July 30th, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

Todays guest blog is reposted from Natasha Shapiro’s blog Art Therapy and Related Topics. Natasha is an art therapist and occasionally provides The Communicated Stereotype with insights into related topics. This July on TCS she posted about stereotypes and women’s clothing and of men’s clothing. Today’s post deals with stereotypes of The “Boyfriend” Style.

Posted on July 16, 2014

So, here we go venturing into fashion meets psychology/language/sociology. I don’t claim to be an expert on any of this. That’s what I love about blogging. You can reference people who know more about it, and just start up a conversation without having to be an expert!

It is now ubiquitous; just look at Old Navy and Gap and Victoria’s Secret websites and catalogues. There are “boyfriend” jeans which are a certain shape and style, just like “skinny” jeans, which were mentioned in my last post on this topic, as well as “bell bottoms”, “high waisted” jeans and various other kinds. I first saw this term in a Victoria’s Secret catalogue, a few years ago, in reference to a “boyfriend” sweater. I assumed it meant a sweater that is supposed to look like the wearer of it is wearing her presumptive boyfriend’s sweater. A lot of assumptions here, that a slouchy sort of too big sweater is akin to a man’s sweater for a woman, who must have a boyfriend or remember putting on her larger boyfriend’s clothing. Of course many women don’t have boyfriends, some have girlfriends, some have neither, some have non gendered lovers, etc. And of course many women who call their partner or dating casually person their “boyfriend” are the same size or larger than this “boyfriend.” Somehow seeing this term on clothing just never gets old in terms of how insulting it feels. And of course, I may be wrong about the origins of this term. I was way off with the “baby doll” reference!
So when did this emerge as a classification of not just sweaters, but jeans and I guess other things like shirts and jackets? The “Wise Geek” blog tries to describe this basically as a tradition of women wearing menswear, either raided from a “boyfriend”, “brother” or even dad’s closet:

So this seemed to come up in the 80′s. I’m not sure what leggings have to do with it except I guess the big oversized boyfriend sweater or top was popularly paired with tight “leggings.” Now there are even “jeggings,” a term I am quite fond of just because of its sound, and it does not seem to be connected to anything besides leggings which are just described using the word leg, so not bad, considering they could have been called “skinny tights” or something else…

Anyway back to the “boyfriend” cut. Sorry I had to resort to Wikipedia for the more detailed description, as well as celebrity references and possible beginning of the popularity of the garment. They cite Katie Holmes wearing Tom Cruise’s clothing, which is really ironic, considering that most people did not believe Katie and Tom were really boyfriend and girlfriend anyway. I will refrain from speculations about their relationship.

Wikipedia: “In fashion design, primarily in ready-to-wear lines, boyfriend is any style of women’s clothing that was modified from a corresponding men’s garment. Examples include boyfriend jackets, boyfriend jeans, and boyfriend blazers, which are often more unisex or looser in appearance and fit than most women’s jackets or trousers, though still designed for the female form.

The origin of boyfriend fashion is literally borrowing and wearing a boyfriend’s clothes—his distressed jeans, his band tees, his dress shirts, his blazers, his cardigan. The trend expanded in 2009 when actress Katie Holmes was spotted in public wearing Tom Cruise’s slouchy jeans after a Broadway rehearsal; other celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon, Rachel Bilson, Sarah Jessica Parker, and others began to follow the trend. From there, many brands such as Gap, Forever 21, and H&M began to create boyfriend fashion products or men’s-inspired fashion.”

Here are some live examples of boyfriend jeans from Forever 21.

Here is an example of a “boyfriend sweater” from Victoria’s Secret.

It seems like it must be hard to size these as they are meant to be “oversized” and in fact, some stores prefer the term “oversized,” which is at least descriptive and neutral, like “baggy.” I remember when “baggy” jeans were a big deal, must have been in the 80′s as nobody seems to be into them anymore!

July 23rd, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

headress1

The stereotype guru has read a lot of blog posts, articles, and books on stereotypes. I have never come across anything that explains why dressing up as another cultural group is offensive better than this open letter expresses. This article makes clear that when we are educated, the world is a better place.

headress2

Read the following article to better understand why an Indian headress is not a suitable Halloween costume: An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses

headress3

July 16th, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

Todays guest blog is reposted from Natasha Shapiro’s blog Art Therapy and Related Topics. Natasha is an art therapist and occasionally provides The Communicated Stereotype with insights into related topics. Last Wednesday on TCS she posted about stereotypes and women’s clothing. Today’s post deals with stereotypes of men’s clothing.

