Women and Clothes

Wear a hijab. Don’t wear a hijab. Wear a bikini. Don’t wear a bikini. Be sexy. Don’t be a slut. Be smart. Don’t be a bitch. (Yes, I went there.) Show some skin. Don’t show that skin. Is it any wonder women get confused as to what they wear in youth, and screw it all to be comfortable in old age? I have noticed that to those in power, fashion is important on a woman.

Have you noticed that women are not allowed to wear the same amount of clothes that men are? If you’re in a conservative nation, you wear more clothes – ranging from longer skirts and head coverings to the all-covering burqa seen in the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. If it’s in a more secular country, it’s less – sometimes a lot less.  The trouble is, do any of these people in power know what women want? Do they even care?

Religious codes aside, there is a lot of ignoring what women actually want. Maybe it’s the fact that since they are, well, women, they are made to feel less than true citizens. It’s even worse if you have a different skin color, or a disability. For example, there is a movie about disabled sexuality called “Yes We F**k” because people still think those of us with disabilities do not. Plus, there is also the stereotypes associated with women of different colors than, say, the palest Northwestern European, which still dominates world media to an extent. (It’s almost a game of “How Much Do You Look Like a King of Britain?” where only the most resembling can even get to the final rounds.)  Anyway, the trouble with all this is that women who do not feel they can stand up to this grievously high, white, able, etc. level of beauty are left out as if they are not even human. A dark-skinned woman in a wheelchair is barely recognized above apes, for example.

What does this have to do with clothes? Simple. They put inordinate amounts clothes on darker skin, less “abled” bodies, unskinny bodies, and female bodies in general. And somebody somewhere is going to go crazy and berate them for the amount of clothes they are going to wear anyway. Is it any wonder women who are older get tired of it all? Because it is too taxing on the young psyche, let alone the older one.

So, screw all the mixed messages, because you’re not going to please everybody. Wear what you want, because that’s all that matters. I just want to know that the clothes you wear do not make you less of a person, no matter what everyone else says.



Pity VS. Reasonable Accommodation

Now, I’m sure many of you are probably thinking I’m picking on Christy Smith. That is far from the truth. What I was pointing out was the attitude of “Help me! I’m disabled” that is an effect of internalized ableism. See, as a “poor unfortunate soul” of what is considered disability, one tends to get the message from the world that disabled means incapable. It is often the message one gets for various disabilities, including deafness and autism. That, however, is not reasonable accommodation.

Reasonable accommodation is the practice of bringing in a technology or technique which helps the “disabled” person help themselves. In the case of Ms. Smith from Survivor, visual cues in the competitions is a reasonable accommodation. Besides, it can also help those who are more visually oriented. I was not picking on Ms. Smith for a reasonable accommodation. I was simply pointing out that internalized ableism really scars the attitudes of those with disabilities, even to the point of thinking people are going to pity you.

What is a reasonable accommodation? Well, anything could be. A ramp or elevator to get on the speaking stage is quite reasonable, if I may say so. My mother rides a motorized cart for distances longer than those needed to get around our apartment, and that’s quite reasonable. Many people wear glasses for driving, reading and other sight-related tasks, and nobody is going to argue against that being reasonable!

What I was talking about was that we disabled, as a people, are inclined to think disabled means incapable. That, in a nutshell, is a form of ableism. It is an insidious form, one driven by stereotype. This form of ableism is more subtle, more pervasive, more effective in keeping us down. Would it surprise you that people with disabilities are perfectly capable of handling relationships, for example? Would it surprise you that many of them vote?

Speaking of voting, my mother rides a motorized scooter, as I have said before. Our voting area has mostly standing-height voting booths – little plastic voting shields atop a standing-height table. Would it be too much to put a few of these down on a regular table, with a chair, and to remove the chair when a wheelchair or motorized scooter – riding voter shows up? I’m just saying.

That is a reasonable accommodation. Pity is not. In fact, there is little effectiveness in pitying someone. It only makes a point of putting a person in an inferior position, and nothing else. What help or accommodation is there in that?

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Pity and Me


I remember Christy Smith, the contestant on Survivor: The Amazon whose most distinctive trait was that she was deaf. What I remember most was that early on, she expected people in her tribe to “help” her somehow. While proper accommodations were actually being given to her by the show, this seemed a little different. What her cry seemed like to me was that she was saying, “Help me! Pity me! I’m Disabled!” I do not criticize her for this, because I believe it is an effect of the most pervasive and damaging effect of ableism: that of pity. Why did I bring her up? Why, to relate these particular incidents, and their effect on my life:

Incident 1: The Table Manners Fight

When I was a child, my mother insisted on teaching me good table manners. I was especially frustrated one night, and I said “But Mom, I’m autistic!”

