eurydicebound: (Default)
From Captain Awkward, a post put in response to a letter on creeping and rape culture:

"The extra fun thing is that being a woman with AS can make you particularly vulnerable to sexual harrassment, too! Both because there is no allowance made for women struggling with interpreting social cues correctly – in fact, a lot of the shit women get is predicated on that kind of thing: let us contemplate how the entire “what did you think would happen if you [went home with a guy/invited him to your room/smiled at him/wore a skirt/etc. etc.]” line of reasoning works out for Aspies, hm? – but also because those nice other aspects of AS that hardly ever get talked about can play into things. Things like sensory sensitivities and difficulty dealing with unexpected happenings and certain verbal issues that can crop up. Ex: getting groped unexpectedly is never fun, but if you’re super-sensitive to touch it can send you into sensory overload and that’s… bad. Overload is kind of an unpleasant state to be in! You might not be able to communicate anymore! You might not have enough cognitive processing left to figure out how to get away safely! It might be a state in which you really, really shouldn’t be around a boundary-disrespecting predator!

Or if you have difficulty switching gears when something unexpected happens having a random guy start harrassing you when you’re minding your own business can have unfortunate consequences! I once ended up with my ability to understand spoken language going away for a bit when I was stressed in a strange city and a guy approached me in the street and started hitting on me (I mean, I think he was – I caught “you’re beautiful” before my auditory processing cut out and then everything was just noise). NOT SAFE. Luckily for me he left when I kept repeating “I’m sorry, I can’t understand what you’re saying” and my hearing came back after a time and I managed to get home okay. I’m also lucky in that my brain didn’t just go into emergency mode, which means smiling and nodding and agreeing to everything until I manage to figure out where I am, who this other person is, what they are saying, what I am saying, and what exactly I should be thinking about this situation. Because it kind of likes to do that when I’m bowled over by Unexpected Conversation. This is also Not Safe."

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This is so me. I have been really fortunate in my life regarding sexual situations and predators... but part of why that's been is that I have been incredibly paranoid about going to spaces that are overwhelming or where I'll be around people who might be flirting with me, because I already know I won't see it until I'm uncomfortable and I'm awful at communicating it and getting it to stop once I am. I've had people -- and by people, I mean men -- who backed me up against trees in isolated areas, cornered me, and tried to feel me up after they made sure that the men who would normally help me in those situations were distracted. I've had men flirt with me and get to the point of touching me without me realizing what was going on -- really, I had no clue until there was shoulder rubbing and too much contact. I've had people think that my lack of initial reaction to flirting meant assent, and then I had to try to explain that I didn't mean it when they tried to make out with me -- something no one wants to hear (talk about an awkward situation). I've tried to tell men no and failed because they didn't want to hear it, finally having to seek out nearby friends to act as shields and get me out of situations I could not manage to extricate myself from. I learned that if I am willing to go with a man into a private, isolated setting, I had better be prepared for some sort of sexual encounter -- because unless a guy broadcasts that to me very clearly, I won't necessarily see it coming, especially if I'm feeling overwhelmed or I'm impaired in some way (like say alcohol). If I'm not, I don't let myself get into that situation, period. If my no is not clear, my yes will be -- but that's in part because I work to make sure that anything that's not a yes does not come up at all, lessons learned from past experience.

Some of these guys were completely inappropriate and seriously boundary-crossing. Some of these guys just didn't know me and thought things were okay because I didn't stop them or say anything -- I don't blame anyone for this. How could they have known? But it brings so much back for me to read the above... it's a rather unfortunate reminder. The guy with the tree... he tried to bring me drinks. He didn't realize I didn't drink at the time, and I turned down everything he brought -- but what if I hadn't? And telling people after the fact didn't change anything. I still had to talk to him the next day, had to duck him for the rest of the event, had to plan my way accordingly, had to hope that my partner at the time turned down said guy's girlfriend, who'd been sent to get him out of the way, and didn't want to keep talking to/seeing her, as that meant creeper guy would have access to me. Even after the fact, my partner never spoke to the guy and neither did any of the friends I told. I was on my own to deal with it, preferably without making a scene. And none of it was something I could have handled well on my own. I didn't have the vocabulary or the ability to quickly shift gears, or to deal with being overwhelmed, and still cope.

Not sure why I'm posting this tonight. Just needed to put it somewhere, I guess.
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eurydicebound

March 2013

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