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)

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

A film about corsets

I was watching Rocky Horror Picture Show tonight, for the first time in over a year. It was a shocking realisation of how queer I've become. Before, I thought it was just a bad film, made fun by corsets. I was so shocked I actually asked my friends "Is it bad that I actually understand this film now?" I think they assumed I meant the plot, but the plot was simple, it was the film that was giving me problems.

I'm going to need to watch it again, looking out for the meaning beneath the words, but there were moments when it just pierced me. At the end, when the house in which your wildest dreams come true, the house of mirrors, vanishes, Brad, corset torn, looks up at the camera and says that, through all his searching, through all the crapsack of identity and gender and power and pain, he is never any more than he was when he started, bleeding inside, an eternal question mark without hope of answers or solid ground. I almost cried. It begins with answers, solidity, gender stereotypes, certainty, and ends with nothing but the potential of what the individual might one day be, if they weren't so afraid, so lost, so alone. I'd heard of the interpretation where it's all about 'yay, let's celebrate our sexualities', but I didn't give it much credence because, well, Frankenfurter is a rogue. Columbia rips into him about his horrible power games and then he carries them out anyway. He is punished for his transgressions, and dies unmorned except by the primitive and external id that he created. How's that for non-judgemental?

But now I'm seeing it as part of the cleverness. It isn't just the anthem of sexual freedom, it's the story of it. Metaphorically, it's what is going on inside us all, and inside our societies, when we decide to challenge established ground. There is fear and pleasure and lies and knowledge and ignorance. Nothing is real, and you have to keep comforting yourself that at least you don't believe the lies. If there wasn't badness, it couldn't be sex, because sex can be bad (and there's a radical asexual notion I'd like to stand behind).

And I've always seen Rocky as asexual. Don't ask me why. Maybe it started with the first time I watched, when I missed his sex scenes, but even after I re-watched and saw Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me and the song where he's like "My libedo hasn't been controlled," I still think of him as a sex-liking asexual. He never (until he's hypnotised) initiates sex, he goes along with it when two powerful and domineering people push him into it. And that's a beautiful little thought- Janet has to pretend that he's the big, strong man, and can't admit, even to herself, that the reason she gets with him is because she needs someone to do what she wants, but has to externalise it and pretend it isn't coming from her. Everyone externalises onto Rocky. In fact, now I think of it, I remember thinking something very similar when I decided he was asexual, and they're connected. Everyone has their own desires, their own perversions, and they take them out on Rocky. Rocky never has real opinions or ideas or arousal shown, he's just the playtoy of all the others, and I feel like I can see through the unreliable forcing of the other character's motives onto him and see through to the simplicity of him. He likes sex because it feels nice, and because he has a libedo, but there doesn't seem to be genuine sexual attraction there.

He's an unlikely asexual champion, I'll admit. But I like him.

A privilege check: 'Missing: Presumed Primary'

We interrupt the scheduled blogging to bring you a post entitled 'Missing: Presumed Primary'. Regular readers will recognise the comforting themes of me being mopey about aromance, also, making up words. We at Asexual Curiosities are sorry for any inconvenience caused.


There's a lot of very cool stuff going on in the blogosphere, about community and detoxing and the autistic spectrum. Right from when I first found Dreki's post, I knew that there was something incredibly potent in the message, and I'm glad it's gripped everyone else the same way.

However, every way I try to get involved, I experience massive privilege-crash, from my original post, as a sex-positive person not recognising how much sex-positivity hurts the exact group of people I'm meant to be caring about and a non-repulsed person who probaby tends to lean too much on the side of 'would you mind hiding that bit of your identity that I don't think anyone should see?', to a neuro-typical person getting involved in the first non-101 nuanced autism-spectrum conversations we as a community have had, and feeling like I'm getting it wrong, to an essentially cis person trying to write a post about my trans 'inspirations' for questioning my gender without sounding like a massive jerk.

