An Anecdote about Caricatures and our Birth Name

November 8, 2012

We were not born with our current system name. When I was born, my parents bestowed the name “Sohini” on me. It means “adorned” or “decorated” or “girl with a pretty face.” It wasn’t really the meaning that I had a problem with, but rather the image the name brought to my mind. That image was the following: a pretty girl sitting by a windowsill or outside in a swinging chair somewhere in India, doing nothing but looking pretty and being subservient to all others. She spoke very little except when spoken to, and did this or that or whatever she was told, without question. She had no formal education. Of course, this is a gross stereotype, but the ones who created this image making it is autistic and was very young when this image was created. The only reason we can think of for creating this image, is so we could have an EXCUSE not to like the name. Looking back on this, several years later, there really was NO rhyme or reason to us creating that image WHATSOEVER. It’s just an interesting bit of our history at this point. Made sense at the time, I guess.

People often make caricatures for ideas, images, words, and people that they don’t like or disagree with for whatever reason. Then, they use these caricatures as “justification” for not liking or agreeing with whatever. This anecdote about our birth name is just one example of that. It happens all too often concerning the disability communities. People have these caricatures of individuals who cannot function independently or whatever the case may be. They think of the words autism or downs syndrome and they have these images in their minds. But we in the disability communities are far more than caricatures! We have emotions, we have passions, we have voices that people need to hear!

Athena and Andrea


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