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Society is a construct engaged in by some animals (including humans).
Some of those species' individuals may be hard-wired, neurologically speaking, to participate in it. We call those individuals Allistic.
This hard-wiring exists because in nature those who do not gather together are less likely to survive.
With that in mind, this page looks to explain and clarify how societies look under an Allistic majority, since those are the ones we have the most in our world.
A social truth is something which must be acknowledged as true for participation in a society. It is also the basis for Roles.
So, certain words, behaviours, concepts, have a specific purpose within a society. This is their 'social meaning.'
Ideas about the world that get encoded as truths are not required to be factual.
Allistic individuals are able to innately absorb social truths and the "social meanings" of things. Autistic individuals are not and must do so manually with much effort.
Truths that are very widespread get mentioned as part of "common sense"
A misnomer, since they are not a sense nor common. In practice, the simple "perception" of something as a social truth by some Allistic will entale them calling it "common sense."
Taboos are things that shouldn't be mentioned freely within a given society. What is considered taboo varies and often one society’s taboos can be directly contradicted by another society’s taboos, or they can be applied only in certain contexts or for certain people. In addition, what we consider a ‘society’ often contains many smaller social contexts which can also contain contradictory or incompatible taboos. Some examples are the act of sex, mental illness and the experience of disability.
Taboos are often leveraged in ways that also provide titillation to some people in that society. Their function in society is not just to restrict communication about certain topics, but also to create a kind of excitement that stems from doing something which is considered to be ‘wrong’. Examples of this are people who cheat for the ‘thrill’ or when powerful people engage in acts in private that they publicly condemn.
It is rare that something being a taboo is openly stated. A good way to understand if you have transgressed a taboo is to observe whether the emotional reaction from allistic observers is disproportionate to the harm of the act itself.
An example of this could be shock shown when a person with breasts uncovers them in public, while a person without breasts walks shirtless with no reaction. The sight of breasts is not inherently harmful and has no negative effect in itself. However responses to the sight can be extreme and even lead to legal action or violence.
A social role is a construct which can be assigned to an individual (or an individual can be assigned to a role).
There exists Truths which dictate how individuals' behaviours correspond to roles. This set of truths is the "social norm."
A person which has proper roles is then called 'normal' (has positive connotation). A deviant individual is 'weird'/'deviant' (has negative connotation, and there's recently also the word 'queer,' reclaimed by some to have neutral connotation).
Not having social roles leads to Ostracism.
There also exists miscellaneous truths about specific roles -- how the individuals in them should be treated, what they can expect of others, etc.
Those role truths can be beneficial to the individual (perks) or neutral/detrimental (duties). An individual may engage on their roles' duties to be eligible for their roles' perks. And, again, to fight Ostracism.
The social norm, requirements for roles, and which roles exist, will change over time. That is because the set of all truths and all roles are 'a social construct,' that is, it exists only on the minds of the social individuals and are not a real property of the universe... even at the same place in the same time, two people will disagree ever so slightly on what roles/truths/social meanings exist.
See Also: Main Page#Autistic survival guide.
Non-behaviourally assigned roles
As the title suggests, some roles may be assigned not by behaviour, but by some unchangeable property of the individual.
Here are some examples of how this works in human societies.
- Class (spending power)
- Place of Origin
The Base Role
There are base roles for individuals who participate in society. They are attributed to 'people in general.' Though, in practice, they are not applied towards all individuals, only those who aren't ostracized.
Some example of rules associated with The Base Role are:
- Greetings -- a 'Person' must be properly 'greeted,' being shown one of a specific kind of symbols.
- 'Good morning/afternoon/night' -- a strange greeting which changes with the time of day.
- Apologies -- a 'Person' must say 'I'm sorry' or a variant to someone they did something that wasn't appreciated. Having to apologize is also seen with negative connotation.
- [...please expand this list!]
When used for a social rule, phrases often loose their proper meaning. So when someone tells you 'Good morning' or 'I'm sorry' it is not about actually wishing you a good morning... or actually BEING sorry, it's about playing the role.
Those rules go both ways... but this may not be in effect if there's some sort of hierarchical imbalance between both individuals.
A lot of perks taken for granted are only applicable for people who apply for the base role. It is very surprising for people who fall into Ostracism that they lose the engagement, empathy, acknowledgement, thoughtfulness that they once had from people they thought they could trust independently of circumstance.
Allism v.s. Autism
A big component of Allism is being oriented towards 'belonging' in society under some context. Their interactions and requirements with one another are often about reinforcing their place and worth. They expect/express respect/love/appreciation to be demonstrated through inclusion on social perks and status.
Autistic individuals' brains are often oriented towards other things -- like physical objects, sensations, concepts. They expect/express appreciation by sharing the cool objects/sensations/concepts they've found.
It can also be observed that, because of our difficulty with absorbing truths and rules, Autistic people are more likely to declare themselves with socially fringe identities.
The perks/duties are not required to be balanced across all roles, leaving some roles to have a relative advantage to another.
This is pointed out by social activists, who would like to alter this fact.
It's odd how when I get to work with a bunch of older people -- no one will say anything to me for a while... then the boss turns to me and goes flabbergasted as to how I didn't properly greet them. Which is strange since they didn't greet me either, come on!
