Tapping at “Stone”: me & a stone (a)sexuality

asexual flag stonesThis post is my submission to the January 2018 Carnival of Aces under the theme of “Identity.” Specifically, this post deals with topics of sexuality, identity, alienation, labeling, doubt, touch, trauma, and abuse.

This impetus for this post is a tumblr post about “being stone vs. being asexual” that Rowan shared with me, after it came up as a recommended post on their dash. There’s maybe a few different things I would question in that post (emphasis on question, since some of it is beyond my depth), but maybe chief among them is how stone sexuality & asexuality are being presented as either/or, i.e. mutually exclusive.

But before I get into that, I want to talk about what my own influences are and where my current understanding of “stone” draws from.

While I don’t know exactly where I first encountered the term, one of the more in-depth accounts that I’ve read is “What Is Stone” by Xan West [cw: blog has erotica book covers in the sidebar, post itself talks frankly about sex & sexuality and has explicit parts]. Some key points: 1) they (Xan West) do not tie it to a specific gender identity, 2) people use “stone” to mean a wide range of things, 3) stone is not the same as having boundaries/limits because everyone has boundaries/limits, 4) there are negative stereotypes/prejudices about stone identity, and 5) being stone is not just about absences and refusal, but about what is present, too.

Some time ago, I tried reading the famous Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg (you can find a pdf download of it here — I recommend looking up a list of trigger warnings before you read because it’s notoriously hard-hitting & I can’t supply them all). I got about five pages in and had to quit because I couldn’t even handle it. Some notes: 1) this book is not an autobiography but is known to be majorly autobiographical; 2) Leslie Feinberg identified as both trans & lesbian and went by she, he, and ze pronouns depending on context; 3) what stuck with me the most, out of my brief scrape with Stone Butch Blues, was one little description of an unnamed tertiary character that arises in a very brutal paragraph that I won’t quote in full here. It’s a recollection of “the most stone butch of them all” being targeted for harassment. There’s only a teaspoon of elaboration on what that means — and that elaboration is not about her gender, or who she’s attracted to, or how, or in what ways she did or didn’t have sex with women. There’s just this offhand addition, right after the narrator labels her as the most stone butch, elaborating that she was “a woman everyone said ‘wore a raincoat in the shower,'” as a metaphor for how stone butch she was.

…A woman who wore a raincoat in the shower? That’s what it says. And as best I can tell… something about that “covered even when alone” scenario would suggest that body/nudity dysphoria or sight/touch-as-vulnerability and a certain physicality of “closed”/coveredness to that can be (can be) extremely salient to a stone identity, enough to qualify a character as “the most stone butch of them all.”

More generally, the definitions I’ve found of “stone” and “stone butch” read a lot like the one in The Historical Dictionary of the Lesbian and Gay Liberation Movements, which defines “stone butch” as “a butch lesbian who derives sexual pleasure from pleasuring her partner, but does not want to be touched herself.” Its brevity highlights the components that are considered perhaps most “important” (or most common) to being stone, but its simplicity elides complexity not just by being so specific but by being so general — after all, there must be something more underlying this, given the fact that, technically, to “touch” (transitive verb) also requires experiencing the contact oneself, and a definition like this feels like one of those that gets at some “generally understood” idea without really spelling it out. “Topping” is part of it, maybe, but defining what it means to “top” could easily be an essay unto itself.

Alternatively, the section “Lesbian Masculinity: Even Stone Butches Get the Blues” in Judith Halberstam’s Female Masculinity (which I haven’t read through fully because of the writing style, sorry) says that “the ‘stone’ in stone butch refers to a kind of impenetrability… The stone butch has the dubious distinction of being possibly the only sexual identity defined almost solely in terms of what practices she does not engage in” — (& while we’re here, the title is obviously a reference to Feinberg’s book — ze’s kind of a big deal in the cultural history of “stone butch”).

I also would be remiss not to include a note about Cor’s posts on paper/stone as an influence of mine — here’s one taken from cos stone tag, for a sample.

