Sunday, October 15, 2017

Lies We Need to Stop Telling Our Kids.

There's another post I was supposed to be writing, but things happened and I ended up writing this one instead. Oops. The general ideas of this one have been percolating for a while; a conversation with Chavisory of Chavisory's Notebook helped me finally crystallize it into words instead of free floating irritation at the state of things.

There are a couple lies we tell autistic kids. Kids with disabilities in general. All kids, to an extent. One of them seems to be aimed more at kids who we presume are girls, whereas the other one we hold onto a lot longer with disabled people than with abled people. And we have to stop.

First things first.

Folks, we have got to stop telling girls, women, disabled people, marginalized people that if they follow the right script they will be safe. I saw a white autistic man at a conference I just went to flogging his solution to police violence. Buddy my dude, the Latina obviously neurodivergent little girl you are talking to is not going to be safe from the police if she does what you say. That's not how this works.

So many 'social skills programs' seek to be the cheat codes to a safe life. If you do what this guy says, you won't get shot by the police (not necessarily true). If you use exactly the right words, no one will bully you. This set of words is protective against medical mistreatment. That set of words will protect you from racial aggressions. If you do this little dance just right, you are safe from racism.

I mean, hell, look at peoples' responses to survivors of sexual violence. The first thing they do is ask "well what did they do to deserve it? Did they give the perpetrator the wrong idea?". That's the first response, regardless of disability of the victim. As a society we have bought into this bullshit idea that if you perform The Safety Dance correctly, if you do all the right things, say all the right things, you're safe. You're safe from bigots. You're safe from predators. You're safe from people running the stop sign.

And that's a lie we have got to stop telling people.

And then there's the second lie, which ties into the first in that it prevents people from responding when casting the circle of protection doesn't work.

Stop telling your children and your clients that 'appropriate' is a steady state. Appropriateness is situational. There are very few things you can do that are always appropriate or always inappropriate.

"I don't like that" and "that is inappropriate" are different things, okay? But the people who are tasked with teaching us to navigate the world don't want to deal with situationals. Rather than say "that's annoying" or "I don't like that" or "sometimes that's ok but sometimes it is not" they tell us it's inappropriate.

Hilariously enough, oftentimes the cry of "inappropriate" is used once the abled person in the situation has failed to convey that something is actually inappropriate. An example that you're all sick of but I am going to keep using until people stop making it so available:

A neurodivergent man traps neurodivergent, and sometimes abled, women and people he thinks are women. He wants a girlfriend. For some reason no one has told him that you can't just corner people and try to touch them and whine at them until they agree to be your girlfriend (this is always inappropriate. There is no people or species that courts like this). People have told him nicely to cut the shit, and have been told it's inappropriate to use that language. People have screamed tonelessly to make him go away, and been told it's inappropriate. Someone finally knees him in the fork, and is castigated for how inappropriate that is too.

There's only 2 people being inappropriate in this story: the man who thinks he can whine someone who said no into dating him, and the almost certainly neurotypical person who is lecturing people on doing what it takes to extract themselves. There are, in fact, situations where kneeing someone in the fork is the most appropriate way to go.

Even in less extreme (though this isn't extreme; find a disabled woman or person read as a woman who has been to disability events and they have stories just like this) circumstance, marginalized people are taught from day 1 that resisting awful things is 'inappropriate'. Racialized children, queer children, disabled children, on and on and on. Defending ourselves is 'inappropriate'. What's actually inappropriate in these situations is how the people who wave that stamp around don't even care until they take matters into their own hands.

Words mean things. Inappropriate isn't a blanket category for a thing. Yelling is always loud. It is not always inappropriate.

Say what you mean.

Stop lying to people to get out of uncomfortable situations for yourself.


Sophie Lewis said...
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Unknown said...

Exactly this!! I'm with you; I can't count how many times I've been told "Don't say NO to me!", "That's not Nice!", "Can't you be NICER about this?" NOt once in all of those times was my own fear and rightful anger taken into account, only the convenience of others who were doing things to me against my will! It's not always easy, but I'm trying to shake off that gag of false compliance and tell the bastards what I really think!! Thank you for this.

Glee said...

yep, indeed

Unknown said...

I'm glad ypu wrote about this. The sexism that allows neurodivergent men to prey on neurodivergent women needs to stop. The parents of these men mske excuses and even encourage or pressure women into dating him. This has made support groups a unsafe space for neurodivergent women.

I don't care how nice he is. That he just doesn't understand. And other reasons your neurodivergent son cannot understand no from a woman. I also am not owed to him because I'm also neurodivergent. A fork in the knee is the best they can hope for. These men will get to know their police very well if they do not learn how not to harrass women. I'm sick SICK of being made to feel guilty about not understanding him. I have dealt with so much trouble from this, going on dates with men who's parents manipulated my mom into giving him a chance. They have raped any sense of compassion I could have for these neurodivergent predators.