Friday, February 24, 2012

A Friend of a Friend Values Disabled Lives

Ok. So.

A friend of mine has a friend. Well, more than one friend I'm sure.

Anyway. This friend of my friend and her husband wish to adopt 2 little girls with Down Syndrome from Eastern Europe. They are choosing, selecting, to embrace two children with disabilities. Given how society talks about disability, that's kind of awesome.

Where these girls were born, disabled lives are apparently less valued than here. At around age 5, disabled orphans are put in institutions.

Not cool.

International adoption (and I know, there are issues with international adoption. In my humble opinion there are bigger issues with institutionalization) is expensive. This is where you come in.

Assuming this link works, there's a dream funding sort of contest here: American Family Insurance Dream Contest thingy
The website is absolutely awful in terms of navigation, and it does require registration, which is a pain too. So if it gives you something ridiculous (the box was in the lower left corner for me), it's Jennifer W. of Oregon under the family category. If you can gather the spoons to vote...2 more kids with disabilities will have a loving home.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I'm not just activism

How to provoke a full scale meltdown while trying to do the opposite:

Bring up my activism, especially as it relates to a kid I actually know, when I am already upset or feeling insecure or unvalued for whatever reason.

Wait, what? Activism is important and awesome!

I never said it isn't. But doing activism sucks. It is difficult. It is unpleasant. People say truly abominable things to me and about me, they lie about me, they attack people I care about deeply, they physically threaten (or occasionally attack) me. It never ends. There's always a battle, it is always uphill, it always sucks. Activism forces me to use skills I am not actually good at to try to get society to do things people don't want to do because in their eyes I and people like me don't deserve them.

Activism drains me. But I do it anyway, because I feel a deep responsibility to the neurodivergent kids I know, and the ones I don't know. It is my job to help people like me build a world that doesn't attack us for existing. If I don't fight a lot of these fights, no one else will, and then I have failed people who are going to have their own shit to work through. That sucks.

The bad thing about accomplishing things in something as unforgiving as activism is that no matter what, you're expected to keep going, and it sucks. The bad thing about accomplishing things in regards to activism is that keeping going becomes your only value.

I do more than activism, though. I am more than activism. But that doesn't mean I am valued as more than an activist. Sometimes I wish more than anything I could quit, but I know, just know, that the only reason people tolerate my presence on this planet is that I get shit done. If I am no longer useful, I no longer matter. No matter how thoroughly exhausted I am with everything, if I don't keep going, don't keep fighting, my existence no longer has meaning, I no longer have meaning, there is no point to the continued existence of Neurodivergent K.

It's a lot of pressure, being only known or respected or liked or whatever because of doing hard shit. If I fail, I don't just fail at fixing the things I was fixing. I fail at being even remotely worthwhile as a person, because all I am defined as seems to be activism.

And that isn't what I want. I cannot handle that. If I were to quit activism tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next year, I need to still matter because I am a worthwhile person. Not just because I get shit done, but because, activism or not, I matter.

I need to be more than my advocacy. I have to.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Skepticism's Ableism Problem

I have a new drinking game for reading the comments on Freethought Blogs. All of them. Bet you can figure out what it is.

You bet your ass that if a post is about asinine behavior, someone in the comments will internet-diagnose the person in question with Aspergers/an ASD. Because, of course, all autistics & Aspies et cetera behave so out-of-the-norm asshattedly as to come to the attention of fairly widely read bloggers. And obviously, autism is the only thing that could possibly make someone such an asshat.

Except no.

I mostly see this, actually, in the context of misogynist deed being committed, someone says "well duh, Aspie dude" or something to that effect. The dude in question has never in any of these threads been listed as autistic. Ever. Except by NT onlookers who are looking for a reason to feel superior-"I'm not a misogynist" isn't enough, they've got to exert their NT privilege too!

Fun fact, y'all. We're skeptics too. And as an autistic woman, I cannot tell in which way I feel less welcome in the community. The sexism is awful, and the way you try to blame it on people with my fucking neurology is not acceptable.

Now excuse me, I need to go do a shot for each instance of "dumbass" and "stupid" and a whole bottle for the "asshole=autism" thing.

Aren't you an enlightened bunch?

Apparently not.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Shaking the unshakeable

For some reason people think I'm a lot more confident than I am. I'm not. I live with a lot of anxiety and near crippling self doubt. However, I firmly believe that my fights are worth fighting.

Let me have that.

There's a systemic process that people use to break this kind of thing, to convince people that what they know and see and perceive and feel isn't real or accurate.

It's called gaslighting, and it's abuse.

Every time you tell someone that they are too sensitive, they are overreacting, they didn't mean it that way, you are gaslighting. And that is abuse.

Every time you tell someone with a disability that they aren't a really real disabled person, you are gaslighting, and that's abuse.

Every time you try to convince someone with a disability that they are too high functioning to talk accurately about that disability, you are gaslighting. That's abuse.

Every time you tell someone that enforcing their access needs is unreasonable, you are gaslighting. That's abuse.

Every time you tell someone that defending themselves against others hurting them is 'abusive', you are gaslighting. And that is abuse.

Every time you tell someone that they have to understand why someone did or said something hurtful, they didn't mean it about them, you are gaslighting. That's abuse.

When you tell someone on the receiving end of prejudice or injustice that they're imagining it, you are gaslighting. That is abuse.

You aren't the first person who thought to tell us that we're oversensitive or being unreasonable with our needs or that our perceptions are wrong or whatever. Gaslighting is common.

And it is abuse.

Trying to shake someone's sense that what they know, see, and think is true, trying to convince them they're just making shit up? Just so you don't have to listen to them? Just to break them down?

That is abuse. It is disgusting. It is an absolutely hateful thing to do to anyone. It's also a favorite tactic of all sorts of shitty people. And make no mistake, if you do this sort of thing you are a shitty person.

When you engage in this kind of thing, the planting and cultivating of self doubt, it'll work for a while. It won't get me to shut up though. It'll make me anxious as I try to figure out what is real and what is made up and who made it up and why and what I did wrong to make them think that was ok.

And I know the answer is it isn't ok. It is gaslighting. Gaslighting is abuse. But it is sneaky and it leaves marks, marks that no one can see.

Growing someone else's self doubt so that you don't have to change your thinking or your action?

That shit's abuse. You should know better. Stop doing it.