Category Archives: Social Issues

Autism Acceptance Month: Links

a rainbow dragon coiled around itself in pounce-position, looking as though it's about to take off.
Image Description: a rainbow dragon coiled around itself in pounce-position, looking as though it’s about to take off.

Just a short Link-post today about Autism Acceptance Month. You might be expecting me to explain what Autism Acceptance Month and #LightItUpRed or #RedInstead is about, however, I figured it would be better for those explanations to come directly from Autistic people instead of myself, so check out the links below. If you’d like me to add more links of Autistic Creators (Authors, Bloggers, Youtube Video Creators), let me know in the comments section below and I’m make sure to add their link to the post.

Links:

~ASAN: Australia and New Zealand

~Autistic Self Advocacy Network: Sharon Lewis Statement for Autism Acceptance Month (Youtube Video)

~L.C. Mawson: #RedInstead (Youtube Video)

~Stream of Awareness: Youtube Channel

~Tiffany Grey: Youtube Channel

~Neurowonderful: Ask an Autistic #22 – Why Acceptance? Autism Acceptance Month (Youtube Video)

~Neurowonderful: Ask an Autistic #1 – What is Stimming? (Youtube Video)

~A Bit of Brave: Autistic Stimming (Youtube Video) (Warnings: Flashing, Moving Images, Moving, Rapid Transitions, Coloured Lights)

~Baby Robot: Harmful Stims (Youtube Video) (Warnings: use of snap-chat filters, moving images)

~Baby Robot: The Joy of Stimming (Youtube Video) (Warnings: use of snap-chat filters, moving images)

~The Introverted Matriarch: Chronic Pain and Autism

~Megan Rhiannon: My Autism Diagnosis Story – TW self harm + suicide mentions (Blog-post)

~So Much Stranger, So Much Darker, So Much Madder, So Much Better: Autism A-Z: A is for Acceptance (Blog-post)

~Autism Doesn’t Make Me Blue: How to Support Autistic People This April by Nova Mona (Article)

~April Is Autism Acceptance Month By Laura Jo (Article)

The Things We Don’t Talk About – Part 2

The difference between rape and sex

TRIGGER WARNING: This blog post will be discussing the following: Rape, Rape Culture, Sexual Assault and Child Molestation.

Before we begin, I recommend anyone reading this post read the following:

Raped On The Battlefield: What Male Veteran Survivors Know By Robert Evans

Why I Kept My Rape By A Priest A Secret (And Can’t Anymore) By Robert Evans\

5 Reasons Why Non-Traditional Rape Narratives Are Important by Sian Ferguson

The Things We Don’t Talk About is going to be a series of blog-posts I’m going to be writing with the primary focus of Rape Culture and Sexual Assault/Sexual Abuse Experiences, I will also be discussing my own experiences with Rape Culture, Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault. While Part 1 discussed some Rape Culture Myths and Facts, I want this post to focus on Rape Culture Myths involving the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community and GSRM (Gender, Sexual and Romantic Minorities) community. Despite the that being apart of the GSRM (Gender Sexual and Romantic Minorities) community has become “trendy”, the Narrative for Rape and Sexual Assault has resisted change and the dominate Rape Culture Narrative is still “Cis-gender Male Perpetrator/Cis-gender Female Victim”.

Dr Patricia Weiser Easteal, who is a Professor of Law at the University of Canberra (which is the capital of Australian and where Federal Parliament resides and where they make Federal Laws) is considered a leading expert. Dr Patricia Weiser Easteal has written 12 distinct works involving Rape Culture (in Australia and in other countries like Japan) and the Australian Legal System (which is based on the Westminster System), however if a supposedly “leading expert” is still using the “Cis-Male Perpetrator/Cis-Female Victim” Rape Culture Narrative, there’s a serious problem and this needs to stop. A victim/survivor can be anyone of any age, of any ethnic background, of any gender or no gender at all.

Even though I was sexually assaulted/molested by two males, this specific Rape Culture Narrative (one that usually involves penetration, which doesn’t always happen) and essentially implies that an act of rape and/or sexual assault is only a “legitimate case” of rape and/or sexual assault if it contains one or two very narrow and possibly irrelevant qualifiers. But the truth remains that Rape is Rape and it doesn’t require qualifiers. There is no such thing as “a legitimate case of rape” or “a legitimate case of sexual assault” because ALL incidents of rape and/or sexual assault are legitimate.

If a person feels cohered, pressured or threatened (indirectly or directly) into having sex with someone else, then it is Rape and/or Sexual Assault. It doesn’t matter if a person experienced an orgasm, it doesn’t matter if they made their Rapist breakfast the next morning, if a victim/survivor feels violated by the experience, if a victim/survivor feels that what they wanted or needed wasn’t respected, if they felt they couldn’t say no (Silence Is NOT Yes), then it is Rape and/or Sexual Assault.

The “Cis-Male Perpetrator/Cis-Female Victim” Rape Culture Narrative doesn’t just hurt people, it kills people, it doesn’t just exclude myself from the conversation, it excludes the LGBT and GSRM communities from the conversation as well. According to Human Rights Campaign and their article Sexual Assault and the LGBTQ Community:

As a community, LGBTQ people face higher rates of poverty, stigma, and marginalization, which put us at greater risk for sexual assault. We also face higher rates of hate-motivated violence, which can often take the form of sexual assault. Moreover, the ways in which society both hypersexualizes LGBTQ people and stigmatizes our relationships can lead to intimate partner violence that stems from internalized homophobia and shame.

Yet, as a community, we rarely talk about how sexual violence affects us or what our community’s unique needs are when it comes to preventing sexual assault and supporting and caring for survivors of sexual violence.

The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found for LGB people:

44 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 35 percent of heterosexual women

26 percent of gay men and 37 percent of bisexual men experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, compared to 29 percent of heterosexual men

46 percent of bisexual women have been raped, compared to 17 percent of heterosexual women and 13 percent of lesbians

22 percent of bisexual women have been raped by an intimate partner, compared to 9 percent of heterosexual women

40 percent of gay men and 47 percent of bisexual men have experienced sexual violence other than rape, compared to 21 percent of heterosexual men

Within the LGBTQ community, transgender people and bisexual women face the most alarming rates of sexual violence. Among both of these populations, sexual violence begins early, often during childhood.

Among transgender racial minorities, 24 percent of transgender American Indians, 18 percent of transgender people who identified as multiracial, 17 percent of transgender Asians, and 15 percent of Black transgender respondents experienced sexual assault in K-12 education settings – much higher rates than students of other races. Transgender women respondents experienced sexual assault more often than their transgender male peers.

