Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Bridges, Boundaries and Territories

At the beginning of the year, I was finally diagnosed as autistic. I’ve been struggling to blog since.

This isn’t an apology for that, or a promise to do better - though I hope to some extent it will motivate me to consider this near hiatus at an end. It’s a post about the bridges we have to form, and the pressures of talking about experiences outside the mainstream.

The problem wasn’t that I was devastated by the news (I wasn’t). It wasn’t that I was absorbed in reevaluating my whole life (even though some of that did go on). It wasn’t that I was so obsessed with finding information that I had no time to disseminate any of my own (though I did read twelve books in the three days following).

It wasn’t that I had no thoughts to blog - I had thousands. It wasn’t that none of them were relevant, directly or indirectly, to a feminist blog, because many were. I thought about - and may still write about - how autistic women and girls are routinely un and misdiagnosed due to gender stereotypes, the particular intersections of discrimination we face, how autism relates to the gender binary and what lies outside it. I could have contrasted my experiences of coming out queer and coming out autistic or what it means to believe that action must be collective, but also not be able to handle being around other people very well. I wanted to share writing by amazing autistic activists.

It’s that once again I found myself in a minority community and group, and I had no idea where the boundaries between that group and the majority world were, where the bridges were, where one territory ended and another began, and which were the fuzzy areas, those of indeterminate governance, or where tourists were welcomed. It’s because I found suddenly there were all these words and concepts that described my experiences where previously there were none, but I didn’t know how accessible they would be to a general audience, when I should use them, when I should explain them. It’s because I didn’t know what to explain, if I had to do 101 at the start of every post, what assumptions readers would come with, what stereotypes I needed to dispel, that even though a diagnosis was largely a confirmation of an existing state my frames of reference shifted immensely, and I wasn’t sure, even with an unrelated blog post, just how much and how that would impact my writing.

These considerations aren’t wholly negative. I’m finding my way through them, as I’ve done in other areas before. But there’s always this layer we have to think through, write through, always this process of figuring out where we are on the map and what roads connect us and where they are blocked, uneven, or take an unexpected turn.


Moz said...

the particular intersections of discrimination we face, how autism relates to the gender binary

This is the bit I'm interested in. But that might just be me.

Also, I feel for you on the discovery of labels and language. Whoever said "we can't talk about things we have no words for" had it right on the money (beyond the obvious tautology).

Also, don't feel bound to fulfill all the listed symptoms. That expectation is something that irritates me intensely. "No, really, I'm still a unique snowflake just like everyone else, but now I have a new label for one part of me. Isn't it exciting!"

LudditeJourno said...

Anthea, sometimes the beauty in the way you write is breathtaking, literally. Thanks for sharing this with us, it resonates for me in all kinds of ways.

Skeezy said...