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.