Writing From Factor X

August 24, 2011

Wednesday Linkspam

Filed under: Signal Boost — Sciatrix @ 7:27 am

As usual, feel free to self-promote in the comments here!

Also, because I forgot last week: The deadline for the Carnival of Aces is swiftly approaching! This month’s topic is media and this month’s edition is being hosted at An Asexual Space.

There’s a new Dreamwidth community set up as a safe space for ace umbrella people called group_x. For joining instructions, click here.

From kuremu: Aces, they ain’t even trollin’

But I think that’s often an erroneous assumption. “Troll” beliefs are too often loudly, honestly defended by people I’ve encountered IRL for me to dismiss hateful bigoted posts as simply an attempt to rile.

From Asexy Miri: Hey, aces! Help me with a little poll?

Here’s the question: What’s caused you the most trouble, your romantic/gender identity, or your aceness?

From Ace Admiral: My list of demands

Sorry, LGBT community, but when we talk about you, you’re lumped in with all thoseOther People. You know the ones. When we speculate about whether or not “sexual privilege” exists, or complain about the hurtful things people say to us, you’re not special, some category set apart.

From weesleyisourking: Wow, the “queerplatonic” post has over 70 notes

Most of which are people replying, saying things akin to “No one cares about your micromanaging of your relationships”; “Stop trying to be pretentious or get oppression street creds”; “I have relationships like this, you don’t need a special word for it”; and even, “Wow, the asexuals always have to make ridiculous words for things that already exist”

From Black Dog Musings: Of Vegetables and Termites

But as I was lying in bed last night, I got wondering. “How would I have answered that question?” I thought to myself. And the answer I received was “I don’t know.” I probably wouldn’t have answered yes, because technically speaking I’m don’t have a boyfriend. I will never have a boyfriend. Asking me if I will is like asking a fish if it will ever have a spaceship – mostly pointless.

From wiring: random thought on invisibility and aceness and exes

There are no good colloquial terms for “ex-friend” as far as I know, which sometimes is weird to me. I don’t have any “exes” because I’ve never dated, but I have a lot of very important and now … defunct(?) friendships that I find actually draw a lot of parallels to the sort of relationships-with-a-capital-R that most people talk about, in the way they progressed and eventually ended. Relationships which, being ace and demi/greyromantic, were pretty much the most important I’ve ever had.

From violentopposites: Asexual Representation Vs. Erasure

It bothers me a lot when I hear the argument that “any character whose orientation is not made obvious and/or doesn’t have sex could be asexual” (so I’m supposed to be happy with that and shut my mouth about asexuality.) This is just like saying that a character may be Native American if no race is mentioned specifically or may be Pagan if no. This is not visibility. This is derailing.

From FemPop: The Sexy Robin and the Unsexy Orientation

Not to put too fine a point on it, but for a number of fangirls, queer visibility was a sales gimmick, a way of keeping their OTP apart. So what’s interesting isn’t the possibility of Tim Drake being gay, straight, asexual, or a robot built to attract fangirls. It’s the pattern of behavior some of those fangirls fit into.

From Eater of Trees: Sex Positivity is Rape Culture in Disguise

Something I’ve seen going around for a while is this idea that there is such a thing as “Fake sex positivity” which, well, generally is sex positivity that rather blatantly is rape culture, such as, for example, sex positivity that tells asexual people they’re defective and that people are obligated to give sex to their partners.

This is pretty obviously fucked up, but… it’s not fake. It’s real sex positivity. It logically follows from the idea that sex is a good thing that you’d want to encourage people to have more sex, and from there its only a short hop to telling people they must consent to sex they don’t want.

From Kaz’ Scribblings: Sex-positivity, sex non-judgementalism, and me

Sex is a positive thing for some people. In some situations. It’s also a negative thing for other people, in other situations. (For instance, I’m repulsed. Any sex involving me is never anything but bad.) Sex, in and of itself, is inherently neutral. It becomes good or bad, spectacular or horrifying, depending on context.

