Since the loss of my cat, it’s been exceedingly difficult to keep track of appointments and obligations, perform fairly basic self-care skills, and not succumb to rather severe depression that I feel laying thick on everything I perceive. I’m familiar with the incumbent weight on my limbs, the feeling “okay” with letting things slide, and the general air of malaise that coats me like a film of oily dust.
I’m smoking wayyy to many cigarettes and reading wayyy too many posts on tumblr. My remaining cat looks amputated somehow without her counterpart. My auditory and verbal language skills have suffered, and my writing is becoming more formal and pedantic, as well as acquiring an unhealthy sheen of -not poetry- but poetics.
I’m coming up on the ceremony for my reception of the 2012 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for student Excellence, and I feel like a fraud and a failure. My libido is low, my self-esteem is at slightly below sea level, and my appetite is wan and lifeless. I am jobless and destitute after paying for my cat’s treatment which was ultimately futile. My floor is covered in dirty laundry and various depression-related detritus. And yet I remain sentient enough (or just pragmatic enough, or disassociated enough) to recognize the symptoms of an understandable emotional reaction to incredible stress combined with a traumatic event.
I know how to Community College, but I am upon the cusp of leaving that world and entering a new world of University Education. I am a 30 year old woman with a developmental disorder entering a world of privileged, fresh-outta-high-school binary thinkers who don’t understand that humans don’t come off a conveyer belt at 18 with the same experiences, opportunities, and worldviews. This is a morbid and generalized view, but not without its justifications. I know that I live in a world intolerant of human difference, and that I need a full scream-box to get where I need to be. The scream-box is regrettably understocked at the moment. I view my AA graduation like an open grave at this point. I can’t see past it. But I am hoping that if I close my eyes and keep walking, my feet will magically pass over the open space, I won’t fall, as long as I keep going. Keep going.
My comment on this article from Racialicious:
This is one of the few occasions where I’ve found the comments section to be more thoughtful and informative than the article. I’m not saying it’s a bad article; I can think of many times when I’ve overheard a conversation that sticks in my mind and provokes a lot of thought. But it doesn’t seem to quite be able to make a point, instead it hovers around several questions.
Then again, I came of age in Southern California/LA area in the 90′s, which is a minority-majority area, at a time when “multicultural” was more a part of the lexicon than “colorblind”. I have since moved to central New York, which is much more segregated and racially awkward than I’m used to. Racial and ethnic identity was viewed in my youth as more something you could choose (so many of us being mixed), as well as something you did or participated in, rather than something other people told you that you were. In fact, acting “colorblind” was seen as somewhat rude, kind of like saying “I can’t tell if you’re a man or a woman”. (Not that a lot of my friends wouldn’t have taken that as a compliment.)
Which I think is part of why I’ve been in a state of ruffled feathers since I’ve lived in CNY; people here don’t seem to be able to see my race. I’ve actually had people argue with me about it, and that’s certainly a situation I’ve never been in. Also, the incredibly awkward and painful situation where racist white people assume that I am white and racist. The whole situation has made me feel incredibly racialized and always on the defensive-in the classroom, going out to dinner, and even in my own house.
I guess I identify with Christina Franklin’s comment-”othering” language and a general atmosphere of marginalization makes me feel like I need to point out my race to people more than is necessarily fluid in the conversation, and often white people find that to be awkward or “unnecessary”…despite the fact that their assumptions about me have MADE it necessary.
So, of course there had to be a deluge of racist backlash because The Hunger Games film not only cast black characters with black actors, they had the audacity to cast a character with no discernible race with Lenny Kravitz. A lot of people are commenting on how they envisioned Katniss, and one comment from I can’t remember where says they envisioned her as white because District 12 is in Appalachia. The thing is, Appalachia has been racially mixed for centuries, literally. And that is how she is described in the book.
I am stuck in a grief loop.
Okay, so I stopped watching The Walking Dead TV show after the first seasons, something that a few of my friends can’t really understand. I’m a fan of the comic, after all. I’ve read them all up to current. I’ve recommended them to people. But, fuck that show.
Firstly, it irritates me that they felt that they had to erase any sign of nonwhite ethnicity from Lori’s character. The way she is drawn in the comic looks to me very like a Native American or even Desi woman. I kinda think she looks like me, in fact. The show decided to cast a white actress, Sarah Callies, as Lori Grimes. Alrighty then.