So, if I’m going to talk about this, this has been my preface, not of “what I believe,” but of what I’ve been exposed to and what’s shaped my understanding.

Defining “stone” and “asexual” as mutually exclusive or pitting them against each other as either/or is a stance I’m not on board with. So, that begs the Big Question: Why would an ace identify as stone?

(among a lot of ace folk, this is a question that doesn’t really need asking or answering, but I’ll answer it anyway to have an answer on record, since OP’s posts suggests to me there’s an audience who hasn’t heard it).

First of all, you have to remember that “asexuality” is an umbrella term (commonly also described as a spectrum, but I prefer the umbrella metaphor, sometimes, for its relative nonlinearity). People come to identify with asexuality and its cousin, gray-asexuality, for a variety of reasons, and over the years I’ve come to better appreciate and acknowledge that diversity of experience rather than trying to hem it all in to one singular orthodox definition. Yes, AVEN has a popular one-sentence definition on their front page. No, that is not the end-all be-all. There is more than one way to be ace, which is important to remember before you jump at someone for doing or saying something that “conflicts” with identifying under the asexual umbrella.

With that said, conceptualizing a simultaneous stone & ace identity becomes easier when you remember some of the specific subgroups that exist within that diversity of experiences I mentioned, including:

As an aside:

Looking at this list, you may think there’s something missing. What about gender identity + additional orientation labels? In particular, what about butch lesbian aces? Initially I did not include “aces who are lesbian” (or trans and/or nonbinary, for that matter) or otherwise talk about other orientation labels + gender identity here simply because the OP of that instigating post here does seem at least aware of lesbian asexuality already, based on another reblog. Then, digging into the notes, I found this exchange about a specific individual’s personal sexual identity + practices:

[redacted]: Hm.. I identify as asexual but I also have comfortable sex with my girlfriend. Even though I’m not sexually attracted to her, I enjoy it because it’s intimate. Can I both be stone and asexual?

[redacted]: i personally would say no. when youre stone you still expierence sexual attraction, you still actively seek out sex and want to have sex with a woman. when youre ace you dont seek out sex, because doing so would mean you expierence sexual attraction.

…The conversation did continue after that, but I’m highlighting this just for this part of the exchange: 1) one person said “I identify as asexual,” and 2) part of the response to that person was what basically amounts to “No, you’re not.” So if anything’s at issue here, it’s that: not that ace can be combined with lesbian, but that ace can be combined with stone.

I don’t want to spend this space rehashing how an asexual identity can possibly be compatible with a variety of sexual practices and preferences (or, put differently, some reasons why someone who “seeks out sex” [wording from OP] might identify as ace). Instead, let me say this: historically and culturally the asexual community is a place of minutiae modeling, or as it is more derogatorily known, “splitting hairs.” This makes more sense when you understand it as a facet of the asexual community’s origins — that, if we take 2000s HHA as “the early ace community,” then practices like aces separating sex & romance and labeling themselves accordingly dates back to its first few years of existence, even if it took a while for “romantic orientation” labels to solidify as they’re known today (see that entire comment section for more history on “romantic orientation”). When older identities like bi and gay and het are being combined with asexuality (whenever people identified with more than one), that can require reworking and rebuilding one’s understanding of what it means to label an “orientation” at all, since in my culture we usually think of one’s “orientation” as something you only have one of. When we’ve got aces identifying with more than one, then we have aces having to work through explaining to themselves how that can possibly be. And that’s just one example of the kind of introspective and theoretical modeling and remodeling I associate with aces and the ace community.

I’m sure someone might object to me simplifying ace community history this way, but as noted by Sci in 2013, it’s a facet of ace community culture to question assumed combinations and break even the small things down into more tiny pieces. It’s a lens that has existed for a while and seems to me to still exist. Rather than answer through that lens, this time around, I just want to say that it’s a lens that exists — that this is one way of understanding and relating to the broader subject of sexuality. I say this so that you know, before you (sincerely or not) ask why aces do the kinds of labeling-and-definition things that we do, you would be best equipped and prepared to actually understand the answer you’re looking for once you accept that this is a mindset, style of speaking, and way of relating to words and ideas that 1) you’re bound to encounter and 2) for us, serves a purpose. It is not fair to bemoan us for making things complicated. We did not choose for other people’s understandings to render us illegible.

