Monday, 29 November 2010

Saving Spaces

EDITED TO ADD A DISCLAIMER: I've come under severe criticism for being so blindly supportive of sex-positivism in this post, which I think is pretty fair. The problem is, up until this was pointed out to me, I'd always gone with the sex-positive movement's rhetoric of assuming that sex-positive is a synonym for non-judgemental. I'm not going to edit anything out of this post, but for now, please read 'non-judgemental about people's sexualities' where I've written 'sex-positive'.

Not been writing much recently, restraints of work, and all, but every few days, I seem to stumble across new cool asexy blogs. My list has increased almost exponentially. Check out the list to the left-hand side if you’re interested.

One post in particular, from Dreki’s archive, has just got my head spinning.
If you’re interested in (post-101) asexual community building, you must read this.

(It’s so important that I’m not going to summarise what they say. I’m going to wait here until you’ve read it. Done? Good. I’ll carry on).

I’m still really not sure if I want to believe Dreki is telling the truth. On the one hand, they argue well, it is, for example, kinda weird that the only safe space on AVEN is for sexuals. There’s a whole thing about asexual investment in sexual pain which is another issue entirely- I think a lot of it stems from romantic clich├ęs of bodies burned by the irresistible forces of lust, and unavoidable hyperbole when sexual people try to describe sexual attraction.

My biggest argument against them is that asexuality is fundamentally different from most other minority groups. We live in societies that are cissexist, ablest, racist, ect, but we also live in societies that are often quite anti-sex. When some other minority talks in a way which might be called ‘un-PC’, the privileged can ignore them. That’s what the privileged do anyway. When asexuals talk with a hatred of sexuality, that hatred is fuelled by the strong political groups which invest in creating hatred of sex, in breeding judgement and human misery. That hatred is also picked up by the same currents in society. These are horrible lies, I don’t want to see them spoken at all, let alone by people in a group that theoretically represents me. I’ve always seen sex-positive conformity as an acceptable price. True, it means we can’t say what some of us think, but it also means we’re not feeding straight into the judgemental power games of the natural opponents of alternate sexuality. Asexuals should be held to the same standards as others when making judgements about the moral value of sex.

These were my initial thoughts. Essentially, this is what I think the chief difference would be if AVENites stopped self-policing so rigorously. There would instantly be a lot more of the vile sex-negative threads that pop up occasionally, and there would be no stopping them. All the good work of AVEN would be wiped clean, massive asexual loss of credibility, planes falling out the sky, etc. And I don’t think it would help if we had safe spaces, because I still don’t want that filth in my community, thanks.
But then, re-reading and re-reading, I realised that this doesn’t answer the entire charge. In a slight twist to the Ideal Asexual idea, Dreki asks; why is it that transpeople and people with mental health problems and non-neurotypical people (three communities which appear to have a larger incidence in the asexual population than the general population), have to be hidden away? What sort of positive community can that make?

And are we limited to sitting around for an eternity saying “Jolly good lark, this asexuality business! Such fun!” while we secretly blog and queersecrets and PM our (perfectly valid) questions about intersectionality? That’s why I like the blogosphere and apositive, we can talk without worrying too much what the sexuals will think. When I posted a series of angsty cries for help because the loss of my assumed privilege as a romantic person hurt Too. Damn. Much, a month or two ago, I found myself supported by other bloggers going through the same things as I was. It’s comforting, and a conversation which probably couldn’t have happened on AVEN, where there’s suggested censure at your unhappiness, and no way you could have a proper discussion about romantic privilege.

Dunno. What do you guys think?


  1. I've been trying to post a comment here all morning, but Blogger is refusing to let me post it to your blog for some reason. (I tried reducing the length and that didn't work either.)

    So I've written up my response over at my blog, okay?

  2. Testing, testing, 123.

    Weird. Anyone else having that problem, try and let me know

  3. It may be because of length--I think the comment-post came out at a whopping 800-odd words.

    I, ah, may be a touch wordy on occasion?

  4. Could I have a link please? I can't seem to find it anywhere.

    And I guessed you'd have a lot to say, since you were one of the most active in the AVEN thread I tracked down.


    I just skimmed the blog, but it looks like one that I saw a while ago and was discussed extensively over on AVEN. From that discussion, one of the things that stood out the most to me was this observation by Olivier: "To get an example of the sort of sexual awfulness they're complaining about, they had to link to a thread from before my time here, almost three years old."

