Sunday 28 June 2020

Can I say this...?

Now that I’ve reverted to addressing Aja Barber by her name on my blog I hope she’ll do the same and let her 150,000 followers know my name is Pearl Red Moon. I hope she didn’t delete the comment I made on her Patreon so they can make up their own minds whether it deserved the half hour tirade I got served up on Instagram video. If my comment was deleted and they want to know what bought on such outrage, I’ll publish it here.

This was my comment….
Sometimes I wonder why we need to have "work clothes" and "home clothes". This expectation works well for capitalism because we feel compelled to spend more money maintaining 2 separate wardrobe styles. Do all cultures operate like that? Plus I think more costs are put on women to maintain a professional wardrobe compared to what males spend. Men seem to have cleverly worked out that they can limit their professional work clothing choices within a small range of conventionally styled suits, shirts, trousers, coats, that don't change annually with each "season". This allows them to present at work garbed in acceptable choices rotating the same clothes for years for significantly less expenditure than what most women are enticed to spend.
(In that video she makes a little self deprecating observation referring to people making fun of her name. Boy, do I get that, same here! I legally changed my name in 1987 when I lived in Sydney. Over decades I’ve had people insinuate it might be a cultural appropriation from American Indian or Asian cultures. For a really long time I was completely baffled why they would think that. Perhaps the reality that I’m old, fat, white and greyhaired doesn’t quite match what they were assuming?)


That done, I move on with a heavy heart to react to another thing Ms Barber accused me of.

She said I use my neuro-diversity (Aspergers) as a free pass to get out being held accountable for saying offensive things to people or for holding offensive views.

I feel sick and shaky just writing that. It’s not only a slur on me personally but to all neurodivergent people. I could only bear watching the video once but somehow the way I use that free pass also got described as “manipulative”
This is a bit of background to my story.
I was born with non typical neurons in my brain. Being autistic didn’t happen because I got a brain injury, nor is it something medical I can take a pill to cure, nor is it aberrant behaviours I can be trained out of. Bit like being born with blue eyes or melanin bleached skin.

 I had so many problem behaviours as a child my parents took me to psychiatrist who said I was “hyperactive” – that was the early 1960s word that later morphed into ADHD. I was strongly aware from starting school that I needed to watch and model the behaviours of other girls or I lived in a world of perpetual trouble. My first school report says I need to learn how to get on nicely with the other kids. I was born the eldest in my family but fortunately I had a neuro typical sister 2 years younger whom I could model. As a teenager I worked out how to negotiate the world minimising trouble.

Things got considerably trickier after leaving school because I don’t like being around people, I’m super sensitive to sound and I struggle to interpret verbal and physical communications. Keeping jobs didn’t work well at all. I’m so super pedantic about rules and regulations, seldom make friends and never joined the workplace cliques. In many jobs I was bullied to the point of having breakdowns and doing self destructive behaviour like taking overdoses.

Making art had always been a thing I loved to do so in my early 40s I enrolled to do a Visual Art degree at an Australian University. This became incredibly challenging because of the huge throngs of people, over full auditoriums, canteens where the noise level was probably 90 decibels. I was obsessing over not being able to get a car parking space, all sorts of things like that were leading to me having crazy shite emotional melt downs. I went to a campus psychologist to work out what was wrong with me and how could I fix it. He told me I was probably still suffering from PTSD from the 1987 rape and the equally traumatic events of the criminal trial that resulted from that over most of 1992, plus I was probably also on the autistic spectrum.

I didn’t get the official test until about 6 years ago. A psychologist and a clinical psychologist saw me regularly over a few months and that was their diagnosis.

So what does Aja mean when she says I use my neuro diversity not be accountable? Firstly I want to clarify that I don’t have an intellectual disability. It doesn’t necessarily follow for all on the spectrum – think Einstein and Greta Thunberg. Though I sometimes have fun with people who know in advance, but when they meet me for the first time they speak loud, slow and use simple words.

By saying that Aja implies I don’t have integrity. She thinks I just like to say stuff (stupid and wrong stuff by her estimation) to intentionally hurt and harm people. She says that is what I’ve done to her and her friends. Maliciously and spitefully sought to harm them and then run back to my padded cell and say I’m too nuts to be held responsible.

That is completely untrue and makes me feel nauseous. I don’t want to hurt/harm her or her friends. As a textile artist, as a clothing pattern publisher, I wanted to take a stand over an assertion I didn’t agree with. I had no idea that quoting stuff they had written on public platforms was an insult and a personal attack. I honestly thought I was debating.

Well, I’m obviously more daft than I ever realised and creeping back into the padded cell is looking quite the sanctuary at the moment.

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