The other part of this answer… is that “having comfortable sex” and “enjoying sex” and “actively seeking out sex” and “wanting to have sex” and “sexual attraction” are, under that lens, neither all describing the same thing nor inherently subsequently-bound (if-one-then-the-other) anyway.

But if you’re confused by that or get caught up in that, you might end up getting nowhere fast, and I’m not even as concerned with that as I am about someone telling someone who IDs as ace that they’re not really ace. This is the takeaway here: We don’t need you telling us we’re wrong about ourselves the moment someone speaks up to say they’ve had experiences you didn’t account for.

Asexuality and a stone identity are not the same thing, but ace stereotypes and stone stereotypes already share common ground.

According to Halberstam, “masculine untouchability in women has become immutably linked to dysfunction, melancholy, and misfortune” and “the stone butch role consistently draws criticism for being untouchable.” In more specifics (bolding added):

The stone butch tends to be read as frigid, dysphoric, misogynist, repressed, or simply pretranssexual. The stone butch defines an enigmatic core of lesbian sexual and social practice in that even other lesbians often ask about the stone butch, “what does she do in bed?” […] The stone butch occupied, and continues to occupy, a crucial position in lesbian culture… despite numerous attempts by lesbian feminists and others to disavow her existence, indeed her persistence…

Similarly according to Xan West (bolding added):

the stereotype of the Stone Butch is perceived as a sad and dysfunctional figure who lacks desire, or does not experience pleasure… the Stone Butch is perceived as withholding (and therefore… selfish), asexual, damaged goods. […] Stone folks and our partners are often treated badly for being stone. People sometimes partner with us hoping to melt our stone or “cure” us of being stone. We often internalize the idea that our stoneness is a problem, needs a cure, means something is deeply wrong with us. We sometimes start thinking of our sexual boundaries as illegitimate or hurtful to others.

The prejudicial lens against stone butches sees them as dysfunctional, damaged, frigid, selfish, repressed, illegitimate, hurtful, and — ! — asexual. Compare this to anti-ace prejudices, ignorance, and hostility, and you’ll see much of the same pattern.

Like being stone, being ace is sometimes taken as an invitation to nosiness. Even the “What do they even do in bed?” question is replicated in the form of what Queenie has called “But what about The Sex?” — a question leveled at asexuals’ romances & partnerships with invasive bewilderment. Like being stone, being ace is treated as an invitation to pathologization. Concerns about trying to “cure” us of sexual dysfunction were especially inflamed when the FDA approved a drug marketed for elevating female sexual desire. Like being stone, being ace can come with daunting expectations, internalized guilt in sexual or would-be-sexual relationships, and accusations of being selfish and lacking empathy. See also anagnori’s ace invalidation map that charts out some of the common patterns.

Because of many of these patterns, many aces feel pressure to be “the unassailable asexual,” the perfect unblemished being possessing no traits whatsoever that might allow some person to challenge their asexuality. In particular, ace survivors of sexual violence may face the double-edged sword of “Did something happen to you?” Which is to say, a common perception is that asexuality is a sign of being “damaged,” an idea invoked to treat our asexuality itself as a problem, and as Queenie has discussed, this creates an impossible conundrum for aces who actually have had “something happen to them.” In general, both being stone and being ace have been seen as dysfunctional, as illegitimate, and as inappropriate — and these ideas have been used as justification for mistreatment in relationships. Exposure to these ideas in relationships embeds the ideas further in our psyche, which sets us up for more of the same, which embeds the ideas further…. (Do I link my own narratives here as demonstration and take the risk that entails? Do I trust you to believe me?)

…While compiling links for this post, I revisited this particular example linked among the links in the previous paragraph, originally posted to the “placiosexual” tumblr, and while that particular blog is no longer accessible, the help of the wayback machine can confirm two interesting details here: 1) “placiosexual” was defined according to the person running that blog as “when one feels little to no desire to receive sexual acts but expresses interest/desire in performing them on someone else” and also that 2) they described placiosexuality as “within the asexual community.”

