Note For Anyone Writing About Me

Guide to Writing About Me

I am an Autistic person,not a person with autism. I am also not Aspergers. The diagnosis isn't even in the DSM anymore, and yes, I agree with the consolidation of all autistic spectrum stuff under one umbrella. I have other issues with the DSM.

I don't like Autism Speaks. I'm Disabled, not differently abled, and I am an Autistic activist. Self-advocate is true, but incomplete.

Citing My Posts

MLA: Zisk, Alyssa Hillary. "Post Title." Yes, That Too. Day Month Year of post. Web. Day Month Year of retrieval.

APA: Zisk, A. H. (Year Month Day of post.) Post Title. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

See You and a Social Media Crisis

Trigger Warning: I'm going to go with ablesplaining and lack of access, plus trying to fix access failures by asking disabled people to do the exact thing they just said they can't do.

So, today I leave for China. That's a thing that's happening. And then I will be in China. I know I've been publishing daily or pretty much daily [I've messed up a couple times, including this past Sunday] for a while now, but while I'm in China? Yeah, I'm not counting on it. I can promise that there will be they kind of essay-ish thing I figure most of you are here for on Mondays still, and something on Wednesdays/Fridays. That something may or may not be in English, but it will be a something. That doesn't mean I won't have updates on other days- it just means I make no promises.
Also, I got interviewed. I didn't read all that much of the blog of the person who interviewed me [yeah, I know, I probably should have, and admitting that I didn't is probably a social mistake] but the questions seemed cool and I may have suggested a couple awesome (ausome) blogs to folks who might not otherwise know about them. The interview is here, or it will be as of 9am EST on August 29, 2013. Before then, haha it's not up yet. Told folks they should totally be looking at Radical Neurodivergence Speaking, Ballastexistenz, and Non-Speaking Autistic Speaking. [That's Neurodivegent K, whose real identity you can totally figure out if you want to, Amanda Baggs, who admits to who she is and is more well known than she wanted to be, and Amy Sequenzia, who decided to stick links to all her writing in one place because she writes a bunch of places.]
I'm writing (well, finishing writing) an essay about the erasure of Queer Autistic People, which I'm "presenting" at INSPIRe. [No, their call for papers was not actually accessible to me, but I could catch enough words out of it that I could guess that my paper would fit and it got accepted. So... there's that.] I'm also submitting it to Criptiques,  which had a call for submissions I pretty much understood. Not one I had a lot of warning for, which is why I'm submitting the same thing to it as to the INSPIRe thing.
Then there's this feministwire forum. Um. The initial call for submissions was cognitively inaccessible to me and a bunch of other people. I could tell that a reshuffling of Erasure of Queer Autistic People should fit, but other than that? Uh, yeah, nope. Not accessible. So we asked them to fix it. Their explanation of how they want to fix it? Yeah, not accessible. Neither is the actual revision.
Seriously, look at this. This sentence came from the stuff they added as part of their "so people were telling us we're not accessible and so we revised it" statement.
We are committed to making our forum widely accessible, and we also want to acknowledge and politicize the location from which we ourselves are located and form critical analysis.
I'm an academic. I really, truly, actually am. I have presented at two conferences, been published in one book, and had pieces accepted for another conference and book. I've been on a stand-alone panel. I've got proposals/submissions in the works for two other books. That's what I manage in my first year of trying to be a presentationy academic person. I also have no clue what that sentence means. If a conference-presenting [in disability studies, mind you, which should be relevant enough to make this call make sense to me] academic can't understand you? Even a developmentally disabled academic? You're not accessible. I have trouble believing that you're even trying to be accessible at that point. Whatever claims might be made about including activists and other people who aren't pure academics? That's not actually a thing.
So... inciting as many people as possible to talk about how using language many people don't understand excludes them from the conversation and doesn't actually let non-academics into conversations no matter how allowed or invited they are? Yeah, that's a thing I'd do. I'd even say submit those things once they're written: I was able to piece together enough of their call to say that such an essay fits what they're asking for. #irony there, perhaps? I think so. Translating the call into language you can understand/use is also an idea, for folks who think they can. I don't think either of those things were originally my idea, the translation one definitely wasn't. But inciting people to do it? Yeah I'm trying to earn the title of Social Media Crisis that Neurodivergent K says I may be en route to getting, since this is one of those things that needs a media crisis if they can't fix it themselves.


The Feminist Wire is inviting said crisis. I repeat, they are inviting the social media crisis.
Dear Alyssa,

We appreciate your feedback and comments.  We've discussed the concerns, and rather than rewriting the CFP again, or creating multiple versions, we invite you (and others) to share your own interpretation of the CFP with your communities.  This seems to us the most reasonable and helpful way to proceed.

Best wishes,
Editorial Collective
I got this email about 2 hours before this post was scheduled to go up. They're not rewriting, which is problem, but they kind of just asked for portions of the media crisis to happen, and I'm more than happy to oblige. Who's with me?
Oh, and I sent this back to them:
The problem lies in the fact that I can't. See, I actually am an academic, I presented at the Society for Disability Studies conference and at Debilitating Queerness, and I can't understand it either. I can look at your key words and take a decent guess if a thing I can write fits(ish) or not, but I don't know what you're actually saying either.
And I tweeted at them, one more time. [Not the first time.] If you have Twitter, I'd really like this one retweeted so that they have a harder time ignoring the fact that writing things disabled people don't understand in an invitation to talk about disability while claiming to be inclusive is actually a horrible thing to do.
  thinks having #disabled folk share our ideas of CFP meaning solves inaccessibility. OH WAIT we don't understand -> CAN'T
Retweeting as much of the following conversations as possible is also good.
There is also a Tumblr post.
And for those of you with Facebook, the blog post you're reading right now and/or this linked post are the thing to share. Commenting directly on their share of the call is also nice.
And you can always email them at



  1. Feministwire is absolutely ridiculous. I can't understand their statement either, and I have a master's degree.

    Of course, my master's is in Biology, not humanities doublespeak. Biologists actually want people to understand what they're saying and think that having multiple readings of a text is a bug, not a feature.

