This Week, in Discussion Disasters

I’m still waffling over whether to make this post as I type this, and I may choose to take it down later.  This is in regards to a previous post and a discussion that was spawned by the same powerpoint which brought you this whole discussion.  I stand by what I’ve said in regards to both, but when I saw that someone had called out the mentality I’d just been complaining about — well, I wasn’t expecting this.

[tw for sexual violence and invalidation]

[I’m serious, this hit me like a bag of bricks and I’m not even someone who has triggers related to these things.]

Let me tell you how things unfolded from my point of view.  Initially, I was gratified to see an ace tumblr user had reblogged and argued with the “I disagree that sex is not an essential component for a relationship” post.  From the looks of things, it was a good, fair callout.  It is bad to say that sex is essential for anything, and that paradigm has consistently done a lot of damage to a lot of people.

Naturally, the previous poster replied and missed the point while contradicting themselves.

Thank you for literally ignoring the part where I said that it is absolutely fine to not have or want sex in a relationship. Thank you for ignoring that I also said that sex is important for some relationships but not all.

This is literally the exact opposite of saying “I disagree that sex is not an essential component for a relationship” & objecting to a list of necessary ingredients for a healthy relationship that leaves out sex.  Their beef seems to be that sex is essential in some people’s relationship criteria, so therefore that should have been acknowledged in the pie chart.  This makes no sense.

The reason that “sex” does not need to be included on a pie chart titled “Essential Components of a Relationship” is the same reason that “speaks English” doesn’t need to be a criterion on a list of “Essential Traits in a Relationship Partner”.  I, personally, would need someone to know English in order for me to have a healthy, functioning relationship with them, simply because I’m monolingual and that’s one of the primary ways I communicate, but that obviously does not mean that only the relationships between anglophones are healthy and valid or that fluency in English should be considered an essential prerequisite to entering a relationship in general (and it’s not like there’s not enormous pressure on people to speak/learn English anyway).

I mean… what else can I say but “duh“?  Saying “sex is not essential to a relationship” doesn’t imply “sex isn’t important to anyone and it shouldn’t be important in anyone’s relationships”.  If you wanted to object to something about that powerpoint (*cough*) there were plenty of other petty reasons you could use that didn’t actively reinforce poisonous relationship norms.

So tristifere reblogged and explained a second time — very patiently, I might add — and this person missed the point again; tristifere took the issue up with them a third time and they missed the point again.  It seemed like it was going to be a typical exchange.

I was not prepared for what I found in their next response.

Not only did they reveal being a survivor and struggling with sex-repulsion, but there was also this:

I still have an extremely low sex drive. I still do not get sexually attracted to a lot of people.

[…] So while I don’t understand exactly how an asexual must feel (as it is a permanent, natural state of being and not trauma induced like mine), I understand completely being an outsider in a world of sex, thinking you’re messed up and wrong and unwanted.

“So while I don’t understand exactly how an asexual must feel (as it is a permanent, natural state of being and not trauma induced like mine),”
“I don’t understand exactly how an asexual must feel (as it is a permanent, natural state of being and not trauma induced like mine)”

“how an asexual must feel (as it is a permanent, natural state of being and not trauma induced like mine)”

“permanent, natural state of being and not trauma induced like mine”

I’m tearing up right now.  Look at this.  Look at this.  Regardless of how this person identifies, and regardless of how they would identify if our education tactics were different, this is person who doesn’t feel sexual attraction to many people and feels like they do not even have the option to access an asexual identity because of our goddamn insistence that asexual people don’t have trauma.

Look at what we’ve done.  Christ.  Somebody send this kid a gift basket and an apology or something.  Or maybe give them some links on how you can be asexual and a survivor at the same time without having to know for sure how much your experiences affected the former.  Not that they’d necessarily want to be part of this community anyway, but…

Lord, what a time to be having a Carnival of Aces on the “unassailable asexual” concept.  I mean, they’re still wrong for criticizing that slide of the powerpoint, but good grief.

11 responses to “This Week, in Discussion Disasters

  • Siggy

    I feel like this is not the first time I’ve seen that happen. I remember this one time, in the comments to an asexuality article, there was someone who said something like, this was well and good for asexuals, but *they* preferred to ID as broken and a freak. However people choose to identify, I’m not supposed to be sad about their choice, but that made me sad.

  • Aqua

    I was sad seeing that too, because I know first-hand that feeling of knowing about asexuality, yet feeling like the right to identify as asexual, and access the community for support isn’t there. I struggled with that for a few years. I understand why you’re reluctant to keep this post up, but it’s a very important point you bring up.

  • Ace in Translation

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who was completely taken aback by their response. I was replying to them under the impression that they were a really stubborn *I love sex and so should you* allosexual and then …. BAM. I mean, how do you respond to that? Since I saw their response I’ve been doubting about whether or not to send them a message telling them it’s possible to be ace and be a survivor, and that it’s ok to explore whether you’re asexual or not while being a survivor, with some links to resources. And while I’d really love to do that, I somehow don’t think they’re going to take it well if I’m coming along to suggest they might be asexual after the conversation we just had.

    • acetheist

      Yeah. No kidding.

      It’s generally a good idea to stay away from the “sounds like you might be on the ace spectrum!” type of response, but if you’re still up for messaging them — they technically did make a false claim, implying that people can only be ace & survivors if they can parse one out from the other, and someone could frame their response to that as simply informing the person that that’s not true/that whether an asexual person was “born this way” is irrelevant because what you feel now is what you feel now/that this is an issue we’ve been trying to sort out in the community for a while now and we’re still trying to catch up with the misinformation that’s been spread, affirming that asexual survivors should not have their asexuality discounted. Something like that, maybe, keeping it general without necessarily relating it back to the person themselves.

      • Ace in Translation

        That strategy might work, but I really don’t think that should come from me. While I tried to keep things away from personal attacks in our conversation prior to this revalation, they already had a tendency to project value judgments on me and on the powerpoint presentation, so if I’m going to reply with a general statement about being ace and being a survivor, that’s just … not going to go well.
        Good message, wrong messenger, I guess.

        Hopefully someone else, who didn’t just have an argument with them, will be able to deliver a sensitive message to them.

    • queenieofaces

      I’m considering messaging them. And by “considering” I mean I have a message drafted.

      *sigh* GUESS WHO HAS A POST ON ASEXUALITY AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE GOING UP NEXT WEEK. I hate accidentally writing really relevant things on difficult topics.

  • Klaraa

    But please do leave that previous post up. That was a discussion that happened, and meaningful things were said.

  • The balancing act hasn’t been solved | Cake at the Fortress

    […] are geared towards asexuals, and those who are questioning. Ace Theist’s post here shows that our current visibility efforts still have other major shortcomings, such as how it handles the topic of asexuality and […]

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