Thursday, April 15, 2010

Addressing some shit that needs addressing...

Happy tax day! 

Wince.

Shall we?

As some of you know, a debate broke out in the comment section of my Autism Awareness Month post

I’d like to address a couple of things that need addressing.

#1 – On silencing…

A bitch moderates comments and have done so since picking up a few racist trolls my first year of blogging.  Some comments get rejected – if they are off topic, rancidly racist or threaten violence I hit the rejection button without shame.  Other comments are published and then responded to.  I don’t agree with everyone and everyone doesn’t agree with me, but I don’t reject a comment just because it disagrees with this bitch.

There is a difference between disagreeing and silencing.  I speak from personal experience – I’ve been disagreed with and I’ve been silenced.

I’ll continue to have people disagree with me as long as I share my opinions…the two go hand-in-hand.

But I will never be silenced again.

For the record…when a bitch wants someone to shut the fuck up I tell that person to shut the fuck up.  When I want someone to get gone I usually say something like “Get thee gone!”  If I don’t tell you to shut the fuck up or get gone, then I don’t want you to shut the fuck up or get gone.

#2 – On practicing the fine art of bitchitude and discussing autism…

One key part of practicing the fine art of bitchitude is making sure what you say is what you meant to say. 

On the topic of autism, I’d rather say nothing than do damage. 

I spent the first half of my life not talking about my brother because a lot of people’s reactions pissed me off or hurt my feelings.  My silence was self-imposed and a kind of self-protection…and it resulted in many people not knowing that I had a brother or anything about him.  I realized that fact after a chat with a friend who I had known for years who was more than a little hurt that I hadn’t shared about my brother and who accused me of being ashamed of him. 

That hurt like hell, but I earned it...and, having earned it, the hurt was all the more painful.

I took that note and painful indictment and did a lot of inner work to get to the point where I feel empowered to openly discuss my life…my sister and brother are a huge part of my life…and I’m pretty sure that everyone knows that now.

Having said that, this bitch ain’t perfect. 

Shit, I never claimed to be!

Fantabulous maybe, but not perfect.

And, just as I have called folks out for fucking shit up, I have had folks call me out for fucking shit up on all manner of topics. 

Practicing the fine art of bitchitude requires…hell, it demands...having the courage to listen to one’s critics and learn from that which is valid.  I’ve done that on a lot of issues…when I look back at some of my early posts on feminism I sometimes want to pull them down, but they reflect my journey and sometimes I need to look back to appreciate where I currently am.

I am absolutely certain that the same can be said of my posts on autism.

So, when critics in my comment section highlight that my using the phrase “live with autism” to describe my life is inaccurate and insults them…I listen.

I’ll confess that the prince to pauper tone of certain comments got my back up…and ‘tis difficult to listen to someone who just pissed you off…but if I only listened to comments that didn’t piss me off I’d only hear praise and that’s not a recipe for growth. 

I paused…reflected…considered…and acknowledge that the use of that phrase and other phrases sends a message that I don’t want to and never intended to send.

I won’t use it again.

I won’t edit it out of previously published posts…that’s about the journey and being able to look back and note from whence I have come.

But I won’t use it again.

Thank you to those who commented…in support or in condemnation…and thank you to those of you who sent personal emails.

21 comments:

Clarissa said...

I wish more people were as willing to listen to our (the autistics) input. I respect you profoundly for being willing to reconsider the way you use language when talking about autism. Hopefully, many people will read your post and re-examine their own language in what concerns autism.

Thank you!

Hill Rat said...

Damn ABB, your courage in examining yourself puts most other bloggers/writers to shame. It's got to be tough to look back on earlier mistakes and see them memorialized for all time in the Google cache, but you show an unusual amount of integrity in letting your old posts remain online, unaltered. I hope to be as tough as you someday.

Best,

HR

TJT said...

