Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Skirting the Feminist Grievance Lexicon, While Ending Up Thinking Autism Advocacy

Let me begin this story by telling everyone that I am not a feminist. I am a women's rights supporter. To me there is a huge difference, here's why:

Modern Feminism and the Death of Female Empowerment
What Strong Women Look Like
The Sanctimonious Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Homemakers Insulted Yet Again, on so Many Levels
It's Not About Contraception Its About Self-Respect
Sorry You Can't Have It All: Stop Your Bitchin'
Dissing the SAHM

(and on a more pointed note-not written by me- this is why I have no need of today's feminists and HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE)

Meanwhile the other day I was having a rather interesting discussion on line about a legal issue. The gentleman on the other side of the internet then gets all condescending and starts to explain a part of the Constitution (he was wrong) and what certain legal words mean (while he was right as to their meaning, he wrong wrong in the application of the discussion.) He was also very wrong about the purpose of the law in question and its use and breath. He complained vociferously about the underhanded political issues of the case. Railing against the criminal enterprise (known as a Washington DC politician) that was taking advantage of the situation, etc etc etc. He then said that we were going around in circles in our discussion and basically implied that I should stop. He has done that on other occasions as well during a discussion. I tended to stop before simply because its useless to argue with someone who only wants to preach and not to listen. Honestly this last time though, I felt like he told me to go make him a sammich....

Well I got my hackles up and interestingly enough was so annoyed that the next thing I did was to write him back (without sending it) deriding him for mansplaining. Yeah I guess I was so mad that I reached into my grabbag of memories and pulled out one of the most obnoxious words I had ever heard. Mansplaining, that feminist grievance lexicon where you decide that a male is condescending to you because you are female. Quickly recouping myself, I never sent the comment, happily I realized what I had done.

Instead of meeting his attack head on with facts, figures and stubbornly reliable information I simply had decided to accuse him of being a bully because I was female. Now I knew better than that. This man was not picking on me because I was female and quite frankly he wasn't really bullying me either, he was disagreeing with me and not listening to what I had to say. Was he condescending? Yeah I thought so, but then again I doubt he did. What was the outcome? I wrote something more along the lines of (paraphrased): Remember I am a lawyer schooled in Constitutional and civil rights law. I am quite aware of what legal precedent happens to be and how it is used. Judges do legislate from the bench especially the Supreme Court (I gave him an example). Also I mentioned that we are not going around in circles, he was trying to invalidate what I was saying and I was not letting him. 

(HERE is a blog post I wrote on the subject were discussing. Yep wrote a whole blogpost about the topic. Honestly, if I ever let anything go, would my children get the support and help that they needed, when they needed it, in a timely manner that it could do some good? Of course not. It's my suckerfish attitude towards issues that gets them where they are supposed to go. Listen obsessiveness like this doesn't just go away when its not an autism issue. Personalities don't work that way. Heck I embrace this part of me as much as I tell the boys to embrace the entire of themselves. Just one caveat: make sure to use your powers for good and not evil. Well at least only a little evil, as long as the desired outcome is for some that too Sithy for everyone?)

Now my comment ended up being much better than going in all feminist whiner. Yes I am certain that he had an answer for me too. Hubby said that I should leave it alone and not comment on what he writes anymore. The man simply isn't interested in my disagreements and won't ever admit that he was wrong. He did mention that we should agree to disagree. I took hubby's advice, did not look back and won't. (FYI- I do consider this man an on-line acquaintance. He is a well-written, well-read political author.)

But for me, the truly disturbing thing about this episode was just how quickly I was able to jump into grievance mode. It came really, really easy. I shocked myself. I never thought of myself as a complainer or as someone who looked beyond the topic that was in front of me. I tend to not blame "identity issues" when people don't agree with me or give me a hard time. I don't walk around with a chip on my shoulder towards men about being female. I definitely am shown more disrespect from other women about being a SAHM than from males. Real family men tend to appreciate what we SAHM do, my comment partner included. So what was it? Still working it out actually.

