My kryponite: meltdowns and shutdown, and regression.

The reason that the mindset of “just power through it!” Is so dangerous to me is that Autistic Regression is a very real and constant danger.

Autistic regression has eaten away large chunks of my life. I remember having one in elementary school when the bullying got bad. I started crying when people touched me and couldn’t swallow pills. All my meds had to be liquid for a few years.

I need to take my meltdowns (and shut downs) seriously. It’s not a temper tantrum, though it may look like that on the outside. I know some people even think it’s funny, and trigger them intentionally. I can imagine it looks ridiculous that a grown woman gets worked up so easily.

But this behavior is very dangerous. Maybe they don’t know or maybe they don’t care. But allow me to explain why this is so harmful:

Meltdowns fucking hurt. My vision becomes grainy and pixelates. Noise goes in and out. My skin itches. Afterwards, For the next week Or so, my head throbs, everything is louder, I sleep constantly, and I can’t function.

Shut downs look less dramatic– usually me sitting down or going to sleep at the most inopportune times. I still have the week or so of heightened sensitivity afterwards, and it’s like my whole body is in molasses.

And that’s not the very worst part.

If I have too many episodes in a row, I lose brain power and forget stuff. Like how to act in social situations, or how to enjoy music. No joke. My last regression killed my ability to enjoy almost all music for several years. I’m slowly getting it back. I can have it playing in the background at parties now. Music is always painful, and always has been, but when I’m strongest it’s a tiny, minor annoyance, and I can see the beauty. I can enjoy it socially.

And having one shutdown or meltdown makes it easier to have more.

I had to work very hard to get back to where I was six years ago. I had to listen to books on tape constantly. It was hard. It was painful, and every second hurt. I’m still doing it, though, because I don’t want to be an invalid. I don’t want to be damaged irreparably.

And part of that is making sure I avoid meltdowns and shutdowns.

I hate that I have to monitor my stress levels and opt out of so many things I want to do. There have been so many times I wanted to go out with my husband and forced myself to stay home because I didn’t want to go over my limit. I have to be careful around minor injuries or allergens because these little inconveniences make having a meltdown so much easier.

I have to be selfish quite often, and I hate that. I have to insist on sitting in certain places, or deal with minor annoyances when everyone else rolls their eyes. If I don’t, and I get stressed, I could hurt myself. I have to ask the people around me to cater to my insane needs,

Worst of all, I’ve had to permanently remove people from my life–people I love sometimes!– because they either did not care to or could not understand how to not trigger meltdowns.

Dude, I can understand if dealing with me is more effort than you think I’m worth. I’m honestly surprised that anybody is willing to. I imagine that it feels like all the effort I have to go through daily to interact with you.

I am CONSTANTLY walking on egg shells. I am constantly apologizing.

I understand, if you haven’t ever had to live like this, that modifying your normal behavior for another person seems like an insane request.

So I try not to insist upon it. It’s frustrating when it’s a family member because cutting them off involves collateral damage. But it’s still a choice, on our part, to have a relationship. I just need to remember that they are the ones hurting my loved one, not me.

When it’s a co worker I have to insist on the accommodations. Dude, I have no choice but to be here, just like you. Suck it up and deal with it. We all have to work. I’ll try not to ask for more than I need, but you bet your ass when I ask for a certain computer, or that you not eat a food around me, I am dead fucking serious. You will hurt me. You have no idea how bad the consequences are.

Because my rudeness may sting sometimes, but it’s not actually giving you brain damage.

Your refusal to work with me is actually damaging me. It’s definitely is making it hard for me to be a productive member of society. And it’s making the rudeness you complain about so much worse, because one of the first things to suffer is social skills.

I refuse to have another long term period where I spend years at home, use a cane for my aches and pains, forget how to have a polite conversation, and cry constantly, or whatever random skill I forget in my next regression.

Fuck. That.

