Zoë Kessler - ADHD slut (or not)In my previous blog post, I contrasted two posts by my esteemed colleagues, fellow ADHD bloggers Bryan Hutchinson and Jeff Siegel.

I’d like to continue with my personal analysis of the discussion from the point of view of a woman with ADHD (and possibly a slutty one, at that. You’ll have to wait to find that one out).

About success

I think you verge on my point Jeff, when you hold your spouse and other women (such as Jane Goodall) up as role models of success that your daughters could emulate.

But why do we have to have a one-size-fits-all definition of “success”?

I don’t want to be forced to swallow society’s ideal of “success,” “womanhood,” or anything else for that matter. This is especially important to me as a woman with ADHD who considers herself to be somewhat outside the “norm” of stereotypical feminine aspirations.

First and foremost, to me a successful person is one who has striven for, and has been supported in, reaching their highest potential, whatever that is. (For examples, see Leading Ladies: Seven Successful Women with ADHD.)

Let’s not forget that whatever successes most of us have had, they’ve more often than not been achieved at great cost, and often on the heels of heartbreaking failures, especially if we’re not diagnosed with ADHD until late in life.

In that context, it’s tenacity, not family wealth or connections, that helps us achieve whatever successes we have.

About judging others

I’m pretty sure neither Jeff nor Bryan has actually met any of the women cited in Bryan’s blog in person. And if they have, I’m guessing that they’re not best buds with them.

I apologize right now if I’m mistaken in this.

I’ll take my cue from Siegel who says that a writer’s role is to say what others are unwilling to say:

What gives you two the right to judge these women the way you have in your blog posts, based on superficial observations and media hype in the first place?

What’s the point? If you’re actually writing about ADHD, as it appears you are, then I think you’ve missed the point entirely.

Let’s dig a little deeper

I’d like to call for a change of focus to a society that is more interested in ferreting out and addressing the root causes of such evils as alcoholism, drug abuse and so-called slutty behavior.

As a woman with ADHD, I think I’ll be the one deciding if and when I feel I’ve gone “over the edge.”

As for Hutchinson (who admits Miley Cyrus’ diagnosis was never confirmed), he applauds Cyrus for not allowing her “naughty pictures” to “[go] over the edge.”

Again, who put you in the position of deciding what is and isn’t “over the edge”?

As a woman with ADHD, I think I’ll be the one deciding if and when I feel I’ve gone “over the edge,” and I’d ask that Messrs. Siegel and Hutchinson allow the “girls” [cringe] to do the same.

If a woman’s ADHD impulsivity, poor executive functioning, etc., is driving her behavior is it really informative to denounce her as a slut?

What does that even mean? Does it mean that she’s promiscuous (i.e. “not restricted to one sexual partner” – Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)?

Does it mean that she’s had 10 lovers? 20?

Or that she dates five men (or women. or both) at the same time?

Zoë Kessler… friendly, neighborhood ADHD slut?

As a woman diagnosed with ADHD at 46, I’m a walking statistic.

Like those who comprise the stats cited in my previous post, my own ADHD impulsivity, hyperactivity, low self-esteem, stimulus-seeking behavior (and other factors) led to rampant promiscuity throughout my 20’s.

I’m guessing that by your definition, Jeff, I too could be called a slut (at least back in those days).

Instead of choosing high-stim activities such as driving fast, getting into fights, gambling, etc., I chose sex as my dopamine-inducing activity of choice.

And you know what? That’s none of your business.

Who amongst us is perfect?

I’ve worked extremely hard to understand the neurobiology and psychology driving the behavior of women with undiagnosed ADHD (especially myself).

It’s taken much to overcome my personal allotment of shame and blame, the worst and most lingering being that which I foisted upon myself prior to learning about ADHD and its role in my life.

If you choose to judge me on the basis of that behavior (and ignore its association with ADHD) as opposed to judging me for my accomplishments, intelligence, hard work, passionate nature, kindness, caring, sense of humor, or for the wonderful person that I am, that’s your problem.

So there.

Okay, Bryan, your turn

These “girls” (I don’t have time here to point out how patronizing calling these adults “girls” is, especially when combined with your comment that Britney, thank God, has “got Simon Cowell to take care of her now”)…

Oh, what the hell, I’m on a roll…

I agree that it’s quite likely that Britney and perhaps the others cited in your post could use some support and wise counsel, perhaps in the form of an ADHD coach; an appropriate ADHD treatment plan, etc.

But to suggest that being taken under the wing of Simon Cowell who as far as I know is neither an ADHD coach, a psychiatrist specializing in ADHD, a psychotherapist, or any kind of ADHD specialist, is just the thing to help Britney stay on her feet is a simplification at best, patronizing and ludicrous at worst.

I agree with multimodal treatment, but I’m not quite sure this could be construed as a valid component.

MY bottom line

Perhaps I’m being presumptuous, Jeff and Bryan, but I think in our common blogging about ADHD we’re all fighting for some of the same fundamental things.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure this includes trying to disseminate solid, reliable, up-to-date information about adult ADHD, and making the world more liveable for ourselves and others.

For the sake of fraternity… er… sorority… um… a united front?

That being said, I want you guys to go to your rooms and think about what you’ve said. And no, I will NOT give you a spanking.

You can come out when we’re all back on the same page in regard to not further labeling and stigmatizing women with ADHD, no matter how screwed up (or, alternatively, gorgeous and successful) they might look to you.

We’re supposed to be the good guys, remember?


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