12 Hurtful, Misogynistic Comments Women with ADHD Hear

Gender role expectations hurt women, and misogynistic, sexist comments cut especially deep for females with ADHD. Here are 12 ignorant, hurtful things women with ADD told us they hear too often (which is even once).

Concept of guilt, public censure and victim blaming. Sad or depressed woman surrounded by hands with index fingers pointing at her. Flat design, vector illustration.
Concept of guilt, public censure and victim blaming. Sad or depressed woman surrounded by hands with index fingers pointing at her. Flat design, vector illustration.

Gender role expectations, though outdated and fractious, continue to impact every woman’s life. When that woman has ADHD, sexism and ignorance too often team up to invite a barrage of unhelpful, hurtful, and downright mean comments from others. We asked ADDitude readers to tell us what gender role observations or judgements have, intentionally or otherwise, harmed and haunted them on their journeys with ADHD.

“I was told by a high school math teacher that it ‘wasn’t worth her time’ to stay after school to give me extra help to understand the lessons she taught. I will never forget how worthless this teacher made me feel.” — Rebecca, Rhode Island

“‘You’re sabotaging yourself.’ I’ve spent my life being told I am to blame for my chaos. These words are familiar to so many with ADHD, but this one sticks in my mind because it was a comment from someone working specifically to help me with my ADHD! It’s devastating to be told, time and time again, that my struggles are my fault when I’m working so hard.” — An ADDitude Reader

“Every report card I ever got talked about unrealized potential. And apparently I was ‘moody’ and a ‘day dreamer.’ It all hurt so much.” — Cathy

“Flaky. Forgetful. Late. Messy. Disorganized. Comments like ‘you just need to __.’ Like it’s so simple. It distills into shame and trauma. Every time it is brought up again, it pokes at that pain.” — An ADDitude Reader

[ADHD Self-Test: Symptoms in Women and Girls]

“I have always heard friends and family tell me to ‘Calm down’ or ‘Relax!’ I always felt like I was perceived as an incredibly oversensitive or emotional girl and, even today, woman. It’s caused me to avoid speaking up at times.— An ADDitude Reader

“My nickname as a kid was Super-Klutz. My parents would sit on the front porch, see me limping down the street, maybe crying, and say, ‘Here comes Super-Klutz!’ I know they were trying to cheer me up from being hurt, but it did not have that effect.— Amy, Illinois

“All my life, people, especially my mum and my sister, told me to turn down my enthusiasm. I was just being enthusiastic, but they told me I was over the top. I always felt they were embarrassed of me.” — Susan, Holland

“You just need to stop being so lazy. You could do this if you put your mind to it.” — An ADDitude Reader

[Free Download: Inattentive ADHD Explained]

“‘Just be yourself.’ This was so frustrating because I knew that, if I were myself, people wouldn’t like me. I copied everyone around me, and I still had no luck at fitting in.” — Katherine, Florida

“‘Imagine what you could be achieving if you didn’t have ADHD’…and ‘intelligent women don’t need to write things on their hands to stay organized.’” — An ADDitude Reader

“Unhelpful negative comments on report cards that shamed me: ‘She could do much better if she applied herself.’ ‘Does not work to potential.’ These types of comments were eroding my confidence and self-worth. They sent a clear message that I was not enough, or did not do enough, despite earning top grades consistently.” — An ADDitude Reader

“’You are extremely intelligent, you have so much potential, but you don’t apply yourself. All you need to do is listen, pay attention and not get upset so easily. It’s your choice to succeed or fail.’” — Katie, Washington

Gender Roles and ADHD: Next Steps

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