So I will coddle myself like a baby. I will exercise and stretch myself when I can, in controlled situations where I can call a halt to it before I have a meltdown or shutdown. I will test and extend my boundaries whenever I can, so I’m less and less at risk.

And if there are people who think I’m a spoiled, whiney person who just wants to feel sorry for herself…. well… fine.

I need to make myself be fine with it, There is a reason the number one cause of death for autistic women is suicide. I refuse to be that statistic. I refuse be useless.

I will make myself strong enough to stand on my own. I will stretch myself every day. I will avoid breaking even if it means being rude,

Because I have value, and the me I am when I’m not recovering?

She’s an effing super hero.

I like being her.

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In search of intelligence.

I’ve always loathed stupid people. Call it a religion if you will.

But I don’t define “stupid” the way that most educators, psychiatrists, or really much of the American public does.

See, it has nothing to do with IQ. I have a decently high IQ, but I know a lot of flaming idiots with a high IQ. Just like one of the smartest people (by my measures) I know is developmentally disabled.

And it’s not E.Q. EQ is just as flawed as IQ, and for similar reasons. It fails to account for differences in neurochemistry. Studying will improve your EQ just like it improves your IQ. I also know many raging idiots who score high on these tests.

Intelligence comes from having a hungry mind. At least the definition I use.

A hungry mind is one that never tires of asking questions. A hungry mind always wants to understand more. A hungry mind is always willing to accept new information and will freely admit that it could be wrong. A hungry mind doesn’t give up when it hits roadblocks. It finds ways around them in order to dine on that delicious knowledge and understanding.

To be truly intelligent you need a combination of humility, curiosity, and persistence.

At least by this personal definition that I’ve made up, but insist on using.

Stupid people irritate me because, to my mind at least, they are wasting the greatest gift they have. Their sentience. Their ability to reason.

This leads to a lot of casual cruelty, in my experience. Their unwillingness to seek out and assimilate new information means that these are people who can’t learn when they’ve made a mistake. They can’t understand new points of view. They don’t care, and they act like you are persecuting them when you bring it up.

Where as I have friend with low IQs who regularly teach me things every time we have a conversation. They might not think quickly, but they think things through thoroughly and often get insights my mind misses. Talking to them is a delight.

But not everybody has the same religion as me. If I could deify any thing in my religion, it would be Rudyard Kipling’s elephant’s child. He wanted to know everything, and got an amazing nose out of the deal.

I am not the most intelligent person I know.

I have the curiosity part down. I constantly have to stop myself from asking all the questions I want to ask, because i get strangled if I did. I always tell myself “if you irritate them, they’ll stop answering your questions. If you space your questions out you will get more information total, and after you’ve exhausted them, they might be willing to let you ask more later.”

As I get older, the persistence gets harder. I don’t have the endurance to stay up for three days straight reading. I need food breaks and naps. But I’m learning to pace myself. Just because I’m taking a break doesn’t mean I give up.

Humility is a part I’ve always worked on. I had a sort of brittle insecure pride growing up. The only thing I had to offer the world was my intelligence. I must never let anyone think I’m dumb! I need to always win! If I’m not the smartest, then I have no value.

What helped me break that nasty habit was realizing that looking dumb or not, if I wasn’t admitting my mistakes and owning them I was squandering the opportunity to learn. Looking smart to preserve your stupidity is the definition of a bad trade.

I aim for intelligence. I want to understand the world. I try not to judge stupid people. I mostly manage it.

But when their lack of curiosity, pride, or laziness causes pain it’s a struggle. I kind of want to shake them. But that’s my pride rearing it’s ugly head.

If I were really smart I’d recognize that my understanding of the situation is imperfect.

Humility is hard.

I dream of being appropriate.

I’ve just quit a job–the first adult job I’ve ever held!!!–and part of the reason is that toward the end it was that I was being bullied by other employees and a good part of why I was targeted was because I was not always “appropriate”.

I’ve always had trouble with “appropriate.”

Why? The rules are easy! They are listed right here in the corporate handbook!

