In the interest of transparency

CONTENT WARNING mention of panic attacks, abuse of autistics, mention of email harassment, ableist language as a self-label

I reviewed a harmful book by an autistic martyr parent. It’s gone viral, so you may have heard.

Here is the review, here is the twitter thread.

When this page came across my feed, the author claiming that the book itself proves she didn’t abuse her son, I was motivated, out of stupidity I guess, to reach out through her comment section to let her know I HAD read the whole book and found it even more horrifying than the WaPo article.

She emailed me, implying that I had obtained the book illegally.

In the interest of transparency, and honesty, I’m sharing all of the text I have sent to this woman, and her husband.

These are my words, so I’m allowed to share them. I would DEARLY love to share the emails both she and her husband have since sent to me, because oh my dear gods they have me in tears and a panic attack. Both last night, and again this morning.

Suffice to say that they implied I’d gotten the book illegally, that I didn’t actually read the book, that I should REREAD that travesty, that I said I knew their son better than they did.

Then I just got one from the husband claiming that *I* a confirmed autistic am OBVIOUSLY not autistic, that I am probably a Russian internet troll bent on hurting good people like them.

So. Before I go close myself in the bathroom and rock myself calm. Here is the text I sent via the author’s contact section on her website.


What I sent to Ellenby via her contact form on her website in response to her defense of the WaPo article.

Oh? I’ve read the whole book now. Your book paints you as JUST as abusive if not worse than that article described. There were times in the book that you admitted to wanting to give your son a tranquilizer, which you had on HAND to go to a birthday party.

You really need to pull that book. It’s not out yet, so you still have a chance to repair this damage before it’s totally done. It’s harmful to the autistic community and it’s incredibly harmful to your son.

People, autistic people are already reading it and being harmed by it. I’m one of them.

Parents of autistic kids are going to read it and think that’s the best way to do things!! It’s not. It’s not even CLOSE.

Please rethink the massive amount of damage you can and are doing.

You’re wrong. You are VERY wrong.

These kinds of books need to be stopped.

You said you didn’t want to write another autism parenting book, you failed so hard on that. The only thing you did better? Was to insult autistics and provide graphic accounts of abuse of the disabled.

I wish you the best of luck, I think you’re actually a rather talented author if you actually wrote something you knew anything about. You so obviously DO NOT understand autism. Not if you could write those things. You just don’t.

By the way? You read as autistic to me. Female autistics don’t show the same signs, and we’re JUST as common as male autistics. The data and research is badly skewed.

You and I aren’t far apart in age, you wouldn’t have been diagnosed at a young age any more than I was.

Please… Please pull the book. You’re doing untold amounts of harm.

I don’t want contact with you, after reading that book I don’t much like you. But I think you need to know that people HAVE read the book, and they feel JUST the same as after reading that article.

That book HURTS people. Autistic people, like your son. Like me. Like my children, like many of my friends.

It’s not going to get better.


And here is the text of the email I stupidly responded to her with. My only defense is that it riled me to have it implied that I illegally obtained a book when I got it from NetGalley and the publisher.

If someone knows if I’m legally allowed to share the text of the emails they sent me, please let me know.


With as much grace as I’m capable of showing to someone who would hurt a child as much as you have, let me explain some things as politely as I possibly can.
I received a copy of your book from NetGalley and your publicity firm. I requested it after seeing that bloody horrible article in WaPo. I’m autistic, and the mother of autistics, and I am SO SICK of autism parents writing like they have a clue about what they’re talking about, because honestly, most of you don’t. I review books like yours, HOPING one of you is going to prove me wrong. I mean, I actively HOPE one of you is a decent person. So far? None of you have been. I reviewed TO SIRI WITH LOVE and have been on Bustle and in the NY Observer because of my work on it. I imagine my words will be picked up about this book too, I’d be very surprised if they weren’t. I’m a reasonably well known autistic advocate in online circles.
I’ll attach a screenshot of the letter from your publicity group at the end of this email, since you seem to be implying I didn’t come by the book legitimately.
Look, I get it that you’re a new author. I’m not. I work in publishing, the way this works is that ARCs (Advanced Readers Copies) are put out from the publisher around a month in advance, Netgalley and Edelweiss are the most common places to ask for a copy. We reviewers can also email the publisher to ask for a copy of the book. The idea is to drum up publicity for the book, in hopes that the reviews will be positive. The deal is that we reviewers provide an HONEST review, which frankly you aren’t going to like because it’s not favorable, in exchange for a free copy of the book.
Now, using your own methods… (Note, she numbered her demands that I provide quotes from her own book, I don’t know why, to prove I’d actually read it maybe?)
1) Do not talk down to me, I’m autistic, I’m not stupid.
2) I’m not wading through that filth you call a book again to get you exact quotes. It’s bad enough I actually read the whole thing once, I will certainly never reread it. And if you doubt I did? I invite you to take a look at my live-tweeting of it. https://twitter.com/KaelanRhy/status/969089091051569152 I’ve quoted you there. A lot. Properly, as I am actually allowed to quote words from books as long as I source the book/author. I’ve also given my educated, and sometimes salty opinion of what I thought of your words. Since you seem to need a reminder of the words YOU actually wrote… It was right before the birthday party, you said something along the lines of seriously considering giving Zack a sliver of tranquilizer before the party. You said you’d given it to him several times before and it had relaxed him.
3) I have no issue with autistics using anti-anxieties, nor allistics for that matter. If the doc prescribed them to Zack, then maybe he needed them. I don’t honestly know, nor do I really care. How you can possibly think I’m insulting my own people by being upset that you threatened to drug your son into compliance for a birthday party is beyond me. Honestly, that’s how it read. It really did. I’m not the only person to have thought so. There are currently at least two other autistics I know of reading and tweeting, unfavorably, about your book.
4) As far as intent goes, isn’t there something you lawyers love to say? Something to do with mens rea? I’m a historian and a teacher, not a lawyer. Intent does not equal result. The intent behind your book may have been good. I don’t know you, & don’t really want to. The result is OVERWHELMINGLY that you ARE hurting autistic people. You have hurt me. I’ve been crying, off and on for two days as I read that damned book. I’m still awake at 2 am my time, often glancing in at my children, who are both autistic, and wondering how the hell someone like you could publish those cruel and often nasty things about a child like them.
Honestly, how could you? How? Do you not see what those words will DO to your children when they read that book? If you don’t? I could tell you, but I highly doubt, from the tone of your message that you’re even close to listening to someone you deem as less intelligent and less worthy than you.
5) Stop with the PFL please. Autistics, by and large, HATE IT. It demeans us. If you knew ANYTHING about autism, you’d know that. Same as you’d know the bloody difference between a meltdown and a tantrum. They aren’t the same thing. Do you have any idea what a vibrant community we have online? I doubt it.
6) I still can’t believe, even if you don’t accept that your book will and already has harmed autistic people, that you CAN’T see how much those words will harm your son. I don’t understand that.
7) A thorough reading (she said that a thorough and accurate reading of her book would prove her point, as if I *hadn’t* done so) of your book made me throw up. It made me almost meltdown, that a person like you could be at all involved with autistic people, and are likely autistic yourself… it sends chills up my spine and makes me physically ill. It really does. I have no idea the sheer amount of harm you are doing with your ambassador’s group, and because you so badly misunderstand autism? You don’t either. I think it’s a great idea, but do you employ autistic people to help you? Do you know that our rates of unemployment are around 85% regardless of how well educated we are? Do you have any idea how close to poverty most of us live? Do you care?
8) An accurate reading of your book makes it quite clear that you hate your son and prefer your daughter. It makes it QUITE clear that you do not understand autism. For gods sake, you use PFL, refer to meltdowns as tantrums and quote crap from freaking auti$m $peaks. You seem to only understand the lies that Auti$m $peaks spouts, and people like Suskind. Do you realize that almost everyone in the autistic community thinks he’s a joke, or a fraud? There are some few allistic people who write about us that we like. It’s because they listen. He is not one of them. You will not be either if you go on to publish this book.
9) Do not besmirch my honesty or integrity. If I say I’ve read your book? I have. From page one to the very last page.
10) You can’t control how people will view your book, how they will read it, and you saying you’re sorry for how it affected me while at the same time telling me I misunderstood it smacks of so much arrogance. You really won’t get far in publishing, at least with the author side of things, with that attitude. The autistic community is HUGE online, especially on Twitter. Telling us we’re wrong for our very valid interpretation and feelings about your book? It’s really not a good look. You not being able to control how people will view your words is the risk you take as an author. I believe your intent was good, but your result failed. Badly.
11) I’m not usually the type to talk to the authors I review, I’m not even sure why I did or am. Perhaps I’m truly hoping you’ll listen and pull the book before it causes even more damage. Right this second I have autistics telling me they’re having panic attacks and flashbacks to their own abuse, just by reading my quoted words. They haven’t even read some of the worst stuff in the book! I have. THAT is the kind of harm I’m talking about. If you read my tweet threads, read the comments replying to it too.
12) Yes, you do make it clear that your harmful methods, which are absolutely abusive, are your idea alone and against medical advice. But the fact that you make it seem like they worked completely for Zack (you do realize that later in life he’s likely to suffer MASSIVE ptsd from that, right? MANY of us do) are going to have a clear result. What exactly do you think desperate parents who don’t understand autism, who believe it’s a horrible, disfiguring disability that truncates families and reduces enjoyment of life… all of the very nasty things you said in your book… what do you think they’re going to DO when they read that? They’re going to torture their kids in just the same way you tortured yours. And the outcome won’t always be as positive. So it worked for Zack. I’m happy for you both, there are OTHER better methods that your book doesn’t even mention. Those desperate families are going to harm their kids, and it WILL be your fault. It may not be legally anything to do with you, but morally? It’s on you. You can’t escape that. I think that’s probably why I said something because the book doesn’t pub for another month or so. You DO still have time to undo this. We, as authors, have a deep and abiding moral responsibility to make sure our words don’t harm anyone or cause someone to harm others. If it’s pointed out to us that they do? The right answer is to apologize and repair, if you can, the harm you’ve done. Period. I take my responsibility as an author of touchy subjects VERY seriously. It’s totally up to you how you take yours.
13) You definitely implied, if not outright claimed, that you’re an expert on Autism several times throughout your book, and no, I’m not wading through it again to find the quotations. I’m sure you’ve got a copy of it, you can do a word search yourself. You claimed to be a scientist once too. Also…did you NOT write your bio for Amazon? We authors usually provide the text for those. Here… let me cut and paste it below to make it absolutely clear that I’ve actually read it. Since you doubt my honesty so much.
Of course, you have a right to speak for yourself and share your story and your viewpoint. You also have the right and responsibility to bear the burden of the resulting harm. I just wanted you to know how very harmful I and many in the autistic community ALREADY find your book. Once it publishes? You have no control anymore. And you very likely WILL be taken to the cleaners. Diversity advocates on Twitter are ALREADY calling for it to be boycotted.
Then again, books like yours get all sorts of accolades and it took me forever to find a decent publisher for my work. I doubt that washington post will even bother to print my review or what I’ll write up to send to them about your book. I don’t have connections you see, and I’m autistic. I’m out and proud about that, so to most people, my opinion doesn’t matter. Because I’m stupid.
Books like yours don’t help that, you know.
As an aside, I can’t believe that you’re an author and not on Twitter. I really can’t believe it. The writing community on there is almost as rich and varied as the autistic one.
Now. I’m tired, I’m still hurting beyond belief at reading your book, and I’m going to try to go to sleep. I very STRONGLY urge you to pull this book. You have no idea the amount of pain you’ve already caused. I’ve pasted the promised proof below.
I think it’s best we don’t speak again.
Kaelan

