A love letter to my autistic children-by KaelanRhy

So many of these ‘autism martyr parent’ books are positioned as a ‘love letter’ to their autistic kids.

I’m autistic, I feel love, very deeply and the way I feel about my kids, who are both also autistic, doesn’t even come close to what those people write. So. Just to put it out there (and with their express permission) this is how *I* would write a love letter to my kids.

Dear 5 and 10,

You may not know it yet, but you are the brightest, most amazing things in my life. You teach me something new almost every day. You bring me laughter, joy, deep-thought, and so many experiences that I could never enumerate them all.

Whether the ‘something new’ is something I didn’t know about myself, something I didn’t know about you, or some sort of random fact I didn’t know about dinosaurs (in your case 5) or how manga is drawn and what undertale is (in your case 10)… I know, waking up every morning that life with you two will invariably teach me something new.

I love that so much about you both.

5? I love storytime at bedtime, because we learn something new together then too, your choices for stories are usually encyclopedias of some sort, we’re working on the illustrated encyclopedia of animals with you, and the joy you express at all the new information we find out every night is a highlight of my days.

10? You’ve moved on from having us read your stories now, and it’s bittersweet in a way I think most parents probably feel. I’m so proud that the love of reading to yourself has finally bitten you, and that you’ve found fanfic and horror stories that you love all by yourself. You make me so proud on a regular basis, and I try to make sure you know that.

I do miss the days when we got to read stories to you. But hopefully, our commitment to early literacy has helped you find your own joy in learning and love of reading.

Regardless, it’s wonderful to talk to you about the kinds of books and stories you love, and even what you don’t love about them. It’s a beautiful thing for me to share with you, and I thank you for that.

One of the things I love best about both of you is that given time and support, you get to where you want to be. One of my favorite examples of this with you, 5 is that you love chocolate milk. One day, you decided you wanted to learn how to make it yourself, and after just one lesson, you were making it for everyone.

You continue to do this to this day, and it’s such a wonderful thing to see the joy in your eyes when you ask if someone else in our family would like a glass of milk.

10? Gaming with you is so much fun, I miss the days when you wanted to game only with us, but at the same time, I’m so happy that you’re finding friends of your own to game with. Those kinds of bonds and memories will be wonderful ones for you as you get older.

I know that the memories of the bullying you faced at your former school are fading, and I am so grateful for that. Even with how much it cost me personally to move, you my dear, are well worth any cost I could ever bear to have you in my life.

It’s nice, to know that you’re going to school in a safe place, where they actually have no tolerance for bullying. So many places pay lip service to that, but seeing you thrive at a school that actually backs it up is so amazing.

Even if you do hate math. It’s okay, I hate it too.

I love how thoughtful and caring both of you can be, when you’re not pulled into a special interest. When you are, I love that I need to remind you to eat, because in so many ways, you’re so much like your dad and me.

I look forward, so much, to seeing what you both will grow up to become. I hope that by then, the world is a better and safer place for autistics. And I promise both of you, even if you won’t read this until you’re adults, or maybe never…

I won’t stop fighting for you. I love you both with all of my heart and I celebrate everything that you are. Forever.

Love- Mama

 

Ongoing saga

In the ongoing saga of how I’m being bullied and harassed by Whitney Ellenby and her husband Keith, I’ve received yet another email, AFTER ASKING THEM TO STOP.

She has said that she’s reporting me to Twitter, Goodreads and ‘appropriate online authorities’ that *I* am in direct violation because my EMAIL tells her it’s going to be her fault when other parents hurt their kids.

My heart is doing a hummingbird impression in my chest.

How can these people think it’s okay to keep harassing me because I hated their harmful book?

Email text that I responded to her with. (I’m trying NOT to respond to them, but I NEED THEM TO STOP.)

Since I’ve posted that nowhere except my website. It violates none of those policies. Do you seriously think you’re going to manage to bully me and harass me into shutting up? You’re just making me more determined.
I have asked you, repeatedly to stop contacting me. You are now harassing me as well as bullying me.
STOP HARASSING ME. STOP BULLYING ME.
YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HARASS OR BULLY SOMEONE WHO HATED YOUR BOOK.

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.

 

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, I’m queer as a three dollar bill (pansexual, kinky, asexual, non-binary trans), I’m mentally ill, I’m chronically ill (fibromyalgia/possibly 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 love to read 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 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 (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.

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 sociopathy 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. 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.

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.

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 american. It just does not, cause hello… I turn into Casper in the winter.

(I’m mixed, I tan really well, but I’m not black or native american. EDIT: My great grandfather was Portuguese and Spanish, I’m technically latinx, EDIT: Apparently that doesn’t make me latinix, I’ve been educated about that. Still, I won’t write it. But I won’t write that either, not and 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 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 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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.