The current ruling demographic for female beauty is as skinny as possible. As in, “HOW DARE YOU TAKE UP SPACE!!!” skinny as possible. I don’t think that will change until starvation becomes the norm again, which is not any time soon. Those young, little models look like lilies, which is fine by me. Trouble is, I am clearly the round, robust shape of a rose. I am currently losing weight to reduce the strain it takes on my body, but I am just starting, as you can see. But I don’t hate myself, as I am evidently supposed to by our American media advertising. I know I am getting discriminated against. I haven’t had a relationship in three years. I don’t expect to have one unless I lose weight anyway, at least not a healthy one. But I’m not worried. I know this is coming soon. I just have a feeling. But in all honesty, I should not feel that I have to be a Lily in order to not fear getting beaten by my man. I should be able to think I can get treated well even as a Rose. I am tossing off this strange discrimination. I will be a good woman to whomever decides to take me on…and expect to do the same, Lily or Rose…(or Daisy. There are a lot of Daisies in the world too.)
Now, now, I know I have scared most of my autism bloggers away by going on and on about Benedict Cumberbatch. The trouble is, when something gets stuck in my head, it likes to dwell and interweave itself into the bounds of my psyche. There is nothing I can do about it. I have tried. I wonder if this is a common occurrence among us autistics?
There’s a certain actor I must mention, again, that used the word “colored” to describe a race of people. He apologized for it several days later, after learning the hard lesson about inappropriate language to describe somebody. Far be it from me to be perfect, but it seems to be a sticking point with him. He has used inflammatory language to describe those of us with autism (without meaning to, I’m sure), and this can be put in his “Your Fave Is Problematic” article-it’s getting really hard to defend him to my peers and my friends. The question people ask is, how do you put up with this behavior? How do you continue to like this guy when he continually puts his foot in his mouth?
The way I can still like this is, I forgive him. I have forgiven my father, my mother, my sister and brothers…almost everyone I have known has needed forgiveness for some slight against me. Forgiveness is good. It is not excusing or dismissing the wrong; it is not letting the wrong hold power over you in your life. It is not letting the wrong play over and over in your head. I learned that the hard way, recently. There is an old saying: “Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” I’m sorry, but the man I am speaking of is not going to get hurt by your anger against him. You can let the rage and resentment go. Besides, I am sure you might like him better if you knew he was human.
Besides, we now know that the man apologized. What if he did not know it was wrong to use the language? The answer is, at least he knows now. We cannot undo the past; we can only hope to change the future.
I got shocked and angered by what he said, but its power has already subsided. How? Why, forgiveness, of course.
“The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: “I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger. You begin.” So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.” -Aesop Fable
You wonder why I put this Aesop Fable in here, let me give you a background: I have been recently obsessed with Benedict Cumberbatch. Yes, he dismissed claims of Alan Turing being on the Autism Spectrum. Yes, he has said some disparaging things about autism concerning several of his characters. Yes, he compared autistic children to Frankenstein’s creature-but only in that they were both innocent and childlike. Yes, I can surmise that he still does not know about autism.
But I believe he can still be reached.
I believe Benedict Cumberbatch can still be reached because his journey is still far from over. I believe he has not experienced the full spectrum of the trait(s), because the autism schools he speaks of tend to have a smaller range of autistics than the general public, especially due to mainstreaming the “high-functioning” ones. (I myself never went to an autism school or “special” school, but public school, for an example.) I still believe he can be taught, because he has yet to experience the full, capable side of autism. If he were to open his mind, the truth about autism would get to him. How do you open his mind? It must be done gently, of course.
I got to read much about the man’s missteps, and much of the information was filled with bitterness. There was rage, there was anger, there was hate and confusion. There is a lot of hate in the autism community for Benedict Cumberbatch. The only way a person has changed their mind about something is by gentle persuasion, even when the facts have not done it for them. Vitriol does nobody good-not even yourself. I have learned this the hard way. My last few posts can attest to that. A gentle touch does wonders for the heart. When the heart hurts, that gentle touch will be remembered. Remember, when a person has the harsh overcoat of ableism or a limited viewpoint on, howling like the wind will only make them bind it to themselves tighter. It takes gentle patience and understanding to glow like the sun, and then the man will take off his coat.
I hope I have not thrown too many people off by my interest in Benedict Cumberbatch. It hurts me that he said some disparaging things about those of us with autism, even though he should know better. Why is it that I care about what some actor I have never even met says about a condition, when he has been given a rare opportunity to look at those who have it (while preparing for a role) and dismiss their condition as piteous or infantile? What makes me so thin-skinned? It hurts when you think somebody has an opportunity to open their minds and they don’t take it. How do I get over it? More importantly, how do I get this guy out of my head?
There is a saying: “What you resist persists.” It persists, and persists, and persists. Sometimes a problem with them is all you need, but this one, well, it’s stayed. If you understand how I’m feeling (and look at the picture), you’ll understand why there’s such a crazy thing going on in my head. I mean, look at him! He’s absolutely gorgeous! Well, maybe not your kind of gorgeous, but there’s a certain quality there. Maybe, perhaps, that’s why his brand of not knowing how it really feels to be autistic-the kind of autism you have on your inside-smarts even more.
I am not really that mad at Benedict Cumberbatch. I am more of a sad. There’s almost an expectation among people that you are perceived with basic human needs and wants, and almost nobody else is aware of this expectation. I mean, just about all of us autistics are intimately, acutely aware that we perceive the world differently. The rub is, most of us want to be seen as adult humans, with needs and wants, and he spoke of us as mostly children! That is what hurt the most. But, truth is, society itself sees “disabled” people, and autistics by extension, as objects of pity. I really don’t see disabled people that way, possibly because I have been lumped in with them. It’s a blindness given to us by society that even the sighted have. I personally don’t know if he’s ready or open to an education, but if and when he is, we need to be right there to provide the source material. Only those who are really autistic can provide the true source material.
But for now, let’s gaze upon him. *sigh*
Being one of the lucky ones to grow up with autism acceptance, I want autistics to realize they’re good just the way they are. Originally published in a book and on another’s post, I wanted to bring autistics the lov and acceptance which is so necessary for survival in this discriminatory world.
Note: This was originally published as a chapter in the book “GAP: Autism, happiness and wellbeing” (British Institute of Learning Disabilities). It’s something that I’ve been waiting to post here for months and I guess a fitting place to leave off, since it’s kind of a summary of the my journey from diagnosis to present.
This will be my last post for a while. I’ve decided to put the blog on hiatus until my language problems are less, well, problematic. Writing even once a week is taxing my limited communication resources and as much as I’ll miss this, self-care has to be a priority for me right now. I hope to be back at some point, though I have no idea when. Until then . . .
As a late-diagnosed autistic adult, people often ask me why I bothered seeking out a diagnosis. At age 42, I was happily married…
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