Pasted bio from Amazon, I bolded the parts where it claims she’s an expert.

About the Author

Whitney Ellenby is a former US Department of Justice, Disability Rights attorney whose writings have been published in The Washington Post, a law review periodical, and the U.S. DOJ website. She is the author of “Divinity vs. Discrimination: Curtailing the Divine Reach of Church Authority,” Golden Gate University Law Review (1996)), as well as an amicus brief on behalf of the U.S. DOJ Disability Rights Division regarding discrimination against mobility-impaired individuals in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She is the proud parent of a son with Autism and founder of “Autism Ambassadors,” a charitable venture through which she runs exclusive recreational events for over 600 families impacted by Autism in the Washington, DC/Maryland area, including a Sensory-Friendly showing of the world-famous “Gazillion Bubbles Show.” She is an expert on Autism and has testified before the Maryland Senate on disability-related issues, is a member of the Developmental Disabilities Advisory Council for Montgomery County, MD and serves on the University of Maryland Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Board. Whitney’s expertise is steeped in her extensive disability law background, personal experience with her own son, and over 10 years of serving children, teens and adults with Autism of all ages through her “Autism Ambassador” events. Her monthly “Ambassador events” have been featured in local t.v. news, The Washington Post, Bethesda Magazine, and The Bethesda Gazette. Whitney was most recently honored with an “Autism Awareness Proclamation” and “Community Leader” award for her advocacy and dedication to the disability community of Maryland. She has what she describes as a “healthy obsession” with all things Autism.

I then pasted a screenshot of the email I received from her publicity firm. I can’t seem to figure out, as shaken as I am, how to paste that here. I shared it with her to prove where I’d gotten her book, since she made it seem in her email that she highly doubted I’d received a legitimate copy or even read it.
I woke up this morning to a letter in my email from her husband, of all people. He was defending his wife, telling me the book was beautiful and defending their treatment of their son. This is the text I sent back to him.

The very fact that you use functioning labels means you have very little idea of what it means to be autistic. And as far as I and many other autistics are concerned? Have no business working with us. I never said that I knew Zack, in fact, I said that I didn’t. I don’t want to know any of you. I certainly do not want to see any of your names in my inbox again.
Assuming that because I type well and communicate well with words on a screen means that I cope well with all aspects of life in an allistic world again proves that you have no idea what it means to be autistic.
Was I condescending? Possibly, it wasn’t my intent, any more than it was your or your wife’s intent to harm, what, at this point, is thousands of autistics. It will be more when that book comes out. She implied that I may have gotten the book illegally. I tried, in my very blunt, autistic way, to explain how this business works.
Were your actions and inactions abusive to your son? They certainly read that way. Not just to me, but to the thousands of other autistics who have read my review threads, to obviously, given the defensive tone on your wife’s website MANY people who read the WaPo article as well. Your intent and your love for him does not matter. It really doesn’t. ACTION is what matters, and those ACTIONS were abusive. ABA itself is deplored as being abusive, most autistics wouldn’t use it on a dog, you know. In fact, if those methods themselves were used on dogs, the person doing them would be reported to animal control.
If Zack is around 16? He won’t be showing PTSD from that yet. We usually don’t because we internalize it. It usually hits sometime in our 20s or 30s. ABA alone causes it, the rest of the things you guys did to your son? Regardless of your intent? It will only exacerbate it.
In fact, ABA breaks child labor laws, but because it’s ‘therapy’ it’s okay.
Your wife’s ‘beautiful’ book is going to harm so many more autistic kids. Desperate parents are going to do EXACTLY as I said they will, because you two put yourselves forward as being an authority on autism. Legally, it’ll have nothing to do with you, because you’ve both CYAd. Morally? That harm is on you both.
Good luck. Do not contact me again. Seeing either of your names in my inbox sends me into a panic attack. I only reached out in what is so very obviously a vain attempt at trying to halt this train wreck before it harms more autistic people because I care about people like me.
And I’m so sick of people like you hurting us. I have autistic kids who have to live in this screwed up world, and people like you, who claim that books like that are beautiful, and good, and needed? You make it worse.
Goodbye.

There’s been another letter from him, claiming that I’m a troll and not-autistic (I knew that was coming, said so in my thread) but I’m actually smart enough not to respond to that.
I am a shaken, panic-stricken mess right now. I’m crying, and I HATE to cry.
Authors? DO NOT RESPOND TO REVIEWERS.
Reviewers? Be smarter than me and don’t try to reach out to authors to stop their harm. I’m an authenticity reader for autism and… I thought maybe she’d listen. Mea culpa.

 

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Review: PETER RABBIT the movie, by SONY

THIS REVIEW HAS SPOILERS

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First, I don’t tend to review movies, because I’m much more of a book person, and the movies I *would* review I tend not to, because I don’t want to spoil them for people who can’t see them right away.

My kid wanted to see Peter Rabbit, so, given that it’s Family Day here in Canada I took  Mr. 5 year old.

If there’d BEEN another kids movie playing that he hadn’t seen, I would’ve taken him to that because I’d heard some really unpleasant things on Twitter about Peter Rabbit.

Hence this review.

Twitter, and the people who called it out for the reason they called it out for, were wrong.

So, what *I* heard on Twitter was “Don’t support Peter Rabbit because they make fun of people with life-threatening allergies.”

AND “Peter Rabbit has the bunny characters throwing items of allergy at someone with a deathly allergy for funnsies.”

And because I’d never been steered wrong by the people I heard it from, if my kid hadn’t so desperately wanted to see it, AND it hadn’t been the only kid-appropriate movie playing now, I would’ve avoided it. Based on that I wouldn’t have seen a decent movie.

It wasn’t THE BEST MOVIE EVAR!, it had some major issues, but it WAS good comedy if you like American style slap-stick comedy. (And I so rolled my eyes at how VERY AMERICAN some of the humour was.) My kid really enjoyed it, and there were enough parental jokes to keep me entertained as an adult. Especially the rooster, omg, the rooster was freaking hilarious.

Firstly, to address in no uncertain terms the allergy issue. (Last chance to avoid SPOILERS)

Allergies, especially life-threatening ones, are ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO BE JOKED ABOUT.

But that’s not what the movie did. It didn’t even come CLOSE to that, so I really question where the hell the idea I saw on Twitter originally came from.

