Writing From Factor X

March 17, 2011

Try This At Home

Filed under: Asexual Community,Reacting To Assumptions — Sciatrix @ 12:51 am
Tags: , ,

Last week when compiling my linkspam I ran across this. I wanted to respond to it, frankly because it both hurt me (as someone who asks for these conversations fairly frequently) and because it made me rather angry. I haven’t done it before now because I’ve been exhausted and my life exploded, to be honest, and I simply haven’t had the energy to discuss it before. But I want to talk about it now.

When I ask to see discussion or post about something, I’m trying to have that conversation right there, in the initial post. Anything I write about, I hope will spark conversations. I hope people will respond in comments, or on their own blogs, or on forums. When I say “I want to talk about this,” what I want to see is people saying in response “well, have you considered this?” and then we’ll be off. I think that any post about a given subject, in fact, is trying to start a conversation about that topic–that’s what comments are for.

The thing is, I think my major problem with wanting to see discussion is this: it’s hard to have a discussion by yourself. I can post about something, certainly. I even get more comments on a regular basis than I think any other asexuality blog–certainly I regularly get more comments than any other blog dedicated solely to asexuality that I know of. This is not a difficult competition. On an average post of mine, maybe five or ten people might comment. And then a few days pass, and the comments stop coming, and then the conversation dies because no one is keeping it afloat. I can’t post over and over again about the same thing to keep the conversation going without feeling really, really repetitive.

Here’s the thing: long-term conversations need meatier posts than that to keep going. They need more people to think about the topic and say, “well, I’m not sure you’ve considered this,” either in a comment or in their own space. They need people to go away and think for a while and then post again when they’ve chewed over the topic. And they need different perspectives to really be able to fully discuss the topic. For instance, it’s very unlikely that I am going to end up in a traditionally romantic sexual/asexual relationship because of the way my romantic orientation works (or doesn’t, or mystifies me). I’m seriously uncomfortable with trying to have a discussion about the challenges of traditional romantic sexual/asexual relationships without soliciting the opinions of the people who are most likely to actually be involved in that particular type of relationship. And the same goes for a whole host of other topics–there are a whole ton of ways to be asexual, and they all bear on specific topics of conversation.

In short, what long-term conversations need is community. I’m not convinced that a community of people who are interested in a) discussing asexuality in b) the context of social justice exists as of yet. If it does, it is small. Small groups of people don’t make for nearly the level of good conversation as large ones do. This is one thing AVEN has in its favor: it is very, very large and has a ton of people on it, which means that there is a ton of discussion that goes on there. There are lots of big conversations on AVEN because there’s lots of people to have them there.

The trouble is that AVEN isn’t, in my experience, very used to thinking about asexuality in terms of other social justice discussions. And more, its moderators don’t always make the space safe for everyone. I spent two years trying to discuss asexuality in the context of social justice there and feeling that the tone of the site was really not suited to having the conversations I wanted to have, because I’d say things like “so could we maybe discuss why this discussion is problematic?” and then get derailed all to hell. So one of the things I want to do with this site is to create a community at least large enough to actually have discussions of these things without being bogged down by derailings and general fuckery.

Blogs might not be the best medium for this, I don’t know. The yadaforum is wonderfully acefriendly but no good for actually starting up long-running serious conversations about asexuality, and Knights of the Shaded Triangle is fairly good for conversations but has too few people for very much that is truly interesting to crop up. Anyway, half the posts there are by me and I already have a blog. I can’t generate content for a forum on top of that. So I write my blog, and I run linkspams. (More linkspams in a few days. I’m currently on vacation and would rather make the most of the city I’m visiting just at the moment.)

I’ve thought about trying to construct a group blog that updates more often than once a week; maybe that would be better for community-building. ‘Course, then you’ve got the same problem: you’ve got to have people to write the blogs and people to write the comments.

But the bottom line for me is this: I want a community of asexuals who are influenced by general social justice discourse. Well, okay, the best I can do is talk a lot and see if anyone wants to join in. And people have, and this is fantastic, I get to talk about things I think are important with people who think they’re important too. I’ve seen a whole bunch of new blogs springing up like grass lately and I try very hard to link to everything new I stumble across, because I want to see lots of different voices getting heard. I’ve been pretty bad at commenting elsewhere lately, largely because I’ve had a lot of non-blog work to do in the last month, but I can at least try to make sure that everyone knows what interesting things other people are saying.

