Thursday, 14 February 2013

Where's my fainting couch?

Did someone accuse you of being privileged in a discussion about the not privileged? Oh horrors.

This non-autistic parent seems to feel "you are privileged and do not understand" is a silencing tactic. I feel that she's trying to silence autistics by what she's doing. How many times are we told to be "nice", this entire article is an appeal to "nice", it's an appeal to privileged parents. This is a form of privilege denying, the only way it works as an argument is if you place the non-autistic parent in the same bracket as the autistic person in terms of power and voice, which cannot be so, because they're not equal in reality.

Here's the thing non-autistic parents. Nobody is silencing you. We do not have the power to do so even if we wanted.

Unless you think:

"Support our voices, include us, listen to us, hear us, remember your child will some day be us, tell others to hear us as well since they are listening to you."

Is silencing you?

The only time non-autistic parents get told the shut the fuck up in my experience, they're usually saying frightfully horrible things that hurts not just adult autistics and advocates but also their children. The kind of "my child is monster/broken" bigotry.

The only time we want you to sit down is when you're raising money for organisations that demonise us and make our lives harder. Who disseminate hate and propaganda that gets us physically, emotionally and mentally attacked.

Let me quote some from the article and break down where I disagree.

"Clearly, parents of autistic kids are in a position of weakness and lack of power when it comes to society and particularly to the parenting world."

No, you are not, not really. Not in terms of autism and catering to within special education. If you were? When NT parent murders their autistic kid, the response would be "send them to jail" not the martyr talk we get about how it's understandable when a parent butchers a child because that child has autism and we're dreadful burdens.

If you did lack power? The media would not be full of martyr mommies crowing about all the self sacrificing they do for their autistic children who are only contextualised as the incredibly burden those martyr mommies carry, not as real people.

If you did lack power? You would not make up 99% of the board members of any autism based charity/effort, and the 1% of us would not be mere tokenism.

If you did lack power? People would not speak to you and ignore me when it comes to me and my needs.

If you did lack power? You would not be the only voices allowed in the media and in society when it comes to autism.

If you did lack power? NT parents of autistic children wouldn't come into our spaces and basically be demanding or feel entitled to our time, consideration, and anything else they think they deserve. That attitude only comes from having privilege.

You are not in a position of weakness or lack of power. That you believe you are? Just says that you can't see the inbuilt privilege you have.

"If disability is a social construct, then how you experience something like autism is hugely informed by your position of wealth, your ethnicity, your nationality, your gender, and a lot of factors completely independent of the condition of autism, since they are used to define and construct disability."

Except something like wealth doesn't magically make people understand and work with you instead of against you. While other lacks of privilege can be stacked on top of autism to make it harder, having a privilege in another area is not an automatic handup when it comes to autism. Oppressions are intersectional, privilege however tends to only relate to the specific area.

"So, if this is true, then those with autism who are not-poor/white/ heterosexual, would have to be ready to give up their own speaking platforms and verify their own view-points in relation to autistic people who do not have their privileges"

No, that's not how it works, that this person thinks it is goes back to the whole problem with that post, namely that the author seems to think "We need your support and for you to make room for us and promote us" is silencing. I might not be able to speak to how disabilism rolls into racism because I'm white, but I can certainly talk about how it rolls into poverty, gender, other disabilities, sexuality and much more. If I want to know about how autism interacts with race? I go ask an autistic person of color, because I don't think there's anything unfair about having to learn about someone else's experience.

"at the very least one should not assume the parent who is writing is not autistic, as so many people do assume."

Personally I only assume after the "are they saying harmful things" test, if it's harmful things? Then they're probably NT, and most of the time, said test is accurate, occasionally I'll come across someone with serious amounts of internalised disabilism. But 99 times out of a 100, the person calling us monsters and saying we should be put down is a allistic person.

Generally I find many NT parents of autistic children use "but I might have autism" as a derail and to try to make their voices sound less objectionable to actual autistic people. If you have autism, say so, if you don't, don't try to bluff in an attempt to make whatever you said more palatable.

"There’s a problem again: There is no consensus on view-points on autism amongst the autistic either. There are a huge variety of perspectives on whether autism is great or a curse, is easy or hard to live with, from the very people who have autism; views that vary just as much as those held by non-autistic parents of autistic children."