I have allergies, my kids have allergies, and though none of ours are life-threatening, they are not a thing to take lightly.

We as the viewer are made aware that one of the main characters, Thomas McGregor/Domhnall Gleeson, has a life-threatening allergy (anaphylactic reaction, his throat closes up/he can’t breath) to blackberries). I recognized him from Star Wars, not Harry Potter, that’s how bad of a fan-by I am for anything Harry Potter. (I really don’t care for HP, don’t sue me, I’m broke.)

The title character Peter overhears that Domhnall’s character/Thomas McGregor (who is the descendant of the nasty McGregor from the Beatrix Potter tales, acted, superbly by Sam Neill) tell the love interest of the story that he’s allergic to blackberries.

This is a very multi-layered story peeps. It’s a romance, on top of, and perhaps MORE THAN anything else. Despite it being a kids movie. (So if you’re ARO/aromantic, maybe avoid this one, it hits all the points of ‘love is everything’.)

Now. Peter RABBIT is much more than a Rabbit. He’s clever, he’s wiley, he’s a freaking asshole.

He’s also coping with the death of both parents and being the eldest brother to his three sisters.

Thomas McGregor is just as broken in his different but similar ways.

So when Old McGregor has a heart attack chasing Peter in the garden (MASSIVE CONTENT WARNING ON DIETARY JUDGEMENT CALLS) the lands, manor home, and gardens (charmingly represented true to form to what I recall of Beatrix’s paintings and stories) it passes to Thomas.

Via the trope of an unexpected inheritance.

Thomas goes to the manor and finds it filled with animals, which you can see in the trailers.

Lolz, he screams so very well. My goodness.

Anyway, the allergy issue comes into play when after many shenanigans, Peter and Thomas get to the point of trying to kill one another for real.

Thomas is ACTUALLY trying to KILL the rabbits, Peter is defending, what he regards at this point, as both his beloved mama (the love interest, Bea. played by Rose Byrne) and his lands (which Thomas McGregor, in the way of humans, owns).

I don’t know about you? But if someone is trying to kill ME AND MY FAMILY, allergies would be fair game as a weapon.

You can feel free to disagree with me on that? But this great big human with a hate-on for wildlife is coming after me, I know he’s allergic to blackberries, I’m going to slingshot them into his mouth at the first bloody opportunity.

It was NOT as it’s been portrayed on Twitter.

There is a graphic reaction to allergies, and Thomas has to scramble for his Epi-pen.

He survives, and (unrealistically) tears ass after Peter again.

Not for funnsies. For self-defense. And honestly? If you’re the abusive type who says I/a character can’t use ANY weapon against someone trying to KILL YOU AND YOUR FAMILY as self-defense, I’m not a person you want to have something to do with.

Now on to the rest of the movie.

This is a romance! I didn’t expect that, and yeah, if the whole ‘love cures all ills’ aspect that allos love to shove down our throats at every opportunity bothers you, don’t see it. I’m grey-aro, but all it does *to me* is make me roll my eyes.

It’s actually a sweet romance with elements of fuck-it-all-up and still redeem it at the end.

Which surprised the hell out of me. The actors really did a superb job with that too. (It’s sweet, so there’s no sex/sexual tension to avoid for my asexual peeps as well.) Content warning on one awkward kiss.

Peter is VERY  Americanized for a British childhood story character. BUT, to be clear, the story of the movie takes place after the death of Peter’s mother-bunny. I never really read the Beatrix Potter stories as a kid, (books were such a luxury to us, we were THAT poor) but I think the fresh take helped, it’s a continuation of the tales. (I could be totally wrong, never actually read them.) Rather than a retelling.

The animation for the animal characters was freaking phenomenal and the movie is worth seeing JUST for that.

I’ve been around since before Roger Rabbit (Gods, some of you are so young you’re not going to know what I mean.) So here is some of the style… youtube of the animations of Roger Rabbit.

Compared to many of its predecessors, Peter Rabbit stands out, it’s amazing as per the melding creativity of live action and animation.

There were several lines in the film that made me slightly uncomfortable as a domestic abuse survivor, and I wasn’t happy with how Peter treated his sisters. (Seriously, when are writers going to learn to develop ALL of their characters as well as they do the primary ones?)

Writing wise? This is a damned good film.

Acting wise? Freaking phenomenal, I might be a fan of Domhnall’s now.

Creativity/animation wise? AMAZING.

American humour? Gods could we please find a different way? (I’m American btw, even if I’m expat.)

So. In short (hah! I can’t write short to save my life, and yes I amuse myself) that’s what I thought of Peter Rabbit.

Twitter was wrong, it was a good movie and my kid loved it.

Soft-blocking can be ableist, so what?

I get in so much trouble for this idea. I have people who unfollow me because they tell me I’m being harmful by pointing out that soft-blocking can be ableist.

I have people arguing with me because it’s ‘just what people do’ and no more harmful than ghosting someone in real life.

Spoiler, ghosting someone in real life (unless, obviously and I shouldn’t even have to say it they’re an ACTUAL danger to you) is ALSO HARMFUL, and hurtful too.

Soft blocking can be ableist. I feel it’s actually INHERENTLY ableist simply because it fits the definition of an action which not everyone is going to be *able* to understand.

If everyone isn’t *able* then the action that causes harm is inherently ableist.

It really, really is. Whether we like it or want to admit it or not. Whether it’s your favorite choice of ‘protecting yourself’ or not.

It’s harmful, it’s ableist.

Some definitions and terminologies. I’m writing about this phenomenon on Twitter, since that’s the place I’ve seen it most.

A follow, on Twitter is where you click ‘follow’ and you’re able to see that person’s tweets.

An unfollow means you click unfollow so you don’t have to look at the tweets anymore.

A ‘mutual’ is a mutual follower, someone who you follow and they follow you back.

A block is where you click ‘block’ and the person you have blocked can no longer see your tweets.

First… Soft blocking is the ACTION of hitting the block button on Twitter with a mutual or someone who has followed you because you don’t want them following you/seeing their tweets.

OR you want them to unfollow you without it being a stink about it. (I’ve been told it’s possible on other social media outlets like Tumblr, but I don’t use those so don’t know how it’s done there.)

There are as many reasons in the world to soft-block someone as there are people. SOME few people have reasons that deal with self-protection.

People should ALWAYS protect their mental, physical and emotional health. That is an absolute iron-clad rule. If y’all twist my words as meaning anything other than the ACTUAL words I’m putting on the page, that’s on you.

Oh, and that’s harmful.

Sometimes the methods you use to protect yourself harm others. There is really no way of getting around that. It is a fact when it comes to dealing with intersectionally marginalized people.

Second. I think I need to discuss what ableism is.

The simple definition is that it’s discrimination in favor of able-bodied people.

It gets a lot fuzzier when you’re dealing with intersectionally marginalized people, including those of us who are disabled.

So many of us are disabled in one form or another. Many of us have PTSD from so many things. (I certainly do, I’m diagnosed with C-PTSD and it fucks my life up A LOT.)

The deeper definition of ableism is this, I’ve pasted the definition below.

Ableism is the discrimination or prejudice against people who have disabilities. Ableism can take the form of ideas and assumptions, stereotypes, attitudes and practices, physical barriers in the environment, or larger scale oppression. It is oftentimes unintentional and most people are completely unaware of the impact of their words or actions.

Shall we dive even deeper?

We could. We could add on the ideas of privilege to that. Who has more power? Then even deeper, who has more PERCEIVED power.

Have we gone down the rabbit hole yet?

Here. We’d better take some carrots for a snack.rabbit-2505034_1920

Let me state this unequivocally. Soft-block to your heart’s content. It’s your space, do whatever you want with it. You SHOULD curate your space as you want/need to.

We all should.

Which includes me. When someone I KNOW knows that I have a problem with soft-blocking, AND they do it any way I’m well within my rights to block and not do business with that person.

For me, that means I won’t read or review their books. I won’t buy them.

Now, the reason I HAVE to do that is self-care. If they KNOW I have a problem (because it harms me) with that action, then they do it anyway, I CANNOT trust them.

So I’m sure as hell not doing business with them.

I block and blacklist. People don’t like that, but guess what? It’s my space. I make the rules. If that gets me a rep of being a bitch? I can live with that.

I HAVE to live with that because I’m a very, very broken person with regards to mental health.

You don’t like my rules of treating people decently and trying your best not to harm others in your words and actions?

Of apologizing and owning your shit when you fuck up?

Of respecting boundaries?

I’m not someone you want to work with.

So. Soft-blocking is curating your space as you need to.

I’m not telling you not to do it.

I *am* saying it’s inherently ableist to do it, if you’re neurotypical or abled.

An argument could be made that it’s ableist of me to share how badly it fucks with my head.

To be soft-blocked, I mean.

The argument for *me* being ableist by sharing how badly it messes my head up is that guilt comes into play. By sharing how badly it upsets me, I could technically be putting pressure on people not to soft-block.

I really don’t care if you use a harmful tool to protect yourself. You do you. Your guilt is the price you have to pay for that. I guess that’s too honest for most people though.