    1. My degree is a bachelor's in math, but I do the whole disability studies thing, and I do the gender and women's studies thing well enough that academic-ish should be within my reach on feminist stuff, even when it's not got to do with disability.
      But yeah. Multiple readings people can disagree about, but "people in target audience can't make any reading" is definitely a bug.

    2. I have an MSc in chemistry and am a PhD candidate in chemical engineering. I was a kid who read the dictionary and am the former master of using words like "defenestrate" to talk about cartoons, and I can't make heads or tails of their bullshitese.

      I have been dealing with a migraine all day, but even still. It's not just you.

  2. Enjoy China and all your studies! I will be thinking about you and living vicariously. And I'll be boosting this post.

  3. Writing a NeuroQueer about it, embedding it.

  4. Thanks for the mention! I hope when you have time, you'll read more of my blog :)

  5. Yikes! I love (don't love) how, when you were like, "Hey, I can't really understand this and I'm sure a lot of other disabled people won't be able to either", they were like, "Oh, well, why don't you just rewrite it for us then? Because we sure don't want to be putting an undue burden on our disabled readers!"

    *dies of the irony*

    Anyway, hope you have a fun trip to China!

  6. I have a BS in Paralegal Studies and do a whole lot of academic social science reading, particularly in gender and disability studies. I'm familiar with the terminology and I know how to navigate around doublespeak.

    After reading, and re-reading, and squinting and looking at it sideways (both literally and figuratively), I still have no idea what they were asking for in the RFP.

    Unless they were saying that they've just discovered disability studies and disability advocacy are real things. Now they want people to come and tell them everything about it without admitting their own ignorance.

    Because for a lot of it, I could understand the individual words just fine, but when they were put together into sentences all that my brain could read was "I'm trying to sound like I'm asking an intelligent question but I don't have a clue what I'm talking about."

  7. If I may ...

    I am not a academic, but rather a humble undergraduate trying to complete a B.Sc, double major in biology and chemistry, by distance learning.

    It just so happens though, through various reasons, that I have read a lot feminist thinking, and narrative, so reading convoluted arguments, and trying to make sense of it all has become part of my life. It took me several attempts, but I think ( and this is merely my own personal opinion), the following statement can be read as follows (my understanding is in square brackets):

    'We are committed to making our forum widely accessible [to be read as is], and we also want to acknowledge and politicize the location [we believe that the intersection between disability and radical feminism is political, and we are going to make it as such] from which we ourselves are located [as radical feminists, we strongly believe all intersectionality is political, and connected to patriarchal thinking] and form critical analysis [we will accept anything that agrees with our thinking, but ignore and / or totally refute anything which doesn't].

    To my mind, their use of location underscores the believe that the personal is political, which may or may not be a bad thing. But then they say this:

    'We've discussed the concerns, and rather than rewriting the CFP again, or creating multiple versions, we invite you (and others) to share your own interpretation of the CFP with your communities. This seems to us the most reasonable and helpful way to proceed.'

    In other words, rather going through the lengthy and laborious process of consultation, and multiple redrafts so everyone is included, we will just ask for feedback, that will be cherry-picked for the bits the we, and only we, agree with, even if it means excluding some people. That is not surprising; during my critical analysis of radical feminism, it strikes me how common exclusion lies beneath the veneer of inclusion; just ask anyone in the trans* community. You are right; it isn't very feminist. But given the anger that radical feminists have towards some women, especially transwomen, for them to have a very specific view of the intersection between disability and their take on feminism, and to exclude anyone outside that is not surprising.

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. It might help if you hadn't started from a disabilist stereotype of autistics as living inside the world in our heads.

    2. Don't. Just please don't. Basically everything about this is offensive.

  9. Hi Chey,
    This blog in general could be the right place-ish, but this post is not. I am willing to help, and you can talk to me at, and you can post the question to my Facebook page (link in the list at the top right.)
    I give warning that some of the help is going to be in the form of "this idea is icky because XYZ."

  10. It's readable, if you ignore all the doublespeak and the dilbert-esque management style writing. Basically it says "We know fuck all about disability, come and educate us, but not really, unless you're either NT or very very privileged".

  11. Oh, for Chey. This is something you should read.

  12. The feminist wire forum might actually want to be inclusive, but they do not know how. They do not have any friends who speak / write in a cognitively accessible fashion. The request to translate the CFP into something understandable was reasonable. The result demonstrates they can't do ithant.

    And they're asking you to submit papers and come teach them what they don't know about you. Is it OK with you that academics study disability in contexts other than disability rights and disability justice? Does a disabled radical feminist have a different view of the political landscape than the current voices heard in the media, blogosphere, and academia? But mostly, why is the research landscapes changing now? Disability has been studied for decades. Why is it now academically fashionable to intersect disability with gender studies, animal studies, racial studies, etc, not just nationally, but on a global scale?


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