The dust has not yet settled on the argument that took place a few days ago. I really don’t want to belabor the point, but I guess I’m still processing. If you’re trying to move on or you’re otherwise done with or tired of this topic, please forgive me; I wouldn’t blame you if you decide not to read any further down the page.
I’ve had the opportunity to read through all of the comments that I can find. It’s early and cold and so am I, but I take what little chance I get to have the world to myself. I need this in order to think more clearly.
Except that I might not be thinking entirely clearly. I’m still drained from this week, and there are several supporters of both “sides” that I consider dear friends. Stress (both personal and at work) really erodes my brain function and disintegrates my spoons. And (please bear with me again), Mercury is still retrograde. Obviously, this is probably not the best time for me to be blogging about this subject. But I have to try to lay it to rest.
After having read through the whole conversation at 6am today, I grew tired already, and I knew that I’d just done a significant spoon-dump, but I felt that it was necessary for me to do this. Maybe I needed closure. Definitely I needed to take the plunge and see for myself, to get all the facts. What follows is simply my own synopsis, the conversation seen through my own kaleidoscope.
I debated writing about this again. I also considered deleting the other post. I still haven’t decided yet. I don’t even know how long this post will last (i.e., whether or not I’ll end up deleting it). Hell, I might delete both. But since the cat’s out of the bag, I feel that I kind of have to finish what I started. I hope I don’t regret it.
I understand that the previous post may have come across as some kind of vague fancy tap-dancing or at least, noncommittal fence-sitting; please understand that when I wrote the previous post, I had only read through a small sampling of the conversation, which probably wasn’t all that representative of the whole, which is why I felt that I had to remain completely neutral and non positional. I didn’t want to jump to any conclusions; doing so would’ve been harmful and unnecessary.
I think I may be ready to take (at least more of) a position now. I still maintain that both camps made valid viewpoints, and I still don’t want to take definitive sides in an adversarial way. I apologize if that disappoints some, but that’s just where I am right now. I’m not afraid, however, to continue to tweak my stance as I gain new/additional info, talk with more people about this, and think about/process everything further. I also feel more familiar with one “side” than I do the other, so I don’t want to make any unfair assumptions about someone about whom I may not know the whole story. So what currently may look like wavering, may congeal into a more solid opinion with the added passage of time.
I’m still not trying to blame, shame, alienate, oppress, bully/victimize, criticize, or tone-police anyone at all.
Here’s where I sit right now, in a nutshell, based on what I know now (which still might not be the whole picture)…
- You’ve got one camp saying “x” and another camp saying “y”; both were solid in their position, and those positions clashed.
- Emotions ran high. Not only was it a traumatic past couple months and we’d just been through holidays, but…
- We all have our own perspectives, knowledge-bases, areas of study/favorite subjects, histories, and experiences (including traumatic experiences) as people on the spectrum, and all of these vary widely
- We have our own upbringing, culture (both local culture and family culture), strengths, weaknesses, tools (for relating, communicating, etc), beliefs, philosophies, etc. (I was the then-only child who, at 3 years old, positioned myself between my physically-fighting parents to break them up and get them to stop fighting, can you tell? 🙂 )
- We all face our own challenges and struggles
- We all have different trigger hot-button issues
- We all have different energy levels, stamina, and amounts of spoons, and those spoon levels are constantly dynamic
- We’re all under different and varying levels of stress
I made (or alluded to) those points before, and I believe they still hold true. My (very-)judgmental relatives might say “aww, those are just excuses.” To which I reply *headdesk* “no, these are legitimate factors.” And so, I think it’s only fair that I consider them.
But now there’s more that comes to mind (for me)…
Essentially (and this is only my interpretation of what I saw, while reviewing everything I could find), the conversation unfolded like this, between what I’ll call the Female and the Male camps (which, as you know about me by now, is not meant to be offensive or insensitive in any way). What I’m stating are simply the facts, as I perceived them, and whether or not I agree with each. My information may or may not be complete, and my interpretation may not be wholly accurate, and these may or may not even be in the totally correct order (to all of these disclaimers: I’m human).
But here goes… (followed by what I would have said, to paraphrase, in the Twitter comments, had I been more involved in the conversation)
- Female – criticism of a specific type of (not all) neurotypical (NT) parents with autistic children – I agree with this, very much.
- Male – criticism of Female for doing the above – I don’t agree with this.
- Female – assertion that Male’s recommendation not to criticize (any) NT parents was patronizing (I might be paraphrasing) – I agree with this.
- Female – introduction of white/male privilege into the conversation – I’m neutral on this (there are pros AND cons to both bringing it up and NOT bringing it up).
- Male – denial of white/male privilege based on autism status (i.e., assertion that the autism status negates the white male privilege – I don’t agree with this, since the various types of privilege are separate and distinct (and more or less impactful/significant in different situations) and one doesn’t negate the other.
