Thursday, 20 February 2014

There's a difference between "can't" and "don't want to"

There's an odd tendency for people to think "can't" just means "doesn't want to".

Day 225: Makeup Brush Holder
photo by Sodanie Chea on Flickr
For instance, I wear no makeup.  I have low-maintenance hair. I don't do anything to my eyebrows.  I don't wear high heels or anything with frills or lace or frou-frou bits.  This isn't because I'm a "male brain" Aspie woman who doesn't care about her physical appearance.  Nor is it some sort of feminist rejection of traditional feminine grooming, or a political statement about gender roles.  Nor is it some sort of lesbian identification thing*, as has been assumed from time to time.

It's because I can't.

I just don't have the motor skills for makeup or eyebrow plucking or complicated hair.  My ropey balance means I can't walk in heels.  My sensory shenanigans mean I can't cope with clingy fabric, lace, underwire bras, or the various other trappings of feminine dress.  I go about in my bare face and my t-shirts not because I want to, but because that's the best I can manage.

The same goes for various other things that Aspies and autistic people do or don't do.  Eye contact.  Stimming.  Making friends.  Finding a partner.  It's not necessarily the case that we don't want to, or we haven't grasped the concept.  It may be that we genuinely can't.

*I thought lesbianism was about ladies who liked ladies, but judging by feedback I've received it's apaprently something to do with wearing jeans and boots and a leather jacket.  Who knew?  And has anyone told the Ninth Doctor?