It’s hard to look at that definition and not see an echo of stone. Consequently, on the one hand, I’m bracing myself for a cry of appropriation. On the other hand, as much as I’m not personally invested in the niche gray-asexual microlabels some corners of the deck have come up with, I don’t think you can really… appropriate… feeling a specific combination of sexual desires.  I also think it’s interesting that someone came at this same basic concept (wanting to “perform” sexual acts and not “receive”) from an asexual starting point and an asexual lens, dubbing it placiosexual rather than stone, and considering it to fall under the asexual umbrella.

I think a lot of stone folks would object to being considered ace, and that’s fine by me. But the existence of multiple people who use the “placiosexual” label and consider it to be ace-related suggests to me an existing tendency to read asexuality and stonelike tendencies as not just compatible, but naturally related and in coalition with each other.

Is that a right way to view the situation? I don’t know. Maybe not.

Regardless of what is true or should be true about a stone-ace community connection, accusations of dysfunction, repression, and selfishness are familiar to aces and stone folk alike, and I think that treating them as “two different but separate things that can get confused for one another” instead of “two different things with overlap” not only strips each of their complexity, flattening them down to a soundbite definition, but also has to ignore that an overlap of stereotyped (mis)perceptions can go hand in hand with an overlap of experiences.

So, with those things placed up front — what shapes my understanding of stone, how I derived my understanding of how stone asexuality can be possible, and the overlap I already see in the social context of asexuality and stone — why have I considered identifying with stone?

It has been hard to put into words, and when I say “considered,” there, I do mean that with the full weight of ambivalence. Identifying under the asexual umbrella and with the notion of stone is complicated. It’s complicated not just because of “stone” being policed as a lesbian-only identity label (and, as noted, the message that aces shouldn’t identify with it, even aces who are lesbian), although boy is there that. It’s also complicated because of some ace-specific baggage all its own.

I could talk here about how I don’t feel “qualified” to judge for myself, with my gray-asexual identity and murky sexual preferences and lack of “enough” sexual experience (aka virginity). But without going in-depth with that, a part of me also wants to say that even if you’ve never been on a romantic dinner date or had a romantic relationship, you can still have a sense of what restaurants you’d personally like to ask someone out to, or how you’d feel about receiving a bouquet of red roses from your romantic interest, for instance, or for that matter whether you prefer to be the-one-to-ask-out or the-one-to-be-asked-out or whether that matters to you at all. You can still have a sense of direction about what you might like or dislike in that situation that would inform the direction you took if that situation ever did arise, even allowing for the possibility that real-life experience might change your mind on some things or prove different than expected. Yet still I have my nagging doubts that say I need to “do it” in order to know, even though… before someone consents to their first experience of sex… my impression is they usually… have some… idea… of what initial position to try, or what role they want to start out at, or one of those kinds of things, rather than going into it 100% ignorant of what they might possibly want out of the experience. I might be holding myself to a different standard. I might be totally off base. I could talk about that. I could even talk about that, that standard of qualification and credentials, in relation to the wrongheaded idea that “straight girls might kiss other girls and might have crushes on other girls, but they couldn’t really know that they were lesbians… until they had sex,” as analyzed by Queenie.

…but that? That’s not really the ace-specific part. Not unless you count the fact that I have the same “small puddle” problem as many aces and being arcflux feels like a major contributing factor to my doubts that I’ll ever be compatible with anyone.

No, the ace-specific baggage I was referring to is the ace-specific baggage of the rhetoric of “to please their partners,” this big wicked triangle between aceness, stoneness, and interpersonal trauma.