There’s this song by a fellow named Frank Turner that I’ve been listening to while writing this post. It’s about not being intimidated out of doing something you want to and remembering that singers are human, and it ends like this:

So tear down the stars now and take up your guitars, and come on folks and try this at home.

And that’s what I’d love. If you think the asexosphere isn’t writing about the things you want it to write about, or you think that aces aren’t following up on the conversations we ask to have, take up your pen–or your keyboard–and start your own conversations. Actually, even if you think that the current writers in the asexosphere are doing perfectly, think about starting your own blog anyway or even writing a couple of stand-alone posts about things you care about. Because what we need as a nascent community isn’t a few people speaking well about asexuality.

What we need is voices. Lots of them. Disagreeing vociferously and agreeing and seeking clarification and adding the different life experiences of all of us to the pot. Voices to reflect the diversity that is so strong among asexuals, and voices to speak up about all kinds of subjects. We need a whole lot of people to speak about what is important to them. So please, if you’ve ever thought about starting up a blog of your own, think a little harder about giving it a shot.

We need your voice.


  1. I would love to see more discourse on social justice, personally. I’ve had a blog in mind for about two weeks that I haven’t been able to sit down and write about the way acephobia is internalized and why negative attitudes about asexuality still count even though we aren’t facing legal discrimination or high murder rates. I’m also hoping to bring into the discussion the point that it isn’t a competition between groups to see who is MOST oppressed and only the “winners'” issues get addressed.

    Also, I’m really bad at responding to comments consistently. For some reason I can do it on Facebook but when it comes to my blog or yours the comments kinda build up for a few days while I move on to other things. 😦 So perhaps a blog isn’t the best forum for these kinds of discussions, but right now I can’t think of a better one. I like your group blog idea.

    Incidentally, speaking of FB, I’ve noticed that when I post links to my blogs there I can get a good discussion going… on my FB page. But nobody seems to respond on my blog itself, perhaps because of my tendency not to get around to sustaining the discussion there 😦 Maybe a Facebook page would be the way to go?

    Comment by Stephanie Silberstein — March 17, 2011 @ 1:00 am | Reply

    • Both of those seem like pretty cool topics! I actually tend to spend a fair amount of time kicking blog ideas around in my head before writing them, so I definitely feel you on having something you want to talk about but not quite being able to articulate it yet.

      Hm. It might be worth thinking about, except that I’m kind of hesitant to put much of my asexuality writing on Facebook because I have people who absolutely don’t get to know I’m asexual friended, such as my rather homophobic grandmother. And I know that there are other people who also don’t keep important things on Facebook for similar reasons.

      Comment by Sciatrix — March 17, 2011 @ 9:56 am | Reply

  2. On an average post of mine, maybe five or ten people might comment. And then a few days pass, and the comments stop coming, and then the conversation dies because no one is keeping it afloat. I can’t post over and over again about the same thing to keep the conversation going without feeling really, really repetitive.

    Personally I think that blogs are a wonderful medium for long-term discussions. The picture you’ve drawn strikes me as wrong. Repetitively bringing up the same subject would be unsuccessful in any medium. Even if people are willing to oblige every time you say, “Let’s talk about consent,” the conversation will always be stuck on the same things as long as it’s posed the same way every time. No. What we need is a blogger to guide the conversation so it actually progresses. “We all know about consent, but let’s consider point X.” And then the next time, “What about for people in group Y?” Then, “What happens in scenario Z?” And so on ad infinitum.

    On my blog, I usually consider very general topics, but this is because my blog has such a wide scope, and I have a large non-queer audience. But on a full-time asexual blog, I expect major specialization of topics. I also expect blogs to interact with each other, for the conversations to move from blog to blog, point to point.

    And that’s pretty much what you and other bloggers have been doing already. Great!

    I am very happy with the current growth of the asexual blogosphere. When I first found it, it was pretty much dead. Now it’s much livelier, especially since you got here, Sciatrix.

    One thing I would really like to see is a regular asexual blogging carnival. Sort of like your linkspam, but it would accept submissions from the bloggers themselves and would be hosted by different blogs each time. This is good for new bloggers to promote themselves. And maybe we could plug each carnival on AVEN, get more people to move to the blogosphere.

