*Please note before reading any further that my feelings surrounding sex are NOT universal to every asexual and that it IS a spectrum. I just so happen to identify with the sex repulsed end of the spectrum and this is a post about my journey with that*
For as long as I can remember I’ve always been pretty squeamish over the subject of sex. Hearing people talk about it grossed me out and intimacy scenes in books, movies and tv shows made me (and still make me to this day) feel incredibly uncomfortable. At first I thought this was pretty normal, my mother has never been keen on intimacy scenes in media either and would always turn the television over until the scene was over so naturally I just assumed that I took after her in that respect. It was only a personal preference right? Nothing more and nothing less.
Unfortunately, as I got older I quickly came to realise that nobody else seemed to share my visceral distaste for such things, my middle to later teenage years being the most eye opening in terms of this. Because whilst my classmates would quite happily sit through mandatory sexual education lessons and giggle at diagrams and demonstrations of the various protections against diseases, I would have my hands pressed tightly over my ears and my eyes firmly closed. I didn’t want to hear this so called ‘vital’ information, it made me feel sick, it made my skin crawl and my heart race, something I couldn’t easily explain to others without fear of sounding childish or silly and even when I did try to explain I was shut down. I would tell teachers I didn’t need to know the information cause I wasn’t ever going to have sex and they’d roll their eyes at me. They’d sigh heavily as if I was being unreasonable and tell me “I’d change my mind when I got older” that “sex was normal” and that “everybody did it”.
“You’ll change your mind when you’re older” Like sex is fucking broccolli or whatever and was being a stubborn little kid who thinks vegetables are gross until I eventually grow up and become a respectable vegetable connoisseur like all adults do.
Needless to say, the accursed phrase ‘you’ll change your mind when you’re older’ proceeded to follow me, like word vomit that just spewed unasked for out of other people’s mouths when they found out I how I felt. And as a result sex was portrayed to me as this big inevitable fact of life – teenagers had sex, adults had sex, and I would too eventually because that’s what was ‘normal’. Never mind the fact that I found the entire prospect terrifying and disgusting beyond belief because according to everyone else, one day I’d just get up and magically meet someone and experience some sort of sexual awakening inside and never look back.
The first time I heard about asexuality I was 17/18 years old and it was through your stereotypical viral Tumblr post of “Like and reblog if you think asexuality is a valid sexual orientation”. I reblogged of course, but I never REALLY looked into what it meant, I just immediately accepted that some people were ‘asexual’ and I was cool with that and supported it. A little while after this first post I found out what being asexual meant, again in a Tumblr post, and I was struck with the sudden all consuming realisation that not everybody wanted to have sex! Imagine that! all those movies and shows that showed teenagers and adults as nothing but sex crazed individuals were suddenly wrong. There were people like me who existed in the world, people who by varying degrees just found sex to be an unappealing or uninteresting thing.
But as liberating and amazing as this moment seemed, I still hesitated to label myself as asexual because of the words that had been said to me and the impressions society and various adults in my life left. And when you’re conditioned for so long to believe something, like I was, it just makes it 100 times harder to try and accept that the opposite might be true instead. So for awhile I never allowed myself the honour of belonging to the asexual community, just in case this fabled day of sexual reckoning came and I turned out to be ‘faking’ or whatever and somehow invalidate every single ‘legitimate’ asexual person who ever existed on the planet. (Cause that was a totally real thing that could happen in my very logical and not at all insane brain thank you very muchly).
Thankfully though, I’ve managed to get past these roadblocks and I can now say with complete and utter confidence;
I know I’ve been pretty non-existent on this blog… I think my last post was like Feb?? or something… and I wanted to apologise for that. I am going to try and post more, but unfortunately I can’t do anything more than promise to try because life is weird and my motivation is sketchy at best and downright completely absent at worst (like my DAD hah).
But all joking aside, motivation is a really tricky thing for me. Always has been and most likely always will be, and the easiest way for me to explain it to other people, or at least the way that makes the most sense, is to use the Spoon theory described by Christine Miserandino in reference to living with a chronic illness. This particular theory helps to describe what it’s like living with differing and limited energy levels by using spoons as measurement, and although it wasn’t coined with neurodivergence in mind, a lot of neurodivergent people find that they can relate to it pretty strongly.
