The Comment Section: It’s All Too Complicated!

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These cries ring out virtually any time asexuality is mentioned.

“I don’t understand!”

“It’s too complicated!”

Translated, what they really mean is:

“I don’t want to bother to understand!”

“It’s all new to me, so I’m just going to call it complicated!”

Comments like these approach asexuality not as a rich and complex part of the human experience.  Instead, they approach asexuality as a whiny teenager approaches a trigonometry exam.  They don’t want to put in the effort required to learn anything new, so instead, they just start complaining.

Now, certainly, if you ever find yourself in the middle of a deck of aces, there will be words used that you’ve never heard before.  You don’t have to understand all of them, and honestly, that’s fine.  But there’s a big difference between admitting that you don’t understand what a queerplatonic squish on a panromantic non-libidoist is and dismissively complaining that asexuality as a whole is too complicated to bother to try to understand.

Specific Subclasses:

There are too many labels!  Not another community! [#]

Examples:

  • I just think that too many labels are not such a good thing and people should not judge others on “their label” (well, that’s my point of view).
  • oh for gods sake, enough with the labels. good grief,
  • geezuz..another community? why all the labels..i can’t get enuff sex from my wife, i’m male and wife’s a female. I know you find that strange , but what label does that give me
  • Oh great. Another community to not be a part of.
  • Or great, another group of innocent people for the GOP and Fundies to victimize.

Why these comments are a problem:

In general, people who complain about labels and communities are not a part of the communities and are not described by the labels that they are complaining about.   Often, they’ll complain that there are “too many labels”, as if there’s one of those plastic punch label makers that we’re all sharing, and it’s running short of tape.  The reality is that for many of these people, the only label they ever want to see is “straight”.

These are not people having a label applied to them against their will.  They have absolutely no right to complain.

Labels are not a way to be “unique” or “special”.  Labels are a way to communicate.  They’re a way to describe our experiences and feelings.  They’re not a strict cage that limits who we are to a word, they’re freeing.  They let us say “Here is who I am” without having to spend an hour and a half trying to come up with the right analogies and descriptions.

The label “asexual” and the community of asexuals has had a profound positive impact on my life.  They’re trying to deny me that.

How to respond:

  • Explain that just because a label does not apply to them, that doesn’t mean that other people don’t find it valuable.
  • Inform them that the number of labels or communities is not limited, and that there can be as many groupings and descriptions as people feel are necessary.
  • Explain that words are useful, self-contained descriptions of complicated concepts.  Bonus points for offering a snarky, over the top example of how a complex thing can be compressed into a single word (like “localized or regional temporary occurrence of water drops falling from clouds in the atmosphere” can also be called “rain”).

Do we need another word for this? [#]

Examples:

  • That’s ridiculous. Another word for it is a eunich who have been around since biblical times.
  • I am genuinely perplexed by this. Why is there a need to label someone asexual? If you are just not interested in sex, how does this even come up?
  • why make a group out of it. why not just say i prefer not to have sex, don’t need a reason, it’s your choice. isn’t just saying your celibate mean the same thing?
  • So, is being asexual now the official way to explain that you’re ok with being single? Do we really need another label for people?
  • We don’t need a new category for people who can’t get dates or who are too shy to close the deal on sex.
  • If people are happy being celibate then more power to them.

Why these comments are a problem:

These sorts of comments are made by people who fundamentally do not understand what asexuality is and generally have no interest in learning.

How to respond:

  • Just point out that they’re wrong.

It’s too complicated.  You can’t even agree on a definition! [#]

Examples:

  • My first thought was that there is something wrong when specifying your sexual identity is more complex than ordering at Starbucks.
  • How can a group of people identify as themselves under a certain name, if they all have different interpretations of its definition?
  • Here is an idea. Let’s get in a big discussion without first agreeing on the meaning of the key word.

Why these comments are a problem:

“Asexuality:  A sexual orientation characterized by a persistent lack of sexual attraction toward any gender.”

Hey, that was easy, right?

That’s what it boils down to.  That’s the definition pretty much everyone uses, although we all say it in different ways.  Some people will specifically add an extra clause for “or does not experience a desire for partnered sexual activity”, while others include that as part of “sexual attraction”.  We may have different ways of describing it and different points we emphasize, but we’re not fundamentally disagreeing with each other.

It’s like the color blue.  I know what blue is.  You probably know what blue is.  The shade of blue I’m thinking of right now is almost certainly different than the shade of blue you’re thinking of.  But we’re both thinking about blue.  We agree about the concept of blue.  We’ll include sky blue and Dodger Blue and navy blue and generally will even take cyan.  People don’t go around saying “Well, what about red?  Is that blue?”  They don’t force people to decide on a very specific wavelength range that can be considered “blue” to the exclusion of all others.  No one is ever going to say “This is too complicated.  You all can’t agree what blue is, so I don’t believe in blue.”

People who say we can’t agree on a definition just aren’t listening to us.

And yeah, it can be complicated.  Human sexuality kinda is like that.  But asexuality is no more complicated than any other sexual orientation.  That definition we use is essentially the same definition structure used for any other sexual orientation.  And every other sexual orientation is really freaking complicated when you start looking at them, too.  Let’s try it out, shall we?

“Heterosexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by exclusive sexual attraction toward members of the opposite sex.”

Sure, okay, people will take that as an accurate definition of heterosexuality.  But wait a minute…  What about frequency and number of occurrences here?  Are we talking just one case ever and that’s enough?  Or does it require a pattern, like at least two a year for three years in a row, just to be sure?  Does someone have to be at least 30 or something to make sure there’s no same sex attraction hiding somewhere, before they can say “It’s only been guys, so yeah, I’m heterosexual”?  And then there’s “Exclusive”.  What about people who tried out for the other team that one time after getting drunk in college?  So, not exclusively, but maybe “primarily toward members of the opposite sex”?  But then how far does “primarily” extend, before it ventures into bisexual territory?  And about the phrase “opposite sex” there…  Is it really sex?  Or is it gender?  Or gender presentation?  And “opposite”?  Well, what about intersex people that happen to look “male” or “female”?  Are they “opposite”?  If a man is attracted to a CAIS intersex person, do you go by chromosomes or external features to determine that man’s sexual orientation?  And while we’re at it, just what in the hell is “sexual attraction”, anyway?  Unless you can define it all precisely and unambiguously, then I refuse to believe that heterosexuality exists, because it’s too complicated for me and you can’t agree on a definition.

How to respond:

  • Plainly state the definition.    Bonus points for using condescending dictionary style part of speech and pronunciation guides.
  • Point out that the commonly accepted definition of asexuality is identical in structure to the commonly accepted definitions of other sexual orientations.

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The Comment Section: Everything’s Political

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When the trolls aren’t busy trying to use flawed science to discredit asexuality, they often take a political tone.  Usually, this ends up in some crackpot shouting the same tired nonsense that’s been thrown at gay people for decades, but once in a while, they’ll come up with something specific for asexuals.

Specific Subclasses:

 

They just want special rights! [#]

Examples:

  • People who choose to do or not to something in a specific sexual manner, all think they are a “special” group that deserves special Rights.
  • The next thing you know they will be seeking special rights because they feel they were born this way. This society is in mass confusion.
  • Everybody wants special rights/ attention for some off the wall made condition.
  • Does this mean someone over 40 single and never married can claim they are an “Ace” and be given hiring preferences to get a job?
  • next civil rights cause – asexuals should be able to not marry another axesual and get all the federal benefits as heterosexuals and homosexuals —— and you KNOW we’ll see that lawsuit soon

Why these comments are a problem:

These comments are nothing more than an old, tired fear that The Other is going to come along and take from People Like Me, or worse, will get something that People Like Me don’t have, simply because they’re The Other.  It’s always framed as a theft of some kind or somehow unfair to the group in power.

It’s been thrown around for ages.  Transgender people are stealing our bathrooms!  Gay people are stealing our marriage!  Foreigners are stealing our country!  Black people are stealing our jobs!  The Irish are stealing our neighborhoods!  Suffragettes are stealing our democracy!  People who don’t own land are stealing our power!  It is now and has always been complete nonsense!

Acknowledgement and recognition are not “Special Rights”.

How to respond:

  •  Point and laugh, because really, anyone using the “special rights” line these days just needs to be publically ridiculed.

Asexuals are piloting the black helicopters!  (and other crackpot conspiracy theories) [#]

Examples:

  • “Asexuality” has to be another American phenomenon. I bet is started in inventive California.
  • “Is Asexuality A Disorder?” That will depend on how much the pharmaceutical industry stands to profit from treating it.
  • Congratulations Liberalism more damage to society
  • Or great, another group of innocent people for the GOP and Fundies to victimize.
  • I blame sex education in schools for some of this asexuality, starting children to thinking and talking about sex too soon and experimenting with their same sex friends.
  • oh no……….now we are going to have asexual boy and girl scouts and transponders and gays……….my head hurts…
  • I’m a little worried about where we’re taking civilization – to an early extinction?
  • As Rameses for example had over 100 children. However, such a display, would make him more of a Goat than a God? Goats are beneath Oxen.

Why these comments are a problem:

We have enough trouble dealing with people who are still within our plane of reality.

How to respond:

  • Back away slowly.  Don’t make any sudden movements.   Don’t make eye contact.  Speak slowly and calmly in a low monotone voice to let them know that you are human and not a threat.

It’s a pure and righteous gift from God! [#]

Examples:

  • Perhaps being asexual is a gift..as it keeps you away from sexual temptation such as fornication, adultery, and homosexuality as long as you don’t give into peer pressure to act from gay or straight communities.
  • They are eternally Asexual. That is their eternal Gift. That is their victory. That is the kingdom of Heaven. They are forever saved!
  • My words here, but Christ said somewhere in the Bible that some don’t burn with lust, and they can be of more service to God.
  • The straight moral majority will take them if the gays won’t…Nonsexual attraction is not a sin..so we don’t have a problem with it.
  • Seems your asexuality would make you pure and holy.
  • Asexuality, that’s a new one…Sounds like the Bible is okay with it so, so am I. Now that sexually self-questioning teen now has a third option..asexuality. “Maybe the reason you don’t like girls is because you are asexual”. Gay doesn’t always have to be the alternative.

Why these comments are a problem:

People who head down this line of thinking only want to use us as shining examples of sexual “purity” to attack others with.

Oh, look at those asexuals.  They’re not tempted by the flesh.  They don’t fornicate. Why don’t you be like them instead of being gay?

Comments like these were actually some of the most dangerous ones I encountered.  Most of the people who make objectionable comments on articles are just garden variety trolls who’ll forget all about asexuality the moment they click away from the page.  These people are not like that.  They see asexuality as a weapon in their own personal holy war.  I can imagine them calling up one of their church group friends, all excited about this new thing they learned, and how they should start preaching that people should become asexual instead of choosing to turn gay.

Asexuality is not a rebellion against a world of sin.  It’s not an expression of morality.  It’s not a stand against fornication or adultery or abortion or homosexuality.  It’s a sexual orientation.  And I won’t let anyone try to use it as a weapon in their misguided fight against reality.

How to respond:

  • Explain that asexuality is not a morality position.  It’s not abstinence or purity or righteousness or anything else like that.
  • If they try to make any claims that asexuality is somehow superior to other orientations, if they try to say that people should “choose” to be asexual instead of being gay, or if they make similarly offensive statements, forcefully reject what they are saying.  You do not have to be nice or even polite.
  • If applicable, detail any incidents of fornication, sexual immorality, or homoerotic thoughts or actions that you have taken part in.

