Writing From Factor X

February 27, 2011

Let’s Have a Conversation About Compromise and Consent

The discussion on compromise in last week’s comments has got me thinking about compromise as it’s generally discussed in the asexual community, and not necessarily in a good way. However. Before I continue in this vein, I want to make one thing clear: I have no interest in casting judgement on what any individual asexual person chooses to do. Seriously, as I pointed out repeatedly in that comments section, all the options for asexuals trying to achieve long-term intimacy suck. If you, anonymous reader, have found a situation that works for you, excellent! Nor have I any interest in making unilateral, black-and-white statements here. My goal in writing this piece is to create discussion, not to make all-encompassing pronouncements.

That said, there was this piece on Tumblr that made me start thinking about the way we often discuss compromise in the asexual community. It’s called Sexual Ethics As Applying to Asexuality, and what it’s trying to do is apply the principles of enthusiastic consent to asexual/sexual relationships. It’s worth a read, and there’s a lot of things in it I’m all behind. I certainly agree with the original piece that expecting sex from anyone else is wrong, full stop. I don’t, however, agree with it entirely, and I want to talk about why.

Enthusiastic consent as a concept is pretty clearly one of those things thought up by sex-positive people without actually knowing that asexuals exist (or possibly, caring). At first glance, the idea that no one should be having sex they’re not totally into on their own account isn’t a bad idea. After all, what’s rape but sex without consent? And there are a whole lot of different ways that people can be pressured into sex without force, and is that consent truly consent? After all, consent ought to be free in order to count as agreement, not coerced or pressured in any way.

Except… what holding enthusiastic consent to be the gold standard as consent does is essentially tell many asexuals that we can’t consent at all. And that is an implication I am seriously not comfortable with. For one thing, it tells me that we don’t have ultimate control over what happens to our own bodies. It tells me that even if an asexual person does actually want to have sex–and there can be a number of reasons to have sex beyond one’s own personal physical gratification–we still can’t consent on our own behalf.

Do you know who else can’t consent to sex? Children. Drunk and drugged people. Animals. In short, people who can’t be trusted to act in their own best interests regarding their own bodies at the moment. And the thing is, as an adult and sober asexual woman, no one gets to tell me what to do with my body but me. If I verbally make it clear that I have chosen to do something with my body, and if check-ins from my partner make it clear that I’m not in actual distress, I should be able to do as I please without anyone calling it rape because I was not, myself, totally into the activity.

Enthusiastic consent therefore cannot be the only understanding of valid sexual consent without calling personal rights to control one’s own body into question. There needs to be a broader understanding of models of consent. SlightlyMetaphysical recently posted a piece discussing ideas for this which I like–does it count as enthusiastic if the enthusiasm is purely about your partner’s enjoyment, for instance?

Alternatively, consent models could prioritize checking in with one’s partner or increasing the level of verbal communication before and during sex. Or paying attention to body language during sex–obviously, if someone tenses up or looks upset, you should be paying attention. There are a lot of different ways to discuss consent models that go beyond “(verbal) No Means No” without insisting that the only way anyone can consent to sex is to be totally into that sexual act for yourself at all times.

On the other hand, I do think the way I have often seen discussion about compromise go in the asexual community is seriously problematic. My experience is that acquiring intimacy is often discussed in fairly simple terms: either you’re romantic, and you date sexuals and expect to compromise or else you try to run the numbers and date other asexuals, or else you’re aromantic and want only the loose, less close friendships to begin with. And it’s unfortunately so much more complicated than that. We’re a diverse community. There’s about a million different ways to be asexual, and not all of them are served by those three options.

And I worry about pressure to compromise. As I pointed out earlier this month, the numbers are not in asexuals’ favor if the romance/friendship binary is to remain. It’s not hard to calculate the odds. Is the choice to compromise for some asexuals truly free? Pressure can come in many forms, and if you’re raised to think that your main options are being single forever or dating–and then realizing that you’ve almost certainly got to have sex you possibly don’t particularly want if you do date–well. Thinking that you don’t have many other options is a form of pressure to pick the “least worst” all on its own. And shouldn’t we be trying to make better options than that?

