Wednesday, June 19, 2013

In which Anonymus Maximus talks about Friendship, Internalised ableism, and also uses the r-word

The reason I'm suddenly producing content here is that I'm back in school-school*, in a field I have no previous experience with, and I am procrastinating doing the reading. Mostly because the reading says "theory" and means "model", "theory" and means "hypothesis", "theory" and means "framework", and "theory" and means "process". This is upsetting to me.

Unrelated to that, [or actually, somewhat related] I'm thinking about dogmatic ideology and internalised ableism.

I have a friend [a friend? Aren't you autistic?], one might even say a best friend.
My best friend is also autistic. Or rather, my best friend happens to be a person with Asperger's, and does identify as "aspie" in relation to accomodations. She will agree that she has ~issues~ and requires accomodation. At times, she -demands- accomodation at the cost of others. [We have quite incompatible access needs, which is why this is annoying to me.] Her accomodations are always judged as more important than mine. [And this goes to the idea that we are all centres of our own universe, that I prioritise myself and she's prioritising herself isn't something strange to me.]

She is an aspie, in that she opposed the removal of the Asperger's Syndrome diagnostic lable from the DSM, and refuse to be refered to, or think of herself as 'autistic', or a 'person with autism', or even 'on the autism spectrum'. Why? Because 'autism' evokes a different image in the mind of society than 'aspie' does.  It is very much "I'm fine, not like those icky autistics" ("but you still need to accomodate me. But you know, I don't drool. I'm not retarded.").
As you might notice, our opinions are very different, and at times directly opposed to eachother.

And I get it. The popular stereotype about autism is not all that flattering. And I'm saying this as someone who does drool, and rocks and sits in corners and infodumps and doesn't do eyecontact and flaps and generally is very visibly disabled. I still don't get coded as autistic though, because most people read me as a woman. Popular opinion is that autistics need to be cured. That we lack self-awareness. That we don't even know that we are different. That we can't communicate, that we don't think.
It's insulting. But I can't help but wonder. Isn't it better to change the popular conception of autism, than to retreat into aspie elitism?

Dogmatic ideology would say that I can't be friends with her. Let alone -best- friends. See, we disagree on something that is very fundamental to me, Autistic pride, Autistic culture and disability activism. She is evil because she has internalised what society thinks about autism, and is now in an attempt to maintain her sense of self distancing herself from the image. She isn't autistic, she has Asperger's.
And to make matters worse, she has internalised the disability activism movements opinions and views. I can't count the number of times disability activists have argued against ableism with "[...] not a retard!". Dammit Jim, I'm a wheelchair user, not a retard.
I'm not surpirsed or confused by the existence of aspie elitism. If the disability rights movement continues to throw I/DD people under the bus because it might give physically disabled people a better life, we'll keep getting aspies that don't want to be considered autistic. Knowing that you have internalised ableism doesn't make you miraculously overcome it. Harmful prejudice in society is insidious. I don't have a point here. I'm just thinking.

Popular discourse makes a point of not giving I/DD people full humanity.
But we are all more than that. Things are more complicated. I love my friend, we have fun together.
We make awesome things happen. I can agree to disagree.

*As opposed to at-work/placement-in-industry - school, as I usually am.