Tuesday, 15 August 2017

When does an adjective become an identity?

I've also posted this over on Chertsey, but it belongs here really. Apologies for the long interlude and the irrelevant photos - they were things I wanted to post on CanalWorld so they needed to be on the internet somewhere.Hopefully abnormal service will be resumed at some point. No promises, mind.

Since getting my assessment over eighteen months ago now I've just been quietly getting on with being Aspie, not thinking about it a lot of the time; forgetting it sometimes. After all, I haven't changed; my life hasn't changed - I just acquired a label, a description, an explanation (of sorts) for what that life feels like. It's still the only one I know, and it still feels normal to me - because it is normal for me. The most interesting thing is getting an insight into how other people are different from me, which I never really appreciated before.

One of the things I've been doing is looking into setting up an autism network at work - and I'd particularly like to have a network for autistic women - partially because our experience is often different, and partly so as not to be totally outnumbered by men from the computing service... In the course of this I met up with the author of this blog, and then I read this post, and it got me thinking.

I've dipped into a few autism blogs, but (as you may know) I don't do Twitter or Facebook, and I'm not really that au fait with the world of autism activism - perhaps I have all that to come. But I've long been quite interested in the idea of identity politics, primarily because I don't really get it. So it seems to me ironic that autistic people should be arguing whether being autistic constitutes their identity, or is seen to, and whether this is a good or a bad thing.

From the start, I felt most comfortable saying that 'I am autistic' - even better, because I think (hope) it gives a more accurate impression, 'I am Aspie' - and wishing there was a more 'official' adjective for that. I much prefer this to saying 'I have autism', or 'I have Asperger's Syndrome', or 'I am a woman with autism' - or even worse 'I have an autism spectrum condition', or worst of all, 'I have an autism spectrum disorder'. Because having someting, even something as neutral-sounding as a 'condition', still - to me at least - implies a pathology.

But when I say 'I am autistic', or 'I am Aspie', I am not asserting an identity, or defining myself. I am not an autistic; I am not an Aspie. I am applying an adjective. It describes an aspect of me (the way my brain works) in the same way that other adjectives like brunette, right-handed, or ticklish, describe other aspects of me. But when I say I am female, white, heterosexual, to me those are still just adjectives. Feminist, liberal, atheist. Even English. To me these are all just adjectives. They describe me but they do not define me. But to many people at least some of these categories of description would constitute their identity, or at least an important part of it.

And I had the feeling that it was perhaps a particularly autistic perspective to see things like this; to not be happy with - or able to - adopt any identity other than 'I am me' - and not really knowing what that is, from day to day.  Which is why the idea of autistic identity politics feels contradictory.

However, as I think about it - and I'm going to start rambling now - I begin to see how an off-the-shelf identity could actually be especially attractive to someone who has always struggled to define themself and find their place in the world, and that the perspective I've set out above is that of a mature and relatively confident woman. The me of thirty years ago might well have felt - in a way she probably couldn't have articulated - quite different.

So the answer will no doubt be different for different people for all sorts of different reasons - but it's still an interesting question. When does an adjective become an identity?

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Photo hosting

This new blog isn't much of a success so far is it... Reduced to hosting photos for me to post on CanalWorld.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Slightly waspish

Goodness, this holiday business is tiring. It's been showery today (and is now pouring) but we managed to get a few more jobs done between the showers, and all the better for being unplanned. First, we finished rigging the A-frame over the back end, and cut a section of unused tippet to waterproof the top, through which quite a bit of last night's spectacular rain had found its way. It's being tested again as I write. Then we went to measure up in the fore end for a planned bed/platform. Aargh! I went, look up there (into dark corner above the deck board) What? says Jim. That, says I, shining torch at two inch diameter spherical object suspended from the string. What is it? says he. A wasps' nest, I shriek. Fortunately not currently occupied, tho Jim says now he thinks of it there were a lot of wasps hanging around last year. Anyway, that was swiftly disposed of, pausing only to marvel at the entomological skill that went into building it. Jim then fitted the new (old) headlight, bought at Braunston last year to replace one broken in an encounter with stoned hippies in a bridge hole on the Coventry last year. To his delight, it fitted the existing stalk so was one job that turned out to be easier than anticipated.

There's a nice stretch of straight towpath here, bounded by a hedge, where if I go on ahead to meet him, Rocky can have a good gallop. This morning I attached my GPS watch to his harness and Jim set it before releasing him. He ran 0.14 miles in 29 seconds which is equivalent to 3.07 minutes per mile or nearly 20 MPH - so his top speed would have been faster than that. I don't know how that compares to a racing dog but he certainly looks fast! It's a very impressive sight.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Done some work at last

I started this morning by scraping out the chimney, then polishing the stove. Then we went off to investigate the shops... The biggest, most terrifying Asda I have ever seen, followed by a massive B&Q, all on an enormous retail park, or possibly two, on the outskirts of Tamworth. Back at Alvecote I got on with some more polishing and cleaning in the back cabin, while Jim got stuck into some carpentry. Photos to follow but basically the idea was to make a structure like a false cratch, but for the back end, to pick up the top plank so that it doesn't have to extend over the back end decking. It was completed just as the threatening thunder finally delivered a heavy shower. When that was over we took Rocky for a gallop down the towpath, getting back just before another downpour. We are now eating in the Samuel Barlow for the fourth night in a row. It really is just like being on holiday.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Today in brief

Car shuffling up and down the A5, charity shops of Tamworth, lazy afternoon, Alvecote curry night joined by the Halfies, coffee and chat on Jubilee. Turning into a proper holiday, with the sun and all.

Location:Alvecote Lane,Tamworth,United Kingdom