There needs to be more discussion of options beyond monogamous romantic relationships and trying to subsist on mainstream conceptions of friendships. Those options do work for some asexuals, don’t get me wrong–but they’re not as workable for all asexuals. There are so many ways to be asexual that no one-size-fits-all approach to asexuality and intimacy could possibly exist. We need to be thinking of ways to create more approaches in order to serve the needs of all asexuals.

Revenge of the Linkspam

Filed under: Signal Boost — Sciatrix @ 3:45 pm
Tags: ,

From An Asexual Space, a commentary on the “New Orientations” paper:

Short version: imagining the impact acknowledging asexuality as a legitimate thing in the world will have on feminist and queer studies.

Shorter version (my impression, anyway): sexuals talking to sexuals about asexuality.

At Purple and Grey: Radical Valentine’s Day

So here’s a radical idea, for those who choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Let’s take this holiday that’s supposedly about love, and make it really about love. Not just romantic and sexual love, but love in all its myriad forms. Have an intimate dinner with a dear friend. Call your mom and tell her you love her. Send little notes to people you care about telling them why they’re so awesome. And, yes, spend time with your significant other if you have one. But make it only one of many ways in which you celebrate love today.

Melonella writes a synopsis of every article on asexuality ever:

so guys like there are those people
i mean you might not believe it but it’s totally true
so there are those people and they actually really exist and they
get it
they have no interest in sex

Also from Melonella, on sexuals debating the existence of asexuality:

You — and by “you” I mean a sexual person with An Opinion On Asexuality — have no right to tell me that my sexuality does not exist. You have no right to suggest that it stems from a sexual trauma, a mental disorder or bad experiences. You have no right to question the validity of experience and assume yours is valid for everyone.

Phiremangston is calling for participants in a potential Asexuality in Fandom panel at CONvergence:

I was part of the brainstorming group for the 2011 CONvergence Programming department, and suggested we hold an Asexuality in Fandom panel.

Stephanie Silberstein discusses starting new asexual communities:

Sometimes it can be difficult to come out, but I think asexuals have to find ways to start those conversations. There may be more aces around than you think.

February 19, 2011

Why I Hate Ticky Boxes

There’s this piece about asexuality that’s just been published: Asexuality–Not Just For the Amoebas: What It’s Like to be “Ace” in College. It did not go on the linkspam. Admittedly, part of the reason for that is that I found it shortly after the linkspam went up, but even if I’d known about it weeks ago it wouldn’t have gone on the linkspam, because this piece is everything that is wrong with articles sexuals write about asexuality. It’s not even original in its failure, in fact, which is why I’m going to specifically critique it here. I may as well get some use out of its mediocrity.

First, way to cast suspicion on aceness as an identity right there in the title by calling us quote-unquote “aces.” That sets the tone for the rest of the piece, in fact; nothing asexuals have to say about themselves in the piece is treated as above challenge. We don’t even have the right to our own words without air-quotes.

And then we have the tired old trope of calling up a “sexologist” to explain why asexuality isn’t really real. This is what really gets me, folks, because it shows up in just about every damn article or TV discussion of asexuality you can name. But oh, the media have to provide a balanced opinion, as if there really are two legitimate sides to every issue, so of course they need to dig up someone to prove us wrong in our silly little self-identifications! It’s not like we can be definitive experts on our own experiences or anything!

But anyway. We’ve got our sexologist out to prove asexuals wrong. Her name’s Dr. Patricia Fawver, in fact, and it appears that she’s Dr. Joy Davidson, Round Two: a self-proclaimed expert who is dead-set on hiding her refusal to accept asexuality as a valid identity beneath a heavy layer of concern trolling. Again: not original. Davidson did it four years ago; you’d think they’d have learned something new by now, but apparently not. Davidson, incidentally, has since had the gall to express surprise that asexuals don’t like her. Wanna bet this lady does the same thing down the road?

Fawver, I might add, appears to have no idea what we mean when we claim “asexual” as a label, which would call her status as an expert on sexuality (or at least asexuality) into question if we were discussing any other topic. However, we’re discussing asexuality, so her assertion that “asexuality” means “without sexuality” goes totally unchallenged. In fact, the piece immediately follows this up with the line “In some ways, it is difficult to argue with Dr. Fawver.”