From demi-lesbian: On Compromise Sex in Asexual-Sexual Relationships

If an asexual (or anyone) is indifferent/wants to have sex, and is free from pressure to have sex unless that’s something they want (asexuals can want sex too), and chooses to have sex, how is that a compromise? That is just sex.

If an asexual (or anyone) is repulsed, and/or is under pressure to have sex even when they don’t want to, and has sex, how is that a compromise? That is in some cases rape, and in some cases a product of sexism, heterosexism and rape culture. But that is definitely not “just sex” and definitely not a compromise.

From Asexual Explorations: Three new articles about asexuality

The most recent issues of the journal Sexualities has three articles on asexuality.

August 21, 2011

Starved For Recognition

Filed under: Asexual Community,Visibility — Sciatrix @ 10:46 pm
Tags: , ,

This post was originally written for the Carnival of Aces. This month’s prompt is “media.”

Last week, as I was checking my Tumblr feeds, this showed up in the asexuality tag. I was very excited at first–not even because I expected a story about an asexual character, but because of the way the creator described the project he was working on.

I was excited, you see, because the way this interview framed asexuality as an actual sexual orientation. I don’t get to see that very often. And so you’ll forgive me if I was fairly upset to note, after checking the source and doing a little bit of Googling, that the entire thing was a hoax. (I do not have enough fuck you in the world for the original poster.)

Most asexual characters seem to have been created by accident. The creators were looking for that extra special touch of inhumanity, or playing up stereotypes of the socially awkward genius or sociopathic serial killer. And when the asexual community, which is starved for representation and for acknowledgement, makes itself known–well. Their reactions tend to not be very pleasant. Even when, in my experience, all asexual people are doing is expressing slavish gratefulness for the crumbs they throw us.

Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Sherlock, responded to an asexual fan thanking him for the work he’s done for the asexual community by saying “How? He doesn’t get out much.” Cumberbatch has also suggested that Sherlock’s sexuality is the result of being “burned by a woman.”

Steven Moffat, who writes both Sherlock and Doctor Who, both of which contain asexual icons, has said

“On the subject of the Time Lord’s perceived asexuality, Moffat has this to say: “I think that his asexual nature was perhaps read into the series by its more asexual fans. If you look at the old show, it’s not true. At some stage the Doctor had a wife and a family, because he’s got a grand- daughter. He likes everything: he drinks, he eats, why wouldn’t he date?”

Chuck Lorre, who works on The Big Bang Theory and is the creator of Sheldon Cooper, had this to say:

Lorre says it’s unlikely questions surrounding Sheldon’s sexuality will ever be answered. “Why would we have to [brand him ever] if the character is so thoroughly focused on his work?” he argues. “If touching other human beings of any gender is irrelevant to him, why label the thing? Why can’t there be a third gender — male, female and Sheldon?”

Awesome. So we have “no they’re not asexual” over and over again, we have conflations of asexuality with being burned on relationships, and we have the conflation of asexuality with gender and workaholism.

I thought–for a second when I saw that Tumblr post, I thought we had a writer who realized that asexual people exist. I thought a writer realized that we are people, and that he was kind enough to stand up and say “yes, this character is.”

I was so excited to see a creator commenting on an asexual character while acknowledging that asexuality is a sexual orientation. Seriously, that tiny thing alone had such an impact on me. It’s so, so rare to see asexuality treated like a sexual orientation anyone can have in non-asexual spaces. If it is mentioned, it’s always in the context of an individual character’s individual quirks, something that can be explained away as part of the weirdness of that character. (And the characters are always framed as weird.)

You see this in-story, but if anything it’s more pronounced when creators are asked about the asexuality of the characters they work on. Often, creators react with contempt and derision when made aware of fans who have asexual identities. It is so often clear that I am not included in the audience.

It saddens me to realize the things that so excited me about the original post are the same things that should have clued me in that it was a hoax.

Can’t we have creators who acknowledge asexual fans, too?

August 17, 2011

Wednesday Linkspam (Belated Edition)

Filed under: Signal Boost — Sciatrix @ 8:00 am

So yeah, I am going to keep doing these. This one is more or less things I bookmarked while taking a step back from blogging, so it’s very disorganized; I should be blogging more frequently in the next few weeks as I’ve begun to get my life back under control. Next weeks’ ought to be more comprehensive.