Just because we don't always agree doesn't mean anything. No group is a monolith, disagreement is all very well and good but it doesn't mean it's okay for someone outside the group to try and dominate the discussion. Not all people of color agree on reclaiming racial slurs, that doesn't make it the place of me or any other white person to say whether or not it's acceptable to reclaim racial slurs, even if they are the white parent of a child of color.

In no other group do we have privileged parents trying to dominate so thoroughly. Nobody would talk to the white parents of mixed race kids to get an opinion on racism, or to the straight parents of gay kids to get an opinion on homophobia. Nobody would consider the thoughts and voices of white parent to be equal to the thoughts and voices of a person of color on the subject of racism. Yet that is what we're being asked to accept here.

Nobody denies that that being close to someone who is institutionally oppressed may further your understanding of their oppression, but equally well, experience matters and you do not experience the oppression if you have privilege. If you're white and you have a kid with a person of color, your child experiencing racism does not translate into you experiencing racism.

 "So unless we want to say these people are wrong and inauthentic, we need to allow for that variance, and if you’re going to allow for that variance which often sits alongside the exact variance you see in parental viewpoints too, then why silence or belittle the non-autistic parent viewpoints? Just because they have “privilege?”"

Here's the thing non-autistic parents, it's not that you have a viewpoint that's the problem. It's These:

1. A persistent insistence many NT parents have of speaking over and silencing Autistics.
2. When a NT parent of an autistic kid is basically being a bigot, they often refuse flat out to consider the harm they're doing, often screeching that they can't be hurting us because they love their kid.
3. The tendency among your ranks to insist that your child is worse than all of us automatically and therefore your voice is the most important ever. (This is especially annoying when the person is talking to severely autistic people and just didn't know it).
4. The constant tendency to forget that autistic children grow up. I can't begin to tell you how many NT parents I've met whose attitude was "fuck adult autistics, me me me me".
5. Martyr mommies. Climb down off the damn cross if you do this, we need the wood.
6. The repeated defense of disabilism by NT parents, I'm so sick of NT parents telling me what I am and am not allowed to think about disabilism.
7. The persist abuse of autistics by NT parents. I'm really tired of being called names because I'm autistic and some parent thinks that my ability to talk makes it okay to dismiss and abuse me.
8. The constant "oppression olympics", "well my child is worse than you so my voice is more important".

I could go on but you get the idea. In short, you can have an opinion, but nothing says it's okay to be badly behaved about it, and to be frank, allistic parents of autistic kids tend to be badly behaved about it.

"Your understanding and experience of raising an autistic child is irrelevant and wrong because of your brain. That, to me, is no different than attacking an autistic person’s views just because of their autism. We should be engaging with what the person is saying, not simply with who is saying it."

No, it is very different, as I've explained, it isn't so much having a viewpoint, it's the bad behaviour of allistic parents of autistic kids that's the problem. But even if it was, you cannot fucking compare a minority to a majority as if they are equal. You cannot compare a minority person dismissing a privileged person because of privilege to a privileged person dismissing a minority because privilege has a huge impact there. Privilege is a bullhorn, it lets you shout others down and dismiss them, it is power even if you don't see it as power or recognise you have it.

"And by the very same token, neither does never having had autism predetermine that you can’t have insights or expertise on autism itself."

It however means it's far harder to empathise or to understand. It's like listening to someone speaking in Russian when you don't speak Russian yourself, you might be able to guess at what they're saying and you might be right, but it would be far easier if you spoke Russian.

Privilege is a blind fold, it keeps you safe, it keeps you ignorant of what you're really saying, it stops your ears and eyes. You cannot see it unless you look for it and even then it is adept at hiding. It misleads and confuses you while elevating you. It calls you an expert while putting huge mountains you cannot see in the way of you being an expert. That is why privilege matters.

"It’s about respect, it’s about being heard, it’s about hearing diverse viewpoints and experiences."

Very well, find me more than a handful of NT parent who respect, and hear autistic people. Oh wait you won't because most Allistic parents don't respect us, refuse to hear or consider us and basically are only interested in themselves and their martyrdom.

To be frank, NT parents with autistic kids have been nasty to me pretty much every time I've encountered one, they've told me that I should be silent, that I don't deserve rights, and worse. Autistics do not routinely treat NT parents like they treat us, and NT parents should be ashamed of themselves when they behaved in the ways we criticise and remember that we have NT parents as well and someday it may well be their autistic kid who is getting the same treatment they mete out from someone just like them.

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