Where are the gender and sex-blind studies of Asperger “humans?” When will we ever see research that does not segregate male and female “Aspergers” into predetermined culturally and socially segregated interests, behaviors and abilities?
Reserving “Asperger’s” as a predominantly male condition (because Asperger males are intellectually valuable to male-dominated science, technology and engineering) and inventing a separate “female problem” with silly “gender-sex symptoms” that focus on trivia rather than “talent and smarts” is logically invalid and discriminatory; it is a narrative that continues to be propagated by the enforcers of social inequality: the “helping, caring, fixing” priesthood.
This morning I decided to “cruise” the Internet to find “new, original, or clarifying” research papers or articles on Asperger’s as it manifests in girls-women. The usual websites popped up: blah, blah, blah. Outdated, repetitive, case histories; memoirs, anecdotes, etc. Mostly the lists of symptoms and descriptions of “what ASD / Asperger’s is” are word for word pick ups from autism celebrities – psychologists and related experts who have staked out their territories; their generalizations are copied and reused by a contingent of female “writers” (diagnosed / self-diagnosed) pushing their own books and specialty practices.
What I find disappointing is a lack of original thinking: content too often merely repeats the words of one or two experts – this is not only lazy, but promotes these official opinions as Gospel truth. In the case of Asperger females the “Holy text” goes back mainly to Tony Attwood, likely because he’s is possibly the only big name who has (superficially) nice things to say about Asperger people – and Asperger females.
Below are excerpts from Tony Attwood: Highlights are the stereotypes repeated over and over again in articles, books, websites, etc. and without attribution to Attwood: the situation is that these written statements have become “mythic” and are viewed as “revealed wisdom” that has cosmic authority. Items highlighted in red are baffling notions, details and generalizations that are simply stupid.
Female Asperger’s (and all females) are classified, categorized and described from a male POV that continues to regard females as a separate and inferior subspecies of Homo sapiens: male behavior and abilities are presented (ad nauseum) as the default standard for human behavior, intelligence and talent, especially when it comes to using the brain for creative contributions to “the historical world of man” and certain male provinces of activity – ie; everything valued as important is reserved for males. No females are ever truly allowed into the “boy’s club” of Homo sapiens. Asperger women are “weird males” and definitely not “real females” – why?
Girls and women who have Asperger’s syndrome
Written by Tony Atwood as the foreword to a book: Safety Skills for Asperger Women by Liane Holliday Willey.
In early childhood, probably long before a diagnostic assessment, a girl who has the characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome will begin to know she is different to other girls. She may not identify with or want to play cooperatively with her female peers. Her thoughts can be that the play of other girls is stupid, boring and inexplicable. She may prefer to play alone so that she can play her way. Her interests can be different to other girls, not necessarily in terms of focus, but intensity and quality. For example, she may collect over 50 Barbie dolls and choose not to enact with her friends from the neighbourhood ‘Barbie getting married’ but arrange the dolls in particular configurations.
There can be a determination to organise toys rather than share toys and also not play with toys in conventional ways. She may prefer non-gender specific toys such as Lego and not seek acquisitions related to the latest craze for girls her age to be ‘cool’ and popular. There can be an aversion to the concept of femininity in wearing the latest fashions or fancy or frilly clothing. The preference can be for practical, comfortable clothing with lots of pockets. While boys with Asperger’s syndrome can fixate on facts, and some girls with Asperger’s syndrome can also have an encyclopaedic knowledge of specific topics, there can be an intense interest in reading and escaping into fiction, enjoying a fantasy world, creating a new persona, talking to imaginary friends and writing fiction at an early age. Another escape is into the exciting world of nature, having an intuitive understanding of animals, not people. Animals become loyal friends, eager to see and be with you, with her feeing safe from being teased or rejected and appreciated by her animal friends. (Heaven forbid that a girl would simply be interested in anything exciting, creative or scientific; such interests must be “escapism” due to her miserable failure as a “proper social female”)
There may be single but intense friendships with another girl, who may provide guidance for her in social situations, perhaps in a benevolent way and in return, the girl with Asperger’s syndrome is not interested in the ‘bitchy’ behaviour of her peers and is a loyal and helpful friend. Unfortunately, sometimes the girl who has Asperger’s syndrome is vulnerable to friendship predators who take advantage of her naivety, social immaturity and longing to have a friend. (Sure; undermine a girl’s friendships as being genuine or valuable – “they” only like pretend to like you because you’re vulnerable and exploitable)
Inevitably there will be times when she has to engage with other children and she may prefer to play with boys, whose play is more constructive than emotional and adventurous rather than conversational. (Of course; girls are not allowed to be constructive and adventurous. What an insult to ALL girls and women!) Many girls and women who have Asperger’s syndrome have described to clinicians and in autobiographies how they sometimes think they have a male rather than a female brain, (Really? It couldn’t be that they have been told to believe this by “experts”) having a greater understanding and appreciation of the interests, thinking and humour of boys. The girl who has Asperger’s syndrome can be described as a ‘Tom Boy’ eager to join in the activities and conversations of boys rather than girls.
My argument isn’t that these anecdotal “statements of preference” by Asperger girls are “untrue” for SOME GIRLS, regardless of whether or not they have been diagnosed as ASD, Asperger, or are “normal” females. It’s that this type of false narrative-building is utterly without merit in understanding behavior as healthy versus pathological for any human individual or group.
The designation of Tom Boy, back in the Dark Ages of American Life (before pathologizing human behavior became an obsession) was just that: Tom Boys were “types of girls” not peculiar “males” or deviants. Yes, mothers and teachers expected that at some point (puberty) these girls would become interested in boys, and this usually happened. (It also was expected that boys would become interested in girls!) It didn’t mean that athletic ability or interest in Nature, animals, camping, hiking, paddling a canoe, playing tennis or enjoying swimming were terminated – banned as activities that were abnormal for girls. Being “physical” had more to do with health; gym classes were obligatory and included team sports. More emphasis was placed on intelligence as problematic for females: no man would tolerate higher intellectual abilities in a wife. A girl or woman couldn’t merely “become stupid” – obviously, without destroying her brain; therefore, she mustn’t be smart in public.
I’m a female Homo sapiens; I was born with my particular and specific brain: no one can remove my brain, or deny me the use of my brain, on the grounds that in their warped opinion, I somehow got the “wrong brain”!