Tag Archives: analogies

on visibility, erasure, and other sight/image metaphors

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.


Sensation Amnesia

It may seem strange, amid oodles of food analogies, but it occurred to me recently that I could craft a better analogy for my own experiences by comparing them to how I experience pain.

Just hear me out.

Continue reading

Less food analogies. More poop analogies.

I’ve been low on the juice that fuels these posts as of late, but here’s something I’ve been thinking: it probably would have benefited me (and would still benefit me) to be told more often that there’s no one way to be sex-repulsed.

What I’ve seen a lot of, when people talk about sex-repulsion at all, is emphasis on not wanting to personally have sex or disgust at the thought of personally being in a sexual situation, sometimes with the caveat “but as long as it doesn’t involve me personally, I’m fine with it.”  And while that’s a valid experience… I don’t know how much it would take, but I haven’t seen enough “I’m repulsed with sex, beyond just the immediate and personal, oh please don’t talk about it around me at all” to counterbalance that in my head and to dislodge the anxiety of being, ostensibly, even more sex-repulsed than the other sex-repulsed people.  There’s still this grain of “Being Uncomfortable with Sex is Bad” lodged in an old wound, irritating it and not allowing it to heal.  There’s still this shame that I tried to articulate here but is also well-expressed here.

And with that in mind… I wish talking about sex were treated more like talking about poop.

Not exactly the same, since defecation is a medical necessity in a way that sex isn’t, but more similar than they are.  It wouldn’t need to be completely forbidden; I just wish I could feel entitled to react with disgust when a person brings it up in conversation.

If someone tries to tell you about their experience in the bathroom and you give them a weird look and say, “that’s gross, don’t talk to me about that,” no one thinks that you’re the one being rude.  No one assumes you’re anti-poop or want that person to never poop again.  No one even assumes you don’t think pooping can be a pleasurable experience sometimes.  It’s just that, for a lot of people, it’s a gross thing to think about another person doing, and it’s easy to understand and respect that.

So add that to the list of reasons why a lot of food analogies fall flat for me.  Even setting aside the assumption that everyone respects different food preferences, I and plenty others can’t easily relate to a person who just “doesn’t have an urge to eat the donut.”  Not that it’s impossible to imagine, just that it doesn’t have the same emotional immediacy.  But a lot of people can relate to not wanting to hear about other people pooping, without any moralizing element associated.

I expect this comparison would raise more hackles than the food analogies, though.  Perhaps for some valid reasons.  Oppressed bodies (and by extension, their sexualities) are already targets of devaluation and disgust.  I don’t know how to account for that.  But at the same time, I don’t think I’m oppressing anyone by trying to feel less ashamed of myself — and by not always consenting to listening to people talk about sex.

And yet, for all I’ve been mulling this over, I can’t shed this nagging feeling that it might be wrong for me to say that.  As if — sure, you can be sex-repulsed sometimes, that’s fine, as long as you’re not actually repulsed by sex.  Or as long as you don’t talk about it.  Or as long as you don’t express that sentiment in any way.  Even abstractly, even anonymously, even directed at no one in particular.

Am I missing something?