Serving White Patriarchy, again how autistic social hierarchy blindness makes White autists harm
There's more work to do on this but I hope that this is a start in the conversation. I hope you can think about the way that the autistic flatness of hierarchies obscure us (White people) from understanding how much power is being granted to us. Even though we feel no sense of self value. Regardless of a sense of self, the world attributes us value. I stand up, I walk out the door (sometimes), I’m treated a certain way because of my positively racialized identity. I'm talking about the autists that have jobs, the autists that have roles. I'm talking about those that didn't quite make it, that were underemployed and unemployed. I’m talking about the ones made mad. I don't know who I'm talking about. Maybe I'm talking about you, in which case listen to me and if not tell me another story. But somebody needs to talk about this.
What harm was done and is done by my autist and neurodivergent kin. In particular the ones who were never forced into identification. I come from multiple generations of unidentified neurodivergent people and the normalisation of abusive forms of relating is extra-ordinary, whilst being 'normal'. As I learn more about what I expect in relating, the depths of the problem emerge.
I need to talk about Steve Jobs. I listened to him described in a podcast, and the story seemed to be: autistic person struggling to be made sense of, an outsider, rebel like ‘us’. The story left out the ways in which Steve Jobs' intersectional identity enabled and disabled him. What was his identity, and who to? He was always male, but sometimes a negatively racialized male. He was often articulate, but he also knew what misunderstood alienation was. He seemed educated, does that mean respectable or that he knew things others didn’t know? It depends who is around you, who is seeing you. Think different, he declared. But who gets to live that reality - and how was it living that reality for him?
My father explains that Jobs and his descendant Musk, ‘expected from others only what he’d expect of himself’. And there’s the truth/the rub. My observation is that the autistic lack of ability to use context like hierarchy helps us use privilege for harm. The Whiteness, male privilege, education privilege - any enablement our identity gives us - helps us say that we see everybody as equal. It helps us ignore that nobody is seen as equal through the structures of White Patriarchy and all his sub structures: ableism/racism/heteronormativity/transphobia.
I lived misidentified as female, misidentified as a woman, as mother, daughter and sister. For most of my life, I lived misidentified as neurotypical, a bit weird, too much, intense. I demanded the absolute sovereignty of my own autonomy, I claimed it was operating for you, and you and you. I couldn’t see a series of structures that privileged and enabled me in contrast to my friends, lovers, neighbours and fellow kin. I was trained and manoeuvred into upholding those structures. I wish I could find a way to give you, White Autist, the story of those structures. As if I'd given you the instructions for a new board game. I'm sorry, that's stereotyping.
I have too much experience of expecting the kind of dignity I saw given to my male counterparts of desperately trying to explain how patriarchy was killing me, my sisters, my mothers, my friends, my grandmothers and of it being unheard, dismissed.
And I will have rethought this all by morning.