Nearly half (48 percent) of bisexual women who are rape survivors experienced their first rape between ages 11 and 17.

For LGBTQ survivors of sexual assault, their identities – and the discrimination they face surrounding those identities – often make them hesitant to seek help from police, hospitals, shelters or rape crisis centers, the very resources that are supposed to help them.

85 percent of victim advocates surveyed by the NCAVP reported having worked with an LGBTQ survivor who was denied services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that among those transgender respondents who had interacted with police 6 percent had been physically assaulted and 2 percent had been sexually assaulted by police. Among black transgender people, 15 percent reported physical assault and 7 percent reported sexual assault by police. Additionally, 22 percent of those transgender people who had attempted to access shelters reported being sexually assaulted by either another person in the shelter or by shelter staff.

However, this is all highly centered on the LGBT and GSRM communities in the United States of America, what about the the LGBT and GSRM communities in Australia? Well, I have statistics regarding the LGBT and GSRM communities in Australia as well. According to Australian Human Rights Commission article Face the facts: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People:
Face the facts

However for those who aren’t visually-orientated or find that difficult to read:

On 1 August 2013, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 was amended to make discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status against the law. Despite this important step forward, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people in Australia still experience discrimination, harassment and hostility in many parts of everyday life; in public, at work and study, accessing health and other services and securing proper recognition of their sex in official documents.

About LGBTI people
Australians of diverse sexual orientation, sex or gender identity may account for up to 11 per cent of the Australian population.

The reported number of same-sex couples has more than tripled between 1996 and 2011.

In 2011, there were around 6,300 children living in same-sex couple families, up from 3,400 in 2001. Most of these children (89 per cent) are in female same-sex couple families.

Intersex people are people born with physical, hormonal or genetic features that are neither wholly female nor wholly male, or a combination of female and male, or neither female nor male. As with the general population, people with intersex variations have a broad range of gender identities and sexual orientations. There are no firm figures for Australia’s intersex population. Estimates range from one in 2,000 births to four per cent of the population however the Organisation Intersex International Australia (OII Australia) recommends a mid-range figure of 1.7 per cent of all births.

Key issues for LGBTI people
A large number of LGBTI people hide their sexuality or gender identity when accessing services (34 per cent), at social and community events (42 per cent) and at work (39 per cent). Young people aged 16 to 24 years are most likely to hide their sexuality or gender identity.

LGBTI young people report experiencing verbal homophobic abuse (61 per cent), physical homophobic abuse (18 per cent) and other types of homophobia (9 per cent), including cyberbullying, graffiti, social exclusion and humiliation.

80 per cent of homophobic bullying involving LGBTI young people occurs at school and has a profound impact on their well-being and education.

Transgender males and females experience significantly higher rates of non-physical and physical abuse compared with lesbians and gay men.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are three times more likely to experience depression compared to the broader population.

Around 61 per cent of same-sex attracted and gender-questioning young people said they experienced verbal abuse because of their sexuality, while 18 per cent reported experiencing physical abuse. Young men (70 per cent) and gender-questioning young people (66 per cent) were more likely than young women (53 per cent) to experience verbal abuse.

Positive developments
LGBTI young people at schools where protective policies are in place are more likely to feel safe compared with those in schools without similar policies (75 per cent compared with 45 per cent). They are almost 50 per cent less likely to be physically abused at school, less likely to suffer other forms of homophobic abuse, less likely to self-harm and less likely to attempt suicide.

People in same-sex couples tend to be more highly educated, more likely to work in highly skilled occupations (53 per cent compared with 43 per cent) and more likely to have higher incomes.

On measures of general health and family cohesion, children aged 5 to 17 years with same-sex attracted parents had significantly better scores when compared to Australian children from all other backgrounds and family contexts. For all other health measures, there were no statistically significant differences.

Did you know?
Almost half of all gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people hide their sexual orientation or gender identity in public for fear of violence or discrimination.

There’s also this report, the Intimate partner violence in lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer communities report written by Monica Campo and Sarah Tayton

Prevalence
There is little population-wide data available on the prevalence of intimate partner violence in LGBTIQ communities. Large-scale surveys such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey (2013) do not collect data on LGBTIQ identity, and the Australian component of the International Violence against Women Survey (Mouzos & Makkai, 2004) focused on male violence against women. Further, there are methodological issues with existing studies. For example, most studies use convenience samples, raising questions about how representative the figures are (Tayton et al 2014; Calton et al., 2015; Edwards, Sylaska, & Neal, et al 2015; Tayton et al., 2014). As Edwards and colleagues (2015) highlighted, discrepancies in how intimate partner violence is defined; whether studies assess lifetime violence/current relationship/previous year; and whether measurement scales were used or not, mean there are often large inconsistencies between studies.

Further, as described above, there is a lack of recognition of intimate partner violence within gender diverse or same-sex relationships and under-reporting of intimate partner violence in general (Donovan & Hester, 2010; Leonard, Mitchell, Patel & Fox, 2008). Discrimination, stigma and non-recognition of same-sex or other gender diverse relationships further present barriers to the collection of statistical and demographic data and thus obscure the realities of intimate partner violence in LGBTIQ communities (Lorenzetti et al., 2015).

The Australian Research Centre for Health and Sexuality (ARCHS) conducted a national demographic and health and wellbeing survey of 5,476 LGBTIQ people (Pitts, Smith, Mitchell, & Patel, 2006) and found significant levels of intimate partner violence:
41% of male-identifying respondents, and 28% of female-identifying respondents had experienced physical violence within a same-sex intimate relationship; and

25% of respondents had experienced sexual assault within a same-sex intimate relationship (with women-identifying and trans respondents more likely to experience sexual assault).

A smaller study of 390 LGBTIQ respondents in Victoria, also conducted by ARCHS (Leonard et al., 2008) found that that just under a third had been involved in a same-sex relationship where they were subject to abuse by their partner:
78% of the abuse was psychological and 58% involved physical abuse;

Lesbian women were more likely than gay men to report having been in an abusive same-sex relationship (41% and 28% respectively); and

26% of respondents had experienced sexual assault within a same-sex relationship (Leonard et al., 2008).

This research, in addition to international data (e.g., see Donovan, Hester, Holmes, & McCarry, 2006; Edwards et al., 2015; Lorenzetti et al., 2015), suggests that intimate partner violence occurs in LGBTIQ populations at similar levels as within the heterosexual population.

