Sunday, August 26, 2012
On Words, Taboos, and Neat Little Boxes
I think, by definition, most people are neurotypical. Haha. There ARE typical people out there. I mean. If there weren’t, we couldn’t have the word.
As a substitute for “normal”? Look, dude. I don’t believe in word taboos. Period. It’s a personal thing, I totally respect the opinions of others, but this is my thing. I’m very anti-word taboo. I don’t have the problem with the word “normal.” I get that people can both use it and interpret it with pretty negative connotations, but, yeah, as others have said, I don’t think you get rid of the connotation by changing the word.
I feel the same way about the “r” word, which I call the “r” word out of a sense of not starting a conflict. It has been classified as a slur, and using slurs in public conversation just comes off as… well, you know, distasteful, and a little disrespectful. I say a little disrespectful because on SOME level, I don’t really think I should curb my language for the SOLE purpose of sparing anyone feelings. It’s nice to spare people’s feelings sometimes, but that can’t be a primary goal, ever. Yeah. I’m also big on, like, discussion, and powerful debate. Words over feelings most of the time! Not always, though.
Yeah. I don’t get into the “r” word thing. I listen to half the people who detest the word argue about how they only hate it because they/their child is “DEFINITELY NOT RETARDED” meaning, you know, don’t think they are mentally impaired! Except. Some people are, and they are people, too, jerks. The other half genuinely dislike pejorative language often used to put people down, and often at other innocent parties’ expense. I totally agree that that’s jacked up. 50 Cent comparing a fan to an autistic person in order to insult them? Yeah, what a dick. That being said, it’s a word. Don’t like it, don’t like how it’s used, let’s TALK about it. And we do. We do. I’m not saying people are all talk and no action. I just think in the grand scheme of things, giving words that much power doesn’t do anyone any good. Furthermore, it aint gonna work, dude. It’s just not. Listen to some of these people. “OMG he dropped the r-bomb! What an idiot!” Cute, let’s bust out the slur that the “r” word replaced back in the 19th century. Jeez. And the cycle goes on and on…
Um. Back to “neurotypical.” In order to segregate people? Cast people as “the other”? Well, yeah, I’m against that. Totally cliché, you know, to say “Aw, it doesn’t matter if you’re autistic or neurotypical, we’re all PEOPLE.” But that’s pretty much how I feel.
No, no, no, I do TRULY understand that there are things I just do not understand about being autistic. There are SOME things that I wouldn’t even understand about being autistic even if I really WERE! Just by not identifying as autistic, I miss out on a lot of stigma and really lame assumptions people make that could affect one negatively. That being said, I don’t believe in special classes of people, and I don’t believe one opinion should be ALWAYS valued less than another, all other things equal. I don’t buy that any random autist out there is more equipped to understand my child than I am- and not because of any romantic notions I hold about parenthood, either. I KNOW that parents often don’t even KINDA “get” their kids- I’m a daughter, after all. But I understand my son’s aversion to eye contact. John Elder Robison had nothing to tell me about the subject that I didn’t already know. I TOTALLY get my son’s apprehension with new people, yet overwhelming and almost too personal relatability once he gets to know someone. I really REALLY get that a sound that is completely innocuous to others can be fucking unbearable to me—although I DON’T think I understand what constant sensory disruption or sensitivity can be like. You know? We’re all individuals.
I don’t necessarily hate labels and I don’t dismiss the importance of group identity, I just think these things can lead to oversimplification very quickly.