Writing From Factor X

June 20, 2011

My Feelings on Ace Gear

Filed under: Visibility — Sciatrix @ 9:59 pm
Tags: ,

I’ve rather distracted this week, what with learning to knit (most fun hobby ever) and certain terrifying incidents that have come up at work and, well, other things catching my attention. So this post is going to be pretty light, really, because I haven’t had time to properly chew over the few topics rotating in the back of my mind.

I’ve been trying to wear more visible signifiers of asexuality lately. Being mistaken for something I’m not has become increasingly stifling, and it’s not like I can be read as ace in public without being really, really obvious about it. I already wear the black ring and have for almost a year now, but that’s very subtle–you have to be quite close to me to see it, and it’s very easy to miss. And I did a mug up in the colors of the asexuality flag, but you more or less have to be visiting my apartment to see that, too, and at that point chances are I’m probably out to you.

One of my goals for my knitting is to eventually make a scarf for myself in the colors of the ace flag. (I’m quite fond of our emo flag, in fact.) I’m working on a blue practice scarf first, but I already have the yarn for the ace scarf purchased and sitting in my old purple tote bag, just waiting for my one set of needles to be free and my first project to finish up.

And then there’s my favorite shirt. It’s more of a stealth pride shirt than anything, to be honest, as emblazoned across the front of it is “On a scale of 0 to 6, I’M AN X.” I am ridiculously fond of this line but can’t claim credit for it myself–I stole the idea from a post neekabe made on the asexuality LJ community last year. I’ve been looking at other T-shirt slogans lately, with rather mixed results. I quite like one that I found that says “My Kinsey number is imaginary” (why yes, I do like Kinsey scale references) and this other one that says “asexuals don’t.” On the other hand, I’ve come across a lot of stuff that is seriously unimpressive or even actively confusing.

So what about you? Are you interested in ace swag? Any slogans you think would be cool to see on a shirt?


  1. I’m so jealous, the only ace gear I’ve ever wanted is that “On a scale of 1 to 6, I’m an X” shirt. I even saved that post in case I ever get the chance to make one.

    OT, have you been using any particular resources to learn to knit? I’ve wanted to learn for a while now but I’m not sure where to start.

    Comment by ace eccentric — June 21, 2011 @ 12:54 am | Reply

    • I had mine made through an internet company that lets you make your own shirt. It was a little expensive, but not too bad. And I got the shirt, which I spent something like two months envying before I made my own, so clearly I won in the end!

      I had a friend of mine in meatspace teach me the basics about three weeks ago, but I haven’t seen her since then. What I’ve been doing in the interim is using Youtube videos dug up for me by a Net friend who is an experienced knitter and bothering said friend every time I have any kind of question. I think the videos tend to be pretty good in terms of demonstrating techniques, but not so good at telling you what to do when. (I could definitely dig some up for you if you wanted, though, since I think I saved most of the ones I used.) I did flip through a Knitting for Dummies book a couple of weeks ago at a bookstore and that seemed like a good place to start, too. Maybe you could pick up a basics book and supplement that with videos to show you the techniques in real time?

      Comment by Sciatrix — June 21, 2011 @ 7:33 am | Reply

  2. The sort of thing I like is the kind that’s not in-your-face, but still un-subtle enough that people might notice. Perhaps an AVEN triangle on the left breast of a shirt, or, I do quite like the “scale of 0 to 6” one you mentioned 😀

    I also need to step up my search for a black ring. Plain black rings, why you so hard to find?

    Comment by confusedashell — June 21, 2011 @ 5:30 am | Reply

    • I ended up driving something like an hour out of my way to a rock shop to get my first black ring! I started with a hematite ring–you can find those at novelty shops a lot of the time, or at rock shops or more or less anywhere that sells mood rings. Then I realized how fragile hematite was and how, ah, rough I am on my jewelry and used an online sizing guide and my hematite ring to buy a stainless steel ring online. I bet you could buy a cheap mood ring and do the same thing if you’re really sick of just looking in shops.

      Comment by Sciatrix — June 21, 2011 @ 1:03 pm | Reply

  3. I really need to find a mood ring to paint black. They were EVERYWHERE 4 years ago.

    But, yeah, a lot of Ace stuff is really… bad. Like 23x+me=0, which is such a lowbrow pun that I didn’t get it at first, assuming that there was some actual complicated geeky maths behind it. And it amounts either to leet celibacy or fake-intellectual (the silly sexuals will never understand this immensely clever wordplay) celibacy, both of which leave a pretty bad taste in my mouth, because I find it really difficult to read that as anything other than judgemental and superior, just because of the way its said.

