ace spaces & attitudes toward religion?

Since it got promo’d in the AA linkspam, I looked into the new muslimaces blog (!) and scrolled down to find the introduction post.  All of it sounds very nice, some of it even reminding me of my reasons for creating this blog, but there was one line that caught me by surprise:

Ace spaces are pretty religion phobic, there is no denying

Are they?

I certainly wouldn’t have made such a claim in my first post here, and still wouldn’t now, although I wouldn’t deny it, either.  A statement on “religion” would include all religions, but I wonder how much this indicates a disparity in the experience of Christian aces and Muslim aces, and I’m posting this not to disagree but to reach out for more perspectives, especially from aces who consider themselves “religious,” “spiritual,” or otherwise distant from the broad atheist + “nonreligious” demographic (not sure what words to use for people like you, Cor, but you’re invited).

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12 responses to “ace spaces & attitudes toward religion?

  • elainexe

    Yeah, I wondered about that too. I’ve only really ever encountered one instance of Islamophobia, and that was some old thread on AVEN. But I also wonder if it’s less a difference between religions than between spaces? Perhaps, say, someone’s ace meetup group could be hostile toward religion(s), or the expression of religion.
    But I could see it being harder on Muslims than some others sometimes because many Muslims are very visible in their religion, whether it be by dress or by the emphasis on incorporating Islam into all parts of your life. Any in person meeting, if long enough, would run into Muslims needing to pray. Or perhaps Muslims would say inshaallah (God willing) constantly. Some people seem uncomfortable by these kinds of expressions even if they’re not about them.

    • elainexe

      …It’s also possible that some ace spaces may be hostile to Muslims because Islam is perceived to be discriminatory against any noncishet people. On this part I haven’t heard anything about the ace community specifically, but we have many ties to the wider LGBTQ+ community. I’ve heard of Muslims being harassed at pride events. And then there was…this thing =/
      There’s also the tendency for people saying they need to ‘save’ all the queer Muslims from Islam, or at least other Muslims/Muslim governments. And then they don’t actually listen to the voices of the people they supposedly want to save.
      I haven’t heard of these things in the ace community. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they happened in some places.

  • Libris

    I find that ace spaces do not necessarily make space for the idea of religion (as is the case with a lot of social justice/leftist spaces, for varying reasons), but I wouldn’t necessarily make the connection with being phobic of religion as a concept any more than any other, similar, kind of space. I feel like there is a trend in a lot of similar places to assume that religion is a thing that people don’t ‘do’, often coming from only really knowing about Christianity and having been hurt by it, and therefore just having a cultural expectation of atheism and viewing religious people as kind of odd.

    I also find the common usage in ace and other spaces (as noted here!) of ‘religion’ for ‘Christianity, Islam, and maaaaybe Judaism’ to be incredibly annoying, especially when it’s then used to make generalisations which do not in any way apply to all religions – for example, people will try to criticise purity culture, and say ‘religion’ in that and imply that all religions have problems similar to purity culture, and I sit there seething/re-explaining how no, that’s not the case, some religions don’t care, some religions like Wicca have the opposite problem and sexualise everything! Again, I don’t think that would be phobic of religions per se, but it’s very careless and homogenising.

    I have noted a fair amount of wariness and hostility towards religions that traditionally other and punish non-heteronormative stuff in most LGBT+/MOGAI/whatever spaces – this is almost always Christianity. I think people being wary/venting about something which has caused them a lot of pain is perfectly understandable, but can be balanced with not unnecessarily alienating people. (I have been on both sides of this one – on the one hand, writing about how some denominations/churches/whatever can be incredibly painful and oppressive is often a good thing, but on the other statements proclaiming all religions to be universally harmful or various ableist accusations are incredibly annoying.)

    (disclaimer: I am neither Christian or Muslim, but Celtic pagan.)

  • saraharnetty

    I partly agree with Libris going what I see on FB. Religion, while does get discussed, doesn’t usually go into it deeply. And yes, the pages are often left/ liberal. However, I found also the opposite to be true. There are asexual circles (at least online), who are actually very highly conservative Christian. These people are generally people who are cis – gender and either Hetero – romantic or aromantic. Their approach to LGBT + are the same as any conservative Christian denomination.

  • epochryphal

    hahaha thanks for the shoutout! (What words indeed. “Spiritual” is so…hm, close to theist still, with its semi-focus on entities. “magical” maybe? “supernaturalists” har har, no)

    I like everything that’s been said — the visibility of Muslims (and common intersection with other visible marginalized identities namely race); the cultural default of either Christianity or (ex-Christian) scientific atheism…

    I haven’t found ace spaces to be much different from LGBT or other Liberal spaces wrt this. I do think there’s a tendency to proclaim SCIENCE! re: abortion, non-cishet identity…so there’s an increased likelihood for a (hostile) atheist default, in Liberal spaces.

    Then again, the non-science, New Age, western-Buddhist type of Liberal space also exists, and still manages to be, while nominally inclusive…mainly appropriative, and hostile toward people with defined religions. (Idk about toward Wiccans, but yep, actual Buddhist and Hindu folks who call them out, and Christianity, Judaism, Islam…yet somehow tolerant for atheists??)

    Definitely agree and have heard many folks assert that folding Islam and Judaism into “Abrahamic religions” (or “JudeoChristian”) is almost always Islamophobic/anti-Semitic.

    And of course yep, the Christian ace spaces, because of course those exist.

    tl;dr it’s kind of a Liberal thing to be unwelcoming to various religious/spiritual orientations, bc Science or entitlement to anything “spiritual” but animosity to organized religion.

    • epochryphal

      oh also! Christianity and atheism both often have persecution complexes (well do I remember the Jesus quotes about being persecuted as a sign of holiness).

      So I bet that feeds into how /everyone/ feels like space is hostile toward their religious orientation.

    • Libris

      Anecdata re: Wiccans: I have not noticed New Age kinda spaces being hostile towards Wiccans, because they very often fit in with the appropriative ahistorical ~spirituality~ narrative being pushed there, but yep, towards basically everyone else, especially people who disagree/try to call them out.

      query for clarification: ‘So I bet that feeds into how /everyone/ feels like space is hostile toward their religious orientation.’ – are you using that to mean Christians and atheists, or trying to say that all other religions have persecution complexes, or saying that the complexes often found in Christianity and atheism actively do make it hostile for other religions? Not trying to be a dick or prove a point here, I’m just genuinely confused.

  • Tristifere

    I think this might also be a matter of who you are and where you come from. I find that religion is discussed a lot (A LOT) in the Anglophone ace community. That’s not really done to that extend in Dutch spaces, so from my perspective it feels like religion is everywhere. From what I’ve seen, this level of discussion and incorporation of religion is normal for Anglophone (American) spaces. I don’t find it any more hostile or friendly towards religion in general (and Christianity in particular) than other Anglophone spaces. Americans have a specific way of relating to their personal beliefs and how that translates to public spaces and discussions – much of which is reflected in Anglophone online spaces. That’s often not how people outside the US relate to their religious affiliation and it can be a bit of a culture shock.

    That said, I can imagine that a muslim might have a very different perspective. As elainexe already mentioned, there’s a special kind of islamophobia in queer spaces (both Anglophone and Dutch, in my experience) and I don’t think ace spaces are exempt from that.

  • Laura (ace-muslim)

    I think it depends a LOT on which ace spaces you’re in. People who primarily participate at AVEN seem to have very different experiences than those who focus on Tumblr and blogs and, frankly, given what I’ve heard I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more prejudice at AVEN. I’ve come to realize that my own little corner of the ace blogosphere is not particularly representative of the larger communities, since I’m able to control who I follow and thus filter out any trends I don’t find helpful or safe.

    I’ve experienced overt Islamophobia in a Facebook group for aces over age 35 (an older white European woman posted a screed about how Islam was like Nazism then nobody responded to my call-out so I left the group). I’ve also encountered ignorant attitudes about Islam from a handful of aces.

    The whole MAAPLE/UKIP saga left a *very* sour taste in my mouth and I think MAAPLE still does not understand the legacy of distrust they have built with aces targeted by UKIP, which includes Muslims.

    So, yeah, a Muslim is likely to have a rather different perception than a Christian and you need to take that into account. It’s also worth keeping in mind that most Muslims are people of color and that racial attitudes in asexual communities may also be a factor. When you have multiple marginalized identities, it can sometimes be difficult to tell which one is triggering the hostility you’re experiencing because for you they’re always tangled together.

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