Have fun in Hell! [#]

Examples:

  • go for what is pure and righteous jesus is there to help you he loves u he died for u find out why he died he did not do this for nothing we are something to him
  • Depraved mind and soul leads to much evil, resist the devil and he will flee from you, promised the Lord
  • You can give it a name and a definition but it’s all a fallacy. Sexuality, like any other aspect of being human is really prone to flaw and brokenness. It’s a brokenness of the fallen state of man. That’s why people need God and it’s what the human heart longs after, not really the physical pleasures (or not) of sex.
  • Society needs to fear God and get back to the bible again. Judgment day is coming.

Why these comments are a problem:

The flip side of the “Asexuality is God’s gift in the war against sexual immorality” are the people who believe that asexuality itself is a sin.  They never really explain why, they just shout condemnations and head on their way.

I often wonder what would happen if one of these hyper-religious “Asexuality is a sin” people got stuck in an elevator with one of those hyper-religious “Asexuality is pure and righteous” people.

How to respond:

  • Matthew 19:12

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The Comment Section: Nothing Bad Happens

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One claim you’ll see over and over in comments on articles about asexuality is the belief that nothing bad ever happens to asexual people.  Life is easy and free of troubles for us.  We never have problems with relationships, and nobody has ever treated someone differently because they were asexual.  The commenters can’t fathom why anyone would have a problem due to being asexual, so therefore no such problems can possibly exist.

So, apparently…

No asexual has ever felt broken or alienated or alone.

No asexual has ever been rejected by friends and family.

No asexual has ever had an endless stream of relationships fail because of sex.

No asexual has ever been ridiculed or mocked or been told they’re broken or inhuman.

No asexual has ever has had someone offer to “fix the problem” through sex.

No asexual has ever been raped by the person who offered to “fix the problem”.

No asexual has ever been beaten or killed because they wouldn’t “put out”.

The commenter, despite just having learned of the existence of asexuality, has never seen any of these things happen and they don’t know anyone that these things have happened to, therefore they refuse to believe that such things happen, even after being presented with first hand accounts of them actually happening to actual asexuals.

In many cases, the commenter will dismiss the problems that asexual people might face because they’re not perceived to be as severe as the problems faced by other people.  Rarely are these more severe problems ever encountered by the commenter themselves, but that fact does not deter the commenter from using these issues to attempt to silence asexuals.

Specific Subclasses:

Asexuals aren’t persecuted or oppressed or discriminated against! [#]

Examples:

  • People will continue being Special Snowflakes and claim to be an oppressed minority because it’s better than just being different, and continue to offend actual oppressed minorities.
  • Even if asexual is a sexual orientation, those who have it are not legally oppressed in any way.
  • and last time I checked asexuality is not actively being persecuted by society
  • There are no laws barring asexual people from marriage nor are churches blaming asexuals for hurricanes, shootings, etc.
  • Unless you go around wearing a sign saying you’re asexual, society doesn’t know and doesn’t care so you couldn’t possibly be discriminated against in any intentional way.
  • I see what you are saying, but nobody has ever killed someone for being asexual.

Why these comments are a problem:

Ohhh…  Where to begin with this…

First of all, it is exceedingly rare that someone who is asexual makes a claim of oppression or discrimination or persecution or whatever over some trivial matter.  If an asexual says that they were oppressed or discriminated against or persecuted because they were asexual, listen to them.  Because they probably were.

Next, in the vast majority of cases, the thing the person is commenting on never even remotely mentions oppression or persecution.  The commenter is pulling oppression out of thin air to use it as an attack.  It’s a strawman.  Simply saying “I am asexual and I exist” is not a claim of oppression.  Talking about your sexual orientation does not indicate that you think you’ve been persecuted for it.  Discussing a problem you’ve encountered in your life does not mean that you’re saying that you have it worse than everyone else.

Oddly, these people seem to believe that facing oppression and persecution is a necessary condition for having a minority sexual identity.  You apparently don’t get to join the club unless you, personally, experience daily oppression for who you are.  And they’ll often be very specific about what qualifies.  Often, being denied the right to marry comes up as the criteria.  Asexuals can’t be possibly be included because no one is preventing them from being married.  Right, so, what that means is that where I live, in the State of Washington, gays and lesbians also can’t be included, because we passed R74 a few years back, and the Winsdor case made the Feds recognize these marriages.  And does that mean that someone would be considered queer in some other states, but not queer in Washington, at least not after December 9th, 2012?  Over time, as laws change and as people become enlightened, such a definition will cover fewer and fewer people.

A number of these kinds of comments suggest that keeping quiet will let you pass and prevent oppression.  Are you asexual?  Just keep it to yourself and nothing will ever happen!  Well hey, that’s a great idea!  Let’s have everyone do that!  Hey, Sally, got a homophobic boss?  Well, just show up at the office party with a beard to throw him off the scent!  Hey, Joe, nervous about what people might think of your religion?  What’s the big deal, hide that prayer rug and no one will ever know!  Hey, Phil, live in a town full of racists?  That’s what thick white cake makeup is for!  …  Never mind that forcing someone to hide who they are out of fear is a form of oppression.

These comments usually ignore intersectionality of any kind.  It’s a blanket “Asexuals are not oppressed!  Asexuals have no relevant problems!”.  That means that if you’re a homoromantic ace or a trans ace or an asexual person of color, congratulations!  You will never experience any kind of oppression or discrimination or persecution of any kind, because your asexuality acts as an immunity idol.

It’s also just outright dismissive.  What these people are saying is, “I can’t think of any problems you might face off the top of my head, and you probably don’t have my problems, so I’m just going to yell at you for implying that you might have problems.”  Just because someone hasn’t heard of it happening, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

And when an asexual does try to bring up a problem that they actually have personally faced?  Well then, that doesn’t matter, because someone else has it worse.  You can’t talk about erasure, because there aren’t any laws against asexuality.  You can’t talk about having trouble with relationships, because you can’t get fired for being asexual.  You can’t talk about corrective rape, because you’ve never been killed for being asexual after walking out of a bar.  What they’re saying is that your problems aren’t important enough to talk about, because there are other, bigger problems out there.  Absolutely, all of those other issues are horrible, and it would be fantastic if we could find a way to solve them.  However, the fact that there are other problems out there, does not completely prohibit discussion and resolution of smaller problems.

“I’m sorry, you can’t deal with the leaky pipe that’s flooding your basement, because there’s a coal ash spill in North Carolina.” 

“I’m sorry, you can’t change your flat tire, because there’s a civil war in Syria.”

“I’m sorry, you can’t deal with that pebble in your shoe, because the inevitable heat death of the universe will eventually extinguish all possibility of life.”

That kind of thinking is ridiculous.  We’re not a one problem at a time kind of species.  There are enough of us to work on multiple problems at once, and it’s even possible for the same person to be working on more than one problem at the same time.  You have a right to talk about problems that you face, whatever they are, however big or small, simply because you face them, and you don’t have to go before some kind of Grand Unified Problem Importance Committee to justify it.

How to respond:

  • Detail the issues you’ve encountered, if you feel comfortable doing so.  First hand accounts can be very powerful.
  • Explain that your problems may not be the same problems as others, but that does not somehow make them less worthy of discussion.
  • Explain that something that may seem trivial to someone else is actually very important to you.
  • If you have encountered the exact scenario that they’re claiming “Never Happens To Asexuals”, call them on it.  Tell them exactly what happened to you.
  • First hand accounts or verifiable claims are better than hazy third person hearsay or gut feelings.  “This happened to me” or “Here’s a news story about this” are better than “I heard someone on AVEN once say” or “People on Tumblr think this”.
  • Avoid claims of oppression or “Having it worse”, even if you are oppressed or really do have it worse.  Nobody gets a medal in the Oppression Olympics.  Simply tell your story and let others hear what you have to say.
  • Remember that these claims are often made by trolls who’ll never concede.  You’re not in it to convince them.  You’re in it to show everyone else that what they’re saying is wrong.

No one has a problem with it. [#]

Examples:

  • Tell me, besides being looked at strangely when you announce your asexuality, what is the big deal about it? Are you going to risk being kicked out of your home for coming out as asexual? The biggest hurdle for the asexual community to possibly have to overcome seems to be, “to finally not be thought of as slightly weird/closet gay in denial/hormonally challenged until the doctor dispels that idea.”
  • And by the way, most people don’t care one way or the other if you are asexual.
  • No one is persecuting asexuals.
  • No one has a problem with it!
  • NO ONE is denying asexuals any attention, respect, or rights.

Why these comments are a problem:

First of all, this class of comments is an attempt to trivialize who we are.  They’re saying “What you are isn’t important enough to have a problem with.  Asexuality is a nothing.  You’re a nobody.”  Attempts to sideline us are unfortunately common.

More importantly, most of the time, the people making these claims don’t bother to look at the problems that asexuals do face.  They’ll mock serious problems that some of us do face and they’ll throw out and shoot down strawman problems that we don’t even claim to face.  They simply shut us down and tune us out before we can even talk about the issues facing us.

What problems do we tend to encounter because of our asexuality?

  • Pathologizing of asexuality as a disorder.
  • A lack of societal awareness of asexuality, which frequently leads to ignorance and insults.
  • Relationship issues, particularly family relationships and romantic relationships.
  • Difficulty navigating a sex-driven world, in particular, the social expectations regarding sex.
  • Threats, coercion, sexual assault, rape (in particular “corrective” rape), and potentially even murder.

These are just some of the problems that some asexual people face.  There are countless others.  They are real.  They do happen.  Do not let anyone deny this.

How to respond:

  • Detail a number of cases where people definitely do have a problem with it.  (SwankIVY’s “Letters to an Asexual” series, Anagnori’s invalidation tree, “Ace Bingo Cards”, and the parade scene in (A)sexuality are good resources for this.)
  • Point out that there are a large number of negative or hurtful comments being posted to the article.
  • Talk about situations where people you’ve encountered have had a problem with asexuality, if you feel comfortable doing so.

There are no laws against it.  What rights are they fighting for? [#]

Examples:

  • It is NOT part of the LGBT community. No one is denying any rights to people who choose not to have sex.
  • If being gay is about political rights, then they don’t fit in because they are not fighting for any kinds of rights because they are not being denied any thing.
  • What right is denied to an Asexual person? Just name one, please.

Why these comments are a problem:

It implies that “fighting for rights” is the only reason people ever identify as gay or transgender or what have you.  That’s a preposterous assertion.  It’s my understanding that people tend to identify as gay because they’re gay, not because they enjoy political organization.  Beyond that, the this claim implies that once those rights are granted, there will no longer be a need for the LGBT community.  “Cancel the parade, everyone!  Say goodbye to the Castro and the Village!  Board up the gay bars! Tear down those rainbow flags!  We’ve got our rights now, so it’s all unnecessary!”

Fighting for legal rights isn’t the only reason to form a community.  Being around other people who understand how you feel so you don’t have to constantly explain yourself is one of the primary reasons.  We also are drawn to find a community because so many of us felt alone, like we were the only person who felt this way.  The larger our community is, the more visible we are, and the more visible we are, the more likely someone else will be able to grow up knowing that they’re asexual, instead of feeling lost and broken for years until they stumble across the word.

