Disclaimer Trigger Warning: Mentions of eugenics, privacy invasion, emotional abuse, and other potentially triggering elements.
So, I’m not on Twitter very often. I follow a fair number of people for various reasons (writing and autism being the two main ones, but not the only ones), but that’s still a lot of reading that has to be done every day, so I tend to only go on occasionally, and mostly read my notifications.
As a result, I wasn’t on when the #BoycottToSiri movement first started. (I’d never even heard of the book – “To Siri, With Love” by Judith Newman – before.) The first I heard of it was a post by a friend of mine referencing the honestly disgraceful characterization of YouTube autistic advocate Amythest Schaber in the book.
(Hint: “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” is a very negative term, used to refer to female characters who are only in things to appeal to the straight male audience. But even “gamine” would not have been an acceptable term to use. Amythest’s work has absolutely nothing to do with their appearance, and like I said above, it is disgraceful that not only did the author describe them that way, but also that the publisher (Harper Collins, BTW – I encourage everyone to express just how insulting and disgraceful this book is to them) allowed it.)
Anyway. Long story (very long story) short, I was poking around to get some information to send to people about this today, and ran into the Storify of a chapter-by-chapter review of To Siri by autistic adult and parent (and writer) @KaelanRhy. I checked with her, and she gave me permission to post that Storify here.
Warning: Ableism, eugenics references, emotional abuse, lack of privacy of a child, abuse of autistic. (Also for language, but honestly, I have a huge amount of respect for the reviewer for not swearing during the reviews of the first several chapters. I would have been.)
What is important (and horrifying) about this chapter-by-chapter review that hasn’t made it into a number of posts on the subject is the smaller things (rather than the mention of wanting to sterilize her son, the claim that autistics have no theory of mind and thus no empathy for others, talking about her son’s potty training, the fact that the author didn’t even tell Amythest they were being mentioned in the book – let alone that they were being described in such an insulting fashion!, the fact that the author has since said that the book was “not written for autistics” – tough, lady, you write a book about us, it affects us, we’re going to voice what we think of it!). Things like grabbing her son’s phone while he was texting a friend and inserting her own comments into the text. Like calling her son a mutant. Like not realizing that her son’s twin might very well also be autistic. I could go on, but I’ll let the Storify review do that for me.
I have more to write about this, and a ton of links to add… but for now, I’ll just leave you with one.