Writing From Factor X

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?

10 Comments »

  1. I like all the things you said. My favorite thing is that last. I’m sort of in the gray area of the romantic spectrum, I suppose, so I might eventually end up with someone, but I’m perfectly okay with and accepting of the fact that I might not. And because of this I been able to focus on my own goals and my own future and my own happiness without worrying about whether someone’s going to come along and make me change my plans. And that’s awesome, to me. I also really love the ones about being free of the social pressure to be attractive and/or heteronormative. That’s been an awesome freedom for me, it’s given me free reign to explore my queer identity apart from my asexuality because I’m already not-straight.

    Another weird but kind of fun thing about being ace is that my friends tend to view me as an impartial relationship guru, which is freaking hilarious because I am totally unqualified to give relationship advice but they ask me for it all the time anyway. I can provide a perspective from someone who looks at romantic relationships in a very practical way, since I don’t value romantic love or sexual attraction in the same way that they do. They don’t always take my advice, of course, I’d be weirded out if they did. But they appreciate my perspective and I’m glad I can help them that way.

    Comment by annwyl_cariad — February 5, 2011 @ 8:57 pm | Reply

    • I mean–the thing about being ace, for me, is that it’s like being cut loose from a lot of the narratives surrounding romantic love and sex and things in mainstream culture. And okay, that can be scary and lonely–but also? It’s freedom all the same.

      I don’t do the impartial relationship guru thing with my friends, but it sounds like a pretty fun thing to do for yours! And hey, practical advice never hurt anyone, I think.

      Comment by Sciatrix — February 5, 2011 @ 11:02 pm | Reply

  2. I love being asexual for many of the same reasons, as well as how many openly gender-variant people there are in asexual spaces. Without AVEN I may have never uncovered my trans identity, and would have spent life feeling grumpy, embittered, and deeply uncomfortable without ever knowing why because the popular trans narratives just don’t fit for a lot of us, precisely because, I think, rugged, rigid heterosexuality is such a cornerstone of what we collectively conceive of as masculinity and being a man (I mean, just think how many asexual men – cis and trans – share Eddie Izzard’s penis ambivalence, despite identifying unequivocally as male, and then when you get to conflations of sex and gender identity, as well as the assumption that because a body part is normative for one’s identified gender one has to want it). So, yes, even beyond being non-normative in regards to gender identity, a lot of those same people in our community are non-normatively trans, and one such person is usually just a confused mess, but a lot of them together can help the others figure out important truths.

    Comment by Charles — February 5, 2011 @ 11:54 pm | Reply

    • Ohhh, that makes a lot of sense with respect to finding it easier to be non-normatively trans as well as being asexual. And yeah on being openly gender variant–like, I don’t know that I would have felt free to be as non gender-conforming as I am and still be cis if I hadn’t been ace. I might have, since there’s other things that tie into it, but part of the joy of not caring ties back to that.

      Also, word on “a lot of them together can help the others figure out important truths.” That’s the other wonderful thing about both the yadas and asexuals more generally–trying to dissect beliefs about attraction and gender and come up with words to fit everyone.

      Comment by Sciatrix — February 9, 2011 @ 8:07 am | Reply

  3. I love the fact that I can meet new people without all the pressure and stress that my sexual friends seem to have. I can go out with a new acquaintance, and if we just stay friends that’s fine, and if we become best friends for life over time that’s fine too. I also think asexuality helps weed out a lot of people that I wouldn’t want to spend time with. All the ones who hold attitudes of “what kind of idiot would date without wanting sex” are the kinds of people who will stay far, far away from me and who I don’t want near me anyway. So even though my circle of potential friends/mates is smaller, I don’t have to deal with 90 percent of the types of people I wouldn’t want to spend time with anyway.

    For every minute of heartbreak when a friendship ends, I get to enjoy being emotionally close with a friend without worrying that a sexual line has been crossed. And I love that.

    Comment by Stephanie Silberstein — February 7, 2011 @ 10:50 pm | Reply

    • Yessss on the pressure thing. I’ve never quite understood the dating thing for that reason alone. It seems to add pressure on both people involved to either get along really really well or not get along too well at all, and wouldn’t it make more sense to just see if you were compatible as friends first? Admittedly my wtfromantic side may be showing at that.

      And yes on not crossing sexual lines!

      Comment by Sciatrix — February 9, 2011 @ 8:10 am | Reply

  4. It’s interesting — I’m romantic(ish) but still would’ve felt your last point applied to me before I started dating my girlfriend. I had considered the possibility of being with someone a bonus, but still viewed the high likelihood of being alone as something that wouldn’t make me a failure at life. And I admit I never used to use the word ace because it made me feel silly, but now I switch back and forth between it and ‘asexual’ pretty easily. Having the word “ace” makes me feel like there’s more of an asexual culture.

    Comment by ace eccentric — February 8, 2011 @ 1:10 am | Reply

    • On the “high likelihood of being alone not making you a failure” thing: I know a lot of romantics (and romanticish people) who feel pretty similarly. I think it might be because in my experience, within the community there’s a recognition that the odds on dating aren’t necessarily good, so there’s not an expectation that eventually you’re going to end up with someone and if you don’t you’ve failed in some way. I see a lot of nonasexual people with that assumption, and I think it sets people up to feel upset a lot of the time.

      I feel pretty similarly on “ace” making me feel like there’s a specific asexual culture. And also–on feeling silly, occasionally I feel silly for wanting an asexual culture at all, or for talking about it outside asexual spaces. I tend to write that down to internalizing invisibility, like asexuals don’t “deserve” a unique culture of their own or something. Not saying you’re doing that, or meaning to imply that, just talking about where my own thought processes regarding the word come from. And realizing I have that tendency makes me cling to “ace” and romantic terminology and cake jokes and the like even harder.

      Comment by Sciatrix — February 9, 2011 @ 8:17 am | Reply

      • A definite yes on the odds thing. I remember reading David Jay’s math thing where he figured out the odds for people living in major metropolitan areas and it would be like, 4 people, spanning all ages and genders and everything. So when I even thought about dating I never imagined dating an ace person. I figured I just wouldn’t find one. “I think it sets people up to feel upset a lot of time” — yeah. I can see that anxiety in some of my sexual friends. I think it makes them feel like they’re doing something wrong, or there’s something wrong with them as a human being, if they contemplate a future not in a conventional relationship. (I’m happy I’m in one, but if I wasn’t, I’d be upset over pining after a specific person, not over thinking I was supposed to be in a relationship with just “someone.”)

        I used to think “ace” was silly because I read a bunch of kids books growing up where characters used it like “awesome,” so it made me feel kind of dumb to use it. But now I appreciate having a shorthand. I do know the feeling of not wanting to talk about it outside asexual spaces. Especially when I’ve seen such violent reactions to asexuality in feminist and queer spaces, which are where that topic would be more likely to come up for me. And a lot of those reactions are that we don’t deserve a letter in any acronyms or wide recognition, and that we aren’t “enough” to have our own culture, yeah, so I can definitely see internalizing that. There’s a lot of it.

        Comment by ace eccentric — February 9, 2011 @ 4:47 pm | Reply

  5. I’ve never had a broken heart, pay $0 for birth control, and am at exactly 0% risk for STDs. In my book, that’s not bad at all.

    (It’s also fun to have the “I’m a virgin” trump card when arguing with fundie religious types–or, really, anyone who confuses chastity and virtue–they sort of crumple. 🙂 )

    Comment by Nightsky — March 11, 2011 @ 2:16 pm | Reply


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