Also, despite the claim, there actually are legal issues that concern asexuality.  Discrimination is one of them.  There are people who will discriminate against anyone who is not heterosexual.  While there are laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation in many places, in some cases, those laws are written in such a way that they do not include asexuality.  For instance, RCW 49.60.040 in the State of Washington (where I live) defines “sexual orientation” as “heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, and gender expression or identity.”  Asexuality is not included.  Under the letter of the law, asexuals could legally be fired for being asexual.  There’s a report of an asexual couple who could not adopt a child because they were asexual.  Asexuals with homoromantic leanings may run into the same prohibitions against marriage that homosexual people fight against.  And if asexuals do get married, there are sometimes “consummation laws” that require sexual intercourse for a marriage to be considered “valid”, and that may not be something an asexual person is willing to do.

How to respond:

  • Inform the person that the LGBT community is about more than just “fighting for rights”, or it would disappear after those rights were obtained.
  • Explain that “fighting for rights” is not the only reason people seek community, recognition, and acceptance.
  • Discuss legal issues that have or potentially could impact you as an asexual.

They just want attention! [#]

Examples:

  • WHY do people find it necessary to display their orientation to the public? Is it low self esteem or a desire to get attention?
  • [A prominent asexuality activist] may not be attracted to men (or women), but she sure is attracted to attention.
  • If it isn’t bad enough that we have Gays and the like, now some DA Wants to play the Asexual Card for attention?
  • We need mroe attention seekers in the world (sarc)
  • Having a crusade to announce to the world that you are asexual is just a desperate plea for attention over LITERALLY nothing.
  • Yes, it is disgusting that one would lie about “sexual assault” for attention.

Why These Comments Are A Problem:

I always find it fascinating that these remarks are often thrown at asexuality activists who were interviewed for an article.  What?  You mean that awareness and visibility activists are just talking about asexuality for attention?  WHAT A SHOCK!

Of course they’re doing it for attention.  That’s kinda the whole point.  Trying to insult and discredit an asexuality activist by saying they want attention is like trying to insult and discredit a NASCAR driver by saying they just want to show off how fast their car is.

On a more serious note, however, these comments are not strictly directed toward an activist who’s out there as a face for the cause.  They often imply that the only reason any asexuals want to talk about asexuality is for the “Look at me, look at me” factor.  They’re suggesting that we’re making it up, that we’re just pretending to be like this, that we’re lying about it all.  Most of the time, they never explain why we’d do something like this “for attention”, particularly when the attention we do get is so often negative.

In some cases, they make disgusting assertions that we talk about asexuality specifically because we want to be victims.  This type of remark is a corollary to the claim that keeping asexuality to ourselves will solve all our problems.  It flips that thinking around, and states that because we’re talking about it, we want to have problems, because problems will make us victims, and being victims will make us…  something?  I don’t really know where they’re going with that argument.  In any case, it’s not an argument that is limited in use to people attacking asexuality.  It gets thrown at just about anyone who doesn’t conform to the narrow norms of the close minded.  And it doesn’t make any sense whenever it gets used.

I want attention.  I want people to know that asexuality exists.  I want people to understand what asexuality is.  I want people who are asexual to be able to understand and embrace who they are.  I want to talk with others like me.  I want them to know they’re not alone.  I want to know that I’m not alone.  I want attention.  That is why I talk about asexuality.

How To Respond:

  • Disarm the comment by embracing it.  Come right out and say that you are talking about asexuality for attention, because asexuality needs attention.  Tell them why it’s important that people pay attention to asexuality.
  • The “They just want to be victims” crowd are typically trolls that are best ignored.

[Return to Overview]

The Comment Section: I’m Not A Doctor, But I Play One On The Internet

[Return to Overview]

The Internet is chock full of people who will freely give medical and psychiatric advice to anyone who comes along, whether they want it or not, and without any regard to silly concepts such as “accuracy”.

When this type of person meets asexuality, they have a field day.  “Why, there are so many things it could be!  Let me diagnose you, who needs a degree?”

Sometimes, the Fake Internet Doctor isn’t a fake doctor of medicine at all.  Occasionally, they’re fake experts in biology or evolution or even environmental science.  I’ve even seen fake doctors of political science exposing the truth behind asexuality!

Regardless of discipline, Fake Internet Doctors all have one thing in common:  A fatal allergy to actual, legitimate research.  They avoid it at all costs, and when you expose them to it, they will simply pretend that it does not exist.

Specific Subclasses:

It’s a psychological problem.  Have you gone to therapy? [#]

Examples:

  • Asexualism seems more like the sexual manifestation of a personality disorder than anything else. I’d say probably schizoid.
  • Usually when someone is disinterested in sex (and does not identify as asexual) it is because of some kind of emotionally/psychologically distressing or traumatic experience(s) with sex.
  • but I also think that a person of reproductive age with absolutely no interest in sex probably has an underlying psychological, emotional or indeed physiological problem to examine.
  • Human beings sometimes have psychological, emotional, or social issues that make them celibate.
  • A good round of therapy would help most of these delusionals.

Why these comments are a problem:

Because asexuality is not a psychological problem or personality disorder.  It is a sexual orientation.

These comments are what’s called “pathologizing”.  Basically, they take something perfectly normal and legitimate, and try to turn it into a disease or disorder of some sort.  If it’s a disorder, there’s something wrong.  If it’s a disease, it’s something curable.

This kind of thinking is highly damaging.  It makes people feel like they’re broken or defective somehow, that they need fixing, even though nothing is actually wrong with them at all.  Often, that feeling of brokenness will gnaw at someone’s thoughts, and can even cause anxiety or depression itself.

Additionally, people try to use various psychological conditions to explain away and invalidate asexuality in people with those conditions.  “Oh, she’s not asexual, she’s just autistic.”  “Oh, he’s not asexual, he’s just schizoid.”  Here’s the thing, though.  If someone is asexual and something else, they’re still asexual.  Even if they’re asexual because of something else, they’re still asexual.

Beyond all of that, the American Psychiatric Association recognizes asexuality and does not consider it a problem or a disorder.  In the DSM-V, it mentions asexuality, and says that if a person is asexual, then they should not be diagnosed with a sexual interest or desire disorder.  In other words, it’s not a problem, nothing’s wrong.

How to respond:

  • Point out that asexuality is not a disease or a disorder.
  • Explain how hurtful and damaging pathologizing asexuality can be.
  • Explain how asexuality can coexist with psychological or physical conditions.
  • If you have a copy of the DSM-V handy, quote it to them.

Go see a doctor and get your hormones checked! [#]

Examples:

  • I wonder if any asexual people have their hormones checked. It could be due to a hormone imbalance rather than just a personality trait.
  • These people need to get their hormones levels checked.
  • I think hormones, especially in women have a lot to do with it.
  • As a physician, my first question is what are their hormone levels? I have found in practice, that people who have low sex hormones obviously have low sex drives.
  • a medical work-up might could help some of them

Why these comments are a problem:

Again, these comments are pathologizing an orientation, making it look like we have a problem that needs to be fixed.

This brand of comment, in particular, is often uttered by “well-meaning” people who are “concerned for our health”.  They tend to get upset when we point out that what they’re doing doesn’t help us at all.  They don’t understand what they’re saying is “You’re not real, you’re a hormone deficiency”.

It’s worth pointing out that while hormones affect sex drive or level of sexual desire or sexual functionality, they don’t really affect who someone is attracted to.  There are numerous reports of asexuals who have started taking testosterone for one reason or another, and while they mention a boost in libido, they say it’s still not pointed at anyone.

In many cases, after someone who is asexual points out that asexuality is not a hormone issue and that their hormones have laboratory tested and shown to be within expected ranges, the conversation changes slightly.  “Well, I wasn’t talking about YOU!  I was talking in general.  Someone else out there might have a hormone problem and think they’re asexual and need to be checked out.  It could be a sign of a brain tumor or something serious.”

Now, certainly, I don’t want someone to die of an undiscovered brain tumor that’s affecting their hormone levels in some way.  Thing is, low hormones or brain tumors generally do not manifest themselves solely as a lack of sexual attraction.  To that end, here are some of the symptoms of things people typically use to discredit asexuality:

Low Hormone Levels:

  • Loss of energy/feeling tired
  • Hair loss, including possibly body/pubic hair
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Depression or other changes in mood
  • Drop in sex drive
  • Lower strength/lower muscle mass
  • Weight gain/increase in body fat
  • Forgetfulness/memory problems
  • Osteoporosis
  • Insomnia/difficulty sleeping
  • Hot flashes
  • Breast growth/tenderness in men
  • Menstrual irregularity

Brain Tumors:

  • Headache
  • Vision problems
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Symptoms of low hormone levels (some listed above), if the tumor affects hormone production
  • Personality changes
  • Memory problems
  • Loss of balance
  • Numbness or tingling

If you’re experiencing some of the symptoms listed above or if your level of interest in sex has suddenly changed, then by all means, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor about it.  But if you’ve just never really felt sexually attracted to anyone, then you’re probably just asexual and probably don’t need to consult a physician.

How to respond:

  • Explain that asexuality is a sexual orientation, not a “hormone problem”.
  • Provide your hormone test results, if you have them.
  • Provide a list of other symptoms of hormone deficiencies, etc.
  • Explain that the TV show House is not a source of accurate medical advice.
  • Explain how hurtful and damaging pathologizing asexuality can be.

It’s the result of evolution and overpopulation! [#]

Examples:

  • What we see is a divergence of sexual proclivity suggestive of evolution
  • Asexuals are probably not less human. They are less animal. Which must mean they are MORE human. They may be more highly evolved.
  • I’ve always thought that humans would become asexual as we evolved in the next 1,000 or so years.
  • Asexualitly might just be a more advanced state of being.
  • I find myself wondering if this could be a biological reaction to overpopulation.

Why these comments are a problem:

Because they’re pseudoscience junk that makes me weep for the state of science education.

Let me take a step back here…  I don’t want to claim that there is no evolutionary basis whatsoever for asexuality.  There very well might be.  I mean, every living thing is the product of evolutionary selection.  (Although that does not mean that every trait of every living thing is necessarily selected for and optimized by evolution.)  My problem is that the comments I’m describing here don’t actually involve anything remotely approaching science or evolutionary biology.

There are two frequent strains of this nonsense.  In the first strain, the claim is made that asexuals are “more highly evolved” than everyone else.  In the second strain, the claim is made that asexuality is the result of some evolutionary defense against overpopulation.  Let’s dive in, shall we?

The phrase “more highly evolved” is a tip off that something ain’t right.  There’s no hierarchy of evolution levels, where something is more or less evolved.  Evolution doesn’t really care about rankings or supremacy.  It’s about the right adaptations for the environment.  So, while humans might be awesome with our upright walking and opposable thumbs and all that good stuff, we really really suck at surviving off a fumarole at the bottom of the ocean.  Does that make thermophilic giant tube worms more highly evolved than us?  It strikes me that the thinking that asexuality is “more highly evolved” probably comes from a combination of science fiction stories about emotionless aliens and a “sex is bad” brand of religious dogma, and not from, you know, actual scientists.