The annoying thing is that I now understand the theory of privilege in a much more practical way. Before, I had seen it cheifly as a tool to try and attatch judgement to human behaviour, which may or may not fit in with common sense. Now, I see it as a tool for allies, that allows you to, as I'm doing now, not say "But how can you disagree with me?! I'm a neutral observer!" and just say "Damn, this feeling that I'm not as neutral or respectful as I thought REALLY HURTS. Can't come out to play today, guys. Am doing a privilege check."

So for that reason, I'm going to share some brief thoughts about romantic attraction and how much I feel isolated by it (deja vous?). Also, this has completely nothing to do with the fact that I ran into my squish (Squish: An asexual term, kinda like a crush but non-sexual and often non-romantic) and his impossibly cute boyfriend randomly the other day and they were all like *eskimo kiss* "Sweetie, why don't you tell him that anecdote about this morning" "Oh, that was adorable. You're so cute when you wake up" and I was all like "Hahahaha i want to die."

Completely nothing. Definately the noble intentions, privilege-check thing.

So one of the (many) ways in which I've described the lack of sense which the romantic kiboodle makes to me is this idea that you pick someone, often almost at random, and then you presume that you're each other's primary relationship (Primary Relationship/Partner: A polyamorous term that basically means the same as 'significant other'). If I could encapsulate my feelings on dating (note: it's usually dating I get irrationally angry about, not romantic attraction in general), I'd like it to be a pithier version of "Dating is hoping you can lie to yourself long enough that the lie becomes true." The lie being that this random person is the soulmate, the One.

But my ideas of the presumed primary phenomenon have been loosening recently. It's likely I'm going through an aromantic version of that detoxing stage (detoxing: a still-contentious asexual term where asexuals go through strong negative emotions about sex when first finding the community), and "BUT NONE OF IT MAKES SENSE!!" is, through being able to talk and find people who empathise, becoming "Well, I want no part in it, but I have nothing against it."

Firstly, I don't now think that presumed primary is some antiquated law of monogamy that's been retranslated and retranslated and never rethought since back when women were objects. Well, I do, but that's not the point. I think the presumed primary rule actually has grounds in common sense. When you start having a relationship with someone that's really exciting, people in general will monopolise that relationship, often over their previous but less committed relationships, something that I as the aromantic friend tend to be paranoid about. When that relationship involves emotional intimacy, the two people will very quickly find themselves knowing more about each other than their existing circles. When it involves sexual intimacy, there's firstly a natural Pavlovian reaction to go back to them and get more, but there's also a clear placing above the rest of their relationships because there's only so many people you can have sexual relationships with at once, due to time and safety constraints. And then the final part of my important relationships triangle comes into play, and there will naturally be wild esculation of commitment. When you have someone who you've poured your heart and soul out to, who is also starting to know how to get you going in bed, essentially, a relationship that you prize as 'special', then it's natural to put in concrete plans for seeing them more often, to pine when they're away, and, once all that's happened, to actually start living together, basing your life choices around each other, essentially becoming fully primary.

The thought-test I used to get to this point was this: Imagine that tomorrow, all the crap from romantic monogamy disappears- the idea of soulmates, compulsary monogamy, this binary between friendship and romance, the presumed primary rule. Everyone is suddenly single again and gets another chance, playing by the new rules.

Now come back in 50 years. What stuff did you kick away which stayed out? Unlearned, unneeded. Of that list, the idea of soulmates has disappeared completely. There is still exclusivity of various forms (and much richer and more useful forms), but compulsary monogamy is out. People are categorising their relationships, probably in a binary, but a much vaguer one. Meanwhile, I was surprised to discover that, in the hypothetical simulation in my head, the presumed primary rule is almost as strong as ever. A lot of the sting has been taken out of it because there is no longer a binary between relationship and friendship, so the things which used to be called friendships are seen as valid relationships which need maintainance.