It further irritates me to read things comparing the looks of comic vs. show characters, and mentioning the erasure of her ethnicity in the same breath as how much “better-looking” the show version is kinda offends me. It’s also a bit surprising that not even Racebending.com mentioned it; maybe because Lori’s race or ethnicity is never explicitly mentioned in the comics somehow mitigates the whitewashing, but I think it’s more clear than casting Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games as white, considering that there aren’t any images attached to Katniss. Just repeated mentions of her and those around her as “olive-skinned” and “dark”, which should have opened up the casting to nonwhite actors, but *magically* somehow didn’t. And there has been a bit of coverage of the Hunger Games casting, in regards to possible whitewashing. I think that after Cinna was cast with Lenny Kravitz, at least it balanced it out slightly more, and a lot of the disgruntled murmurs died out. It peeves me that in Hollywood, “ambiguous ethnicity”=white every time, and oftentimes, even obviously black=white.
My second huge problem with the TV show character Lori Grimes is that she is purposely written by human beings as a locus for misogyny. She is purposely written by human beings as every shitty stereotype about women. And, surprise, surprise, the vituperative epithets thrown at that character by men and women are ubiquitously misogynistic. She’s a “slut”, a “whore”, a “bad mother”, “useless”, “a bitch to her husband” and generally serves to make male characters look like bastions of reason, intelligence, quick reflexes, and decisiveness.
Newsflash: Lori is not a real person
Newsflash: Lori is a plot device that is written specifically and on purpose to make Rick look better.
In the words of the Showrunner, Glen Mazarra:
My first concern was to put Rick front and center. He’s a leader, and we need to care about him… I wanted to resolve the Shane-Rick-Lori storyline in a way that made Rick as active and compelling as possible.
Everyone I know who watches that show has said how much they hate Lori. In fact, when I pointed out that Lori is not even allowed an abortion by the show writers in case of Zombie motherfucking Apocalypse, the feedback I got on that was more or less “but it was supposed to show what a dumb bitch Lori is, that she doesn’t even know the difference between the morning-after pill and abortion pills”. Yeah. Why exactly is it necessary to even bring up abortion in this situation, and then “resolve” it through Lori “puking them up and changing her mind”, other than to make her look like a weak-minded ditz who can’t be trusted to make decisions, even about her own body? It isn’t like that kind of portrayal could affect real people’s opinions about women and their agency regarding their own bodily autonomy…Oh, wait. Let’s not forget the rash of legislation that has been passed in the last year or two that forces women to undergo ultrasounds before being able to attain a legal medical procedure, on account of SO THEY KNOW THAT THERE’S A FETUS IN THURR, DURR HURR. That being said, the entire debacle has already been deconstructed and criticized by more able authors than I, so i’ll just leave it at that.
My biggest problem with Lori’s character is that she serves as a catch-all locus for some of the most horrific misogyny I’ve heard come out of anyone’s mouth, including that of Rush Limbaugh. If you don’t believe me, here’s a link to a thread on a semi-official forum for fans of the show entitled:
And oh, my god. If anyone wonders if this kind of character portrayal confirms and perpetuates misogynistic attitudes and actions, just go ahead and have a gander at this comment from page 11 of the hatefest this innocuous question generated [TRIGGER WARNING FOR SEXUAL VIOLENCE]
Wow, when the sheilas start their ‘Girls Take Charge’ diatribe, I have a tendency to ‘crocodile’ in the sense that the covers of my eyes roll over and I ‘submerge’ (in other words try and tone out the incessant cackling that I know is coming… desperately trying to make it down my ear canal to F up my day!).
Maybe that is why I flunked ‘Womens Studies’ in college (seemed like an easy way to fill a Humanities requirement or so I thought). The first assignment was to give an oral report on how to treat a woman on a 1st date. I wanted out of this man-hating class ASAP, and the drop/add time was past, so I reported that you should roofie your dates’ drink, splooge on her face, and steal the last $5 out of her purse as you sneak out her window before she wakes up.
Of course this was done all ‘tongue in cheek’ of course (no pun intended), but the ‘prof’ (a better term for her is NAZI)….wasn’t amused by my findings at all. The reaction from her and the rest of those hens in the class was priceless though!! Definitely worth the hit to my GPA!!
This. I couldn’t get past this. I got past people claiming that Lori is an example of why women are weaker than men, past claims that murdering Lori would be an acceptable option for her husband in order to protect their son (from her neglect? apparently?), and long-winded arguments about the “evolutionary” proof of women’s inherent inferiority, but I could not get over this guy, who apparently thought that Lori’s character is justification for that time that he terrorized a group of women with his super-awesome-brofist rape story. And then can terrorize them all over again by reading this piece of fucking garbage. This is only funny in a universe where that could never happen to a real person. The punchline of this “joke” is that women, even women in a women’s studies class, can be raped. Real women. Human beings.