The overpopulation thing is also ridiculous.  It relies on two false premises:  That the planet is overpopulated and that evolution is instant.  While there are certainly concerns about long-term sustainability, the Earth is not overpopulated at this time.  People generally have enough space to live and enough food to eat.  If overpopulation were the cause of asexuality, you would expect to see high rates of asexuality in areas that are crowded or have recurring famines (Which, BTW, are often the result of greed or wars, not of an actual lack of food), and virtually no asexuality in areas where living area and food are plentiful.  Given the number of asexuals present in places like North America and Europe, I think that claim can be safely refuted.  There’s no widespread shortage of resources for asexuality to be a response to.  Of course, even if the world were over-populated, it would have only reached that point very recently, like within the last generation.  Evolution doesn’t work that fast.  It takes generations for traits to become prominent or get weeded out.  Evolution probably wouldn’t lead to asexuality, it would be more likely to simply favor smaller people who require less food and are less likely to starve to death.  More than likely, though, overpopulation would simply lead to a mass-extinction event that evolution simply won’t have time to account for in any way.

How to respond:

  • Explain that asexuality is not somehow “more evolved”.
  • Explain that asexuality is not the result of overpopulation.
  • Point them at a science textbook.

But…  SCIENCE! [#]

Examples:

  • If you’re asexual, it means you have sex with yourself. It’s in science. Something about bacteria. Or a cell splits itself, into two cells…because it doesn’t need a partner, to produce offspring. So it has sex WITH ITSELF. I learned that in 6th grade science class.
  • Also take a biological anthropology class, try Sex and Gender studies, so you can actually have a clue what the scientist really have to say on the matter.
  • To me, it is interesting because being asexual goes against biology and our innate need to survive through reproduction.
  • Biology 101. Learn it.
  • Unless I forgot my Biology, sex is a necessity to perpetuate a species…..How can you embrace a lifestyle, if embraced by all, would doom the species??????
  • What you’re really at odds with is the FACT that all human behavior is driven by biology derived through millions of years of evolution.

Why these comments are a problem:

Again, weeping for the state of science education.

Here’s the thing you need to understand about science before you ever talk about science:

It describes the world.  It does not dictate how the world must be.

If there’s some accepted scientific theory, and along comes some clear evidence that the theory is incomplete or is wrong, then that theory must be discarded or revised in favor of something better.  Reality always wins in science.

So, let’s say you’re doing research on sexuality.  You’re probably thinking that there’s a lot of people who like people with different parts than their own, there’s a few people who like people with the same parts, and a handful that like both.  So, you interview tons of people.  As you go, you start to notice something.  Here and there, you find people who don’t seem to like any parts at all.  That’s probably not what you expected.

Do you:

a) Ignore them completely.

b) Say that they can’t exist because science doesn’t mention them.

c) Revise your hypothesis to include this unexpected result.

The correct answer is C.  And guess what?  This actually happened!  As Alfred Kinsey was doing his famous study on sexual behavior, he found that a number of people just weren’t into sex at all.  So, when he was devising his famous Kinsey scale that describes sexual orientation, he used the numbers 0 through 6, which covered a range between “Exclusively Heterosexual” (0) and “Exclusively Homosexual” (6), but since he recognized that such a scale didn’t recognize the existence of that group that didn’t really care either way, he added another group for them: “X”.

That “X” represents asexuality.

OH LOOK!  IT’S SCIENCE!

How to respond:

  • Mention the actual, real scientists who do actual, real sciencey things and believe that asexuality is real.  Kinsey’s “X” from the 40′s, Storms’ two dimensional scale from the 80′s, and more modern research by Bogaert, Brotto, and others, all point at the existence of asexuality as a real sexual orientation.  Backed by science.

Asexuality will cause the extinction of the human race! [#]

Examples:

  • Unless I forgot my Biology, sex is a necessity to perpetuate a species…..How can you embrace a lifestyle, if embraced by all, would doom the species??????
  • Since we are supposed to be sexual beings with the purpose of multiplying the species, I submit that anyone who has no sexual attractions is defective.
  • You realize that we are animals and we do procreate?
  • To me, it is interesting because being asexual goes against biology and our innate need to survive through reproduction.

Why these comments are a problem:

Apparently, EVERYONE has to have sex that results in children or WE’RE ALL DOOMED!!  Into the baby factories, everyone!

The world population growth is doing just fine without us, thanks.  Just turn on your favorite Jack & Karen Plus 800 reality show, if you don’t believe me.

By the way, you’re also ignoring the fact that some asexual people do actually have kids.  (Fun fact:  So do some gay people, who you’re also attacking with this line of nonsense.)

How to respond:

  • Using demographic research and population trends, point out that they’re being a total dumbass.
  • Inform them that some asexuals may decide to have biological children.
  • Point out that their logic also condemns anyone who is gay, infertile, sterilized, childfree, or just reliably uses some form of birth control.

[Return to Overview]

The Comment Section: What About Me? ME ME ME!

[Return to Overview]

Articles about asexuality tend to bring people out of the woodwork who somehow manage to find a way to take things off-topic and talk about themselves.  Sometimes, it’s a big ego at work, other times, it’s what’s been called a “misfire of empathy”.  At best, it comes off as unwanted, misguided sympathy.  At worst, it’s offensive and insensitive.

Specific Subclasses:

Completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand, but I LOVE sex! [#]

Examples:

  • Just be happy!! :-) I love sex, but I have to say – it is refreshing to see people not give a #$%2 about it!
  • I love sex, but I’m convinced that I could have gone a long way without it.
  • Sex is the very thing that makes me the most [insert positive attribute that matters to me here]. It is an important and significant way I show my love and affection to the woman in my life.
  • Sex is great, yes…
  • Sex is wonderful, specially if you are doing it with someone you love and trust. I respect Asexuals though. Live and let live.

Why these comments are a problem:

At best, it’s irrelevant.

At worst, the way it’s brought up, it sounds like the commenter has to make it clear that they’re not asexual, because that would be absolutely horrible.  I’m not asexual.  I LOVE sex.  There’s nothing wrong with me!

How to respond:

  • If it’s just irrelevant, leave it alone.
  • If it sounds like they’re saying that they love sex so they’re not mistaken for being ace, tear them apart.

I wish I could be asexual!  It would solve all my problems! [#]

Examples:

  • There are thousands of menopausal and post-menopausal women out there who wish they could be asexual. But, alas, we are married and still have to tend to our husband’s needs. Sigh…..
  • I wish I were a-sexual. god, my sex-drive is getting quite annoying after 38 years
  • Lucky those who truly are successfully asexual. I wish i wasn’t so depended on sex as I seem to be.
  • at the risk of offending, being asexual sure seems like it would make life easier…
  • I am not asexual , I am straight but i can see how it would make things easier.
  • I, too, would like to have back all that time that I wasted on sex and its attendant problems.
  • Asexual? Or just smart? Think of all the problems they don’t have spending thier lives chasing after another person. My first spouse cured me of the desire to marry.

Why these comments are a problem:

Asexuality is not some magical cure-all that fixes all your problems.  Asexuals have many of the same problems that non-asexuals encounter.  There are even problems that asexuals are more likely to encounter:

  • Someone who is asexual, particularly those who’ve never discovered that asexuality is A Thing, will often feel broken.  It’s common for asexuals to wonder why they don’t feel the same way about sex as pretty much everyone else, and they’ll often feel alienated and alone.
  • An asexual who is in a relationship with someone who is not asexual (or wants to be) will often encounter difficulties surrounding sex.  The asexual person may not want to have sex as often as their partner, and may not even want to have sex at all.  In many cases, this difference causes numerous problems for the relationship, and can even end up causing the relationship to end.
  • People doubt our very existence.  Can you imagine going through life and having people second guess everything you say, deny your identity, say that you need to be fixed?

How to respond:

  • Explain that asexuality doesn’t solve problems.
  • If you feel comfortable, discuss problems you have encountered because you are asexual.

Oh, that’s so sad. [#]

Examples:

  • Sorry for these folk.
  • Asexuality just seems so sad to me.
  • Whenever I hear about asexuality (and it is a rather rare occurrence), my gut response is one of pity.
  • Never getting your heart broken sounds heartbreaking.
  • I actually feel pity for asexuals. Physical intimacy is fantastic, and I’d find life so dull and empty without it.
  • I think of it as lonely not to express sexuality in a relationship….just sayin.

Why these comments are a problem:

We’re not asking for pity.  We’re asking for understanding.  These people typically don’t attempt to understand, they just look at what they think our lives are missing compared to theirs.

“Oh, they don’t have sex?  I love sex!  They must be sad without sex.”

“Oh, they don’t have relationships?  I love relationships!  They must be lonely without relationships.”

They never stop to ask us if we’re sad.  They never ask us if we feel lonely.  They never try to understand who we are.

Now, that’s not to say that we’re never sad or never lonely.  Certainly, we might feel that way from time to time.  We might even feel sad or lonely because of sex and relationships.  But it’s rarely for the reasons they assume.  And it’s just plain offensive to believe that our lives are wholly consumed by sadness and loneliness because we’re asexual.

How to respond:

  • Tell them you’re not looking for pity.
  • If your life is not a lonely pit of sadness, inform them that your life is not a lonely pit of sadness.
  • Explain how things they think might make you sad or lonely don’t actually make you sad or lonely, because you do not feel the same way about them that they do.

But…  Cute! [#]

Examples:

  • And it’s such a waste! Many of these men are so beautiful!
  • Why are the cute ones always asexual?
  • That guy in top pic is so cute, it’s hard to believe that he doesn’t desire sex with someone. I’ll bet plenty of people have desired to have sex with him!
  • would love to be asexual with him.he is cute
  • BTW. There are a lot of cute asexual guys with whom I wouldn’t mind having a “homoromantic” relationship.
  • Do asexuals appreciate being told how smoking hot they are (because that Dave guy is pretty darn hot)?

Why these comments are a problem:

Unwelcome sexual advances are a problem.

Implying that someone is a “waste” because they are not sexually available (to you) is a problem.

Whether or not you find someone cute or attractive or hot or whatever, that has no bearing on their sexual orientation and is rarely relevant or even appropriate to mention in such a situation.

How to respond:

  • Remind them that “cuteness” does not negate asexuality any more than “ugliness” causes it.  Sexual orientation is independent from looks.
  • Point out that calling someone a “waste” because they won’t have sex (with the commenter) reduces that person to a sexual object, and is an extremely offensive thing to do.  Other people do not exist solely for the commenter’s sexual gratification.

I feel asexual once in a while, too. [#]

Examples:

  • Sometimes I feel like that but then realize it was the drugs.
  • sometimes after spending a weekend drinking and shagging some gal, by Monday I’m only in the mood to sleep…
  • I had a brief period of asexuality. I was never attracted to my own sex. When my ex cheated on me, I declared that I would never have anything to do with women
  • When I was young, I had more than a few bad experiences, sexually and the whole concept turned me off for a long time.
  • I thought I was asexual for a min while living in nyc…turned out I was just going on a bunch of dates with really bad kissers.

Why these comments are a problem:

These sorts of comments are not genuine exploration of one’s identity.  They’re not a sympathetic “You’re not alone” gesture.  No, instead, they’re people flippantly dismissing the concept of asexuality as the result of being in a bad relationship, the result of being worn out from having too much sex (See “I LOVE sex!”, above), or the result of drug-induced impotence.

How to respond:

  • Inform them that asexuality is not a short term, temporary state, but is, in fact, a sexual orientation that often lasts for an entire lifetime.