- Male – assertion of unnecessary introduction of left-wing politics (I’m neutral on this, as I leave politics out of conversations as much as I can).
- Female – Assertion that the principles outlined in comment that fueled left-wing political assertion is fact – I agree with this, although I am not left-wing myself (don’t worry – I’m not right-wing, either); the “fact” I refer to is that these types of privilege and discrimination persist, which is true, albeit to an arguably-lesser extent (some would say it has merely become more subtle).
- Female – Acknowledgment of partial privilege based on race and cisgender identity; reiteration of request for other to acknowledge race/gender privilege – I agree with this, very much; again, these are separate and distinct categories, and I applaud her for acknowledging the ways in which she is privileged.
- Male – Failure (nonjudgmental) to clearly state acknowledgment of race/gender privilege (at least, not that I could see) – I don’t agree with non-acknowledgment of existing privilege; I would have rather they be acknowledged, even if briefly before moving on.
- Female – Assertion of tone-policing (I agree with this) and mansplaining (I’m neutral about this, as I’m embarrassingly dimly aware of the topic; I know about it and what it means, but my ability to recognize examples is scarce, so I can’t render an opinion).
- Male – Disclosure of mid-meltdown status – I agree with this, and feel empathy/sympathy (both).
- Other/Third Party (not Male or Female in question) – states that Female used Male’s meltdown disclosure against them – I’m neutral on this, as I can’t tell for myself for sure.
- Female – alleged (by others) to have ganged up on and attacked Male – I’m neutral on this (actually “neutral” is a misnomer; I’m using it to remain consistent with the rest of the list; a better word choice is “unsure”); I’m unsure whether or not I saw this myself (although I don’t necessarily outright disbelieve those who say they did see it; it’s just that I personally did not). I do know that emotions ran high on both sides and both people had supporters who chimed in. Had I witnessed any such attacks, however, I would not agree with such a situation, especially in a case in which someone has disclosed that they’re in the throes of a meltdown.
- Female – assertion that Male is misogynist – I’m neutral on this, as I can’t tell for myself for sure. (Note – I do not agree with misogyny; I just can’t tell if Male is a misogynist themselves).
- Male – leaves Twitter – I’m neutral on this, as this decision is completely up to him and I respect it.
- Male – recovers and returns to Twitter, stating he’d like to reopen conversation – I agree with this idea.
- Female – declines reuniting and further conversation with Male – I’m neutral on this, as this decision is completely up to her and I respect it.
I may have missed some key elements; even after combing through every branch of the conversation tree, I was finding new/unread/unseen twigs of conversation.
And although I may have written “I don’t agree” a few times above, that doesn’t mean that that person is necessarily and absolutely wrong, or that I’m lambasting anyone personally; it simply means what I wrote: I don’t share that stance.
- On the specific group of NT Autism Parents(TM):
Many (although not nearly all) NT parents can be judgmental toward us and autism in general. Autism Moms(TM) (or Autism Parents (TM)) are the segment of parents who insert themselves into a community they have no knowledge about and attempt to thrust themselves into positions of authority, condescendingly and patronizingly lecturing us as though they’re experts. Luckily, there are indeed many awesome NT parents of children on the spectrum for whom this is not the case. But the Misplaced Crusader segment is very annoying and potentially harmful, and we’d just gotten done smacking down a particularly vile one.
And that presumably-miserable parent is not the only one. I’ve come across entirely too many neurotypical parents who are Misplaced Crusaders/Autism Parents(TM). I do realize that they are probably a tiny fraction of all neurotypical parents of autistic children, but they’re a loud tiny fraction. These are the ones who seek sympathy and attention, not so much for their children, but for themselves. I have always railed against this attitude, and I do think they need to be set “straight” at times.
We DO need to outwardly criticize the Autism Parents(TM) and other similar trolls. If you don’t have the spoons to do that, or you choose not to for another reason, that’s perfectly OK, but some of us feel compelled to and do have the spoons for it (including myself on some days), and the community needs OUR activists, so I don’t agree with recommending that any of us remain silent in the face of oppression or irrational behavior or treatment by those people. I agree with standing up and saying something about it, or at least supporting those who do–which starts with not scolding them for doing so.
And for the cheap seats, I recognize that there are many other neurotypical parents of autistic children who are open-minded, respectful, and amazing, and in no way are they lumped in with my Misplaced Crusader/Autism Parents(TM) group above.
The conversation took an abrupt and surprising turn, focusing its crosshairs on gender, ethnicity, and privilege.
2. On Privilege (gender & ethnic contexts):
There are pros and cons of bringing up the topics of race and gender…
Pro – it’s fact. It happens – all over the world, every single day, to practically everyone not of favored statuses – and it’s important to talk about, realize, acknowledge, understand, admit, and learn from it.