First, connecting these three, there’s the contested & threatening idea of trauma as engendering the other two. Like I’ve discussed, stoneness is sometimes perceived to be a response to traumatic experiences. So is asexuality. Comments like these often have invalidating motives behind them (if: trauma response, then: needs to be eliminated), in a way that treats us as obligated to try whatever it takes to change. Because of that, a lot of aces react adversely to drawing identity connections to trauma. Yet that kind of invalidation can still be condemned while we acknowledge that trauma can impact many aspects of existence, and that’s okay. To quote Nakiya’s post on the Model Rape Survivor and the Unassailable Asexual, “Figuring out identity in the aftermath of trauma is hard enough without people insisting that your identity is not allowed.” While it’s not fair to define being ace or stone as inherently connected to trauma, all the same, when someone survives trauma, it’s not unusual or unfathomable for new sexual boundaries or aversions or relationships to one’s sexuality to develop after (if there is an “after”). Personally, I don’t know how much to connect my own impulses toward “don’t touch me” to various suspicious aspects of my upbringing, nor do I plan to try. That said, neither does it feel entirely unrelated when being sexualized against my will feels like such a defining facet of my existence here on this earth. Where people express the idea of “stone” as in “closed off, sexually non-receptive, literally f*ck off,” I am drawn like a moth to the flame. Even if it’s a flame that burns with how much it doesn’t want me back.

Second, complicating that, if we draw a line through “having sex to please their partners” (or “in a way centered on their partner’s bodies, experiences, and pleasure as focal point, where happiness comes through their partner’s happiness”) from aspects of the stone sexual role and into ace community issues, you might be able to understand more of the hesitance, because the issue of aces performing that kind of sexual role is something that has been a point of contention in the ace community for years.

Granted, I have never seen what I’m talking about be specifically labeled as “a stone sexual role” when these discussions occur, and I don’t think it should be. Rather, in one of the common narratives of aces and sex, some of the key words at play are usually the term “compromise” and the phrase “to please their partners.” To call this a loaded subject would be an understatement. With diversity in the asexual community comes tension between different groups feeling ignored or misrepresented, if not outright lied about, and if I were going to introduce someone to the flavor of that ongoing conversation, I might link this, this, and this. The fact remains: there are aces who have sex, and there are aces who have sex for reasons relating to the experience of their partners, and it has been a tricky balancing act to figure about how to talk about that ethically in a way that doesn’t endorse or facilitate coercion — because there are people out there who feel entitled to being sexually serviced and there are so, so many of us who have been hurt in different ways. Some people’s responses to this issue have been to talk about it in a way that blithely ignores the associated risks. Others have reacted by saying that sexual compromise isn’t possible and that asexuals can’t truly consent to sex at all. As mentioned, there is a very… vocal subset of people who seem to want us as aces to focus exclusively on “pleasing our partners,” like that emotional/interpersonal desire ought to override all else. There’s also an opposing subset who objectifies us when we do, as reflected in the creepy “living doll” comment directed at Sennkestra. It is, in short, a big, headache-inducing, trauma-laden mess.

These things are, by no means, the same as being stone or a stone sexual practice. If anything, I have reason to suspect some of the pressure here is for aces to accept a physically very un-stone role as recipients of touch, to let ourselves be touched, to let people “get to” touch us. And that sense of entitlement is a reason for me to bring a raincoat to the shower if there ever was one. But I also take partner-pleasure-focus as an interpersonal aspect of stone, too. And into any discussion of stone sexuality, I carry my repeated exposure to the phrase “to please their partners” in ace contexts as something fraught with emotional baggage and shaken scorpions.

None of this has said much about why I might want to identify as stone. At this point, setting aside all this baggage, I could also go into what present (vs. absent) sexual preferences I do have, the draws, the toppish inclinations (amid a very switchy overall relationship to touch — and I use switch here and not vers because the last thing I’ll ever be is versatile), the resonances I do feel in reading accounts of stone experience… but what’s the point? Announcing my own introspection would solve none of my issues and solve no one else’s.

Instead, I lay this out, all four-thousand-something words of it, as a tribute of ambivalence and hurt and fear. I don’t claim to know what “is” true about the definition of stone. I only know that I would like asexuals to be invited to the conversation.

I shouldn’t be waiting on anyone else’s approval to be whatever the heck it is that I am and yet–

A part of me still yearns for dialogue.