[Return to Overview]

The Comment Section: So What? Who Cares!

[Return to Overview]

One of the most common types of negative comments were the “So What?  Who Cares!” brand of remark.  These comments are so prevalent that I’ve already written a post about why I care in response.  The essence of these comments is that asexuality isn’t anything remarkable, that there’s no point talking about it or trying to raise visibility, because “no one cares that you don’t have sex”.

Now, they’re typically not directly hostile, but they are belittling and dismissive.  What they say is that asexuality isn’t important enough to talk about, that we should all just shut up and hide in the closet our whole lives.  There’s often the implication that asexuality itself doesn’t even need to be a “thing”.

Comments such as these are usually intentionally dismissive.  They’re not innocent, supportive, “I don’t care if you’re asexual.  Whatever you are is fine by me!” comments.  Instead, they’re a direct claim that asexuality is a nothing, it’s unworthy of discussion, and talking about it is a pointless waste of time.  People who make the “Who Cares?” comments do actually care.  They have an opinion about asexuality, and they don’t like it.  If someone truly didn’t care, and didn’t see the point, they wouldn’t say anything at all.  They wouldn’t have even bothered clicking to read the article.

“Who Cares?” also tends to come with a strong dose of misrepresentation.  They’ll frequently equate asexuality to celibacy, and say that no one cares if you don’t have sex.

 

Specific Subclasses:

Don’t shove it down our throats! [#]

Examples:

  • Stop trying to force your agenda on US.
  • Don’t throw it in people’s face and no one will care.

Why these Comments are a problem:

First, it’s a strawman attack.  Instead of having an objection to some actual facet of asexuality, they are objecting to something completely made up.  There’s no forced “Two Minutes of Ace” where everyone has to stand around and watch asexual propaganda.  There aren’t any roving bands of asexual hooligans shouting gestures of platonic affection at complete strangers.  We don’t hang out on the subway handing out leaflets and berating anyone who doesn’t take one.  We’re simply not throwing asexuality in anyone’s face or forcing anything on anyone.

Second, it’s attempt to silence us by making us look excessive and unreasonable.  Just talking about how you feel isn’t some kind of assault.  Just opening up about how you navigate the world when you don’t experience sexual attraction isn’t an unreasonable intrusion into someone’s life.  Having an article written about your orientation isn’t a crime.  All we’re doing is saying, “I would like to be recognized and understood for who I am, and I’m not the only one who feels this way”.  That is not throwing something in someone’s face.

What they mean is “You’re different and I don’t like it, and I don’t like you talking about it”.  The exact same comments have been used for decades to attack gay people and religious minorities and feminists and pretty much everyone else.

How to respond:

  • Given that this is a troll-only comment, it’s probably best to avoid responding.  They’re not going to come around, and it’s such a tired and overused comment in GSRM spaces (and elsewhere) that no one is actually going to take it seriously.

Why does anyone need to label themselves?  Why can’t we all just be “human”? [#]

Examples:

  • Another label for the collectivists to place onto the scales of social justice?
  • oh for gods sake, enough with the labels. good grief
  • I don’t really see any problems with any of this but the need to define and put names on things seems kind of compulsive.

Why these comments are a problem:

Words are important.  They’re how we describe concepts.  They’re how we communicate.  I can say that I’m tall, and you understand something about me instantly.  You take that word away, and I have to fumble around for something of equivalent meaning.  “I’m greater than average height”?  Well, what’s “average height”?  And how much greater?  Not to mention that four letters has become four words.

On top of that, many identity terms are personal.  When someone says that they’re Jewish or Australian, that word is part of who they are.  It’s often deeply ingrained in how they relate to the world.  It’s a complex package of meaning in a deceptively simple container.

“Asexual” is a word that I need.  It’s a word that many others need.  For years, I had no idea what I was, what was wrong with me.  And then, one day, I found a word.  A word that described me.  A word where I belonged.  A word that meant I wasn’t broken.  If you take that away, I am lost and broken again.  Without that word, I am invisible.

To be clear, these comments aren’t people saying, “I wish we didn’t have to have labels.  I wish we could all just be ourselves.”  These are people saying “You do not need that word.  You can’t have it.”  They are attempting to dismiss and delegitimize us.

How to respond:

  • Let the person know how important it is to have a word that describes how you feel.
  • Explain that although they may not see the need for the word themselves, you, personally, need that word.
  • Explain that words are important for communication of abstract concepts.  (This response is often best delivered in full-on snark mode.)

Just don’t talk about it and it will solve all your problems! [#]

Examples:

  • Don’t tell anyone how seldom you have sex and no one will know. Boom. Instant equal standing with your fellow straight people, or gay people, or bi people who have lots of sex.
  • But why talk about it if you’re asexual? And open yourself up to discrimination?
  • Keep it to yourself and it will be a non-factor in your relationships.
  • If you keep who you are to yourself and avoid the wrong people or the wrong expressions of who you are. You shouldn’t have a problem with you are or with other people.
  • If you don’t want to have sex, don’t have sex.  If you don’t go around announcing you are broken, people are much less likely to try and fix you.
  • There’s no excuse for sexual assault for any reason, but as my Mom used to council “Why invite trouble”?
  • I’m curious – how would anyone even know unless an asexual broadcasts it?  They would look like anyone else who is “just not interested” so what provokes the corrective rape?

Why these comments are a problem:

In some sense, these comments boil down to “shut up and go away”.  The people who say this sort of thing aren’t that far away from the “Don’t shove it down our throats!” people mentioned above.  Someone in this camp often will pretend to be more interested in your welfare, but generally, they’re far more interested in keeping you quiet.

In another, far more disturbing sense, these comments are victim blaming.  Whatever bad things happened to you as a result of being asexual, well, you brought them on yourself because you told someone you’re asexual.  Discriminated against?  Well, you shouldn’t have talked about it.  Someone try to “fix” you?  Well, you shouldn’t have announced it.  Were you raped?  Well, what did you think would happen when you went and broadcasted that you’re asexual?

It is not your fault.  You did nothing wrong.  If someone did something to you after you told them you were asexual, they are the ones to blame, they are the ones who did something wrong.  You should not have to hide who you are out of fear of how anyone else will react, and you are not responsible for how they react.

These sorts of comments also incorrectly assume that it’s possible to avoid any kind of issue related to your asexuality, if you just shut up and stay in the closet.  That’s simply not the case.  Problems can crop up whether or not you mention asexuality.  People who make this claim seem to believe that no one ever talks about sex under any circumstances outside of a bedroom.  They completely ignore the potential for awkwardness, exclusion, or even hostility that may arise if someone does not adequately take part in a sexualized discussion.

How to respond:

  • Call out the victim blaming.
  • Talk about problems you’ve encountered because you remained silent about asexuality or withdrew from a conversation about sex because you were asexual.
  • Explain why you need to talk about asexuality and all the benefits you’ve gotten from talking about it.

Why do you need a community about not having sex? [#]

Examples:

  • this asexual stuff annoys me. how can you be a “community” of people who DONT do something. its a bit ridiculous. i dont do indoor wall climbing. im looking to join a club of non indoor wall climbers. its silly
  • If someone chooses not to have sex, that is their prerogative, but are they really a “group”? 
  • I don’t get why this is a thing. Some people aren’t interested in the weather, either.

Why these comments are a problem:

People who question the need for an asexual community invariably try to reduce asexuality to “Not Having Sex”, so they’re flat out wrong to begin with.  Keep in mind that these people cannot be classified as uninformed about asexuality.  In order to click to post a comment, they had to scroll past an article on the subject.  An article that almost certainly stated how asexuality is different than “Not Having Sex”.

From there, they try to minimize or erase any issues that we might face as being absurd, often making a remark like “I don’t knit sweaters, should I start a group for people who don’t knit sweaters?” (Or something equally silly.)  This is an attempt to make us look petty and unreasonable for wanting to talk about ourselves and the issues we face with other people facing similar issues.  They often try to say that not having sex or not being interested in sex isn’t a big deal, that it won’t impact how you live your life or interact with others.  They completely miss how pervasive sex and sexuality are in everyday life, and therefore completely miss how living outside that bubble can affect virtually everything, from trying to find love to watching TV, from interacting with friends and coworkers to going to the doctor.

And underlying all of it is the bizarre misconception that it is fundamentally impossible for people to find a community with others based on something they don’t do.  Apparently, they’ve never heard of vegans, atheists, or people who are straight edge.

How to respond:

  • Remind the commenter that asexuality is not equivalent to “Not Having Sex”.  Directly quote from the article if possible.
  • Talk about why you need a community.  Talk about how it’s helpful to discuss how you feel with others who feel the same way.  Talk about how alienating it is to feel broken and alone because of the way you experience sex and sexuality differently from other people.

Aren’t there more important things to talk about? [#]

Examples:

  • Why do people have to “join” or “celebrate” any type of sexuality?  Just live your lives….aren’t there more important issues to be concerned with?
  • May I offer two solutions, if indeed the asexuals find themselves “harrassed” by us?  Mount Athos is one, and a Carmelite convent, another.  Let us work, in the meantime, on far more important rights.
  • Maybe if people stopped trying to shove it down other people’s throats with parades, rallies, blogs, bumper stickers, etc., we could all focus on more important things than who wants to have sex with whom. Or, in this case who doesn’t want to have sex with whom.

Why these comments are a problem:

People who say things like this are trying to make themselves the one true arbiter of what is worthy of discussion.  If you’re going to be allowed to talk about anything, you have to run it past them first.  If there’s something More Important™ to talk about, you don’t get to bring up what you want to talk about.  And because asexuality isn’t important to them, we have to shut up and go home.  This is simply another silencing tactic, designed to shut us down.

In many cases, these commenters will point to something More Important™ that needs to be discussed.  They make it seem like there’s a limited number of words that can be used, and that if you’re not talking about something More Important™, then you’re wasting those words.  They also make it seem like only one thing can be discussed at one time, and that everyone in the world must only discuss that one thing until it is resolved.  These claims are, of course, ridiculous.

By talking about asexuality, you are not making an implicit claim that it is the Most Important™ thing in the world.  You’re not restricting yourself and others to only ever talk about asexuality to the exclusion of anything else ever again.  You are simply saying that it is worth talking about, because it is worth talking about.

How to respond:

  • Talk about why talking about asexuality is important to you.
  • Remind them that the number of words is not finite.  Talking about one issue does not prevent another issue from being discussed or being considered important.
  • Remind them that just because something is not important to one person, that does not mean cannot possibly be important to anybody else.
  • Avoid comparisons or claims that say that asexuality is More Important™ than something else.

TMI!! This is too personal to talk about.  Can’t you keep it to yourselves? [#]

Examples:

  • I admit I did not read this whole article.  But just from the headline alone, I can see this is TMI.
  • Gay, straight or non-sexual, KEEP IT TO YOUSELF!  I don’t want to see it on the 5:00 O’Clock news.
  • Why does anyone have to share so much about their “personal” stuff?  Keep it to yourself and go about your business….no one needs to know.
  • What ever happened to modesty, humility and self respect?  Why do some people have such a need to air their sexuality, or lack thereof, especially if it’s outside of what’s considered “normal” by a majority of humans? 
  • Why should anyone other than the one you meet who is like minded even know that you are asexual? That’s personal business.