Yes. It is totally difficult to argue with Dr. Fawver. The fact that she’s setting up a complete straw argument about the nature of asexuality goes completely unnoticed and undiscussed, of course. So does the fact that she’s apparently never heard of asexuality or what it means before this conversation, since the fact that we’re discussing lack of sexual attraction rather than total lack of sexuality appears to have flown over her head. But her arguments are so good, guys! She’s totally a credible expert on this topic!

Then the article moves on to discussing whether or not asexuals actually exist. This is treated as a topic worthy of serious discussion. I don’t even have words. For the record? I exist. Fuck anyone who tries to say otherwise. This is another one of those “no, actually, there are not two legitimate sides to the story” topics.

Fawver returns later on in this one with a stern warning to the rest of us not to identify as asexual without checking all the laundry list of causes that could potentially have done it. For crying out loud, we’re discussing an orientation, not a symptom of disease! This is what I mean by concern trolling, by the way: Fawver is covering up her insistence that no one identify this way by insisting that making people jump through a ton of hoops before identifying as asexual is for our own good. As a special bonus, she hits most of the common stupid explanations for asexuality on her way down. Apparently that old whine about claiming to change one’s sexual orientation because of a bad break-up could be true, guys!

Of course, the flip side to the “two sides to a story” malarkey is that the article’s got to present the pro-asexuality side, too. Which it does by… citing possibly the worst research paper on asexuality ever published. Seriously, they’re claiming that the fact that 5-6% of Americans are still virgins has some kind of useful relevancy to asexuality, despite the fact that asexuals are generally quite happy to say “asexuality is not the same thing as celibacy” until we’re blue in the face. The author, who is writing from a college campus and therefore almost certainly has a lot of access to actual academic journals, presumably cited this pile of steaming academic fail because it’s available free on the Internet.

Finally, halfway through the piece, it goes on to detail what a real asexual person actually has to say about the experience of being asexual in college. I don’t have anything much to say about that; it’s pretty unobjectionable, but the fact that it took a solid page and a half for the author to get around to asking an asexual person what their experiences have been like is fairly significant. It demonstrates exactly whose opinions on asexuality are important here: nonasexuals’.

The piece’s ending makes this particularly clear, because it concludes firmly on an anti-asexual note. First, it stresses that asexuality is totally fluid and subject to change, comparing it to other “identities” rather than other sexual orientations. Again, this is telling. Asexuality discussion is particularly prone to stressing the potential changeability of sexual orientation and explaining that this is why someone shouldn’t take on an asexual identity–after all, one’s asexuality could change any moment! Of course this is never applied to other sexual orientations like identifying as straight or gay. Those are legitimate, cast as unchanging; asexuality is framed as a temporary state that could change at any moment, despite being no more fluid than any other sexuality.

Also? Apparently we shouldn’t “pre-diagnose ourselves with a trendy label” before we’ve thought very hard about who and what we are. There’s a bargain–two commonly used tropes to dismiss asexuality in one phrase! We’ve got “pre-diagnose,” which harkens back to the framing of asexuality as a sort of mental or physical illness, and then we have “asexuality is a trendy label,” which implies that we’re all just mindless fashionistas adopting the word because it’s cool. I don’t know what planet the author lives on where being ace is the next big thing, but I’d love to live there. The planet I live on, as a person who is actually an out asexual, is the one where being ace is a thing coated in obscurity and treated with condescending distaste under that. Hers sounds way more fun.

And Fawver gets the last word, as always in articles like this; heaven forbid we end on a positive note about asexuality from our own perspective. Apparently we’re supposed to “claim our sexuality and be proud, but understand it’s a choice not to engage with another person”. Does Fawver have a functioning grasp of logic? How do I claim my sexuality for what it is while simultaneously writing it off as a choice that I’m making? Unless of course that I’m supposed to understand that the choice is for me to own my innate sexuality, which duhthat’s what I’m doing when I identify as asexual. Which we’re not supposed to do. Why is this person held up as an expert, again?

So seriously, fuck Her Campus. Dr. Fawver may be an arrogant twit when it comes to asexuality, but they were the ones who gave her a platform in the first place. As an asexual in college, all this article is telling me is that Her Campus doesn’t actually care about or respect college asexuals. Instead, it’s telling me that Her Campus cares more about what nonasexuals think asexuality is than listening to what we have to say about ourselves. And honestly? That’s worse than not helping. If we’re going to have pieces on asexuality, can we maybe find some that aren’t packed chock-full of dismissive language and interviews from uninformed, pontificating “sexologists” who have never studied asexuality in their lives?

