Monday, April 13, 2015

Parodies, Lost in Translation, and Vera

There are two groups on Facebook that have come to my attention lately. Both groups are both targeting autistic folks, giving them something to smile or chuckle over. They are parody groups, I call them, or groups intended to make fun or light of an original source.

For this post, Autism Speaks and Light it Up Blue have their own parody groups, Allism Shouts and Tone it Down Taupe.

In case you are wondering, "allism" is a word that distinctively refers to a person who does not have autism (whereas "neurotypical" can refer to a non-autistic person as well as a non-neurodivergent person). So the story goes, if you're not "autistic," you're "allistic."

What these two Facebook groups like to do is to use the vernacular provided by Autism Speaks and Light it Up Blue (the scare tactics, like how "autistic people are such a burden to a family and to society"), switch a few words, numbers, and phrases, and present material that is satricial and provocative to the audience.
Some of the posts are absolutely hilarious; the one where someone asks another "does this dress make me look fat?" and expect to hear a "no" answer (as a white lie) is totes relatable (I mean, why would someone ask another to lie to them? That does not compute, heh.) in my life.
However, I am seeing a downside to these posts on both pages that could potentially hurt not only both said pages, but the disability rights movement as well.

Aw, come on Vera! Don't you know how to take a joke? We want to have some fun!

Yes, I do know how to take a joke. I can make a joke, too. But this is not about me, believe it or not.
I will refer to a couple of counter-movements that I have seen, both through social media and elsewhere, that while they appear to be parodies of actual rights movements, they can easily become lost in translation at the end of the day.

The first one is the "meninist" movement. This came to be as a parody to the feminist movement for women's rights and empowerment. Men (mostly) would resort to the same formula that Allism Shouts and Tone it Down Taupe; take a talking point, switch it up some, and voila! a statement that mocks the original point of view. Now, some of them have a level of legitimacy, while others are just down right ridiculous.

The same applies to the other movement I'll mention: the "all lives matter" movement. This is where it gets a bit more dicey. The purpose of this movement is not to be taken as a parody, but as an actual legitimate counter position to the movements "black lives matter" and "trans* lives matter". It is as if white, cisnormative folks don't understand the privilege they have to not be shot at by police officers or be manhandled by police officers to the point of death.

But Vera, those "parody" groups are ran by folks who actually have the delusion that they are being "oppressed." Allism Shouts and Tone it Down Taupe are ran by folks who are actually being oppressed by able-minded and able-bodied individuals.

Good point. Here's my counter point.

What's the one thing in common about both the "meninist" and "all lives matter" movements? They are being laughed at by the majority of folks. Not laughed with, laughed at. The same can be said about Allism Shouts and Tone it Down Taupe; sure, both pages are intended to be funny and not serious, but not everybody is laughing with us.

Just like how the feminist movement needs male counterparts, the LGBT community needs heteronormative counterparts, and the civil rights movement needs white counterparts for not only legitmacy but to show that they can work together, the disability rights movement (especially the autism acceptance movement) needs allistic and neurotypical counterparts to stand with us and share our message. Forget the legitmacy part; we as autistics need to show society and the rest of the world that we can work with allies that are willing to help us lead a more productive and fulfilling life.

Now, I understand that there are those who don't like us for whatever reason, and therefore these asschickens feel that it is their right to destroy us (just like in the civil rights, LGBT rights, and women's rights movements) by means of referring to eugenics as "biomarker research," calling institutionalization "group home placements," and other fear-provoking propaganda. However, we can't just put all of the allistics and neurotypicals in one group and say: "these folks need to shut up." That's not correct. These allistic and neurotypical allies deserve just as much credit for helping to make the disability rights movement a relevant and worthy cause to rally around as do the wonderful autistic and neurodivergent voices do.

And with pages like Allism Shouts and Tone it Down Taupe, I wonder if those messages are being lost in translation to everyone, autistic or allistic, neurotypical or neurodivergent.

Because without us, both the oppressed and the allies that stand beside in solidarity, there would be nothing about us at all.

Just my opinionated thought.

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