  6. Late to the link request--I posted "I put it up!" right before I went and actually copy-and-pasted my response into a post. Oops.

    Anyway, posting a link here for the purpose of directing later visitors over.

  7. There's a difference between allowing general self-negativity and allowing hurt people to express themselves.

    A lot of asexuals have been hurt by our sexual society- everywhere from just feeling outcast to to feel broken to being raped. No, we aren't outright discriminated against (although with all the comments of asexuals needing to be raped/raped straight- there's definitely the threat that there will be), but it's still very easy for asexuals to feel alienated because for all its sex-negativity we still live in a society where sexuality is the norm. Of course some people are going to get bitter and want to rant about it- there's a difference between bitterness and a crusade against sex and sexuality. But if the bitterness is treated as horrible and allowed to fester, it CAN become genuine anti-sexual sentiments.

    @ACH- I didn't realize that January was 3 years ago. A lot of this shit was going on when I left, and was WHY I left.

  8. @Dreki-Please make some attempt to understand my point before objecting to it. The quote I was giving refereed to this passage of the blog post in question:
    "Sexuals are allowed to say just about whatever they want, and if someone takes offense to what they say (such as how they had to rape their husband and insist love isn’t possible without sex)"
    The link was to something in August 2007. The point is that to show just how awful the anti-asexual feelings on AVEN are, they went and pointed out a three year old thread, suggesting that they had to go way back to find something that objectionable.

    Sorry if I come across as overly antagonistic, but people going out of their way to misinterpret me in absurd ways in order to object to a comment is a pet peeve of mine.

  9. (there's a possibility that this may mess up Blogger a bit, as the comment I'm replying to doesn't yet show up on the actual page)


    Firstly, thank you for commenting. Anyone with something thoughtful to say who comes across my blog is welcome (read: encouraged) to comment.
    You're also further encouraged, if you're still reading this, to stay and chat some more.

    However, I think I disagree with your views. I'm not entirely sure- it depends what you mean by 'anti-sexual'. There are two definitions, someone who is against sex in the general population, or someone who is against sex specifically for themselves. I tend to read it as the first one, so I interpreted your comment as meaning that asexuals should get a free pass at judging other people for their sexualities. Which, sorry, no. Just no. (sex-positiveness does not mean we can't point out the bad that sex does in a society. What it means, at it's core, is that we don't see the person who has consensual one night stands every night as worse than the person who is celebate)

    On the other hand, if you mean that asexual people shouldn't be forced to cover up the fact that they personally dislike sex, I completely agree with you.

    I also agree with you about the 'no-win conflict'. It seems like everyone agrees that there's too much sex and too little sex, but the boundaries cross over, so it's literally impossible to be good enough. Especially for women.

  10. Thanks for your gracious reply--I typed that first comment out in the heat of the moment (which lasted for AGES) and now I feel sort of emotionally hungover.

    As to your reply, oddly, I had not considered the concept that "anti-sex" folks were against all sex ever, which is interesting, in a large philosophical way. I generally take that to be hyperbole, or exaggeration for effect. Or if sincere, then a wish for humanity to change so fundamentally that it would not be considered "humanity" any more. Or that we should all die...? If sincerely meant.

    However, if anti-sexuality means that "the person who has consensual one night stands every night is worse than the person who is celibate," to paraphrase your own words, then I do not support that, no.

    I'm trying to objectively see why an ace person would think that way, and is it coming from somewhere other than where that thinking comes from the culture? Too complex for me to try and figure out right now.

    If people, reeling from the overwhelming and contradictory pressures of sexual expression/repression in our society, want to vent loudly, then I support that. Imposing negative judgments on folks who enjoy sex/enjoy it differently than us/you etc etc etc--that I cannot get behind.

    But anyway. Very hungover now. I might try again some other time, and thanks again for providing an arena for conversation/impassioned typing.

  11. I see. So we did have different meanings of anti-sexual. That's good. And I agree with you, there needs to be a place to vent. There's been a bit more discussion about that in the comments to this post, if you're interested:

    (also, you're right, anti-sex people as I see them aren't often against all sex. However, they're the ones who judge people for being too sexual)