neurotypical feminism


A couple people reblogged my brief complaint about neurotypical feminism yesterday to say “yes, someone finally described the thing” and a couple other people reblogged it to say “huh, what?” so I thought I’d expand on the thing.

An advice columnist tells a man with crippling social anxiety that an anxiety disorder is nowhere near as bad as being a woman, so “get a fucking grip and do not come to feminist blogs for comfort about this issue.

Some people say “#yesallwomen experience street harassment and fear of men!” A woman says “as a visibly disabled autistic person, I’m desexualized and treated like a genderless unperson. and, no, I don’t experience street harassment and I’m not hit on.” Another woman says “as someone who was abused by women, I feel much more comfortable around men than around women. Women scare me. Men don’t.”  They are ignored, or yelled at for derailing.

Making fun of men for dressing badly, struggling with hygiene and being socially awkward is okay, even though disabled women who struggle with the same things keep on saying “when you joke that way about disabled men, I feel unsafe.”

An autistic woman talks about how her disability gives her some strengths in her field and a perspective on it that isn’t represented in sexism in STEM conversations. She argues that listening to autistic women in tech might make us better at fixing the gender gap. A bunch of people explain to her that she is femmephobic and has internalized misogyny and just wants to say “I’ve got mine, so screw you”. 

I feel like these have a thing in common. That thing is winning political points with the suggestion that your opponents are disabled, as if that’s good for women. That thing is dismissal, erasure and contempt directed at any women whose experiences don’t fit the narratives, experiences that are specifically often not shared by disabled and non-NT women. That thing is an insistence that the harms to disabled and non-NT people (through advocacy that erases and dismisses them) is negligible compared to the harms done by misogyny to abled NT women, and that complaining about this is therefore itself a form of misogyny. That thing is the repeated insistence that asking feminists to accommodate disabled people and especially people with anxiety or scrupulosity disorders is an unfair and sexist demand for emotional labor. 

If the failure of NT feminism is ignoring anyone whose narrative doesn’t fit, we’d fail just as badly in the opposite direction if we generalized about all disabled and non-NT people. And I’m sure there are some who are reading this post and going “no, haven’t noticed that”, and their experiences are real and valid too. But there are quite a few disabled and non-NT people whose experience of sexism is strongly shaped by their neurotype. And many are not comfortable in a space where “haha does your mom do your laundry” and “don’t use your crippling social anxiety as an excuse, it’s not that bad” are common. Or where womanhood is defined and fought for as a collection of experiences that we don’t share.