Fashion’s Strange Naming of Clothing and accessories: The “Wife Beater”

Posted on June 17, 2014

Note about this series: I will continue to hazard guesses as to how each term came about before looking it up, so as to see if my associations led me astray or not! As I continue writing about this, I am realizing these terms have very old origins. Watch what happens with the next term!

The “wife beater” is now, I believe, outmoded and not used to describe men’s white undershirts and by association, women’s white undershirt-like tank tops. This term for most people can bring up an instant image of Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowakski in the film, “Streetcar Named Desire”. For sure that must be where this term for such a garment originated:

Woops, wrong again! Here first is the definition: from http://www.pauldavidson.net/2005/05/13/words-for-your-enjoyment-wife-beaters/

“There are three definitions for a “wife beater.” The first, one who harms their spouse with physical force. The second, one who psychologically intimidates or makes scared a person who, in the event of their death, receives half of the current estate. And third — a white, thin t-shirt with no arms, resembling a tank top, which often is easily stained with reheated food items.”

Now see if you know this interesting fact about medieval origins:
“the history of the “wife beater” goes back to the Middle Ages, where knights who lost their armor in battles often had nothing but the chain-mail undergarment to protect them. Now, those chain mail undershirts, if you will, were damn strong — even a sword couldn’t get through. Often, when a knight lost their armor and continued to fight successfully, they were referred to as a waif beater (waif, referring to an abandoned or lost individual). Due to the fact that knights who had been abandoned and continued to fight with only the “shirt off their back” (albeit chain mail), they were given this noble title — an abandoned fighter, beating their way through battle.”

The next part of history was also a long time before Stanley Kowalski:

During 1700′s Europe, of course, the phrase “waif beater” no longer had much meaning due to the fact that there weren’t really knights running around fighting battles in chain-mail undershirts. As a result, the phrase was changed to the similarly sounding “wife beater” and used to refer to husbands who treated their significant others in a less than stellar way.

“The trend changed in 1947 in Detroit, Michigan — when police arrested a local man (James Hartford, Jr.) for beating his wife to death. Local news stations aired the arrest and elements of the case for months after — constantly showing a picture of Hartford, Jr. when he was arrested — wearing a dirty tank top with baked bean stains on it…and constantly referring to him as “the” wife beater.”

Now the next question is, is this truly now an outmoded politically incorrect term? And, did Street Car Named Desire have any connection to its use?

Here is an example of someone who didn’t dig deep enough and traced it to the 1970s and the movie Raging Bull andRocky are called to mind. In addition a real celebrity and real wife beater, Ike Turner is mentioned.

This answer dies mention something else, the term “guinea tea” which was also terribly offensive, and does give the reaction to the term and the shutting down of it by NAtional Orgsnization for Women

Here’s something else the term refers to a beer:
“it is a very common nickname for Stella Artois, due to it’s slightly higher than usual alcohol strength (5.2% ABV, compared to the usual 5% ABV). Strong Spanish lagers are often known similarly as “Senorita beater”. These aren’t related to the use for a vest/tank top/singlet/”

That was from Wikipedia. The correct term is now the A shirt, presumably to distinguish it from the t-shirt which was called so due to its T letter shape. It seems that clothes. An either be defined in neutral terms by the way they look, as in, T Shirt, Crop Top, A Line Dress, shorts, skirt, skort (the skirt mixed with shorts having shorts attached to it, jacket or in questionsl cultural symbolic terms.

As I tried to look up neutral seeming terms in an online catalogue I found myself questioning even the word skirt and blazer and saw “romper” which is on style now and conjured up dressing women like children to “romp” around in this garment. We will see if this one is also questionable, ie. could be offensive to a group or groups of weateres…

July 10th, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

Perhaps one of the biggest ironies that has ever happened in the history of the world is that the baby promoted as the “Perfect Aryan” baby was actually Jewish. The Nazis may never have known, but now that it is this photo also make the perfect unstereotype baby photo!

o-USC-SHOAH-FOUNDATION-570

Coined by the Stereotype Guru nearly two years ago, the unstereotype “shocks you, makes you take a second look, makes you momentarily confused, and bothers you though you don’t know why.” The unstereotype is unnerving because it makes you question you core beliefs about stereotypes. I first used the term to describe a photo of WNBA Basketball Player Candace Parker. I don’t get a chance to capture unstereotypes very often, but when I do I like to share them with TCS readers.

