As a mother of two boys, one of whom is on the autism spectrum, I experience the stories of the #metoo movement from a multiplicity of perspectives:
As a woman in the world, I’ve had encounters ranging from the frightening (a man locking me in a room with him and pulling out the key) to the sleazy (a professor intimating that he’d sponsor my project if I’d pose nude for his art class) to the merely disgusting (a guy jerking off in front of me in a public park). I’m relieved and cautiously heartened to see the culture finally begin to shift.
As a mom, I take every opportunity to alert my sons – ages 10 and 14 - to sexism and gender discrimination in its many forms – through language, media imagery, externally imposed constructs of masculinity and femininity, etcetera. We’ve discussed consent and the right of each person to decide if, when, and how they want to be touched.
As the mother of a person with autism, however, there’s an aspect of the whole conversation that frightens me. My older son, D, by virtue of his neurological difference, has trouble reading non-verbal social cues. Because of this, I’m terrified that he’ll make some mistake that will get him into trouble.Read More