ASD/HFA being "extreme form of maleness"??

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Jayo
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03 Jul 2020, 8:48 pm

Hi all, I'm wondering what you think about Simon Baron-Cohen's theory on Aspergers (or today, ASD/HFA) being "an extreme form of maleness". IMO, I'm kind of ambivalent about it, there are arguments for and contra.

I mean, the paradox is that if it were indeed an extreme form of maleness, then it would make us more "manly" to women and there wouldn't be such a large proportion of ASD/HFA men who identified as "incel". Even before I saw the passage from a random Wiki that I posted in the bottom paragraph, I always thought the "extreme maleness" theory was a very qualified or limited one. True, those of us with the condition may lack emotional intelligence, and be really into technical subject matter, systems theory and thinking, be curt and to the point or come off as stubborn or know-it-all, but we don't have those other "maleness" traits like brashness, dominance, physical strength (on average, I mean, esp. if most of us look closer to Sheldon Cooper than Lou Ferrigno back in the day) or socially influential. Those traits, which carried to an extreme are called toxic masculinity, are more likely to give more mating opportunities in one's younger adult years. But I digress.

Until I greatly improved in various regards later in my 20s, and had more female success, I always thought that my lack of desirability to women was likely due to not being a source of comfort to her, I probably came off as mentally ill due to obliviousness to non-verbals, "weak" due to appearing as though I'd gone senile before my time, and the lack of motor coordination probably cued her that I wouldn't be able to defend her honour in some confrontation. She probably conjured up an image of some friendless loner-loser who wasn't all there :(

That said, I was often oblivious to subtle signs or expectations of "dominance displays" or "dominance plays" in interactions. The signs being from other peers (males), the expectations being from females (take the lead). I used to hang out with a "fake friend" roommate who would covertly /subtly sabotage me with women at bars with social games that were meant to make me appear inferior, while claiming that he was "only trying to help me". I had enough sense to see the game and called him out on it, which he denied and continued, so I cut ties. He was a mild-moderate ASPD (narcissist) personality type who always need attention and validation from an entourage and I was just a pawn in that :x

So let me show you the excerpt on the "extreme form of maleness" rebuttal I found on this random Wiki type page...which also talks about those primal "dominance competitions" that we're no good at... (if we even recognize they're occurring, that is!! !)

One theory suggests ASD represents a 'failed' instance of male mating strategies that can be seen in exaggerated forms in two somewhat similar disorders: ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ASPD (Anti-Social Personality Disorder, commonly known as 'psychopathy'). All three disorders have low empathy in common. ADHD and ASPD, in particular, have a low arousal threshold (less or no fear, desire for extreme stimulation, very low inhibition) in common. Low empathy and arousal thresholds (i.e. higher activity levels) are likely adaptive in males, as they facilitate gaining dominance status and therefore access to women. ASD males, do have low empathy, so they are hyper-masculine in that regard, but they have a "high" arousal threshold as they easily get overstimulated and then withdraw from dominance competitions. This may, in part, explain, the poor reproductive success of autists.



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03 Jul 2020, 9:51 pm

First of all, I commend the thoroughness in your post.

I haven't done extensive reading about this theory, and I've never taken it seriously. Honestly, it just makes me laugh a little then move on. I think that it's ridiculous. Fascinating yes, but ultimately just no.

Second first of all, by saying it's just extreme maleness youre being forced to define and stereotype what it means to be male versus a woman which is across the board harmful to literally everyone. Yes, female and male biology is different but we're talking about how people present themselves externally and the behaviors that can be observed. I think right there is one of the main issues about autism research in general. In science we only study what can be observed but with psychology in general and ESPECIALLY in HFA and Aspergers it's what's happening internally that is important. (I am also a firm believer that they are two separate disorders though currently used interchangeably, I do not). This is ultimately another pardox at first glance, but while anatomy is internal and genetic, thought processes are not. Patterns of thought for every human is influenced to some degree by cultural expectations. This is partially why so many women with aspergers go undetected, we find a way to understand social situations because we are expected to. We get good at it too. I know there are these elusive social intincts I do not have, and as a kid I never understood stupid social intricacies, but as an adult I'm an expert at them. I"m an empathy sherlock, I know nonverbal communication like a neurotypical and sometimes am oversensitive to tone and gestures, but I had to learn this. My point is that I had to learn these things because as a woman I am expected to, and men are not. If they were who knows what could happen.

