Female Expectations: Musings on What I'm "Supposed To Be"
As a woman, I feel I’m supposed to be:
A natural babysitter.
Good with children.
A taxi driver.
A house cleaner.
Dressed properly for every occasion.
A good hostess.
A good cook.
A caretaker of others.
Fit and thin.
A planner and organizer.
Not “too emotional.”
My wise friend said every woman feels overwhelmed by the expectations of being female. I feel especially overwhelmed by these expectations since these qualities don’t come naturally to me as a woman on the Autism Spectrum. I would like to think that if I was more typical, the list above would feel less daunting and more doable.
To be fair, I don’t know what it’s like to be male or the list of expectations that a male is supposed to live by or achieve. I don’t know what it’s like to be a male on the Autism Spectrum. On the other hand, I feel more harshly judged compared to my male peers on the Autism Spectrum. If I was a male instead of a female, my family would have different expectations. If I were male, my family wouldn’t expect me to help out around the house and babysit during family get-togethers.
I often feel like I’m expected to read the social context and always respond in an “appropriate” manner. I honestly struggle with accurately reading the social context since I’m only getting some of the social cues and not all of them. The best way to describe it is a bad cell phone connection where you only get part of the conversation.
People have told me to calm down and “stop being anxious.” I have also been told to smile by strangers. People who I don’t know have asked me, “Have you gained weight?” I feel like people are often judging what I wear and how it looks. Random people tell me personal information and expect me to be caring and sympathetic. They expect me to care, listen and remember their personal details, and often appear disappointed if I’m less than supportive. An older family member often has these expectations of me and my female siblings. The same family member also points out other females and makes unflattering comments about their looks and outfits. I find this awkward, uncomfortable, and rude. Honestly, unless you’re a close friend, it’s not appropriate to talk about a woman’s weight or age. Also, I’m not a therapist or counselor, nor am I trained, so please stop sharing personal information unless we know each other well.
If I sound frustrated and cranky, it’s because I am. It’s aggravating to feel like I’m constantly not meeting other people’s expectations. I would love to hear from other people on the Autism Spectrum, female AND male about their experiences with gender expectations.