When an individual is devoid of some social role, they are invisible and unaccounted for (at best).
They are devoid of all the 'perks' such as greetings, invitations, acknowledgement of existence and social protection against harmful behaviours of all kinds.
This apathy and disregards is incredibly painful for allistic individuals (see: Shaming) and, in general, is dangerous, since many individuals reserve empathy for individuals who participate in society.
Neurodivergent individuals, who are less likely to be able to engage in social roles properly, are much more likely to be ostracized. That speaks for why the alarming rate of suicidality within them.
This is also true for disabled people.
Shame is a pain-like response of the brain that can arise to incentivize an individual to act according to society's expectations. It's a hard-wired neurological pattern to avoid Ostracism.
In a society, an individual may provoke shame in another (this is called shaming) in order to coerce them to behave according to social norm. That pattern of behaviour is also called "societal pressure" or "peer pressure."
This will be done for a plethora of reasons.
- The shamer may gain something from the shamee behaving according to norm and wants to force them to do so.
- The shamer worries that the shamee will face ostracism and wants to convince them to behave according to norm to avoid that. Ironically, they will often see the word 'shaming' in a bad connotation and be convinced they aren't doing just that.
- The shamer is sadistic.
- The shamer specifically points out the flaw in the shamee's behaviour and the fact they are different from themselves in order to protect their own status (look at how this person sucks -- I'm not like them, I am deserving of a role!). Often, Allistic individuals bond over shaming another.
This can be easily observed on children -- who will often point out other kids' misbehaviour or their own good behaviour to an adult in order to gain validation.
Avoiding shame and ostracism is one big source of Anxiety for individuals.
Bias is the inclination of an individual towards a certain result when thinking about something. On the context of society, it's people's inclination to assume that people have their wants/needs/thoughts/behaviours completely defined by some social role that you can imagine them in.
An image created by a caricature of a social role is called a _stereotype_.
This is often a setback when trying to understand the world in a consistent, objective manner, because people tend to diverge from stereotypes and because socially accepted truths are not required to be factual.
The dangers of trying to fit in too hard
An individual may change their behaviour in order to fit in in some role.
Individuals which have natural ways of behaving must systematically change those 'improper' behaviours in order to fit in. See: Masking.
If an individuals' natural needs are not well balanced for their role's perks/duties, the damage caused by masking will not be compensated.
It will then inevitably lead to Depression.
Social Alteration Movements
There have been movements promoted to alter social truths and roles that are detrimental to certain groups -- notably ones that are assigned by reasons out of the individual's control.
Nowadays we've got:
- Feminism, Gender Equality (against gender-wise social inequality).
- Anti-Racism (against race-wise social inequality).
- LGBTQIA+ Pride (fighting ostracism and shaming of individuals based on their sexual orientation and/or their gender-sex mismatch).
Examples of Things Previously Said
Alright, I just said lots of vague things and big words. Let's explore how it all works with one examples in a human society today.
A famous kind of role is gender-wise roles.
As you can see, there are so many details to learn. It's already hard for people who are wired to learn those things naturally; to us, autistics, it's a nightmare that we have to learn all this... as kids...
A 'Man' is a sex-defined role (though it can also be applied based on presentation alone) for human males. It includes requirements such as (non-exhaustive list):
Lots of those role truths are targets of Social Alteration Movements.
I’d be specific here that this list applies mainly to modern U.K. and US ‘Western’ culture and is not universal. It varies by location, social context and time period. This will then leave space for people from different cultures to add in social expectations they’re familiar with.
- Erect body posture.
- Reduced physical contact with other Men.
- Participating in head communication.
- Deep, steady voice.
- Wearing specific kinds of clothing.
- Being serious / avoiding playful things.
- Avoiding the colour pink (deprecated).
- Avoiding some things which evoke fragility or delicateness -- anything that contradicts Stoicism.
- Engaging in The Family (a kind of social pattern).
- Being able to provide for The Family.
They aren't all required.
I said 'some,' yes, because it's odd. Things like flowery detailing, soft fabric and emotions are prohibited, but men WILL engage in delicate things -- such as fishing, designing machinery, drawing. It's all about "the way you carry yourself" more than the things themselves.
On the matter of emotions, Men CAN display emotions... if they portray it less weepy and more sombre.
If you (who are probably autistic) feel confused as to how you can make sense of all of this, I must assure you that you can not.
There are also associated truths that are looked forward to.
- Control over other members of The Family.
- Being able to participate in environment closed for men.
- Entitlement over Women and what their associated truths/roles are.
- Men can use clothing with plenty of pockets.
A theory of mine is that Entitlement is the root cause of the problems we see with sexual assault and whatnots. It can't be lust or attraction... because, y'know, women feel lust and attraction too. Some of them, even towards women. The entitlement is the difference.
Men are raised, forced to engage in roles detrimental to their own health, carrying their 'duties' with promises of power. And when they don't get it... they break.
This is not a call to 'have empathy' with abusers, no, but an idea at how we can raise our kids to do better than us.
It's hard to give examples of how things work, because, as an autistic person, I don't get them tbh.