Friday, 31 December 2010

Spontaneous moving

I've moved over to wordpress now, for various reasons, some of which I go into in my last post of 2010, my first post of my new blog.

Do come visit me.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Monday, 27 December 2010

What to expect

I've been thinking more about TEVA. Yeah, that's me, always first on the scene. Cutting edge asexy journalism.

I've seen some people, before the ad was taken down, criticising the way asexuals dealt with that. I was on the verge of it myself. But, well, it worked (I assume. I've not seen or heard of the altered campaign, I'm assuming I would have done had it been the slightest bit controversial).

I think there's something in the asexual movement which could have gone "Oh dear. Look at this terrible representation of asexuality. Let's talk about it quietly amongst each other." I've been guilty of that, before, of not reaching out and EXPECTING.

This time, when we expected, we got what we were given. Some times, it won't be so simple. I'm with Melissa when I say you know what I expect. I know I won't always get it. But if you don't expect, as she points out, there's no way you'll ever get close.

We can expect people to behave a certain way. And only when we have expectations can we tell them how we expect them to behave. That's what the 101 project I'm intending is about, really.

So we expected that this company would apologise. It did. We expected it would remove it's ad. And it did.

We can expect more. We can expect more from the LGBTQ.

Siggy said something so simple on apositive once that sticks with me, that gives me a kind of strength. He asked the standard question about LGBTQ, but with a subtle twist. He asked, not "Does the LGBTQ cater for asexual people?" but "Should the LGBTQ cater for asexual people?".

There's been an air of defeatist acceptance among asexuality. We have the strength to change what we can, the courage to accept what we can't, and we've lacked the wisdom to decide between the two. Siggy's should was, for me, the first whisper of an alternative, an alternative where we expect more.

And now there are some of us who are starting to lay down our expectations. Suddenly, we don't accept. We expect. And yet I feel like this defeatism still looms over LGBTQ. There is still a sense that, because they, like TEVA, sometimes fail now, that we cannot expect any different. And that'll never get that ad changed.

I was so afraid of my university LGBTQ at first. I was afraid to go to the meetings because I had accepted this lie that LGBTQ wouldn't accept me. But they had placed expectations upon themselves, and now I feel rooted. I have access to a history and culture, a shared strength, I've never been able to access before. I have access to a group of awesome people who are accepting, who I feel comfortable around.

We should expect this. Because some of us need it.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

The gay agenda- it's not just for straight people any more!

From the sinister and teal-clad minds of the Evil Fellowship of Aromantics (ie, Sciatrix and I) comes a new and terrifying game. Tiers of Queer, a game of privilege and plummeting, where the stakes are your lives. Wanna play?

This is based, by the way, on the beautiful last line on this post about asexuality, which was clearly not written by non-libedoists, bitter that we'd stolen their word:

Generally speaking, in terms of sex drive and desire, the homosexual and the asexual could not be further apart


(read the rest of the article. It's short, but... informative)
This quote suddenly made staggeringly clear to me the hidden inference behind this. People like simple lines. Asexuals and other 2nd dimensional creatures, can mess up a linear world view. There's us and them. And, for the more refined, there's moderate us, between two thems. It's how a lot of people view sexuality, and the tiers look something like this:

1.Celebate
2.Asexual (dragged down slightly because the word has been stolen by gay sympathisers. You know who you are!)
3.Decent folk.
4.Deviants (BDSMers, mostly. The definition is left usefully flexible)
5.The Homosexual (male. If you're a lesbian, or homoromantic woman, congratulations. You've broken the game)
6.The Transsexual (not quite sure what these people are, but they must clearly be like the homosexual, but more extreme)

This is why asexual and homosexual are more opposite than, say, asexual and straight. Because being gay isn't defined by what it is, attraction to men, but by the level of sexual deviancy that the quality posesses.

Sexual Deviancy is a single-score game. Maybe you fit into more than one category? Tough. Pick the biggest number that applies to you, and that's your score.


And this is where it got to me. I'm 5 on that list. I am a homosexual. I'm not sure if I've directly typed that on this blog, before, but I've said several times that I used to think I was demihomosexual and realised I was more than demi. I don't use gay, because I'm really not. I find it difficult not to identify in some way as asexual, even if there's no technical asexual left about me. Because I'm an asexual blogger, because I'm aromantic, because to invalidate asexuality is to invalidate whatever the heck I am.

I've been trying to introduce myself not as asexual, and it's killing me. Outings are suddenly fifty times more painful than even asexual outings (which aren't fun). I end up with people having no idea what I am, when what I want is to spread visibility. I want to be proud that I'm asexual. Without being asexual.
And if that happens, if I go back to the word asexual, without the doubt every time I introduce it, without the 'so what' of "Um... I used to identify as asexual?", then guess what? I'm a homosexual, pretending to be asexual. I'm a repressed gay, dispite the fact that I think I'm doing pretty well at not being repressed. Dispite the fact that the biggest force ever repressing me was the fact that I knew I could be used as evidence that asexuality is invalid if I ever admitted who I was.

