[personal profile] teafeather
This post is part of the Spectral Amoebas Blog Carnival: http://writingfromfactorx.wordpress.com/2011/02/01/spectral-amoebas-round-up-post/

One thing I have slowly come to realize over the course of my life is that there are many questions in life that do not actually mean what the words in the sentence mean. For example, "How are you?" usually means, "Will you acknowledge me and interact with me?" and the standard response, "I am fine," actually means, "Yes, I will acknowledge you and interact with you." Another layer of this social script is our cultural emphasis on being positive and optimistic even when things are not going well. Deviations from this script are more likely to happen and be accepted by both parties if they know each other well and have established a certain amount of emotional intimacy in their relationship.

Questions involving the word "like" are more variable in their accepted responses but can still have negative social consequences if the wrong answer is given. In a culture that values extroversion over introversion, asking someone "What do you like to do in your free time?" is a way to judge how well a person fits into these expectations. As an introverted person whose interests mostly lie in solitary pursuits, most of the ways I could honestly answer that question tend to make people who do not share my enthusiasm for those activities confused in the best case or angry in the worst cases. I am "boring" or "need to get a life" or "antisocial." People using this term do not know the difference between introversion and antisocial behavior, and that truly antisocial people seek out social interaction so they can act in destructive ways. When I am feeling especially frustrated by these assumptions I have to suppress my desire to point out that criticizing someone for giving an honest, non-offensive answer is a little antisocial itself.

I do desire some social interaction, but find it very difficult. Even when I seek out groups of people who supposedly share my interests, I feel awkward and out of place in those groups because for some reason the conversation frequently veers into territory which which I am not comfortable or in which I have little interest. In fiber arts groups for example, there is a lot of talk about spouses/boyfriends and children. I do not have much to contribute to those kinds of conversations.

I have experienced a lot of confusion and stress surrounding what "liking" actually means. Expressing a liking for something that isn't accepted, or dislike for or indifference to something that one is expected to like is socially dangerous. It can be something as simple and innocuous as pretending to like an itchy, ugly, ill-fitting garment given as a gift or as complicated and dangerous as being too afraid to say "no" to kissing and groping by a sexually aggressive person out of fear of the consequences of being impolite. That latter category happened to me two years ago and still has the power to make me feel physically ill and give me occasional nightmares.

I struggle to understand how sexual people think in order to best respond to liking-questions that assume that everyone is sexual. I do not want to give the Asexuality 101 talk to people and even if I did I would probably not succeed in communicating the basics effectively, especially to an unreceptive and skeptical audience.

As an asexual autistic person, I know I need to work on being more assertive. I just have no idea how to do that and I have so much emotional baggage about the dangers of being perceived as attention-seeking, manipulative, deliberately difficult, rude, selfish, etc.

Date: 2011-01-30 02:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] meowingatthemoon.wordpress.com
It's so hard for those of us who have Aspergers to tell the difference between being rude and being assertive. I've dealt with this as it pertains to asexuality in a couple of ways.

First, I try to keep in mind that I don't need to explain everything to everybody. So very often, "No thank you" is a complete sentence. "I don't have a boyfriend" is a complete sentence. "I'm not really interested" or "I don't really relate to that." That sort of thing.

Second, it is always okay to say No if something makes you physically uncomfortable. I view it as, my mental and physical health are more important than anything else, and if the other person finds me rude in such situations, that's their problem. I'm taking care of me first.

So I don't know if you were looking for advice or just to vent and I hope I didn't overstep any bounds by this comment, but also I hope this helps.

Stephanie

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teafeather

March 2013

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