26 responses to “Tapping at “Stone”: me & a stone (a)sexuality

  • xanwest

    Thank you so much for this. So much food for thought for me, a stone identified ace-questioning person. I want to think on it for a bit, before I respond more fully. I am grateful to have read it.

    Your CW also has me thinking about the set up for my website & how I might make it more accessible for ace-spec readers, so thank you for that as well.

    • Coyote

      Hello! I guess you can consider this a very belated response to a reply you left to my first comment…. There’s a lot to say, as you can see. In any case — wow, it feels like a big deal to have you here as my first commenter! I look forward to reading more once you’ve collected your thoughts.

      Also, just as a note, I try to use CWs very liberally — not always as a criticism. Not everything can be for all audiences. But also, thank you for the considerate gesture.

  • xanwest

    I wanted to note that I removed the book cover images on the sidebar for all my stone posts, in case that was a barrier to access for folks who wanted to read.

  • queenieofaces

    I’m going to have to sit and digest and come back with a more in-depth comment later but I’m going to start by saying: I’ve said before that there’s an alternate universe where I found the term “stone butch” before I found the term “asexual” and I almost certainly wound up identifying as stone butch. I don’t know that that is more or less accurate than the way I identify in this universe, but there are definitely resonances.
    (Also as part of very long “you think you want to date me but actually you don’t” conversation last week, the fact that I have thought about whether or not stone applies to me came up, and I had to explain that just because I’m not immediately averse to the idea of getting a partner off doesn’t mean that I’d actually enjoy it or seek it out. Which apparently caused some confusion. Which is part of the reason I’ve avoided using stone, because my relationship with sex is fraught, and most of what I’ve seen on stone has had less of an…unremittingly negative stance on sex. But stone is a good descriptor for my relationship to touch more generally so…I keep circling back to it somehow.)

    • Coyote

      Hello Queenie. <3 Rowan brought that up too! I think it's a fair point — that what linguistic regimes you have your formative experiences under will to some extent determine what words you end up using, just based on what's available.

      And yeah, I've seen the same, too — when people talk about stone there's a lot of "but HERE'S what they DO like," (also usually with a "but" as conjunction, it seems). I really don't know how much room people are willing to make for combining stone with a more comprehensive sex aversion. Possibly not much. I could have waxed on about that too, but geez as if this post wasn't already mammoth enough…

      But yeah, another question I think is worth raising, for sure.

  • Lu

    ……….also there’s probably something to be said about paper asexuals, but I feel like that’s a rabbithole of discourse that I don’t want to go down, and I’m not too excited about my ace card being taken away by saying that too loudly. :/

    great post!

    • Coyote

      There is, yes. On Cor’s tumblr and wordpress blogs you can find more of cos writing on paper and paper/stone more generally (co’s another gray-ace).

      No one should ever have to worry about their “ace card” being taken away… I wish we lived in that ideal world where it wasn’t an issue.

      Thanks for reading. :)

    • luvtheheaven

      I definitely found myself more on the paper than stone side when I tried sex with a cis guy, as I described here:

      But in imagining giving sex a chance especially considering the thought of a person with different genitalia, such as a cis woman… Or sex that involved sex toys even… I’m not sure if I’m definitely 100% averse after all, or if I were to try it, if I’d still be “paper” even then?? I see it as slightly possible that I’d be stone since I already decided I was averse using a Paper set of experiences (in part because my boyfriend was allosexual with stone tendencies and I was asexual with no real preference at all – because I’m more averse than anything – in PART but it wasn’t really the entirety… )

      This stuff is so complicated and I know pretty much nothing about Stone dynamics but thank you for writing about a lot of the nuance of how that interacts with potential ace identities. I really appreciate the prompt to think about all this, myself, and I’m sorry it’s such a complex thing when it comes to your own introspection. It seems … More difficult than is necessary or fair, yo say the least…

      • Coyote

        Heh, maybe you’re right about that. And, as always, glad I could create some food for thought. <3

        Also, one little thing. I don't want to ask you for personal details, but I wanna place a little flag on you using stone regarding your exboyfriend there. Describing cis men's sexualities with historically lesbian or trans terminology is… uh, contentious, and while I don't know where I stand exactly (and there are people who advocate for it being gender-neutral), I do think there are significant differences between, for instance, a stone sexual role and a penetrating role, or a stone sexual role and a "top" role. I don't know if you meant it that way, of course. If this post gets as wide an audience as I hope, though — well, maybe better to say it myself than see how someone else will.