The truth is that the rules are much more complicated than anyone is willing to admit.

I like that article. It outlines exactly why I want to strangle everyone who tells me in a slow cheerful voice what the rules are like I am a dumb child who doesn’t understand, so should just do as she’s told.

No, asshole. You simplifying the rules doesn’t fix my problem. Why?

Because my biggest struggle is when the rules change and no one acknowledges it or even acts like the rule was ever different. It seriously screws with my brain.

I once alienated an entire friend group with calling everyone over and over to talk to them because that’s how you did it in the days of landlines. If you didn’t reach them you called back in half an hour when they might be home. Now that we can be reached 24/7 you call once, leave a message, or you text. They get back to you when they get back to you. Oh. It makes sense that this rule changed. But it took A friend, years later, explaining the rule change and the reason before I fully comprehended it and stopped hating myself for making that mistake. Before her, everyone just kept telling me the new rule and acting like I was an idiot for not knowing it already.

I honestly thought I was going insane because everyone was pissed off at me for acting the way I’d always acted before.

Why is it so important for me to understand the why? Because these rules are so slippery and changeable, if I go off a list of hard social rules, I will go insane. I will make constant mistakes. I will be the town pariah.

The things that offend one person are the things that are required by another. And both will announce these rules like that are obvious and only a monster doesn’t know them. I hate it when people give me rules for socializing. If you don’t give me the logic behind them they are less than useless.

If you give me a big hard list of social rules for everyone or all time, I know you are at best too stupid to be of any help socially because you clearly suffer from the delusion that these rules are universal, and unchanging. At worst you are manipulating me so that I’ll be less trouble for you and you don’t care that this is going to spectacularly blow up in my face when the rule shifts and I can’t keep up. Like with the calling etiquette.

The Neurotypicals who help the most (because few of them ever comprehend the reason for these rules, and most just go with the change without even registering that it happened) are the ones who explain things from their own perspective.

“It would bother me if you did that because-”

Or

“I wouldn’t be offended by that, but I know some people who would be.”

Because when you tell me your experiences I can put it in my ever expanding treasure trove of human data points, and use the information to extrapolate the rules myself. That way I’ll actually understand them and might be able to anticipate the shifts myself. Also, I’d much rather know what bothers you specifically. If the rule is specific just to you, then it can be super rigid. It’s easy to follow a rule with one person.

But if I followed all the rules everyone gave me all the time, I’d never leave the house, have friends, or talk to anyone.

If I lived my life in fear of making a social mistake, I’d be a lot more socially inept than I already am.

Because in my experience, people are waaaaaaay more forgiving than most people give them credit for.

If you sincerely care about people, are honest and genuine, and make a valid effort, nearly everyone will trust you and work with you.

What about those that will hold a grudge, punish you, and bully you?

Well I don’t have a solution for them. But I refuse to live my life in fear of them. I’ve been bullied my whole life, and at least they can’t beat me up or throw me in a locker for an afternoon like the kids in elementary school.

Sometimes I need to remove myself from the situation for my own mental health. I was becoming so paranoid about not offending anyone that I was constantly apologizing and afraid to do anything on my own. I was becoming crappy at my job.

Sometimes I need to ignore them. That can be effective in a few cases.

Sometimes I need to stalk them online, find out they have a warrant in another state and report them to the cops. Standard social coping techniques.

I don’t consider my time there as a failure. I know I want to work in this field. I’m still learning some of the niceties in the “professional” persona that everyone else puts on readily. But I have faith that I will do better next time, and now I’m going to school.

I am choosing to be hopeful.

When activists fail to see the irony

no-one-sees-the-irony

 

I’ve been seeing a lot of this in response to the women’s march.  I kinda want to respond with a giant middle finger.

The controversy is that a majority of white women that voted (not a majority of white women total, BTW) voted for Trump.  On top of that, within the feminist movement we often silence women of color or bring our own concerns to the forefront while ignoring the concerns of people who–because of their intersecting marginalized groups–have a much bigger concern.