Figuring out the grievance-trigger is important. I always tell the boys to NEVER blame anything that happens to them on their autism. (CM2 actually did try to get out of detention one day in highschool by claiming the school didn't understand aspergers. Well I put a stop to that one right away.) Yes autism is a part of who they are, as much as they are male. And yes, their aspergers will lead them in many different directions in life and there will be people who won't get them and will make their lives more difficult. (Many of those situations already faced have been recounted on this blog.) I teach them the trick to staying within any particular setting is to figure out if the situation is tenable, something worthwhile to fight for or should you save your strength for another day and tell the asshats to take a flying leap? (You pick and chose your battles in life no matter the issue.) I explain to them that what ever happens to them it is also vitally important not to get caught up in the woe-is-me crowd. It will only drag you down and prevent you from fulfilling your destiny.

The Trick is to Not be the Asshole....

Furthermore, using aspergers or autism as an excuse can be dangerous for our children. If you don't teach your children that their autism is NOT an excuse for poor /illegal/inappropriate behavior then you remove a major boundary for them and could put them on a collision course for real trouble in life. A slippery slope that society will have no part of, by the way.

Autism Used This Time as an Excuse for Criminality
Autism as an Excuse for More Criminal Behavior-You're Not Going to Believe This One
Destructiveness of Entitlement

So what is the moral of this tale? Apparently, it is easy for anyone to fall into bad habits no matter how old we are, no matter how hard we have worked to prevent ourselves from being caught up in something we consider nonsensical. I suppose we need to be on guard about our own human foibles. Eternally vigilant to say the least. The question becomes what are those pointers, which I can pass on to those youngmen of mine, so that they are on guard for the same mistake I almost made. I suppose I can only impress upon them the need for accountability on all levels in life. That is definitely a good place to start.


Meanwhile I don't want to let society off the hook either when it comes to autism awareness. They too have a job to do and that is to learn to be accepting, generous, kind and compassionate. From a post I wrote April 2010:

Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view.

                                                            Obi-Won Kenobi, Return of the Jedi, LucasFilm,Ltd

I think perspective, as with the truths we hold dear, depends greatly upon our day to day lives. But more than even that, we want the world to see us, our families but most importantly, our children, as people.  We want the world’s perception of our children to be one of respect and care and kindness. We don’t want them to be pre-judged because they have a disability, but we also don’t want them to be ignored because they have a disability either. We want the perception of society to be one of openness and an out stretched hand. One that says here we are, you are welcome in our world, you are welcome in our society. Come with us and together we will brave the future.

But the question for us is how to we get people to change their perspectives so that our children are seen as the people they are but with an acknowledgement of their issues? How do we get society to think outside of their own perceptions and acknowledge that not everyone’s life is like the one they lead? I don’t really know. Hubby once said that if the boys had not had autism, he might have been one of those parents upset that children with these disabilities were going to be included in school instead of in special classrooms. He was never angry at the parents in town who tried to stop the inclusion program. Of course, he also fought tooth and nail to make sure it happened for his sons, but he was able to understand the other side as well. It was a matter of education that is all. Truthfully after a few years of inclusion, there is no more hullaballoo. It is the way things are done here. Special education alongside regular education all together in one big societal mishmash. Well as much as this suburban county can be called a societal mishmash.

I think hubby has an amazing unique voice in this world. He has an uncanny ability to see the other side (except when he is arguing with me of course) I always wonder if that is from his daily legal experience. Life for him is being able to see every perspective before you fight for your client. Or perhaps, because he has this uncanny ability to see the world through other people’s eyes is what makes law a perfect profession for him. Don’t know, but what I do know is that he can keep you grounded and allow you to take stock of reality. Everything is never one side or the other, OK unless you are picking on a four year old child and thinking it’s funny. The reality is, is that gray covers more of life than what we would like to admit.  Is it easy? Not really. Is it worth the effort to make society see our children? We have no choice if we are to secure for them a future. They also have the right to a future like anyone else in this world. Just how do we do that is the question? How do we make society see our perspective? How do we get society to perceive life the way we do? How do we get society to see us and not see through us?