Anna Martelli Ravenscroft writes On trust and diversity, some excerpts follow:
I have , otoh, experienced that sense of mistrust – not about males -but more often about women, and mostly, female neurotypicals […] What if you had to move as an adult to an alien culture that just happens to speak your same language, but with different meanings for many of the words, with different ways of “being polite”. What if, because you happened to speak the “same” language, you are assumed to just know the cultural norms – for example, the holidays, the rules of the road, the little rules of interaction, that are just different enough from your own culture so that you get tripped up regularly. And what if, instead of explaining patiently to you what you did and how to avoid it in the future, everyone assumed you were tripping up on purpose because “everyone knows that” and anyone who does it “wrong” is deliberately being a troll. How comfortable would you feel in that society?
Welcome to what it feels like to live in neurotypical society.
So yeah – I tend to be, I think, more tolerant of those who have sincere questions about things like “disability 101″ and “feminism 101″ because frankly, most folks don’t grok “neurodiversity 101″. While I understand being tired of explaining what it’s like to be a woman in a man’s society, I perhaps have less sympathy than I might if I were neurotypical – because I am different in an invisible way. Because the neurotypical has no idea how many assumptions they are making about everyone – and when they refuse to explain in response to an honest query – they’re doing *no one* any good.
Before I begin I should note that I am neurotypical. Some of Anna’s writing above will probably ring some bells to geek women in general: a lot of geek women can recount feeling more comfortable in male dominated environments or rather geek dominated (and hence almost always male dominated) environments, because many geek women have various clashes with non-geek and female socialisation and some trouble with “the rules”. We may talk about that in some future post.
But this specific issue is about what neurotypicals assume about diversity discussions and fundamental commonalities between people in such discussions. Anyone got thoughts? Add them here or at Anna’s blog as suits, and remember that if you are, like me, neurotypical and broadly uninformed about neurodiversity, then it behooves you to do a great deal of listening.