LGBTIQ children and young people’s experiences

Though this paper focuses predominately on intimate partner violence in adult relationships, it is important to note that LGBTIQ people may face abuse and violence across the lifespan as a result of their gender or sexual identity, including from within their own families. A national survey of LGBTIQ young people aged 14 to 21 years (Hillier Jones et al., 2010), for example, found that significant rates of young people had experienced abuse with:
61% of young people reporting verbal abuse as a result of their gender identity or sexuality;

18% reporting physical abuse as a result of their gender identity or sexuality;

80% reporting the abuse occurred at school; and

24% reporting they had experienced verbal and physical abuse in the family home.

For the young people who reported abuse in the family home, the abuser was most likely to be a parent and more likely to be their father than their mother.

Now, it might not be obvious, but it is my strong opinion that Bullying (especially bullying at school), Domestic Violence, Rape and/or Sexual Assault and Rape Culture are all links in an interconnected chain of suffering. One link leads to another. When you, as a parent, tell your sons “Boys will be Boys” or “Be A Man”, you are normalizing bullying behaviour and domestic violence in boys. When you, as a parent, tell your daughters “he only does that because he likes you”, you normalize bullying behaviour and domestic violence, you teach your daughters that their consent doesn’t matter and that how they feel doesn’t matter.

If your daughter has the courage to come and tell you that they may identify as a Bisexual, or a Lesbian, or Queer and you’re response is, “it’s just a phase” or “it’s just hormones”, you are telling your child you cannot be trusted to have a conversation were their needs and rights are being respected. If you don’t talk to you child or spawn about the possibility of them or the people they know (or might know in future) of being a member of the LGBT community or the GSRM community, you create a vacuum of silence and ignorance and silence and ignorance lead to abuse.

My parents constantly warned me of the dangers of people I didn’t know, but it never occurred to them that I could be molested by people they knew or to tell me what those specific dangers were or how to recognize a toxic relationship, what is consent? I was molested and sexually abused because I was ignorant of what consent was and what consent entailed, I didn’t know how to object because I didn’t know how to object, I was uninformed of my rights and I didn’t realise how things are “supposed” to be between people of different age groups.

Everyone has the right to be safe in their own home and inside of a classroom.

I’m not really sure how to end this post, I’ve been working on this post for a few days and I honestly don’t know what else I can say, however I wanted to apologize in advance if I’ve excluded anyone from this post or the previous one. If my words offended or hurt anyone, I’m sorry if that happened, that was not my intention and I will work harder on trying to be more inclusive. Especially since this is such a draining topic for me to write about. This isn’t cathartic for me, or at least not yet, I have to force myself to write these posts, because these posts scare me, however I feel this burning pressure inside of me to do so, to keep writing about this (even though it hurts me). My fear of inaction is stronger than the fear of a reaction. Despite the reassurances of my awesome friend, I do not feel brave or kick-arse when I write this, mostly because I do not feel as though I’m really adding anything to the conversation that hasn’t been said before or perhaps has been said before but better by someone else.

However, I was reading Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson and she said that when she wrote her previous book Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (which is where she talks about her struggles with Depression, Anxiety, ADD and Mental Illness as a multi-layered complicated aspect of her life), she said that by talking about her struggles with Depression gave her father “permission” to come forward and talk about his personal struggles with Mental Illness as well. So, to be honest, while apart of me knows I have to write this post because this is a conversation that needs to happen and is too often dismissed or silenced, I feel as though giving permission to talk about Rape and/or Sexual Assault and Rape Culture isn’t enough, I feel as though I should be doing more, but I don’t know what that is just yet.

Links:
~RAPE PREVENTION: COMBATTING THE MYTHS by Dr Patricia Weiser Easteal

~What is Rape Culture? by Women Against Violence Against Women Rape Crisis Centre

~RAINN – The Criminal Justice System: Statistics

~Sexual Assault in the LGBT Community By Lauren Paulk

~Transgender Victoria – this is a service and community centre for transgender and gender diverse people in Victoria, Australia

~The Zoe Belle Gender Centre – a not-for-profit service centre for transgender and genderqueer Victorians.

~Genderqueer Australia – Information and networking for non-binary/genderqueer Australians

~Anxiety Recovery Centre Victoria (ARCV) – Anxiety Recovery Centre Victoria run a separate peer support group for transgender people in Melbourne

~Genderfork – an online community for the expression of identities across the gender spectrum.

~Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria

~Another Closet: Domestic & Family Violence and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer People (LGBTIQ)

~Is Your Service GLBT Friendly?

~Service Guideline for Gender Sensitivity and Safety

~Sexual violence and gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, intersex, and queer communities by Bianca Fileborn

~Glossary of best practice terms from Teaching Tolerance

~Community Action Tool Kit for Addressing Intimate Partner Violence against Transgender people

~What is the legal process for rape cases in Australia?

~A rape victim’s story: Six months of assaults, five years in court

~Sexual assault: What action is being taken?

~Sexual assault: How common is it in Australia?

~When women rape by Andy Park

~5 Reasons Why Non-Traditional Rape Narratives Are Important by Sian Ferguson

~CASA Forum – Centres Against Sexual Assault Fact Sheet

~Let’s Talk About It! A Transgender Survivor’s Guide to Accessing Therapy

~30+ Examples of Cisgender Privilege

~5+ Ways to Make Our World More Transgender-Friendly

~Bennett, Theodore — “No Man’s Land’: Non-binary Sex Identification in Australian Law and Policy” [2014]

~Overland: Transgender justice By Eliora Avraham

~25 Everyday Examples of Rape Culture by Shannon Ridgway

~3 Ways My Parents Unintentionally Taught Me That My Consent Didn’t Matter by Anonymous

~4 Things We’re Not Saying When We Say ‘Rape Culture’ by Maisha Z. Johnson

~4 Ways the ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ Attitude Harms the Men in Our Lives by Rachel Brandt

~These 14 Women Were Brutally Attacked for Rejecting Men — Why Aren’t We Talking About It? By Jenny Kutner

~Hare Psychopathy Checklist

~51 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

~50 Characteristics of Healthy Relationships

~23 Warning Signs of a Toxic Friend

~When You Realize a Relationship Is Toxic and It Needs to End

~A Cool Recovery Tool: It Helps You Act/Not React In A Toxic Relationship

~Giving up alcohol opened my eyes to the infuriating truth about why women drink

~These Black Artists Made T-Shirts to Remember Women Lost to Violence By Jamilah King

~Stop Telling Women To Smile

The Things We Don’t Talk About – Part 1

rape culture

TRIGGER WARNING: This blog post will be discussing the following: Rape, Rape Culture, Sexual Assault and Child Molestation.