    Comment by Siggy — March 17, 2011 @ 3:51 am | Reply

    • Oh, hey, actually that’s a good point on how to guide long-term discussions on a single blog. I think I was just running into a mental wall on how to do that and keep conversations going. After all, the point of other bloggers returning to the same subject and building off of previous posts is that they’re coming back to the topic from a different perspective–so there’s no reason an individual blogger can’t revisit the same topic from various perspectives fairly frequently. Huh. Thank you for pointing that out.

      I do agree that the blogosphere has grown a lot in recent months and that a lot more people have started writing, which is awesome. And a regular asexual blog carnival sounds like a brilliant idea! I think it’s less scary for people to write just a piece for the carnival than it is to write a regular blog that is expected to update. And I think that having themed topics–as most recurring carnivals seem to do–would help people who aren’t sure what they’d write about come up with something.

      Comment by Sciatrix — March 17, 2011 @ 10:09 am | Reply

      • A warning about blog carnivals: I used to participate in a few carnivals, a skeptical one and an atheist one. But I lost interest because I felt like submitting to carnivals was itself scary. I also stopped reading them because they got so big. I tried looking up these carnivals more recently, and it seems they’ve both gone defunct in the past years. I’m not sure why. I think that a carnival could stimulate the asexual blogosphere (spectral amoebas seemed to work), but success is not guaranteed.

        Comment by Siggy — March 17, 2011 @ 8:34 pm | Reply

        • Spectral Amoebas was advertised in practically every asexual and autistic spectrum community that Ily, Kaz and I had ever heard of and we only got eleven entries. So I don’t think that right now “too many entries” is our biggest problem by a long stretch.

          I do feel you on submitting to carnivals being scary on its own. I wonder if we did a long-term carnival if entries would pick up with time? But I’m not sure we could expect all that many responses to start with.

          Comment by Sciatrix — March 17, 2011 @ 10:31 pm | Reply

  3. 2 Things:

    I don’t agree with phiremangston that conversation isn’t happening, but as you say, we are still a small community with few voices. Deep, thoughtful conversation online takes time. I read many ace blogs, but I rarely comment, because my most common response is, “Yes! This is interesting…!” and then I go away and think, and sometimes thoughts gestate so long that by the time I’m ready to comment the blog post is outdated, or sometimes I have so much to say that it ends up taking up three blog entries of my own (ahem).

    People keep talking about consent, and I keep thinking about it, and taking in the new oppinions, and I believe that at some point I will have Thoughts of my own. But not yet. (Also, like you, I feel that there are other people — (potentially) sexually active people — who need to talk some more first before I feel entirely comfortable talking more about my attitude, which is, if not Repulsed, then at least Highly Dubious.)

    Thing the second: I don’t agree with you that the same topic of conversation cannot be put forward several times. But I think what a potential moderator needs to do is offer a summary of the discussion so far every time the topic is re-introduced: “Last time we discussed this, we reached these tentative conclusions; we disagreed on these points. Has anyone thought about it since? What do you think now?” Or, as Siggy said above, “What about X, Y, or Z?” as new talking points.

    Comment by Calvina Hobbes — March 17, 2011 @ 4:10 am | Reply

    • And the thing is, it takes me a while to chew through topics of conversation properly, too. I usually take about a week of batting a topic around in the back of my mind and then time off and on over another week thinking about what I want to say when I’m composing a blog post. I can respond faster in other settings, but I usually don’t write substantial things like blog posts without having mulled the topic over for a while first. (Then I’ve been having issues commenting on other blogs for rather similar reasons–thinking “oh, interesting!” and then not having anything to say for at least a few days if not a week or so and then the post has gone quiet.)

      The ideas on how to bring up an older conversation and move it forward after giving people time to process are good ones, and thank you for bringing that up. I think offering a summary of previous discussion and saying “well, okay, but we didn’t address this last time and I wanted to talk about it more” and maybe expanding on a subtopic might be a good plan.

      Comment by Sciatrix — March 17, 2011 @ 10:11 am | Reply

  4. I’ve already talked to you about this particular complaint, but I’ll re-explain it here (to help build conversation).

    Personally, like Calvina, it took me a long time to get some ideas about consent/compromise in a/sexual relationships. I now have some, but I really, really don’t want to be the person responsible for talking about this, because, in short, I’m not repulsed, and telling repulsed people what they can/can’t, should/shouldn’t do is something I want to strenuously avoid.

