Monday, September 20, 2010

Girls and Aspergers: I Don't Do Girl Talk

"Dear Jenna,
    You’ve been a good friend and we’ve had some good times but I can’t do this anymore. The phone calls, the girl talks, the feelings thing-it’s too much for me. Your expectations exhaust me. I have to do things your way and I don’t know what your way is. Don’t call me ever again.
    Have a great life.
            Leah"

Dr. Mary Cohen opens her presentation on Girls and Aspergers with this letter and it does sum up a lot for me. I don't have Aspergers but there is a certain amount of this presentation that just does ring true with me.   Other women who share this problem are many women who are gifted and talented.

Sometimes Girl Talk and the attendant cooing and petting and tending and niceness that goes with it is just too much for me.  "If you don't mind, are you sure this is OK?  We could do it another way, if you like?"  "Maybe like this?  Maybe like that?" On the other hand, there's the implicit threat that if I don't play ball, I will be OUT of the group and not just left alone to my own devices but will become the target of some bullying.

So I coo, chime, and smile, Smile, SMILE!  Because we are all SOOO NICE!  Regardless of the underlying dynamics, we are never, God Forbid, ANGRY!  We don't express our needs, until we are way past the point of civil conversation.  So we need to watch body language: whether a smile expresses the soul  or is a pair of stretched lips; the shoulders relaxed or taut; hand gestures fluid or clenched; and eyes expressing softness or hardness. 

But, you know,  at the end of the day... we all know that this is just not me.  And I am not that interested in tending and petting  after a certain point.   When I do care for someone and want to be affectionate, I am unmistakably so.  But, I am not interested in creating a general ambiance around me of caring regardless of my feelings for them.  I like a certain rationality and directness and many women just aren't in that space.

And a lot of this flies in the face of what our society's expectations are for women.  We are supposed to nurture, build ties between families,  be naturally empathetic, etc.   I do have these qualities, and they are important to me,  but they aren't the main focus of what I am about. 
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