Many have asked me what it is like to be a female with aspergers. So I’ve finally decided to share.
While men on the spectrum are generally celebrated for their brilliance, women are more likely considered weird for possessing the same traits.
Society has come to treat the tech bro on the spectrum like a rock star. Artists like Tim Burton are celebrated worldwide for their eccentricities. Can you name me a female savant? Can you supply me with the name of a female high functioning autistic celebrated for her odd brilliance?
Sadly, I cannot.
We believe that the traits of bold persistence, blunt talk and free-thinking unbridled creativity are uniquely male.
Particularly this is true in the case of persistence. When those on the spectrum want something, they will work harder than anyone to achieve that goal. HFA/Aspergers kids are relentless in pursuing their passions. When it is a man pursuing a career, to work for another man he looks up to in his field — this is fine because it is rewarded as flattering persistence. The same persistent behavior in females is often sexualized and mostly treated as possible insanity.
Of corse both male and female would never cross the line. Autistics recognize boundaries because they are socially awkward not mentally ill. Although we may not always successfully gauge how we may come across, we strive for self awareness. We understand our persistence and passion, though others may not.
Women are also expected to be feminine, warm and understanding. While autistics try to be deeply empathetic people, make great partners and are overall the most nonviolent people imaginable, our generosity is more likely to be taken advantage of. Autistics are more likely to be the victims of violence and abuse; male and female. So in the case of females on the spectrum, we’re ripe to be taken advantage of. After this sort of abuse, the person is likely to shut down and turn introverted. Most of all, they will probably blame themselves. Autistics are prime targets for narcissists. Since narcissism runs stronger in men, it is more likely to be a female victim.
Sexually this has deep ramifications for women too. Not always the case with people on the spectrum, but often: Many don’t like sex the way neuro-typical people do. Oftentimes folks on the spectrum see sex as demisexuals, and need to develop a relationship before we can be intimate with someone. When so many relationships today start with hookups, this makes finding a partner hard. Especially so for the women, who are expected to put out. An aspergers man on the demisexual spectrum is more in control of that urge and if anything he is more likely to find a woman willing to take it slow versus an aspergers woman finding a man to take it slow. Women usually end up giving in and then shutting out the man because they no longer feel comfortable, they feel violated.
Women are expected to behave a certain way according to societal bias, both conscious and unconscious. Autistic women violate this societal framework. Women on the spectrum are Tomboys, more often interested in the same kind of creative expression and things as men. They are more likely to have male friends. They are not especially feminine, and thus are often punished for that.
Women are not celebrated for the things they should be. Aspergers and high function autism is not a mental illness. It is a developmental delay often accompanied by savant-level IQs and intellectual ability. Not rain man, nor Jim Parsons. Rather Tim Burton, Dan Akroyd, Mozart and Warhol.
Yet if a woman were to be like any of those men, they’d be criticized. They’re not feminine enough. They’re weird and therefore because they’re a woman who is weird, they must be insane. The woman must be mentally ill.
This is why it is so much more difficult for women on the spectrum. I won’t say it’s much easier for many men, but they are not held to the same societal expectations that women are. It hurts when you admire someone deeply and want to work for them, but your persistence is questioned as possible insanity. This is not fair. As much as it’s not fair, as much as we try to be more self aware, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because society will always judge women more harshly than men. Being a woman with aspergers just makes it that much harder.