It is also very common for us to have gender identity issues because we don't accept/understand/see these social divides. I personally remember that in kindergarten I was told I was not allowed to like the color green because it was a boy color. This confused me because I am a girl and green had always been my favorite color. Obviously things only get more complicated from five years old and in highschool I struggled a little with accepting my gender. It ultimately came down to the fact that being female doesn't mean you have to like makeup and dresses, you can define it however you want (again obviously alot more to that but in a sentence).

As for sexuality, things become a little cloudier. On a biological level I've found that it's common for individuals with our diagnosis to have some kind of trouble with hormones and oddly testosterone does pop up often. The only problem is that higher levels of testosterone are associated with a higher sex drive which like you said, doesn't seem to be much of thing in aspergers and autism. In general I've found through research and just talking with people that a lot of us identify as demi or ace, and often we aren't straight either. I am personally demipansexual however that's a lot for most people so I simplify with I'm super gay since historically I've been more attracted to women than men. Except for me it's about the person not the gender, and no matter the sexuality that seems to be the common theme here. Most of us don't 'see' gender because its a social construct, and we don't care about those.

Ultimately I disagree with the whole theory and think if taken seriously it is toxic on various levels.

As for your own success in dating, I'd say the same thing about gender and your own expression of it. Don't put yourself in a box about what it means to be male. Some women may be looking for that stereotype of a 'man', but if that's not you then don't force it. From a woman's perspective, we like sensitive types too and the best thing you can do it have confidence in who you actually are and be okay with that person. (I"m not sure if this last paragraph was what you were looking for but the rest are here too).



CarlM
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03 Jul 2020, 10:34 pm

The theory certainly doesn't imply anything that would make ASD males more attractive to females. The "maleness" refers to a specific male/female difference. Understand there are different types of empathy and we lack emotional empathy which is very different from the lack of empathy in psychopathy.

I find that the people with less extreme masculinity/femininity are the most attractive to the opposite sex anyway. This is mostly just my observation, although I heard the same from others.

This article discusses the criticisms of the theory. It seems no one has confirmed or refuted it with other studies: The extreme male brain, explained


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starkid
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04 Jul 2020, 3:19 pm

Jayo wrote:
Hi all, I'm wondering what you think about Simon Baron-Cohen's theory on Aspergers (or today, ASD/HFA) being "an extreme form of maleness". IMO, I'm kind of ambivalent about it, there are arguments for and contra.

I'm not terribly familiar with it; i.e. I'm not sure which exact traits he associates with maleness.

Quote:
I mean, the paradox is that if it were indeed an extreme form of maleness, then it would make us more "manly" to women and there wouldn't be such a large proportion of ASD/HFA men who identified as "incel".

Whoa, you are making a couple of huge and unjustified assumptions here. First of all, whatever traits you (or Simon Baron Cohen) consider "manly" aren't necessarily attractive to women.

Second of all, there are plenty of other traits (and circumstances) that make men unattractive to women or unsuccessful with women, even when those women are attracted to the manliness.

Third of all, identifying as an incel is dependent on more than success with women.

So this is not a paradox at all.


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Wolfram87
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04 Jul 2020, 3:37 pm

Can confirm; I am the malest male to ever male past all them females.


On a serious note: I've been under the impression that even Baron-Cohen himself abandoned this theory, but used most of the foundations for it in his "Solitary Forager"-hypothesis.


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Dear_one
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04 Jul 2020, 4:38 pm

I won't try getting into that discussion while the definition of "male" is constantly censored by feminists.



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04 Jul 2020, 4:48 pm

Quote:
Understand there are different types of empathy and we lack emotional empathy which is very different from the lack of empathy in psychopathy.


"We" as in guys or "we" as in Aspies?

I'm an Aspie but I have very good emotional empathy and I've been told by several people that I am emotionally bright.

I'm not going to bother discussing the definition of empathy because it seems that most Aspie's definition of empathy is "knowing what to say and what to do when someone is crying", and most NT's definition of empathy is "kind, caring, thoughtful".


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04 Jul 2020, 6:07 pm

I see myself being gender neutral. I like to joke around with my friends that I'm Peagender and Peasexual. I also identify with Om Nom, who's a Sweet Pea. Peas don't really have a gender.


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CarlM
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05 Jul 2020, 10:09 pm

Joe90 wrote:
Quote:
Understand there are different types of empathy and we lack emotional empathy which is very different from the lack of empathy in psychopathy.


"We" as in guys or "we" as in Aspies?

I'm an Aspie but I have very good emotional empathy and I've been told by several people that I am emotionally bright.

