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

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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.

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

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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 given 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.

Not Broken. Not Alone.

You are not broken.  You are not alone.NotBrokenNotAlone-You-Medium

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I am not broken.  I am not alone.

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We are not broken.  We are not alone.

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(in)Visibility Activist

I’m still afraid.

Every day, I wear a black-gray-white-purple bracelet.  I have an ace flag bumper sticker on my car.  I have a magnetic black ring on my cabinet at work. I have a little asexuality lapel pin that I keep on my camera lanyard. I like to consider myself openly asexual.

Hell, I literally wrote the book on asexuality.

But I’m afraid.

I’m worried that one day, someone will ask me about one of those things.  “What’s that bracelet about?”  “What’s that ring for?”  “What’s the flag mean?” The bracelet typically gets hidden by my watch, so it’s not very prominent.  The flag pin on my camera lanyard is only seen when I’m using my camera, and I typically only use my camera when I’m on vacation a thousand miles from anyone I know.  On the rare day that I’ve actually worn the ring, I end up hiding it.  It’s like everyone is staring at it.  I know they aren’t, that no one even notices, but that doesn’t help.  I fidget with it, I hide it, I start using my left hand to point at things.  It feels like I’m wearing a giant flashing neon sign on my finger.

I met a new coworker the other day as I was leaving the office.  We made small talk about the company as we took the elevator down to the parking garage.  She got off on the same floor as I did.  She walked the same direction as I did.  She kept the casual conversation going as we walked.  It quickly became clear that she had parked near me and would see my car.  I became filled with dread.

“What if she asks about the flag?”

I feel like I’m a visibility activist in the witness protection program.

Mostly, I guess I just feel that it isn’t anybody’s business but my own.  I’m a natural recluse and don’t really like sharing personal details with others.  I don’t even talk to people about the music I like, so why on earth would I want to talk to them about my sexual orientation?  Asexuality has very little to do with my day job as a software engineer.  It’s just not relevant, so why should I bring it up?

But what would I say, anyway?  If someone asks about my bracelet or my bumper sticker, they’re probably just making casual small talk.  Talking about my sexual orientation isn’t idle chit-chat with a stranger in the elevator, that’s a thermonuclear TMI bomb.  How am I supposed to explain what it’s about in less than ten seconds, without confusing the person or making them feel uncomfortable?  What’s the best way to approach asexuality education and outreach in a context where that education is unexpected and potentially unwanted?

Maybe I’m simply not suited to one-on-one outreach.  I’m much more comfortable when I have hours, if not days, to think about what I want to say and have the opportunity to edit, tweak, and fine tune my message for as long as I feel is necessary.

None of you know who I am.  I never use my name, I rarely give any kind of personal details.  I’ve been completely unable to form any kind of meaningful connection with any of you.  I prefer to be anonymous.  I prefer to do my work behind the scenes.  All of the posts on this site are attributed to the website itself.  So’s my book.  There’s no me here.  Just a nameless, faceless website.

And that’s a problem.

Someone wrote to me about my book once and remarked that their parents are skeptical of asexuality because everyone who talks about it seems “unofficial”.  We mostly hide behind Internet handles and anonymous 60 pixel square images.  There are only a handful of asexuality activists who use names, and it’s a good bet that some of them are pseudonyms.  Reporters ask if you’ll go on the record with your real name.  If you don’t, you’re ashamed of who you are.  If you do, you’re relentlessly attacked by the Internet Troll Machine.

It feels like many of us are trying to spread visibility while staying invisible.  I don’t think it works that way.  How do we fix that?

Hey you! You wanna help change the world?

YES YOU!

You have a unique opportunity to change the world.  At this very moment, an elite team of asexual activists is preparing to journey to Atlanta, GA.

Their mission:  Raise awareness of asexuality by hosting panel discussions and workshops and distributing pamphlets and other informational materials at Creating Change 2013.

But they can’t do it alone!  They need your help to get there and spread the word about asexuality.

Your mission (should you choose to accept it):   Watch the video and donate if you’re able.  Go here for complete details.  Then reblog, cross-post, tweet, like, share, retweet, or tattoo the QR code for the link to your forehead in order to spread the word.

First we take Atlanta, then…  THE WORLD!

If you’ve ever wished that more people knew about asexuality, this is how that will happen.  This kind of outreach will directly connect with the sorts of people who’ll help to get asexuality into the mainstream consciousness.   It’s activists and educators and organizers.  It’s politicians and musicians. It’s your town’s LGBTQ*/GSRM group. This is visibility at its core.  Big things might come out of this, and if you donate now, you can tell people that you helped make it happen!

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!

That’s right, if you donate today, one of these fabulous prizes can be yours!

  • An Ace Flag Button!
  • A Postcard Signed by David Jay, SwankIvy, SaraBeth Brooks, Siggy, and Other Super-Awesome Acey People!
  • Your Choice of Asexuality Themed T-Shirt!
  • Cupcakes!

What more could you possibly ask for?

ACT NOW!  LIMITED TIME ONLY!  WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!

Again, if you’re interested, go check out the project page for details.

(A bit of disclosure:  I’m not affiliated with the Make Atlanta Asexy campaign.  I’m not an organizer, I’m not a panel member, I’m not even going to Atlanta.  I just think it’s important.)

Here’s the QR code in case you needed it for that tattoo…

Asexuality Questionnaire #4.3: Community and Visibility

If you have not already done so, please stop off at the main questionnaire page for important information about the intent of these questionnaires.

Thank you for your interest, but this survey is now closed!  We are no longer accepting responses at this time.  If you’re curious, here’s what the questions were:

  1. Do you feel that it would be valuable for a celebrity or other famous person to come out as asexual?
  2. Do you feel that it would be valuable for a TV show or a movie to have an openly asexual character?
  3. Do you have any ideas for asexuality awareness/education/etc. that you would like to see someone create?  Have you ever tried to create them yourself?
  4. Do you feel like there is anything missing in the asexual community?
  5. Where would you like to see the asexual community in five years?  Ten years?  Twenty?

[wpsqt name=”Community and Visibility Part 3″ type=”survey”]