    I rather like the idea of having a group blog. With the asexosphere as it is, the group will be most people actually in it, but I’m reminded of the final FWD post, in which they said that they started their group blog because they never saw the things they wanted to talk about being talked about. FWD became a prominant voice, but they noticed after they’d been going a while that there were suddenly lots of other voices.

    I also think a group blog might help add to the legitimacy of the blogosphere as a non-AVEN resource, which was one of my goals with the 101 blog.

    Or, if group blogging falls through, Siggy’s idea of well-promoted blog carnivals is also a good one. (I was going to link to VirginRoar at some point, but if you’re doing linkspam, do you mind slipping it in with yours?)

    Comment by slightlymetaphysical — March 17, 2011 @ 4:42 am | Reply

    • And yeah. I am very wary of wanting to have certain conversations without the people who are most affected by them putting their opinions in, because that strikes me as problematic at best. And then there are conversations I’d like to have but am not sure I’m the right person to start. (For instance, that piece I was thinking about with respect to asexuality and constructions of masculinity a while back–not being male at all, I eventually decided that it felt appropriative of me to write about that one on my own.)

      The other thing I kind of like about the idea of doing a group blog is the ability to do things like Open Threads as well as linkspams, which might be useful in terms of community building. I do worry about potentially losing diversity in extant blogs, though. I also like the blog carnival idea for fairly similar reasons as I like the group blog idea.

      I’m not quite sure how I feel about VirginRoar yet because I keep seeing it in all the asexual spaces I expect to find links in, and, well… virginity isn’t the same as asexuality, even if it’s sometimes treated in similar ways. On the other hand, I’ve linked technically-not-about-asexuality things before. I’ll think about plugging it in, because it does have overlap on asexuality issues. Linkspam’s not going up until late on Friday at least, so I have time.

      Comment by Sciatrix — March 17, 2011 @ 9:53 am | Reply

    • I think the idea of a group blog or a recurring blog carnival is an excellent idea, especially in light of making it a single resource to act as an alternative or supplement to AVEN.

      While I do recognize that a group blog has the option of a more centralized feel and perhaps space for several different features (linkspam, open threads, guest posts, as well as a rotation of regular bloggers), I’m also really attracted to the idea of blog carnivals, because they might draw in more people/cause more voices to be heard. Though, no reason both aren’t possible!

      Comment by Calvina Hobbes — March 17, 2011 @ 10:23 am | Reply

  5. I’m very sorry that post hurt you. It certainly wasn’t meant to. At the time I wrote it I was very frustrated with a lack of in-depth posts about a specific topic (starting sexual/asexual mixed relationships), and wrote it without really thinking about it.

    (Also, I apologize if this post isn’t very coherent; I had a health scare this week and my emotions are still all over the place.)

    I agree that the biggest problem is that there isn’t enough of an active community. In fact, while writing that post I was hitting myself over the head for not having started my own asexuality blog yet, which I keep meaning to do and keeps not happening. I don’t think the blog medium is necessarily problematic, but more that there’s difficulty in centralizing common posts and topics with tags and such. Having a “home base,” so to speak, for asexuality-centered blogs could be useful, I think.

    Comment by phiremangston — March 17, 2011 @ 11:06 pm | Reply

    • (I apologize back; I’m writing my response after a thirteen-hour car drive and am also pretty exhausted.)

      Yeah, I was just–frustrated, because of trying to bring up things I think need discussing and having issues because those discussions kept seeming to die, you know? Although as has been pointed out upthread, the discussions haven’t necessarily gone away–they might just be percolating in the minds of other people who are still taking the time to chew the topic over. Which isn’t very useful when it comes to needing something to go to and feel comforted about, or seek help about, but might be helpful when it comes to thinking about the future?

      I’m very sorry you had a health scare, and I can definitely sympathize with being frustrated and lashing out (er, I ran across your Tumblr response as well as this one). One of the things that actually really bothers me about the asexual blogosphere is that there aren’t very many romantic viewpoints in it. I try to address romantic issues when I write but my experiences just aren’t the same, and I worry about getting it wrong or being appropriative.

      Comment by Sciatrix — March 18, 2011 @ 11:47 pm | Reply

  6. Adding to your average of 10-20 comments….

    Count me into any of these group discussions / blogs any of you get going. I started my blog a bit over a month, writing compulsively often. Although most of the posts have not been about asexuality yet, I plan to include more of that as well.