Lori Grimes is not a real person. But the way she is written serves as an excuse for hatred directed at real women. She is seen as a person by the people who “hate” her, with no thought given to WHY someone would write a character like that. She serves as a fictional construct for real misogynists to point to as an example of justification for their attitudes without any real danger of refutation or reprisal. She is a target for the misplaced hatred of women, being a strawman stuffed with stereotypes for women to revile, citing “I’m not like that!” Maybe instead of piling your hate onto a fictional character, you should consider directing your hatred to people writers and producers of the show, who are creating this clusterfuck of harmful stereotypes. Lori Grimes is seen as an acceptable target for misogyny because she embodies all the worst stereotypes about women, and is not a real person.
Anyhow. Fuck that show.
Two years ago, a psychiatrist tried to tell me that I wasn’t really autistic, that all of my “problems” were the result of being the child of a single mom. To her, “single mom” meant:
-my mother was promiscuous
-i had no stability
-i had been taught to “work the system”
-i had not been taught morals
and, in her words, “that the trauma had reduced me to a near-autistic state.” Despite the fact that everything I told her described the exact opposite of all of those things. I had a goddamn psychiatrist try to parrot the refrigerator mother theory at me because of her own disgusting prejudices.
That really happened.
Because real people actually believe this shit right here:
A friend of mine coined a term to describe certain hyperfocused and meticulous behaviors: Autismal. To be clear, it is an adjective, but not a pejorative. It can also be used to describe doing something in a counterintuitive or totally unexpected way that is also successful. That second part is kinda important to the whole “not a pejorative” thing. Playing Minecraft for 16 hours in order to build a bunker out of obsidian blocks is autismal. Cutting up vegetables with a sword is also autismal.
Classic Autismal Move: Not going to class today in order to be able to do the actual work I need to do for the classes. I can make an icosahedron out of pipe cleaners and watch the second half of Before Stonewall from the comfort of my own home area. The hardest part of college for me isn’t the work; it’s getting ready to leave the house, and then doing so. It takes a minimum of two hours, and I’ve been on time to my first class twice this semester.
The thing about living an Autismal lifestyle (ha!) is that it really bothers a lot of people. Not the person doing it; all the OTHER people, the endless people, those well-meaning nosey-noses that always have a damn opinion. The people like the lady from the Art Department who yelled at me for looking inside a canned goods collection bin (who I later found out was actually head of the Art Department-fuck your Patti Smith haircut!). The people who are ever so insistent that everything to be done must be done in a specific way. The people who always tell you that “do a little bit each day” is always the way to do things.
Yeahhh. That doesn’t work for me. I made it through grade school by never doing homework, getting 100% on every test, spending every recess in detention for not doing homework, and being in a poor kid school where if you’re literate, you pass. I made it through high school by not making it through high school. I’m making it through college by being 30 and trusting the vegetable sword.
That means I prepare for exams by watching ten hours of sequential episodes of TV shows or playing a tabletop game or reading 600-800 pages of fantasy literature. That’s what fills up the gas tank. Then I read the class material for maybe half an hour, make a handwritten set of notes. Two more hours of reading/playing/watching, and then make a handwritten copy of the notes. Take test. A+.
Caveat: this doesn’t work so well with group work, “easy” classes (you know, the ones where the whole curriculum is based in class discussions, participation, attendance, or as I call it: bullshit), or making up fake conversations (a large part of language class curriculums).
Honestly, the biggest problem in my life right now isn’t “being overwhelmed with schoolwork”, it’s “being overwhelmed with the lack of an autistic staging area”. There is no physical area in my house currently where I can place objects that I understand and that have a specific purpose, and no one will move these objects or put other objects that don’t belong there in among them, thus upsetting the balance of the universe.
This problem should be fixed in the next few months. But in the meantime, I have to figure out how to cope with it. I’ve been trying to cope with it for about two years now, and it hasn’t gone well. About as well as one might expect if you lived in a house that was constantly opening up into interdimensional portals. Like, open the cupboard to get a can of fish? INTERDIMENSIONAL PORTAL LOL YOU CANNOT HAS FISH. All because someone bought some fucking tortillas and I can’t fucking parse it.
A while back, I might have been like, “oh no, curse my broken robot brain!” But now i’m like “fuck you and your fucking tortillas.” Because this is my fucking house.
