Shit Autistic Girls Do

January 27, 2012

Just before the holidays, this went viral:

And I was like

Eventually, confusion gave way to anger and frustration and, about a week after Shit Girls Say went viral, I went crazy(er).

It wasn’t just that I didn’t get the humour. My own sense has always been off kilter at the best of times and I’m used to being baffled by things that normals find funny. What really bothered me was that I couldn’t figure out why it was supposed to be funny.

You see, pop culture has been integral to my understanding of the neurotypical world, and it’s also played a significant part in my integration into that world. At some point in my late teens, I decided to study the normals in an effort to become less off-putting to the general populace. And, because I was a homeschooler with virtually no life and no friends, I had to use television, movies, books, magazines and the internet as my main source of information.

Eventually, I was able to use my new skills to venture out into the world. I was then able to add people’s responses to pop culture to my oeuvre. I learned a lot of decent, functional stuff about the outside world during this period, but I also learned that women can never really do anything right.

I tried my best to be a good normal woman. I obsessively monitored everything from my behaviour to the size of my legs. And while my efforts were never really good enough, they were certainly better – or at least more successful– than my natural instincts. I started passing as a normal. And, when people started telling me that I didn’t seem like I had Asperger’s, I mumbled something about working hard in therapy instead of saying “I have dedicated a decade, and my genius-level IQ, to little more than studying and imitating your people. Of course you can’t tell.” Because good girls don’t say things like that.

Then people I follow on Twitter started retweeting stuff from the Shit Girls Say account. I kind of ignored it at first, figuring that I didn’t get it because I wasn’t cool or young enough. But then the video hit and it seemed like EVERYONE I knew thought that it was the greatest thing ever.

I just didn’t get it. And it really started to bother me.

I get Cathy and Kathy from Kids In The Hall just fine. I love those skits.

But the point of the Cathy and Kathy skits is that office culture and small talk are inane, not that womenkind as a whole are.

And if SGS is funny because the shit being said is inane, isn’t the implication that girls should stop saying that shit? Or that they’re wrong for saying it?

Certainly, the reaction among my friends would suggest so. So many of them posted links on Facebook and Twitter with some variation of “This is so me. Poor Significant Other for having to deal with me!” Doesn’t that suggest that they think those things are wrong? Why else would they pity their SOs for having to listen to them say shit?

But what the hell is wrong with asking for a blanket? Dudes do that. And Aaron has asked me to pass him something many times. He’s never once felt guilty for doing so, nor has anyone thought to make fun of him for it.

The lines that really drive me crazy, though, are the ones where girls are being mocked for saying things that are clearly a product of their social conditioning, like “Can you do me a huge favour?”

I say that one all the time. You know why? Because I’ve learned, in all of my observation, that women aren’t really supposed to ask for anything. It’s bitchy, demanding and/or needy. And, in that light, even the smallest request becomes a big deal. When I say “Can you do me a huge favour?” I know it’s NT code for “I acknowledge that this favour, small as it might seem to you, is a major imposition on account of my being a woman-type person. But would you please consider it? I concede that it is a big deal. Please feel free to say no. And forgive me for asking in the fist place. Please don’t think I’m a nag or a bitch or a ballbuster.” So, as far as I can tell, women are pretty much forced to be meek by society, and then they’re mocked for that meekness. And then they’re expected to laugh along at the laughing at their meekness, because it’s just for fun! And you don’t want to be one of those women who take everything so seriously, do you?

The next wave of videos, especially Shit White Girls Say… To Black Girls made sense to me. People with privilege of all sorts say really, really dumb shit to people who don’t have it, and it’s both amusing and effective to call attention to that shit and discuss it in a format like this. And yeah, if we say shit that is featured in those videos, we should reconsider our behaviour.

Then that seemed to give way to stuff like Shit Yogis Say and Shit Vegans say, which was more like “LOL! We’re making fun of ourselves, but in a way that we’re actually talking about how much more awesome we are than everyone else!!” Beyond onanism, I have no idea what purpose these serve.