July 9th, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

Today’s guest blog is reposted from Natasha Shapiro’s blog Art Therapy and Related Topics. Natasha is an art therapist and occasionally provides The Communicated Stereotype with insights into related topics. Today’s post deals with stereotypes of women’s clothing.

Why Are Women’s Clothing Descriptions Not Neutral? The Weirdness of Our Culture

I have not posted something I have written in a while, and I was thinking about this topic about a month ago and filed it in the back of my mind as something I wanted to write a post about. Maybe another type of series of blog posts, like my other cultures’ interesting rituals series, but I guess this would be: American Culture and its Strange Phenomenons, Some Pleasant, and Some Not So Pleasant. I would file this under Not So Pleasant. An example of pleasant would be “The Twilight Zone”- the TV Series and American’s beliefs about the Supernatural… I am biased, as I love the TV Series.

Fashion in our country is inherently gendered; in fact, what you wear is a very big indication of how you view gender, whether you have a narrow view or broad view of gender. Young women with long hair who wear men’s ties or suspenders with various types of outfits would be an example of a broader view of gender or simply an individual who enjoys using their sense of fashion style to make a statement about gender.

Anyway, we still have “catalogues” to order clothes from, though I don’t know how long they will last. They may last longer if there is not a new invention of digital easily acceptable info for toilet reading and other type uses. People still enjoy magazines even though they will probably go out of business, sadly. I of course like them for their art therapy collage uses. Anyway, whether you go to a store to buy your clothes, order from a magazine catalogue, or from the internet, the description of the clothing is not something most people pay much attention to, but it really is a big marker of how we still view the “female” body and its’ decoration from a strange and sometimes slightly presumptuous if not insulting point of view. This is less obvious in stores, but also occurs in fashion game apps for even children, when the customer asks the budding fashion designer to make her a “baby doll” dress, for example.

So we could start with the “baby doll” dress, which I think was brought back from whenever before in the nineties as part of the  “grunge” look. What is a “baby doll” dress: it is to my mind a short dress that has no natural waist. It is defined at the bust and then goes out. I assume the shortness of the length combined with their being no definition of the body makes it like a kind of “doll” look, even though most dolls do not wear such dresses. These dresses lend themselves to maternity wear for some women, usually small short women, though probably tall women wear them too. The “empire” waist and lack of tightness below the bust is what defines such dresses and makes them ideal for a summer pregnancy if you don’t mind short dresses.

Here is a dictionary explanation from http://www.yourdictionary.com:

“A usually sleeveless or short-sleeved dress having a waistline that is just below the bust and a loose, gathered skirt that ends above the knee.  Origin of babydoll dress. After the film Baby Doll(1956), in which American actress Carroll Baker wore a loose, short-sleeved dress with a high hemline.”

This is what I love about blogging about strange phenomena, especially the more cultural psychological kind. I had no idea this dress was named after a film, and though I love old films, I have never heard of this one, probably because I like older films and films from the sixties and  seventies. So what was this film about and what does “Baby Doll” mean? I’m guessing there will be some kind of call girl or prostitute like things in the movie, but I may be totally off base. Back to the internet from http://www.fandango.com/babydoll_108549/plotsummary:

Synopsis

Tennessee Williams‘ 27 Wagons Full of Cotton was the basis for this steamy sex seriocomedy. Karl Malden stars as the doltish owner of a Southern cotton gin. He is married to luscious teenager Carroll Baker, who steadfastly refuses to sleep with her husband until she reaches the age of 20. Her nickname is “Baby Doll”, a cognomen she does her best to live up to by lying in a crib-like bed and sucking her thumb. Enter crafty Sicilian Eli Wallach (who, like supporting actor Rip Torn, makes his film debut herein), who covets both Malden‘s wife and business.Malden‘s jealously sets fire to Wallach‘s business, compelling Wallach to try to claim Baby Doll as “compensation.” Heavily admonished for its supposed filthiness in 1956 (it was condemned by the Legion of Decency, which did more harm to the Legion than to the film), Baby Doll seems a model of decorum today–so much so that it is regularly shown on the straight-laced American Movie Classics cable service. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