THIS IS MY FUCKING HOUSE.
Sandra Cisneros. Virginia Woolf.
Shoes lined up by the bed will set you free.
P.S. Dear Patti Smith Haircut of the Art Department,
That bin is a collection bin set out by Phi Theta Kappa, which I am a member of. The food goes to needy students who are having difficulty paying for food, which I was. I am also an autistic person with little patience for folkways. I found myself intrigued by a purple hexagonal jar, inside the food bin beside which I was waiting for my ride home person to get out of class. So I picked that shit up and looked at it, partly out of natural curiosity, and partly to get a preview of what might be awaiting me next week at the food pantry. And then it was all, “Lingonberry Jam” and I’m like “Oh wow what the shit are lingonberries? I’ve never heard of that” and then a random passing person (you) vested themselves with the authority to reprimand me with “That’s a food collection bin! You put food INTO it! You don’t take food OUT of it!” And I’m all like “I’m just looking at-” And you’re all like “NO YOU PUT FOOD INTO IT IT’S A PTK THING” and I’m like “I KNOW I’M A MEMBER OF PTK IT’S FOR-” And you’re like “BLAH BLAH I KNOW MORE ABOUT IT AND IT’S DIFFERENT” And I’m like “I’M ALLOWED TO LOOK AT THINGS WTF” and in the shock of being unexpectedly treated to the kind of scolding worthy of being a third grade poopypants, I gabbled and blabbled and was outraged and inarticulate. You literally stood there and yelled at me until I put the jar of lingonberry jam back into the bin. I am unaccustomed to being addressed as a third grade poopypants, and therefore just yelled, “I’M ALLOWED TO LOOK AT THINGS!” and exaggeratedly placed the precious hexagonal jar of lingonberry jam back into the bin in order to stop this bizarre confrontation I was in no way prepared for.
Are you indeed so outraged by natural curiosity?
Did you believe that I was in fact a lingonberry thief on par perhaps with Hamburglar?
Are you so steeped in privilege that you cannot believe that anyone breathing the same air as you could ever be the recipient of “charity”?
Are you so steeped in conventional behavior that anything unexpected invites immediate and swift retribution?
Are you so steeped in hierarchical thinking that you feel vested with the authority to reprimand people you don’t know?
Did you in fact COVET THE PRECIOUS LINGONBERRIES YOURSELF?????
I may never know. I have been consumed with l’esprit d’escalier for like a month now.
There is a large part of me that really wants to send this as an email. Or perhaps scour all the food pantries on campus for that jar of lingonberry jam, and leave it in your mailbox with this attached to it. Or even better, to buy a jar of the jam myself, consume it, and place the note inside the empty jar of Hamburgled lingonberries.
I have been on fire for days now, arguing my case.
I am a feminist blogger, and a disability rights blogger. What does that mean? more or less, that I have a very autistic inability to let.things.go.
And, I should have. I should have let it go days ago. Most of the disability rights people trying to get a word in edgewise from the torrent of hate towards disabled people (in a thread about prenatal testing of all things) fled long ago, knowing that the infectious garbage people have been spewing would only lodge in their hearts, sap their strength, and make life more difficult. One would think that those involved with fighting sexism in all of its pervasive and subversive forms might be a bit more prepared to question their own assumptions.
Not so much.
Here is a summary of the 700+ reply thread that happened when Rick Santorum said “Women shouldn’t be able to abort or get prenatal testing because disabilities“, and Feministe decided to reply with “Women SHOULD be able to get abortions and prenatal testing because disabilities” and the outpouring of hate and silencing that followed:
What is Ableist Discourse According to Feministe?
Here is a wee example of some of my wasted rage:
I didn’t “make up” the billions of fundraising dollars diverted from services for actual living people with autism and funneled into research for a prenatal test for autism. There is a huge problem with the idea of “curing” autism, the infantilization of autism in “charitable” organizations and the media, and the medical model of autism and other disabilities that is incredibly harmful to real, actual people living with disabilities.
To have these degrading perceptions of disability parroted in what I’d like to consider a center of progressive and open thought is incredibly painful to me. To be told I’m inherently somehow disconnected with reality-gee, never heard THAT one before! Just because I refuse to accept that living with a disability renders me somehow outside the discourse on reproductive rights, just because I’m calling out some pretty damn ableist comments, does not mean that I’m making things up.