    As for writing more about sexual/asexual relationships – CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

    Comment by maddox — March 18, 2011 @ 12:06 am | Reply

    • Oh, hey, challenges being accepted is always good! So’s more writing. 🙂

      Comment by Sciatrix — March 18, 2011 @ 11:48 pm | Reply

  7. I want to write about asexuality from a social justice perspective, but I’m afraid of Doing It Wrong because of my ignorance of social justice discourse. Details here: http://teafeather.dreamwidth.org/1353.html

    I’d be interested in an asexuality blog carnival.

    Comment by teafeather — March 19, 2011 @ 6:20 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for bringing this point up and for reminding me of my class privilege. For what it’s worth, almost everything I’ve learned from social justice discourse has come from blogs, not from formal education or textbooks of any kind, and I think everyone screws up and Does It Wrong sometimes on this regardless of background. I’d be interested in reading what you have to say based on your writing here and on your submission to the Spectral Amoebas carnival, but I don’t want to pressure you into doing anything you don’t want to do.

      If there’s anything I can do to make you more comfortable in this space, please let me know?

      Comment by Sciatrix — March 20, 2011 @ 12:30 am | Reply

  8. I like the idea of a blog carnival.

    I also quite like the idea of a group blog for asexuality. I’m still sad FWD has stopped: for all that there are now many blogs out there about disability, they fulfilled a role none of those blogs do: they had a larger voice that could advertise certain things much better, and were a good place for signalboosting stuff like carnivals. I’m definitely missing a lot more stuff now, for all that I try to go the rounds and scrounge on blogrolls and such. Group blogs are sometimes better than feed readers. I depend on bigger group blogs and linkspams (on smaller blogs as well) for access to many things I’d never have found on my own.

    I’m not able to anything regularly, including putting up blog posts, and there is a lot of stuff I still want to write about many topics.

    Comment by Norah — March 20, 2011 @ 12:08 pm | Reply

  9. […] Discussion, Queer | Tags: asexuality, significant others | Leave a comment » A post over at Sciatrix’s blog called out for more asexual writing, and specifically mentioned the topic of discussing […]

    Pingback by An Asexual/Sexual Relationship « Neutrois Nonsense — March 29, 2011 @ 11:38 am | Reply

  10. […] Neutrois Nonsense: An Asexual/Sexual Relationship A post over at Sciatrix’s blog called out for more asexual writing, and specifically mentioned the topic of discussing […]

    Pingback by Monday Linkspam « Writing From Factor X — April 4, 2011 @ 1:54 pm | Reply

  11. (fyi, this is phiremangston, I’m just logged in with a different account.)

    I found my spoons! It took a couple of weeks, due to a lot of personal issues, but we got there. I finally created a blog about asexuality focusing on romantic relationships.

    Er, I hate to do this, because it feels weird and I used the same username for ten years, but if you ever link to my new blog, would you mind referring to me by my new handle (Antissa)? I have had some trouble with a stalker recently, and would greatly prefer that my new blog be as separate from my old handle as possible.

    Comment by Antissa — April 12, 2011 @ 5:50 pm | Reply

    • Oh, yay! I look forward to checking it out.

      I totally understand that and will keep it in mind! It really sucks to have a stalker make your handle feel unsafe, especially if you’ve used it for so long.

      Comment by Sciatrix — April 12, 2011 @ 6:07 pm | Reply

  12. […] write blog posts around a single theme.” You can read more about this particular carnival (and its history) at Sciatrix’s Masterpost, which includes previous and future hosting sites and some handy […]

    Pingback by Carnival of Aces: Call for Submissions « Neutrois Nonsense — July 6, 2011 @ 2:40 pm | Reply

  13. […] it’s time for me to move away from invisibility and towards discussion. In the end it was this post over at Writing From Factor X, about the need for more asexual voices, that made me decide to start […]

    Pingback by Introduction | Confused Ace — September 4, 2011 @ 2:23 am | Reply

  14. […] post over at Sciatrix’s blog called out for more asexual writing, and specifically mentioned the topic of discussing […]

    Pingback by An Asexual/Sexual Relationship « Neutrois Nonsense — August 10, 2012 @ 5:45 pm | Reply

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