So the character did wear such a “frock” in this film, and it seems that it was a style of lingerie, slips, and also may be the connection between some of these dresses looking like they were inspired by lingerie: it seems that originally this dress was actually used on babies and did make the diaper easy to change, implying I guess, that such dresses would be easy for a women to, well, have sex in it…

“The original babydoll dress was short enough that the child’s diaper could be easily changed; that style was translated for adult women in the 1956 film “Baby Doll,” when Carroll Baker’s character wore a short, A-line frock.”

A lot of these dresses do have little hints of lingerie or nods to children’s clothes in their make up; I confess I own quite a few myself and I like them; I just am not so happy about the origin of the term and the term itself. At the same time, the part of me that doesn’t care about feminism or strange allusions to women being babies or whatever, well part of me likes the term and I think it has stuck because it really captures the “naughty” subversive aspects of clothing and of this particular garment. Part of the point of this post is that fashion would be a lot less fun without such weird ways we have of describing clothes. I also love that finding out about a catalogue term for a dress can send you down an interesting rabbit hole.

Some links to such dresses:

Here is one that gives a nod to lingerie: http://www.asos.com/Darling/Darling-Embellished-Scallop-Lace-Babydoll-Dress/Prod/pgeproduct.aspx?iid=2511961&r=2

This one is more modest and hip: http://coolspotters.com/clothing/proenza-schouler-graphic-silk-babydoll-dress 

Here’s a mixed historical reference one with a nod to grunge plaid and also an interpretation of the bow tie: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Ykn2w6iuIR4/UjimyzbdWqI/AAAAAAAAElU/gt1hD1dg1u4/s1600/saint-laurent-fall-2013-rtw-plaid-dress-gallery.jpg

That last one was very appealing to me, as I happen to be obsessed with plaid clothing and plaid in general.

Here’s an obvious one that is ubiquitous: “the skinny” jeans

A pair of skinny jeans is a pair of denim jeans type pants, usually low waisted, that is tight everywhere. If you’ve ever worn them you’ve had to take them off by kind of peeling them off you. I guess they could have called them “tight” jeans and that would be it. Or “ultra tight” (don’t wear them if you like very comfortable garments). I’m not sure when they came into style as they didn’t have the term when I was growing up in the era of “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins” when really tight jeans got very trendy back in the 80s.

Wonders never cease. Not only did these come from a long time ago and were applied a lot for men, there is a whole blog devoted to the topic of skinny jeans. And one important element of them is that they are made from stretchy denim, which I thought did not come around until the end of the nineties, but I’m not a good history person.:

http://skinnyjeansme.wordpress.com/skinny-jeans-history/

So it also appears that there are two terms of skinny jeans, the style mentioned above that continues to evolve and be trendy for any gender, and then the “skinny jeans” which refers to a pair of jeans a woman may keep in her closet or buried somewhere, a pair of jeans that fit her maybe a few to ten or more years ago, which she keeps with the hope of fitting into them again one day. A woman who has this pair of jeans usually knows exactly where they are, even though she doesn’t often look at them unless she wants to obsess about her shape and size.

Like “baby doll”, the word “skinny” has so many implications in our culture that books have been written about them.

That’s all for now. Future posts will try to investigate such terms as ” the boyfriend sweater”, “boyfriend jeans”, the “wife-beater”, the “poodle skirt”, “peep” toe shoes, and various other ones…

July 3rd, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

Some of my regular readers may recall that the Stereotype Guru dubbed Thursday to be Thing Thursday at The Communicated Stereotype. This was intended to give a momentary nod to things that were relevant to our ongoing discussion of stereotypes at TCS. Today, check out this article on gender stereotypes and masturbation.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/19/c-mon-ladies-masturbation-isn-t-just-for-bad-girls.html

According to Art Therapy and Related Topics, “This article concerns an almost taboo topic that we therapists need to help women who have shame around masturbation to release their shame and free themselves to love their own body and feel good about giving themselves pleasure. . . . Women and those who identify as partly or fully women, please pass this on! Unfortunately there is no mention in this article about transgendered individuals and their experiences and views in masturbation. Somebody out there: do a study on that!!!”

