolling your eyes and moving on when I hurt you, you should tell me, because I’m willing to be different from most privileged people, and actually listen.”

And if you try to insist that because you’re “on the same side” as us that we shouldn’t discuss our marginalization around you, you’re not on our side in the slightest.

*Like with pronouns, to be fully accepting of genders we basically need to allow people to make their pronouns whatever they want, but my learning disabilities mean, that like names, I’m really really bad at attaching those to people, which would be best served by having a small finite list of pronouns. …I definitely think the former is the better choice, assuming people actually acknowledge that people’s memories are not unlimited and there are good genderless options to fall back on if you’re memory is full of holes.  But basically, these marginalizations are entirely contradictory in what would best serve them.

Or like, the way my autism works I tend to use elaborate and sometimes weirdly precise language, and… oh hey that can be super inaccessible sometimes.  But on the other hand people insisting I should talk like normal people and not describe my emotions as “transient psychotic dysphoria” when “sad” would work is a very significant part of my oppression (both for the autism and the transient psychotic dysphoria, which… isn’t actually the same as being sad, though the meanings of the terms overlap)

But yeah, the gist of this is a lot of the ways to counter oppressions overlap and so simple solutions aren’t actually possible. Which makes openness to discussion all the more important.

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[Cross posted–with some edits–from Fuck Yeah Borderline People.]

So one of the traits of borderlineness is a pathological need for attention.  Like we’re not talking “you want people to pay attention to you” here, either, we’re talking “if people ignore you, you have a psychotic meltdown and hide in the closet sobbing because everyone hates you forever” or “if you go too long without talking to other people (like, twenty minutes or so), you’ll start developing severe disassociative symptoms, such as, say, random strangers walking into your head to help keep you company.”

Like, you may have noticed I’m three people.  Yeah one of those showed up because I was bored as fuck because it was 4AM and nobody was awake, and because the person who showed up thought it would be amusing to, well, show up, and the other showed up after I spent a weekend convinced that none of my friends cared about me.  Frequently sobbing in a box it my bathroom.

(This isn’t to say multiplicity and borderlineness are always connected, it should be noted, but there seems to be some correlation and in my case and several other people’s, they definitely are connected.)

Another thing borderlineness tends to do is result in general instability of your identity, or a tendency to define yourself based on what other people think.  And again, we’re not talking, “you like to go along with your peer group” here.  We’re talking “You are more or less incapable of believing your own intuitions unless someone else validates them.”  Like, for example! I went through a stage where I was convinced that my periodic attraction to men was completely irrelevant; obviously I couldn’t really be queer because it just didn’t count.  Until I mentioned it to one of my friends and they invited me to the LGBT support group.

(Obvious note here: this was before I realized I was trans so I would’ve been percieving attraction men as gay and to women as het, even though the opposite is more accurate)

Or, this can lead to situations where another person disagrees with you, and so obviously they are right about things, and you’re just mistaken.  Because there’s no way you could be write about something if other people disagree.  Even if something is say, your gender identity that the other person has NO WAY AT ALL of knowing.

Anyway, this whole thing can lead to an attachment to labels, and a desire to label absolutely everything about yourself.  Because unless there’s a socially accepted label, obviously that personality trait doesn’t really exist!  And a desire to explore EVERY POSSIBLE identity since, after all, you’re basically incapable of telling who you are.  Even if you’re obviously one thing one moment, wait a few weeks and your self doubt and inability to process your identity will show up again, and WAIT MAYBE NOT.

This all leads to a tendency to have idiosyncratic, and frequently unstable identities.  Or, in my case, its like that one species of crab that picks up random sediment and glues it onto itself to make a shell. (And I maaaay have gotten that metaphor from someone else.  You also tend to pick up personality traits randomly from everyone around you, since, after all, you’re not you, you’re them.)

And so I have a list of all the brain issues I have, for example, and it has nineteen entries.  Some of which are really not typical (sharing your head with other people, for example)

What this ends up doing, is it makes other people decide you’re trying to be super unique for attention.  Because, honestly, you are trying to get attention.  Wanting attention is a normal human thing, though the psychotic meltdowns are a bit less so.  And you are trying to establish yourself as an individual, because, well, you’re basically incapable of it, so you just don’t stop trying.

But see, labels like Special Snowflake are then thrown at you, because obviously no NORMAL person would be transfeminine AND autistic AND plural AND have a dozen other varieties of neurodivergence.  So clearly you’re just trying to get attention! And attention seeking is terrible forever! (sarcasm)

…and yes, “special snowflake” is used like that, trust me, I’ve seen it happen first hand.

(This is not the only way in which it is problematic, it should be noted.  The term is also inevitably extremely gendered and is frequently used against people, especially women, who attempt to differentiate themselves from the mainstream culture.)

It’s not ableist to acknowledge that people have varying ability levels.  I mean obviously come on that’s like, one of the most basic points of disability theory.

