Category Archives: Asexuality Talk
tfw you want to talk to your therapist about some stress-amplified health issues but then you realize you can’t do that without spilling that a few months back there was a big spike in your suicidality and you can’t explain *that* without revealing your sex repulsion :/
There are times when I think about how things would have been different growing up if teachers and other adults had chosen to express that whole idea of kids “being inappropriate” (re: making sexual comments in class and stuff) as… like… a matter of appropriate boundaries between themselves as adults and us as kids, rather than as one of the Rules, the way “do your homework” is a rule and “be respectful of the teacher” is a rule.
I mean what if those adults had told me and other kids that it wasn’t that talking about sex was taboo, but rather that they just didn’t want to necessarily share those conversations with us (outside of formalized sex ed) and that if an adult DOES want to share lots of sex jokes with a kid and share sexual conversations with a kid, that we should regard that adult as suspicious.
What if they had actively encouraged us to judge and be critical of the way adults treated us, in case of an adult stepping over a line, and what if those boundaries were genuinely treated like something for our benefit rather than another excuse to control us and scold us and brand us “bad kids,” and what if “breaking” that “rule” about appropriate talk for the classroom was reframed as not yet having learned how to set good enough boundaries for ourselves and how to be more wary of what we share with people in a position of power over us, not for fear of wrath or deliberate punishment but because there are people we will meet who will try to exploit us.
Like what if the way adults acted towards us didn’t put the idea in other kids’ heads that sex was this edgy rule-breaking thing and that having any kind of boundaries about it ourselves meant we were goody-two-shoes stuck under an adult’s thumb. What if not setting boundaries for yourself well enough wasn’t ever framed as “acting out.”
How would my life have been different then? Can I even imagine that?
Contrary to popular misperceptions of fundamentalists, then, [James] Dobson does not see sex as a necessary evil. For Dobson, sexuality is our most primary energy. Whereas in Dare to Discipline, he castigates the “scientific experts” whose theories of child rearing led the nation to lose confidence in its heritage of biblical wisdom… Dobson idealizes and fights to preserve the modern family created by those scientific experts he loves to hate. But the point of his nostalgia was never historical accuracy. The point was discipline.
In large measure… this discipline is about maintaining middle-class status. Historian George Mosse has argued that the emergence of nationalism in the nineteenth century was intimately connected with white middle-class norms regarding respectable sexuality. Dobson cites Joseph Daniel Unwin… who frames the issues as quasi-mathematical law: a civilizations level of cultural attainment is inversely proportional to the openness of its sexual regulations regarding extramarital and premarital sex.
Drawing on Unwin, Dobson identifies sexuality as our deepest truth. It is the heart of personality: “Self-awareness begins with an understanding of our sexual identity… Everything we do is influenced by our gender assignment.” […] Whereas Freud presented the discipline that civilization exacts as a source of discontent, Dobson presents this discipline as true contentment. For the mechanism by which society effects sexual discipline (according to Dobson) is private property: having a mate, a family, and a home of one’s own.
Ann Burlein, Lift High the Cross, p.155-156
The problem with outer space is that I have trouble wrapping my head around that kind of scale. I can barely fathom the depth of this planet’s oceans, let alone the size of our sun, and yet people tell me there are stars many times larger than that ours, that there are black holes many times larger than those, and that a single galaxy can encompass millions of each. My sense of scale fizzles out into meaninglessness when I really try to wrap my head around that. It is all too vast for me.
If it’s an overstatement, then, to compare that scale to our possibilities for intimacy, happiness, and affirmation of worth, then let it be an overstatement. I need more people to say it like this. I need that message out there, more ardent and more often, that there are galaxies full of star systems of ways to relate, interact, and bond with other people. Sex? Is just one planet, maybe two or three.
I’ve often been frustrated with sci-fi’s limited biodiversity and its tendency toward monobiome planets, when a biologist could tell you that our one small earth is a home to a staggaring number and range of forms of life and there are so many, so many, so many things here alone.
And that’s what I mean about our sense of scale, that something can be enormous in variety yet still be dwarfed. I am not minimizing sex and what it can be by describing it as less than a solar system. I am not minimizing how much there is to the world of sexuality that can be explored. It’s a lot. And yet a galaxy is bigger.
I want more insistence to that effect, in every way. I want to hear that more and know it’s sincere. I want everyone to hear that on the regular and to know they are not limited. I want a culture that welcomes exploration of the full breadth available to us, that does not prescribe where we visit and where we settle. I want to grasp that sense of scale and I want my friends to, too, and I want no one to go to sleep without a scrap of it. When someone goes out at night, someplace far from the light pollution of the city, out on the dark of the remote wilderness, and looks up and sees a sky full of stars — that sight reflects only a pinprick of the why and the how of it all. Just because a person cannot name them all, and does not know each and every one, does not mean those stars are not out there. Just because most of us will never leave this physical planet in our lives does not mean that we were only meant to see one solar system in the galaxies of hearts.