The gist of the theory is that individuals who don’t have issues with energy levels can wake up most days and there’s no limit to what they have the energy to do, they can do work, prepare food, exercise, shower etc without worrying about how much energy, or in this case spoons, they have left to spend. But people who do have issues with energy levels wake up most days with a limited amount of spoons to spend and even ‘basic’ everyday tasks can take multiple spoons to complete which quickly leaves the person with little or no spoons left at all. No spoons means there’s no energy to do other tasks. And some days the amount of spoons you wake up with differs and you’re forced to choose between the stuff you do have the energy to do and the stuff you don’t. For example, I may one day have the energy to make myself lunch because I have enough spoons to do the task, another day, where I’m low on spoons I’ll just skip lunch and drink tea because making tea only takes one spoon compared to the three spoons I’d need for lunch. Then there’s the tricky business of things varying day to day in how many spoons they take to complete depending on factors like stress, anxiety, tiredness etc. A task that previously took me only two spoons to complete (for example washing some dishes) can take four spoons if I’m feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
I happen to be going through a period right now where I’m waking up with very little spoons and even the most basic daily tasks like preparing food, maintaining hygiene levels, socialising etc is taking up most of the spoons I have available and leaving nothing behind for me to do stuff I’d usually enjoy a lot, like blogging, drawing, listening to music, gaming etc. I know it won’t last forever. One day, maybe soon I’m going to wake up and have enough spoons to start that new tv show I’ve been meaning to watch, or to draw something new in my sketchbook!
But today is not that day, and I think I’m learning to accept that.
As someone who has consumed a lot of media *cough* somewhat obsessively *cough* I’ve come across a lot autistic coded characters who are never explicitly stated as having autism. Now I don’t know the eXAct reason why this seems to keep happening in media, but I have a few solid theories. One of which is that by explicitly stating a character is autistic writers are then ‘limited’ in terms of what they can and can’t do to said character, especially in terms of comedy. For example! Sheldon Cooper, one of the most massively autistic coded characters in modern media to date, has multiple neurodivergent characteristics that are never actually addressed within the Big Bang Theory universe. The writers know what they’re doing by doing this, they KNOW that if they explicitly made his character autistic then they can’t then make fun of said character for traits they believe are strange or weird, and suddenly the so called ‘funny’ trope of a ‘strange little man with his strange little routines and blunt way of saying things’ is no longer funny. Why? Because you’re actively making fun of a disabled character and the community they represent. By not attaching a diagnosis to a character but still giving them heavily autistic or neurodivergent coded behaviours, writers fully believe they’re giving themselves a free ticket to ridicule said behaviours for the sake of comedic affect without facing any backlash.
Which…y’know is fudging bullpoop.
Anyways! below are a bunch of characters that are well known as being autistically coded and my ratings for said characters based on various aspects such as their level of stereotypicality, how they are treat by other characters and basically the general quality of writing for said characters.
Sheldon Cooper from American sitcom Big Bang Theory
3/10 – OKAY! I will hold my hands up I loved this character at first, and I still kind of love him a little bit even though I’m older and recognise the multiple flaws. Why? Because we share a bunch of characteristics, I have a special chair that I get PHYSICALLY uncomfortable if people sit in, I’m obsessive about comic books and super heroes, I don’t understand social cues, I love science (although I’m firmly pro biology and forensics rather than physics) and physical affection is something I avoid. You’re probably wondering why I gave such a low score if I’ve just admitted all of that right? Well first I deducted a point off for being the stereotypical white man ‘autism’ trope that media loves, because I’m tired of that crap, second point is deducted because of the overused ‘cold hearted genius’ stereotype, the rest I deducted because of how badly the other characters treat him. Five points might seem like a large deduction but honestly I think that’s letting the writers off easy considering a majority of the jokes from the show are angled towards making fun of Sheldon, and highlighting how ‘hard’ it must be for Leonard and other neurotypically inclined characters to deal with Sheldon and his autistic traits.