February 15, 2011

More Linkspam

Filed under: Signal Boost — Sciatrix @ 6:05 pm
Tags: ,

I think I’m going to start trying to run these on a biweekly basis. Because there’s pretty good stuff out there and I’d like to showcase the things that other people might not have seen yet. In particular, there has been some excellent stuff written about what a douche Dan Savage is of late which needs showcasing.

In the category of Why Dan Savage Is An Asshat:

From stackedstars:

According to Dan Savage, however, I’m just selfish and sadistic. I don’t deserve to date you great and superior sexual people and should just take my abnormality elsewhere because I will make your life MISERABLE.

From edgar-night:

Forget things like compromise and respect of the person you love! Oh, no, all romantic relationships are totally based entirely on sex, yo. Didn’t you realise this? NO!? Oh, then you’re an idiot who lives to make sexual people miserable because you’re an eeeevil, manipulative asexual who would never tell a prospective partner about your sexuality. You horrible, horrible asexual; you should be ashamed of yourself and crawl in a hole somewhere!

From Jess at psalmintheair:

Sex is not a necessary or obligatory part of dating or relationships, but a personal choice.No one is obligated to be in a sexual relationship if they do not wish to be, just as no one is obligated to enter into a sexless relationship if sex is something they need from their partner.

From Siggy: Asexuals Are Hiding; Also They Don’t Exist

I’m getting mixed messages here.  You should say that you’re asexual upfront so we can avoid you.  Also, don’t kid yourself, you’re not really asexual.

In the Category of Other Interesting Things

From Calvinahobbes, on using modes of dress to perform asexuality, also gender presentation:

But to lighten the tone a little, I am very curious about and fascinated with this new idea of performing asexuality: that just as there’s a way to perform ‘feminine’, which I have been doing and having fun with, there is another option to advertise that ‘I am not subscribing to your binaries’. I just have no idea how to go about that yet. And I fully recognize that it is not as black-and-white as I’m making it out to be above and that I actually have the option to perform different things in different contexts and places.

From Patchworkghost, demisexuality is not, in fact, a choice or a values judgement:

Many people mistake demisexuals (and asexuals) as people who have chosen abstinence, celibacy or are waiting for that “special someone”. And many mistake this as a choice based on religion or some sort of “purity” ideal (such as waiting until marriage to have sex).

Sara Beth Brooks did a guest post about asexuality at Pam’s House Blend. Warning: comments absolutely not asexual-friendly, although the post itself is pretty awesome.

When I signed up online to attend last year’s Creating Change conference in Dallas, I was asked to fill in my sexual orientation. I checked “queer,” but that isn’t wholly accurate; Asexuality wasn’t listed as one of the orientations that you could select.

From Paigehasissues, a criticism of romance = happiness, especially in fandom:

This emphasis on romantic love as the most important thing of all is over-the-top. I thought that when I considered myself heterosexual and it is still just as over-the-top now that I identify as asexual. Love is not everything. It doesn’t seem to occur to people sometimes when they claim that a character, especially a heartbroken one, “deserves a happy ending,” the happy ending could turn out to be that the character gets over the person that broke their heart. They have overcome a great obstacle and are (usually) happy afterward. How is that not a happy ending? For some reason, they must acquire a significant other to have a “true” happy ending.

And a piece I found on Restructure, not about asexuality per se but has some interesting criticism of “sex is a basic human need” rhetoric:

Of course, if one assumes that sex is a more basic need than security of body, then the ethical corollary would be that rape is justified. If you accept “rape is wrong” as an axiom, then you should agree that a person’s security of body/the right to be not raped has a higher priority than a person’s “need” for sex.

February 14, 2011

They Still Don’t Care About Us

Filed under: Anger,Visibility — Sciatrix @ 9:30 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

So reviewing the Dan Savage commentary from his admittedly fucked-up recent post about fat marriage in the general social justice blogosphere has been illuminating. Namely, people are talking about it. Big-name people. Small people. My Google reader exploded! People care about the fact that fat people maybe don’t deserve to be vilified for the fact of their bodies. Awesome, fantastic, this is a topic that needs to be talked about!