And that’s hard to trust, on its own. It’s more natural for my own brain and others like it to only accommodate a sense of scale for the amount that we can see around us. I think for a lot of sighted people it’s that way. Beyond that, beyond these immediate surroundings, it’s hard to keep holding onto, as the imagination recedes further and further in scale. Which is why it matters so much what we put before us — and what is put before us. You don’t need an astronomer, just an artist, to tell you that some things will seem larger depending on where you’re standing. Sometimes, because of that, the smaller things can seem to block out the larger things, to the point that you can’t see the larger things at all. An eclipse is merely a matter of perspective.
A short linkspam of linkspams (and some individual posts) on ace intersections, including intracommunity issues and problems faced outside the community. I’m still not all there in the head but, hey, wanted to do a thing, still.
Note in case of tumblrwarp: please visit the original wordpress post in case of future edits/updates.
Gender (Identity and Alignment) – Carnival of Aces November 2011: Gender and Carnival of Aces March 2016: Gender Norms and Asexuality feature posts on being trans, being female, and being nonbinary.
Race and Ethnicity – Vesper’s APoC Resources page has tons of links to content on/by/for asexual people of color, including articles and videos on racism inside and outside of the community, such as The Large Space That White Supremacy Occupies In Conversations About Sexuality.
You can also find some posts on being Jewish in the roundup for Carnival of Aces October 2014.
Gay, Bi, and Queer – On this subject, I’d highlight Living gay (and ace), On “no romo”, and Being asexual, “of the bi-ish persuasion,” and afraid, as well as this post on guilt over desire for representation. For further reading, see Queenie’s so-called teeny tiny linkspam on asexuality and queerness.
Illness and Disability – Carnival of Aces June 2015: Mental Health and Carnival of Aces October 2013: Disability and Asexuality feature posts on being mentally ill, being disabled, and choices on the part of the ace community, disability activists, and health care providers.
Sexual Violence – Queenie’s Ace Survivors as Rhetorical Devices series explains how to avoid damaging rhetoric about survivors of sexual violence.
The RFAS (Resources for Ace Survivors) Recommended Reading page covers a broader range of topics under the same umbrella of asexuality and sexual violence.
Here’s a post on the use of terms like “visibility” in the context of asexual & other minority issues, brought to you by nothing in particular besides the fact that I’m unfocused and restless.
See, “visibility” is a fine word to express a specific abstract idea of societal access, awareness, and circulation, and yet… seeing it used too often, in certain ways, has begun to grate on me.
Not as much as “erasure” does, though my bristling at that one does feel more petty, to be honest… Could be just a matter of personal distaste, I guess. When something is “erased” what my literal mind interprets that as is a literal cessation existence, like in sci fi when memories get erased… as opposed to how I’ve seen people using it politically, as a verb for when a fact is ignored, overlooked, covered up, or denied. I don’t think erasing is a good metaphor for misrepresentating, obscuring, and lying, but maybe that’s just me.
As a side note — there’ve been select times when I’ve seen “erasure” used on something specific being conspicuously omitted or obscured for historical record, and… y’all. We have a word for that. Please don’t leave “censorship” to its misuse by various misogynists. It’s a real, actual bad thing to be opposed. But hey, me preferring one word to another… maybe that’s also just me.
If there’s anything that’s not just me, here, it’s a concern that “visibility,” as a fair goal, seems to sometimes gain too much focus and centrality as a priority in some ace rhetoric. I think of visibility as an along-the-way kind of goal, as opposed to an end goal unto itself. And sometimes, the way some people talk… I’mmm not so sure they agree.
More times then I can count, I’ve seen this “asexuals are invisible” idea forefronted as a core of asexual issues (complete w/ “invisible” as something we *are*, rather than something that is *done to us* — which it is. by the way. mass-scale process that is done. to. us.). And I understand how, with so many of us having been kept in the dark with monolythic images of sexuality and internalized hetorosexism, resolving that seems like it could resolve a lot.
But when the issue’s highlighted just a little too much, I want to grab someone by the shoulders and say, hey, you know a demographic that’s also highly “visible”? Women. Women are visible. Images and depictions of women would be hard to avoid, frankly. Everyone knows that women *exist.* And yet, by golly, it’s almost as if that hasn’t solved sexism. It’s almost as if that wouldn’t solve challenges faced by ace survivors and antiace sexual entitlement, either.
Being seen, or being seen more often, is not liberation. Visibility is not liberation. Visibility, sometimes, can be so far from liberation, that in the case of misogyny they even have a term for that: “the male gaze.” Being seen and looked at and openly perceived are not some unqualifiedly good thing regardless of the how. I want to believe that if you think about it for more than two seconds, you’ll understand why “invisibility” is just a symptom, not a source. A symptom, an outgrowth, a byproduct, of societal browbeating and a culture of rape.
Fact of the matter is, no amount of Horton-hears-a-Who-ing at folks with a chant of “We are here! We are here! We are here!” will ever sway the people who know you exist and who hate you for it.