Her reply: “Is that any excuse for your behavior?” She did not pity me. She knew what I was capable of. Now, I can see thirty years later that teaching me good table manners was a sort of accommodation. Good courtesy has helped me interact with society better. I still struggle with my limitations (Ask me about “jumping into a conversation” – I don’t know when!!!), but I am much better understood because of the techniques I was taught.

Incident 2: The Pitying Psychology Professor

I was getting into a psychology class, with a good professor…or so I thought. I felt it might be helpful to tell her that I was autistic – that I could be a case study for any research into autism she might like. So I told her, and she went “Awww…” As if to say “You Poor Unfortunate Soul.” I was forever changed about my view of autism, and about myself. It had never dawned on me that there might be something “wrong” with my existence, and it hit me hard. I felt worthless going into any other psychology, in case everyone else thought I was a Poor Unfortunate Soul, and I changed my major to theater…which I was ultimately unsuccessful at because I was too fat to be pretty. It has taken me twenty years to recover from that pitying and shame, and I don’t know if I can be a successful psychologist or social worker now due to this. I am almost forty, and I feel I was robbed of my calling.

What both these incidents have in common was that they dealt with pity. The first incident with my mother is that there was no pity, and that I was raised just like my siblings – raised to have good manners, ambition, and self-reliance. The second incident, however, shamed me. The pity revealed that the psychology professor-and the entire psychology/psychiatry industry, by extension-made me feel inferior to the “normal” people. (Come to think of it, who decides “normal” anyway? What is normal?) I’m beginning to see the faults and the terrifying reality of ableist pity.

It is less hurtful to come up to me yelling “YOU ARE A HORRID EXCUSE FOR A HUMAN BEING! YOU SHOULD BE DRAGGED OUT AND SHOT LIKE THE NAZIS DID TO THE JEWS!” Yes, the person in my imagination is screaming at me. But pitying feels like you’re hateful and lying about it. It’s a double strike against you. So, if you’re going to be a hateful jerk, be an honest hateful jerk. Don’t pity me.

What I Want

Everybody wants a healthy child. Everybody wants to fit in. Everybody wants to be accepted. That’s what I keep hearing from the cure purveyors and the people who will not accept their childrens’ autism as a condition they can live with. I also hear a dark side to all these statements:

1) Everybody wants a healthy child: A child must be typical to be healthy.

2) Everybody wants to fit in: If I or my child is not perfectly in sync with society, I will not fit in. If my child is not typical enough, I will not fit in.

3) Everybody wants to be accepted: If my child is not accepted, then I will not be accepted.

No offense, but where do you end and where does your child begin? There needs to be a healthy boundary between you two. Most autism parents bemoan their situation in a way that makes the child responsible for their happiness, You know what most psychologists call that? Codependency.

I have come up with some tenets for what I myself want, because I’m not going to get acceptance unless I fight for it, because those in power are neurotypical, and any deviation from this “neurotypical” neural system is still quickly discouraged and ostracized.

Here’s what I want:

1) I want to fit in the way I am.

2) I want to be accepted the way I am.

3) I want the way I am to be accepted, not feared.

4) I want people to be somewhat relaxed when they hear their children have autism, because it is something with a name.

5) I want people to understand autism is something you can live with, even as a struggle.

6) I want people to know that autism is something you can work with.

7) I want people to know that when something you have has a name, there are people who can help you with it.

8) I want to be listened to. I don’t get that from most “Autism” groups.


Fourteen Things Not to Say to an Autistic Adult

I have always wanted to come up with a snappy comeback to all of these.


Last night somebody shared an article on Facebook. The article was called “Things never to say to parents of a child with autism.” A comment on the article asked why there wasn’t one about things not to say to an autistic adult. I decided to write that article. It’s based on not only my experience, but also the experiences of my autistic friends.

1) “You don’t look autistic.”

My response to this would be something along the lines of what Gloria Steinem said when people told her she “looked good for 50.” She said, “This is what 50 looks like.” I say, “This is what autism looks like.” However, what I’d like to say is: “I don’t look autistic, and you don’t look ignorant. I guess we’re both wrong.”

I don’t know what people who say this mean when they say I don’t look autistic. What does autism look like?…

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Autistic Genius and Cure Speak

The Bullshit Fairy

I love that I’m noticing more people speaking up and against any of talk of a cure for Autism. But please make sure you’re using the right explanation.

When you tell people that autism shouldn’t be cured and support your argument by using examples of geniuses that were suspected or confirmed to be autistic, such as Newton, Mozart or Einstein, remember this:

Whilst those people had amazing success, our value shouldn’t be based on whether we achieve “greatness” and conform to society’s standards of worth.

We hold immense value by simply being human.

Autistic rights are human rights. We deserve the same right to life, inclusion, accessibility and support as anyone else.

❤ The Bullshit Fairy

The Bullshit Fairy Quote No_108 Immense Worth

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