Are you a member of a small, marginalized identity-based community of Tumblr bloggers, looking to advocate for yourselves, support each other, have meaningful discussions, build, and grow? Then Tumblr itself is standing in your way.
What I criticize in this post is the structure of Tumblr as a platform and what it does to the groups who settle there. Rest assured, it has nothing to do with particular “types of people” or identifying the “bad people,” although it does get into criticizing some bad types of habits, behaviors, and mindsets. The purpose of this post is simply to discuss how the structure of the website itself can undermine community.
On that note, my goal here is to say something different than the usual complaints. I won’t be covering all the usualglitches, inconveniences, jankiness, or even the myriad problems with the automated NSFW flagging and appeal process. A Tumblr user doesn’t need it pointed out to them that the site can be technically dysfunctional. What warrants an explanation, I figure, is how the site itself — with nothing inherent to the userbase — has also been socially detrimental.
As many of you know, around the Tumblr “ask” messaging system has grown a culture of dedicated ask-advice blogs, typically inviting questions on specific identities and experiences, such as asexuality. Ideally, these blogs should be helpful places for soliciting advice and making contact with new communities. Unfortunately, however, these blogs face certain inherent problems that severely limit how useful they can be.
The biggest limitations lie in three structural elements of the format: 1) the single respondent, 2) the delayed posting of the initial message, and 3) the notifications all going tothe person who answers, not the person who asks. In addition, there are also some psychological issues to account for. Popular advice bloggers, facing a deluge of advice-seekers, are especially prone to writing answers that are both 4) overconfident and 5) rushed, resulting in especially shallow, misleading, or even harmful advice. Aside from changing Tumblr’s features directly, one way to mitigate these issues would be by cultivating more of a culture of links.
A brief note about the title: the “you” here may not be you personally, and it’s not that the term “purity culture” doesn’t have its place. Rather, there are specific uses of this term that have put a dent in a speaker’s credibility for me and impeded their argument. In those moments, I’ve wished for the words to explain to them what I thought they were doing wrong. This post is my attempt to put together those words: first by explaining the origins of “purity culture,” leading into my understanding of its key traits, and then contrasting that against the kind of usage I see a problem with.
This post is my entry for this month’s Carnival of Aces, on the theme of “telling our stories.” In it, I’m trying to make three main points: One, aces cannot live on glossaries alone — we needstories, not just to demonstrate what ace experiences are like, but also to address internal intracommunity dynamics among ourselves. Two, because stories are so important, it is doubly a problem when our fellow aces foster an environment that makes sensitive and painful stories that much harder to tell. In other words, I’m saying our own community is contributing, in part, to why it feels like certain stories can’t be told. Three, there are things we can do and things we can use to foster a different environment — that is, to do right by each other and to make our stories easier to tell.
[Content Notes: this post does contain some discussion of violence, including sexual violence, conversion therapy, and murder. There’s an especially severe section on disrespectful treatment of these matters with a separate, additional warning — you’ll find it between the second header and the third, enclosed with the tags <severe section begins here> and <end severe section>.]
“What brought you here?” is usually the first thing people ask me when I mention I’m new to the area. I’ve tried out a few different responses. “It’s a long story” (true). “To be closer to family” (false). I’ve yet to really settle on something, because the truth isn’t something easily reducible to small talk. After the first few times, you’d think I’d just stop mentioning it. But what else are you supposed to say when you’re new in town and don’t have anything else to talk about?
I picked the theme “home” for the Carnival of Aces last month, and it got a lot of submissions, but between Rowan’s post and my own current situation, I’m not done thinking about it. This is mostly just a reflection post. At the same time, it’s also a post about “overhead” — which here applies in the literal sense (a roof overhead) and another, more economic sense: referring to the concept of “overhead costs,” i.e. the expenses required keep the lights on and a roof overhead. Normally, the term’s applied to business expenses. But you can also think about it in terms of homes and people, too.
This is a post about two things: relationships, and a relationship.
It’s also a post I’ve been ambivalent about making — or rather, ambivalent about intending as a submission to the August Carnival of Aros. In my last post about the aro community, I discussed my relationship to the aro umbrella as a quoiromantic and came to no conclusions. Just three months ago, I hesitated about even commenting on Carnival of Aros submissions after the fact, worried about to what extent I might be considered an unwelcome intruder. In response to a private post about that concern, Sennkestra, one of the aros who helped launch the Carnival, not only reassured me about that, but also created the present FAQ Page for anyone else wondering the same thing. Under the heading “Who can participate,” that FAQ now extends an extensive invitation to not just confident aros, but also anyone who is questioning an aro identity, anyone who finds some aro narratives useful, anyone who identifies with something considered “adjacent” to aromanticism, and “anyone with any other type of relationship to aromanticism that I haven’t thought to list yet.” To some, maybe that’s overkill. To me, it’s just-enough-kill — just enough to confirm that I’m on the guest list.
With that said, this is a post that I might have written regardless: a reminder about the meaning of the term “relationships” itself & how I use it, plus some reflection on how my outlook on my own relationships has (and hasn’t) changed.
In the spirit of Queenie’s teeny tiny linkspams, such as the one on greyness, here are a few links about or related to the experiences of tri-orientation aro aces — thoseidentifying as gay/lesbian/bi/het(or some other orientation) while also identifying with both the ace & aro umbrellas.
Some of these links are about identifying with an orientation label in a way that’s not (or not entirely) about romance or sexuality. Some of these links are about nonromantic or ambiguously-romantic partnership. Some of these links are direct personal narratives about tri-label identities, such as gay aro ace or bi aro ace. So as you can see, some of the connections are more direct than others, but hopefully you can find something you’re looking for.
I’ve had to summarize this situation for other people a few different times now, so I decided I might as well put together a post on the subject for future reference. Basically, this is a post about that whole “oriented” business and everything that’s wrong with it.
Gray is a purposeful metaphor. An expression of imprecision, blending, and betweens.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about gray-asexuality again. It’s been a few years since I published “Experiences attraction infrequently” doesn’t cut it, and while I know that post is still useful to people, it’s also been long enough at this point that I’m embarrassed of my own writing. So this is a short reflection piece on why I still identify as gray-a, going on about six years now.
[This post has been crossposted to Pillowfort; cw: sexual violence mention.]