*Your* guilt is not *my* problem. It’s not *on me* (the one being harmed) by your action to absolve you of your guilt.

Hence it’s a long stretch to call me sharing my feelings and educated opinion on the realities of soft-blocking and the damage it can and has done ableist.

But it *could* be. A skilled debater or manipulator can make someone absolutely certain the sky is green with purple polka-dots.

The only thing that makes it *not* ableist for me to do that is that it’s also a self-defense mechanism. It’s selfish, but it’s not ableist in that scenario.

Life is not, much as many people would love to think it is, a black and white construct of right vs wrong.

For *me* soft-blocking is wrong. It causes far more harm than it could *ever* ease.

For others, it’s a no big deal, it’s an ‘I just don’t want to confront this person enough to tell them I don’t want to follow them anymore.’

For others, soft-blocking is a self-protective mechanism IN ITSELF. They feel safer soft-blocking than they do just unfollowing.

(I don’t pretend to understand that, the safest way to not see people’s tweets and to signal you want nothing to do with them is to either unfollow or block them. Period.)

But I *am* autistic and I *do* favor bluntness over all your allistic mind games. Y’all can play those. I don’t and won’t.

Now. The reason I’m talking about soft-blocking and sharing my reactions is because *to me* (and probably people like me) it causes PTSD trigger episodes.

I’ve been gaslit so freaking much in my life that any little hint of anything that can make me doubt my memories, my experience, my thoughts… it’ll send me into a downward spiral where I’m left touching real-life objects to assure myself that they’re real. Holding my kids and doing all sorts of things slowly, just so that I can know it/they are real. That I’m actually in the space/time that I’m in.

THAT is what soft-blocking does to people like me. And the number of responses I get to this subject anytime I talk about it, saying something along the lines of ‘that happens to me too!’ mean I’m by far and away not the only one this practice is affecting badly.

Harmfully.

If someone is soft-blocking as an act of ‘fuck you for saying it’s ableist’ (I’ve had this happen a lot) it’s kinda obvious what the motivation is, you know?

It happens most from people who are on the younger side, FWIW. I guess I can’t hold it against them. Their brains aren’t done growing yet. (Seriously, medical fact, your brain isn’t mature as far as action/repercussions/risk assessment until you’re around 25, go ahead and look it up if you want. It’s why your car insurance is higher than mine.)

So what about what I said earlier? What about privilege? How does that play in?

I look white (I’m not, but I sure do look it) so I automatically have more privilege than anyone who is visibly not-white.

But when both people look white, that privilege is removed.

I’m unemployed, (I work for myself, and make very little money) so anyone who is employed or gets a regular disability payment is automatically more privileged than I am.

If you’re healthy, have a good income, if you own your home vs rent, there are SO many socioeconomic and anthropological factors that can go into your actual level of privilege that it pays, I think, to be cautious in how you act/react and what actions you use to protect yourself.

In the age of ‘me too’ and allegations of sexual assault being everywhere, soft-blocking is a viable self-protection tool for many. But like any tool, it can be misused and that particular tool has really sharp edges that can hurt both the wielder and the one it’s wielded against.

(I’m a sexual assault survivor, so I can almost see why it would work for people. I don’t quite, though.)

But the gaslighting I’ve been through has scarred me deeper than the sexual assault. I react and have stronger PTSD triggers to anything resembling gaslighting than I do to talk/reading about sexual assault.

This is not the case for everyone. If my words or actions have hurt anyone in those shoes, I do apologize. I’m trying to educate on the results of a harmful behavior that has and does cause damage to people. Including me.

I still don’t agree with people insisting that soft-blocking is harmless. Because it just isn’t.

An anecdote from my own life. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you may recognize it.

Last October (I think?) I was repeatedly soft-blocked by someone I had more privilege than.

I did NOT understand I was being soft-blocked. I didn’t even know it was possible. I wasn’t able to understand why someone would do something that (seems silly to me) when blocking is much more effective.

Let me explain something, Twitter is a really weird place for me. It has followed people for me in the past, and unfollowed people who have sworn they didn’t soft-block me. I’ve had people tell me it’s blocked people for them, people they NEVER would have blocked.

It goes pear-shaped ALL THE TIME. So how is someone supposed to know if they are being soft-blocked?

The problem that happened occurred because this person DID NOT want me to follow them, but they didn’t block me. We had mutuals in common so I would often see their name and I really liked what they had to say. I admired their bravery.

In my naivety, I wanted (because I do have more followers) to boost their voice and opinion.

So I’d see a tweet that I liked a lot, I’d boost it, then realize that (I thought, because I didn’t at the time understand soft-blocking) my follow had dropped because of Twitter weirdness.

I clicked refollow at least three times before I dim-wittedly clued in (that whole, I was NOT able to tell I was being soft-blocked) that it was intentional.

I’ve owned up and apologized for my perceived mistakes there, and for my actual ones. But do you see that if that person had said to ANY of our mutuals to drop a word in my ear that “Hey, you’re making X uncomfy with the refollows” I would have stopped and NOT caused the problems it did? If they’d just blocked me, all the pain could’ve been avoided. Including my pain at not understanding what was happening, and my pain at having caused harm because I didn’t get it.

Instead, the person chose to use soft-blocking instead of communication or blocking.

How did that ACTUALLY help?

It didn’t. It harmed. It harmed me, and I inadvertently harmed THEM because I did NOT understand I was being soft-blocked. I was, at that point in time UNABLE to understand it. Making it an ableist act.

For what it’s worth, I *now* understand it when it happens. I absolutely do NOT like it because it messes with my perception of reality, but I DO understand what is probably happening.

How many people out there don’t though? Who are you hurting when you use this methodology? Is it worth it? (In some cases it absolutely will be, but you need to ask yourself that question.)

I’m not the only one this affects. There are so many people that don’t even know you CAN soft-block. Much less that people use it so flagrantly and without regard to the harm they are most definitely doing with it.

So what about power? Someone with more followers than me has more power. Someone with more money, a better job, better connections, they all have more power than me.

Someone who can work is also in a position of more power, or someone who gets a regular income in any form. They all have more power than me. So we need to be aware of our level of ACTUAL power as well when it comes to our actions.

But all of these things (and probably more that I can’t think of) play a part in the interconnected strands of how people interact with one another on Twitter and other social media outlets.

ALL of these things are things that make soft-blocking ableist if you have MORE power, and selfish, perhaps, if you have the same amount or less.

So what. So it’s selfish. Big whoop. There aren’t any Twitter police. Obviously, or we wouldn’t have any Nazis.

So you feel guilty about using a double-edged sword to protect yourself, one that can and does hurt people.

Big whoop. Again, your price to pay. If the cost is worth it to you, fine. Do it.

If it isn’t, then don’t, just unfollow instead.

If it’s ME you’re dealing with? I guarantee you that I will react better to a straight up unfollow or block than I will to you soft-blocking me and making me doubt the cohesion of my mind.

Because to me, and many people LIKE me. That’s exactly what that does.

It’s a minor form of gaslighting.

As I’ve said on Twitter in the past 24 hours or so, intent does not excuse the harm you cause.

It’s my intent to educate about the damage of soft-blocking. I’ve been told I’m hurting people by pointing this out.

I can’t pretend to really understand how it DOES. But I trust that people are telling me the truth that it hurts.

I’m sorry for that.

Truth often does hurt? It’s the precursor to growth and awareness.

Me pointing out that soft-blocking harms others is no different than whoever first noticed and pointed out that we needed ramps for disabled people to access public buildings.

I’ve been wondering the past day if those people, the ones who fought for that kind of accessiblity, have gotten as much flack and push back and accusations as I have about this issue.

Probably. But progress is never made by being silent.

I could go on with this and try to unpack how it’s less ableist for another disabled person to soft-block another disabled person, because if it’s done out of self-protection, at least there’s a justifiable reason for the harm they’re inflicting.

But again, intent and reasoning doesn’t change the harm they’ve done. Intent never excuses harm.

For any of my mutuals? Straight up unfollow me.

I unfollow for unfollow. You unfollow me, I unfollow you, always. Period. And that’s really the end of it.

I don’t follow many ‘real people’ on Twitter, at the time I’m writing this I have 515 accounts that I follow. More than half of those are images/news/weather etc accounts.

They aren’t people I talk to. I follow 4 people who don’t follow me back (they’re all authors, FWIW, some of my favorites.)

Everyone does Twitter in the way that best works for them.

If people don’t like the way *I* do things. They are well within their rights to not have anything to do with me.

Just like *I’m* well within my rights to do what *I* need to do to protect myself.

Which includes blocking people I’ve figured out have soft-blocked me.

Like it or not, the action harms me (and a lot of other people) by making us question our minds/memories/thoughts/etc.

That’s why it’s ableist and should be used with care, if at all.

Me: Autistic.