I know I’ve seen it in activist scenarios.  Women of color have a very tough time.  They often get silenced.  When they bring up ways that the movement is not including them, the white women will sort of hand wave it away.

And it’s terrible and unfair to them.  Women of color are sexually assaulted WAAAAAAAY more often than white women.    Women of color fear the police in a way that white women simply do not have to.  Women of color have to be even more careful than white women because we tend to act like they are promiscuous no matter what they do.  Women of color can’t “Lean in” the way that we instruct white women to because women of color rightly fear being labeled “uppity” or “pushy” or “angry.”  I’ve seen people do it.  A person of color has to be twice as calm and rational to be listened to, and even then they’ll likely be labeled angry and irrational and dismissed.

Racism is real, and white women can be remarkably oblivious to it.

How many of you spotted the irony here?  Seriously.  Look.  I’ll give you a second.

Still not found it?

This “inclusive” list that everyone looks at to show how horrible white women are for ignoring the plight of intersectional members of their movement completely failed to even MENTION one group that I know for a fucking fact was marching.

Disabled women.  Yes.  women of color are more likely to be sexually assaulted than white women.  The group with the worst sexual assault rate is Native women — 1 in 2, and almost none of the assaults are by native men–is appalling.

For women with disabilities that number is 4 out of 5.

If they’d even thought to include us the disabled portion of this would read:

I’m scared that I will die because I can’t find health insurance that will cover me for the way I was born.  I’m scared of being sexually assaulted and no one believing me.   I’m scared that I won’t be able to defend myself because people will think it’s okay to mock my disability instead of seeing me as a human being.  I’m scared that the police will be able to shoot me, and no one will care because I’m subhuman to our administration.  I’m scared that even the other marginalized groups will turn a blind eye to our suffering because even they don’t recognize that we are treated unfairly.

Surely women of color are nothing but inclusive, understanding of intersectionality, and defend us to the death!!!!

Not in my experience.

I’ve had women of color tell me that I needed to leave a feminist organization I was volunteering at because they “couldn’t afford” to have me screw up.  You know, because as a person with a mental disability I surely can’t offer competent help!

One woman of color gaslighted me and convinced me that everyone else in the organization was trying to keep me from getting hired because she wanted to use me to further her own agenda.  I’m pretty sure I was targeted because of my autism because she has autistic members of her family and she told me once how easy it was to fool us. Fortunately I found evidence that she was lying before I hurt people.  When what she did was found out, she was not punished and I was told I needed “better boundries.” The organization didn’t care that a disabled woman was discriminated against.

The organization that banned me from reading to small children because they were afraid my autistic ass was a danger to the kids?  That effort was lead by a woman of color who didn’t want me in her school because her students were all children of color and the school was dedicated to giving them a fair chance.  She didn’t have time to deal with a retard!  She was working of social justice!

I’ve never had to explain what sexism and racism is.  I’ve never had to explain what homophobia and transphobia are.

I CONSTANTLY have to define “Ablism” Even when I do, I often get polite smiles and nods–even from people in the activist community!

I actually had one woman say “But we can’t treat people with disabilities as equals!  They aren’t our equals!”

Or when they acknowledge that ableism is a thing, it surely can’t apply to me!  My disability isn’t visible!  Ablism is only against people in wheelchairs or blind people-or amputees!  Someone with a mental disability doesn’t count!

Forgetting the fact that we are much more likely to be sexually assaulted, and much more likely to have our disability used as a reason to dismiss what happened to us.  Also, we have the wonderful experience of working non stop to convince people that our disability is real and not just an excuse to be lazy!

Being oppressed doesn’t make us immune to being oppressors in turn.  We are all shitty people in that regard.  EVERY LAST ONE OF US.

This isn’t a struggle with just good guys and bad guys.  Every member of this movement is a fallible human being.  And each of us grew up in this toxic culture that encourages us to blame one another for our problems.  There are no “perfect victims.”