Intelligence is ableist because it isn’t actually a thing.  It’s a bunch of things, and often they aren’t correlated at all (See for example specific learning disabilities; like I’m completely unable to remember things in the short term and get distracted all the time and forget what I was doing but as soon as something is in my long term memory it is staying there forever.)

Like the best way to put it seems to be to realize it’s not really one specific thing.  It’s not even that there’s lots of ways to be intelligent—which there are—it’s that if you talk about intelligence we have no way of knowing if we’re talking about being able to remember facts, being good at processing numbers, having a wide knowledge base (like knowing twenty five languages, for example), or even readily using wikipedia so you’ll have answers to other people’s questions.

It is probably worth breaking the idea down into its component parts here, because really my ability to grasp complex concepts quickly and my tendency to become completely lost if a person uses weird organization or is at all poetic are very different things, and they’d both be considered intelligence or lack thereof.  Plus, the way people talk about it now it doesn’t even really mean anything because it’s super vague and, well, a ton of unrelated things.

The other reason it’s ableist is because people without intelligence, or specific facits thereof, are treated like shit and get their autonomy denied them and generally are abused and unaccommodated so they can’t use the abilities they do have (like, I learn really fast and have a ridiculously good memory but then I have no ability to focus and can’t read books very well, so I failed out of college.  Even though basically intellectual things are basically what I’m best at, and actually because of my other disabilities are practically all I can do)

It should also be noted that it’s not “intelligence” that’s privileged; it’s a bit more complex then intelligence is privileged and lack of it is disprivileged.  In my experience it’s really productivity that’s privileged; I mean i got forced into segregated special ed classes and generally had no material ever that was remotely appropriate to my ability level (either because it was completely impossible for me to do—I completely left the essay portion of the SAT I took blank—or because it was stuff I’d learned years ago and they didn’t know anything better to do then teach it to me six times in a row), but I was generally regarded as “intelligent”.

Certainly there’s privilege in there, including my access to an education and resources and not being completely written off as uneducatable for any of various reasons.  But in my experience, testing at the ceiling of IQ tests mostly resulted in everyone insisting I needed to be perfect at everything, and punishing me when I was merely above average.  That’s… not privilege.

(But insulting people for lack of intelligence? That’s ridiculously ableist; like there’s no way it could be interpreted as not.  So seriously stop using words like “stupid” to attack people)

[Trigger warning: ableist slurs]

Because the most condescending things I can think of are “Wow, you’re so fucking stupid,” or “Wow that’s fucking stupid.” Or even “You’re delusional.”

Like all of those are ableist as fuck.

Or, another great way to be condescending is to insist that someone is “childish” or “juvenile”, which, obviously, is great until you realize you’re saying that someone’s opinions are invalid because they’re like young people.

And even more so then just that these are comparisons to oppressed groups, this further are entirely condescending based on the idea that they invalidate people’s ability to have an opinion.  Or have any sort of responsibility for their actions at all.  After all, if someone is “delusional” obviously anything they say can’t be valid because it’s just a product of a delusion. Same with “stupid”; obviously the person’s statements can’t be valid, because “stupid” people do not make valid statements, because they can’t think.

Or if you’re saying someone’s actions are juvenile, obviously they shouldn’t be allowed to do something because of that, again, you’re saying “Your like a child, people should violate your right to self-determination to ensure you don’t do the choice you’re doing.”

So are there any good ways to be condescending as fuck without being ableist or ageist?

I’m leaning towards “You’re being oppressive so your opinion is completely fucking irrelevant” or possibly “your understanding of this issue is so fucking biased there’s nothing you could say on it that could possibly have any relevance”.

I’m wary of invoking privilege though to be condescending, not that privileged people don’t merit it frequently, but that privileged people often act like douchebags about the fact that “people use privilege as an insult!” which is mostly bullshit, we generally only do that when we’re extremely pissed at the world or when said privileged person is doing really fucked shit because of their privilege.

But I don’t particularly want to give them more fodder for their bullshit.

[Note: this post was written by my headmate]

Trigger warning: unpleasant sexual experiences

Read the rest of this entry »

[Trigger warning: autism related self-injury]

…you know, with my “Actually guys if I want to peel off my epidermis or bite myself or stab myself with needles or bang my head on things, maybe you can let me decide for myself whether I can cope with the pain, okay?”

Yep. I’m the person who actually wants society to enable their weird behaviors and isn’t going to let allistic supremacy get in the way of my self-determination.

And it occurs to me that society has this habit of treating pain like it’s a nuisance and needs to be overcome when it comes to, for example, exercise (“No pain, no gain!”) or other things it has deemed beneficial, or will readily tell you that you need to be strong and magically get over your unpleasant reactions to things when said pain is coming from things that society doesn’t think should be painful.

I’ve been told to stop peeling scabs off my wrists, which, while physically painful, isn’t particularly an unpleasant feeling to me and generally makes me feel better, but when I point out that talking on phones can give me panic attacks just thinking about it and that I can walk to places I need to call and speak to people in person and there’ll be less sobbing in a ball on the floor, and I’m told Avoiding Things Is Bad.

