Ellen Jones was disheartened by the way most articles approached climate change activist Greta Thunberg’s Asperger’s syndrome.
“The people writing about it were never autistic women, nor people with campaigning experience and, as a result, I could see there was a complete lack of nuance and understanding about how ableism and sexism compounded together,” she said.
So Ellen pitched a piece to HuffPost U.K., which was published shortly after Greta landed in New York following her journey in a boat across the Atlantic Ocean, to address the criticism the 16-year-old activist has faced. In it, Ellen talks about her own experience as an activist with autism, saying she has “struggled to convey clearly my message, sometimes coming off as distant or not passionate.”
She notes that many critics of Greta have essentially ignored the substance of her campaign and have instead dismissed her because of how she presents her arguments. Ellen turns to Greta’s own words as the best explanation of what’s really going on: “When haters go after your looks and differences, it means they have nowhere left to go. And then you know you’re winning!”
Ellen also said she’s concerned about the role gender plays in this situation. She didn’t have room in the article to fully explore the disparity in autism diagnoses based on gender, but she told me the topic has “no simple answers” and is full of nuance. “People who are not men, are not cisgender and not white face a significantly harder time getting diagnosed, and this needs to change,” she said. “I strongly suspect that it is not necessarily that autism presents so wildly differently across genders but that there is still bias which derives from how we expect people of different genders to be.” When she was diagnosed, for example, some paperwork asked whether she collected football cards or liked trains — toys typically associated with boys.
“Society needs to realize that women can be autistic and not shun them for being visibly so,” she added.
The response to the piece has been “overwhelmingly positive,” Ellen said, noting the insight that comes from having someone who has autism write about the topic.
“I hope this encourages more people to tell their stories and for platforms to amplify those voices especially to an audience outside of our community,” she said.
I’d love to hear your stories about your own communities.
Until next time,
Some menstruating migrant children detained in the U.S. near the Mexican border were given just one sanitary pad per day and not offered a shower or change of clothes, even after they had visibly bled through their clothes, according to a lawsuit filed last week. It’s just one example in a string of appalling conditions migrants crossing into the country face, HuffPost U.S. reports. The lawsuit, filed by more than a dozen states, challenges a rule change by the administration of President Donald Trump that would allow the government to detain migrant children indefinitely. The states also noted children were not given sufficient medical care nor basic hygiene items like toothbrushes and soap.
Jennifer Gunter, who has been called “Twitter’s resident gynecologist,” focuses on debunking misinformation found on the internet about women’s health. But last week, she found Twitter didn’t welcome the promotion of her new book, “The Vagina Bible.” Twitter blocked her publisher from running its initial paid advertising, saying the ads violated the social media platform’s policies for promoted content, HuffPost Canada reports. (Twitter later said the ads had been blocked not because they had “references to sexual organs” but because of “a combination of human error and violations, including the use of profanity and adult products.”) “Vagina is an anatomical term and not a ‘dirty’ word,” Jennifer wrote, while retweeting the publisher’s reworded ad to get around the policy. (“We aren’t allowed to say the name of this book in the ad, but trust us, you want it!” the publisher tweeted.) Jennifer continued with a tweet thread, noting, “When we’re not allowed to say a word the implication is it’s dirty or shameful. Not being able to buy an ad because of the word vagina for a book about vaginas is ridiculous. … Our societal inability to say vagina like we say elbow is one reason I insisted on VAGINA in the title.”