So now I want to say; yes. I am homosexual, and I will identify as asexual. I'm the betrayer in your midst. The wolf in sheep's clothing. What're you going to do about it?

Enough bitter not-quite-sure-which-bits-are-sarcasm for tonight? You're probably right.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

On Static Content

So this comes apropros of two things, both of which have been discussed particularly recently. Firstly, as we've mentioned, there is uncertainty about the role of AVEN. Is it a place for visibility? 101? Community? Discussion? I know I'm not the only person who feels uncomfortable linking someone to AVEN when I don't know what sort of discussions are going on there, what the current mood of the site is. And yet AVEN has, like, ALL the static content in the asexosphere. Apart from AVEN, there's the wiki, which I find much harder to navigate than specifically written FAQs, and the collection of academia on Asexual Explorations, which is hardly the first thing the general public would look for.

And secondly, I know a couple of other bloggers are starting to consider how we might more closely emulate other social justice movements (feminism, LGBTQ, civil justice, etc), I don't know how quick this is going to be, but I think some serious trolling and fail will emerge at some time within the next three years. Up till now, we've largely been doing our 101 seperately, adressing different things in different blog posts, and linking back to them when needed. What I'd like is a comprehensive and easily navigable pool of resources that we can link people to quickly, which is off-AVEN. What I want, essentially, is this.

I'm considering calling it Awesome! An Asexual 101. Yes, it's a complete rip-off of Finally, Feminism 101. That's intentional. It's a homage to those aspects of social justice we want to adopt.

I'm going to be honest, part of the reason I want this is because I think the non-AVENites have been dithering over whether to create static content, or whether that's outside our bounds, for a long time now, and this is possibly the simplest way of getting it off the ground. What we'll essentially have is an average blog, to which I encourage other asexuals who are interested in the scheme to contribute. I'm looking for good summaries of asexual phrases and our responses to typical attacks in a short, sweet writing style, with just a hint of "F*** off" when needed. Also, links to other posts where we discuss the same issues but more in-depth/more ranty/more personal would really help.

Anyone else interested in collaborating with me on this one? I'm kinda scared of starting it all by myself, partly on the 'presuming to speak for all asexuals' basis and partly on the 'running two blogs while also doing lots of essays' basis.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Smiling through the happiness

Ok, I've been spending way too long writing about asexuality. The reason I know this? I saw an advertisement today for eye-drops, which said "You may be up for the christmas party, but your eyes won't show it!" or something similar. The idea being that you have to look smiley and happy. Looking happy being prized over being happy (especially for women, whom the advert was aimed exclusively at) is a big issue in itself, but my immediate thought was to the implications this has for asexuals.

The first of these is that we always have to seem happy in our sexuality for our sexuality to be recognised. Technically, an awful lot of asexuals could count as HSDD if it wasn’t for the ‘distress’ criterion. Distress is held up as the thing separating asexuality from HSDD, but I don’t know a single asexual who has never experienced distress over their orientation. That’s perfectly natural, it’s a new orientation, and the complexities of living as asexual can get really, really overwhelming, but asexuals have to smile through it all. If not, our sexuality is judged to be destructive, unhealthy, and the books even back it up. What’s worse, since the community is so focused around visibility, this pressure to smile at the world comes from inside the community, too. It would be nice if the world would give us space to not enjoy every minute of the ride.

I think asexuality gets a particularly bad deal here because aromantic people as seen as single, thus ‘Bridget Jones’; people who don’t want sex are seen as broken, unhappy, unconfident. I don’t know how our heteronormative world took the word ‘No’, one of the most powerful things you can do in the bedroom, a ‘no’ which is routinely scorned, cajoled and belittled, and turned it into a mark of lack of confidence.

And this segues rather nicely into my second point- consent. I’ve long realised this is (/would be, chance would be a fine thing) an issue for myself, but I’ve somehow never thought to associate it with all the other asexuals who want to/ wouldn’t mind getting frisky. The model which we’re told to want is the enthusiastic consent model. In its extreme, the progression went:
No means no (basics of consent, but lacks awareness of situations in which consent is impossible)
Yes means yes
OH, YES, GOD YES! means yes (enthusiastic consent)

Reading Emily Nagoski (awesome writer, maybe too heavy on bodily fluid discussion for the repulsed, a little gender-essentialist for me) recently, I was struck by the consent issues that her view of responsive desire brings up. How does someone with responsive desire ever say “OH, YES, GOD YES!” at the start of a sexual encounter? The only things they can say are no, maybe and a relatively unenthusiastic yes. She breaks it down:

The idea that functional sexual desire requires wanting sex out of the blue is bullshit – pervasive and intractable bullshit, but bullshit nonetheless.