And then we got into “Shit Girls Don’t Say,” the implication of which, as far as I can tell, is that women suck for not saying these things. It seems to be really popular among the “I don’t have female friends because women are suuuuuuch dramatic bitches” set, who love to talk about how they totally say those thing! Because they’re not like normal girls! They’re like dudes with boobs! Which, I guess, is fine for parts of the video. I’ve said some of that Shit myself. But it gets really creepy as it gets going. Why is it funny that women don’t say that they’re getting fat and they should lose weight for their partners? Why is it funny that they don’t wear bags on their heads? We should not do those things. Do NOT fuck someone who is not willing to look at your head when they are fucking you! Or, to simplify things: No head = NO HEAD.

The trend seems to be dying now (although Shit Liz Lemon says, the only video that has truly captured my essence so far, was released earlier this week) and even though I’m more than over it in the fifteen-minutes-ago sense, I’m not quite over it psychologically. Logically, I know that I should just say “fuck it,” and go my life however I want, even if it involves blankets. But there’s always this feeling in the back of my head that those videos were a reproach, and that I should be monitoring and correcting my behaviour, erasing every “you’re the best” and squeal that I’ve so carefully programmed into my head over the years to make myself less susceptible to mockery and disdain. But then, when I try to ask people why those videos are funny, and what they think women should change, they tell me that I’m being too serious and that it’s just a funny joke, and then I get judged for not laughing at the stereotypes on top of getting laughed at for embodying them. AND I THOUGHT THAT I WAS SUPPOSED TO EMBODY THEM TO FIT IN.

And so I have become the Joni Mitchell of autistic people. I’ve seen normals from both sides now and I really don’t know normals at all.

I’ve been told that I’m overthinking this whole issue, but really? “You’re overthinking this” is Shit Neurotypicals Say.

As I settled into a cushy seat somewhere in the secret bowels of the Lightbox for a press screening today, I found myself unwittingly caught in the middle of a twitter triangle.

“We’re friends on Twitter,” the young woman next to me said to the man behind us before reminding him of her username.

They chatted for a minute, and then the woman on the other side joined in. “I guess I should say that we’re friends on on Twitter, too,” she said, adding her username to the mix.

“Oh…” said the man.

“What does ‘oh’ mean?” she laughed. “Is it what I said about the [name of forthcoming film] screening this morning?”

Then the two women launched into a spirited and animated conversation about said film while I sat in between them, feeling awkward and maudlin.

I wasn’t exactly good at networking before the advent of Twitter, but I feel even more behind now that the social networking tool has sunk its superficial, short-winded claws into the entertainment journalism world.

I do not understand Twitter. I have an account. I had a little fun fucking around on there when I first started, but I couldn’t keep up with it for more than a week. I try to go back from time to time, but I find the whole exercise exhausting.

First of all, I can’t say anything in 140 characters. I can barely express myself in 140 words. Brevity never has been my friend, and I’m not interested in a reconciliation any time soon.

Most importantly, though, I just cannot keep up. I have absolutely no effing clue how people manage to follow hundreds of other people, tweet their every thoughts, retweet everyone else’s thoughts, keep on top of trends and share all sorts of weird and wonderful links to other things. Every time I try to jump into that mess, I wind up having a Kanye-level “EVERYTHING IS NOISE! EVERYTHING IS NOISE!” freakout.

By the time I’ve read and digested something, and decided that I might want to respond, I’m already five tweets behind. It’s the only form of social media I’ve used that actually makes me appear less socially adept than I am in real life.

My knee-jerk reaction is to blame this issue on the autism, but I suspect that it could just as easily be on account of the fact that I am crotchety and prematurely old.

So, what do you think, all six or so of my dear readers? Is Twitter a generational thing, or a social skill thing?

I guess what I’m really asking is, who is it that I should be shooing from my hypothetical lawn: the kids, or the neurotypicals?