And I HATE, absolutely H-A-T-E when people in the disability movement point out that a lot of their bullying and the discrimination they’ve received has come from non-white people or homosexuals or women, then use that to say that these groups deserve everything they get.  It happens and it makes me sick.  It doesn’t take away from the discrimination that they’ve experienced, but it’s shitty behavior that hurts all of us.

I don’t care what you’ve suffered.

We don’t attack other oppressed communities!

Because the Powers That Be enjoy it waaaaaaay too much when we fight with one another. It’s tempting.  Fighting the actual oppressors is a whole lot harder than fighting a community that is slightly less marginalized than yours and sometimes unthinkingly joins forces with them.

In 2008, there was a huge backlash against African American voters because prop 8 was passed in California, and African American people showed up in record numbers to vote for Obama.  Black people were blamed.  There were a lot of homosexuals who were spouting some pretty racist rhetoric.

But that was ridiculous, racist, and unfair.  

And ultimately destructive, because statistically, this group was a lot more likely to vote for equal rights than other groups with the same cultural pressures (i.e. people who went to church on a regular basis.), but no personal experience with systematic oppression.  By acting like they were the cause of the injustice as opposed to a symptom of a sick system that pits marginalized groups against one another in order to maintain power over us all these activists were just fueling the system that keeps us all down.

They should have been reaching out to one another.

A majority of white women might have voted for trump, but blaming us is statistically unfair, and ignores the bigger picture.    Namely, that we were much less likely to vote for him than men, and that I sincerely doubt the majority of white women marching are among the Trump voters.

Hostility toward these women is unproductive.  It’s just feeding into the stupid system that encourages marginalized groups to attack one another as opposed to going after the actual sources of our oppression.

The truth is we are all bigoted assholes at times.  It sucks.  Living with oppression doesn’t make you immune to being a shitty human.

Not being a shitty person who oppresses other marginalized people is hard work!  It requires compassion, self-awareness, and humility.  It’s the work of a lifetime.

Yes.  It was shitty that those women voted for trump.

Just like it was shitty for all of those African American people to vote for prop 8.

And yes, when this stuff happens, it’s totally fair to point out the irony.

But when you do this WHILE ignoring a marginalized community that is also suffering, and in many ways suffering worse than you . . .  Well I have to work extra hard to not resent you.  You are being a giant hypocrite, and you really should know better.

But I try to forgive.  Because you are a human, and you are hurting.  And it’s natural to give more weight to your pain than the pain of people who are not a member of your community.  It doesn’t make it right, but it’s understandable.

Your pain is real, and the injustice you face is real.  Just because I feel like mine is worse doesn’t make yours invalid.  This isn’t a contest where only the person in the most shitty situation gets help.  All of us need help, and we won’t get it when we are focused on how we’ve wronged one another.

 

 

 

 

So. . . Thanksgiving is looking bleak.

If you are a liberal you are probably dreading the holidays.  Why?  Many of us have some conservative family members.   Many of us feel like our conservative family hates us or holds us in contempt.  We visit our family because we love them dearly, but it’s a damn near impossible situation because nothing we do is right.

Talking to people, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a pretty universal experience.   I know it happens to me, and in every iteration of my family.  It’s not a specific branch, nor is it even just my biological family.

I’m awkward.  I don’t always know how to react in a situation, and everybody LOVES to interpret that as malice on my part.  Any social mistake is seen as a deliberate slight.  Also, any mistake I make is pounced upon by people who’ve wanted to yell at me for a long time because they disapprove of me personally, but are looking for the opportunity to do it and feel justified.  That or they are paying me back for a slight I don’t remember that I committed against a third family member.

I am usually tempted (very strongly) to yell back, but arguing doesn’t actually persuade people.  Even if you enjoy arguing, you are only making them more entrenched in their ideas.  Your engaging them is actually feeding the political ideas you hate.  Arguing with them is a selfish indulgence of your ego, and nothing more.  Also I hate it, am bad at it, and it makes me sick to my tummy.