I’m sitting here cuddling my sick son. Wondering how badly the world is going to chew him up and spit him out because he’s autistic. Just like I am. It’ll be bad. I know that. The world is going to break him. I would let it break me, over and over and over again to spare him this pain. I’d let the world tear into me, over and over again if I could just spare my kids from feeling like this.

Even once.

It’s why I’m talking about this right now, when I’d really, really rather not. When I’d just as soon leave the internet and stop tilting at the windmills of allistic society in a vain hope of educating people enough about autism that they don’t hurt my kids.

The world is going to take fat, wet bites out of both of my kids and leave them scarred. They’ll develop massive mental illness problems because of how they’re wired and because allistic society doesn’t bother to try to understand how autistics think, communicate and feel.

It’s been an absolutely terrible 24 hours for me. I lost my temper and wrote a blog post about marginalized readers, privileged writers and THINKING about what you write and why you’re writing it.

A couple of people I thought might eventually be people I could call friends attacked me for it.

They didn’t explain how it hurt them. They just… attacked me for it on twitter. I admit, I got defensive, but I don’t know a single person on the face of the planet who wouldn’t when you have three or four people who you thought might be okay people suddenly in your mentions claiming you’re a harmful person.

Without making it crystal clear exactly how they came to that conclusion.

I mean. They could’ve explained? Instead of clinging to hurt feelings and twisted meanings of my words? Instead of being sarcastic and just telling me not to read their books? Instead of being angry and hurtful when I said over, and over, and over again that ‘I do NOT understand’ and ‘How did I do that?’

They all knew I’m autistic. But they treated me exactly like they would another allistic.

Their expectations were exactly the ones they’d have expected from another allistic.

Their reactions did not take into account that I don’t perceive or understand things the same way they do. Which does not make me stupid by the way. I’m a tested and certified genius, for what it’s worth (which is absolutely nothing). It just means I’m wired differently.

They expected me to process the sarcasm they used as ‘you hurt me’. Instead of saying THESE WORDS YOU USED HERE HURT ME AND THIS IS WHY.

They expected screenshots of my words as receipts to give me some clue as to why they were hurt.

Does that actually work for allistics? It doesn’t for many autistics. It doesn’t for me.

They expected me not to react when four people were in my mentions accusing me of terrible things. Only autistics aren’t allowed to react to that you know. Quite a double standard there.

They expected me to be ABLE to process the information as fast as they could throw it at me. Which, like… I can’t.

Actually cannot. It takes me longer to process written information because I’m dyslexic. (A common comorbidity with autism.)

I’ve since been accused of using my neurodiversity as a shield for me being a dick.

Except I apologized, both publicly and privately to the person I hurt the most. If I could AT all wrap my head around how I hurt the one who hurt ME the most, I’d apologize there too.

But I don’t get it, no one wants to explain it and fuck me. Aren’t I allowed to be hurt and angry too?

No. Of course not. I’m autistic. I wrote the blog post that got twisted to hell and gone. I’m not allowed anything.

I have not received any apologies. I have received correction, for which I’m grateful. I am SO grateful for people when the call me on my bullshit. I’m human, I’m quite capable of making mistakes. I’m also capable of learning when I fuck up.

But I truly did NOT understand how my words could be twisted so. Still don’t, for what it’s worth.

You know. When you’re autistic, you’re not allowed any room to be autistic. It’s why we mask so much.

We process information differently. We communicate differently, but the second you prove you’re not allistic?

You’ll get attacked. Especially on social media. This has happened so many times to me. It’s so fucking exhausting.

I’m coining a hashtag. #GuiltyOfBeingAutisticOnSocialMedia

It’s so long it won’t catch on, but it’s so freaking common, and not just for me. SO, SO many autistics have been in my mentions the past 24 hours offering support, telling me their stories of similar experiences and also… telling me that the blog post did, in fact, say exactly what I meant it to say.

Now… I DO mean exactly what I said in that post. There is NO ulterior motive, no hidden meaning. I wrote it when I was angry and I wasn’t as clear as I could have been in some ways. I edited it for clarity after the fact and all edits are labeled as such. It makes it rather a mess to read, but I don’t want to be accused of changing anything to cover my ass on top of everything else I’ve been accused of being the past 24 hours.

I don’t understand how allistics can’t understand that many autistics communicate using words we ACTUALLY mean. And nothing more.

Like… twisting an autistic person’s words is just flabbergasting. Most of us TRULY don’t mean more than what we say, with the EXACT words we used. We don’t mean the opposite, we don’t mean twisted and turned meanings, there is no undertone to our words. Because we’re not allistic.

Allistics don’t tend to communicate the same way, and I think that is the source of the problems I ran into? Maybe? There’s always this subtext to allistic communication that autistics both don’t catch and are for most of us, incapable of comprehending.

Yes. I needed to wait to post that until I wasn’t angry and could’ve proofed it for clarity. My opinions are strong, I’m blunt and I say things people really don’t want to hear.

Like some stories aren’t yours to tell. People really hate hearing that one, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Especially, OMG especially white writers. Truly, they HATE hearing that one. If you chose to write a story, did your research and due diligence, of course you can write what you want. Even if it isn’t your story to tell. There aren’t any publishing police, no one is going to arrest you for it.

It’s your responsibility if you hurt someone too.

But yes, I’ve learned that the least I can do is make sure I proof posts for clarity before I release them onto the world.

Someone I regard as a friend said they could see how the post could be twisted and it doesn’t mean what I think it means.

I know what I meant. I SAID what I meant.

Even if I can’t understand the twisting, I can understand that some people will take my words and turn them into what they want them to mean rather than what I actually meant.

Isn’t that where asking for clarification is supposed to come into play?

The basic building blocks of communication?

“Hey, did you MEAN what I THINK you meant?’ < Clear question of intent.

“Oh, gods no, I didn’t mean that! THIS is what I meant.’ < Explanation of actual intent

‘Oh, cool. Glad I asked, cause if you’d meant that it would’ve hurt me a lot. We good?’ < Acceptance that they needed to ask for clarification, explanation.

‘Yeah. We good, oh and man, I’m so sorry if I hurt you, it was totally unintentional.’ < ^^Acceptance and apology.

‘S’okay. I forgive you. You didn’t know.’ < Acceptance and apology.

You have now communicated. Level up! (I’m a gamer, I’m exhausted, in a fibromyalgia flare from emotional stress and massively hurt, down to my soul from this latest of blows from being autistic on social media.)

I think one of the ways the world is going to hurt my children the most is the ways in which it’s hurt me the most.

It takes my words, it twists them, it assumes meaning that isn’t there, then it penalizes me for what people THINK I said.

When I was trying so damned hard to be clear with my words too.

You know… there’s an old saw.

Assuming. When you ASSUME you make an ASS out of U and ME.

They assumed, and turned us all into asses.

I assumed that people would read the actual words on the page, and turned us all into asses.

And you know? I already know this post will be used as yet more evidence that I’m using my autism as a shield from me being a dick.

I’m not trying to. I’m trying to explain how I think, what I perceived as it was going down, and why it happened. I’m trying to make sense of it all, so maybe I can keep it from happening again.

I’m trying to learn how to guide my kids so they don’t get hurt by the world as much as do.

I AM wired differently. If that’s using my brain as a shield it’ll be awfully messy. Brains go squish.

But it’s sort of like a sighted person screaming at a blind person to LOOK, SEE. The blind person cannot.

It’s like being furious at a deaf person because they can’t hear what you can.

It’s like screaming at a person who cannot walk to get up and run.

I don’t often consider my autistic brain to be a disability. I love my brain, it’s awesome. I love what I can do and learn and perceive with it.

Today though? I’m well aware that I AM at a disadvantage when trying to communicate to allistics.

And so are my kids.

Because society makes no accommodation at all for differences.

Which is ableistic as fuck.

 

 

 

Queer Kerfluffles and Marginalized readers

Content warning bad words and loud opinions.

EDIT: JESUS FUCKING CHRIST ON A CRUTCH. Non-autistic readers, I am AUTISTIC, I mean ONLY what I’m saying with the words that are on the page. I am not IMPLYING anything. There is NO HIDDEN MESSAGE. Y’all have caused me to have an emotional meltdown with your accusations.

If I wanted to SAY don’t write something, I would say DON’T WRITE SOMETHING.

I was trying to convince myself not to write this post. I’m so flipping MAD right now, and I try not to emote too much when I’m mad. But I feel maybe I need to write this post. Both for me and for other marginalized readers.

Right now on Twitter there’s a kerfluffle in the m/m romance and erotica community. I don’t even know what originally started it and honestly, other than rabid curiosity  I don’t care that much.

I was vaguely aware of the dust-up but was ignoring it. I’ve got sequels to write and art to do and I just don’t have the time.

Until a former mutual made the mistake of saying readers should judge a book BY the book instead of by the author’s ID.

This was in regards to m/m romance.

No. Nope. Niet. Nix. Nie. Nein. No fucking way.

Why?

First point. It’s awfully fucking privileged to say that to a marginalized reader. And if you’re saying it on Twitter? You’re saying it to marginalized readers. We’re kinda everywhere there. You know?