2. Sherlock Holmes from BBC Sherlock
-700/10 – Another character I liked at the start, and by liked I may mean became temporarily obsessed with for a few years of my life. I blame a complete lack of representation in the media and my chronic desperation to latch onto any characters who so much as BREATHED in a slightly neurodivergent way but whatever this isn’t about MY obvious mental health issues haaaah. I also feel the need to emphasize that I am SPECIFICALLY referencing the BBC Sherlock adaptation of this character and not the character as a whole. Arthur Conan Doyle could not have known about autism when creating the character and as such couldn’t have knowingly given said character autistic traits whilst neglecting to actually say the character is autistic. He also couldn’t have deliberately wrote Sherlock to be a stereotypical ‘cold hearted genius with no emotions’. Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss however are AWARE of autism and stereotypes have even referenced autism in the show (season 2 episode 2) in form of an offhanded comment about Sherlock’s behaviour made by John Watson. I’m also giving SUPER minus because of Bendy-dork Bumble-hoover and his frankly archaic opinions of the autism spectrum demonstrated in articles and interviews which an accurate analysis and summary of (with sources) by Maria Scharnke can be found at the link below.
7/10 – Abed is a lot like Sheldon in terms of being heavily autistically coded with various behaviours such an inability to pick up social and emotional cues, difficulties in understanding sarcasm, flat facial expressions and a tendency to socialise by through pop culture references in lieu of partaking in what society would deem as ‘normal’ conversation. His special interest is filmmaking which is a nice creative diversion away from the ‘intellectually driven’ special interests of other autistic coded characters and he often uses this medium to express himself more clearly to others. I’ve given Abed a higher score than Sheldon and BBC Sherlock because he’s a POC and that representation is important, and even though like the other’s it’s never explicitly stated that Abed is autistic (although Asperger’s is mentioned in passing in the pilot episode) I find that his character is a lot less stereotyped and actually has good healthy relationships with other characters in the show. For example, he has multiple friendships within the show and consistently demonstrates throughout that even though he struggles with certain aspects of understanding and expressing emotion, it doesn’t make him incapable of having empathy for other human beings. This really helps to dismantle the whole ‘cold hearted’ and ‘robotic’ stereotype people tend associate with autism. It also helps that the other characters in the show don’t treat Abed badly because of his autistic traits. I also really like the fact that even though Abed is fairly intelligent in certain areas it’s never portrayed as an ‘unnatural’ or ‘inhuman’ level of intelligence that sets him apart from the other ‘normal’ characters and as a result alienates him as a human being.
4. Dr. Spencer Reid in Criminal Minds
5.5/10 – I’m sensing a pattern here…are you sensing a pattern dear reader?? If that pattern is ‘young white male who is autistic savant coded’ then you’d be SPOT ON! Most tv shows are guilty of falling to this trope, and as such I have deducted points for this. I also deducted points because the show in question ONCE AGAIN fails to explicitly say the character is autistic; despite writer Sharon Lee Watson stating in a Twitter chat that Spencer’s ‘Asperger traits’ make him ‘more lovable’. I’m sorry (not) but you can’t openly admit that a character has autistic traits and then NEVER say they’re autistic in the show or even go as far as openly denying that the character is autistic when questioned about it. Like the above three characters Spencer demonstrates multiple traits of a stereotypical autistic coded character in modern media, the high intelligence, the social awkwardness, a lack of emotional understanding and an affinity for long explanations and tangents about a particular subject. And even though Spencer ticks the dreaded ‘unnatural’ intelligence box with his super nerd brain, I find the character to be better written then Sheldon and Sherlock in terms of the level of empathy shown, the character growth and emotional range throughout the series and his general interactions with other characters.
5. Dr.Temperance Brennon (aka Bones) from the American forensic crime drama Bones
6.5/10 – A WOMAN!!! FINALLY!!!! A WOMAN!!! :O Ahem… last but not least we have Dr Temperance Brennon who is a forensic anthropologist that works with the police to help solve murders. Like all of the aforementioned characters she displays multiple traits associated with someone with autism e.g. lack of social skills, inability to detect sarcasm, frequent literal interpretation of metaphors and a rigid outlook on rationality. Again, Bones isn’t explicitly said to have autism in the show, although it has been stated that she is based on someone with Asperger’s syndrome and the excuse given as to why she’s not diagnosed in the show is because the creator wanted to increase the appeal of the show for network television. Which… you know…sucks cause that’s making it pretty clear that whilst creators fully believe autistic characters aren’t marketable they still want to cash in on the ‘socially awkward and emotionally cold genius’ trope. In the end I decided to give Bones half a point less than Abed and a whole point more than Spencer because the character does undergo multiple emotional and social development throughout the show and it’s nice to see a female be autistically coded for once.