But this whole thought experiment lead, as they inexorably do, to the big question: How do I, as an aromantic person, use this?
I think the key point is seperating the presumed primary rule from its couching in the relationship binary. When you succesfully manage to do that, what you end up with is NRE (New Relationship Energy: A polyamorous term meaning the flood of excitement one gets at the start of a new relationship) leading to a monopolising of time. Which is perfect for our evil plans of binary subversion!
Because NRE can totally be cultivated in friendships as well as romantic relationships. Unless I've misunderstood all sexuals, and only asexuals get the "Wheeeeee, an amazing new friend!" However, from how people have talked about their friends, I'm going to say that's not true.
And I refer you to the story above, where NRE, through the magic of something that works exactly like presumed primary, leads to monopolisation of a relationship. Leads to a relationship fulfilling some or several vital needs, be they emotional or sexual intimacy, or others I've not thought of. And if you can hang on through that phase where you begin to see what needs each other can meet without it becoming a romantic relationship, you then reach the point where you have (fanfare): A highly significant but non-romantic relationship!!

Then, from significance comes commitment, and from commitment comes not dying alone and being eaten by your cats before anyone finds you (which I wish wasn't implied to be part of the natural life-cycle of the aromantic).

I'm very excited now. If I wasn't still snowed in, I'd rush out and find one of the 5 or so people with whom I'm sure I can kindle some NRE and try it out.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

On yadas and community

So I tend to get easily distracted by things. It shows on my blog, where I simply cannot put in the effort to be structured. I was mining this awesome vein on simple asexuality (as in, not being messed about by aromance and gender and queerness and demines and tricky things) and the structures we can put in to deepen asexual thought, and I had loads of plans, and then I got distracted by essays. And then I got distracted from essays by Yadas (for those who don’t know, the yadas are a group of originally non-binary trans asexuals who have formed a queer-ass e-gang). So it’s finally sunk in, and now I have two things I want to talk about. The next one is going to be more about my personal gender exploration, in relation to the gender exploration of everyone else I know. This one is, unfortunately, going to be difficult to appreciate fully if you don’t know about the yadas.

I want to talk about community. Because some of my greatest losses have been the deaths of communities. And the loss of relationships that could have been. I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently looking at the good days, with friends, proto-friends, former friends, internet friends, meatspace friends, good friends, poor friends.
There’s something which hurts me just a little when I spend time with the Yadas, and that’s this sickening sense of de ja vous. Believe me, any Yadas reading, you are not the first (here comes the ‘back in my day’ story).
I remember the gang I used to hang out with on AVEN. Maybe a dozen regulars (I can remember about 6 of the usernames), and up to 30 familiar faces on the edges. We spent our time in Just For Fun, and started out just as posters who vaguely knew each other. Then came The Longest Thread on AVEN, and things- exploded. Almost literally. I think, at our strongest, we managed to get through about a hundred pages in a night. You know the chatterbox? That was made to try and contain me and my gang. We were despised! We were infamous!

And that’s the thing. I remember being the New Young Avenites. I remember our impenetrable in-jokes. I remember the way we all praised each other, and then copied each other’s praise into our signatures. I remember the thrill of making AVEN work for us, being radical. I remember hanging around the boards at midnight, taking over practically every thread as we greeted each other, and the forums rang with our delight. I remember laughing at the previous gang of New Young Avenites, as they disapproved of us, mostly just because we weren’t them and didn’t have the same jokes as them. I remember disapproving of the next gang of New Young Avenites, as they laughed our group into the fragmented darkness of the internet.

Boy, do the yadas remind me of me.

I wonder how much the name makes the community. ‘Our group’ seems to eventually get a name, and with that, it becomes something more. It’s happened with pretty much all my irl friendship groups, and the ones with a name seem to inherit a purpose. It seems to me that there’s a sharp difference- communities with names die, or are saved from dying. Communities without names just loose the potential to one day exist.
I’m vividly reminded of this by the fact that I’ve just been texted by one of my old best friends while writing. We had a gang of three, with a name. Within a gang of six, with a name. And each group had an identity. And each group isn’t going too well. And each group is starting to fight for it.

Some random thoughts. Don’t stop fighting, yadas. Really, don’t.