The stereotypical aspie is a man. He reads railroad schedules for pleasure, has no friends, lived at home with his parents until the age of thirty-seven, spends his weekends with a camera and tripod in the freight yard and falls madly in love with anyone who is nice to him and happens to be in possession of a vagina.
However, the growing awareness of ADHD and Asperger's syndrome in women created a gap. A new image had to be created to fill it – a comfortable reason why these things have been thought of as “boys' problems”.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Aspie woman. She is well-manicured, with perfect makeup, a sexy green dress, straightened hair and high heels. Aspie woman also has a nice tan and uses gold shimmering body lotion. She gazed at me, sipping a cocktail, from a picture in one of the various articles about women with neuropsychiatric conditions.
This is the popular explanation: girls are born wanting to fit in. I guess it's a chromosome thing.
We are less obvious aspies, because our special interests are usually conventionally girly. You know, horses and puppies. Astronomy is for boys.
Another thing that makes us come off as neurotypical is that we follow trends and try to look good. Again, girls are genetically programmed to desire normality and will therefore imitate typical girls and make sure to get many friends. If we fail, if nobody likes us because we're too autistic, our broken genetic wish to fit in and be popular will make us severely depressed.
In general, girls are nice. Easy to handle. We don't cause trouble and we stay quiet. We're all born that way.
Hello, Aspie woman. You and I have very little in common.
Sure, there are well-groomed aspies. Aspie woman probably exists, just like the male stereotype described above. I just don't believe she is any more representative of the majority than the train-loving man. After reading this article, which I have tried to find again but couldn't, I asked around a bit. For example, I shared this WTF-moment on Wrong Planet. I know it's not scientifically impressive, but that was not my intention in the first place, so I guess I can comfortably claim that most aspie women seem to be more or less like me. One person was (moderately) interested in horses as a child, but there was generally nothing noticeably different or “feminine” about their special interests. I found some fellow shark lovers, and I was far from the only one who wanted a telescope for my 18th birtday, for example. Those who said they wore makeup on a daily basis and dressed in a conventional way pointed out that it was mainly because they had to look presentable at work. Again, most of the women who answered were more like me. I absolutely care about clothes, but my idea of a nice oufit has nothing to do with trends or what most people consider sexy. Most days I just put something on without trying to dress well. Furthermore, many fabrics feel uncomfortable or plain WRONG, as do low-cut tight pants and other things that people tend to like.
I occasionally straighten my hair, but mainly because I notice it less that way. Otherwise, all I do is wash and brush it and keep it away from my face and neck. People have always called me boring because of it, but that never helped. For special occasions, I can make an effort with hair removal and makeup, but that happens about twice a month (in other words: my boyfriend probably thinks I do it all the time) and I'm usually really boring with that too.
I am not entirely skeptical of theories of different Asperger symptoms in girls and women. There are plenty of articles on the subject that are longer, better and more complex than the one I just described – articles where, for example, descriptions of symptoms can be interpreted as something other than innate “niceness”. Both boys and girls imitate others to some extent, as a perfectly normal defence mechanism. Sometimes it is said that girls do it while boys don't care at all – I'm quite sure this is wrong, but I do find it likely that girls do it more, because people expect more normality from us. I believe that I had more harsh reactions to escape from than I would have had if I were a boy, especially from my parents, and I surely wouldn't have been as frequently criticized for stupid things like my boring hairdo or “ugly” body language if I had been a boy either.
Still, articles that simplify the matter are sometimes published. I believe the main reason for this is that sometimes, journalists and others just can't bare to think about girls who don't want to be married and become princesses. Such a girl might grow up to be unattractive, wear comfortable shoes and work in a lab. Ewww, you wouldn't have sex with THAT, would you? The journalist does some research, finds other articles and breathes a sigh of relief. There are differences between boys and girls with Asperger's. Phew – the new article is saved, thanks to some comfortable misinterpretations.