That’s it for today’s post! Please take heed that I am fully aware that I have not included ALL autistically coded characters in mainstream media because let’s be honest I’d be here forevER! I simply chose to focus on the ones most popular and well known in the media and fandom base. I also want to make it incredibly clear that whilst I do not support the autistic coding of characters by writers and creators who have absolutely NO intention of making it canon that a character is autistic outside vague references and offhanded commentary in interviews; I absolutely support (and frequently partake myself) in the headcanoning of characters as autistic by the autistic and neurodivergent community and understand very deeply that more often than not the only way we as a community, can get diverse and accurate representation is by headcanoning characters ourselves.
It is SCIENTIFICALLY and MEDICALLY impossible for you to be a “little bit OCD” first of all because the D in OCD, stands for Disorder. You can’t have a little bit of a disorder! It’s not a bloody spice Karen! You don’t get to just DIP your toe in the goddamn pool of OCD and say “okay, that’s enough, I’m happy with my LITTLE bit of mental disorder, I’ll stop here”.
Second of all, the C stands for Compulsive,IT DOESNOT STAND FOR CLEANING!! Even if you don’t know what a compulsive behaviour is, all it takes is a quick Google search but for your sake I’ll copy and paste it underneath (ahem!)
:Compulsive behaviour is defined as performing an action persistently and repetitively without it necessarily leading to an actual reward or pleasure
So the fact that you feel better after rolling up and colour co-ordinating your sock drawer or ironing your underwear doesn’t make you OCD. It just means you like to organise and clean things, that’s it.
“But what’s the harm??” I hear you cry! “it’s just a word!”
SHUT UP IMMEDIATLY!!!
OCD is not just a word. Bamboozle is just a word. OCD is a medical term used to describe a specific mental illness suffered by a lot of people. And the fact that despite an increased awareness in mental health disorders people continue to casually throw the term OCD around in reference to their ‘extreme’ cleanliness is frankly offensive and it trivialises the very real daily struggles of an entire community.
By continuing to say you’re “a little OCD” you’re making a conscious decision to continue perpetuating the idea that OCD is just a quirky little thing that effects someone’s life slightly and not at all negatively cause jeeze! Who would EVER think being organised and clean is a negative thing right????
OCD is not quirky, it’s not fun, it can completely consume someone’s life so much so that functioning even on a day to day basic can be an incredibly difficult struggle that requires an insane amount of mental strength.
SO please, for the love of Thor’s sweaty gym socks
-500/10 Unoriginal, heard it a few times. Also very confusing, what is this even meant to mean? Am I meant to take it as a compliment???? Am I meant to feel good about myself because you said I don’t look like your stereotypical concept of what a person with a disability should look like?? AM I CURED NOW KAREN??? AM I FREE OF THE EVILS OF AUTISM FOREVER???!!???! I JUST WANT TO KNOW KAREN!!! CAN I IGNORE THIS OFFICIAL DIAGNOSIS I’VE HAD SINCE THE AGE OF 13 BECAUSE YOUUU SAID I “DON’T LOOK AUTISTIC??”
3/10 I’m sorry too Karen, sorry you’re such a fucking DUMBASS that you genuinely think someone having a disability is a such a terrible thing that it warrants some sort of weirdly awkward apology.
7.5/10 On one hand it’s disappointing that this is an actual response given by people, on the other! it’s short and sweet and to the point! A kind of one word reply that immediately lets me know that this person is not worth engaging with on any level as they have the brainpower and personality of mouldy shoe.
“Oh! Like *insert incredibly insulting stereotypic character from an inaccurate source of media*”
-1000000/10 No, just No. I’m not like that character, or any other character you’re probably going to list because all of those characters are a widely inaccurate representation of the autism spectrum in a sense that they mostly portray the stereotype of a ‘mean’ ‘weird’ or ‘lonely’ white and male genius with an obsession with trains or maths. No autistic person is the same and VERY rarely is any autistic person like a character in fiction because more often than not those characters are written by neurotypical individuals with a very shallow understanding of what autism is and how it affects day to day life.
