Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Problem Isn't "Infighting"

Recently, I posted “Polarization” and “When You're Not Loud and Angry Enough” on here, and on Tumblr. Discussions have sprung up, and I hope they continue, because the way the Autistic community treats other members of the community needs a fair amount of addressing. The discussions that have been started on Tumblr following those posts are not “in-fighting,” as I've seen the discussions called. I'm going to get more specific here and less jargon-filled than those posts and also add on extended commentary to reactions I've seen to the posts.

There are no such thing as good Autistics and bad Autistics, to be explicit. If good Autistic people are accused of sucking up to NTs and non-autistics and bad Autistic people are the heroes who actually call out people, how on earth do you expect solidarity within a community when people are trying to strike a divide? I know people who, on Facebook, Tumblr, elsewhere, who have been told that they are just goody-goodies and that they have no place in activism. It could have been me.

When you talk about a community, you take into account everyone. The people who feel guilt because they pass as neurotypical, the people who don't take pride in being Autistic, the people who maybe even want a cure, the people who feel guilty because they don't always have the capability of fighting every battle, the people who need accommodations, the people who need support staff, the people who need neither, and the list goes on.

You take into account the people who disagree with you.

The original posts were never about allies, and I did write it as a semi-response to the TPGA debacle – but not from the perspective of ally worthiness. I see people taking it that way anyway. The posts were about that there is often no room for disagreement in this discourse, and more importantly, that the way people are treated (like me, and others) when we disagree, people yell at us.

I should not have to constantly remove myself from Autistic spaces because people are being abusive with their language and treatment of other people, Autistic or neurotypical, to be clear. This is not tone-policing, as someone told me it was. It is not tone-policing to request a stop to the endless barrage of explosions and abusive language. And abusive language doesn't even have to be in all capital letters, to be honest: it comes in the form of “you disagree with me, so here's why you should screw off.”

The problem isn't the “infighting.” The problem is the continued mantra that asking people to stop being flat out mean and abusive is silencing, but yelling and intimidation are not silencing, and if you say they are, you are tone-policing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

When You're Not "Loud and Angry Enough"

We clearly need to figure something out, as a community. When the Autistic community has scared a good amount of Autistic people into not being able to say things, what has it become? I was one of them, for a while. I’m not going into direct confrontations on Facebook (I don’t have spoons to deal with the arguing that would happen), but I’m writing this post.

The goal of a community is to not echo-chamber itself into only allowing certain ideas and viewpoints into it, which, frankly, has been a lot of what I’m seeing. People are attracted to the ideal that explosive, sometimes abusive behavior is okay when you’re part of an oppressed group. We as a community have dealt with a lot of pain. We’ve lost a lot of children, teenagers and adults to caretakers, and we’ve been abused in the name of therapy. I would not deny this community anger at things that have been done and are still being done.

The echo-chambering I’m seeing, though, is that if you’re not loud and angry and constantly scouring the bits of the Internet to confront and call out people, you are too polite and constantly want to make nice. The echo-chambering I’m seeing is permitting the silencing of some Autistic people through fear while saying that you’re being silenced when someone has a different opinion than you or wants you to stop yelling.

The dynamics of a community, the fabric of its being, does not rely on explosive techniques. The explosiveness I can no longer be quiet about drives potential allies and newly diagnosed Autistic people away as an unsafe space, and more importantly, many Autistic people may look at this community and wonder what is getting done, wonder if they even want to be part of it, and credibility is damaged. And what will we tell the people who aren’t privy to our conversations and are not able to join in, who may rely on us to help enact change in the community and society? What then?

Monday, October 13, 2014


I am sometimes afraid of “Autistic spaces.” I get afraid of the fact that hey, if I don’t like the fact that people are yelling about things because I have trauma in my past related to intense anger/yelling/emotional abuse… I’ll be told I’m tone-policing, that I’m a goody-goody with the neurotypicals and non-autistics.

“If you don’t like our anger, just leave, if you don’t like our anger, you’re trying to silence us.”

I am not trying to silence anyone.

There is a difference between explosive anger and righteous anger.

There is a difference between calling someone out and completely lambasting them into the next century with an explosion.

I’m trying to navigate a world of activism where if I disagree with someone, I might get yelled at – by other Autistics, of all people. I’m trying to tread a line between telling someone to stop triggering me and tone policing.

You can’t claim to want a safe space for Autistic people, then summarily explode at other Autistics who disagree with you because yes, we have other opinions, and no, it’s not because we just want to suck up to neurotypicals and non-autistics. Sometimes we have other methods of activism that still include calling people out.

It has a polarizing effect on the community. When people accuse us, the less angry-sounding, of being textbooks for neurotypicals, have you considered: maybe we don’t always have the energy to fight every battle? Maybe we don’t have the energy to yell and scream? Maybe we also don’t feel like triggering other people with explosive language?

I should not feel unsafe in Autistic and autism community spaces both from neurotypicals/non-autistics and other Autistic people.