It’s how we tend to get book recommendations.

Oh, yeah, I’m marginalized, I’m a special little snowflake. I’m mixed race, (White European, Brown European, First Nations Mic’maq/Mohawk, Hispanic and Black. I’m queer as a three dollar bill (pansexual, kinky, asexual, grey-aromantic non-binary trans), I’m mentally ill, I’m chronically ill (fibromyalgia and EDS), I’m autistic… there’s probably more stuff I’m forgetting.

I NEED NEED NEED NEED good representation of my marginalizations. I need it like I need water to drink or air to breathe.

I need to see myself in fiction. In the pages of a book, on the screen. I need this so much.

And people are daring to tell me I shouldn’t care who writes the book?

Look. Don’t go off from here thinking I’m insisting every author out themselves. I’m not. It’s NOT a safe world to be any sort of marginalized author and I will never, ever say you have to out yourself.

But you shouldn’t be insisting that I read your books either, if you aren’t going to be out. If you absolutely aren’t marginalized? Where the fuck do you get off?

Now… the former mutual in question I know for a fact is an allo cis het vanilla writer of m/m kink. I know, because I asked, that they write it for money and because they fetishize m/m porn.

Whatever… you do you. Write your books, take your lumps if you fuck it up. Just like any other author on the face of the planet. She gets to choose what she writes, and what she doesn’t and honestly? I could really care less.

But don’t tell me I have to read it. Don’t tell me or any other marginalized reader that it’ll be just as good as queer fiction.

I don’t have to read it and it almost certainly won’t be. I read a lot of queer fiction, I read a lot of het fiction too… there’s just SOMETHING about queer written fiction for queers that is so authentic and perfect and can’t be faked by a het. It just can’t be. That doesn’t make het written queer books BAD. It just makes them something I don’t want to read.

The same goes for EVERY one of my marginalizations, I can tell when it’s own voices work, and I can tell when the author hasn’t done their due diligence.

I do not in any way have to judge a book by the book itself, not if it’s written about one of my marginalizations.

Why?

Because historically marginalized people have had books written ABOUT us. They aren’t written FOR us. And trust me, there is a huge damned difference.

Do you know what doing that is? That’s profiting off the backs of our very existence, while edging us out of publishing, because when you’re white, cis, allo, het you AUTOMATICALLY HAVE A LEG UP IN THIS INDUSTRY.

And often? The books aren’t that good. They’re just not. Even IF the author hasn’t fucked it up, (and a lot of them really DO, see my ass sex post for just ONE of the ways they fuck it up) they completely miss the nuance that marginalized authors bring to their work.

Because they don’t live it, they cannot, as in they are NOT capable of actually repping that. I mean, how could they be?

No amount of research in the world can give you lived experience.

None.

Research can keep you from fucking it up (dear gods I hope, anyway) but it can’t let you know what it FEELS like to be autistic, or queer, or mentally ill, or mixed race, or disabled or (insert marginalization).

It just can’t.

We as authors of things, especially queer things, do need to make room for people who are exploring their queerness. Identity is weird everyone, it really is. Writing is often a way to find out that oh, hey, wow, I’m REALLY FUCKING QUEER.

Writing and reading helped me figure out that oh, wait, I’m actually trans and was so heavily socialized as a ‘girl’ that I didn’t know that.

So yes I’m absolutely willing to make room for those baby queers who are exploring. That’s not what this is about, so don’t even start with me about it.

(And you know, I’ve read work by people who *I* could tell they were queer even if they didn’t know it yet, I’ll never forget reading one of my favorite authors and being surprised as hell to find out that they thought they were straight and vanilla. Author came out later that year as being bi and kinky, but after reading their work? I already knew that.)

I’m not gatekeeping with this post. I really don’t care if you want to write marginalizations that aren’t yours. What I do care about is you insisting that we marginalized readers MUST give it a chance. We do not, in any way shape or form owe you that. Frankly, marginalized people don’t owe non-marginalized folks a damned thing.

I once listened to a radio program on the CBC where an older white male writer opined that he thought HE could write what it felt like to be a black woman BETTER THAN A BLACK WOMAN.

Because he was objective and did his research. I swear to gods you can’t make this shit up.

The fucking arrogance is astounding. Truly.

So. How close do you have to be to write it right? (or at least WELL… jeez)

I think that depends on the topic, to be frank.

I really don’t want non-autistic writers writing about autism or having an autistic MC because they’re gonna get it wrong. There is SO MUCH misinformation out there about what an autistic is really like that… yeah, just don’t. Leave that to those of us who live it please and thank you. EDIT: If you absolutely feel compelled to write an autistic MC, HIRE A BLOODY AUTHENTICITY READER.

I think queer people can write pretty much any variety of queer fiction (EDIT: including kinky fiction, kink, trans, ace, etc are all part of the LGBTQQIAAP2 acronym and I don’t understand how that is even a question. Kink is also a part of the QUILTBAG thank you very much), as long as they do their research and employ an authenticity (previously known as sensitivity) reader.

I include m/m sex in my books, yes, absolutely, but every m/m scene I include is beta read by three bi or gay male beta readers. I’ve known them since university and they have no trouble smacking me down if I get it wrong.

Trans fiction is tougher, I’m a little leary saying all queers could write trans fiction because…well… how would all queers know what it feels like to be trans? But they’re probably less likely to fuck it up than a cis person would be.

I think a mentally ill person can probably write most mental illnesses, but maybe not the really badly demonized ones like DID or ASPD or BPD or even ED.

I think for kink? You really need to be kinky/think you’re kinky to be writing it. Not sorry. EDIT: It is POSSIBLE to write kink well without being kinky based on research alone. It may still ring false to a lifestyle kinkster, but as long as it’s not harmful? Enh? Go for it. The reason I’m fussy about this?

POINTS AT ALL THE DAMAGE 50 SHADES OF GAGS HAS DONE.

EDIT: I personally know people who will bear lifelong emotional and physical scars from their partners reading poorly written kink and then doing it. Kink. Is. Not. A. Game.

If you aren’t black, why are you writing a black MC? Seriously, you really think you’re better at writing their experience than they are? Please. EDIT: First Person POV is what I’m talking about not writing. I think it’s fine, based on what I’ve seen black people say, to write a third-person POV black person or Asian person (or other POC)… because in third person, you’re writing about/including them, not REPRESENTING them.

If you aren’t mixed race, or Asian, or… why? Why are you writing it?

If you aren’t asexual, you’re gonna fuck it up, because not even all of us aces agree on what good rep is. EDIT: So you fuck it up? Big deal. People have been fucking it up all through history. I’m not saying don’t write it. You do you. Personally, I won’t write something I’m not. All my work is own-voices. Only thing that isn’t is having a penis, cause I’m wasn’t born with one, damnit. I get lots of authenticity readers for those parts.

At the end of the day, you, as a writer, need to ask yourself WHY you’re writing what you’re writing with regards to marginalizations. You need to ask yourself if it’s your story to tell, because some of them, no matter how shiny an idea or fluffy a plot-bunny, will not be your story to tell.

You need to ask yourself what kind of harm you’re doing (cause if you aren’t OF the marginalization, but you’ve chosen to write it anyway? YOU ARE CAPABLE OF DOING ENORMOUS HARM. Not Fucking Sorry).

If you’re a cis het non-queer of other variety person writing m/m fiction for money? I don’t have a lot of respect for you, but go for it. There’s a market full of cis het women dying to fetishize gay men. Have fun, just don’t pretend you’re doing anything but writing it for the money and the fetishization of real people. And don’t demand I read it. Don’t EVER demand I read anything like that.

If you’re writing it because you just happen to love gay romance? Get gay/bi male beta readers at the very least and DO YOUR RESEARCH.

If you’re white and you’re writing a first-person black POV MC? Also don’t have a hell of a lot of respect for you, because we all can see why you’re doing it. You think it’s the in thing and it’s gonna get you cookies. (It’s not, really, it might get you published, because you have a leg up in this industry over black and mixed-race peeps right from the get-go.)

*I* won’t even write some of my marginalizations. I have a black/native grandfather, and a native grandmother, that does not mean I have the right to write what it feels like to be Black or Native. It just does not, cause hello… I turn into Casper in the winter. I wasn’t allowed to learn about my grandparents’ cultures because the last residential school in Canada closed in 1996 when I was in university. They taught me to pass instead.

(I’m mixed, I tan so well that I don’t pass if I’ve gotten any summer sun, but I’m not Black or Native. I’m DESCENDED FROM Black and Native peoples. There’s a huge difference there. EDIT: My great grandfather was Portuguese and Spanish, I’m technically latinx, EDIT: Apparently that doesn’t make me latinix, it makes me Hispanic. I’ve been educated (thank you so much) about that. Still, I won’t write it. I’ll absolutely include Hispanic characters and side characters, because the world is diverse and we need to show that. But I won’t rep what that experience feels like. I’m white-coded and I have passing-privilege.) I do write a lot of mixed-race characters because I can authentically rep that. I usually pick my own mixtures.