(Potential) con – the more those topics are rehashed, it’s possible that they might remain self-perpetuating phenomena, maybe until we all do really start ignoring them and treating them as non-issues (and although I “pass” for white, this isn’t my ethnic privilege speaking; I adopted that idea from a friend of another ethnicity, as it’s his desired ideal, and it made sense to me, too).
BUT (and I can’t state this emphatically enough): I would NOT admonish anyone for bringing up and discussing these issues, though, because I think they’re still extremely important to talk about, simply because they still exist and affect us all in one way or another.
I think it’s crucial to realize, as one entity said, that there are different types of privilege. Race, gender, gender identity, ability/disability status, income level, sexual orientation, parenthood status (people with children comprise a significant majority and thus, enjoy a much more privileged status), and neurological orientation, just to name a few. These factors are all independent; one’s total privilege is a sum of these categories, which in themselves are separate and distinct.
How advantageous or disadvantageous depends largely on the situation in question (although that’s not the only factor). At work, my Autism status doesn’t (seem to) affect me (outwardly in terms of privilege), because very few people know. My gender does affect my privilege level, sometimes working against me, and sometimes to my advantage. I’ll give some specific examples from my own household:
At work, my partner’s legal blindness doesn’t actually affect him much, but he certainly feels the cold vibes from the cruel world when walking around (drivers failing to acknowledge his legal right-of-way, street/road signs he can barely see, etc). And people do not seem to care; a tiny part of it is that they’re assholes, but a majority of it is because they can’t tell, since he doesn’t “look blind”.
But… he’s also male, which puts him at a significant advantage on the phone with a company’s customer service department, or perhaps at a doctor’s office. He can be assertive and insistent with the customer service rep on the other end of the phone, and that rep will nod, “yes, sir” and accommodate his request; if I were to say the same thing my partner said and use the same tone of voice he did, the customer service rep would likely be muttering “bitch” under his breath. If he tells the doctor he has a headache, he’ll get a full workup – a thorough history in which his answers to the doctor’s questions will be taken seriously, and he might even get x-rays or an MRI, whereas if I go to the same doctor with the same headache, I’m likely to get slapped with “depression” and given a prescription for antidepressants. That’s medical-ese for, “there, there… you’re a panicky woman, and you women complain a lot, about nothing. It’s all in your head; here’s a placebo for a problem you don’t actually have, and I’m hoping you’re ignorant enough to accept it.”
Since there are several status categories to consider when contemplating the topic of privilege, determining one’s privilege “ranking” within a society is like hitting a “Total” button on a 10-key calculator after typing in a lot of big numbers. It’s not as simple as it looks; often, you can make an educated guess, but the reality is that the reality might be way off from what you estimated. I think that a similar concept holds true for privilege status. It’s not an exact science, but despite that fact, no one rational would claim that it’s not true.
3. At the end of the day…
I’m no longer calling for unity-at-all-costs as a general rule (although I’m not against unity/unifying, either). That statement seems sad, and part of it is, but another part of it isn’t. In a perfect world, that would be wonderful, but the world is far from perfect. Each person feels justified in their positions, and they have a right to those positions.
Of course, that does not mean that I want to lose the friendship of anyone in the community. I’m not looking to alienate anyone, make enemies, or piss anyone off. I know that many people whom I consider friends may not like each other. I completely respect that, and I won’t butt in and try to get anyone to kiss and make up or become friends with someone who isn’t healthy for them. But I’m a little “unusual” in the range of points of view that I often entertain, which connects me with a wide variety of friends, many of whom might not get along themselves. I’ve always kind of been that way. It doesn’t mean I’m a chameleon; it just means I’m a potpourri. 🙂
I also realize that as ironic as it sounds, calls for unity (and the process of unifying) has the potential of actually further marginalizing the already-very-marginalized, cutting them off further from a community or support. I also realize that since everyone is a unique individual, trying to bunch people together into a group can be challenging, because not everyone will get along. And the more people you try to bunch together and the more tightly you try to bunch them (i.e., the “unify at all costs” sentiment), the more unstable the group might become, potentially cracking under the pressure to conform because after all, “we’re all one!” In a dimension invisible to us on earth, we may or may not be all one (I’ll leave that up to each person to decide), but in physical life, we’re a scattering of snowflakes and glitter, each one separate and each one unique.
So anyway, the whole point of this post was to write an update on my thoughts now that I’ve had the time to review everything I could see about what went down a few days ago, and also to expand/expound on a few opinions that I hold but hadn’t yet shared, and perhaps to explain myself a little, especially with what may have looked wishy-washy with the last post. Now, I hope I’ve clarified that I’m not a born diplomat – I just say what I think, which, when the situation gets too painful, goes completely cerebral and I attempt to strip most of the emotion away when analyzing. I meant everything I said in the last post, and all of it still holds true. It’s just that it wasn’t as complete. I do hope that my writing about this is complete, though; I’m so done with this, or at least I want to be 🙂
Now I’m just hoping there aren’t too many who are disgusted with me ❤