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

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

Saturday, October 8, 2016

"Locker room talk", "vulgarity", and sexual assault.

Heads up that I'll be talking about sexual assault. Most of the thoughts I'm expressing are things I've heard elsewhere, but not necessarily combined in the way I'm doing and I unfortunately don't remember my sources. Also note that my position on the Trumpster fire, though not stated on this blog before now as far as I know, has been "As a queer disabled Jew descended from Holocaust survivors, I am concerned by these patterns" for some time. Also part of my position is: "Knocking down one figurehead of these patterns doesn't undo them, but letting one such figurehead become the most visible figure of a country makes the patterns get much worse, very quickly."

I've seen quite a few articles floating around that talk about the Trumpster fire's latest comments as "vulgar," rather than as "bragging about sexual assault." Let's start off with thing the first: he's bragging about sexual assault. I've also heard about it getting defended as locker room talk, and typical of men. (Also something men will sometimes try to include queer women in, because apparently the fact that someone likes women means that they would go in for their objectification and the glorification of their assault?)

And I am, in fact, well aware that not all men would commit any sort of sexual assault. (I'm also aware that quite a few will admit to having done so as long as you only describe the act and don't call it what it is.) Want to know who doesn't realize that? The men who assault think that all men actually do so, and just avoid getting caught/in trouble for it. So when someone tells me that these sorts of statements are normal locker room talk, I have to come to one of two conclusions:

  1. They're one of the ones who would (or has) assaulted.
  2. They can't tell the difference between speaking about consensual acts in a vulgar way and speaking about assault in a vulgar way.
    1. Or they don't care about that difference? That's not better though.
Similarly, when someone tells me that all men are like this in private, that all men will "take advantage" if they get you alone, or anything similar ... if it's not about the vulgarity, option 2 (or 2.1) isn't really there. I have to conclude that they have, or would, assault. They're telling me something about themselves -- if you claim every member of a group does X, and you're a member of that group, you claim to do X. That logic doesn't depend on what X is.

And if someone tells me this is normal, that all men speak like this in private, they don't get to turn around and claim that not all men are like this should I take precautions. They also get to cope if I take those precautions specifically about and around them -- see the logic in the last paragraph.

On another note, I've heard the idea that groping is "less serious," "not really assault," or "not a big deal." I can't speak personally to less vs. more serious, because groping is the only kind of assault I've experienced, and only once. ("Lucky" me. And the fact that this really is lucky is seriously messed up.) From a more general perspective, though, I'm fairly sure it's a bad idea to compare which kinds of assault are more or less traumatizing. It definitely is really assault. Our judicial system is similarly terrible about caring, and similarly tends to blame the victim if a report even happens, and it's really assault. It's a person touching or grabbing you in a sexual way, without consent. (I never reported mine. The study abroad program I was on at the time had been attempting to have me sent home related to my disability, and I sure as heck wasn't about to give them a safety issue as ammunition.) 

And then there's "not a big deal." It is, or it should be, but sometimes it doesn't get to be. People who've been through a lot of trauma sometimes ... adjust ... their ideas of what counts, or of how bad the things they've been through really are. It's not usually conscious, or intentional, but it's a thing that happens. I think it's part of our tendency to "norm" on our own experiences. (Another example of this sort of norming would be my reaction to being unable to speak. I pretty much don't care, it's just another day ending in -y. This is apparently unusual.) Growing accustomed to something in this way doesn't make it OK, if it's something that wasn't OK before. But it definitely means that things which are, in fact, a big deal don't always get to register as such. 

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  1. Regarding "norming":

    It's one thing "norming" something related to personal ability, such as loss of speech or the inability to fly, run, jump, climb, see ultraviolet light, or breathe underwater (all of which are abilities that at least some humans and other entire species lack anyway), and it's another when the thing being "normed" is a wrong that has been deliberately done to someone. After all, something being deliberately done to someone (i.e. sexual assault) is something that can be stopped or at least greatly reduced simply by saying that that kind of behavior is not okay. And I don't count "weird" behaviors like autistic stimming as such, because those are behaviors being done for their own sake, not behaviors that are truly being to someone, even if some people are made uncomfortable by them; behaviors that make people uncomfortable are only mean and potentially abusive if someone does them to someone they have power over just to see them squirm, not to raise awareness of an important social issue, in which case the behavior only might be abusive, but usually isn't.

    1. Yes this. And the "norming" seems to happen regardless (so it's not a statement about OK-ness of the normalized thing in any direction.)

  2. On Norming.

    I, as usual, have little intelligent things to add other than this is why it's often so hard for he to note down my autistic experiences.
    I mean, yes, they're decidedly not normal and I've been aware that at least some of them are not normal for a while now, but there's still a difference between knowing that other people don't react like this to getting a haircut and all that entails and that they have an easier time in loud places and actually picking out every single thing that's unusual (and at least in the beginning, convincing oneself that this does fit the pattern and isn't just a personal failing that looks like autism).
    In some ways, I don't know if norming even really encompasses it.
    The way you describe what it means does since it does involve changing your expectations and even suppressing your experiences, but the word almost seems to...well, normal for it.


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