Or at the very least, reconsider what it means to say that “aces aren’t repressed.”
This post is for the February 2015 Carnival of Aces, applying the theme of “cross community connections” to my complicated relationships with the ace community and the Christian Church.
First, however, I feel obligated to make a case for why such a discussion is even relevant. Unlike my identity as an ace, my “religious community” is not on the victim end of any institutional force of exploitation and abuse. Far from it, in fact. Presumably, some of you may believe that anything coming from the Church is going to be wrong anyway. And… yeah, I won’t argue that, but I think by ignoring the area completely you’re going to be missing out on some inferences and connections that have serious implications for all aces in general. Or, in other words, let’s take a moment to wonder why I get the impression that both sides in this matter are taking pains not to be mistaken for… well, someone like me.
Start from the fact that asexuals are sometimes stereotyped as pious and monotheistic people are sometimes stereotyped as asexual. We know how most aces feel about the former, but do you have an idea of how most Christians respond to the latter? If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably do, but for the uninformed: modern Christianity hates that stereotype and regularly tries to distance itself from it and, in essence, from me.
I want people to understand that when I see people combine Christian doctrine with puritanical sex-positivity, I don’t hear the triumphant song of “progressive” and “liberated” enlightenment. I hear a disgusted, sneering whisper that says, “Ugh, no — we’re not like you.”
So, of what importance is it to nonreligious aces that many popular religions don’t make room for us? Better question: why is being associated with asexuality and sex aversion something that any ideological movement takes pains to avoid? Why are people so ready to believe in the idea of the oppressive prude? What is it about sex that makes enthusiasm for it such a necessary component to being seen as a good person?
I can’t recall many times aces have explored these questions in depth from the angle I’m suggesting, possibly because they don’t want to be seen as angry sex-haters themselves and are worried they’ll come across as shaming sexual activity unless they bury their point in disclaimers. You don’t want to look like one of those right-wing anti-sexual Jesus Freaks, right? We need more representation of asexuality, but we don’t actually want to rewrite the rhetoric of sex beyond adding a little asterisk for ourselves, right?
It’s a counterproductive ignorance.
Listen. Don’t worry about that. You’re not going to look like one of the nasty Christians. They’re too busy making sure that they don’t look like one of you.
Aren’t you curious what’s at the core of what both communities are so scared of?
The effort to distance aces from those messed-up prudish folk extends to our intracommunity rhetoric, as well — I still consider it jarring that the number of times I’ve seen the phrase “asexuals aren’t broken” is almost matched by the number of times I’ve seen the phrase “asexuals aren’t repressed” and individual aces wondering if their Christian upbringing is part of the reason why they’re ace and/or sex-averse — which is why, in this post, I asked:
Are we still “not broken” if we’re the ones who broke ourselves?
What I want from the ace community is a more serious conversation about what it means to be “repressed.” I want to see more people, especially aces, asking what’s so bad about being sexually repressed. I want us to get talking about how maybe some aces are repressed — depending on how you define repressed. What about the opposite of (or the subcategories of) repression? What do we call that? What do we call a thorough internalization of social cost so high it controls people like puppet strings?
Or is it more important to vie for assimilation and chant the party line?