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Disability / Feminism

I’m No Less Femme Because I Have Autism

"I think why dating as an autistic woman is so hard is because autism is mostly associated with cis men."

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If you would’ve met me five, four, even three years ago, you would’ve met one hot mess. I have witnesses to testify.

I was the moodiest, saddest, weirdest, most discomforting Christian fattie with Autism Spectrum Disorder that I and anyone knew. My friends were as consistent as Ohio’s weather. My parents couldn’t decide what kind of “normal” teenager they wanted me to be, with my siblings not shying away from weighing in their opinions. And my love life was nothing short of nonexistent.

These days I’m more mature, rational, and level-headed than I ever used to be, and I realized… I’m so, so much hornier now.

When I was younger, I would get leering stares from men (gross). But the older I got, the less attention I would receive from random men out in public and eventually, online as well.

Middle school I think was when my true radical feminist phase really started kicking in when it came to attention and attraction from the opposite gender. I would always ask hard-hitting questions like, “Why do boys like boobs? Why can’t they just squeeze play-doh on the side of the bed?” and declare edgy statements such as, “Lingerie is only to please boys. Even if I get married, I don’t want him to expect me to wear any b-u-t-t-f-l-o-s-s.” I kid you not, I actually lacked that much social awareness to say these things out loud.

Sometime during COVID canceling sophomore year and everyone being online, I didn’t just learn more about the autism community as a whole, but the fact that one even existed. I began to find and follow AFAB autistics on social media, gleaning from their knowledge and learning their ways through a neurotypical (not neurologically disabled) world.

I wanted to know what it was like being autistic in college, in the workplace, in friendships, and why it’s ridiculously difficult for this p to catch some d (keep in mind my family is most definitely reading this).

While I never found a clear-cut answer to my dating dilemma, overtime I did find some commonalities among the autistics I followed and the relationships they had with others inside and outside the community.

I think why dating as an autistic (especially an autistic woman) is so hard is because autism is mostly associated with men. Women are typically most likely to be misdiagnosed, undiagnosed, or diagnosed later in life as opposed to men. This particularly paints autism as a sort of “boys club” not just medically, but socially as well.

How most neurotypicals respond to a woman with Autism is to either a) deny that she has ASD and assert that she must have been misdiagnosed, or b) androgonize the woman and dissociate her from anything traditionally viewed as feminine and sexual.

Prior to my diagnosis, my own pediatrician didn’t believe I was autistic ranging from being “too extroverted” to not being “disruptive enough”. Even as I’m open about my autism now, I still get comments from so many people that they would have “never guessed” because I “don’t look like it”, something many autistic women experience.

The problem is that this narrative of ASD and womanhood hurts women, men, autistics, neurotypicals, and everyone intersecting and in between. If you want to help these people instead, please don’t view autism as for the boys.

And can someone please kiss my autism already?


About the Author:

Summer Orban is an 18-year-old Ohio-based freelance writer, with her work featured in YR Media, Pure Design Girl, and Salty World. She is the producer and host of SOSO, a podcast about faith, neurodiversity, and intersectionality. Follow her here.


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