You can ignore them, and refuse to rise to any arguments, but it’s like being covered in fleas, knowing you are being bitten, itching like hell, but making yourself endure it without reaction.  Many of us even have family members who know we disagree and enjoy taunting us, and trying to get us to engage.  Honestly, some dinners with extended family (both blood and in-laws) can give me PTSD flashbacks to high school because I feel like I’m being bullied and I’m once again in a position where I can’t defend myself without making it worse.  Even if it’s not being built up deliberately in order to goad you, but they assume you agree with them it can be really hard to hear racism, people joking about domestic violence, rape, etc, and not feeling like a coward for keeping your mouth shut.  Silence is often interpreted as complacence or even approval. You *don’t* approve, but making that clear without making it worse is very hard.

I know I go away from many gathering covered in welts from stress rashes.  Especially if I have kept my mouth shut the whole time.

We could avoid it entirely.  Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the choice with the least emotional fall out.  I mean, they are mad at me about it, but they’ll be mad at me if I go, and this way I don’t have rashes and/or panic attacks.

You can only do that for so long though, or they start to take offense.  And you *do* love them, even if you disagree.  Also sometimes you don’t have a choice.  Sometimes it’s a funeral, or a wedding, or there are family members you want to see so you have to put up with the ones you don’t want to see, or someone you love wants to go and you have to be there to support them.

There are some tactics I employ when I’m stuck in a place with people I love, but deeply, deeply disagree with.  Here’s a list of mine.  Feel free to add to them:

  1.  Read a book at family dinners and picnics.  No matter what you do, if you engage with people it will backfire.  If you have a book, you can tune out the horrible, the emotion, and the drama and retreat to a fantasy world when the real one is too overwhelming.  I survived many family visits with books as a child and teenager.  The downside is people will think that you think you are too good to talk to them.  The truth is more “I don’t trust my ability to talk to you without causing us both pain, and I don’t trust my ability to keep my mouth shut if I don’t have a book.” but no one ever believes that.  Still, it’s better than an all out screaming match.
  2. When they say something truly horrible and horrendous, pretend you don’t understand and try to make them explain the horrible thing to you.  Don’t act shocked.  I can only do this because I have the ability to actually convince myself that I didn’t understand them.  I mean, only a horrible monster would say something that horrible, and this is a real human being.  Therefore they would never think something that horrible, so I must have misunderstood.  People are a lot less likely to target you for harassment and inflammatory remarks if you respond to them with genuine confusion and they are a lot less able to claim something is a joke if they have to defend it to you.  Also, if they have to repeat how horrible what they just said is to a room full of people, there is a chance that someone else will also hear and voice their discontent.  When you make them spell out that they are apologizing for rape, or racism, a lot of people either feel bad about it, or at least realize that it’s less funny than they thought it was.  It doesn’t stop everyone, but it does stop the worst of the bullies and trolls at family gatherings.
  3. Pretend you agree with them, but take it to a ridiculous level.  Turn the entire conversation to a joke.  “Religion should be allowed in schools?  Hell yes I agree!  I think every elementary school should have classes in how Joss Whedon is our lord and master.  What?  I’m a Whedonite.  I worship the Hollywood Writer Joss Whedon.  Oh?  You meant *your* religion?  Well I still think that if you get to preach your religion I totes get to preach mine.  Have you heard the good news about Buffy?” or “I agree that the police should be able to shoot someone based on what they are wearing.  People who wear crocs with sandals should know they are acting suspicious and be prepared for the police to take appropriate action against them.”  When you start the ball rolling on jokes, it lightens the mood and they have to work hard to bring the conversation back to serious politics, and on top of that everyone sees them as a kill joy if they persist.  Now you get the reputation for being silly and possibly stupid, but that’s better than blowing up.
  4.  Build your relationship with the simple creatures in your family.  If your gathering has animals or children at the entertaining stage, find them.  Set up camp with them.  Hang out with them.  The kid’s table is the best place to survive family politics.  Usually we watch the same cartoons so we have something to talk about.   Cats and dogs are way better companions than most people, and if you are spending time with them, people are less likely to hassle you.  Adults are scary.  Children and animals are easy to get along with.
  5. When a person is being particularly irksome, turn them into a cat in your head.  I do this all the time.  I have a lot more patience with the person who is screaming at me, if I pretend they are an angry, badly trained cat, thus they are incapable of being aware of how their actions have consequences to people other than themselves.  You can’t explain it to them, or hold their rude, hurtful behavior against them.  They are literally not capable of comprehending that you have feelings and they are hurting you.  It lowers my expectations of them, and I can laugh at their antics instead of be hurt by them.
  6. When you feel overwhelmed because the gathering of people who disagree with you is particularly large, and the dysfunction is extremely overwhelming, pretend it’s a nature documentary and you are actually studying them.  I even have a British announcer narrating it in my head at times.  “And here we see the dominate male of the group challenged by a rival-”  talking or commenting on it is not a temptation because it would interfere with your ability to study this fascinating new culture, and thus understand it better.  It would completely contaminate your scientific objectivity!