I'm not going to bother discussing the definition of empathy because it seems that most Aspie's definition of empathy is "knowing what to say and what to do when someone is crying", and most NT's definition of empathy is "kind, caring, thoughtful".


I did mean we as in Aspies. The article I linked to says:

Subscribers to the theory assign the term ‘empathy’ to the female end of the continuum, referring to a constellation of social skills, such as the ability to intuit others’ emotional states.

This is where I got the "emotional empathy" from. I realize YMMV :oops:.

Now that I again look up types of empathy, I see this is usually called "cognitive empathy".


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starkid
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05 Jul 2020, 10:36 pm

CarlM wrote:
I did mean we as in Aspies. The article I linked to says:

Subscribers to the theory assign the term ‘empathy’ to the female end of the continuum, referring to a constellation of social skills, such as the ability to intuit others’ emotional states.

This is where I got the "emotional empathy" from. I realize YMMV :oops:.

Now that I again look up types of empathy, I see this is usually called "cognitive empathy".

From what I've read on WP, "cognitive empathy" means something else. Indeed, the ability to intuit others' emotions is supposedly one of the main abilities that autistic people lack.

I just looked up "cognitive empathy," and I see something about understanding what other people are feeling, not necessarily intuiting what they are feeling.

And who knows what "constellation of social skills" means—it certainly includes more than one specific kind of empathy.

It seems we are getting nowhere with these discussions about empathy because everyone is referring to slightly different things.


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carlos55
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06 Jul 2020, 1:57 pm

Jayo wrote:
Hi all, I'm wondering what you think about Simon Baron-Cohen's theory on Aspergers (or today, ASD/HFA) being "an extreme form of maleness". IMO, I'm kind of ambivalent about it, there are arguments for and contra.

I mean, the paradox is that if it were indeed an extreme form of maleness, then it would make us more "manly" to women and there wouldn't be such a large proportion of ASD/HFA men who identified as "incel". Even before I saw the passage from a random Wiki that I posted in the bottom paragraph, I always thought the "extreme maleness" theory was a very qualified or limited one. True, those of us with the condition may lack emotional intelligence, and be really into technical subject matter, systems theory and thinking, be curt and to the point or come off as stubborn or know-it-all, but we don't have those other "maleness" traits like brashness, dominance, physical strength (on average, I mean, esp. if most of us look closer to Sheldon Cooper than Lou Ferrigno back in the day) or socially influential. Those traits, which carried to an extreme are called toxic masculinity, are more likely to give more mating opportunities in one's younger adult years. But I digress.

Until I greatly improved in various regards later in my 20s, and had more female success, I always thought that my lack of desirability to women was likely due to not being a source of comfort to her, I probably came off as mentally ill due to obliviousness to non-verbals, "weak" due to appearing as though I'd gone senile before my time, and the lack of motor coordination probably cued her that I wouldn't be able to defend her honour in some confrontation. She probably conjured up an image of some friendless loner-loser who wasn't all there :(

That said, I was often oblivious to subtle signs or expectations of "dominance displays" or "dominance plays" in interactions. The signs being from other peers (males), the expectations being from females (take the lead). I used to hang out with a "fake friend" roommate who would covertly /subtly sabotage me with women at bars with social games that were meant to make me appear inferior, while claiming that he was "only trying to help me". I had enough sense to see the game and called him out on it, which he denied and continued, so I cut ties. He was a mild-moderate ASPD (narcissist) personality type who always need attention and validation from an entourage and I was just a pawn in that :x

So let me show you the excerpt on the "extreme form of maleness" rebuttal I found on this random Wiki type page...which also talks about those primal "dominance competitions" that we're no good at... (if we even recognize they're occurring, that is!! !)

One theory suggests ASD represents a 'failed' instance of male mating strategies that can be seen in exaggerated forms in two somewhat similar disorders: ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ASPD (Anti-Social Personality Disorder, commonly known as 'psychopathy'). All three disorders have low empathy in common. ADHD and ASPD, in particular, have a low arousal threshold (less or no fear, desire for extreme stimulation, very low inhibition) in common. Low empathy and arousal thresholds (i.e. higher activity levels) are likely adaptive in males, as they facilitate gaining dominance status and therefore access to women. ASD males, do have low empathy, so they are hyper-masculine in that regard, but they have a "high" arousal threshold as they easily get overstimulated and then withdraw from dominance competitions. This may, in part, explain, the poor reproductive success of autists.


