Recently, I came across an anonymous message sent to an asexuality blog, inquiring after the reason why individuals’ sexualities are such a big deal, culturally, and where that came from as a social phenomenon, and the moderator didn’t know how to answer. They attributed it to the assumption that everyone is straight (heteronormativity), but then that begs the question, where did heteronormativity come from?
The ignorance of their answer concerns me. The reason why I’m responding here, understand, is not to embarrass anyone, but because I think it’s crucially important for everyone to know — especially for White aces to know — and so I’m making this post to offer what I’ve gathered and perhaps prompt others to do the same.
Why is human sexuality “such a big deal”? The short answer is colonialism. For the long answer, keep reading.
If gender is a cultural construct, and if colonialism forces cultural assimilation, then colonialism forces assimilation into exclusive recognition of its own culture’s genders, leading to what we now know as “the gender binary.” Binarism is a tool of colonialism. [edit: here’s even more links]
Binarism allows outsiders to project and assign genders onto others’ bodies, which begets/requires cisnormativity.
When you have binarism and cisnormativity in place, it allows for the creation of “opposite genders” and “heterosexuality” as a coherent set of ideas, which allows for heteronormativity. Here’s a study linking the criminalization of same-gender sexual activity to the influence of British colonialism, specifically.
Colonialism requires the control of bodies, and sexuality is an intimate part of the process.
White supremacy and compulsory sexuality are inseparable forces:
In the generations since “liberation” from the system of indenture servitude, marriage still has the connotation of survival, or at least has for my parents’ generation. It is a mode of protection from government, poverty, and colonialism, turned into a mark of piety and respect for the family.
This is a coerced and compulsory sexuality, and one sourced from white supremacy.
And if you haven’t read “What’s R(ace) Got To Do With It?” yet, get busy.
The dilemma of this brown queer body is its inability to see itself through its own eyes. The mirror becomes a site it which we view what white people have always told us about ourselves. Regardless or not of the status of my libido, I’m not sure I will ever feel comfortable identifying as asexual because it seems like I am betraying my people.
So if you want to know why we’re fighting this fight: essentially, it’s because of the long history of White violence.
Look, I’m not the best person to talk about this, and I only have a few pieces of the explanation, but apparently the whole subject is not being talked about enough for educational ace blog moderators to know anything about this — and so to contribute to fixing that, I want to draw attention to the voices who taught me these things and (apparently) are either being ignored or have yet to reach a lot of the community.
White aces, we have a responsibility to know these things and to tell those of us who don’t.