His equally fucked-up commentary about “minimally sexual” and asexual people in the same week, on the other hand? Absolutely zilch. Except coming from asexual people ourselves, of course. It’s been a slap in the face, actually. It’s a remainder that no one gives a damn about asexuals but ourselves. Savage can say whatever the hell he likes about asexuals, and who we should and shouldn’t inflict ourselves on, and no one will speak up for us but ourselves. Other people have allies who leverage privilege in their behalf. We have nothing.

In fact, I bet some of the asexuals reading this are thinking “we should expect other people to speak up for us?” and looking gobsmacked, because the belief that we can trust others to know and care nothing about asexuals is that ingrained. And it’s not an irrational belief, either; it’s not like experience teaches us otherwise. I suppose I’m the irrational one, in fact, for believing that people ought to care about asexuals.

Actually, you know what? At this point, I don’t even care whether you do care about us. I’m just tired of seeing people throw asexuality in as an aside without ever actually backing up the word with a breath of actual conversation about asexuals.

Shakesville, in particular, if you want to call yourselves asexual-friendly? You want to call yourselves allies?

Don’t just slap a cutesy “the cultural narratives surrounding romantic relationships assume you’re sexual” on your post and never mention the existence of asexuality again on a post, please. In fact, at this point? Either find someone to say something tangible about asexuality from a social justice perspective, or stop putting us in your so-inclusive lists and go back to pretending asexuals aren’t important. That we’re not worth talking about. Everyone else is doing it, you won’t even have to feel bad about it, but it would be a damn sight better than this bait-and-switch thing you’re doing.

I am sick and tired of seeing asexuality listed in groups of marginalizations–if I’m even that lucky–and never seeing people even stop to educate themselves once.  I am tired of never seeing issues that relate to people like me come up, ever. I am particularly sick of seeing lists that pat themselves on the back for being inclusive and never follow up that promise of inclusivity with action.

I am sick and tired of people putting asexuals on those lists, and then never actually so much as trying analyze a single issue from an asexual perspective. Because actually, the existence of asexuality could enrich discussions of consent, medicalization, ignoring boundaries, rape culture, concern trolling about one’s health, anything–even an aside that makes it clear that one is actually considering how a given issue might affect asexual people.

I am sick and tired of flinching when I come into social justice spaces when my own damn orientation comes up because I am waiting for the flurry of insults, concern trolling, and general demands to prove my existence in spaces that are ostensibly supposed to be safe for queer people. In fact? I flinch worse in queer spaces.

The omission is getting obvious. And you know, I’m greedy, and I do expect more. I’m tired of handing out cookies. Either be actual fucking allies and say things of substance when tangible issues of asexual oppression crop up, or stop putting on the pretense. But right now? I’m feeling pretty fucking slapped.

February 12, 2011

It’s Not About You

So Dan Savage has been showing his ass in public again. Apparently we’re not supposed to “inflict ourselves on normal people” or something. And the thing is, this isn’t the first time Savage has been hateful towards asexuals and it won’t be the last. But I wanted to comment on it anyway, because I think it showcases a reaction that’s all too common when the discussion of asexuals dating comes up.

Every time I have seen asexuality discussed in a space that is not heavily frequented by asexuals, someone pops up and feels the need to say that they could never date an asexual, even when the original context has nothing to do with asexuals dating. (That’s the best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that same person then going on to discuss how asexuals who date nonasexuals must be horrible people who are deliberately entrapping nonasexual people in manipulative, painfully sexless relationships against said nonasexuals’ will. Apparently the concept of breaking up never occurs to these people.)

Every damn time. I don’t know why these people think this is a useful and valid insight. I don’t know what they think they’re contributing to the conversation. I don’t know if they seriously think they’re saying anything new or useful. I don’t know if the people doing it know just how hurtful it is to always see that. And I’m not sure they care if they do. Because the impact of seeing that over and over and over again hurts.

I don’t even want to date anyone! My relationships are strange and painful, all the more so for being rather outside the monogamous romance situation. And I still get upset at seeing this, because it’s a tangible remainder that the most important relationships in my culture are set up to exclude asexuals. I can’t imagine what a romantic asexual must feel at seeing these responses every time asexual discussion comes up.