The Things We Don’t Talk About is going to be a series of blog-posts I’m going to be writing with the primary focus of Rape Culture and Sexual Assault/Sexual Abuse Experiences, I will also be discussing my own experiences with Rape Culture, Sexual Abuse and Sexual Assault. Now, I have obtained the bulk of these Rape Culture Myths and Facts from The Blue Bench, however as the site is mostly orientated towards rape and sexual assault statistics in the United States of America, I’ll also be adding relevant Australian orientated information to the Myths and Facts.

The Blue Bench – What Is Sexual Assault?
Myths & Facts
There are many myths about sexual assault that are both commonly accepted and continuously perpetuated in today’s society. These myths and beliefs place blame on victims while minimizing the responsibility of the offender and the seriousness of the crime. As a result, victims of sexual assault are often left feeling isolated and ashamed without the support they need to begin to heal.

Understanding the facts and dispelling the myths surrounding sexual assault is crucial to ensuring that victims are treated with respect and receive the support and services they need.
MYTH: Sexual assault is often the result of miscommunication or a mistake.
FACT: Sexual assault is a crime, never simply a mistake. It does not occur due to a miscommunication between two people. Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact obtained without consent through the use of force, threat of force, intimidation, or coercion.

MYTH: Sexual assault won’t happen to me or to anyone I know.
FACT: Men, women and children of all ages, races, religions, and economic classes, and can be and have been, victims of sexual assault. Sexual assault occurs in rural areas, small towns and larger cities. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, a rape or attempted rape occurs every 5 minutes in the United States.

BR KYLE: According to the Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, “Anyone can experience sexual assault. 1 in 5 women in Australia will experience sexual assault at some time in their life. 7% of all people who experience sexual assault are adult men. While age is no barrier to experiencing sexual assault, women aged 15 to 24 years are most at risk.”

MYTH: Sexual assault is provoked by the victim’s actions, behaviors, or by the way they dress.
FACT: Sexual assault is NEVER the victim’s fault. Sexual assault is a violent attack on an individual, not a spontaneous crime of sexual passion. For a victim, it is a humiliating and degrading act. No one “asks” for or caused their assailant to commit a crime against them.

BR KYLE: According to the Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, “If you have money in your pocket does that mean you want to be robbed? Research shows that sexual assault is not caused by the look or behaviour of the victim.” I also think the following two pictures illustrate my point perfectly:
Still-Not-Asking-for-it
Slut Walk Picture

MYTH: Most sexual assaults occur between strangers.
FACT: Most sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows: a neighbor, friend, acquaintance, co-worker, classmate, spouse, partner or ex-partner. Studies show that approximately 80% of women reporting sexual assaults knew their assailant.

BR KYLE: According to the Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, “Most know their attackers. In 70% of sexual assaults the offender is a family member, friend, work or school colleague. Of the remainder, the offender is usually someone the person meets socially or dates.”

In my own personal experiences of sexual abuse, I also knew all three people who sexually assaulted me, I went to primary school with one of them and we were often put in the same grade (so I was sometimes forced to interact with him everyday for a long period of time), so did my parents.

My parents were friends with a family through a church group, lets call them the Papa Family, they had a daughter (two years older than me), one son who was a year older than I and one son that was two years younger than me. I shall refer to the two members of the Papa Family as Charlie (daughter) and Mike (son).

Charlie and Mike sexually assaulted me and cohered me into sexual activities repeatedly, over an extended period of time, on separate occasions (they didn’t sexually abuse me at the same time is what I’m trying to clarify).

The other person who sexually abused me was Adrian (this is his real name, he’s dead now, so I can say what I like), an older man who was in his fifties, he was also a member of the church group my parents attended. While Adrian was a high functioning alcoholic for most of his life, he had joined the church group in a bid to obtain the help and support he needed (I never once met a member of his immediate family).

Both my parents knew this man, my father and him were close friends due to a mutual interest in carpentry, my mother had taken care of Adrian when he had become very seriously ill with pneumonia, they had known Adrian for years before he molested me, there was no reason to suspect him and therefore my parents had no problems with me and my younger sister spending long hours alone with him.

MYTH: Sexual assaults only occur in dark alleys and isolated areas.
FACT: A sexual assault can happen anywhere and at any time. The majority of assaults occur in places ordinarily thought to be safe, such as homes, cars and offices.

BR KYLE: According to the Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, “Most sexual assaults occur in the victim’s or perpetrator’s home, car or workplace. Sexual assault by a stranger accounts for less than 1% of sexual violence and an attack by a stranger in a dark place is even less common.”

In my personal experience, When Charlie (daughter) and Mike (son) sexually assaulted me or cohered me into sexual activities, these occurred in the Papa family’s residential home (usually via sleep overs but sometimes during the day, the key factor was witnesses not time). I believe the parents still live there, but I’m uncertain.

When Adrian molested me, we were at the Eltham Leisure Center, a swimming pool (with extra stuff like a spa and sauna), what I want to point out that it was a public space (with people constantly fluttering in and out) and it was in broad-daylight.

MYTH: Women falsely accuse men of sexual assault or “cry rape.”
FACT: Reported sexual assaults are true, with very few exceptions. FBI crime statistics indicate that only 2% of reported rapes are false. This is the same rate of false reporting as other major crime reports.

MYTH: Men don’t get sexually assaulted.
FACT: Men can be, and are, sexually assaulted. In Colorado one in seventeen men are sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Sexual assault of men is thought to be greatly under-reported. Any man can be sexually assaulted regardless of size, strength, sexual orientation, or appearance.

BR KYLE: According to the Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, “Yes, they do.”

MYTH: Most sexual assaults are interracial.
FACT: Almost all sexual assaults occur between members of the same race. Interracial rape is not common, but it does occur.

BR KYLE: In my own personal experience, all three of my abusers were white.

MYTH: People who commit sexual assaults are mentally ill, abnormal perverts.
FACT: Sexual offenders come from all educational, occupational, racial and cultural backgrounds. They are “ordinary” and “normal” individuals who sexually assault victims to assert power and control over them and inflict violence, humiliation and degradation.

BR KYLE: According to the Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, “Sex offenders look perfectly normal. They come from every class, profession, age and culture. They are not confined to any particular group or activity. They are usually ‘nice’ and social. This is how they establish trust and are then able to manipulate the person into a location where they can commit their act without interruption or witnesses.”

