Friday, May 2, 2014

Myths about Asperger Women

This Esquire magazine cover is from the 1960's, and despite equal rights legislation, nothing has really changed, because hatred of women is embedded in American culture. Women are bombarded by the message that we are childlike idiots whose sole purpose is defined by men, and utterly disposable when we fail to conform to their prescriptions. Self-hatred is learned by girls through socialization, and demonstrates the susceptibility of the "normal" brain to "brain-washing."

Asperger females are accused of being unfeminine and unattractive. The old male prejudice that any woman who is competent, intelligent, and ambitious must therefore be 'masculinized' is still being propagated by psychologists. Asperger females are accused of having a "male brain," which effectively ejects us, and all smart women, from the female half of humankind.

It's quite a compliment, if you think about it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What Asperger children are doing with their brains when regular people think we are standing around being defective.

I was an uncomfortable child. I didn’t like the world much, and it didn’t like me. The world was confusing - disturbing, jarring, and alarming. I was frightened most of the time and most everything frightened me. Within my mind I was adventuresome and fearless, but people and their invasive habits and their intrusive rules and demands, scared the shit out of me. I didn’t know it, I instincted it. They wanted to keep me from adventure, from thought, and from truth. I hid. I still hide, because I was right. Social people confine and limit each other in terrible ways.

Women are confident that the man they live with is a nice guy and a good father. He’s just an average man, not a leader. Leaders know how to bring out the killer in every man. That’s why they are leaders. Men were a giant intellectual obstacle when I was a child. In their estimation of how things work, I was an insatiable little monster whose curiosity, hidden passion, obstinacy, questions, and rational seeking would be fine…if only I had been born a boy. How I learned to hate that pejorative and final indictment. 
Unbelievably, it was adult women who were most often the delivers of this life sentence of inferiority; women whose natural grace was replaced by restrictive clothing, rock hard hairstyles and icing-like make up, until nothing original remained. It was the 1950s and rigid sex rules demanded rigid bodies. Underwear was compiled in layers of girdles, brassieres, slips and garter belts, and stockings with seams that must be straight. Our mothers were Virgin priestesses who had been ceremoniously demoted by marriage, shamed and gagged by the function of their sex. I horrified my mother. I was not what she wanted in a child. My very existence challenged her acceptance of marriage as a woman’s inevitable defeat. My lively mind was a reminder of a dark female presence that she had murdered within herself.
The game unfolded: little girls were soon tamed. Female society ground on like a glacier that rolled over and pulverized every female that resisted its relentless power.
My father was a traitor to his gender. In matters of the mind he never slighted me. He was a mechanical engineer with wide interests, but his knowledge had one boundary, the artificial gulf between the priestly triumvirate of science, technology, and mathematics, the intellectual activities that divided the real world from everything else. He had an eidetic memory (he claimed) and rather than deflect my questions as unladylike annoyances, he fed me information about astronomy, geology, physics, chemistry, history, exploration and industry. He was not a creative person, but populated his mind with wonderful facts and figures in order to keep the world and his unhappy childhood at bay. He told me this, and let me know, without providing details, that he had idolized his father, a strict man who had used corporal punishment to toughen him up. 

Inexplicably, he hated his mother, whose sole flaw, as far as I could understand, was being a woman. His sister was also an object of his rage. He refused to provide any cause for his extreme feelings, and if my questions ventured to close to his wall of secrecy, he would turn on me. The experience was like that of trying to retrieve a bone from an ill-tempered dog that growls menacingly, curls its lip and commits a warning bite. Warning given: warning taken. I had to set aside this mystery concerning his female family members as a contradiction to the father I knew.

 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Standing Around Being Defective 2

My father was unhappy with social rules that he simply couldn’t comprehend. He sympathized with my complaints about female socialization and gave me a pass on conforming to what we both judged to be ridiculous and humiliating demands placed on women. Once in awhile, at some critical stage when my mother would insist that I dress up “like a lady” and attend some social function, he would sacrifice me to marital peace and order me to obey.

When I directly contradicted his strict adherence to the triumvirate of science, technology and mathematics as the only worthwhile human endeavors, he withdrew angrily. When I defended art, literature, foreign cultures and music as areas of growing interest to me, I witnessed the rigid and deranged male vision of superiority. I was swiftly demoted from being an equal and temporarily cast out as one of them, a category that included all lesser beings: women, minorities, artists, musicians, writers - literally, anyone who was not a white male engineer or scientist. It hurt terribly and compounding his vile attitude was the equally legitimate observation that my father was not an unkind man. His kneejerk hatred toward categories of lesser humans did not play out in daily life. He was helpful to neighbors and to strangers regardless of category, to the point of exasperating my mother with his generosity. He was an unrepentant chit-chatter with any and all who came his way. I never heard an unfriendly word in his conversations unless the topic turned to politics. It was then that the conservative white male monster emerged and we had to drag him out of the situation to avoid a confrontation. In the 1950s such unhinged political behavior was rejected as out-of-bounds, but today it has become main stream political behavior spread by rabid and irrational media ‘news.’

One of the highlights of my father's career in engineering
was the monumental leap from slide rule to the HP 35.

