I’ve been thinking about something I don’t know how to explain yet — something that, ideally, I’ve eventually be able to concisely say to allos, but for the moment it’s just an idea that I want to put forth before other aces; a thought about what exactly it does to us, when we have to gut ourselves again and again on display, each time some petulant soul pulls a Dan Savage.
It’s a common refrain, at least in some circles, that you’re not obligated to educate anyone. And that’s true. Educating people takes time and energy, and no one is responsible for curing the whole world of ignorance by themselves. But since leaving a sardonic inquiry unanswered can sometimes be too painful in and of itself, I understand engaging with even the most hopeless of cases.
And when that does happen — when someone does decide to explain — in the more belligerent cases where the questions aren’t just “what does this mean?” but “why does this matter?”, can we take a moment to think about what it does to us, just on our end, to reiterate some of our worst fears and experiences to people who’ve already demonstrated they don’t care?
I’m talking specifically about when people ask what problems people could possibly face for being asexual, put coming out in skeptical quotation marks when it pertains to asexual people, insist that we don’t face any serious consequences for coming out, acknowledge that we may have it bad but assert that it doesn’t matter unless we’re being regularly murdered, and otherwise act dismissively about anti-asexual bigotry and violence in a way that calls for testimony to the contrary.
And while there’s plenty of testimony to give — can we think about what that does to us, when we’re repeatedly called to search out and locate our old scars and our wounds on ourselves, to devote our thoughts again to memories we’d rather forget, and to open them again, to be laid on the table for others’ inspection?
Sometimes we do need to talk about those things, sometimes that’s helpful, but on some level, I worry about this.
I worry about the effect it has on our own mental health and personal well-being to give that kind of testimony in hostile circumstances.
I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done. And it’s already been acknowledged, among us, that aggressive confidence in the belief that aces face only insignificant problems is, itself, a contribution to why we face problems — one that is, at best, serving as an obstacle to solutions, and, at worst, trying to gaslight us into believing what do we deal with is tolerable and justified, as if, if we’re hurting, we have only ourselves to blame.
But it’s also important to acknowledge that giving repeated testimony of past harassment in response to harassment takes its own kind of toll; one that, I think, might interfere with those wounds healing.
Because it’s not just a delay or a hurdle to get over before we can get on with our day, not just some checkpoint in an argument, not just a matter of providing education. I think it does additional harm not just from the invalidation, vitriol, victim-blaming, and gaslighting in play at the immediate present moment, but in asking for testimony from the past, it also forces us to dwell on the severest of negativity related to our asexuality, which can potentially make it harder to be content with being ace, and also just makes people more miserable in general. No one should have to do that to themselves.
Granted, I don’t know what the solution to this is. People do need to know about the sexual violence and conversion therapy that occur at the culmination of anti-asexual prejudice at its most heinous. And I know that none of the people who put out the call are going to respond well to “Yeah, we do actually have it pretty bad, but you’ll just have to trust us on that because we don’t want to talk about it.” It does, honestly, need to get put out there.
But I also want people to take care of themselves.
It’s the skeptical jeering folk, of course, who are at fault for creating this dilemma, in failing to consider that there might actually be an answer to their questions, but all the same, I wish there were some effective way to let them know what they’re doing. It doesn’t help, either, that all too often in these conversations, you’ll see a comedic and wearisome moving of goalposts that only ends up prolonging the situation.
It shouldn’t be our responsibility to figure out how do deal with situations that shouldn’t be created in the first place, but since they do happen, I want to try to figure out a way to respond that would save us the trouble, something I could say to these people to convince them of the seriousness of the issue while telling them off for asking in the first place, some means to persuade them that we don’t owe anyone a slideshow of our worst nightmares provided on a whim.