The following is a summary and commentary on the “Articulating Asexuality: Explaining Asexuality to Non-Aces” breakout session, presented by Anicka Schanilec.
Giving a basic definition of asexuality isn’t all that hard.
- The general definition isn’t in terms that people readily understand. “What is sexual attraction, anyway?”
- Asexuality is not that well known or understood, so there isn’t a frame of reference to talk around.
- The basic definition doesn’t really cover everyone.
So more information usually has to be given.
People are sometimes resistant to asexuality because:
- They’re fighting for the right to express their sexuality freely, and see a group that isn’t all that into sex as a challenge to that.
- They don’t really understand it, because they’re into sex and have heard the dominant cultural narrative that everyone must love sex or there’s something wrong.
You are often the only ace a person knows.
- When you talk about asexuality, you become the “expert” or the “authority”. You are expected to answer any question and speak for and act like all other asexuals.
- You are not obligated to give answers. You are not obligated to be a resource. You can direct people at other sources of information, such as websites or videos. You can also refuse to talk about it outright.
Comments From Other People:
- For invasive questions, turn them around. “Well, do you?” This can often show that a line of questioning isn’t all that appropriate.
- “It’s just a phase!”:
- Being straight is never called a phase. Being cis is never called a phase. Yet many people identify as cis or straight before discovering that they’re really something else.
- What’s wrong with phases anyway? Maybe it is a phase. Maybe it will change tomorrow or ten years from now. That doesn’t change how you feel now.
- Most people don’t split out sexual attraction from romantic attraction from other types of attraction. That distinction can be difficult to grasp at first.
- When talking about asexuality, it can sometimes help to pretend that you’re in an infomercial (And I really want to see someone make an asexuality informercial… BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!). It can be easier to talk about a topic if you remove yourself from it.
- Treating asexuality as the same as celibacy is erasure on both sides.
- Relationships are not everyone bag. Some people just aren’t interested in them.
- Sex is not a universally fulfilling activity.
- If everyone were actually demi or gray, commercials for Axe Body Spray wouldn’t exist.
The session ended with a note that awareness of asexuality is “growing at a pleasantly alarming rate”. The more awareness there is, the less work we’ll have to do to explain it to others, because they’ll already know about it.
These are some websites that were mentioned in the session and the discussion:
- AAAMidwest: http://aaamidwest.tumblr.com/
- MBLGTACC 2015: https://saapps.illinoisstate.edu/dos/mblgtacc2015/
- Asexual Census: https://asexualcensus.wordpress.com/
- Asexual Men on Asexuality Archive:
- A Man’s Guide To Asexuality: http://www.whatisasexuality.com/am-i-ace/man/
- Intergroup Bias Toward Group X: http://m.gpi.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/04/20/1368430212442419
- Prejudice Against Group X: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/without-prejudice/201209/prejudice-against-group-x-asexuals
- Paul potentially talking about Asexuality in the Bible: http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-asexuality.html
- Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy, featuring a potentially asexual character: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/153