 

 

July 2nd, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

I view issues surrounding stereotypes to involve three particular topics that perhaps all discussion of stereotypes can be reduced to:

1) stereotypes in our mind

2) stereotypes we communicate

3) the “reality” of stereotype accuracy that exists somewhere outside of any one person’s thoughts or communication

The issue of stereotype accuracy – the last point- is of utmost concern to most people. People give stereotype accuracy a lot of weight arguing that if a stereotype is accurate then it is valid to use. Of course the problem is that it is unlikely anyone who thinks stereotypes are accurate has actually read any of the research on stereotype accuracy. This research is pretty extensive. It says, essentially, “We don’t know. There is no way to tell with certainty. Our research has not found stereotypes to be accurate.”

Worse than not having read the research, which is of course understandable, is that most people who say stereotypes are accurate base it on anecdotal evidence. Stories they have heard or experienced. People they know who act or don’t act in certain ways. For most people, this type of evidence is enough.

Not for the Stereotype Guru, but most people. I simply tend to ignore the issue of stereotype accuracy and concentrate on the first two topics stereotypes in the mind and stereotypes we communicate. The reason is because I am comfortable with the unknown and I am good at compartmentalizing. I can distinguish point three from the other two points.

In my view whether any stereotype is accurate simply doesn’t matter. Even if stereotypes are accurate for some percent of a population, they are either 100% or 0% accurate for any single person with whom I come into contact. If they are accurate for that person, then score! If they are not, I am immediately alienating myself from that person in a potentially irreversible way. Frankly, for me the risk isn’t worth it. Therefore, the accuracy of stereotypes provides little assistance for how I navigate my day to day life so I tend not to give it a second thought.

But…. for those of you who find the issue to be a deciding factor in whether stereotypes should or shouldn’t be used, this article by Gene Demby may be of some interest, “How Stereotypes Explain Everything And Nothing At All.”

July 1st, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

The Communicated Stereotype: Celebrity Vilification to Everyday Talk by Anastacia Kurylo, Ph.D.

If you are discussing issues related to stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, or political correctness with friends or family and you need a neutral party to sort out the issues before the conversation gets too heated, then this book is your go to source. The book discusses why people communicate stereotypes and whether they should or shouldn’t and answers the tough questions people ask on this topic. 

The Communicated Stereotype: From Celebrity Vilification to Everyday Talk  by Anastacia Kurylo, Ph.D. argues that people face a consequential interactional dilemma when someone communicates a stereotype in a conversation. The interactional dilemma is a result of the tension between political correctness and the benefits gained from communicating stereotypes in a conversation (e.g., telling stereotypical jokes). Despite the punishment and shame that befalls celebrities who communicate stereotypes, people continue to communicate stereotypes in everyday conversation casually and without rebuke.

The Communicated Stereotype argues that the vilification of celebrities diverts attention from the everyday communication of stereotypes and actually emboldens people to communicate stereotypes in their own conversations. The way this interactional dilemma is handled in conversation explains why people continue to communicate stereotypes regardless of the PC police.

The argument presented in this books shifts attention away from stereotypes as inherently negative and problematic because of prejudice and discrimination to a more neutral framing of stereotypes as poor communication choices providing opportunity for buy-in by even the most PC skeptical reader.

Lexington Press, 126 pages.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Basics of Stereotyping
Chapter 2: Stereotype Content
Chapter 3: Deterrents to Stereotype Use
Chapter 4: Celebrity Vilification
Chapter 5: Psychological Functions of Stereotypes
Chapter 6: Communicative Functions of Stereotypes
Chapter 7: The Interactional Dilemma

May 20th, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

By Emily Brooks

Just days before April began, the Center for Disease Control announced the latest numbers for autism spectrum disorders (ASD), based on data from eight-year-olds in 2010. 1 in 68 U.S. kids are now diagnosed with ASD. The prevalence, which is higher than 1 in 88 two years ago, has made the media go wild. Unfortunately, autism coverage is often skewed toward the sensational and dramatic.

