A recent interview with Sofia Vergara asked, “What’s wrong with stereotypes?” I’ll tell you what’s wrong with being a stereotype: if you come across someone who does not fit the stereotype, you’re shocked and amazed. A stereotype is a sort of box that people are forced to fit in by society. The trouble is, people rarely think outside the box.
An example from my own life is this: “You don’t look autistic!” I get this all the time. I wonder if it’s due to the extremely limited range of autistic people presented on television. Usually, you have to be white and with penis for people to believe you are autistic. And that’s the trouble. Most of the portrayals and speculated autistic people are younger versions of Rain Man. I mean, I am still reeling from a black man portraying autism on Chicago Med! It’s so rare! And don’t even be a woman if you want to be believed to be autistic! Have you seen an autistic woman on TV that’s NOT Temple Grandin? I haven’t. Please, tell me where the autistic women are on TV. I can’t see any right now.
On that note, have you seen a lead role on Broadway for a plus size woman that’s NOT Tracey Turnblad? People want to put you in a box. They want to be psychic and see you coming a mile away. They want to predict your behavior by, say, the color of your skin, or your genitals. They want to be prejudiced. It gives them power and control. The box says, for dark skinned people, “You are aggressive and irrational. Your dark skin says so.” But how many times over the centuries has the box been absolutely wrong? Countless times! There are scads of times when people out the worst of themselves and put them on the different. Back to the autistic: You say we are suffering because we are different. We’re actually suffering because the world is not conformed toward us, but toward you, the neurotypical. We’re actually suffering because you want us to. We’re suffering because we can’t fit into your box. We’re suffering because of your stereotypes.