First of all Simon Baron Cohen is not a serious researcher, he is probably the most overrated overexposed figure in autism research.

While other establishments around the world have uncovered ground breaking genetic insights into ASD that contribute to human understanding of the condition the best SBC came up with is a questionnaire autism test and a half baked male brain theory that was heavily criticized.

Not to mention trying to please both cure and ND by writing pointless politically correct online articles & silly twitter posts. Something like “Sometimes autistic symptoms are a disability that needs treating other symptoms are harmless and don’t need treating” - Really you don’t say ha ha ha. Although take away the disability symptoms and you won’t have autism anymore anyone could tell you that.

As far as your other question is concerned about male / female heterosexual attraction. I’ve watched many men who are successful with women when younger and read stuff on hetrosexual female attraction.

Apart from a nice smile good looks and what some would suggest is a male attribute of outward self confidence and self assuredness most women go for “soft attributes” like personality, listening to them, attending to their needs & making them laugh.

Few women want to be with a cave man believe me. I would recommend reading Mars and Venus on a date for how all this works.



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06 Jul 2020, 6:54 pm

There has been a lot of blowback to this theory as well as antidotal "I'm not like that" reactions.

As discussed in the article there is a lot of misunderstanding of what Simon Barran-Cohen means by extreme maleness because a lot of people especially Americans when they of maleness think of the alpha male, the captain of the football team, the aggressive go-getter, the player/ladies man. Simon Barran-Cohen is referring more towards the "nerds" that are bullied by the alpha males.

IMHO what SBC has found is a significant subcategory of autistics.


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06 Jul 2020, 7:24 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:

As discussed in the article there is a lot of misunderstanding of what Simon Barran-Cohen means by extreme maleness because a lot of people especially Americans when they of maleness think of the alpha male, the captain of the football team, the aggressive go-getter, the player/ladies man. Simon Barran-Cohen is referring more towards the "nerds" that are bullied by the alpha males.


Yeah, true that!! Because let's face it, the "nerds" or geeks or Aspies are not (on average) the same physical specimen as the stereotypical alpha males... who typically launch into a bullying tirade with homophobic slurs towards their target, even well into their 20s - bullying isn't something they outgrow. So, yeah, Simon Barron-Cohen must've been oblivious to a lot of the gay insults that a lot of us had to put up with from these yahoos :( because, don'cha know, we SURELY can't be the definition of maleness if *they* put the gay label on us 8O :roll:

Then, of course, some of those alpha-a**holes go on to become police officers - the ultimate petri dish of toxic masculinity. :x
Without digressing on topic, I respect the police as an institution, but lament that they will never be rid of that stain of attracting sociopathic alpha male types (who always seem to make it through their candidate screening).



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07 Jul 2020, 4:49 am

Jayo wrote:
ASPartOfMe wrote:

As discussed in the article there is a lot of misunderstanding of what Simon Barran-Cohen means by extreme maleness because a lot of people especially Americans when they of maleness think of the alpha male, the captain of the football team, the aggressive go-getter, the player/ladies man. Simon Barran-Cohen is referring more towards the "nerds" that are bullied by the alpha males.


Yeah, true that!! Because let's face it, the "nerds" or geeks or Aspies are not (on average) the same physical specimen as the stereotypical alpha males... who typically launch into a bullying tirade with homophobic slurs towards their target, even well into their 20s - bullying isn't something they outgrow. So, yeah, Simon Barron-Cohen must've been oblivious to a lot of the gay insults that a lot of us had to put up with from these yahoos :( because, don'cha know, we SURELY can't be the definition of maleness if *they* put the gay label on us 8O :roll:

Then, of course, some of those alpha-a**holes go on to become police officers - the ultimate petri dish of toxic masculinity. :x
Without digressing on topic, I respect the police as an institution, but lament that they will never be rid of that stain of attracting sociopathic alpha male types (who always seem to make it through their candidate screening).

SBC is from The UK where more "eccentric" variances of maleness have been traditionally tolerated than in America.


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07 Jul 2020, 10:31 am

The extreme-male-brain theory is ridiculous. Baron-Cohen makes the classic mistake of neurotypical autism researchers: He focuses on the social components of autism rather than on the underlying neurological differences. And then he awkwardly duct-tapes these superficial observations of autistic men to the stereotypes of maleness that barely resemble autism to begin with.

He and his harebrained theory are responsible for some of the under-diagnosis in women and non-binary people on the spectrum. And he needs to shut up and listen to actual autistic people.