I’ve written about ableism before, I wrote about it back when Sia’s awful movie Music was getting backlash (rightfully so) I also wrote why I believe it’s the worst film ever made. However this is an entirely different situation, this is about how people expect autistic people to be absolutely perfect and not slip up once.
Let’s set the stage first, Julia Fox an actress who got a lot of spotlight in The Safdie Brother’s 2019 film Uncut Gems is on Tiktok a very popular social media site. The last few years she has gained a following due to her talking about real world subjects as well as generally being likable by her audience. It’s also important to know that Julia Fox has said she is autistic and has even talked great lengths about it.
Enter the whole “mascara” trend which apparently was popular on Tiktok, I say apparently because I’ve talked to many people who pretty much live on Tiktok and they have told me they haven’t heard of it. So what is the mascara trend? Mascara is used as an euphemism for sexual assault, rape or dick (I can’t 100% confirm the dick part but I’ve seen some people claim that it’s also used for that). To give a little background on why this exists it’s basically because Tiktok has been censoring any video that talks about sexual assault and rape, which is disgusting as I believe that those topics are very important and people should be absolutely allowed to talk about, educate and share their stories.
That’s all well and good using a euphemism to get passed TikTok’s censorship isn’t the problem. The problem starts when you expect people to completely understand it without giving any context, Julia Fox ended up commenting “idk why but I don’t feel bad for u lol” on one guy’s video (I won’t be naming the person) that could easily be taken as talking about mascara, it was quite clear to almost everyone that Julia Fox did not have malicious intent, she’s been a very huge activist when it comes to sexual assault. Plus some autistic people take euphemisms very literal it’s very common knowledge that you really don’t even have to do that much research to realize.
That didn’t stop people expecting the absolute worst in her however, without even giving her five minutes to clarify ableism was thrown around and death threats were being sent. Which led me to realizing that this wasn’t just about Julia Fox this was about how people do not give autistic people a chance to clarify, or learn about something new.
Let’s start off with the common justifications, while yes the video was tagged “SAAwarness” be completely honest how many times have you looked at the tags on a video? Unless you are actively looking for a certain hashtag 90% of the time you aren’t going to notice anything.
Another common argument is the word consent being used, much like other words consent can have many different meanings and in this case you can easily fit it in well with mascara. Example being “you didn’t have my consent to use my mascara” or “this person didn’t consent to you using their video game console” consent doesn’t just mean sex.
I also do want to point out that having the mindset that everyone is supposed to fully understand that mascara is euphemism for sexual assault, rape ect is just wrong, especially when you don’t give an explanation you just yell at them.
Which leads me to the main point of this piece, you would think that Julia Fox being very open about her autism people would actually try and educate her rather than yell and act terrible…that’s not the case here unfortunately. Which is when I made my post about the matter, most of the comments agreed with me, others respectfully disagreed and then there were those who threw a bunch of ableism. I even got ableism thrown into my DMs as well as a few death threats. And i’m not the only person several other autistic people and sexual abuse survivors who didn’t go with the narrative that “Julia Fox condones sexual assault” were harassed and sent nasty messages.
So what does this whole situation tell me exactly? Well people will resort to ableism or will automatically assume the worst in autistic people, some people are trying to argue “this has nothing to with autism!” Once you bring the r slur to the mix and harass autistic people who disagree with your point of view it becomes a topic that has to do with autism. You can’t gaslight people into thinking otherwise, what gets me however is when Julia Fox apologized nobody issued an apology to her or any of the autistic people or sexual abuse survivors that were harassed.
For an app such as Tiktok who has a lot of people on there that like to claim “everyone is a little autistic” you would think they would be more understanding and do the research about autistic people. But I guess that would be asking too much, why do the research when you can be performative and get brownie points. These are the exact same types of people who will say they are best friends with an autistic person when in reality they might have sat with an autistic person once at a lunch table and never spoke to them again. As someone who has been very open about their autism, it’s truly both disappointing and really scary to see people send death threats and harass autistic people all because we have a completely different view of the situation and which was the case.
If this could happen to Julia Fox an actress this could happen to any autistic person, all because we don’t automatically get something, all because we make one simple mistake, all because people can’t find the decency to actually explain the meaning of something.
The only positive (if you want to call it that) to come out of this situation is seeing a bunch of people’s masks slip, some of which before this claimed to be huge activists for sexual abuse survivors and autistic people. While I’m not going to say they hate sexual abuse survivors or autistic people however I will say that their “activism” are now going to be looked at very differently and questions are going to start being asked.
To wrap this up the next time an autistic person doesn’t understand something, try and actually tell them what said topic means. It’s the absolute bare minimum you could do and they will absolutely thank you for it, a little clarification can go a long way. Accusing someone of condoning sexual abuse, calling them the r slur or sending death threats is only going to make you look horrible to any reasonable person who’s reading.