Okay, so for those who are new to the subject and how Sia is a problem, I’ll give some brief background information. Basically, Sia is an Australian singer-songwriter mostly known for her hit songs such as Chandelier and Unstoppable. However, she has taken to writing, directing and producing which y’know, isn’t unusual, most celebrities dabble in multiple forms of art.
The problem is what her “film” is about, and the blatant disregard she has for the community she’s so called “representing” with said film. The biggest major fail is something that most of Hollywood is guilty of which is casting neurotypical actors/actresses in a neurodivergent role. By doing this, the message you’re giving us (the neurodivergent audience) is that whilst you think our stories are worthy of being told (and worthy of making you money and winning you awards) you clearly do not think us worthy of being included in the story telling process. By not hiring an autistic actress to play the lead you are feeding into the incredibly uneducated view that autistic and neurodivergent actors do not exist, which is basically BS, because there are thousands.
Now I know what you may be thinking “Hey! that’s unfair. What if none of the actresses who auditioned were good enough for the role?” WELP my dear readers, if NONE of the autistic actresses who auditioned fit the role or couldn’t connect to it properly then odds are the person who wrote the character in the first place probably has no idea what autism is and what they wrote is a pile of utter shite!! Because let’s face it, who’s going to understand autism more, a neurotypical person who decided they wanted to tell a stereotypical tale about a poor sad little autistic person finding love and understanding from a neurotypical, or individuals who actually have autism? Of course… this is all hypothetical because it’s quite obvious through various tweets that Sia did not make ANY proper effort to accommodate an autistic actress in the role -see screenshots below-
The whole “it’s a stressful environment” “we didn’t want to pressure anyone” is frankly a pathetic excuse used by spineless assholes who aren’t willing to admit that they couldn’t be bothered to make accommodations, and when called out on their blatant ableism can’t think of a better excuse other than “environment scary, autistic people can’t handle #sorry”. Accommodations are easily put in place if people actually bother to listen to the issues autistic individuals face and are willing to help combat them anyway they can. How do I know? Easy! I graduated university in 2019 thanks to MULTIPLE accommodations put into place by the educational institute I attended. Was I stressed sometimes?? Sure! it’s Uni, any normal person would get stressed. Was I stressed so much to the point of literally not being able to function in the environment?? NO!
Also that petty little “maybe you’re just a bad actor” jibe?? Childish and completely uncalled for, you’re an adult Sia, and if your response to being called out by the community you so called “represent”, is to resort baseless insults over social media, then I’m afraid you have no leg to stand on. You’ve proved our point. People like you only care about neurodivergent people when it suits you and your pockets.
Next up is the whole “Autism speaks” shit, it literally takes SECONDS to google an organisation and what they stand for. If Sia cannot recognise that Autism Speaks is a hate group after supposedly FOUR years of research going into the creation of her “movie” then I’m truly terrified for what that means about her intelligence and common sense.
Below are links or imbedded videos for the benefit of my readers who do not know how bad Autism Speaks is
Lastly is the fact that her “movie” is completely inaccessible for most of the community she claims to be “representing”. Personally, I’ve watched the trailer, as I am a firm believer of at least seeing something myself before casting serious judgement and honestly the entire thing is an explosion of over saturated colours and overlapping music, it doesn’t even have subtitles! Now, if you ask me, any “movie” aimed to so called “represent” a community who’s individuals frequently suffer from sensory overloads brought on by issues such as excessive use of bright colours and loud noises, should not feature either. You know, in case autistic people JUST might want to see such a film?
But then of course we’ve circled all the way back to the main issue, which is that society continuously fails to acknowledge neurodivergent individuals as human beings who have their own ideas, dreams, opinions etc in favour of the highly outdated “special snowflake who needs their story told for them” trope.
So…how exactly do we solve a problem like Sia you ask?
THROW THE WHOLE BITCH AWAY! BUHBYE!! TALK TO YOU NEVEEER!!