        • luvtheheaven

          Yeah that’s a good call, thanks for mentioning it. I don’t know enough to know what I’m saying exactly but it’s definitely that he wanted to bring me sexual pleasure in the form of performing oral sex on me. It was his biggest fantasy but we never even got “that far” as to try anything quite like that… It’s complicated but I revealed all of what we actually did in that blog post of mine. But yeah I think… The most notable thing to this conversation about my identity is I was given the opportunity to touch him for the sake of giving him pleasure and I declined? Just. All of that stuff is wrapped up in that for me since they were my only sexual experiences even if it was almost 4.5 years ago that it happened.

          But yeah I definitely understand that terminology is complicated and obviously many don’t think it’s gender neutral.

  • Vesper

    been reading this post bit by bit, on and off during commutes on trains or random breaks at work and still haven’t finished reading it (ugh), but going to leave this as a comment while it’s on my mind, before i inevitably forget about it.

    my memory is questionable at best, but i seem to remember “placiosexual” being coined for the very same reason that lithromantic got ‘rebranded’ as “akoiromantic”; that is, accusations of appropriation from the lesbian community were made causing an (even if relatively brief) uproar on Tumblr. i remember this because i was dealing with similar accusations of appropriation and ‘rebranding’ in regards to maverique / aporagender / aliagender / third gender and i recognized the same old, tiresome pattern being repeated yet again because that’s all Tumblr ‘discourse’ ever does i swear to god. and much like what happened with aliagender and (temporarily?) with lithromantic, people were quick to abandon placiosexual least accusations of appropriation or otherwise wrongdoing come their way…. and so placiosexual kind of just faded into the abyss of the internet like many words before it.

    all that to say that i’m fairly certain that placiosexual was coined specifically with stone in mind from the start, as an attempt to circumnavigate the whole “but you can’t be stone and ace!” bullshit in the wake of lithro by coining a new word all together with no explicit reference to stone identity.

    not that it really matters, but thought i’d throw that shady memory out there.

    also, lol. i recently sat down and rewrote a journal entry that’s kind of (sort of, not really?) tangential to some of the things in this post. i’d written the original journal entry a year ago for a video and was thinking that i’d finally get up the nerve to shoot the video this past weekend, but pffft…. can’t be anything but frustrated when discussing ace stuff right now, so never mind.

    • Coyote

      “and i recognized the same old, tiresome pattern being repeated yet again because that’s all Tumblr ‘[redacted]’ ever does i swear to god. ”

      Incidentally! I saw this post recently that seems to explain some of the structural reasons for that (as in, built into the structure of the site). It’s written about fandom, but it seems to apply to community and interpersonal conflict in general.

      • Vesper

        ah…. while certainly not perfect, i really do miss Web 1.0…. sigh.

        returning to the OP, i really do appreciate everything that you put into this post. there’s so much of importance in it– both in regards to me personally and in general– and there’s so much to digest, process. bounce off of and / or simply file away for future thought / discussion / reference.

        as someone who takes issue with the identity policing that often surrounds stone, both as a concept and as an identity, and who has always been beyond miffed when coming across the claim that someone cannot be stone and ace or that any ace who identifies in such a way is appropriating the term / identity if they use it in relation their asexuality rather than in relation to being a lesbian– i love how you’ve outlined and highlighted the potential relationship that can (and does) exist between asexuality and stone for some people.