I read mostly own-voices work these days, because hands down, the work is so much better than non-own-voices. It just IS.

It all comes down to some questions and statements.

Who are you writing for?

Is it your story to tell? Some stories ARE NOT YOURS TO TELL Not sorry.

What kind of harm can it do?

WHY are you writing it?

and the statements:

Make your worlds realistic with all kinds of people, YES ABSOLUTELY. 

PLEASE include us, but don’t USE us.

Lolz, and don’t tell us we have to read your books. I don’t owe a read to anyone, especially if they’re writing ABOUT me instead of FOR me.

EDIT: I have been attacked by non-autistic people that I thought were pretty cool and accepting types because of this post. I do not understand how they can think I’m saying ‘don’t write that’ ‘ace and trans aren’t queer’ from anything in this post. I have since edited it, all edits are noted with EDIT, italicized and colored a different shade, take all the receipts you want. I haven’t deleted anything, nor will I. It would be dishonorable.

Y’all. You could do a LITTLE bit of work when it comes to communicating with autistics. We work all the gods damned time to communicate with you. Every second of our lives around you is spent trying to understand you so we can communicate in a way you’d understand. Why the hell can’t y’all do the same? You’re not going to be the majority much longer. Recent statistic put autistic kids at around 1/62, so before long? We’re probably going to be the majority. You will eventually have to learn to communicate with us or find yourselves in the same position autistics are in now. Except autistics would probably try harder to understand y’all.

There is NO implied meaning to any of that. None. That’s on the reader if they think there’s something more behind it. Not on me for saying what I actually mean. Words have meaning. We have books full of the meanings of words, they’re called dictionaries.

If you’re talking with an autistic? Use a dictionary, because THAT meaning of the word is the one we’re probably using. NOT whatever you THINK the meaning of that word is.

Gotten in trouble for THAT too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research as a writer

So. Research, we all know we need to do it, right?

I mean… we DO know we need to do some, when we’re writing, right?

Nope. We all really don’t seem to know this.

I read a book this past weekend that was a historical and it was very, very obvious that a lot (or maybe any) research hadn’t been conducted.

The story premise was good, but it lacked the depth that research could have given it.

I honestly can’t think of any genre of writing that you can get away with NOT doing research for. Picture books, maybe? But I did a ton of research for my Ace Shark picture book, so maybe not even that?

Some genres are heavier on research than others, I do the MOST research for Historical and Science Fantasy, but even for my paranormal titles, I still do a ton of research.

For my Ilavani series, I did so much research into genetic modification, quantum physics and historical power structures including the history and structures of indentured service that I could probably write at least a master’s level thesis on any of those subjects.

For my upcoming Bloodbound from NineStar Press I did massive amounts of research into the Mabinogian, Welsh Folklore, and supernatural critters.

Now. How do I do research?

It varies? That’s as helpful as mud, isn’t it?

So. I have a couple degrees in research related stuff. So I know how to do high-brow research.

But honestly? I start with Wikipedia.

Not so much for the articles, though some of them are surprisingly good, but for the links leading out from the articles.

Even if you JUST read the Wikipedia articles about the subjects you’re writing about, it’s probably enough for a lot of mainstream fiction.

But you can also find pages like this one (here on my site) where I add interesting links that I’ve found while I’m doing research for my books.

You can follow the links from Wikipedia to find further information. You can google search a specific topic (most of the links on my resources page were found doing one of those two things).

If it’s a topic? There is someone who geeks out about it. Find the geeks talking about it and listen to them. Many of them are very interested in consulting (waves at the lovely people helping me with long-range sniper rifles right now) in order to get the info RIGHT in books.

Cause getting it right kind of matters. Very little will throw me out of a story faster than a fact that I know to be untrue.

Because then I have to go look it up to remind myself that it is, in fact, untrue.

If I find it’s not factual, I will very likely never pick the book up again. Not everyone is as fussy as I am about things being authentic, but I very much am.

Why should I waste my valuable time in reading your words if you didn’t waste YOUR time looking up the information to get it freaking right?

I also use TV Tropes a lot (I spent probably weeks on this site while I was developing the world for the Ace Assassin World. (Bloodbound April 30th, 2018, and OMG that’s getting close!)

Just type in what you want to know about in the search bar and browse to your heart’s content. You’ll likely be surprised at all the questions you didn’t know you didn’t know to ask that you suddenly have when you do that.

Fair warning, it’s a HUGE rabbit hole. You could get lost. Take some carrots as a snack.

Where can you find the geeks? Internet. Most of us have blogs where we obsess about our interests. For those of us who don’t have blogs, we go to group meetings about the topic that we love.

IE: Beekeeping, look for a local beekeepers/apiarists association. They are in most towns, but it’s one of those things you probably have to go looking for to find.

Same with Blacksmithing, or genealogy, or spinning, or weaving, or, or, or, or…

Twitter is a fantastic resource cause many of us geeks do threads about topics we’d like people to get right.

If it’s a historical topic, you could look for historical reenactment groups. They exist for most areas of history, and trust me, you’ll find history geeks there.

Libraries are a fantastic resource if you can get to one. Librarians will often help you find books about any subject you need because that’s what they both love and get paid to do.

So. There is my two cents on research.

 

 

 

 

Consent, #Metoo, Kink, Domination/submission, and owning our needs.

Content Warning: Sex, Sexual Abuse, Kink

I’m kinky, but y’all knew that if you’ve been following me for any time at all.

I’ve always BEEN kinky. I’ve also been the victim of sexual assault and rape.

And no, before you even think it, I’m not kinky because of my abuse. Kink has healed me from the effects of abuse, not the opposite.

Kink let me reclaim my sexuality in a way I’m not sure I ever would have been able to without it.

We’re in a time of social upheaval, when so many people are talking about what sexual abuse really is and how it contrasts to rape. I feel something needs to be added to this conversation.

We’re talking about how men (actually, anyone who wants to date, because f/f relationships and any relationship with an enby needs to pay attention to this conversation too) now have an opportunity to choose to be a different kind of person (if they aren’t already) than they were socialized to be.

We need to talk about kink and how it affects this conversation.

If you haven’t read this article, please make the time to do so. It’s fantastic.

The only thing that made me blink a bit in that article was a reference that made it seem bad if you are the kind of man who wants to dominate a woman.

Now, I don’t get the feeling Ms. Oluo was trying to say that kink is bad, she’s talking about something entirely different, but it did leave me a slight squirmy feeling in my gut.

So.

What about it? What if you ARE the kind of man (or woman or non-binary person) who wants to dominate someone else in the kinky sexual sense?

What if you are the kind of person regardless of gender who wants to be dominated? Or, lolz, to put it bluntly, what if it really gets you hot to submit to someone?

There isn’t anything wrong with that.

It’s okay. Really.

It is absolutely okay, if (and only if) you have the proper agreements with your partner if you submit to them, or if you dominate them.

That’s the beauty of kink, and of consent because I have very rarely met a committed kinkster who isn’t extremely respectful of consent. We usually tend to be very good at communication too, we have to be.

There is an aspect to this ongoing conversation that a lot of people may not be aware of.

I think it may be part of why many women are pushing back against the concept of what sexual assault is and isn’t. A smaller part, for sure, but it’s telling.

Women and femme presenting peeps aren’t, in any generation of any recent time, encouraged to embrace their needs.

Some people need to submit. Some people need to dominate. These are needs and largely unmet if they aren’t filled by being in a kinky relationship, or maybe the person who needs these things doesn’t even know that kink exists.

The one thing I’ll always be thankful to 50 shades for is that it brought kink out of the shadows. It’s a terribly written, abusive, harmful example of kink, but it did bring the idea of kink into the public conscious.

Hell, in my generation, (I’m currently 41, it’s 2018) we weren’t socialized to accept that we HAD sexual needs at all.

We were socialized to ‘please a man’, regardless of our own desires. We were socialized to so many things that many of us wouldn’t have chosen to do if we’d even known we had a choice.

So many of us didn’t just didn’t know, because we weren’t taught. The fault there lies with society, for certain, with patriarchy, often times with religion as well.

So it makes sense to me that a lot of women may not understand that they actually want to submit. That it’s a legitimate need and that there are safe, consensual ways that those needs can be met.

The reverse is true, as well.

These are just my rambly thoughts on the subject really, I’ve done no research to back up what is a gut instinct for me. Obviously this is a very wide-reaching, deep social problem that covers all shades of gray, and this is just one aspect of it.

In every conversation like this one, there are the polar opposites of GOOD and BAD, RIGHT and WRONG, but in between those opposites are all the shades of gray.

We need to talk about those too, or we’re not talking about the whole subject.

We need to be aware of why people are pushing back against social change, or we’ll slide right back down the slippery slope we’re all trying so desperately to claw our way up.

Everyone needs to own their needs and their responsibility to themselves and, extending that, society.

Everyone needs to get to the point where they are willing to clearly communicate what their needs are, and what they are absolutely NOT willing or able to do.