MY LIFE IS NOT AN ABSTRACT PHILOSOPHICAL CONVERSATION. MY LIFE AND MY HUMAN RIGHTS ARE NOT ABNORMAL, OUTSIDE THE REALM OF “REAL” EXPERIENCE, OR INVALID.
OTHER POSTER: What about aliens of human level sentience who can communicate with us and be like totally normal?
THAT is an abstract “angels on a pin” red herring derail.
THIS is a real thing that happens to real people in their real lives:
Ableism is a form of discrimination or prejudice against individuals with physical, mental, or developmental disabilities that is characterized by the belief that these individuals need to be fixed or cannot function as full members of society (Castañeda & Peters, 2000). As a result of these assumptions, individuals with disabilities are commonly viewed as being abnormal rather than as members of a distinct minority community (Olkin & Pledger, 2003; Reid & Knight, 2006). Because disability status has been viewed as a defect rather than a dimension of difference, disability has not been widely recognized as a multicultural concern by the general public as well as by counselor educators and practitioners.
Laura Smith, Pamela F. Foley, and Michael P. Chaney, “Addressing Classism, Ableism, and Heterosexism in Counselor Education”, Journal of Counseling & Development, Summer 2008, Volume 86, pp 303-309.
It is WRONG to frame a conversation about prenatal testing this way. It is WRONG to say, “women should have access to prenatal testing because children with disabilities=burden for women.”
Women should have access to prenatal testing because we ALL have a right to make FULLY INFORMED DECISIONS, whatever that may mean to US.
I’m really at the point where it is becoming clear to me that most people would much rather pigeonhole me as a “forced-birther” than examine their own privileged assumptions.
My problem is that it seems like so many people are stepping onto Rick Santorum’s dancefloor: HE wants reproductive rights to be about the (relative) value of human life, and it IS NOT. Arguing in favor of abortion access in those terms is just as bad as arguing against it in those terms.
THAT IS WHY HE BROUGHT THAT SHIT UP IN THE FIRST PLACE.
AND I AM SO COMPLETELY ENRAGED TO SEE ALL OF YOU ARGUING ON RICK SANTORUM’S TERMS.
Now, I’m probably going to have to drop my Spanish Literature class. I was already 2 weeks behind, and planned to spend my weekend catching up. Instead, soul-crushing existential worth-questioning arguing with people I OTHERWISE AGREED WITH.
There are so many times that I feel torn between options. One option is to keep my head down, let people use me in their supercripple narratives, take what people are willing to give, and be a little mousey mouse who never says boo to a goose. The other is to waste my life arguing with people will will never take a damn second to question their own privilege or their vile assumptions about my worth as a human fucking being. People who can’t understand that THEY are the ones equating a fetus and a disabled person, NOT ME. THEY are the ones talking about a “potential child’s potential quality of life” as a factor in a woman’s PRIVATE AND PERFECTLY VALID reason to have an abortion. THEY are the ones saying “a woman should be able to have an abortion because disabled kids are such a burdensome pit of misery that never goes away, and how terrible is it that women are stuck with that instead of men?”
I am the one saying “women should be able to have abortions for ANY REASON SHE SEES FIT” and YOU ARE THE ONE SAYING SOME FETUSES ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS.
I was told I was denigrating “real women’s lives” and “real women’s experiences” and that in the “real world” women have to make these choices-that I am trying to silence “real women”; also that I was “making things up about Autism”. I said that I hated the framing of the conversation, and that it was incredibly painful to me, to which I got “life isn’t all black and white, you’re trying to silence me, real women, real issues, blah blah.”
There is only one conclusion I can draw from that. I didn’t realize it, but I am neither a real woman or a real Autistic. Good to know.
It’s kind of like when Rush Limbaugh said that Feminazis(TM) “just want to be able to have sex without ANY consequences.”
Yeah, I do. I do want to have as much sex as I want, or as little, without any “consequences”. We’re in total agreement there. The problem is that we don’t agree at all.
Basically, Feministe pushed Rick Santorum out of the way so THEY could shit on my face instead.
Ironically, the title of the article that I was posting in was entitled Absolute Truths.
And what am I left with, really? A unbelievable tension headache, not a lick of writing (at least not towards my degree) done, and a sinking realization I haven’t actually eaten anything today, other than the disdain of the privileged for the oppressed.
I’m speaking on a panel on the 19th for a Women’s History Month Event (subset) Women With Disabilities. I hope to synthesize this emotionally painful mess into something that can reach out to people and change their minds. Because real life is not the fucking internet, and I’ve been much more effective in my ACTUAL activism, as opposed to my internet activism. I think I just need a break.