Monday, 3 June 2013

Monday Muster: the No Means No edition

Good Monday, good folk.

This week's Monday Muster has a special focus on consent and learning to say no.

This is important because there's so much pressure on autistic people to be compliant - to pass, to say the 'right' thing, to act 'normal', to be 'nice' - that we're conditioned to always think we're wrong, that whatever happens is our fault.

Many of us aren't taught to stand up for ourselves, or even that standing up for ourselves is possible.  The bullies and abusers of the world know this, and take advantage of it.

Big Love, Little House has a very important post on respecting children's bodies and teaching them that it's OK to say no if someone does something they don't want.  Just don't read the comments unless you want to get your rageface on because the amount of complete missing of the point is staggering, with people somehow equating stopping tickling a child when they ask to letting the kid run out into traffic.

There's a similar post on Diary of a Mom, about teaching kids consent and how to say no, which was inspired by Sparrow Rose Jones' must-read No, You Don't.

Lydia from Autistic Hoya examines an episode of Law and Order SVU, for a discussion of how people with neurological or psychological disabilities are treated by the justice system.  It uses the example of a rape victim not being believed because she has a mental illness, again looking at how our 'no's and our right to ownership of our own bodies.

It all starts with presuming competence: realising that just because someone acts differently, thinks differently, or communicates in ways other than speech, doesn't mean they're not cognisant, aware of the world around them, and able to make their own decisions about their body and their life.  No means no, and all no's mean no.  The "no" of a child.  The "no" of a disabled person.  The "no" the listener considers unreasonable.  All those still mean no.