I was stuck with a schizoid model: Everything human was on the other side of the divide in my father’s male world. Female thoughts and opinions simply didn’t matter, and worse, formed some kind of cosmic threat to men. And yet, my father did not impose the standard “women are stupid, emotional, and should never attempt to think” regime on me, but encouraged my heresy. I think he also grasped that any censure of my particular interests would be fruitless. This conflict set me up for a lifelong interest in human behavior.

My hidden analysis of the family proved that both my father and mother were extreme cases of people who were locked into behavior they could neither understand nor modify. It turned out to be not that simple. Although their extremes were dysfunctional, each parent reflected common cultural beliefs promulgated by a particularly unhealthy supernatural script, which had been enacted over and over with tragic success for two millennia.  
When I look back to my childhood I see it ironically. The painful dysfunctional predicament in which I found myself provided material for a favorite type of Asperger challenge. What a mess! I bet I can figure it out. I'm still working on it.  

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Standing Around Being Defective 3

My mother and I never were on good terms. She had bought into the myth of female shame and inferiority (I acknowledge the extreme social pressures on her to do so) and did her utmost to transfer that inferior status to me. The gap was too great. There was no place for self-hatred in either my intellectual or emotional life. Besides, my experiences with rejection and bullying outside the family had less to do with my social awkwardness than with a greater crime: the unHoly, unfeminine intelligence that erupted from within me like a fountain, and the audacity I had to use it.

As I moved out and into the world, I quickly discovered that my mother’s negative view of females was not limited to her, but was culturally pervasive. What I had hoped was an aberration, turned out to be open and acceptable discrimination, especially in employment. Within the 1960s - 1970s work place, sexual predation and humiliation were status quo. Accusations of inferior thinking ability, the supposed inability of females to learn skills other than typing, and the intent of seducing males in the office (snaring a husband) had to be born with stoicism or countered with vehement argument. These insults, and the vast invented vocabulary of female biology, which was a legacy of Old Testament misogyny, were counted as perfectly good and legal reasons for not hiring women. The ubiquitous practice of gross underpayment of women employees was a motive to hire ‘girls’ for inferior, servant-like work and was everywhere exploited. Sadly, much of this inequality remains.
The disturbing ‘automatic’ attitude toward women that I saw in my father was also present in many of the men I worked with, and it seemed to drive the lives of the ones who were married. In addition to being regarded as the Alien Invader in a man’s world, I was also cast as a Trusted Confidant, a role I had learned to play for my father, and like him, men young and old shared details about the wife they had committed to and with whom they had children. Home was regarded as a jail. These men were boxed in between a real wife, with whom they played The Husband and males at work with whom they played the misunderstood and trapped victim of a powerful female conspiracy. In essence, they complained about having no one at home with whom they could speak openly and honestly, but didn’t connect this outcome to the practice of being dishonest with their wives.
The use of drugs to 'treat' (mask) depression and anxiety in housewives (happy pills, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and a lot of alcohol) has a long history. The mass application of drugs to individuals who are made ill by toxic social environments has expanded to outrageous levels. 
 
Much of what I heard was shocking. When speaking to their wives on the telephone, these adult men were pleasant, obedient, contrite, and affectionate. When jousting with each other, the hated clich├ęs came out and were fired back and forth like weapons, as if denigrating one’s spouse was both a competition and entertainment. What I heard in personal disclosures was both sad and repugnant. Men seemed to cling to a little boy fantasy that they were in fact James Bond, but somehow, through no fault of their own, found themselves clinging to women who provided comfort, children, and a home life, which is a normal and healthy state for an adult male, but a union in which they could not fully participate nor enjoy.
On the rare occasion when one of The Wives made an appearance at the office, warnings were given out to be on best behavior, as if the ruling males were soldiers facing a surprise inspection.  Wives naturally required a public display of affection; if it was a peck on the cheek at departure, all was fine, but any more intimacy than this was viewed as a public humiliation for the husband. Some wives furtively examined the physical state of desks, objects on desks, and stray papers as if they were at a crime scene investigation. I was sometimes asked to go powder my nose for the duration of the visit, because I was young and attractive and a prime suspect for shenanigans. These visits were mostly extremely uncomfortable for everyone. I found all of this rather strange and embarrassing but fascinating. 
My parent’s estrangement from each other had appeared to be an extreme case, but the discovery that for many people the person to whom one was intimately bound in marriage was also the person to whom one routinely hid from and lied to shocked me. Where was all the love, love, love in marriage? Fear of the opposite sex seemed to pollute relationships between men and women, voluntary and messed up partnerships that were nevertheless publicly declared to be happy. Women were classed us unequal and inferior at best, as evil and treacherous whenever it suited men, but in their minds a woman had incredible power. She could ruin a man by trapping him in marriage, and deny him true fulfillment as a rogue male. Sex played a huge part in all this. Domestication of the human male had turned out to be a terrible thing according to men.  
Unfortunately, the theme of man as an unbalanced woman-hater, and woman as dirty inferior, as described and prescribed in the Old Testament, has poisoned the relationship between natural partners. In the real world it’s male and female, different and complementary, co-conspirators in the survival of a species. We’ve gone the wrong way, Baby.