    (as opposed to, say, ‘Unscrewed but illuminating’, which I really like because it is about the voices of asexual people being useful, and, in many ways, it refutes cultural norms of sex=experience=voice, ALTHOUGH it does still have the problem of only being relevant to non-sex-having asexuals, and, furthermore, to those asexuals who didn’t loose their virginities before/while deciding they were asexual [and prizing the experience of virginity above all others is also problematic, given the amount of Western history that we’ve been ruled over by celebate people, and the general fetishising of virginity])

    Did I ever tell you about my plan to make a grey-on-grey version of the superman logo, with an AVEN triangle cunningly hidden in it? I really need to start stencilling…

    Comment by slightlymetaphysical — June 21, 2011 @ 7:59 am | Reply

    • Ha ha, I really dislike the 23x+m3=0 one because the maths is just… wrong. Like, the right hand side is the empty set so the left hand side must consist of sets, but there you’re taking *sums* and *multiplying by integers* which… can be set operations SOMETIMES, like if you’re working with Z-modules or algebras over a field containing the integers or something, but the situations in which they are set operations are all ones where you wouldn’t get the empty set as a result unless you are doing something completely ridiculously pointless and then there are powers too and AAAH MATHEMATICAL BRAIN COMBUSTION. It’s totally fake meaningless “this looks SMART and MATHSY!” that falls apart if you try to actually interpret it and all for a pretty lowbrow pun, as you say. :/

      Ooh, I do like “unscrewed but illuminating”! And I’m… not sure re: fetishisation of virginity? I mean, I’ve always sort of figured that – yes, virginity is fetishised but the raising it up onto a pedestal only really happens in certain contexts (generally the ‘young woman saying she will be a virgin until marriage’) context, and asexuals going “no, I’m not planning on ever having sex” are actually pretty outside of that and subversive in many ways, especially nowadays. I’m also not sure what you mean by being ruled over by celibate people, unless you mean re: religion and celibate priests? since most actual rulers etc. ended up getting married and having kids. and I should probably shut up before this becomes a whole post on how our ideas about virginity negatively affect celibate asexuals… I do agree re: that quote only being relevant to non-sex-having asexuals, though.

      My favourite slogan is “asexuality: it’s not just for amoebas anymore”, but the only place I’ve seen selling that logo is the AVEN store and all of their shirts have the definition of asexuality on the back. I’d like to have swag without being a walking vis/ed billboard, thanks. :/ have been thinking of designing a shirt (and cute cartoony amoeba) on my own. I’m also currently working on making a beaded ace flag bracelet, and possibly dangly sparkly ace flag earrings, whee. 😀

      Comment by Kaz — June 21, 2011 @ 8:40 am | Reply

      • Ok, so I’m not a mathematician, but thats always been my problem with it. Even I can tell that its not real maths, and it feels like it should be cleverer.

        Yeah, I was referring to the Church. There is a long tradition of celebate (which I’m going to define, for the sake of this conversation, as anyone who doesn’t engage in sex, regardless of desire or attraction) voices being seen as higher (and especially as more ‘illuminated’) than non-celebate ones. I don’t think it’s that much of a problem now. And, yeah, ‘Unscrewed but illuminating’ tends to fall on the right side of the fetishisation of virginity line, my main problem with it is that it prizes the experience of the asexual virgin over the asexual who had sex once or twice, maybe grudgingly, during their process of discovery. It’s more that it ties in with the problems of fetishising virginity- that its a fragile state that people leave for many different reasons and can never return to.

        I quite like ‘not just for amoebas’. With the right cartoon amoeba, it ends up being fun and geeky, and is more about the linguistic objections to asexuality (“But there’s already a word with all those letters in that order!”), which are less gruelling to literally wear on your body than any actual message of “We’re here and we deserve to be treated with respect.” (Also, COMPLETELY avoids any hint of sex-judgementalism or even behavioural definitions of asexuality, and is also kinda humble compared to a lot of the more ‘Fuck you, I’m ACE!’ stuff.)

        Comment by slightlymetaphysical — June 21, 2011 @ 8:58 am | Reply

        • Yes, exactly! Ha, maybe someday I’ll try to come up with an “asexual formula” that doesn’t treat mathematical symbols as decoration and doesn’t erase the sex-having aces. Sadly I think I lack the requisite sense of humour… (“the function of my sexual attraction isn’t well-defined”… this is why Kaz should not try to make jokes, everyone)

          And augh, for some reason I’d been parsing “unscrewed” in some really odd way idek my brain. Now that I’m parsing it as “has never had sex” I am… really not so keen on the usage. Like, I don’t really object to swag that’s just for celibate ace people provided it doesn’t do the “asexual = celibate” thing, since not-having-sex has its own issues in addition to asexuality – nor would I mind swag for sexually active ace folk, since they have their own issues as well. (Although this may be a function of me being a celibate ace and not properly understanding the effects of the erasure of sexually active ace folk.) But as you rightly say there’s all sorts of issues re: asexuals who have had sex for all sorts of reasons, including, you know, rape, and excluding them – a group defined by your past experiences instead of your choices, you know? It’s a pity because I really like the pun, but yeah, there’s some icky stuff going on there. And I can’t quite work out any way to fix it via “doesn’t screw” or something like that. :/