This is how I survive holidays and other gatherings.  They might not be the most ideal methods, but they work for me.  What works for you?

Why a cure seems like a bad idea to me.

I saw this on my facebook feed.

tumbler Rogue

I think this perfectly encapsulates the controversy around cures for autism.

Some autistics are like Rogue.  They are in constant pain.  They are always angry and frustrated.  They can’t communicate with others.  They want a cure.

Some of us are like Storm.  Sure, our mutant status has been a pain in the ass.  It may have even been inconvenient for the people who love us.   But most of our problems come down to the way others react to and support us.  With patience, and good cooping mechanisms we are happy and contribute greatly to society.

The problem comes when someone other than the mutant (the autistic) is making that call.  Parents shouldn’t make this call for an infant.  The temptation will be to spare them a life of struggle by completely erasing their super powers.  Or to make the mutant (autistic) normal for purely their own convenience and then to pretend that they did it for their child’s benefit.

Of course we also don’t have people in this universe trying to insist Storm isn’t a *real* mutant.  Or that, of course they don’t mean *her*!  That would make it more closer to what autistics in the real world face.

Most people who want a cure forget the fact that their policies make no real distinction between Storm and Rogue so would have parents and doctors making these decisions without oversight or really any knowledge of the long term consequences well before knowing just what the mutant would be dealing with as an adult.

To carry this metaphor further, I’m neither Storm nor Rogue.  I’m Mystique.  My mutation allows me to blend in.  It’s constant work, though, and I can’t ever relax when I’m blending in.

I want to be myself–walk around wearing my bright blue skin and not be scared of being stoned to death.  I don’t think I’ll resort to villainy for the sake of that goal.  I’m not a fan of violence or control.  That’s where me and Mystique differ.

But don’t tell me I’m not a mutant just because I’m able to put on a false face for your comfort.

And most especially don’t tell me that “Everyone changes their appearance to make others comfortable!”  You put on clothes and makeup.  I put on a whole new skin and lie constantly so that most people don’t hate me.  It’s different.

And don’t pretend that you would be doing me a favor if you took away my shapeshifting when I was an infant and made me normal.  You’d kill me.  A normal child would be in my place.  Not me.  Not any of the good I do for the world, or any of the parts of me that those who love me cherish.

It might be arrogance, but I think the world would miss out.  I’m fabulous!

I’m all in favor of studying the mutants.  I’d like to know more about us.  And some people would probably benefit if they were offered a cure.  I just think we should proceed with extreme caution.  I’d much prefer it if we found a way to remove the more painful symptoms and gave us ways to live with it.  A cure should be for the few who want it, and it should be done only in cases like Rogue.  Where the decision is purely hers.

People like me should be able to move to Portland, soundproof our apartments, and marry engineers.

“Your poor husband.”

I am a militant feminist.

