Autism civil rights has a very big problem. Essentially, so-called activists have decided that one culture, one vision, one order, one purpose, speaks for everyone who is autistic. This is wonderful for those of you who really do think Asshole from Big Nerd Blackface Stereotype Theory represents you. But it is an absolute nightmare for the rest of us.
People who believe all autistic people should resemble Asshole from Big Nerd Blackface Stereotype Theory also love to abuse the shit out of Facelessbook’s report feature. Challenge them, call them what they are (that is, the autistic equivalent of “house niggers”), and they will report you without haste and get you banned. Good going, Asshole from Big Nerd Blackface Stereotype Theory lovers. That really makes autistic people who are more resemblant of characters from Blade Runner or Mad Max: Fury Road feel included.
And that is a big problem. When autistic people who did not know they were autistic until they were at least twenty years old, when autistic people who have been soldiers, “big brothers” to abused children, or similar, feel like they are being shut out of autistic representation by the likes of Lydia Brown or ASAN et al, that cuts both ways.
It hurts both the people being shut out, and it hurts the movement as a whole.
It hurts the movement because the people being shut out like this, instead of wanting to try to conform to the Big Nerd Blackface Stereotype, instead become hostile to what I will refer to here as Conformist Autistic. ASAN et al end up being told to fukk off by Not-Conformist Autistic people. People who may in fact be autistic and have already “made it” in mainstream culture, Tim Burton comes to mind, could have changed the conversation about autism overnight by saying “I am (insert name here), I directed (insert name of great film here), and I am autistic”. Instead, they see that autistic people are expected by those who purport to represent them to be like Steve Urkel, and that frightens them away. That means that our pleas for them to start working with us instead of simply using us go unheard, because they fear we will turn it around on them and erase their own identities to fit your accepted Nerd Blackface paradigm.
It is likely to make them think the same thing I am thinking as I write this and listen to Electric Wizard’s first album. Being expected to look like a toddler could break my arm makes me wish I was not autistic.
When a movement proclaiming itself to be about liberation, acceptance, and recognition of basic rights produces this kind of effect in its involuntary members (being autistic is involuntary, lest you forget), that means it has failed.
Frank Zappa was, like many celebrities considered “eccentric” by the mainstream one-note media, given to acting in a manner that makes one think “if this person was not autistic, they were doing a great job of impersonating an autistic person”. One listen to the spoken-word introduction of the version of Muffin Man that appears on the Bongo Fury album can clue a person in on this. Frank Zappa was also six feet tall and generally was about as Steve Urkel as he was a conformist. That is, not at all. Watch him performing Muffin Man sometime and ask yourself something, autistic people around the world. Would you rather people respond to you saying “I am autistic” with “oh, you mean like Frank Zappa?”, or “oh, you mean like Asshole from Big Nerd Blackface Stereotype Theory?”? This is a serious question, assholes.
Before I continue, let me quote point 87 of Square 8’s edition of The ever-expanding list of neurotypical privilege: People don’t accuse me of grandiosity or derisively dismiss it if I suggest that some admirable historical figure might have been neurotypical.
Apparently, suggesting that some figure who is flat-out creepy and disturbing when the laugh track is removed ( as a fun experiment try using this search https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=big+nerd+theory+without+laugh+track ) might be autistic is perfectly okay, though. Can you hear yourselves, ASAN et al? Do you really mean to tell me that you cannot understand why I might be upset about being auto-magically associated with this character? Are you certain you are not like Autism Speaks For Normie Assholes, and actually have no autistic people at all in a position of say? (Yes, that was a serious question, ASAN, because your behaviour in refusing to acknowledge or admit that autistic people might be things like soldiers or kickboxing champions prompts this question.) In fact, indulge me and try to watch this video I got out of the search criteria above:
The reality of growing up autistic in a school system designed to reward learning by rote and herd conformity is that some will learn to be the meek, weak, passive little things in Nerd Blackface Theory, and some will enrage, becoming something entirely different. It is not a coincidence that every lightening of the oppressive, bullying behaviour in my home and everyday environment during the first fifteen years of my life was accompanied by violence. You could be forgiven for thinking that violence can solve anything if you had to live through the first fifteen years of my life. Mother picking you up by the ear and screaming into it so hard it rings? Punch her in the jaw with everything you have! Male parent smacking you around because you object to the abuse in point one? Hit him with a brick, hit him with a car, pour fuel over him whilst he is in bed and tell him you are going to set him on fire, take your pick.
I am not kidding when I say that when I look back on my life now as a middle-aged man, I wish I had killed both of my parental units when I was a child. Even the way that I refer to them in speech (or here) now reflects that I think of them as diseases to be cured, not family.
The point of all these paragraphs about why I am not Big Stereotype Nerd Blackface Fukkhead Theory is that some people just accept as a matter of course that they will be bullied, and others know or start to become aware of how wrong it is, and fight back. With violence that others might find fatal, if need be.
Again, ASAN, this is the real kind of experience an autistic now-adult has had, and your refusal to acknowledge it does not strengthen the autism civil rights movement. It weakens it immeasurably. As I have written in the past, so much could be gained by taking autistic people of all kinds (that is, the soldiers, the ones who are ~200 pounds in spite of only being 5’8.5”, and yes even the Big Nerd Blackface Theory types), putting them in a group picture, then challenging the viewer to guess which ones are autistic before chiding them with “if you guessed anything other than ‘all of them’, you are wrong”.
I hate the fact that I so often end up doing some peoples’ jobs better than them, and yet they are gainfully employed and I am not.
It is hard for me to know exactly what I want to convey to ASAN et al because one of my many difficulties is that I do not see conversations as organic exchanges. I see them as a game of trying to discover what magic combination of words will get the results out of people that I need or want. But the greatest tragedy of the situation with being autistic in the present day is that the people who are accepted by both sides as representing us are in fact harming us, too. By erasing people who say “well, no, I am autistic and was raised in a culture of violence, and my present-day way of surviving reflects this”, you do all autistic people harm. You cannot help autistic people without acknowledging all parts of autistic peoples’ history, and that means broadening “autistic people” to include more than Nerd Blackface. In fact, because of the stereotyping that Nerd Blackface entails, it is my opinion that it does not represent autistic people at all.
In closing, ASAN, Nerd Blackface acceptors, I want you to take a look at the “comic con” trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road, think about what you remember of the film proper (or watch it again), and ask yourself something. Of the eight people who are allowed (that is, welcomed) onto the War Rig during the film prior to the meeting with the Vuvalini, how many remind you in some way of autistic people?
If you said anything other than “all of them”, then you are part of the reason I wrote this article.