This post, and the posts linked within it (from Dreki and Sciatrix), got me thinking about a community-wide discussion I wish we could have: Associations between the asexual and autistic communities. But it would be hard to have this discussion because there's no real place to have it. It requires that people have a decent knowledge of both asexuality and the autistic spectrum. On AVEN, there are too many people who are ignorant about autism, and on autistic forums, there are too many people who are ignorant about asexuality. As others have mentioned, people's ignorance can derail a conversation while we try to educate them and explain things.
The posts I referenced mentioned that ableism sometimes appears on AVEN. (In this respect, AVEN is no different from the rest of the world.) Unlike some other -isms, I find that ableist statements tend to come from a place of fear and ignorance, rather than malice. On AVEN, the disabilities that tend to be the most discussed are mood disorders and autistic spectrum disorders. "Invisible disabilities" such as these have their own unique stigma. I think it speaks well of AVEN that we can mention these experiences there, even though they may not be unanimously welcomed. In meatspace, it can be very difficult to talk about mood disorders or autism, since "sane privilege" and "neurotypical privilege" can be difficult for those who can pass as "normal" to voluntarily give up.
Anyway...back to "the conversation I want to have". It can't be had if people are thinking of autism as a dread disease, or autistic people as impossible to relate to. It can't be had if neurotypicals are under the assumption that they can't--or don't currently-- associate with autistic people. Ableism relates to the idea that people with disabilities "make us look bad". This might be remedied by a critical exploration of how our society marginalizes people with disabilities. However, if people are still unsure what disabled people "have to do with me", then it's hard to get past square one. And of course, these derails, while important, are still derails.
On AVEN, there have been numerous threads about Asperger's Syndrome (AS), which is what I would call a "labeled point" on the autistic spectrum. In those threads, there seems to be this common inference: "Autism is bad/weird/out-there, and I want asexuality to be well-received. Therefore, there is no relation between asexuality and autism." And maybe that's the case for the neurotypical asexual. But it sets up a strange dichotomy for the autistic asexual, of which there are many. Considering this, the inference seems like a denial of many people's reality.
I forget where I read it, but I once read an anecdote about a white man who joined a fraternity with mostly black members. The white man said something about how meaningful it was for black men to call him "brother". Now, I hope this is not too kumbaya for you, but the asexual community is like that fraternity, or at least, it could be. Except instead of it being one white man and a bunch of black men, it's people of all races, nationalities, ages, genders, and abilities. Within the asexual community, I think we have an opportunity to gain new "brothers", as it were. Neurotypical people could, presumably, feel honored to gain autistic "brothers" through the asexual community. They could see the prevalence of autistics in the asexual movement as a unique opportunity to learn about how other people's minds work. I'd like to think that some already do. But this can never happen unless we value knowledge and human connections above image. Yes, it's idealistic, but that's how we should be at the beginning of a movement. There's plenty of time to be jaded later.
Now give me the vegan marshmallows and my ukulele.
(I'll post about NaNo later, if I can think of anything coherent to say...I just wanted to write this post while the posts I linked to were still fairly recent.)