Re: Demigray’s Response

As people sometimes do, the demigray tumblr recently linked one of my posts here with a mixed positive/negative comment, and I am once again reminded of how annoying it is to try and reply to things across blogging platforms.

First of all, a blanket statement: if you are a tumblrite who doesn’t do wordpress but has some thoughts on something I wrote — you’re invited to use the comment section as well (you don’t need an account), even if all you want to express is disagreement.  I’m nosy enough to want to know what people are saying about my stuff, and my ways of finding out about these sorts of response posts on my own are… unreliable.  So help me out and leave me a comment or drop me a link, is what I’m saying.  Feedback is appreciated!

Onto the meat of the matter itself, now.  Here’s what demigray put below the link:

A good article describing the experience of one gray-asexual. This is why I usually try to define gray-asexuality as something like “experiences sexual attraction rarely, weakly, or questionably,” the latter meaning that the person is unsure of whether or not they even feel it. I think “weakly” might apply for the author more than “rarely.” I also always say that those are not the only definitions, and gray-asexuality is used as a catch-all term for people who identify with asexuality.

The point of the post (which I guess I didn’t get across very well, oops) was to make an incomplete case for why it’s important to define gray-asexuality as things like “a gray zone between asexuality and allosexuality”, “a catch-all term for people who aren’t completely asexual but who identify with asexual experiences”, or “a way to describe people who find asexuality to be a useful idea, but not a perfect fit” (to paraphrase one of Siggy’s definitions), rather than simplifying it down to one particular manifestation of that.

For me, I think “weakly,” “rarely,” and “questionably” all apply, if you’re set on describing it that way, but the original post explains why the “experiences attraction _________ly” framework doesn’t fit me well in general.  That’s why, in defining gray-asexuality, I would prefer that people go for the broader definitions, and if they mention any specific subtypes (weakly, rarely, questionably, under certain circumstances, etc.), that those then be marked as only examples.

However, I don’t really like the assertion that “experiences attraction infrequently” leaves the door open for people to question gray-asexuality. I don’t disagree with it, necessarily, but I find that phrasing to describe my experience perfectly, so I don’t think it should be thrown out just because it makes it harder for allosexuals to understand us. I am closer to the allosexual side of the spectrum of the author, and I even think that heterosexual could accurately describe me. It’s just that gray-asexual is more precise. I have only felt sexual attraction for three people in my life, but once it started, it was consistent and similar to the experience of an allosexual.

That’s a fair criticism, and I agree that “experiences attraction infrequently” is a valid experience and valid reason for self-describing as gray-asexual.  Using it as the sole/central definition is a problem, and I can follow the logic of people who then draw faulty conclusions from it, but they’re not actually in the right for rejecting gray-as on that basis.  My (perhaps failed) intent was not to put down gray-as for whom the description “experiences attraction infrequently” resonates, but rather to demonstrate why I’m bothered by people speaking as if that’s the only way to be gray-a, but I can see how it would seem otherwise, and I apologize for that.

I’ve sometimes described myself as “pretty much asexual with exceptions,” which would maybe help solve the problem the author brings up, but I don’t feel entirely comfortable using that, because I don’t entirely relate to the experiences of asexuals. I honestly feel like I am split 50/50 between asexual and allosexual. “Experiences attraction infrequently” is the best descriptor I’ve found for myself. It certainly shouldn’t be presented as the only definition, but if it’s useful for some people, it shouldn’t be discarded just because it’s confusing for non-aces.

Agreed.

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3 responses to “Re: Demigray’s Response

  • epochryphal

    Heck yeah this discussion. Five thousand thumbs up.

    I’m a fan of spelling out “experiences sexual attraction with low frequency, low intensity, confusingly, or otherwise finds gray-a a useful descriptor.” I find a lot of value in listing out examples, because that’s how I realized I could use the word, and there are often Zero examples given when people do 101. It’s well and good to say “between asexual and allosexual,” but what does that even mean? In trying to whittle away the abstract in favor of the concrete, while still being broad and inclusive, I think we can have much deeper and more meaningful conversations about grey experiences. And always, always a final emphasis on usefulness.

    I honestly don’t even like “closer to asexual than allosexual,” because…well, it evokes a quantitative range, and invites even closer (self-)scrutiny. I don’t know which I’m closer to! Part of the point of grey is that idgaf, I can’t/won’t narrow it down, it’s not a worthwhile endeavor. (Heck yeah, the fog metaphor; how am I supposed to compare fog to other forms of weather? Is it closer to cloudy or raining? Ugh!)

    Now, “finds asexuality a relevant, even necessary touching point” is a bit better (if perhaps too broad). I need to be able to acknowledge asexuality as a VERY significant concept in my life, as something I probably have to explain in order to explain my sexuality (dear future partners: please know that I used to identify as asexual, now id as grey, and that any sexual attraction to you may come and go or never show up at all, and it’s completely unrelated to you as a person, honest).

    And all of these examples may be too specific, and people who don’t find them resonant may feel shouldered out of greyness…so I try to be very careful to qualify things and above all affirm, if you find it useful (and here’s why I find it useful, as one example of infinite possibilities).

    But I do think examples are super important, in explaining what the hell we mean by greyness (so other people can refer to it more accurately, and newcomers can get a better sense of whether it might work for them), AND in feeling less alone as a grey person. I know I’ve felt…uncertain, as to whether my greyness had much or anything in common with others, and I haven’t always had the words or examples, certainly no common experience shared with more than two people.

    You mention it can be hard to get greys to talk about their experiences. Part of it, I think, is poor prompting. (And of course, getting quickly mired in 101, self-defense, trolls…) Having more concrete examples, or even just more semi-abstract examples in the definition, provides lines of thought and exploration. It’s trail markers in the fog. Some we recognize as familiar, others may be déjà vu or interesting, still others irrelevant. And yes, there is a danger of thinking these are the only paths. But it’s a sight better than wandering in circles, at least for me.

    • acetheist

      “I find a lot of value in listing out examples, because that’s how I realized I could use the word, and there are often Zero examples given when people do 101. It’s well and good to say ‘between asexual and allosexual,’ but what does that even mean?”

      Also a good point. Ideally, a broad definition would mark the beginning of a discussion, not the end of one. And hopefully this post [edit: THESE posts] could themselves be used as examples to point to.

  • Re: Greyness 301 | The Ace Theist

    […] are some gray-aces who feel like they’re in the middle on a line between allosexual and asexual (and […]

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