See Me Yet?

Last in the Asexuality series (not to be confused with the last time I’m going to write about asexuality) is a short post about where to go from here.

For those learning about asexuality for the first time, please don’t stop here. There are many other people blogging about asexuality and other resources talking about it. Remember that the experiences of other may sound different than what you’ve read from me but that’s because they are. No one experiences things the same way and one persons asexuality won’t necessarily be exactly like mine.

For those questioning their sexuality, trust yourself. No one can tell you who you are or how you’re supposed to feel. If you are searching for a word to magically fix everything, just know there isn’t one. Label and identifiers are only what you make them and even when applied by yourself can feel restricting. Let your ideas and questions work on themselves and you just try and be the best version of you you can be.

My hope for the future of the asexual community is complete social awareness and equality. Some of you may thing this is a huge step but it is what I hope in general, equality for everyone with no discrimination, no hate. I have always found the fact that as human beings we always find someone else to discriminate against appalling.

But if you look back through the history of our race that is what you’ll find. One group, not agreeing with another and trying to oppress them with the oppressed group fighting back. I told my partner many years ago that once gay people eventually gained their freedom and equality a new group would take their place. Another group that has been oppressed and made to feel ashamed for simply being who they are.

I challenge you, reader, to go from this with nothing more or less than a new view on the people around you. Be mindful of the things you say and know that intent and impact can be worlds apart. I posted this series with the intent of raising awareness and fertilizing the soil of some minds but you are the one it impacted, you are the other side of that coin. Do I know the full impact of my posts? No. Did they have any undesired effects? Maybe, I don’t know. But if they did then hopefully you’ll forgive me and take away the positive from what you’ve read and learned over the last six weeks with me.

And lastly, I have a small hope, a wish if you will, to hear that when people are teaching their children about sexuality and puberty and so forth that the entire QUILT BAG spectrum be included in that discussion. Leaving it out won’t stop children for being on the spectrum it simply prolongs their feeling of being outside of everyone around them. If you love them teach them what they need to know to live better and more fulfilled lives, give them the tools they need to know that they are not alone.

Yeah? Well, I’m Taking my Legos and Going Home

Today’s topic for me is one I only recently encountered. Having grown up where the LGBT clubs I came in contact with were more than happy to welcome all, it’s quite a shock to me to hear there are some who feel asexuals should not be included in the group.

When I was younger I didn’t know many people who were out, and from my limited perspective on the world it seemed the majority of people we plain, vanilla straight people with a smattering on the edges of gay people. From early on, I didn’t care about peoples orientations as long as they were decent people. I allied myself with what I believed to be a minority. As I grew older though, I learned of transgender, gender queer, asexuals, intersex, polyamorous and all the other people who didn’t fit into the heteronormative box.

I began to wonder, if there are so many people living on the “fringes,” how are their voices not being heard? And recently it clicked for me. We’re fighting among ourselves. The people who are oppressing and discriminating against the sexual and gender minorities don’t have to divide and conquer because people are doing that for them from within.

From bisexual erasure to excluding asexuals all together, it’s a wonder that we’ve achieved anything at all. We’re fighting for freedom and equality. Do the gays and lesbians deserve it more simply because they have more members. Aren’t we all really after the same thing? Equality, acceptance, the ability to live our lives as we see fit without someone trying to tell us we’re wrong?

There are a lot of similarities between the background stories of some asexuals and gays. Many of us feel alone and isolated, questioning our own feelings and believing there is something wrong with us because we aren’t like everyone else. And my lack of sexual attraction is no more a choice than theirs is for who they’re attracted to. There is usually a coming out experience for all and then the subsequent back lash from some of the people in our lives who no longer accept us.

There is also an idea beginning to pop up that asexuals are trying to piggy back on the success of the gay and lesbian movement. This makes me mad for some many reasons, but mostly because I thought we were all in this together. We’re a team working toward the goal of decreasing world suck (nerdfighter for life) and yet some are accusing asexuals (or others) of being the one holding them back in the three legged race. We’re not dead weight; we’re not riding the coat tails of others. Everyone brings something unique to this cocktail party. I’m not trying to say your cheese and crackers tray is mine but I bet it would pair well with the wine I brought.