Why these comments are a problem:

These are just another variant of the “Don’t Shove It Down Out Throats” comments.  In this case, however, they add another layer of shame, with their faux “Oh my stars!  How dare you use those words around my pure ears?  I was almost overcome by the vapors!” protests.  They carry the implication that your identity is not fit to be seen in public.  Like many of the other comments in the “Who Cares” group, this is simply an attempt to keep us quiet.  If they were actually offended or thought that it was too much information, they would not have clicked on the article, and certainly wouldn’t have hung around for the comment section.

How to respond:

  • Ignore the claims of “TMI!”.  Those people are generally beyond hope.
  • Tell them that it is up to you to decide what is “too personal” to share with others.
  • Talk about how important asexual visibility and being open about who you are is to you and others.

Why define yourself by your sex life? [#]

Examples:

  • Why has what people do or don’t do in their sex lives become the main identifier of their personality in public?
  •  it’s weird for people to define themselves by their sexuality
  • Your sexual preference does not define who you are as a human being and shouldn’t be the focal point of your existence and primary source of your happiness.

Why these comments are a problem:

Because we don’t define ourselves by our sex lives.

How to respond:

  • Inform the commenter that you don’t define yourself by your sex life.
  • Talk about how asexuality is a part of who you are, but it is not who you are.
  • Condescendingly and snarkily, explain that in an article where asexuality is a focus, you’re obviously going to focus on asexuality, because talking about volcanic arcs related to subduction zones would be irrelevant.  Explain that’s how articles work.  Then start talking, at length, about volcanic arcs related to subduction zones.

[Return to Overview]

The Comment Section: I Know More About You Than You Do!

[Return to Overview]

Asexuality is an amazing topic.  People who have never heard of it instantly become experts and will start spreading their infinite wisdom on the subject.  Never mind that they refuse to listen to what actual asexuals have to say.  They don’t have to listen to us!  They know more about who we are than we do!

They know the true definition of asexuality, even though we, the people who define asexuality, do not.

They know the exact criteria for being asexual, even though their criteria may be absurd at times.

They know about all the things going on in our minds, even the things we don’t remember or that never actually happened to us.

Their information, based on conjecture and assumptions, is accurate and infallible, while our information, based on reality and our own lives and experiences, can be dismissed outright.

 

Specific Subclasses:

I Wrote The Dictionary! [#]

Examples:

  • If you’re asexual, it doesn’t mean you don’t experience sexual attraction. If you’re asexual, it means you have sex with yourself. It’s in science. Something about bacteria.
  • What you describe is aromantic autosexuality rather than asexuality.
  • Isn’t demisexual just another way of saying “this is what a healthy, sexually intimate relationship should be like”?
  • Pure asexuality means no sexual contact at all—-any sexual contact defeats the meaning of asexuality.
  • Secondly, the etymology of the word asexual has always referred to a species that does not require sex for reproduction. Putting all this together, what i see here is a poorly chosen way to describe a persons lack of sexual desires.
  • That’s ridiculous. Another word for it is a eunich who have been around since biblical times.
  • Why is “unattracted” NOT a more accurate word for the situation being discussed than “asexual”?
  • This guy probably doesn’t know that from the 19th century up until the 1960′s the word “asexual” was a cover for people not wanting to acknowledge that Tchaikovsky, for example, was homosexual.
  • Asexual, as I have come to know the term refers to someone who enjoys having sex with any gender but has not emotional attachment to them.
  • Here is my big problem with using the word asexual inclusively to encompass many who are not actually non-sexual.
  • Asexual sounds more like Anhedonia
  • Most of them aren’t actually asexual, but instead autosexual.

Why these comments are a problem:

People who make comments like these are convinced that asexuality is all wrong because it doesn’t match the definition in their dictionary.  Often, it’s an imaginary dictionary that exists only in their minds, but they will occasionally go to a physical dictionary to “prove” their point.

In the imaginary dictionary case, they try to invalidate asexuality by offering another word that they feel describes things better than “asexual”.  You’ll see words like “non-sexual”, “autosexual”, or “solo-sexual” thrown around frequently, with the occasional “analloerotic” or “anhedonia” thrown in for good measure.  Sometimes, they’ll add additional restrictions and qualifications to the meaning of asexual. “Asexual means no arousal, too.”  “Asexual means no masturbation, too.”

In the physical dictionary case, they try to invalidate asexuality by showing that our definition isn’t present.  “Look, it’s all about bacteria!”  “Look, it means no sex organs!”  They’ll claim that the word is already taken and that we have to find a new word to use, because apparently words can only have one meaning. (Like “gay” and “straight”, which have only had one meaning ever.)  They don’t understand that language adapts and evolves and grows all the time, and that it’s just a snapshot of common understanding at a point in time, and not a rulebook for the only words that can ever be used.

In either case, the true problem is that they refuse to listen to what asexual people are telling them asexuality is.  Their outsider “expertise” is far more important than our actual experience.

(Plus, my dictionary, an actual physical ten pound block of processed wood pulp from 1999, has a definition for “asexual” that mentions sexual desire.  Not quite the current definition, but close enough for horseshoes.)

How to respond:

  • Explain what the commonly accepted definition of asexuality is and is not.
  • Point out that dictionaries describe language and will change as the language does.  If you know of a dictionary that mentions the sexual orientation definition of asexuality, mention it.
  • “Does your dictionary have ‘homonym’ or ‘polysemous’?”
  • Give examples of common words with multiple meanings.

You CAN’T Be Asexual If You’ve Ever… [#]

Examples:

  • An asexual who has sex is not asexual.  FYI.
  • If you are cleaning the pipes then you are not asexual.
  • Masturbation is absolutely sexual. A virgin has a sexual orientation, don’t they? Human beings aren’t asexual, single-celled organisms are.
  • If you have had a crush, and have blushed…. The sexual emotion and desire is within you…. You are not asexual.
  • if you can experience sexual arousal then you are also experiencing sexual ATTRACTION.
  • The point I am trying to get across, though, is that many masturbators have vivid sexual fantasies that fuel their activities and it not really appropriate to call such folk ‘asexual’.

Why these comments are a problem:

People who are not asexual do not get to define the qualifications for what being asexual means.  Comments like this serve to invalidate us through misrepresentation.  They act like they’ve caught us in a lie, that we’re just pretending to be asexual, even though we’ve done something that clearly means we can’t be (by their limited definition).  These comments generally involve confusion (often intentional confusion) about the difference between sexual activity and sexual orientation.  In many cases, people making these comments mistakenly believe that asexual means “completely devoid of sexual functioning”, and think that the presence of any kind of sexual response means that someone cannot be asexual.  “That’s SEXUAL, so you can’t be ASEXUAL!” is a common refrain.  It’s also total hogwash.

It’s frankly baffling how anyone can claim that arousal is proof that someone isn’t asexual.  For many people, asexual or not, genital arousal just happens sometimes, like in the case of “morning wood”.  Sometimes it’s an unintentional response to physical stimulation, like getting wet from wearing tight clothes or driving on a bumpy road.  And even when it is intentional, arousal isn’t necessarily a sign of sexual attraction.  The right kind of physical stimulation can be all that it takes.  Arousal is a physical response that requires no mental involvement.  Now, certainly, for many people, arousal is the result of “thinking sexy thoughts”, but that’s not the only way to get there.

“Thinking sexy thoughts” or fantasizing is also not proof that someone is not asexual.  It’s possible to have sexual thoughts about a fetish that doesn’t involve people.  It’s possible to have sexual thoughts about an activity that doesn’t involve people.  Many asexuals who fantasize describe largely anonymous situations, where there are nameless someones just playing a role.  Sometimes, the fantasies are about other people having sex, and the fantasizer is just an observer.  None of those cases require sexual attraction.  Even in the case where someone has a fantasy that involves someone they know, it may not involve sexual attraction.

I find it strange when someone claims that masturbating means someone isn’t asexual.  If I’m not asexual because I masturbate, then what am I?  I’m not attracted to women.  I’m not attracted to men.  So I’m not straight, I’m not gay, and I’m not bisexual or anything else.  What am I, then?  How is a few minutes of touching with the intent to invoke a physical response supposed to mean that I’m straight or gay or whatever?  Some people will claim that masturbation requires fantasy and fantasy requires attraction (already debunked, see above), and that nothing will happen otherwise.  This is absolutely not the case.  While utilizing sexual attraction is helpful for some people, it is not required in order to masturbate or to experience orgasm.  Many people, including many non-asexuals, discover that touching themselves in a certain way feels good, long before they have any clue what sex is.

Even having sex itself does not require sexual attraction.  There are many reasons people can have sex other than attraction.  They want to know what it’s like, they’re doing it for their partner, they’re doing it because it feels good for them, or they want to conceive are just a few.  No one would claim that a prostitute was attracted to all of their clients.  No one would claim that a closeted gay man who had children with his wife would have to have been secretly straight in order for that to happen.  So why is it so hard to believe that an asexual can have sex without attraction?

How to respond:

  • Give straightforward counter examples that refute what they’re saying.  If they claim that arousal requires attraction, ask them about “morning wood”.  If they claim that sex requires attraction, ask them about gay men who are fathers.
  • Correct their limited definition of the word asexual.

Asexuality is a barrier or defense mechanism! [#]

Examples:

  • Maybe even a coping or defense mechanism to deal with erotophobia. 
  • I’m not buying asexuality. I feel it’s a mental illness of some kind or at the very least like some sort of defense mechanism to justify or rationalize not growing up, not getting sex, being bad at sex, or after having a really bad experience with sex or relationships.
  • poor things frigid and what a life in a personal prison must be triggered by deep fear
  • I’m skeptical such an orientation exists.  I think it’s a lot more likely that there are other things that are stopping a person from wanting to have sex than not having any drive at all.  Fears, hang-ups, consequences, etc.

Why these comments are a problem:

Armchair psychology is pretty much never a good idea.  What these people are saying is that asexuality is purely a mental block, that all we have to do is overcome our fears or disable the defense mechanism, and presto, we’ll join the ranks of the sexful masses, like normal people!  It’s saying that we’re broken, that we just need to go and get ourselves fixed.

While it’s true that some asexuals are, in fact, afraid of sex, not all aces are.  On top of that, plenty of non-asexual people are afraid of sex.  A fear of sex just makes you a person that’s afraid of sex, it doesn’t make you asexual.

They never even bother to ask if we’re afraid of sex, they just throw it out there as unquestionable fact.  And if you try to deny that you’re afraid of sex, well then, you’re so far repressed that you’re not even conscious of the fear!  Ten more years of the therapy couch for you!

How to respond:

  • Explain that asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction, not a fear of sex.
  • If you are asexual and are afraid of sex, explain how the concepts are different.
  • If you are asexual and are not afraid of sex, explain how you’re not afraid of sex.
  • Out armchair psychologist them and give them references to papers and reports by REAL psychologists and therapists and researchers who accept asexuality as a real orientation unrelated to mental barriers or emotional defense mechanisms.

It’s not an orientation.  It’s a lack of one! [#]

Examples:

  • What’s silly and pointless is trying to assert that a lack of orientation is an orientation.
  • If you are not attracted to any gender, you have no orientation.
  • That’s like saying bald is a hair style.
  • It’s like saying that atheism is a system of belief.

Why these comments are a problem:

I have two main reactions to these kinds of comments.

First, asexuality is a real sexual orientation.  Actual, real, scientist people, who do actual real sciency things for their job all day support this.  So, it doesn’t really matter what some random nobody on the Internet thinks.