          That’s pretty much exactly why I like the amoeba slogan – it’s fun, it’s kind of tongue-in-cheek, it *does* take on one of the more ridiculous objections we get, it’s for *all* aces, it’s not very combative, and you get to have a T-shirt with a cartoon amoeba on it! What’s not to like? 😉

          Comment by Kaz — June 21, 2011 @ 10:20 am | Reply

  4. I made a necklace with a clover ace pendant on it. Also wear the black ring, but I wear tonnes of rings, so it’s unlikely to stand out.

    If I did anything with clothes, I’d probably sew in more playing card ace stuff somewhere, it fits in well with my general style. Purples and greys, not so much.

    Comment by Norah — June 21, 2011 @ 8:12 am | Reply

    • I’m actually faintly surprised at how little references to card aces I’ve seen lying around, since they’re generally pretty cool to look at. Out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on the vague “ace of hearts for romantics/ace of spades for aromantics” things I’ve seen around?

      (I used to have a black ring that actually had aces printed in silver around its edges, which I liked very much until I lost it because I’d bought it a size too large and it kept slipping off my finger. Now, of course, I can’t find it in a size that would fit me, so I have a plain black one.)

      Comment by Sciatrix — June 21, 2011 @ 6:59 pm | Reply

      • If it’s about coining different cards for different variations of asexual, it would make sense in a way, but I’m not fond of it (not in the least because I like the ace of spades way better!). (I’d also be pretty bummed if I got stuck with the ace of diamonds, I like that one the least.)
        Heart=love=romantic love, ‘eh’.

        It’s surprisingly hard to find nice card-themed jewellery out here. I’ve seen some stuff in the wrong colours that seems to be heavily aimed at professional card players (O_o). I had to find my pendant on Ebay.

        Comment by Norah — June 21, 2011 @ 7:10 pm | Reply

        • I’m not that thrilled with it, either–although I confess, I like the ace of spades best too. It’s so obviously the best suite!

          Almost everything I’ve seen appears to be aimed at gamblers or professional card players, which is kind of annoying if you’re looking specifically for women’s jewelry. I think manufacturers tend to assume that anyone who wants to wear jewelry with aces on it is male.

          Comment by Sciatrix — June 22, 2011 @ 7:59 pm | Reply

          • Yeah, part of what I don’t especially like about that idea is that hearts and diamonds are generally seen as the shape they are first, and often never seen as an ‘ace’. Spades is kinda the universal symbol for ‘an ace’.

            (also, it divides up the communities into lines that I’m sure the readers of this blog can appreciate don’t always make sense)

            Comment by slightlymetaphysical — June 23, 2011 @ 4:58 am | Reply

  5. I think I want an umbrella with pictures of playing cards (aces, obv) on it.


    Comment by Shiyiya — June 21, 2011 @ 4:21 pm | Reply

    • THIS IDEA IS MADE OF WIN AND PUNS. Also, I would so buy that umbrella.

      Comment by Sciatrix — June 21, 2011 @ 6:59 pm | Reply

  6. Oh, I like the “my Kinsey number is imaginary” and “on a scale of 1 to 6, I’m an x” ones. Maybe I’ll embroider them on a shirt… not sure I’d be brave enough to wear the first one out in public, though! Hmm, maybe a nightgown? That could be funny…

    Comment by Aydan — June 21, 2011 @ 4:46 pm | Reply

    • Oh, and I also kinda like the idea of a shirt that says “Wanna come back to my place and… nibble my cake?” I think that phrase has been going around Tumblr.

      Comment by Aydan — June 21, 2011 @ 4:47 pm | Reply

      • LOL. I haven’t seen that on Tumblr, but I’d totally wear a shirt with that on it! And oooh, the idea of the first slogan on a nightgown sounds pretty awesome.

        Comment by Sciatrix — June 21, 2011 @ 5:03 pm | Reply

    • It’s 0 to 6, not 1 to 6! Not to be a stickler for details, but if you’re putting it on a shirt you’d regret getting it wrong.

      Comment by Siggy — June 21, 2011 @ 10:31 pm | Reply

      • That totally makes sense. There needs to be an odd number of integers. Thanks for the heads-up…

        Comment by Aydan — June 22, 2011 @ 12:52 pm | Reply

  7. I so, so want to make some of these shirts. Like, design and open a Zazzle or CafePress store with awesome Ace stuff.

    Anyone object to my thieving the “asexuality: it’s not just for amoebas anymore”, “Wanna come back to my place and… nibble my cake?”, “my Kinsey number is imaginary” and “on a scale of 1 to 6, I’m an x” cleverness? I’m good with the art stuff, just not slogans or quips or generally anything involving language related cleverness.

