26 October, 2009


I feel like I should add a subtitle to this blog since it ended up being mostly about one subject. But any description of what that subject is would be difficult to produce.

I mean, most of what I write about is related to the fact that I have Asperger's. But "Asperger's blog" could mean some different things. And one of them would be a blog that was just about Asperger's in a void--an educational blog or a blog that offers advice on how to cope with Asperger's, like it's, I don't know, a peanut allergy or something.

Today someone linked to this post on the Asperger's LiveJournal community. It is about being successful in the workplace. Did you know that it's important to be well-liked in the workplace? And that your desk tells people what kind of person you are? And that if you're lucky, a regular person will tell you what clothes to wear so you can look normal?

Also, the worst part of having Asperger's is "not being able to work successfully," rather than social alienation. Cool! It's exciting to learn that I, and most of the other AS people I've met, are too stupid to identify what really bothers us about our lives. I'm so stupid that I've actually had jobs where my AS didn't cause me any problems, and expect to have more in the future. Someone should write a patronizing case study about me.

I know it's dumb for me to be annoyed by the post, because it's not aimed at me. I would not want to work in a place where it mattered if I wore makeup or kept my desk organized. For the record, I do both, but it doesn't matter because I look like this:

I have green hair because I have spiritual reactions to color. I draw and write on my pants because it is calming and when I look at them I'm reminded of things that make me happy (like "I love God," or "I love LV," or interesting thoughts I had, or song lyrics). I wear shoes and clothes that are soft because it's hard for me to concentrate when I wear things that are too tight or have a hard texture. I am happy with the way I present myself because it comes out of knowing who I am and what is important to me. I don't need a regular person to tell me that a lot of these things could keep me from getting certain jobs. But even if I didn't know that, it would be stupid to assume that I only look this way because I'm too impaired to know better, instead of because it means something to me.

The woman who wrote this post assumes that AS people have no particular attachment to the way they are and the things they like, and that it wouldn't stress them out or upset them to change those things. Actually, I think she is in the minority if completely changing her wardrobe didn't affect her mood or her ability to concentrate. I also think she's in the minority for not being offended that some random person told her to start wearing makeup!

I'm not afraid to say it: it is completely horrible and ridiculous that a person's work success depends on whether they wear makeup, or whether they water their plants, or whether they are well-liked. Sorry. Now you know. I think it's fucked up. I don't exactly go into office buildings protesting this--it's not the most important issue on my radar--but yeah, it stems from really shoddy ideas of what's important.

This post is called "Politics." What does this have to do with politics? Well, AS people are hurt by the idea that you need to look and act a certain way to be a good worker. So are intellectually disabled people, for that matter; they are frequently as capable as anyone else, but because they don't seem "professional," or because they are impaired in areas that most people aren't impaired in, other people perceive them as Too Difficult to Bother With. An example of what I mean about impairment is that if a non-disabled person gossips about everyone and is always late, that would be seen as more okay than an intellectually disabled or ASD person needing to be told something slowly, or needing to have something written down. Even if in the long run the non-disabled person causes more trouble and is less productive, the disabled person's problems will be seen as a bigger deal just because they're not "normal" problems to have.

The idea that people who are normal/"professional" are intrinsically better hurts a lot of people--not just people who are disabled, but people who are different for other reasons, some reasons that are considered political (like being an ethnic minority or being gay) and some reasons that aren't (like being nerdy or having bad grammar--the latter of which some people would identify as a class issue, and therefore political, but when you get down to it's hard to find any reason that isn't a little bit political).

Anyway, like I said I can't really do anything about this, and it is something that everyone in the world notices and complains about when they are 15 years old. And of course I frequently try to pass as normal in situations where it will make my life easier, and would be happy to advise any other invisibly disabled person who is trying to figure out ways to pass better. Passing is smart sometimes. That's the world we live in.

But I could never write a post about passing where I ignored the fact that it's totally fucked up, and I could never write a blog about Asperger's that was just about passing as if passing is a completely normal and innocent part of life. It's not. It is something we do because we live in a world that's a bad place. So while this blog is not political in a conventional way, I think it is always sort of political, because it is mostly about how to live in a society that doesn't value you, and how that affects you. I know that AS is a problem because people make it one.

1 comment:

  1. I've had other women in the workplace patronize me for what I wear or how I fix my hair and makeup. I think it's rude of them and none of their business.