 

No Really.  

 

Burning my bra as I type this.

 

I’ve always been.  My mother was a strong feminist housewife. My big sister is the strongest most powerful person I’ve ever met.  Also, I’m not stupid.  It was pretty obvious to spot all the bizarre double standards and bullshit from an early age.  When I realized just how socially restricted my behavior was compared to my geeky male counterparts it was very easy to call shenanigans.

 

And I’ve never lost my feminism.  I donate money to planned parenthood.  I try to keep my vote as woman-friendly as possible–despite the fact that it’s not always easy to find a politician on either side who sees these issues clearly.  I do my best to call out sexist behavior and advocate for women.  I try to see every woman as a person–even when I feel the pressure from society to see them as competition.

 

I also volunteer with a domestic violence charity and I hope to get hired in the field some day.  

 

Oh.  That last bit.

 

Yeah.  I volunteer in the restraining order room of the courthouse.  I’ve also helped monitor advocacy youth-group.  For a while my couch was a good place to crash and I was a shoulder to cry on for friends looking to escape.

 

It’s a fascinating field.  There are real monsters in this world, and it’s nice to (in a tiny way) be able to help fight them.  I’ve never had to do the fighting myself, but I can give them a shoulder, a place to hide, a finger pointed in the direction of help if they ask.

The title of this post?  A direct quote from most people, upon hearing about my feminism and passion for helping survivors of Domestic Violence.   

 

Allow me to answer for all of you:  My feminism has made my marriage stronger.  And my strong, happy, healthy relationship has fueled my love of feminism.

 

I believe in good men.  I see one every day.  I believe that marriage should be based on mutual respect, even distribution of labor, and never EVER involve trying to control one another.  

 

This idea that a man needs to feel superior to you, or have power over you?  I know that’s nonsense.  My husband, while we are out in public and I’m being silly or outrageous, will suddenly look over at me and get a heart-stopping smile and say “I love you so much!”  When I accomplish something he can’t, I get a hug and a kiss.  Never a defensive put-down.  When I take dumb risks and get myself in trouble, I get a laugh, a head-shake and a “Need any help?  No?  Well good luck on your adventure!” When a coworker asked him what I do for a living (I’m a housewife) he said “My wife is a professional badass.”   

 

And this idea that men are fragile babies who can’t be trusted to handle their emotions?  I know it’s nonsense!  The Engineer is 100% heterosexual.  He’s also 100% uninterested in having sex with someone who isn’t as excited or more excited than he is.  In 16 years, the worst he’s ever done when he lost his temper?  He took his baseball cap off and threw it to the ground before walking away.  He’s never called me names or told me I was worthless.  

 

He’s an adult.  He uses his words!

 

More than that?  I look forward to being with him.  When something happens, he’s the first person I want to tell.  Good news, bad news, mediocre news.  I want his thoughts and opinions.  I enjoy our time together. I’m never afraid of him.

 

So yeah.  If you don’t have that, then why are you married?!  This kind of love exists!  Being alone forever, with the possibility that you may, one day, find this, is better than suffering the misery and slow death that happens when you are with someone who makes feel worthless.

 

And abuse?  No.  This is not just “how relationships are.” You deserve better!  Hell Fucking Yes, I’ll help you leave!!!!  My couch is yours!  How ‘bout we look for an apartment?  I know where you can find a good lawyer!

 

And working with these women (at first friends, then acquaintances, and then I started volunteering in an official capacity)  makes me really appreciate what I have at home more.  

 

I get up early every morning and make my husband’s breakfast and lunch because he’s got a sweet smile and I love to see it.  I will go the extra mile to make him happy.  Why?  Because he is always going the extra mile to make me happy!  I come home from my volunteer shifts and hug and kiss him.  

 

“Thank you for being you and not a monster!”

“Woohoo!  Lowest. Bar. Ever.  My wife is awesome!”

 

And when he makes me laugh like that, I must seduce him.

 

I don’t think he’s suffering.