She suggests further down that ‘desire’ should be replaced with ‘willingness’, and that suits me. A lot of asexuals are physically incapable of desire for sex, it doesn’t stop them being willing. Bottom line- enthusiastic consent is a barrier too high for a lot of people to live up to.

And yet- and here’s the issue- it’s fairly important as a notion. The idea that you have to actually want it and not just be coerced in some way is something I’d love to fight for, especially when not-really-consent is an asexual issue too. ‘Willingness’ is something which can be manipulated, ‘desire’ can’t. And I’m lost. How can we create a definition which helps those who don’t pass the desire criteria while still making sure that the system works for the majority?

When I told Sciatrix I was writing this post, she linked me to this conversation. There’s some interesting stuff going on in there, and I especially like the conversion of ‘green-yellow-red’ (yes, go carefully, stop), which I tend to hear in a BDSM context, for asexual uses. The very concept of ‘yellow’, that there is consent which isn’t enthusiastic or total, is likable, and it keeps the power of consent in the hands of the consentee, while other non-enthusiastic, non-total consent mechanisms can be more easily abused.

So, I leave you with this. A world in which displaying our emotions labels us mentally disturbed, and bottling them just makes us more damaged. A world in which we have to confront bigots daily without anger. A world in which we’re encouraged to smile when we don’t want it, but can’t manage a smile if we do.
And even if we get out of this still happy, we have to keep smiling through the happiness.
Till next time, folks,
Keep smiling

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Sexuals talking asexual

This is dealing with cast-off issues from my last-post. When I approached the last post, my head was a mess of all the different things I wanted to put into it, and there was some extremely heavy-handed cutting to get it brief enough to be informative. This post will hopefully be target-audience appropriate right from the beginning.

So this is largely about discussing asexuality in your LGBTQ, or maybe your sex-positive or feminist non-internet-based group.

Asexual canvassing:
There is one discussion that you are perfectly qualified to have without any asexuals present, and that is how much you're going to publicise that you are asexual-friendly. Are you going to add an A? Or a Q? (I know the Q doesn't seem like that much of a victory, but I've seen enough asexuals banned from LGBT spaces because their name wasn't above the door. It sucks to know that you're there at the whim of your hosts) Or chuck the alphabet soup altogether? Are you going to add asexuality and a brief definition to your promotional materials, let people know that your support networks extend to include asexual people? This is a conversation you can have without asexuals, because it might help you snare some. Then you can move on to the next two discussions:

Asexual resources:
Ok, so you have a feisty asexual or two who are willing to spread the message. You can now go one step up and, if the asexual doesn't mind doing some of the legwork, provide asexual resources. These will largely be resources from asexual people to asexual people. The flaw being that you don't know how many asexual people are actually going to find these resources, it's likely to be negligible. But it's good to have them. I'm thinking mostly in terms of asexual leaflets, asexual-specialised support workers, maybe the occasional asexual meetup if there's enough interest. This is something you can't really do properly if you don't have any asexuals on your team. While an asexual can still benifit from a normal queer/sex-positive support group, it's a lie to say that you have resources for them when none of you knows the more complicated aspects of asexuality.

Asexual theory:
I realised the difference between this and asexual resources when a friend asked if I wanted more on asexuality in our LGBTQ. I think they were thinking of asexual resources, and I was imagining an hour of discussion about asexuality being "Asexuality is [trot out definition]." "Okay". *55 minutes of silence*.
Asexual theory (and again, this ball is completely in the court of any asexuals you have around) is basically resources from asexual people to sexual people, with a little more discussion. This is why it is possibly the best way (except maybe a bit of joint visibility) to bring up asexuality in your group discussions. As I said last post, it's the stuff that comes after the AVEN front page that is actually interesting. The stuff on the front page provides five minutes of talk, and 4.30 minutes of that is the "Is asexuality valid?" question, which is a really good way to piss your asexuals off.
Not entirely thought this through yet, but it's essentially ideas that other people would find useful or interesting:
-The y-axis on the Kinsey Scale
-How asexuals define orientation and attraction
-Romantic attraction, aesthetic attraction (leading into Rabger's model)
-Non-binary intimacy, community-based intimacy
-Asexuality and the LGBTQ
-Challenges facing asexuality/asexuals

That's six topics which could each promote a good amount of discussion. In their own way, they're radical. I feel like they're as close to the heart of asexuality as the AVEN definition. They also all link into one another in a coherent order, and would make a nice presentation which would spark some truly enjoyable discussion.