Take CNN’s photojournalism essay which accompanies their take on the 1 in 68 issue. The eighteen images of three-year-old Michaelynn Sanchez-Gillett, who has autism and is nonverbal, are captivating, but the headline and accompanying text, and even some images, add to the trope of autism-as-sob-story. Most of the photos are authentic artistic snapshots of family life or adorable moments in childhood—Michaelynn staring out a window, jumping on the couch, relaxing upside-down in her colorful fleece romper—but you’d never know it from the dark title: “Girl with Autism Never Says ‘I Love You’”. The caption for the photo in which Michaelynn kisses her mother labels the behavior as “a rare display of affection”, discounting the autistic child’s ability to feel. In another photo, Michaelynn plays with a smartphone on the couch while an autism film plays on the family television set. The still of the movie shows a child’s mouth open wide in emotion, the subtitles “Crying & Screaming”. While meltdowns and frustrations can be a part of ASD, there’s no need for that to be the sole media image of children affected by autism. Yes, it may garner wanted sympathy for parents and caregivers, but it doesn’t gain much empathy for people with autism to overemphasize the sad and difficult parts of the disorder.

autism

CNN’s written blurb accompanying Clay Lomneth’s photography series discounts Michaelynn’s “own way” of showing affection by privileging speech over other types of communication and ending on a negative note. On the idea that Michaelynn can’t say “I love you”, Lomneth reflects, “She’ll show it in certain ways. She’ll come up for a hug. But she has never—and may never—say that out loud, and that really stuck with me.” What are the writer and photographer and parents alluding to—that this mysterious child who cannot speak can’t verbally express love for her parents, so maybe she doesn’t have love? It’s a narrow portrayal of autism because it leads media consumers to believe that disabilities like autism make humans less capable even of feeling the very emotions that we like to think make us human.

The words journalists use around less-visible forms of autism are different, but journalists still perpetuate harmful stereotypes about “mild” ASD. For every mention of severe autism framed around incompetence and lack of ability, there’s a mention of mild autism as not “real” enough to be a disability, nonexistent. The idea that autism is a “spectrum”, some journalists lead readers to believe, is just another gigantic mistake in the psychology community.

In CNN’s recent article on the increased number of autism diagnoses, Miriam Falco writes that autism experts “are concerned that the new CDC report is not describing the same autism that was present and diagnosed 20 years ago.” She quotes Dr. Gary Goldstein, president and CEO of the Kennedy Krieger Institute and professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University, who explains that two decades back, “we thought of autism with intellectual disability”. But the numbers today show that around 46% of U.S. kids with ASD had average or above-average IQ scores. Instead of seeing this as a new development in autism research—the idea that people with autism may not have cognitive challenges—the finding is seen as contradiction in terms and a concern.

Another CNN expert Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist who diagnoses and treats children with autism. Apparently he’s wary of the 1 in 68 autism rate because the numbers rely on “written reports” of autism diagnoses rather than sending “CDC experts” to “see the child to complete a diagnosis”. In other words, if Wiznitzer or someone he sees as qualified isn’t personally re-evaluating each and every one of the 5,300-plus kids in the latest autism sample, then they probably don’t have all have autism. Witzinter says the report solely shows that 1 in 68 kids assessed “have social differences and a pattern of behaviors that can be represented by ASD” but further cautioned that it might not be autism at all, but rather “due to other conditions that superficially can have similar features, such as social anxiety, ADHD with social immaturity and intelligence problems.”

The Atlantic’s April 11 take on the new numbers is similar, promising at the start of their piece “a look at how doctors are diagnosing autism spectrum disorder in children, and what might be done better.” Enrico Gnaulati’s main argument seems to be that the focus on “milder cases” of ASD is a free hand-out of unneeded autism diagnoses to picky eaters who throw temper tantrums, have speech delays, or are simply “slow-to-mature” children, “thus driving the numbers up”. The author gazes a paranoid pair of eyes on toddlerhood autism detection and early intervention. He even brings gender stereotyping into the mix through a slew of constricted sex difference studies, arguing that autism symptoms are the norms of normal boyhood.