    Comment by Christine — June 21, 2011 @ 6:55 pm | Reply

    • I don’t think anyone has a copyright on them! Or even if you could trace an originator.

      Comment by Shiyiya — June 21, 2011 @ 7:03 pm | Reply

    • I like this idea! I know some of it’s available on various Zazzle and CafePress stores already. To be honest, some of the stuff I have seen available is funny in terms of words but quite unappealing in terms of design itself, so I’d be really thrilled to see someone who actually has a talent for design tackle some of these. (Also, commentors–suggestions? I admit, I’m terrible with catchy short things.)

      None of it’s my idea, and I don’t know where the others came from, but I might swing by and ask neekabe if she wouldn’t mind on the “scale of 1 to 6, I’m an X” one since I do know who came up with that slogan?

      Comment by Sciatrix — June 21, 2011 @ 7:06 pm | Reply

      • Since you know who came up with that one, permission would be great! Thanks!

        I do find a lot of the current Ace gear lacking in ascetics, especially from a typography standpoint. I’m hearing that Zazzle’s a bit better in the quality department, so I think I’m leaning that way as far a vendor goes. Cute amoebas coming right up 🙂

        Comment by Christine — June 21, 2011 @ 7:09 pm | Reply

        • Oh, good grief I cannot spell. I mean aesthetics.

          Comment by Christine — June 21, 2011 @ 7:11 pm | Reply

        • Er, typo on my part–I meant to say “you” in that sentence but made a mistake. I don’t actually know neekabe at all personally, I just figured it might be a good idea to mention it to her before using the idea for money.

          Comment by Sciatrix — June 21, 2011 @ 7:29 pm | Reply

  8. Is this light? I don’t know, there’s a pretty big market for gay pride items. A couple years ago, I made a shirt saying, “Anthony Bogaert is my Homeboy” but I know that’s like the most obscure reference possible. :/ I love the “Scale of 1 to 6” slogan as well. Of the slogans on AVEN shirts, I must admit that “Asexuals Party Hardest” is my favorite, maybe because it’s so random. Last weekend, I was helping to silkscreen shirts for the pride parade, which were purple hearts on skateboards in a repeating pattern. So no obvious ace reference, but it should look really cool with everybody wearing them together.

    Comment by Ily — June 21, 2011 @ 6:56 pm | Reply

    • Well, it’s light for me? Given that I tend to get pretty heavy with the Things That Make Me Sad and/or Angry and all.

      I am… actually extremely underwhelmed with AVEN’s selection of stuff (although I like the new buttons I’ve seen), but of what there is I like the “Asexuals Party Hardest” the best, too. And oh, that should look neat with a whole group of people wearing them! I also actually quite like the “Anthony Bogaert Is My Homeboy” idea, but I’m a nerd.

      Comment by Sciatrix — June 21, 2011 @ 7:09 pm | Reply

  9. Now that I’m thinking about it, I just want lots of stuff with aces on. It could overlap with my vague desire to do wonderlandy cosplay!

    Comment by Shiyiya — June 21, 2011 @ 7:12 pm | Reply

  10. Wearing any gear makes me feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. Also, I have a competing interest in wearing gay gear… which I still end up not doing despite the much wider variety of options.

    How about “Asexuals: breaking models since 1948” or “Breaking models of sexuality since 1948”?

    Or someone can draw a cartoon incorporating the cheesiest of ace memes. Like Doctor Who eating cake with one of his companions.

    Comment by Siggy — June 21, 2011 @ 10:44 pm | Reply

    • Clearly, what the world requires is a Space Gandalf tshirt with picture of Eleven.

      Comment by Shiyiya — June 22, 2011 @ 12:08 am | Reply

    • I for one would pay good money for this on a t-shirt. A lot of good money.

      Comment by Sciatrix — June 22, 2011 @ 7:52 pm | Reply

  11. I’ve never gotten the hang of knitting. I’ve thought of crocheting some black-purple-gray-white wrist cuffs or fingerless gloves.

    I would love to get some ace gear but I’m not sure if I’d have the guts to wear it, and my family might tell me not. My father hates when I do anything to stick out. (I’m a grown gender-neutral, I can do it if I want to)

    That said, the inaccurate “I wish my homework was asexual so it would do itself” really cracks me up. I’m sure it’s sending a bad message, since it’ll make people equate asexuality with autosexuality, but I guess it’s a nice nod to all of us aces who do, er, do ourselves XD

    Most Asexual gear is just too plain for me to shell out cash for. So much of it is gray, white, and has plain fonts.

    Comment by Lasciel — June 22, 2011 @ 1:53 am | Reply

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