Well done, Shark-Fu. When someone calls out my privilege I am trying to learn to take actions steps based on some (amended) words of yours:

pause...listen...consider...continue

This overcoming oppression business is really messy work, full of miscommunication, mis-all-kinds-of-things, good intentions gone awry, hurt feelings, anger, and all sorts of unpleasantness. It's tough stuff, whether coming from a place of privilege or oppression.

Thank you for modeling so well on your blog how to fight oppression as one who sits on both sides.

You are one bad-ass bitch, and I say you should go on with your bad self.

Anonymous said...

I dont get it. We all have some form of autisum, whats the big deal? Scientist have found we all contain every disease there is in our bodies, it just depends on when or if they/it'll reveal themselves. We all have freedom of speech.

Shark-fu said...

Anonymous...
I'm not up on that bit of science, but regarding free speech - yes, we all have the right to say what we want to and folks have the right to respond.

I'm not giving up that right, I'm claiming it - I want to say something and I want everyone to understand what I'm saying.

They can disagree with what I mean, but I really don't get anything out of people disagreeing with something I didn't mean to say.

IseultTheIdle said...

All of us who live and interact with other human beings in the world learn, every day, about others and how best to interact and communicate an to be with others. Every one of us has that work to do. Every one of us needs occasional guidance and correction.

It does no good at all to reject someone absolutely for having made an honest mistake. In fact it does a great deal of harm, potentially, starting with the fact that they will either not learn where their mistake was, or they will have no motivation to correct it.

There is more that I could say here, but I'm not going to say it now. I feel like the next step I take in this direction will be on egg shells, and I have never felt like egg shells make good paving stones.

Kowalski said...

Oh wow, I never expected that, thank you so much, Shark-Fu.

@Hill Rat, I don't think it's going to be "painful" looking back, it's not like she's used the R-Word, or something, it's more a matter of moving on and evolving.

@Anonymous, no we don't that's nonsense. If you really think "we're all a bit disabled" you should google "disability 101".

textualfury said...

Shark Fu, I'm mostly a lurker. I don't always seek you out to read either. I want to admit this fully. However as a part of Here Be Dragons I was fully aware of the entire debate. Being able to admit you are wrong is something so few can do, thank you.

Can I suggest an idea on discussing Autism? IE don't stop but maybe ask your brother what he thinks and write about it with him? you can contrast your own opinions there, and this can be another growing experience and it's something I am curious about.

I personally cannot ask, and dare not ask, my family about Autism or even a sandwhich without drama, so the non dramatic outlook even if you don't always agree together is something great. (I prefer it when people don't always agree. Keeps me on my toes)

Thank you, again.

Kat Fury

Captcha, Comist... cause the Captcha thinks I am a communist today? Dun dun dun!

Sharon daVanport said...

☮...

Sadderbutwisergirl said...

Shark-fu, what you did is a lot more than I would expect from an ordinary blogger. It is easier, when called out and criticized, to fall back on those who praise you and ignore the criticism in that moment. You're right that it takes courage to immediately face one's critics and I've got to respect you for having the courage to do so. I'm also glad that you're not ashamed of your brother. It's a lot more than I can say for a lot of people I know.

Yvonne Rathbone said...

But Shark-fu, I think you did get something really beautiful out of people disagreeing with something you didn't mean. It's the whole communication issue that intent is one thing, actual effect is another. When people disagree with what they heard *and* that is different from what we meant, well... that's the golden moment. That's the moment when we can glimpse our own privilege - which is almost as difficult to do as it is to bear doing. And if we can "hold our seat" (Pema Chodron) and look at that difference, we get the chance to rise above it. And your example shows exactly how to do this and is a testament that true bitchitude is a path of justice.

Squid said...

Thank you for demonstrating what listening truly means.

(And I have to note that my verification word is "blerch.")

Yvonne Rathbone said...