In conclusion, see how hard I, an asexual (shush, brain. Not now), who has spent about four years active in the asexual community and a year active blogging, struggle to sidestep the initial unhelpful and vexing questions and get into a conversation. That's how much effort you have to go to if you want to get a decent conversation about asexuality going among people who don't know about asexuality. I want you to look at yourself and figure out if you really have the expertise to pull this off.

When sexuals write asexuals

I've been hearing this a lot in the last two weeks and it's only now, when I sat down to write a completely different blog post, that my brain suddenly linked it all together and said "Hey, dude, there's this whole thing going on. Forget your other plans, talk about this instead."

It came to me after reading the Feminists With Disabilities bulletin for the blog carnival. I had a load of stuff here about why FWD is an asexual-friendly space, but I cut it out because I want this post to be easy to read for its intended audience.

Suffice it to say that FWD is always very strong on the idea that if you want to know what's best for disabled people, you talk to disabled people. Maybe this is what makes them so good at representing asexuality when asexuality and disability are two groups that the kyrarchy really tries to play against each other. Because FWD lets asexuals speak about asexuality.
And the ironic thing is that I'm sure a couple of their writers could speak so much better about asexuality than everyone else does, because they spend time listening. But, where possible, they encourage asexuals to talk, rather than speaking for them.


Someone recently mentioned that they were fed up of communities saying they were respectful to asexuals and then not trying to provide any asexual materials. This applies to internet communities and also to localised LGBTQ groups. I agreed a little, but on the other hand, I cringe because I know what sexuals write about asexuals when they've had little actual exposure to asexual thought.

A lot of people, and it happened earlier this week on a blog I'm not going to name, just flick onto AVEN, read the definition, read the FAQs if you're lucky, and get this understanding of asexuality that is no better than the corny American shows that're like "What happens when people don't want to have sex?" Then they tie that understanding into whichever point they want to make, often quite clumsily, and there's your asexual dialogue.

Which, as someone who devotes an inordinate amount of resources to furthering asexual thought, kinda pisses me off. It feels like they've proudly made a volcano out of a cola bottle and some papier mache and they hold it up to me and I'm like "Your paintwork is terrible. You've left most of the top of the bottle visible." They hold up their big, inclusive asexual thought and I can see the holes.

This annoys me because I WANT sexuals to be part of our discussions. I really genuinely don't want a world in which only asexuals can talk about asex, because I think the ideas behind asexuality are relevant to a lot of people. I've talked, face-to-face, with some people who have awesome views on asexual theory. I remember on AVEN, some of the commentors I respected and admired most were sexuals. I'd love to hear the views of everyone else. Also, since typing this paragraph, I've just re-remembered that I'm not actually asexual anymore. I suppose I'm a sexual commenting on asexuality, and no-one's stopped me thus far.

But I think that this is the dividing line:
I'm fed up of hearing "So this is what I think about asexuality, ie. celebately-oriented people." It's too close to "Should we let asexuality exist?" And that's a game I really don't want to play any more. This is what I said a year ago last week:

It's like the only asexual issue is whether we exist or not, and we're too busy with that issue that we have no time to actually exist.


I said it about an article that was four years old. Yawn. Is bored now.

What I'd love to hear is what sexuals think about romantic attraction. What sex-positive people think about repulsed aces. What other minority groups think about detoxing. What other desexualised groups think about the way asexuals experience desexualisation. What polamorous people think about the relationship binary. What feminists think about our own brands of asexual feminism.
What we can add to the discussions on disability, virginity, polyamory, and an ongoing list. What you, dear reader, can add to us.

These are the conversations that are worth having. So when we say that we want you to take asexuality and talk about it, we really, really do. But you have to take more than one bite before you can get anything other than surface. Asexuality isn't useful to you. It isn't something you can talk about. If it was, you'd be asexual (damn, why does my existance always contradict my points nowadays?). But you'll find something will hook you, if you look hard enough. It's past the front page, I'm afraid. If you're not willing to look for it, you could always write throwaway posts. Who knows, you may be thanked by asexuals for even deigning to notice that we exist, and not being more directly condescending than you would be at a museum exibit. You won't write well. And you won't engage me.



(The guest posts idea is still a very good way to get the discussion about asexuality started among your readership. An a certain quasi-asexual blogger is always avaliable, if you want to commission one...)

(a lot of this was also inspired by the blog post by Minerva about the sexual Sherlock fandom writing asexual and ACTUALLY DOING IT RIGHT!! I've found some small scraps of the discussion since then, and there really is some incredibly in-depth, gorgeously respectful discussion going on, a lot of which is by sexuals who have very little experience of asexuality. I was going to discuss what makes this work so very well, but I had to cut that out for succinctness, and because I don't really know. I think some large proportion of it is for the reasons I've mentioned, because they're willing to go beyond 101. But it just shows that sexuals can write asexual)