Once again, it comes down to a relative unease with the idea of autism as a spectrum.“Diagnostic conundrums enter the picture when we frame autism as a spectrum disorder,” writes Gnautali, continuing, “What is a doctor to make of a chatty, intellectually advanced, three-year old patient presenting with a hodgepodge of issues, such as: poor eye contact, clumsiness, difficulties transitioning, overactivity or underactivity, tantruming, picky eating, quirky interests, and social awkwardness?”

Autism coverage may be more balanced than it was in the past, but it still has far to go. By claiming that “a pool of slow-to-mature children [are] being falsely diagnosed” with ASD, The Atlantic, CNN, and other media “experts” are delegitimizing the invisible disabilities of thousands of children and adults with harder-to-see autism. And by focusing only on the disability and incapability of those with visible autism, journalists sensationalize and separate humans with autism from the general population.

Let’s change the language around all forms of ASD. Then, maybe the next time the CDC releases autism statistics, society will be accepting of brain differences and disabilities and the articles we read will reflect neurodiversity.

For additional intriguing topics by Emily Brooks check out her blog at Changing Perspectives About Gender, Sexuality, and Disability Through Writing.

 

A Note from the Stereotype Guru

There is work being done to help ASD children and those with similar challenges. For example, The Quad Preparatory School is an alternative not-for-profit college preparatory school dedicated to the education of Twice Exceptional Students in grades 6-12. The school’s mission is to allow the gifts and talents of its students to soar. With equal emphasis placed on social emotional and academic learning, Quad students are prepared to make exceptional contributions to our world and lead meaningful adult lives. Dr. Busi, director and founder of the school, began her work providing resources for twice exceptional students when she found out her son was twice exceptional.

Although it’s not typical of The Communicated Stereotype to solicit readers, this issue warrants a timely exception. The Quad Preparatory School fundraiser aptly named Bright Beginnings is just over a week away and takes place on Wednesday May 28th at 6:00 PM in the beautiful Grohe Showroom located at 160 Fifth Avenue on the 4th Floor. Tickets for the event can be purchased here ($125). In addition to the festivities of the event itself, there is also an online auction. The fledgling not-for-profit organization relies on support from donors while it works towards doubling enrollment for its second year. As enrollment grows, Dr. Busi looks forward to continuing to grow the school to offer additional resources and the same quality education for still more students.

 

March 24th, 2014 | Categories: Uncategorized

by Emily Brooks

“Schizophrenic psychosis, cognitive disorganization, impulsive non-conformity, spontaneous anti-social behavior. AKA another day on Twitter.” –tweet

I understand the issue from both sides.

I’ve felt disgusted and misunderstood when others claim they are “OCD” because they enjoy organizing their paperwork, and I’ve gotten upset when I’ve heard people talk about being “depressed” over the chocolate ice cream being gone when I’m too depressed to get out of bed. I have family members, friends, and acquaintances with just about every mental illness in the diagnostic manual, and I care about their feelings.

I’ve also misused mental health terms as descriptors and I regret this mistake and don’t want to make it again.

Undoubtedly, some social media mavens will think I’m being the word police and overreacting. But there are clear repercussions to misusing mental health disorders as adjectives. At a time when “I’m depressed” on social media means “My team didn’t win”, researchers just released a new public health strategy: using keywords and post timing to figure out if internet users are clinically depressed based solely on the contents of their tweets.  Just a little more than a month after  teenager with schizophrenia was allegedly shot to death by police in his own North Carolina home, Representative John Mica, a Republican from Florida, publicly criticized the Obama Administration’s take on pot by saying, “We have the most schizophrenic [marijuana] policy I have ever seen.” 

Where do we go from here? For years now, there have been well-publicized movements against misusing “gay” everyday speak. The “Spread the word to end the word” campaign is gaining constant momentum to respect members of the intellectual/developmental disability community by not saying “retarded”. Why not extend that mission to eradicating all mental health terminology misuses? Our society is so highly influenced by “social media”, the conglomerated public opinions of our peers and idols. Instead of wading through misinformation and stereotypes, let’s use platforms like Twitter to spread truth and compassion about mental illness… and increase, not diminish, understanding for those of us with mental health issues.

This post is part five in a five part series. Visit posts from the previous four Mondays to read more of this discussion. Also, please check out more content by Emily Brooks at her blog Changing Perspectives About Gender, Sexuality, and Disability Through Writing.