Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Thanks to Feminism

I've been struggling somewhat in my Women and Gender Studies (WGST) class. Given the current state of women's rights, and the current state of autistic rights, sexism for me is far overshadowed by disability discrimination. I really can't name much in my life that I think would have been different if I'd been an autistic boy instead of an autistic girl. The discrimination I've faced has been pretty much the same as what the boys deal with.
But it just occurred to me that although (or because) sexism hasn't made much of a difference in my life, feminism has. In fact, as an autistic woman, I've benefited more from feminism than most women do.
Here's why:
  • I love to read and write. For a long time, only men were taught those skills. As an autistic person, although I have generalized verbal strengths, my written language is better than my spoken language.
  • University is my niche. In university, high intellengence and passionate interests are rewarded, making it an area where being autistic can actually be an asset. However, universities were originally male-only, and there have been many barriers to women participating.
  • I'm no good at housework. I get overloaded easily when trying to clean, my OCD tendencies make me have panic attacks at the thought of cleaning up certain kinds of messes, my difficulty planning means I put things off a lot, and my asthma means that getting close to dust and mold can be bad for me. Nowadays, I have other areas in which I can show my competence, and I stand a chance of finding a man who is willing to do housework. I will not be seen as a failure just because I can't do housework.
  • I'm asexual. Although I haven't decided what I'll do with my life, since I do want children and my sexuality might awaken in the future, it's quite possible that I will never want to get married. It used to be that most unmarried women either depended on family or lived in poverty, with many being forced into prostitution to survive. Now, women can get into lucrative careers, and many single women are doing just fine.

So I extend a thanks to all the women from previous generations who fought for these rights I take for granted. You made my dreams possible.


Blogger Adelaide Dupont said...

The 8th March will be International Womens' Day, one of my favourite days in the calendar.

There are probably several more ways that autistic women benefit from feminism, and feminism definitely benefits (and hopefully does not exploit!) autistic women, apart from your examples.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Lindsay said...

For me, another big benefit was Title IX.

When I was in high school, I did the same strength-and-conditioning program after school and during summer that football players, wrestlers, and other male athletes did. Weightlifting has been a big part of my life since I was fourteen (why, yes, that is more than ten years ago!), and without Title IX there's no way I would ever have gotten to do it. Gym classes, too (which I loved) would've been segregated, with girls doing less strenuous, "ladylike" workouts while the boys played football, basketball, wrestled, climbed things, ran etc.

7:11 PM  
Blogger thinkingdifference said...

if your course has a final paper, you should write about this!

4:33 PM  
Blogger TheWiredOne said...

"As an autistic person, although I have generalized verbal strengths, my written language is better than my spoken language."
This fits me as well. I was delayed in speaking, but I was reading pretty early. According to my grandmother, I was reading books when I was one year old. Though there was a time when I thought I couldn't read because I thought reading to mean reading the text of a book aloud and because of my speech difficulties and lack of self-confidence, I had lots of trouble with this.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Snowbrush said...

"my OCD tendencies make me have panic attacks at the thought of cleaning up certain kinds of messes"

I'm fascinated. I had imagined that OCD would make housework all but mandatory. True, an OCD might get so bogged down, they would never finish the job, but I had assumed that would feel compelled to try. Or maybe I project too much.

12:25 AM  

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