As women, we face many different types of challenges that are not immediately obvious. One of the most difficult challenges to tackle is perception – that is, what other people think we are, think we should do or should be. This is hard for us to address, as it is typically unspoken yet often deep-rooted in the minds of our critics, which then affects how they behave towards us. We find that opportunities pass us by, we are overlooked and underestimated, and unless this perceptual disparity is addressed, we will continue to feel disenfranchised and will be prevented from fully contributing and achieving our maximum potential.
The IAS is all about empowering Spectrum women by challenging these very thoughts and the way society sees us, and in turn, opening the doors to innumerable possibilities that are well-deserved but for so long have remained closed to us.
However, such empowerment can touch a nerve or two: over and again, I come across the attitude where I hear the words “Good for you!” but it is quite clear that the person thinks, it’s all well and good for women to have a bit of fun, like ‘little girls’ baking cakes with their friends in the kitchen, and isn’t it ‘cute’ that they’re enjoying themselves?… Yet the moment they realise that, yes, we are serious, we are empowered and we are equal to you in your own arena, this is when the support drops away, sadly through a little fear.
Women have worked tirelessly for their own empowerment for many years now (Education, Voting, Employment, Pay, Reproductive Rights, etc.) and in general the perception is that we have reached where we need to be and we have that equality. But I can tell you there is much more work to do to challenge both covert and overt gender inequality, and even more so for women on the Spectrum who have a whole other set of challenges to overcome when it comes to being accepted and having equal opportunities.
Spectrum women are stronger than the world knows – super-strong in some ways and yet so fragile in others. I sometimes think of an egg: if you kick it, drop it, or mistreat it, it will shatter and can be easily destroyed. But in another way, it has a formidable strength to its shell and inside of it is the very essence of life itself with the ability to be the force of things to come!
As part of our mission to make SENSE (Self-sufficiency, Education, Networking, Support, Empowerment) of the Autism Spectrum, the IAS aims to educate those who would be our detractors by removing their fear, challenging the perception of what the world thinks we should be, and bringing forward prospects of collaboration, which in turn would open up those opportunities for Spectrum women who have been kept down for far too long.
Through the IAS, I have met some amazing Aspergirls. They are intelligent, accomplished, supportive, independent and empathic. These are qualities that have a firm place in today’s society and it is my belief that every Aspergirl should have the opportunity to firmly take their place within it.
For Ambassador/Social Media Manager Terri Mayne’s profile, click here and scroll