Feel free to self-promote in the comments!

From Scarleteen: Sp[ace] Exploration: What Sexual People Can Learn From Asexual Communities

Asexuality saved my sex life.

No, seriously — I mean that.

From Skeptic’s Play: On asexual relationships

But it still frustrates me when asexuals imply that we should all want unconventional relationships.  It’s a pretty easy mistake to make.  First you’re complaining about people who think there’s no middle ground between romance and friendship.  Next you’re complaining about people who refuse to be in the middle ground.  I feel this is akin to a bisexual complaining that not everyone is bisexual.  Or more aptly, a polyamorous person complaining that some people are monogamous, or a monogamous person complaining that some people are polyamorous.  It sucks, I know, and you want to complain.  But I don’t feel comfortable with complaining about other people’s sexualities when that’s just a part of who they are.

From Anger is Justified: Shame cannot fight shame

Shaming people for their lack of desire is not sex positivity. It’s not progressive. It’s not helping remove the cloak of shame around sexuality. It’s just encouraging more people not to open up about the subject, thus reinforcing the shame. Oppressing people about their sexual choices is not on, and it’s no good if the people meant to be fighting that shaming perpetrate it upon different groups. Face it, while there’s a lot of sex-negativity at large in our culture, there’s also a hell of a lot of no-sex negativity.

From asexual curiosities: 100% positive

This post is about holding asexuals to a particular standard of non-judgementalism in sexual matters. I’ve seen it said that the existance of judgemental asexuals reflects badly on asexuals as a whole. Which is not just wrong on the basis that it judges everyone in the minority by the standards of one member’s faults. It is also wrong because it is blatently hypocritical.

From sir-kit: The difference between “characters not currently engaged in sexual relationships” and “asexual characters” and why it is important

The absence of a sexual relationship doesn’t erase the character’s sexuality any more than it erases a real person’s sexuality. It’s a part of how people interact with the world.

From findingsherlock: How to Love Your Asexual Without Really Trying

Moral of the story: love isn’t that complicated, it just is what it is. But talking about love is complex and often overladen with socio-linguistic meaning and cultural baggage and suffocated in “supposed tos” and “must dos.” Relax, take a deep breath and hold on.

The key to being a sexual while loving your asexual is to love them. That’s it. Honestly.

From the Veerblog: A Love Letter From the Sidelines

Because of the online ace community, I no longer feel alone. I plan to head the school’s GSA, so that I can try to make sure no one ever feels so alone again, and so that I can give them the same level of support I’ve received. The ace community has equipped me with the words and ideas I need to give a speech on the subject, which I plan to give to all 180 students in my year, and more if I can. I’ve found something that I am fascinated by and truly passionate about.

From Shades of Gray: Confirmation Bias and Anti-Asexual Sentiment

The same phenomenon is happening here, only with asexuals. In any group, there will be people who step out of line, and say offensive things. But to say that all of us are like that, especially when in order to even see the comment in question you have to go through other asexuals who are calling that person out, is pretty ridiculous. And it’s especially so because this exact same phenomenon happens to gay people, too.

From Black Dog Musings: On how not dating doesn’t make it easier

My relationships, on the other hand, are more “So, here are your eggs. And you remember hearing about that box everyone else gets? You don’t get one. But you do get this one. We’re not sure what it’s made of. Could be bloody Graphene, could be straw. We don’t know.

From A Fine Line: Monopoly, dining out, and DIY relationships

When people ask me if I’m dating anyone, going out with anyone, or — more commonly — if I have a boyfriend, it feels rather like they’ve asked me if I have wings or a tail. I’m sure this question would be relevant to some (X-Men!), but I’ve clearly wandered into the wrong party.