In my own experience, the sexual assault events took place when Charlie, Mike and I were all children. If you saw them in the street, you probably wouldn’t think their were capable of of molesting another child who was roughly the same age. Charlie (daughter) has hand a range of boyfriends and is now married and expecting a child/or has had a child (I don’t know, I try not to have anything to do with Charlie, Mike or their parents). Mike joined the army and I think he’s currently stationed in Darwin? (as I said, I don’t know, I try not to have contact with these people or their parents).

MYTH: Victims who do not fight back have not been sexually assaulted.
FACT: Anytime someone is forced to have sex against their will, they have been sexually assaulted, regardless of whether or not they fought back. There are many reasons why a victim might not physically fight their attacker including shock, fear, threats or the size and strength of the attacker.

BR KYLE: According to “Rape Prevention: Combating The Myths” by Dr Patricia Weiser Easteal, “Studies have shown that in the majority of rapes, the perpetrator does not use force which
results in physical injuries (Green 1987; Weekley 1986). The threat of force and death and the intimidation inherent in gender stratification are sufficient.
In reality, many forms of covert coercion and force may be used in rapeIt is the victim’s fear of the assault and its outcome that render her passive, not compliant, and without consent. Since many victims of rape are also survivors of incest and other sexual abuse they may ‘shut down’ their emotions and bodies at the onset of a rape; they learned this ‘survival’ behaviour as children (LundbergLove & Geffner 1989).
Other women have been socialised not to be aggressive or assertive, and their comparative lack of physical strength may contribute to less of a willingness to fight back. Thus, female passivity is a quite common response to male violence.”.

This is a gendered approach to the situation and that’s super problematic because anyone can be raped. I couldn’t find a lot of Australian information or statistics on this particular topic, if anyone finds stats and/or information regarding this and wants to send me a link, please do so via the comments and I’ll add it.

Now, in my own experiences, not one of my abusers threatened me with physical violence, they verbally and emotionally threatened me should I try to expose them (golden child vs social pariah dichotomy is very popular amongst sexual predators, especially Priests within the Catholic Church). Adrian also made threats towards molesting my sister (apparently this is also common tactic amongst sexual predators) in order to keep me compliant. They didn’t need to beat me, their words were enough.

MYTH: A rape survivor will be battered, bruised, and hysterical.
FACT: Many rape survivors are not visibly injured. The threat of violence alone is often sufficient cause for a woman to submit to the rapist, to protect herself from physical harm. People react to crisis in different ways. The reaction may range from composure to anxiety, depression, flashbacks, and suicidal feelings.

BR KYLE: According to “Rape Prevention: Combating The Myths” by Dr Patricia Weiser Easteal, “Unfortunately, this myth is still accepted by segments of the criminal justice system. The survivor who does not evidence injuries which she acquired through resistance becomes the incredible victim.
This image is a by-product of the previous myth which mandates physical force as an element of sexual assault. The reality is far different. Almost three-quarters of the victims in a Victorian sexual assault phone-in reported that ‘they felt an overwhelming sense of powerlessness’ (Corbett 1993, p. 136).
In addition, women have often been advised not to resist in order to minimise the likelihood of severe injury or death. Rape is the only criminal act which has required resistance to substantiate that a crime occurred.”

Like the previous statement, this a very gendered approach to the situation and therefore super problematic. I couldn’t find a lot of Australian information or statistics on this particular topic, if anyone finds stats and/or information regarding this and wants to send me a link, please do so via the comments and I’ll add it.

MYTH: “If you wouldn’t have been drinking, you wouldn’t have been sexually assaulted.”
FACT: Alcohol is a weapon that some perpetrators use to control their victim and render them helpless. As part of their plan, an assailant may encourage the victim to use alcohol, or identify an individual who is already drunk. Alcohol is not a cause of rape; it is only one of many tools that perpetrators use.

BR KYLE: In my own personal experience, when I was sexually assaulted and molested, I was either a child or under the age of sixteen, which would have made it difficult for me to be either drunk or access alcohol and/or drugs, my view is that alcohol and/or drug usage is irrelevant. Anyone can experience rape or sexual assault, regardless of whether or not they have consumed alcohol or drugs. Now, as I was molested by a man over the age of eighteen, Adrian could have bought alcohol on my behalf, this didn’t happen because, as I stated previously, he didn’t need to. I was sober when all of these events occurred. However, I don’t want readers thinking I’m invalidating someone else’s sexual assault or rape experience, if alcohol or drugs were used to assault you or someone you know, that experience is just as valid as mine. There’s more than one narrative.

MYTH: Serial rapists are uncommon.
FACT: Most every perpetrator is a serial rapist, meaning that they choose to use coercion, violence, threats of force, etc., to assault people on a repeated basis.

MYTH: When women say no, they really mean yes.
FACT: Yes means yes! When someone says yes, s/he or they are explicitly giving consent. Silence does not equal consent. It is the responsibility of the person initiating or escalating sexual activity to gain consent at each and every level. If you are ever unclear about your partner’s wishes, ask for clarification. If your partner says no or seems unsure, respect that person and her/his wishes.

BR KYLE: I think these videos says everything that needs to be said on this particular topic:

Also, as a child, I didn’t understand what was going on, what sex was or what even consent was. This is why you need to teach children from an early age about personal boundaries and consent. Most of the time, it did not occur to me to say no, because I didn’t know what was going on in the first place. It was years before I realised the full implications of what had happened (it also took me years to remember again). Adults see sex and consent as interconnected things (or at least they are supposed to), this is not always the case with children.

MYTH: If a person is aroused when he/she or they are assaulted, then it is not really sexual assault.
FACT: Orgasm does not mean that someone “enjoyed” the sex, or that they wanted it. Orgasm can be a natural biological reaction that someone can’t control; it does not mean that forced or coerced sexual activity was consensual and often this is used to silence the survivor.

BR KYLE: According to “Rape Prevention: Combating The Myths” by Dr Patricia Weiser Easteal, “This myth is reinforced by certain stereotypes about male sexuality such as men’s alleged inability to control themselves if they are aroused. These are false images. Rape is not a sexual act. Rape is an act of violence which uses sex as a weapon. Rape is motivated by aggression and by the desire to exert power and humiliate.
Just as wife-battering had to be taken out of the privacy of the home and criminalised in order to effectuate any change, rape must be taken out of the sexual realm and placed where it rightfully belongs in the domain of violence against women. The latter view of rape as a sexual act is perhaps one of the most pervasive, enduring, and damaging myths; damaging since it contributes directly to another misunderstanding about the crime.”

I see where the author is coming from, but just as anyone can be raped, anyone can experience domestic violence. I think we need a more gender neutral approach here. However this is a big topic and I plan to tackle it separately in another blog post. I want it known that the “you came so you must have consented” myth is a complete load of bullshit, no statistics required.