After all, it’s not like other romantic asexuals are easy to find. Say you’re a heteroromantic asexual woman and you want to date only other asexuals. Assume that the often-cited figure claiming asexuals make up 1% of the population is correct. Pretend that half of these are men*–well, that leaves you with 0.5% of the population who might possibly be in your dating pool. Now take out all the ones who are aromantic or homoromantic–according to the 2008 AVEN census, about 17.5% of the asexual population identifies as aromantic and 6.5% identify as homoromantic, so that’s 24% of the community which is off limits because of romantic orientation, meaning that 76% are theoretically available**.

So that’s 1% of the population at large x 50 % of these being an acceptable gender x 76% having a compatible romantic attraction, which comes to a whole 0.38% of the population you might be compatible with on the basis of romantic and sexual attraction alone. Forget the vagaries of personality and whether you can even get along with any of these people–that’s what you have to work with. Oh, and just to make the picture a little more bleak, the invisibility of asexuality means that it’s likely that a large chunk of your possible dating pool have no idea what asexuality is or what they are, making them impossible to find. As an extra-special bonus, the fact that so much of the asexual community is online means that if you do manage to meet someone you’re compatible with and have enough in common with him to fall in love with him, it’s likely that he’ll live nowhere near you.

That’s if you’re heteroromantic–the pool gets even smaller if you’re homoromantic asexual, for instance. Or if you’re transgender and have to deal with cissexism from potential partners. Or if you’re non-binary identified in terms of gender. Or disabled, or anything else that often counts as a “dealbreaker” in the dating pool–my point is, the asexual romantic dating pool is tiny and, as everything dealing with asexuals tends to be, isolated. (Invisibility rears its see-through head again!)

So it is not unprecedented that asexual people might try to date nonasexual people now and again. Of course, this brings its own nasty problems along for the ride–to “compromise” on sex or not? Is compromising enough for the sexual partner? Is the asexual partner okay with the sex even long term? Can compromising be a free choice at all, given the odds on finding another asexual partner and the pressure not to end up alone? Is a choice between having so few dating options and having sex you don’t want still an entirely uncoerced, free choice?

And the options for asexuals are further constricted by the way that intimacy and long-term commitment are assumed to be a feature of romantic relationships only, nothing else. What this means is that if an asexual person decides that romantic relationships are unworkable, either through not experiencing romantic attraction or through not being able or interested in “compromising” on sex and not being able to find an asexual partner, you’re almost-but-not-quite Shit Out Of Luck. One of the things this does is place much more pressure on asexuals to try to make romantic relationships that do work, because this is one of the only societally-approved ways to find long-term emotional intimacy.

I’m not criticizing the personal decisions made by anyone; far from it. In general, honesty is the best policy at all times, particularly when considering matters of relationships with other people. But in a conversation about the possibility of asexuals dating nonasexuals? My sympathy is not with the poor nonasexual person, who after all always has the choice of saying “I can’t handle this” and moving on. It’s with the asexual partner, who has so many fewer options.

I’m not even going to discuss the Othering of asexuals (how strange, how broken these people must be) that often occurs alongside these responses. I’m not going to discuss how hateful they are, how they presume maliciousness to asexual people, how they often assume that asexual people are trying to entrap or trick their partners. I’m not even going to bring up the fact that I often see assumptions that asexual people magically know they’re asexual from puberty or something, despite the fact that invisibility conspires to leave us without the words to describe ourselves and the bravery to speak them aloud.

I’m only going to say this: You, the nonasexual person, have many more options than asexual people do. Kindly do not rub that in the face of the people who are most acutely cognizant of that fact.

*Not that that “half” number is likely to be accurate, since for one thing there are a ton of people who don’t identify within the gender binary within the asexual community, but we’re being as broad and generous with our data as possible.

**In fact, that same census details several types of responses that are uncategorizable as heteroromantic, homoromantic, bi- or panromantic, or aromantic, so the numbers may actually be less comforting than this. In order to be as generous as possible, I assumed that answers like “unsure of romantic orientation” and “do not believe in a distinction between romantic and nonromantic attraction” might possibly count and so I excluded only “homoromantic” and “aromantic” answers from the original analysis.