        i remember searching desperately for LGBT-related books at my favorite used bookstore days after having finally came out to myself about my sexuality, leaving the store with none other than a copy of “Stone Butch Blues.” i’d only made it a little ways into the book before shit hit the fan in my relationship with my ex in large part due to my sexuality and life quickly went to hell, leaving me with no time or spoons to continue reading the book (and i still haven’t continued reading it to this day), but i do distinctly remember being intrigued by the idea of stone and even relating to it myself in certain ways…. but what struck me most is how strongly i could *not* relate to seemingly key points of stone identity (as gleaned from what i’d read in that book specifically). in fact, i’m pretty sure it was discovering stone identity that brought to my awareness my own disdain for being, for lack of a better way of putting it, a “top” or otherwise active participant in sex and how there might actually be more involved in that than just selfishness on my part.

        i don’t know…. after reading this post, i feel a need to process how at odds it feels for me personally to be ace and disinterested in sex, all while knowing that *if* sex were to hypothetically happen for me again (cue mild distress at the thought) that i’d automatically default to a passive role in it…. again. despite the complicated feelings that i have about that due to past experiences and the very same “to please a partner” baggage that for me is both explicitly ace and mental [un]health-related. being asexual and stone may readily go hand-in-hand with one another, but being asexual and “paper”? being asexual and a “”pillow princess””? being asexual, a paper pillow princess and what some refer to as being a “victim” or “survivor” (both of which still leave a bitter taste in my mouth)….???

        a prime example of why compartmentalizing this kind of shit rather than attempting to think about it all at once seems like the best course of action.

        • Coyote

          Thank you for the kind words. <3 And I'm sorry if this post brought up some rough stuff for you. Even if *is* rough stuff, for everyone, seems like Siggy's see-saw is in effect again. And also — just in case you haven't heard it lately —

          Sex isn't something that just "happens" to you or anyone. You don't have to agree to it, Vesper. Ever again. <3

        • Vesper

          thanks for the gentle reminder. <3 i'm alright, though. navigating rough stuff is what i do…! until i don't. regardless, this is definitely a topic for me to file away to further examine and process later and i appreciate the prompt to do so.

          i don't know if i'd consider this an example of Siggy's see-saw effect? beyond people on all sides of this issue being unhappy, existing in what feels like their own personalized hell, but i definitely feel it beneficial to me to learn about the experiences of people on all sides. food for thought is always welcome.

        • epochryphal

          oh man this comment makes me want to write about how ace and paper ~pillow princess~ “victim survivor” CAN go together. hmmm

        • Vesper

          ogod, if you do plz @ me or something because !!!!

        • epochryphal

          mmm would it be ok to quote part of this comment? this part:

          “being asexual and stone may readily go hand-in-hand with one another, but being asexual and “paper”? being asexual and a “”pillow princess””? being asexual, a paper pillow princess and what some refer to as being a “victim” or “survivor” (both of which still leave a bitter taste in my mouth)….???”

          (also hi coy ilu)

        • Vesper

          by all means, go right ahead. thanks for asking, though.

        • Coyote

          (do it do it do it do it)

  • Carnival of Aces Round-Up: Identity – Ace Film Reviews

    […] Coyote wrote about the relationship between being stone and being asexual in “Tapping at ‘Stone’: me & a stone (a)sexuality”. […]

  • Ace & Paper: Contradictions(?) – epochryphal

    […] Coy wrote an excellent piece on ace and stone – how they have similar struggles, similar stigmas, yet are seen as incompatible and mutually […]

  • Butch – Darkness Holds The Keys

    […] In the process of trying to Google something about Stone Butch Blues, I wound up finding a post by Coyote at The Ace Theist where the book is mentioned – Tapping at “Stone”: me & a stone (a)sexuality: […]

  • Jon

    I realize this post is old, but as a person with CPTSD who is only just now coming into touch with my Actual Sexual Preferences after a decade of healing, I really really appreciate the aggregated resources and thoughts this post provides. Thank you for sharing.

  • darlingvic

    Hello. I appear to be late to your party but wanted to thank you for this insightful and in-depth commentary on such a valuable topic. I’m a stone-focused author in the midst of finalizing my latest book (releasing late next month) and you’ve inspired me to expand my section on Asexuality. If you are still exploring this topic and have any interest in a dialogue offline, I’d be deeply interested.

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