It’s almost like society doesn’t really care about whether you’re hurting yourself and really just wants you to not look neurodivergent.

[End warning]

And related, I really want to start using “enabled” as a way to talk about people who aren’t disabled, especially wrt psychology.  Because the way enabling gets used in psychology to be like “We can’t accomidate your behavior! That would be ENABLING you to act neurodivergent!” (Because the goal is always to be Normal like the rest of the world) seems like… I just want to snark YES I KNOW THAT WOULD BE ENABLING MY BEHAVIOR THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT!

Like, when you drive to a grocery store to buy chicken, the fact that there’s roads is enabling your choice to get around by driving and the fact that you can just buy it there is enabling your choice to not be a farmer.  But nobody ever calls those things enabling because they’re normativized. In fact, if you did choose to farm your own chickens in the city people would probably look at you weird.  They definitely often don’t seem to understand a preference for walking places because you can’t (and may or may not be able to) drive.

See, walking to a doctor’s office instead of calling them is dismissed as enabling your phone-phobia rather than “Yeah, that’s a really good idea, it also would get you excercise and that tends to help with depression too!”  That’s a problem.

(crossposted on tumblr)

So anyway, Cabbage was just applying for a job and one of the steps prior to getting an interview was like… fill out this questionaire where you say you’re extroverted and organized and have no disabilities.

I maaaay have taken down the problematic questions.  (There were about fifty questions total, problematic and un-.  About half were problematic in some way or another.)

Anyway it came out with ten questions that were blatantly discriminatory against people with autism, most of which would also be discriminatory against introverts or people with other social issues (because they related to liking being around people or knowing how to deal with people.)

Four of them were things like “I’m organized!” which would be incredibly discriminatory against people with ADHD—after all, organizing things as a job and keeping your house clean are so totally the same skillset. (sarcasm)

Five were discriminatory against people with mental health issues (“I’m calm when I’m stressed” = “I have no anxiety disorders” or “I’m cheerful all the time” = “Depression? Nope don’t have that”)

(Though I mean, you could maybe make a case that those can effect your ability to preform a job, because they certainly have for me; but there’s still like… a certain threshhold where your issues won’t be that disruptive but are still there.  Also? HOW THE FUCK ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO SURVIVE IF YOU’RE TOO ANXIOUS TO LEAVE YOUR HOUSE MOST DAYS?)

Also they asked about grades in school, which, I mean, doesn’t really seem like it would necessarily have much effect on the ability to do the job if they weren’t good, and often, you know, they can suck because disabilities with no or minimal accomidation.

SO: I am rather creeped out and certainly do not feel like this company is remotely as “equal opportunity” as they’re pretending.

And speaking of creeped out, here’s the creepiest questions: (They were “agree or disagree” type questions, for the record, so they’re in the form of second person statements)

“Any trouble you have is your own fault” = WOOO VICTIM BLAMING! Also: When we act like exploitative shits, or possibly when someone else in the company is an oppressive asshole, will you make trouble? We don’t want people to challenge the status quo here.

“People are often mean to you” = YEP BECAUSE THAT’S DEFINITELY SOMETHING YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER. (I have honestly no idea which answer they’d prefer; probably “disagree” on the grounds of they don’t want, you know, oppressed or marginalized people who’ll be angry at them :\ Regardless though it’s incredibly creepy.)

“When someone treats you badly you ignore it” = YOU MUST SUBMIT TO ALL OPPRESSION!

“You don’t care if people offend you” = DITTO! (I mean, “offend” is often used as code for “abuse and/or oppress and/or hurt” in popular culture.  Personally I don’t actually give much of a shit about offense.  But usually “offense” isn’t just that.)

And finally: “Your friends and family approve of the things you do.” = Approval from people who may have mistreated you for years or generally treat you poorly and who you don’t particularly have much say of whether they’re in your life of not? THAT IS SO IMPORTANT. (obviously this is mostly a problem for people with shitty families, but considering, you know, 40% of trans people have been disowned…*)

Also the whole thing ended with “Are you a woman?” and “Are you hispanic/Latino” which had an “I would prefer not to answer” option, but also is like… they’re going to look at Cabbage’s legal name and probably just assume both of those.  So like… not entirely confident that discrimination there would be avoidable. :\

Cabbage adds:

I really, really, really, really, hate online job applications because they are so completely discriminatory and so common. Every single online application I’ve taken has been exactly like this. You really have to basically be extroverted, normative, able, well organized, and have a perfectly normative past in order to look good on these applications. I hate having to lie because I’m really bad at it but I know if I don’t bullshit my ass off there’s no way I’m going to get an interview even though I know I’m an excellent employee. How is this equal opportunity if I can’t even get an interview because, despite my qualifications, I don’t fit the unattainable mold they expect their ‘preferred’ employees to fit in?

*EDIT: Double checking the statistics it’s ~50% experience some of of rejection; 40% for family refusing to speak with them. (according to the NTDS results)