We ALL need to get to the point where NO is as acceptable (without consequences) as YES PLEASE will be.

We need to get to where we ask for verbal consent, where we make it sexy as fuck to ask (cause it really, really is) and where it’s AS sexy for people to say, ‘hey, can I try dominating you/submitting to you sometime?’

It’s going to take work. Work in ourselves to find out what we each of us needs. It’s going to take work to OWN those needs, to take responsibility for them, our selves, our bodies, and learn how to communicate about all of those things.

It’s going to take a lot of work for people to shrug off the generations of patriarchal socialization that is causing so many problems.

And I think, the very first step of that, is to be talking about it all.

We’ve made a start. I dearly hope for the sake of my children at least, that we can keep the conversation going.

Social media, New followers, Reviews and related STUFF.

You can tell, based on how chatty I’ve been lately on both my blog and social media that I’m stalled on drafting my WIP.

I’ll get back there when life calms down a little bit more.

I need to say a few things that might be of use to peeps, given the increased numbers of new followers who’ve found me lately.

I’ll be brief (fine, I’ll try, don’t hold your breath).

A) I don’t habitually follow back. I’ve dealt with A LOT of harassment, mostly through Twitter, but also through facebook and my blog. I don’t even check my notifications for who has followed me or unfollowed me anymore.

I do check to see if a mutual *we both follow one another* unfollows, but as for new follows? I don’t even look.

Two reasons, I gain/lose upwards of 20 new followers daily, so I’d be a lot more swamped than I already am keeping up with social media if I auto-followed.

If you are someone who needs a follow back to feel okay with a relationship with me, I can’t really promise that? I respond to almost all @s on Twitter (unless I miss the notification, I hang in my mentions, not all-notifications, so I usually do see them) emails, etc, but I get it if that’s not enough for people.

The best way to get my attention is to talk at me a lot.

Like… a LOT. If, over time I feel we click, then I may eventually follow back.

I might not though. Because secondarily, I try to keep the numbers of accounts I follow lower because my feed is an absolute mess. I don’t see the peeps I want to see and talk with if I have too many peeps I follow. I tend to go through and do a semi-regular clean out of inactive accounts and people I haven’t connected with on a social sense as well. If I have to ask myself who the hell you are? You probably have an unfollow coming, even if we’re mutuals.

B) It used to really hurt me if a mutual unfollowed me. These days, if we haven’t connected in a social sense, godspeed and I wish you well. It’s really okay. You can go on and not have anything to do with me. I will unfollow you though. I’m not in this for a numbers game.

My one addendum on that is that if you’re an author, and we’ve been mutuals, I can promise I won’t be pushing your work anymore, nor will I be buying. There’s a bit of a professional give and take with an author/author relationship.

I’ll also notice if I’m the only one pushing your work, and you’re not pushing mine. I have a varied reading palate, not everyone does, so I get it, but if you want ME to be helping push your work, you gotta scratch my back, too. (lolz, doesn’t apply to super famous authors that I adore. I’m just thrilled y’all are following and talking to me, that’s more for authors who are around my same level of publication history. Though if we’ve been mutuals and suddenly we’re not, I’ll probably stop buying your books. Only cause it hurt me that that happened, and I probably didn’t understand the why.)

Just the way I’m wired. I’m contrary, I own it.

C) Please Please Please don’t @ me on twitter with your books unless I ASK for a link. It’s not quite a blocking offense, but I REALLY don’t like it.

I’m contrary by nature, so the second you do that? I can almost guarantee I won’t be reading it.

Same goes for sending me an email and asking me to pimp your book on my blog/buy your book to read for review.

Really people? No. Just no. Firstly, I think this probably violates spamming laws.

Secondly (and I’m not talking a review request, that’s a completely different animal) I’m not made of money. 99.9% of the books I read are ARC copies or from the library. I can’t afford to buy books by authors I KNOW I love. Why in the world would people think that I’m going to spend money on their books, just so I can review them? I don’t get it.

That’s not how reviewing works.

The way reviewing works is that you send me the book for free, AFTER asking if I might be interested in it, and AFTER reading my review policy to make sure it’s fine by you.

You don’t ask me to buy your book so I can review it. Nope.

Lolz, yes, this happens, A LOT.

You might be surprised at how often that happens.

Finally, if you’ve in any way been responsible for harassing me? (Subtweeting counts, especially if you’ve used my name or description, because you know? That actually IS legally harassment) you can consider yourself blocked and blacklisted FOREVER (or until you apologize).

Since most people who end up harassing me are doing it through an ableist lense, welp, I figure I’ll be in my grave before they confront their ableism and apologize for fucking up.

But, that’s really neither here nor there.

So that’s my social media update in a nutshell.

Guess I was long winded after all.

 

A reaction to The Last Jedi, from a die hard SW fan who hated Rogue One.

TL;DR is…

I fucking loved it so hard. You hate Frumplestiltskin, the GOP, and maybe even rich peeps?

See it, IN THEATRE.

Spoiler free review.

I’m not going to go into detail. I don’t usually review movies, I bitch about or laud them on twitter instead.

I reviewed Rogue One, but only cause I loathed it with every fiber of my being.

S’okay, you can disagree with me and I can judge your taste until the end-point of my being.

Lolz, we can still be friends. You’ll just get a side-eye from me about the movie, is all. (Seriously, my best friend completely adores it, we just look at each other weird about it.)

That review can be found here. I wasn’t kind, or nice, the movie was shite.

I’m someone who grew up on these movies, (I’m old, seriously, these movies were my childhood, I’m utterly unreasonable about them. I don’t CARE).

There’s a format to them.

You can scoff all you want at me but I’m actually an editor in real life, like, it’s my JOB to do this stuff.

Rogue one failed on pretty much every aspect except that it was sorta… not really… not even close… to being Star Wars Shaped.

It failed the format, it failed the canon, it failed everything, including the fucking romance.

Blech.

I’m thinking of torturing myself through it again, since it’s on netflix, to see if it was REALLY as bad as I thought. Preeeeety sure it was.

I’m a masochist. Don’t sue me, I’m broke.

The Last Jedi? I was actually terrified to go see it, because R1 made me hate Star Wars. People who LOVED R1 kinda made me look at the fandom in a WTAF sorta way.

Shrugs.

I had edits for The Last Jedi, if you know me AT ALL you know I’ve got edits on EVERYTHING. Including life.

The Last Jedi didn’t disappoint. I loved it. I loved every aspect of it.

I cried, I sobbed. I just. THAT IS STAR WARS!!!

THAT is what people who kept saying in 2016 that R1 ‘was the movie they needed to see’ (with regards to the resistance and a message of hope and the election and gahhhh)… nope.

No.

The Last Jedi carried that message, and then some.

Choice, Action, Consequences, Results, Lives lived on the edge, Heroic Sacrifice, Balance between light/dark, Space Battles, HOPE AGAINST THE DARK.

Yeah. THAT is Star Wars.

Also, I really want a Vulptex, (crystal fox) ridden by a Porg, followed by a Fathier, cause OMFG SQUEEEEEEE!

Okay. Stopping now. So I don’t spoil it. I loved it. It brought Star Wars back to me.

And after the godsfucked year a queer, autistic, mixed-race, pagan, expat American has had in 2017?

I needed THAT movie.

Go on now.

See it.

 

 

 

Knowing now…

It changed my perspective on the world. Reading that horrible book.

My reaction, the twitter threads, my review

Not only in the obvious way, in that I still feel like I waded through sewage to read it, and can’t quite get the stink off my soul.

But also in finding out how deeply caring the #actuallyautistic community is.

I sort of knew that, I mean, I’ve never met a more empathic group of people than autistics, (most of them, there’s bad apples everywhere, but by and large, autistics are wonderful people) but I’ve never been deeply involved in the community. Mostly because I only got my DX a couple of years ago.

I post on the #actuallyautistic hashtag when I remember to, but I’m ridiculously busy.

It feels like all of my time is taken up by being a mom of two, a spouse, a writer, an editor, a sensitivity reader, a reviewer, and a critique partner to several other authors as well as trying to be a good friend to the people I’m close to.

So the outpouring of appreciation and love from the autistic community and our allies has just amazed me.

I didn’t expect it.

I’m so grateful for it, because after reading that book? I really needed it.

Thank you, all of you, so much.

The faith I lost in a lot of NT people has been replaced by faith in all of us. Together, I really do think we can make our voices heard.

And for the sake of future generations of autistics, I think we have to.

I’ve been contacted privately by dozens of NTs who really do want to learn to do better.

So no. As tired as I am, I’m not shutting up and I’m not backing down.

It takes a lot to make me angry, long, long fuse, but I’m both angry and determined now.

My kids, all autistic kids, all autistics… we all deserve a better world than the one that lauds a book like To Siri with Love.

I have no idea how we’ll make that happen, but I think if we stand together, and we don’t let ourselves get too exhausted by it all, we can do it.

So, in all of this, do remember to take care of yourselves. I know the emotions are strong, they really, really, are, but this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Remember to rest, and care for yourselves.

Kae-