MYTH: The reason that men get raped is because homosexual men are raping them, and lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals rape more or are more likely to be sex offenders than heterosexuals.
FACT: There are no statistics that support the idea that lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered individuals are more likely to commit sexual assault or be sex offenders than heterosexuals. In fact, sex offenders are disproportionately likely to be heterosexual men.

BR KYLE: The fact that this myth even exists deeply offends me and I will be going more into it in another blog post, however I want it known that my high school friend group consisted of mostly straight people with one gay guy and a few bisexual women. None of them ever made me feel uncomfortable in a sexual way, none of them ever tried to force themselves on me or tried to cohere me into doing something sexual that I didn’t want to do. They were my friends and they respected me and I respected them.

MYTH: It is ok to pressure or talk someone into sexual activity.
FACT: No! This falls into the category of coercion. Coercion is a tactic used to intimidate, trick or force someone to have sex with him or her without physical force.

Links:
~Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia – Myths and Facts

~Rape Prevention: Combating The Myths by Dr Patricia Weiser Easteal

~Everyday Victim Blaming – Rape Culture: An Australian’s Perspective

~Everyday Victim Blaming: Blog Resources

~White Ribbon: Ten common myths and misconceptions

~Frothy Dragon and the Patriarchal Stone: #IBelieveHer Rape Myths 101: AKA Not My Nigel! *Trigger Warning*

~The Hunting Ground: Is there a rape culture on our campuses?

~5 Bizarre Realities of Being a Man Who Was Raped by a Woman

~Most Victims Are Men: 5 Realities Of Rape In The Military

~Raped On The Battlefield: What Male Veteran Survivors Know

~8 Ways the Legal System Screws Rape Victims (Like Me)

~Why I Kept My Rape By A Priest A Secret (And Can’t Anymore)

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison

Look Me In The Eye
Title: Look Me In The Eye: My Life with Asperger’s
Author: John Elder Robison
Social Media: Blog, Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: RHA eBooks Adult, imprint of Penguin Random House Australia
Format and Price: eBook at $10.99
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
I was born in rural Georgia, where my dad worked as a country preacher. I was kind of a misfit growing up. In fact, the bigger I got, the more misfit I became. At age 8, I got a little brother, and he was a misfit too. I dropped out of school in 10th grade, and never looked back. My brother dropped out a few years later, following in my footsteps. I’ve had a number of careers. I designed sound systems for discos. I designed effects for KISS. I designed sound systems for more bands than I could count. Then, I took up electronic game design. I worked on fire alarms and power supplies. I even worked with lasers. Finally, 20 years ago, I gave up technology to start an automobile repair business.

That was where I was when my brother told some of our story in his 2002 memoir Running With Scissors. A few years later, I decided to tell my own story. I wrote a book called Look Me in the Eye, my life with Asperger’s. Well, that kind of changed everything for me. I was, like, fully out of the closet and under the public microscope. Today, I have an active speaking schedule, I’m also involved in Asperger/autism research and I’m a member of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee of the US Dept of Health and Human Services.

I’ve published three books so far, and I’m hard at work on the fourth. They are:
Look Me In The Eye (2007)
Be Different (2011)
Raising Cubby (2013)

In addition to being a book author, I own J E Robison Service Co in Springfield, Massachusetts. Robison Service does service, repair, and restoration work on European cars, with particular emphasis on BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Bentley, and Rolls Royce. I’m interested in music, photography, small boats, hiking and the outdoors, and reading

About The Book:
Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world. A born storyteller, Robison has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about a life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. It’s a strange, sly, indelible account—sometimes alien, yet always deeply human

General Observations:
~Interesting Narrative: John Elder Robison is a great story-teller, his journey from rejected teenage misfit to accepted eccentric adult is enjoyable, humorous and relatable. Hearing stories about his and Augusten’s childhood abuse from mentally ill parents (which also involved alcoholism) were tough for me to read, however John Elder Robison managed to make the experiences compelling to read, which isn’t easy. I felt the narrative only really started to take off after he left high school and was free to pursue his career in sound engineering (despite the lack of qualifications). The narrative flowed well and had good pacing. It also had a good degree of details (enough that you knew what was going on but not too much)

~Brotherly Bond: Reading Look Me In The Eye gave me the strong urge to read Running With Scissors, just to see things from a different point of view. It may sound strange but I really enjoyed the chapters of the two of them together or when John Elder Robison talks about his brother. He accepts the fact that he can no longer call him “varmint” but his Asperger tendencies prevent him from calling him “Augusten”, I think it’s sweet how he comes to agree on the middle ground of “my brother” instead.

Overall, an interesting memoir that I’m happy to recommend but I don’t feel the urge to continue reading the rest of his other books (however, I’m not discouraging others from doing so). However, I would also really recommend that secondary colleges exchange The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time for Look Me In The Eye, I found it to be a much better representation of Asperger’s or Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Resources: Rape Culture – An Introduction

Rape Culture2
From my own perspective, one of the many aspects of Feminism is deconstructing and removing The Patriarchy from The World. Hopefully this will ultimately lead to dismantling and removing the harmful elements of society, such as Rape Culture, that are enforced by The Patriarchy and other Discrimination Hierarchies. But what is Rape Culture? After all, how can we remove something from Society when we don’t know what it is? Behold! A small sample of articles to help:

~Rape Culture is Real—And Yes, We’ve Had Enough By Alana Prochuk – Women Against Violence Against Women Rape Crisis Centre

~Why We Still Need Feminism by Casey Cavanagh

~A Perfect Explanation of Why Women’s Rights and Racial Justice Are Still a Big Deal by Sasheer Zamata and ACLU

~5 Reasons Why Non-Traditional Rape Narratives Are Important by Sian Ferguson

~Trigger Warning: Breakfast

~The Everyday Sexism Project – There’s also a book

~3 Reasons Why Assuming Women Are Often “Crying” Rape Prevents Most Survivors from Getting Justice by Jarune Uwujaren

~25 Everyday Examples of Rape Culture by Shannon Ridgway

~Regardless of The Perpetrator’s Identity, Rape Is Rape! by Feranda Chua

~To End Rape Culture, We Must Address These 3 Things by Sara Alcid

~Intent vs. Impact: Why Your Intentions Don’t Really Matter by Jamie Utt

~A Reclamation of Our Personal Rights as Victims and Survivors of Sexual Violence by Sian Ferguson

~There’s a Rape Epidemic in America That No One Is Talking About: Debunking 4 Myths About Male Survivors by Jack Fischl

~7 Things We Need to Stop Saying to Sexual Assault Survivors Immediately by Maureen Shaw

~5 Responses to Sexism That Just Make Everything Worse By Winston Rowntree

~5 Ways Society Is Sexist Against Men (and How We Can Fix It) By CRACKED Staff

While I understand there are legitimate reasons for not identifying with the Feminist movement, especially since Feminism has a long history of refusing to acknowledge and/or address intersectional discrimination problems. However, regardless of Political and/or Civil Rights Movement Associations, I think we can all agree that Rape Culture impacts everyone and Rape Culture hurts everyone, so it needs to end (yesterday preferably). While I don’t want to give readers the impression that I’m declaring myself an expert on the subject (I’m most definitely not), however I would like this be a starting point. If any readers would like to mention other articles or books on Rape Culture, please feel free to do so in the comments section.

