Dyspraxia awareness week 2020 Livestream
Last October (2020) during the dyspraxia awareness week event, a group of women of varying ages hosted a live stream called "Dyspraxia in Women". Before the event took place it caused quite the ruckus and upset a lot from dyspraxic men.
Before the event took place there was quite the stir in the community and an influx of abusive comments towards the women that were talking on the live stream panel. Comments such as:
"This is both sexist and racist - why is there a women's panel and not a men's one - we are all equal but men suffer more - women don't experience anything different for dyspraxia - you should probably just k*ll yourselves now"
Of course, this only highlighted more reason as to why the panel desperately needed to take place. To tell a group of people that they aren't allowed to have something they are more than entitled to and that they have no struggles is exactly where oppression begins and has no end. Let's not forget the blatantly obvious bodily functions that most (cis) women as opposed to (cis) men experience. Then there is, of course, the unfair and somewhat outdated diagnostic criteria which is just as unfair on women as it is to men, in fact in many cases more unfair towards men if we ignore the large number of women who go misdiagnosed or undiagnosed because of it. I mention this because if a women's issue is spoken about, all hell breaks loose if the women don't also mention the men's issues.
Much of the abuse running up to the event was based around just that "but what about men?" This wasn't a conversation about men, and why should every women's discussions HAVE to discuss men's issues too? So they don't feel left out, because for once the conversation is not about them?
On many occasions, we had to remind them that there is in fact a men's group, where men's issues are spoken about and well respected. Like the women's groups, they are kept private to protect their personal conversations and safety, something we all take very seriously. (The men's private group/meetings have since become inactive, I hope that these can restart in the future)
So why was there a women's panel and not a men's one?
Because the men didn't make one, the women did.
It's safe to say the abuse was just on the run-up to the event, and once the event took place we received many wonderful comments of thanks from the men who did join the stream. We didn't expect many (if any) men to join the stream, however, we were pleasantly surprised by those who did and very much appreciate their kind comments and their thanks at the end. They learnt a lot that day that they didn't before and admitted to having wrongly prejudged the stream or they were expectantly surprised by the new things they learnt.
Not all doom and gloom
Many of the women who joined the event and watched the replay said they finally felt represented, especially those who don't meet the 'criteria' of young white British women, as the panel was diverse in age, race and location. Many relatable topics were covered, such as periods, relationships and family, fashion, hobbies and more. The interactions received on the live stream are still viewable on the replay which is linked in the image or can easily be found by searching "Dyspraxia in Women Livestream" on YouTube.
Much of the dyspraxia literature and research focuses mostly on young pre-adolescent white boys from Britain. Many of these studies don't even bother to state whom their research is conducted on unless you ask them. Unfortunately, these organisations did not consent to be being named in the article, presumably because they are aware that a lack of diversity in their studies has proven to be very harmful, resulting in minority groups to have significantly reduced access to a diagnosis, but also a diagnostic criteria that excludes them and results in a lack of or late diagnosis. More recent studies with more diversity are starting to emerge, however, the improvement is not anywhere near enough yet and not all countries are sticking to the same criteria meaning it's not uniform across the world.
What can we learn from this?
The biggest lesson we learnt as a community is that women's issues aren't necessarily ignored, but women are bullied into not talking about them. In the past, I'd spoken about women's issues but was ultimately bullied into ditching it and talking about men's issues only. I simply was not allowed to mention anything about women without following up with an essay on men's rights and issues. I knew this was wrong but the abuse I experienced contributed to an on and off three-year hiatus. And I will not hold back that I received MANY death threats because of talking about the unfair diagnostic criteria. This has continued, however, with the support of other women and men in our community, their voices don't shout so loud anymore.
As a community, we have to be better than this. No one should ever receive death threats because they want to help others who experience the same issues that they do. When you see something unjust, don't just sit back and watch, help stand up for them and let the oppressor know that their behaviour is not acceptable. If we can't treat cis people with respect, then how can we even begin to imagine what our 'safe' space looks like for more diverse groups, I can assure you now, it doesn't look great.
Support groups can be found on Facebook and Twitter: