A brief collection of examples of advice you shouldn’t give and advice you shouldn’t listen to. Perhaps illustrative of why I have my concerns about ace advice blogs.
identity-policing and prescriptivism
(for better advice + more explanation of why to ditch prescriptivism: “Am I asexual?” “Who can say?”, Permission, Asexuality: The History of a Definition, notes on the narrow definition, an asexual identity prescriptivism linkspam, and a short post in summary)
- Sara of The Asexuality Blog, in this post, tells an anon what they are and what label to use for themselves.
- Queenie wrote a response to that post that features several links to more in-depth explanations.
- Kiowa of Asexual Advice is especially known for identity-policing.
- Both in this old post and this old post, Kiowa tells someone that they labels they’re comfortable with are wrong for them.
- I’ve written a detailed breakdown of some of her more recent identity-policing, as well, from when Hezekiah confronted her about it.
- On a similar note, in this post, she asserts that “we do not label platonic attraction” (despite using both the label “platonic attraction” and “squish”), proclaims a simplistic “you either experience it or you don’t,” and declares that there “honestly shouldn’t be” “a specific label for that.” I’m also surprised she didn’t bring up the Robin Ochs definition of bi here, as there’s a possibility that the submitter is assuming “attractions feel different” = “one type is romantic and one is not.”
- Got this addition through the askbox: in this post, Kiowa even tells Arf, another ace advice blogger, that the way she conceptualizes her identity is wrong.
- Update: It seems as though Kiowa is holding to the same course. See our discussion here and here.
- The Ask An Asexual mod, in this post, tells a young anon “It could be because you are simply young and/or nervous or scared at the prospect of sex” and reinforces the exclusive definition of asexuality by saying, “If you have in the past felt sexually attraction, then you are probably just young and uncomfortable at the thought of sex.”
- For more insight into the problems with this post: the “you might not be asexual forever” disclaimer, sex aversion (aka being “uncomfortable with sex”) as a valid path to an asexual identity, and a reminder that being scared is okay (not a vestige of immaturity that you need to expect yourself to get over).
- Ruth of Queerplatonic and Aromantic Advice, in this post, tries to make an effort at encouraging self-identification… but still tells an anon “it sounds like you are aromantic” and “I would say you’re aro.”
- Rei of Asexual Helper, in this post, tells an anon that they “classify under the grey-asexual umbrella” (a response made more confusing by the fact that the anon was asking “Am I still asexual?”).
- An old infographic from Asexual Resources that reinforces the narrow definition of asexuality and doesn’t mention the wider umbrella at all.
- Shapes of A Gray-Asexual Space, in this post, tells an anon that “the concept of asexuality isn’t related to whether or not someone is sex-repulsed,” which contradicts some aces’ experiences.
- The Grace Place mod, in one of their posts, held up the exclusive ideal of the “born this way” Gold Star asexual. The original post has since been deleted…
- …but you can still find their original response via this post (tw: sexual abuse) with criticism from Southpaw and Queenie.
- Token example from the AVEN forums: in this thread, a questioning ace asks if anyone has similar experiences to what they describe, involving a change of identification from allo to ace as an adult. Members replied with speculation about their medical history, telling them they might have a tumor (!), and telling them that AVEN is not the right place to seek medical advice (which they weren’t doing in the first place).
misinformation & absence of information
(alternatively titled: ???)
- Sara of The Asexuality Blog, in this post, indicates she doesn’t know of any pieces discussing sex-positivity from an ace perspective.
- Queenie fills her in and voices concern.
- In this other post, Sara gives a rather confusing definition of quoiromantic without citing anything.
- Ace and Cor respond.
- Shapes of A Gray-Asexual Space, in this post, somehow neglects to suggest gray-asexual as an applicable term.
- The Fuck Yeah Asexual mod, in this post (cn: sex), makes a generalization that sex repulsion will “most likely tone down” “if you feel safe.”
- That may reflect some sex-repulsed people’s experience, but I have no idea where they’re getting the idea that it’s “most likely” out of all possibilities, not to mention how this claim guilts sex-repulsed people for whom that’s not true.
- Smurf of Kinky Asexuals, in these two posts, advises two anonymous aces to join Fetlife, without providing any warnings about the site’s web security issues, de facto policy of protecting abusers, and unavoidable porn.
bad relationship advice
- Kieran of Asexual Advice, in this post, responds to a personal account of an anon’s boyfriend calling a hard limit on sex equivalent to “forcing him to stay a virgin forever” (something I consider a little more than a “red flag”) with a rather short and tepid reply ending with “Talk things out with him.”
- That suggests to me that this mod is ill-equipped to recognize or provide advice on the subject of abusive relationships (hint: you can’t “talk things out” with your abuser, and abuse is what the boyfriend’s accusation is a “red flag” for).
- Filbert, also a mod of Asexual Advice, in this post counsels a non-ace anon about their asexual girlfriend.
- The Placiosexual blog mod, in this post, tells an anon to send their girlfriend to a therapist.
- I’ve written a complete breakdown of all the problems with how they handled anon’s message that also has more detailed content warnings for the original post.
- Neth of Asexual Advice (no longer a mod there), in this older post, implies an asexual girlfriend is being insufficiently empathetic to a guilt-tripping anon.
- Although I mistook it for a more recent post at the time, my criticism of their response still stands, and I think it’s a glaring example of how advice-givers can easily overlook the possibility that a romantic partner could be abusive.
- Clay of Dear Non-Ace People, in this post, advises a woman to try sexual things with her partner, even after she made it clear she didn’t want that.
- The Teen-Aces mod, in this post, responds to a worried ace anon whose boyfriend has “told [them] countless times that he’s not going to leave [them]” by advising them to simply “Talk to him about it,” even though the content of the original message indicates that they’ve already talked to him about it.
- This one’s more subtle: Rei of Asexual Helper, in this post, brings up the loaded notion of “compromise” to an anon who says “the thought of doing anything sexual makes me really really uncomfortable, sometimes to the point where I have panic attacks.”
- In the same post, Rei also comments that “it sounds like your partner is doing well at making sure you don’t feel pressured” despite the fact that anon reports, “I told her I might be ready someday so I didn’t seem like a burden.”
- Plus, Rei makes a blanket generalization that “Talking regularly with your partner elevates [sic] any worry that might inadvertently happen between the two of you,” which heavily denies the experiences of many people who’ve been/are in abusive relationships.
(sex-repulsion, anxiety, and therapy; sex-repulsion, kink, and porn)
- Filbert of Asexual Advice, in this post, gives specific therapy advice to an ace with anxiety, suggesting exposure therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
- Tristifere has explained the problems with their advice here.
- I’d also add that, while CBT can be helpful to some, there are legitimate concerns about the harm it can cause, as well.
- Absent from their response are any resources on recovering from an anxiety attack, for instance, or any therapist-targeted ace 101 materials like this one, which would have made more sense to include in their reply.
- Update: Filbert has apologized for this post. See our discussion here and here.
Feel free to add more in the comments, especially if you find something that wasn’t covered here.