This isn’t very finished but we have company tonight so here you go. Call it a preliminary post on this topic.

An anonymous request for advice on a blog I came across recently:

Hi! I hope this is ok to ask. I’m autistic, and I am unsure what is normal when it comes to talking about sex with friends. I am pretty much uncomfortable with talking about sex at all, but my allistic friends have no trouble bringing it up casually, and it makes me uncomfortable, but I try to make myself comfortable with it because I want to be a normal friend. But I just end up feeling upset almost violated later. What is normal for friends in this regard? Thank you very much.

———-

I have to admit, my first reaction when I read this was a little rude, a little condescending and pitying. When it’s put like that, you wonder how anyone could ask this question– how could anyone feel that uncomfortable about something and think they should just tolerate it because it’s not normal to feel uncomfortable?

But.

This is the thing.

I’ve thought things like this too, all the time.

I’ve often thought things like this and come to the conclusion that I really should tolerate my discomfort for the sake of going along with what’s normal.

This is what “indistinguishable from their peers,” and “quiet hands,” and everything aimed at making us less autistic, do to us. Some autistic children literally get sat down in classrooms and told by therapists and teachers that acting normal is more important than their comfort or their desires. Those of us who aren’t explicitly taught this learn it implicitly from regular teachers and from society in general.

You literally learn the same lesson that you do from abuse. That your feelings and wants and needs don’t matter, or if you expect them to matter they’d better be the right kind of wants and needs. You’re always on edge making sure you do the right things, say the right things, to prove that you think the right things, because if you take even a small step outside very narrow lines, people react as if you’ve done something totally awful.

I feel RIDICULOUS saying this, because it’s not like I was (am) afraid of violence if I did the wrong thing, but… the consequences being nebulous and social instead of immediate and physical and obviously traumatizing didn’t (doesn’t) stop me from being utterly terrified of doing the wrong thing.

I could say more about how this affects me, but I have limited time, so– remember this?

The line between “reasonable compromises to be made between people who want different things” and “you are horrible and your wants are BAD and ABNORMAL and you shouldn’t have them” should not be as hard to find as it is for me.

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