I used to work with someone who was a jerk. Not a sexual harasser, just a garden-variety not-very-nice jerk.
People would occasionally say, "I think maybe he's mildly autistic," I think because he was a geek and a CS person and so on.
But... the thing is, he was always polite to the CEO. He was always perfectly socially acceptable to his boss. He was perfectly fine in situations where it would have been bad for him to be a jerk. He saved it for when there were no real repercussions.
He clearly had a perfectly good grasp of social dynamics and niceties, and was using them to his own advantage—it just happened to be that he wanted to use them to be a jerk.
I'm not participating over there so thanks for doing so; I encountered atrocious victim-blaming in the first 100 or so comments I read and had to stop. I'm really anxious this week and that had me triggery too quickly. I guess I just don't have the spoons right now. :(
I'm glad you're on this. In my experience, people with ASD are the last ones you have to worry about in terms of sexual harassment, sexual assault, etc. Will they corner you and bore you absolutely to death with a long monotone conversation about something you don't care about and not take any hints that you want to talk about something else? Yeah, they might do that. There are worse sins.
And neurotypical people totally do it to me too. Just about different topics.
Oooer. You know the face I'm making right now.
My son is ASD. I'm working on my own response to this, which will likely be a separate post.
Also, what kind of bullshit excuse is it to say, "Oh I know that guy makes everyone unhappy because he doesn't know any better, so I just stand around and watch it happen over and over and over."
I haven't had time to read the comments over at Jim's blog today (nor do I think I have to head space to do so right now), so thanks for this.
I don't know who I want to club more: the people saying this, or myself, because I as SO SICK of people excusing everything from a social faux pas to egregious behavior as "possibly ASD." ASD is not an excuse, people--it's a neurological/medical condition. And no, just because some of the people in fandom/work/the park are geeky, or awkward, or inept, it does not immediately mean they are ASD, or have "ASD tendencies" (is that like "almost pregnant"?), or whatever people want to call it. It means they are geeks, or awkward, or inept (or worse).
My youngest son is ASD. Believe me, there are days I wish, for his sake, he was simply geeky or confused or inept--it would make his life SO MUCH easier. Geeks don't need therapy to learn how to sit still, or not endlessly repeat everything they hear, or spin in circles, or lose it for twenty minutes over the fact that we are out of chocolate milk. But he's not just a geek: he has autism. And that's a daily struggle. It's not something you turn on and off at a con, not something you "manage" only around certain people at work, not something you have control over, and *not something you use an excuse for poor behavior.* It is something you struggle with, something that influences everything you do, every interaction you have, every person around you. It is who you are.
But it is not a fucking write-off for assholes and arm-chair apologists who don't have a clue.
GAAA!!!! Gods, but this pisses me off!
The (autistic and otherwise special-ed) students I've worked with sometimes become inappropriate for various reasons.
"No thank you," "We don't do that," "That's inappropriate," and "(other student), get a teacher NOW," are all valid responses. Letting it slide? Not so much.
If you can consistently do it to your secretary and not your boss, you know better than to do it at all. For many, many values of 'it'.
Wow. Yes, absolutely this. Dude.
The stupid and/or wilfully misinformed, it burns.
Also: "I hope I don't have to strangle anybody with their own intestines, because I really don't have the energy" has been the story of my week.
just fyi, if you need someone to strangle people with their own intestines, you can pencil me in as your DH.
I always do. You are the Big Papi of my intestine-strangling lineup.
Well and wisely observed, and said.
Yah. Assholery != lacking social skills/autism. I mean, sure, sometimes lacking social skills leads to hurt feelings. But generally assholes are being assholes deliberately, because they have determined/decided that they can get away with it. Which is, as you note, using social skills fairly precisely. Just not in a way which most of us deem socially acceptable.
And it's the interests of said assholes to try and blur that line as much as possible, to the detriment of those who *actually* lack social skills or are autistic or whatever. Basically using them as cover. And that's not okay.
The number of things that get used as cover in this situation really upsets me.
2010-11-04 08:24 pm (UTC)
I am SO glad
That I didn't get far enough in the comments to see this. My baby doesn't need the spike in my blood pressure.
Because, really? This particular editor knows *exactly* what he's doing, as you so eloquently point out he is using his social skills very precisely. And there are so many kinds of wrong with saying that it might be Asberger's (even if I didn't know the individual involved) that it blows my mind.
Also, some thoughts about Eureka and Allison Blake's son have floated in my head, too.
I get very fed up with people equating lousy social skills or (much worse and what this sounds like) predatory social skills with legitmate special needs like autism or developmental delays. I also know some very lovely people with those diagnoses and I find it very offensive to group them with jerks and sexual predators.
2010-11-04 08:26 pm (UTC)
Yep, differentially exhibiting the bad behavior is extremely diagnostic.
It also seems like a good narrative; most people will understand that.
I was mute until I was 4. I was diagnosed autistic (before they had more refined diagnoses). I have have the social skills of a slightly buzzed, overworked clown.
And none of that would justify sexual harassment. If someone is adult, living in society, and that person breaks the laws of that society, then they broke the laws. We may show mercy in the punishment, but the judgment stands.
And cornering someone to make sexual comments about them in a business environment is sexual harassment. If the person(s) mrissa is discussing did that, then being on the autism spectrum *would not change the fact that sexual harassment occurred*. It would only possibly impact the punishment received.
...being on the autism spectrum *would not change the fact that sexual harassment occurred*
Yeah, that's a really good point.
I'm Kari, btw: we've met briefly on others' ljs. I followed a link to your wonderful post.
I've been on the receiving end of a lot of harassment over the years and the harassers have sometimes tried to play the 'poor little dysfunctional aspergers' me' card to excuse themselves. It doesn't work, not one bit: these guys may have problems, yes, but not on the ASD scale. Indeed, to a man, they have been manipulative and sneaky and all too aware of how to find and push buttons to get what they want. They get very short shrift indeed from me these days for trying the ASD label: it's abusive to those who genuinely have the condition.
Hi, Kari! I do recognize you from elsewhere, and you're always welcome here.
I've been ranting to Zak about this exact thing the past few days...
Words for the wrong, they are good.
2010-11-05 01:42 am (UTC)
And then there's what a colleague refers to as "Geek Asperger's," when people self-diagnose. "And they don't have Asperger's," my colleague added. "They're just assholes."