Second, their objections are fairly illogical.  They seek to invalidate asexuality for whatever reason, so they try to claim that it’s not a sexual orientation.  They never say “I believe in asexuality as a concept, but don’t call it an orientation.”  No, they dismiss the entire idea of asexuality as a fraud.  So, how exactly is their logic supposed to work here?  “I don’t like that you’re claiming that asexuality is a sexual orientation, so I’m going to deny that it is one and pretend that makes you disappear.”  I don’t think that’s quite how reality works.

Sexual orientation is the description of the gender or genders that someone finds sexually attractive.  Think of it as a series of check boxes:  Male, Female, etc.  Your gender, combined with the gender check boxes that you tick off, describe what your sexual orientation is.  If you check off the “Male” gender box for yourself, and then check off the “Male” and “Female” boxes for the “Attracted to” column, your sexual orientation would be described as “Bisexual”.  Now, if you don’t tick any of the boxes in the “attracted to” column, that doesn’t somehow make the boxes disappear.  They’re still there, and it is important and useful data that you did not check off any of them.  That important and useful data of having not checked any boxes means that your sexual orientation would be described as “Asexual”.

How to respond:

  • Show the person actual sciency stuff that calls asexuality an orientation.
  • One phrase that I’ve seen a number of times is “Asexuality is the ‘orientation of no’, not ‘no orientation’.”
  • Another explanation is that sexual orientation is the answer to the question “Who are you attracted to?”, and that “No one” is a valid answer to that question.

They just haven’t figured out what they like yet. [#]

Examples:

  • I do not believe there are asexuals.They just haven’t really “found” themselves yet sexually
  • Don’t believe it. I think there needs to be something either psychologically wrong with the individual or they haven’t come to terms with their sexuality.

Why these comments are a problem:

These comments are a problem because they completely ignore what we’re saying.

Us:  “I’m not into men.  I’m not into women.  I’m asexual.”

Them:  “You’ll figure it out someday.”

Us: “I have figured it out.  None of the above.”

Them: “You’ll decide eventually.  No rush.”

How long are we supposed to keep trying to figure it out before we’re allowed to say that we actually have figured it out?  When will they be satisfied?  20?  30?  40?  When?  Wait too long, and it’ll shift from “You haven’t figured it out yet, keep trying” to “Well, you’re up in years and so it’s only natural that you’re not interested anymore.”

By the time someone is willing to say “I’m asexual”, they’ve already done a lot of personal exploration.  There have been many hours spent wondering why they’re different from everyone else.  There have been many hours spent saying “Am I sure?”.  There have often even been many hours spent testing themselves.  After all that, it’s safe to say that they’ve “Figured it out”.

How to respond:

  • Explain that you have “found” yourself sexually or that you know what you like or whatever.  Explain that you are asexual and know that you are asexual the same way that they know they’re straight or gay or whatever.

[Return to Overview]

The Comment Section: You’re Not One Of Us!

[Return to Overview]

Whenever asexuality is mentioned, there is a small, but vocal, contingent of territorial people who do not want us around.  “You’re not one of us!  You don’t belong here!”, they shout to the sky.  “There aren’t enough letters in our acronym for us to let you in.”  They guard their narrow plot of land fiercely, as if allowing anyone else near them will lead to overcrowding and cause a structural collapse that will throw them and everyone else into a boiling pit of lava that waits below.

Except…  There’s no lava.  There’s no shortage of land.  The territory of acceptance and understanding are limitless.

Some of these comments are born out of a misplaced fear of appropriation, but more often, they’re wholly irrational GET OFF MY LAWN proclamations.

Specific Subclasses:

There are already too many letters in LGBTQ! [#]

Examples:

  • I’m only half-hearted about this but I can’t even keep the acronym straight most of the time as it is.
  • I am starting to think this is ridiculous. LGBT will turn into LGBTQAI etc. there are too many people wanting their own special little niche.
  • Lord, because we need more abbreviations under our banner. LGBTQIA is ridiculous, lol. We aren’t a halfway home for wayward sexualities.
  • I don’t understand this at all. Nor do I understand what it has to do with the homosexual community, the gay men and women. The LGBTQIAafjklsgjlkjasd acronym is getting incredibly long.

Why these comments are a problem:

Lemme get this straight here.  You’re objecting to us having visibility and acceptance because we make the acronym too long?

Really now?

There are too many letters, and that’s why you want to turn your back on us?  Seriously?

If that’s really your only problem with us, we’ll pay to add the “A” to your signs.  Hang on, I’ll go start taking up a collection.

BRB.

How to respond:

  • Point out how patently ridiculous this argument is.
  • Point out that we’ll bring a much needed vowel to the LGBTQBBQ.
  • Mention one of the generic, inclusive acronyms, like “GSRM” that can be used instead.

You can be in a community, just not mine. [#]

Examples:

  • Asexual people have their own community. They have the asexual community. Just because a sexuality is abnormal, doesn’t mean it fits as LGBT.
  • We have simply said that we have enough causes on our plate right now, and don’t think that we should adopt anymore groups under our banner. That doesn’t mean they can’t start their own community, their own coalition, etc.
  • I will gladly be an ally of the ACE Community but do not believe we all need to be lumped together.

Why these comments are a problem:

What these comments are saying is “Yeah, yeah, whatever, you have your problems.  Now why don’t you go over there and talk about them so I don’t have to hear you.”  It’s essentially the same thing intolerant straight people say to them.

These people generally want to reject all asexuals.  They don’t even care that there are homoromantic asexuals and transgender asexuals and others who share so much with them.  In some cases, these people will welcome cisgender straight allies over asexuals.

Yes, there has been a lot of work put in by a lot of people to build organizations and support structures and visibility.  And yes, we’re arriving late to the party and weren’t always around to help set them up.  But it runs counter to the goals of the community to pull up the drawbridge and say “Sorry, you’re not like us, you don’t belong here.”  We’re here now, and we’ll pull our weight if we’re giving the opportunity.

Fortunately, this attitude is rare.  The vast majority of people who are a part of the LGBTQ* community recognize the similarities between their own journey and the path taken by asexuals.  There are shared struggles, shared triumphs.

How to respond:

  • Point out the hypocrisy in their comments.
  • Mention high profile LGBTQ* organizations that recognize and support asexuals.
  • Talk about parallels between your experience as an asexual and the “typical LGBT” experience.  If you are homoromantic, biromantic, or panromantic, or if you are trans, talk about how that part of your identity interacts with asexuality, and why both are important to you.

You’re diluting the cause!  Straights can call themselves “queer” if asexuals do! [#]

Examples:

  • Every variation of gender and sexual expression (or I guess in this case, unexpression) doesn’t need to fall under our banner (shall we add an F for fetishists while we are at it?). It just dilutes things.
  • Okay, so everyone can join our queer community, except absolutely-100%-straight people? Literally EVERYONE can join our community EXCEPT straight people? Seriously….
  • And can I identify as queer even though I’m basically a straight cis-gendered sexual person?
  • I’m all for inclusion but where and when do we stop. We risk being so diluted that we can no longer have a cohesive movement.
  • Well, taking this to the next logical step, shall we include straight people in the LGBTQ community?

Why these comments are a problem:

People who use these lines don’t make any attempt to understand us.  They simply see us, all of us, as straight people who just don’t have sex.  From that perspective, it’s ridiculous to devote any attention our way.  We’re just in the way, trying to steal time from someone who deserves it.  We’re impostors, trying to claim our piece of the spotlight.

Problem is, that’s entirely wrong.  People undoubtedly made the same slippery slope arguments every other time a group looked for inclusion. “Bisexuals?  They just can’t make up their mind.  They’re straight half the time, so it would be like including straight people!  Transgender people?  That’s not even a sexual orientation!  What does that have to do with us?”  Each time, the exclusionary naysayers were proven wrong and the community got stronger through its newfound diversity.

The claim that asexuality will “dilute” anything is ridiculous.  That implies that there’s a concentrated, central organization, with a single focus, and that when we come along and knock on the door, we’ll mess that up.  There’s no such thing.  People and groups that belong to “The Cause” are wide ranging and diverse.  Some fight for equal marriage, some promote Lesbian poetry, some campaign for ENDA, some want rainbows painted in crosswalks, some just want to be left alone, some go on talk shows and discuss pronouns, and some sell t-shirts.

The addition of “Queer” to “LGBTQ” was even meant as a catch-all bucket to avoid these sorts of pointless fights.  It’s a way of saying “And the rest of you all who don’t fit into one of the other buckets, you’re welcome, too”.  It was an inclusive outreach.  You can’t use it to exclude people.

How to respond:

  • Explain that asexuality is not heterosexuality.
  • Explain your experiences as an asexual and how they might contribute to “the cause”, instead of “dilute” it.
  • Sarcastically say “Woo-hoo!  Slippery slope!  Where’s my toboggan?”

The LGBT movement is all about sex, so asexuals don’t belong. [#]

Examples:

  • I just don’t think that asexual have anything in common with LGBT people…by definition , they don’t like sex..and whether you like it or not, gay culture is about sex
  • Asexuals belong in their own, separate category…. because the LGBT movement is all about sexual desire and emotions.
  • I really don’t think that asexual are part of the lgbt community, I don’t think they want to be part of the community, they’re clearly not interested in sex nor sexually related activities

Why these comments are a problem:

And here I thought the LGBT movement was all about things like equality, acceptance, understanding diversity, and helping people be who they are and not who someone else thinks they should be.  Guess I was wrong.

By saying that it’s all about sex, they’re setting up a wall that might even keep out gays and lesbians who just aren’t all that into sex. Does someone stop being gay if they just haven’t done it in a while?

I think my favorite part about these comments, particularly the examples above, is how they frequently reference the “LGBT Community” as they claim that it’s all about sex or sexual desire, completely overlooking the fact that the “T” part is not about sex or sexual desire at all, and therefore completely undermines their entire point.

How to respond:

  • Point out that the LGBT community is not “all about sex”.
  • Talk about how acceptance and tolerance, etc., are important goals that are shared between asexuals and the LGBT community.

[Return to Overview]

Who Cares About Asexuality? (or: Why Visibility Matters)

Whenever asexuality gets mentioned in an article or in an interview, there’s always the inevitable remark in the comment section:

Why do you have to talk about this?  Who cares that you’re not having any sex?  Stop shoving it in our faces!

It frustrates me to see that kind of attitude, to see people who are unable to close their mouths and open their minds long enough to understand that there are people who are different than them.  And it’s not just anonymous Internet nobodies who share that view.  In his infamous appearance in (A)sexual, that’s basically what Dan Savage says.  But really, those people aren’t who I’m talking about asexuality for.  Ignorant jerks like that are a lost cause and not really worth spending energy on.

But the questions remain.  Why do I have to talk about asexuality?  Who does care?

Let me share a conversation that I came across the other day.  It’s between a guy in his early twenties and a girl who’s interested in him.  It’s a real conversation, edited slightly for privacy and to remove a few irrelevant bits.  It’s a bit on the long side, though, so please bear with it.

The Girl> Sorry, Joe and I are having an ass competition… Don’t even bother asking..

The Guy> I wouldn’t ask.

The Girl> Cast your vote anyway!

The Girl> I probably just scared you. :P

The Guy> Are you sure you’re not trying to scare me away?