News & Social Media: Access to Public Transport and Education

Today’s post is a little off topic, its for an assignment for my subject News and Social Media in my Bachelor of Creative Arts Industries, so if readers want to skip this post, that’s perfectly fine (especially since it’s going to come across as a bit of a rant, apologies in advance). Today’s post will be a response to an article I found on the Victoria University website.

Free public transport needed for students – Victoria University
think of the children ~Misaimed Audience: At first, I thought “Great! Someone from the University is finally addressing the lack there of access of public transport to and from University.” However, it turns out it’s a moral guardian piece on how low socio-economic high school students are getting fined for not being able to afford access to public transport. I’m not really sure who the intended audience for this article is. A reader might think that it’s an article for university students studying a Bachelor of Social Work or TAFE students studying a Diploma of Youth Work, but the article is far too shallow and lacking in references to useful for them. There’s little to no evidence in the article to support this. For example:

Ms Roberston, who is a clinical supervisor at the WEstjustice Sunshine Youth Office, said about half of the youth legal centre’s clients, aged between 14 and 17, have sought help for public transport infringements.

This statement would carry a little more weight if some data had been added to it. Also, it fails to mention how many cases are being handled by the Sunshine Youth Office, the author could also have perhaps compared the case-load number to that of Sunbury Youth Centre and Melton Youth Centre.

Now, the author of the article does add Fare Go: Myki, Poverty and Access To Education in Melbourne’s West – WEst Justice (Western Community Legal Centre) as a reference link, but there are little to no substantial quotes that would lead to readers thinking that this problem was out of the ordinary or even urgent .
Relatable Romney ~Knowledge Is Power: At the risk of sounding insensitive and like one of those people who look down on poor people, I personally find it a little difficult to take articles like these seriously. Students under the age of 18 and belong in low socio-economic class can apply for welfare benefits like Youth Allowance and a Low Income Health Care Card (you have to wait until your 22 to be able to apply for independent Youth Allowance).

Low socio-economic families and/or teenagers are able to apply for what is known as the Low Income Health Care Card, those in possession of a Low Income Health Care Card are able to claim cheaper medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (such as: birth control is $4.99 with the health care card, birth control without the health care card can range from $15-$20 depending on pharmacy) and they can also claim state and territory government and local council concessions, such as energy and electricity bills, health care costs (including ambulance and dental and eye care), public transport costs, educational fees and water rates. For those who are curious, it looks like this:
Health Care Card - Centrelink Now, there are some people who fall into the no-man’s land of earning too much to be able to apply for Centrelink benefits like the Low Income Health Care Card but aren’t earning enough to get by or are barely scraping through, that’s a difficult situation and those people have my full sympathy, however anyone who is 16 years an over can apply for a Public Transport Student Concession Card, even TAFE and University students can apply for the public transport student concession card (though there are conditions and you have to check to see if your university is eligible). These concession cards (or the possible limitations of them) were not mentioned in this article.

itcrowd-double negative ~Just Another Brick In The Wall: The author is right to mention the possibility of Public Transport Ticket Inspectors having a quota to meet and are unfairly targeting teenagers who living in low socio-economic areas (the New York Police Department are doing the same thing). However the problems involved with improving access for education to teenagers from low socio-economic areas are multi-layered and systematic, I’m sure the cost in accessing public transport to get to school would be an influential factor, but what about the fact that Ted Baillieu and Denis Napthine cut 300 million from the TAFE sector and other areas of Higher Education? Wouldn’t that be a bigger influential factor? What about the fact that Victoria University shut down it’s Melton Campus, Sunbury Campus and Sunbury Student Village? Wouldn’t that be a bigger influential factor?

deep thought And The Answer Is… 42: The author came across, to me, as trying to raise awareness of a problem affecting a vulnerable sector of society, however the author didn’t put forth any suggestions for possible solutions either and personally, in the era of Social Justice Warriors, I don’t think it’s enough to simply raise awareness of a systematic disadvantage in society. However, I have taken it upon myself to brainstorm a couple of ideas that might work (however I would like to point out I’m not a qualified social worker or an expert in social welfare/economics):

Idea One: Victoria University runs a free security shuttle bus service, those availability hours can be extended to cover peak hour sections like 06:00 – 09:00 and 14:00 – 17:00, ensuring that students are able to use connecting public transport services.

Idea Two: Petition Current Government to make it mandatory for all Ticket Inspectors to wear recording cameras while on duty to prove or disprove economic targeting bias, make it a legal condition that people can apply for access to this footage for legal defense purposes. Also demand to know where the revenue collected from said Ticket Inspectors is going. What projects are they funding?

Idea Three: Start up a petition to implement free public transport for ALL students (primary, secondary, tertiary), also offer to have independent funding to support it in conjunction with government funding like Kickstarter or Indigogo (or a lot of bake sales)

So readers, do you have any ideas that could improve access to public transport and education? Did you know that Victoria University had a free security shuttle service? Did you know that Victoria University have a car-pooling service? I certainly didn’t. Let me know what you know what you think in the comments section down below.

