16 February, 2010

Passing-as-ethics as usual

I'm trying to decide what to give up for Lent. I guess you're supposed to give up things that you like, but are neutral. I mean, I don't think you're supposed to give up things that you actually want to quit forever. Which is too bad because I kind of want to give up passing-as-ethics and this would be a good way to start.

I have talked about passing-as-ethics before but mostly haven't called it that. If you are confused as to what it means, here is an example of an ordinary conversation that turned into a ridiculous PASSING-AS-ETHICS MINDSPLOSION in one of the roommates' brains:

Roommate A: (enters room and sees Roommate B trying on different clothes) I haven't seen you in a really long time, wait did you have a meet? Did you win?
Roommate B: Yeah...well, not exactly, but I set a school record.
Roommate A: Wow!
Roommate B: Wait, this says "formal," I don't have anything that's formal--
Roommate A: Wait you didn't see what my parents got me! (takes out a mechanical hamster, turns it on, and puts it on the floor. Roommate B doesn't look at it until it runs into her leg while she is putting on makeup, then she looks down at it.)
Roommate B: Oh...wow.
Roommate A: I'm going to go Liam's room to do homework and he's taking a nap and I'm going to put it on his face to wake him up.
Roommate B: (putting on makeup) ...Okay.
Roommate A: (in a snotty voice) Sorry.
Roommate B: (distracted) ...oh...sorry...
(Roommate A picks up the hamster and storms out.)


Roommate B: I am going to a party. I wonder what it will be like.

Roommate A: FUCK! Why am I such an alien who goes around talking about stupid stuff that no one is interested in and forcing everyone to look at my mechanical hamsters! Roommate B thinks I'm such a loser! She's always lording it over me and trying to make me feel bad for talking about things. What a bitch! She's such a fucking snob about everything and I hate myself!

PASSING-AS-ETHICS: making people have a lot of feelings for no reason.


  1. I'm confused. I wouldn't have assumed that Roommate B was pissed.

    What does this have to do with passing?

  2. well, by passing-as-ethics, I mean when an ASD person develops the idea (probably due to training from non-ASD people, whether it's intentional training like ABA, or unintentional training like being bullied or guilt-tripped) that passing as normal, and/or doing things in a normal way, is morally right; and that the opposite (not passing, doing things that are stereotypically ASD, and/or behaving less than optimally in a social situation) is morally wrong. Although I guess it is messy to use the word "moral." I wrote about this in one of my first posts, when I talked about how I had started interrupting people and making fun of them, and thought of this as the "right thing to do," even though it is actually mean, because I (unconsciously) thought that it was more normal.

    for me, this ties into a situation where--in a fashion comparable to the way non-disabled teachers sometimes see their disabled students through an Us vs. Them bias--I often see my interactions, especially with other women, as Them vs. Me. Unless the other person is obviously odd too in a very pervasive way (being sort of geeky, like my roommate, doesn't necessarily cut it) I feel very conscious of being Weird, and constantly feel that the other person is judging me.

    My roommate and I are good friends and have known each other for a long time. So I don't feel Them vs. Me with her as much as I do with some people (although, fun fact, she is deaf in one ear, but when she doesn't answer me, I often read it through a Them vs. Me lens and think that she is not answering me because I am Failing/Not Passing, i.e. talking about something that is weird, incomprehensible and not interesting--unless I make an effort to consciously remind myself that she actually probably can't hear me, I'm prone to react with inward guilt/shame, which turns into crabbiness at her).

    in this particular situation, I felt embarrassed because I felt that I had Failed/Not Passed by being overenthusiastic and talking about something that was maybe odd and not interesting to my roommate, and when she said "...Okay" I perceived it as being like when you are a Weird kid and the Them kids say things like "...Interesting" and "...Okay" whenever you say something. Even though I know that my roommate wasn't that kind of kid, and was maybe even the kind of kid who had that stuff said her. It still feels like that. So I get all upset.

    Um, does this make any more sense? I feel that I'm being very convoluted. Although it is a convoluted subject, I guess.

  3. i.e. making people look at your mechanical hamster is just as ethical as passing. And the point of this post is that you shouldn't automatically attach passing as moral?

    Like when I am mean to people so they will like me because that is how normal people behave. Except that I know it is not moral to be mean just because it's passing. However, sometimes I choose to ignore what is right in favor of what is passing.

    I get it. I think.

  4. "Um, does this make any more sense?"

    Yeah, it's helpful actually. Makes me understand your point of view better.

  5. I can relate to this post, in fact it happens to me a lot of the time. And I am still trying to grasp that not everyone wants to talk about the things I find super interesting.

    I have had situations where I get really excited about something and I go on a long tangent and said person walks away and then when i finish is when I realize that said person is gone and I'm like.. "Where'd you go?!" as if the person could hear me and then I go.. "Did I say something.. inappropriate.." and then I stand there and go over the conversation I just had and realize that I probably said something uncool or uninteresting..

    Wel Psh... :/