My partner and I were talking about this post and I was trying to explain why some might feel like asexuals shouldn’t be included and why bi-erasure exists. The best explanation I had was to imagine a life where your nerve endings don’t reach your skin, therefore you do not have a sense of touch. I can explain all day what rough means but without feeling it for yourself you’d never truly know. Touch is so ingrained into who we are most of us cannot imagine a world without it. Or like trying to explain light to someone who cannot see. My partner mentioned it’s requires being able to walk in someone else’s shoes, to take a step out of their box and into someone else’s. Empathy, it takes empathy. So few people truly know how to do this anymore but without it we are lesser beings. Empathy is a dying skill in our society.

So, the next time you want to exclude someone and tell them they can’t play with your toys because they’re different or they don’t belong, remember they’re human and on some level we’re all the same. To the people who want to exclude asexuals: Don’t, just don’t. The whole idea of the QUILT BAG community is about inclusion and refuge from the oppression of being in a society that doesn’t understand. Who are you to say that my color isn’t included in the rainbow?

Article on the same topic.

Since When is That a Solution!

Trigger warning: sexual violence

Imagine your daughter comes home from high school where she stayed after to do research on a project. She comes home and ask you if you’ve ever heard of asexual people before. You respond accordingly and have a conversation about it. At the end of the conversation, she tells you she thinks she might be asexual.

Maybe you take this in stride, you love your children regardless of who they are and you know they will continue to try to figure themselves out far into adulthood. Or maybe you don’t take it well. Maybe you don’t know what asexuality is other than what she just told you and you’re a little over loaded with information. Either way I hope you tell her you love her and that you are there for her no matter what she needs.

Within weeks she begins to tell her friends at school. Most them are fine but maybe she loses a few friends but still has a solid support group. You notice she’s struggling though. She cries a lot in her room alone and after a few days you can’t take it. You knock on the door and when she doesn’t answer you crack it and ask if you can come in. She makes an agreeable noise and you walk in.

She laying on her bed, her face hidden and it pulls on your heart because she’s hurting and you’re clueless.

“Can you talk to me about it,” is all you ask.

She doesn’t move for a long time but you sit in her desk chair and wait. Your silence more valuable than any empty words you could utter.

She begins quietly telling you about a boy at school. A boy she had been talking to before she discovered her asexuality. At first she thought he would understand. He even asked her out last week, but when they had left the movie and were in the parking lot he had started touching her. He said he could show her what she was missing and that she wasn’t really different from other girls just uneducated. She had pushed him off, and tried to get out of the car but he was stronger and had over-powered her. He tried to say it was for her own good and she wouldn’t be asexual once she knew what sex was really like.

Your daughter was sexually abused by a boy she was seeing, simply because she doesn’t feel sexual desire. He wanted to “fix” her.

Obviously, you take your daughter to the police station and fill out a police report and do whatever it takes to remove her from anywhere he can reach.

Does it matter that she’s different? Does it really hurt anyone for her to be who she is?

The asexual community, as it emerges from the shadows faces ridicule and judgement from many people. Below I give you an asexual bingo card from author Julie Decker who recently published The Invisible Orientation.

Click to access acebingoflier.pdf

These things and many other are heard by asexuals as they come out to people. Even in my own small scope of people I talk to on a regular basis I’ve heard “Asexuals don’t exist. They just haven’t gotten any good ‘D.'” Thankfully, I was at work and he wasn’t hostile but others are not so fortunate.

I really just wish people would live and let live. What does anyone else’s sexuality have to do with the world at large.

My topic for this blog comes from this article and I highly recommend watching this video to see Julie Decker play asexual BINGO.

Flicking the Bean and Other Personal Details

Today we’re going to get a little personal.

Let’s start with sex and masturbation in reference to asexuality.

There is no right or wrong, yes or no that covers every asexual, especially when it comes to the bedroom. One asexuals needs/limits can very greatly from someone else’s, the same as sexual people’s. There are asexuals who when with a sexual partner do not mind coming to some sort of arrangement while others define a strict no sex policy from the get go. However, before delving directly into sex with others, I would like to cover masturbation.

Simply because one is asexual does not mean they don’t masturbate, conversely; simply because one does not masturbate does not mean they are asexual.