Links:
~Fare Go: Myki, Poverty and Access To Education in Melbourne’s West – WEst Justice (Western Community Legal Centre)

Victoria University to close Melton, Sunbury campuses by Andrew Trounson

Secret merger talks for universities by Dinah Arndt

6 Things Rich People Need to Stop Saying by David Wong

4 Things Politicians Will Never Understand About Poor People by John Cheese

The 4 Types of People on Welfare Nobody Talks About by John Cheese

Atypical: Life with Asperger’s in 20 1/3 Chapters by Jesse A. Saperstein

Atypical
Title: Atypical: Life with Asperger’s in 20 1/3 Chapters
Author: Jesse A. Saperstein
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter and YouTube
Publisher: TarcherPerigee, imprint of Penguin Publishing Group
Price and Format: eBook at $15.79
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

About The Author:
Jesse A. Saperstein is a best-selling author, autism advocate and motivational speaker. He is considered one of the most respected leaders in the Anti-Bullying movement of his generation. Jesse also has a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome (AS). After graduating from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2004 with a BA degree in English, Jesse set out to conquer the 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail to benefit the Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation. He began hiking from Georgia to Maine on March 9, 2005 and successfully completed the journey on October 18, 2005, raising more than $19,000 for children to attend summer camp who had contracted HIV/AIDS through prenatal transmission. Shortly after his hike ended, Jesse was exposed to some of the cruel realities of living as an adult on the autism spectrum and was treated as a social pariah by members of the community who did not understand. His decision to become a writer was an opportunity to escape these realities and advocate for his peers who are not always granted a voice.

Jesse’s story, “Atypical: Life with Asperger’s in 20 1/3 Chapters” was published by Penguin Group (USA) in April 2010 and immediately became a popular memoir due to its practical advice and outrageous humor. He chronicles his misadventures and extremes to improve his social skills. The book quickly rose to the top of Amazon.com and placed Jesse as a dynamic media personality, motivational speaker and most important, an advocate for people with disabilities. His most recent book is “Getting a Life with Asperger’s: Lessons Learned on the Bumpy Road to Adulthood” that functions as a guidebook to ensure a smoother transition into adulthood.

About The Book:
“Please be forewarned that you are about to read the observations and life lessons of someone who entertains himself by farting in public and conversing in gibberish with his cats.”

Thus begins the charming, insightful, and memorable story of Jesse A. Saperstein. Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism, Jesse has struggled since childhood with many of the hallmark challenges of his condition-from social awkwardness and self-doubt to extreme difficulty with change and managing his emotions.
He has also worked hard to understand and make the most of his AS, such as developing his keen curiosity and sense of humor, closely observing the world around him, and most of all, helping others with AS to better cope and even thrive. Told with endearing and unflinching honesty, Jesse brings his unique perspective to the circumstances of his life and his condition.

Aspects I Enjoyed:
~Book Cover: I love the Book Cover, the deeper symbolism wasn’t obvious to me until I reached the end of the novel. Jesse has a yearly habit of sending out Christmas cards with long letters attached to them to everyone he knows, which I think is sweet (especially since he’s Jewish). However when I was thinking about the book and how it’s a little short for a memoir novel, it dawned on me, it’s like he’s sending out a Christmas letter to all of us, a brief Autistic “The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful” Postcard.

~Representation Matters: Even though I don’t have Autism, I could completely relate to Jesse’s social misadventures, especially since I’m a nerdy introverted person with constant case of foot-in-mouth disease. In fact, I have had that exact same random conversation with my partner about the Feeder Fetish trend. Jesse’s anecdotes are hilarious, inappropriate and yet completely relevant. For I too was told often and frequently that “just be yourself” was the solution to the problem, while the adults around me failed to grasp that being myself was in fact the problem. Jesse is absolutely right in the idea of breaking down stereotypes around disabilities in general, but especially with Autism and HIV+/AIDS condition as well. While I agree with Jesse’s ethos of the novel (“When you’ve met a person with Autism… You have met just ONE person with Autism”) and how people with Asperger’s or Autism are unique, I would be remiss not to mention there are definitely some similarities among Aspies (the way they handle Jehovah’s Witnesses and how they have problems with talking to people over the phone)

~It Gets Better: Personally, I felt that the memoir ended on a bit of a sad note, however I understood that perhaps that was important to establish that a life with Asperger’s is a constant struggle and that it’s important to take things one day at a time. However, my theory is that this book is supposed to act as an introduction of sorts, an opportunity for Jesse to raise awareness among the Neurotypicals, Jesse has a blog and a website so curious readers can find out how the journey continues. I know it will come across as silly, however I was so happy to read this blog-post “The Greatest Day Ever“, to go from the end of the Memoir to The Greatest Day Ever is an enormous success and Jesse deserves every moment of hard-earned happiness.

Aspects I Had Problems With:
~The Feminist Reading Glasses: I’m willing to tolerate a lot in a book, however a nerdy guy acting like he’s entitled to a woman’s time or entitled to a second chance when he messes up is not something I’ll ever feel comfortable reading, especially since when Women reject men or directly refuse their romantic advances, they end up assaulted or murdered. I understand that Jesse has Asperger’s and while the author does call out his own behavior as misogynistic, it was still super uncomfortable to read. The fact that Jesse turns his bad date into a positive comedy performance is to his credit.

~The Elephant In The Room: One of my biggest problems with this memoir was the lack of other women or female identifying people with Autism mentioned. While Jesse does mention people from college who belong on the Autism Spectrum, he mentions relatives who could possibly belong on the Autism Spectrum, he even mentions fictional characters and media representations of Autism, all those people are men. Jesse does mention women or female presenting people with Autism in his blog-post about the gatherings of the Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP), however these mentions tend to be brief side-notes like Yoga-Girl or his sister Dena. This is especially problematic as Doctors are continuing to refuse to diagnose girls with Autism, if Autism is seen as something that only affects boys, the struggle for mainstream acceptance of Autism will continue. The one of the aspects I liked most about Yes Please by Amy Poehler was how she had chapters written by other people (her co-workers and her parents), I feel Atypical could have benefited from a similar technique.

All in all, a great and humorous memoir proving once in for all that no matter how separate or different we think each other to be, we all crave the same things. From my perspective, there’s a lot of similarities between Neurotypical people and Asperger’s People, if/when you get a job in retail (especially at a supermarket), no one really grows up, I continuously get “adult” men and women unable to wait until their through the check-out before eating something, Neurotypicals are just slightly better at hiding it.

Links:
~Autism Awareness Australia

~Autism Awareness Australia Facebook Page

~Autism Victoria A.K.A Amaze

~Autism Spectrum Australia

~The National Autistic Society (UK)

~Autism Women’s Network

~Global & Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP)

~Autism helped me become an internationally published author – here’s how by Corinne Duyvis

~Diverse characters: Corinne Duyvis on the decline of “issue” books by Corinne Duyvis

~I have autism and the lack of authentic autistic voices in books angers me by Sara Barrett

~Not just a boy thing: how doctors are letting down girls with autism by Amelia Hill

~The Autism Project: Mothers with ASD ask why scientists are missing girls by Kate Allen

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