February 5, 2011

And Now, A Ray of Sunshine

Filed under: Fitting Sideways,Growing Up Asexual — Sciatrix @ 8:44 pm
Tags: ,

So writing this blog has gotten just a little bit depressing lately, what with the focusing on how much being asexual can really suck. I think it’s important to focus on that, given the constant refrain of  “Asexuals aren’t really oppressed, but…” but it’s nice to have a bit of contrast, too.

With that in mind, I wanted to write a list of why actually, being asexual is awesome. No, seriously!

I get to be free of the “bogeyman of sexual attractiveness.” (All credit to that phrasing goes to the awesome Charles.) What I mean by that is that I don’t experience any pressure to dress up or otherwise act in any particular way in order to attract someone else. Everything in the way I dress and the way I present is done purely for me, with no considerations for how anyone else might think of it, and I love that. I might have to alter my dress a bit for the workforce when I finally leave college, but at least I feel no pressure to dress or act for anyone other than me in my personal life.

The community is really neat. I mean, where else are you going to find people who will painstakingly dissect assumptions about what love is and how to categorize different types of love? I find this stuff really interesting, and it’s been a lot of fun getting to discuss it seriously with people over the past several weeks. Also, I have met a ton of awesome people through asexuality spaces on top of that.

Best informal slang term ever. I have heard some people get uncomfortable about “ace” because of its extremely positive connotations in other contexts, but that’s actually precisely why I love it. Decks of cards used as ace in-jokes! Getting to snigger gleefully when characters are referred to as “ace detectives” or “ace pilots!” Extremely bad puns! It’s wonderful.

I am not constricted by heteronormativity. That means that no one is going to try to squish me into a heteronormative expectation of what a woman “should” be, because my essential not-straightness puts me outside of the bounds of heteronormativity to begin with. There are a ton of negatives to that, but there are positives, too. Heteronormative expectations of gender roles can be very stifling and I for one don’t fit them at all. In the same way that being a queer woman of any kind allows one to escape from the expectations on what “normal” women are like, my being an asexual woman gives me an excuse to jettison the normative gender roles that heteronormativity prescribes.

I don’t have to plan my life around other people. This is the positive side of assuming I am going to live and die alone: I have everything I need to plan my life and make decisions. I don’t need to rely on anyone but myself to meet my own life goals. And more–assuming I can rely only on myself in the long term means that I can’t be disappointed if no one else ends up in my life. Assuming I’ll be functionally alone means that anyone who does stay in my life can be viewed as a bonus. The assumption that I see many nonasexual people hold–that someone had better come along to be in a romantic relationship with them, or their life is meaningless–tends to result in disappointment for no reason that they can control. After all, no one can be dating someone else constantly!

So what about you? What things do you really like about being ace?

February 1, 2011

Spectral Amoebas: Round-Up Post

So the Spectral Amoebas blog carnival draws to a close! First, I want to thank everyone who submitted posts. The quality was uniformly quite high, and I’ve been so excited at reading the posts that people have linked and discussed over the past month an a half. There have been some awesome things written about very diverse topics, and I was really excited to see all of them.

And now to the posts!

Stephanie Silberstein at Meowing at the Moon wrote about attempting to construct a common language to communicate with her neurotypical, non-asexual best friend in Do Asexuals Speak the Same Language?

Procrastination Embodied talks about constantly being disbelieved in Asexual on the Spectrum.

Norah_Liath discusses the way that people will constantly judge her as a bad person simply for being in a relationship with a neurotypical sexual in I’m a Horrible Person…

Teafeather wonders how to define the concept of “liking” someone in Do You Like?

Quirks the Magpie attempts to come to a conclusion about his sexual orientation in Monochrome logic, greyscale sexuality, and finding my identity.

Anonymous contributed a guest post about trying to gather enough data to a conclusion about their sexuality.

Bethany Lauren writes about having the right words and about communication in Not Alone: Music, Brainweasels, and RENT.

M asks not to be touched in noli me tangere.

Ily considers outing herself about asexuality and NLD in Coming Out (When “the World is a Chaos”).

Kaz addresses the problems inherent with being assumed to be asexual even before coming out in The Lucky One.

And to wrap it all up, I wrote about my problems with being stereotyped as emotionless for being autistic, aromantic, and asexual in On Being Incapable of Love.

Thank you all so much for participating, guys, and I hope you enjoy the collective posts!

Blog at WordPress.com.