August 13, 2011

Building A Path

Filed under: Asexual Community — Sciatrix @ 9:54 pm
Tags: , ,

A little while ago, I got my internet back after moving. I checked Queer Secrets, as you do, and I stumbled across this. It hit me pretty hard at the time, which I mentioned in a couple of spaces. I didn’t take the time to elaborate then on why it hit me, though, and I’d like to do that now. So the explanation goes like this:

I am often gut-wrenchingly terrified when I think about the future.

I am a person who takes solace from tradition, at least when that tradition isn’t harming anyone. I like to know that other people have walked the same paths before me and I like to know that they came out fine in the end. I like to know that happy endings exist, that what I’m trying to do has precedent, that it has worked in the past. I draw strength from my ancestors, from my elders, from those who came before me.

No one seems to have come before, here. Oh, I don’t mean that no one like me has ever existed–I don’t think asexuality is a new thing even if the identity itself is only about ten years old. But I mean that we have no role models, really. We don’t have older asexuals saying “this is what it was like for me, and I turned out fine.” The last time I talked about this, a friend of mine mentioned that she had considered naming me as an asexual role model. I love the compliment, but I’m twenty years old and I haven’t managed to figure out anything yet and I think I might have my relationships figured out a little bit but I have to figure out how to move to another continent before I’ll really believe it and–well, I don’t view myself as someone who’s really figured out how to make this work in the long term quite yet.

And there’s another fear. If our relationships–no matter what they eventually come to look like–fail to pan out, what then? If we manage to construct something that works, knowing what the odds are, what if it doesn’t work? What if they end–or actually, more realistically, when they inevitably end (as they will for some people) how do we negotiate that?

(I’m just coming off an end to a relationship that I don’t quite have words to describe, except ouch. I’m not even sure how to talk about it, not sure how to explain the depth of my feeling or what those feelings are or what words to use. It’s hard enough to talk about relationships that blur the lines when they’re going well–talking about them when they fail is infinitely worse, I think. And overlaying all that confusion and hurt and upset is the fact that I am pretty sure that discussing the whole thing in public spaces would result in being dismissed and told that my feelings were nothing, because this relationship was a friendship, not romantic.)

To me, it feels like this: straight people have got this road well travelled to walk their lives down. It’s a wide road, well paved and well maintained, and it’s mostly flat and easy to walk down. Many people have walked down it, many people have used it, and mostly people have a good idea as to where that road ends up. (Or the places it can end up, really.)

And other queer people have got a different road for their lives. It’s not as wide, and it’s got dirt instead of pavement and a lot more hills and rocky places, but people have gone over it enough now that it’s easy to see from a distance. And people who use that road change it as they walk down it; there are people trying to fix the rocky places and keeping plants from growing in it. With every person who walks down the path, it becomes more solid, more strongly defined, easier to see.

We have a goat track up the side of a mountain. A very few people have gone up it, but not enough to widen it much. Branches are growing across the trail and sometimes sharp rocks stick out of the ground and sometimes the trail vanishes altogether and we have to try to guess where it goes.

I desperately want–I want it to be twenty years in the future, really. I want to know where I’m going. I want to know the path I’m trying to walk doesn’t fall off a cliff somewhere. I want a lot of things, but most of them boil down to a degree of certainty, and I’ll never have that.

So I’m scared of being alone,  too. I’m scared of a lot of things about being asexual.

The thing is–and, o anonymous writer, thank you–I’m still asexual, too. I have occasionally been tempted to recant–to try to pass for something I’m not my whole life, to pretend just hard enough to take the safer road, the one that’s proven to work. Most of the time it works, anyway, for most of the people.

Except trying to do that wouldn’t change who–and what–I am. Standing up, then, and saying “I’m scared, but I’m not stopping”–that’s a powerful image for me. “I’m scared, but I’m doing this anyway.” “I’m scared, but I believe in this.”

And I do believe in what I’m doing.

So I stand up and I talk and I come out over and over again and I say what I am, I talk to my community and I wail about my fears and my anger and above all I speak. I try to take the first halting steps down a path I can live with, try to clear away the debris as best I can and leave it a little wider for the next traveller.

One day, I hope our roads will be wider and easier to walk down. If not for us, than for the children who will follow.

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