After being with me in an exclusive, passionate and very close relationship for years, N. finally confessed to me his deeply held secret: he hates his own voice because it isn’t manly enough. Now, I’m deeply convinced that he has the best voice in the world and that it’s extremely manly. This doesn’t, however, change the fact that he suffers because of it.
So he bought a system of exercises that is aimed at helping him “improve” his voice. He locks himself up in his study at regular intervals and asks me not to come in because he is self-conscious.
Yesterday, in the midst of a horrible heat wave, I heard the tornado warning siren. Tornadoes happen very often here, so we are used to the sirens. In case you have never heard them, they make very loud, bellowing, insistent sounds aimed at alerting people of the danger.
So when I heard the tornado warning, I ran to N.’s study. It turns out he was the one making the sounds as part of his voice improvement routine.
Please tell me again about how men don’t suffer from gender stereotypes.
P.S. I am publishing this with N.’s full permission, of course.
My sister is picking me up at the Burlington airport.
“Where will you be standing?” She asks.
“There is a bright painted cow,” I say. “I will be standing right next to it, so you’ll see us immediately: a blue cow and a peach-colored one.”
Rachel at Journeys With Autism provides a brilliant analysis of how the tests that supposedly demonstrate low empathy in autistics are completely misguided:
Because the people writing the test are non-autistic, they have no idea of the methods that I use to work around the problem of being unable to read “normal” social cues. In instances in which I cannot intuitively tell when someone wants to enter a conversation, I tend to consciously look for people who aren’t able to get a word in edgewise, and I attempt to make room for them. In terms of perspective taking, this approach shows a significant level of cognitive empathy: I observe process, I see who is being excluded, and I identify with the experience of exclusion to such a degree that I attempt to ease the discomfort of other people. The fact that the authors of the test do not understand my adaptive mechanisms is quite problematic, because while my inability to tell when “normal” people want to enter a conversation would contribute to a low score, my adaptive mechanisms reflect a high level of cognitive empathy that the test does not pick up.
This is exactly how I act in social situations, too. I’m always extremely sensitive to people who experience discomfort in social situations and do all I can to ease it both on a verbal and on a non-verbal level. This is, partly, what makes me so popular with students. I can identify those of them who feel shy and uncomfortable and always try to help them by restraining those who attempt to hijack the discussion and push out the less socially adept of the group.
The idea that all NT people are a lot more empathetic while the autistics are much less so is wrong. Rachel points out that, as an autistic, she is a lot less likely to have an NT person adequately judge her responses:
For example, when I am in a store in which very loud music is playing, I have never had the experience of a non-autistic person being able to read my discomfort or note my awkwardness. Not once. Not ever. And yet, for me (and for a great many other autistic people), being in a store with very loud music is the hell-realm, and the question of whether to stay or go, whether to ask the store manager to turn down the music or not, whether to cry with frustration or put my fingers in my ears, places me in an extremely awkward position. My experience surpasses “normal” social awkwardness and “normal” social discomfort by several orders of magnitude, and yet non-autistic people fail to intuitively recognize that I’m having any kind of aversive experience at all.
Yet, we keep hearing that neurotypicals are so much better than we are at “tuning in to how someone else feels rapidly and intuitively.”
I highly recommend this entire long essay because it does a fantastic job of exploring where these pernicious myths about autistics come from.
This is a fair warning to everybody: before you proceed to dismiss me or to bully me on the basis that I’m autistic, be prepared to be insulted and bullied right back. I’m sick and tired of stupid ignoramuses whose intellectual impotence makes them lose every single argument in the most pathetic way and makes them seek excuses in other people’s identity.
Want to be a bigot and a fool? Go be that someplace else. I have no intention of offering space on my popular blog to the hateful rants of autism-bashers.
Seriously, how incredibly stupid does one have to be to start informing autistics about what they are or aren’t while having absolutely no relevant medical degree and no understanding whatsoever of autism? How can anybody be so delusional that they think they will inform me of something pertaining to my way of being that I don’t know and they do?
I’m very angry right now. Do you also walk around telling people, “You don’t understand this because you are a woman / Hispanic / gay / diabetic / blonde / a senior citizen”?
And it isn’t just one person who’s doing this either. There have been at least five cases of this recently on my blog.
Shame on you, haters. Shame on you.