@Kowalski and Sadderbutwisergirl: I wanted to thank you for speaking up. I definitely have a better sense of the issues between folks with autism and those who are supposed to be their support group. It sounds like you guys have had to throw down before. I respect that you came on hard when you perceived something that looked like bullshit. It is perfectly legit and completely necessary to test allies, especially when false friends can come in the shape of your own families. And I'm really encouraged that you were able to receive Shark-fu's real meaning and intent, who has always seemed to me to be a true ally to her brother.

Grafton said...

I don't get it. We all have some form of autisum, whats the big deal?

Wow, Anonymous. That is just incredible.

Allow me to demonstrate the fucked-upness of your comment:

"I don't get it. We're all female as embryos. So what's the big deal if men talk about women's experiences as if their opinions about are just as valid as those of women?"

"I don't get it. Humans are a species of African ape, so we're all African. What's the big deal when white people talk about African American experience as if their opinions are just as valid as those of black Americans?"

ChrisR said...

Happy tax day to you too.

Over 50% of my taxes will go to the military in some form.

The group Autism Speaks notes that 737 projects on autism research have been funded since 1997 for a total of $89 million.

In Iraq we spend that amount in about 8 hours.

Jean said...

Shark-fu, I find every one of your posts damn inspiring. And now you've got to go and impress the hell out of me with this latest example of fabulousness.

If someone else can voice boldly, listen well, examine herself carefully, and step up to intentional change with courage, I can too.

Love ya. Keep it up!

Emily said...

Nicely done, and I like what IseultTheIdle said.

Sadderbutwisergirl said...

@Yvonne Rathbone: It is often that I see bullshit about parents and siblings appropriating the "autism experience." That is, setting themselves up as the martyrs who are oh so miserable because of their "children/siblings with autism!" If they do say anything about the family members' experiences, they'll say that the autistic person is suffering based on their assumption that to be anything other than neurotypical like themselves is bad. Because that other post looked like that, I felt really angry about it. I feel personally glad that Shark-fu was able to take mine and Kowalski's comments to heart and post about what she gleaned from that. Personally, I actually think Grafton helped with that. While me and Kowalski were using the tactic of calling out and bluntness to get ourselves across, Shark-fu was using that as "evidence" that we were just out there to be unnecessarily critical of her. When Grafton came in and stated the same message, but in a more peaceful, more appeasing tone, then Shark-fu was able to get the message. A quote from this post by Genderbitch I think seems to fit this situation well: "If you do a little bit of Nuking and the person is getting pissy and whiny or seems to be withdrawing, call in an Appeaser to put it in gentle terms."

DomainDiva said...

My husband has high functioning Aspergers. That man can sit at a computer for 14 hours a day and trade and make money. While not a social butterfly or huggy kissy his IQ is probably in the 160+ range.

He is the kind of husband who jumps when I say I need help or need to go somewhere and manage things in my records storage for my clients.

He does not buy valentines flowers, candy, mothers day or birthday presents; but smiles when I bring my present home and show him what 'he' bought for me.

I would be lost without him. I never considered myself living with autism but just being with him. Is there a last nerve? Yes, but only for a moment in time.

My grandson is on the other deep end of the autism spectrum. He always has a hug for his granny and never worries about whether or not it's OK to stretch out on my lap; he just does it and we have our time together.

I have never once been offended by any of your posts concerning autism and how it affects your life as a caregiver. If anything you are a total inspiration.

Hugs((((ABB))))

Grafton said...

@ChrisR -- I don't doubt the numbers, just want to point out that 'Autism Speaks' is a horrible organization.

@Sadderbutwiser -- I'm sure I didn't mean to be appeasing and really I don't understand why my remark got the desired response and yours didn't. Happy that it did, just don't trust me to function in that role consistently. :)

@DomainDiva -- If you click on my name you'll find the discussion forum I maintain. You might like it.

Shark-fu said...

Actually @Sadderbutwiser, I found Grafton's comment far from appeasing.

Trust that it too got my back up, but it is a great example of the kind of comment that demands reflection even though it stings.

If Grafton had not commented on my Autism Awareness Post, this post wouldn't have happened at all.