The Girl> Hey, you scared me multiple times today.

The Guy> Yes, but this is one of those things that’s likely to get me rolling around on the floor beating the scarythought our of my head.

The Girl> I’m winning anyway. I don’t need your vote.

The Girl> Such a wimp. ;)

The Guy> And what gives you the idea that I would’ve voted for you, anyway? There’s only so much psychological trauma someone can take, and I’m well past that limit.

The Girl> Seriously, does that sort of thing actually disturb you?

The Guy> It was a part of the world I was happier not knowing existed…

The Guy> But does it actually have me rolling around on the floor, baning on my head to get the scarythoughts out? No.

The Guy> I’m not that messed up.

The Girl> Guys are supposed to be turned on by that, but I suppose you have all that repressed..

The Girl> And no, I don’t understand why they’re turned on by it either..

The Guy> If you want to call it repressed, sure. But I honestly don’t think of it that way. I don’t feel that I’m holding something down, that there’s something evil lurking inside that I have to keep hidden. It’s just not there.

The Girl> So it was never there?

The Guy> I don’t know if I didn’t get it, or if I just haven’t found it, or if I lost it somewhere.

The Guy> But it’s not bothering me. I don’t see why it should. I’m not excited at the prospect of looking at people’s butts. Somehow, I don’t see that as a bad thing. I like the fact that I’m not turned into a slobbering idiot by that sort of thing.

The Girl> You know, I kind of like that… It’s always bothered me that guys I talk to, and even some of the girls, obviously have other intentions while talking to me, and I know that with everything they say, they’re just trying to get a step closer… It drove me insane with Jake. He’d wine and sulk, and beg, and generally act like an idiot…

The Girl> er, whine

The Guy> Maybe I just take a functional approach to things. “Hey, wow, that looks like that would be comfortable when you sit down.” That sort of thing. I don’t see anything interesting in it. I don’t have a desire to touch it, I mean what would that get me? “It feels like it’s confortable, too.”

The Girl> I guess it’s just one of those things where there’s multiple ways of thinking about it… Not really sure that I could explain the other way, though… or if I would want to..

The Girl> I guess for me, it’s all about trust or something.

The Girl> And now I’ve really scared you…

The Guy> No, no you haven’t scared me. The words are coming, they just aren’t forming coherent sentences.

The Guy> The words… They want to speak, they want to curse society for thinking there’s something wrong with me, they want to ask myself if there is something wrong, they want to dig up my past, see where I went wrong, if I went wrong, they want- …

The Guy> They want to speak, but they have nothing to say.

The Guy> I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. I’m just…

The Girl> Just what?

The Guy> You see what an ass competition can do to me?

The Girl> I’m seeing it, but I’m not quite understanding it…

The Guy> I guess you hit a gas line with your digging… It’s not my sexuality that’s repressed, it’s all of that.

The Girl> Now I have nothing to say… I’m still confused, I guess.

The Guy> I’m sorry for letting it out on you.

The Guy> Wow, this is a switch… I’m the one emotional, and you’re the one that can’t find anything to say. Never thought I’d see this side of things.

The Girl> That’s fine… I like it when you talk to me, and you’re talking to me…

The Girl> And I’m also curious, I guess. I know none of this is any of my business..

The Guy> I guess it’s that I have a name for everything but myself. I don’t have a place in the “Normal” order of things, and I’m fine with that. But I’d like a name… “I’m not into women.” “Oh, you’re gay?” “I don’t like men, either.” “Oh. What the hell is wrong with you?”

The Guy> No, if this is anyone’s business outside of mine, it’s yours.

The Girl> Non-sexual. Sounds pretty awful, but I think that’s the word…

The Girl> That’s the way I always assumed you were, too… I mean, even when I barely knew you.

The Girl> I’ve heard “asexual” used, too, but that makes it sound like you’re some sort of single-celled organism…

The Guy> I’m sure there is a name for it. One that no one’s ever heard and doesn’t have a clue what it means. Yeah, it’s probably something like that. Anything like that means “I can’t get none” to Joe Average. But “I don’t want none.”

The Girl> I actually went through times when I thought like that, too… The thought kind of disgusted me. But I realize that I was thinking in the internet porn site way, or whatever which -is- completely digusting.

The Girl> But obviously it wasn’t a permanent thing for me, I guess.

The Girl> Anyway, I just started thinking about it in that trust way, I guess… And it’s really a beautiful thing if you think of it that way.

The Guy> I don’t know if it is for me, either. I don’t know. Maybe one day I’ll wake up and realize “Hey, I’m in love”. Or can I be in love anyway. the way I am now? It’s separate, so why not? Or don’t I have that, too?

The Girl> It’s completely separate, from what I’ve heard and experienced…

The Girl> Well, maybe not -completely-.

The Guy> I never felt any kind of physical attraction to Red. But was it real, or some concocted response to early teenage pressures? If it was real, why hasn’t it happened since?

The Girl> Because it’s “evil” now, I guess… You’re probably afraid of it. I mean, subconsciously.

The Girl> And you know the cliche quote that everyone would use here…

The Guy> Why don’t I think about you or Thursday and think, “Hey, I’m in love”? It’s “Aw, gee, she’s nice.” What’s not connecting here?

The Guy> Thank you for listening. I don’t know if this is going to help me (Or if there’s even anything to help), but thank you.

The Girl> I don’t know… If you don’t think it, then it’s obviously not happening, because you’d know if it were.

The Girl> I guess you should probably get to bed then..

The Guy> Oh, now you want me to leave, do you?

The Girl> No, I don’t want you to be even more tired tomorrow. :P

The Guy> If it’s something in my subconscious, it’s deep. It’s very deep. I don’t think one person could do that much damage. Maybe make me more reluctant to act, but there’s been enough time that something should have happened by now.

The Guy> I almost just said “Statistically something should have happened by now”. Maybe that’s it. Maybe I think too much. I’m probably not supposed to think, I’m just supposed to run.

The Girl> Well, you don’t talk to a heck of a lot of girls… And if you’re not physically attracted to people, you’ve not going to find anyone without talking to them…

The Guy> But every once in a while one gets in my path that I will talk to.

The Girl> Personally, I just can’t be attracted to people I first meet in real life. I guessI’ve just accidently trained myself to want to see what’s insane their mind first… Sometimes I see really attractive guys, and make eye contact, just for fun, but I don’t feel…anything, really.

The Guy> Why would it even necessarily be restricted to girls? I haven’t found Mr. Right, either.

The Girl> Exactly…

The Girl> But you don’t talk to a heck of a lot of -guys-, either..

The Guy> “Insane their mind”? You have been talking to me too much…

The Girl> errrr… inside!#$%

The Girl> They always have to make other words… always…

The Girl> Can I ask what it was that attracted you to her?

The Guy> “Attractive.” I don’t even have that concept defined for myself. There’s “What everyone else says is attractive” and then there’s the “That person looks interesting”, which I guess is supposed to count, but I feel more like I’m judging the look of a painting in an art gallery than being attracted.

The Guy> And people don’t like it when you take them home and hang them on a wall.

The Girl> But what made her different from, well, everyone else you’ve ever knwon?

The Girl> known even

The Guy> I don’t know. Nothing, I guess. The time and place.

The Girl> Did you actually know her? Like was she a friend?

The Guy> Yeah. We had half our classes together. We’d not do anything in PE together, we’d trade book recommendations for the essays in English class. That sort of thing.

The Guy> And my God, she actually liked the Grapes of Wrath. That right there shouldn’ve been a hint.

The Guy> Wait! She’s not the one that’s Evil! John Steinbeck is!

The Girl> So you -did- have a social life at one point, huh?

The Girl> How long did you know her before you started to feel that way about her?

The Guy> If you call that a social life… I call it talking to classmates in school. I didn’t spend often lunch with people, and I never went anywhere with anyone after school. Then again, it was Nevada… Nowhere to go. People hung out at the old gravel pit. Really, they did.

The Guy> I don’t remember. Months, of some sort. Not years or anything like that.

The Girl> What happened when you did? What felt different?

The Guy> I don’t remember.

The Girl> So you don’t remember how you knew?

The Girl> I’m not trying to pry anything out of your, by the way, so feel free not to answer that or anything else…

The Guy> No. I don’t remember the feeling, either. It’s like a stamp in a book. It’s the remains of getting knocked upside the head with an inky hammer.

The Girl> Well, anyway… Just because you think you -should- like someone doesn’t mean they’re the right person, or whatever… There’s plenty of people in the past that I -should- have liked, but there’s just something that wasn’t there… There’s even people right now. Sometimes there’s some flaw I can’t see past, it drives me insane that I could be so shallow. And even when I’m absolutely obsessed with someone online, there can be something that’s just…not there in real life.

The Girl> Anyway…

The Girl> Yeah…Go to bed… I don’t want to feel bad about you being tired tomorrow. ;)

The Guy> I’d probably end up tired even if I had gone at 10…

The Girl> More tired, then…

The Guy> And thank you for this. Normally I’d write these things, but I haven’t written them yet…

The Guy> I probably should, though. I mean, come on, “Coming to terms with an alternative sexuality”? That has Oprah book written all over it. And “Oprah book” means rolling in cash…

That is why I have to talk about asexuality.

That guy…  He’s in pain.  He’s broken and confused.  He’s different from everyone else and doesn’t have the words to explain how he feels.  He makes some jokes, sure, but that’s how he tries to deal with it.  He’s empty and frustrated and alone.

He’s … me.

That was a chat log of an actual conversation from 2002, between me and the woman who’d later become my first and, so far, only girlfriend (and not too long after, my first and only ex-girlfriend…).  It would be another nine years before I’d discover that asexuality was a real thing.  It was another nine years of being confused and broken and alone.  Another nine years of feeling like that.  And I had felt that way for years before that night.  Every time someone brought up love or sex or relationships or getting married, there was that emptiness, that confusion, that “What in the hell is wrong with me?”

She even mentioned the word “asexual” in there, and I dismissed it.  It was something I’d never heard of and didn’t have a clue what it meant.  I couldn’t be that.

But that one word would have made all the difference to me then.  Why didn’t I hear it?  Why didn’t I know what it was?  Why did it take me another nine years to find it?  To find me

So, who cares about asexuality?

I care.

I care because of all the time I spent lost in the wilderness, thinking something was missing.   I care because of all the time I spent looking at other people and seeing that I was fundamentally different than them, thinking something must be broken inside me.  I care because of all the time I spent not knowing where I fit in the world, thinking that I must not fit anywhere.

I care because I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through.

I have a place now.  I have a name for me.

I’m not broken anymore.

But…  Someone else is.

I talk about asexuality because somewhere else, there’s another person who is feeling lost and broken and alienated and confused, just like I was.  I do it because every person I tell might know that person.  I do it because every person I tell might be that person.

It only takes one informed person to be in the right place at the right time to change someone’s life.  That is why awareness matters.  That is why visibility work is important.  That is why I have to talk about this.  That is why I care.

Ace The Ghost: A Story Of Awareness

PacManAAW-Act1 PacManAAW-Act2 PacManAAW-Act3 PacManAAW-Act4 PacManAAW-Act5 PacManAAW-Act6 PacManAAW-Act7

I made this slide set for Asexual Awareness Week 2013.  It tells the story of an asexual ghost in the world of Pac-Man, from loneliness and isolation, through visibility and awareness, to acceptance.