There a many asexuals who masturbate, for some it is described as a cleaning out of the plumbing, or like an itch that needs scratching. Masturbation is not an inherently sexual act, many use it as stress relief or to help them get to sleep at night. The difference for some is the things thought about during the act, while some asexuals mention other intrigues, many asexuals state they think about nothing.

More thoughts on asexuality and masturbation here.

There are also a some sexual people who do not masturbate. I know someone who is simply not interested in getting their kicks unless someone else is involved. They identify as a demisexual (now, that does not mean all demisexuals do not masturbate.)

Demisexuals for those that do not know are people who do not feel sexual attraction until they have formed an emotional bond with the other person. I know we’re learning a lot over the course of a few weeks but just imagine the brain wrinkles you’re developing!

Moving on: so, asexuals in the bedroom. Let’s take a moment aside and talk about how it really isn’t anyone else’s business what goes on behind the closed doors of others but I want to address this topic for the posterity’s sake. Asexuals, like anyone else, have free will, they have choices to make and so forth. So, if an asexual chooses to have sex that’s their choice. In a partnership, an asexual might decide they are fine orally pleasing their sexual partner while full sex is beyond them. There are an endless number of scenarios and situations we could cover here.

The point I want to address is that if an asexual chooses to engage in a sex act, it does not give anyone the right to question their asexual status. Just like masturbation, there are many reason one could choose that path and it’s not up to others to decide if that path is right or if it changes who they are. No one else gets to choose the labels another person uses and as we go though life, if I someone decides to change their labels, that’s okay!

Okay to wrap up today I want to talk about romantic orientations. Many asexuals identify first with their sexual orientation then follow-up with a romantic one. It identifies who they are attracted to. I identify as panromantic. That means I don’t feel limited by sex or gender, for me those things are not a factor. You must love cats though!

I give you an info graphic from an article which talks more about what I have posted here today and is in no way an exhaustive list of the possibilities.

Now, I know I’ve been talking a lot about labels and identifiers while at the same time ranting about people putting others in a box and I just wanted to clarify for a moment, if I give myself a label then that’s okay, you trying to label me with something I don’t identify with then that is not. And most importantly, you don’t have to label yourself if you don’t want to. If you want to talk around saying “I’m me and I don’t fit in any box so you call can just suck it.” That’s totally awesome too!

Different, Not Broken

Continuing on the topic of Asexuality, I want to address the misconception that Asexuality isn’t a sexuality but rather a disease or disorder.

There hasn’t been much conclusive research done on asexuality and back in the day before any research was done it was shoved under the umbrella of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (aka the Psychiatry Bible, which lets face it holds many things that have been debunked over time.)

Some information can be found here and here.

So without science to back up anyone’s claims, let’s proceed with the notion that everyone is a little bit in the dark when it comes to why and how asexuality happens and discuss why it’s so important for some people to try and put others into labelled boxes.

I understand from a scientific perspective why we as humans feel the need to categorize things. Categorization is how we learn and is indeed how we make sense of masses of information. (Link provided to supplemental material about categorizing and the science behind it.) Unlike a tool box though, where you can open it and call the tools within all sort of names, when you take this approach with people you run a very high risk of alienating them and hurting them.

If someone thinks my asexuality is a disorder, what do either of us gain by them telling me so? Please, let me highlight some words in that sentence: “someone thinks” and “my asexuality.” At the end of the day is my not having a desire to have sex injuring anyone? Does the label of crazy or sick make it anymore likely that I’m going to sleep with that person? And if my asexuality isn’t hurting anyone why is there a need to tell me I am wrong?

Asexuality is as valid an orientation as lesbian, bisexual or gay. It refers to a sexual preference. In my experience of roaming the internet and reading comments from the wide world of hypocrites, jerks and trolls, none have bothered me quite so much as some of the ones I have seen from people in the LGBTQA society about asexuals. In a group where I have felt safe for many years, it comes as quite a shock to my system to see people posting comments like: “Asexuals do not belong in LGBT. They are non-sexual people and don’t belong in a classification system used to identify sexual preference.”

Another comment I read said “LGBT is not a catchall for misfits.” As far as I understood the meaning and feelings behind the community, LGBTQA is an inclusive group that fight for the rights denied to sexual and gender minorities and fights against heteronormativity, social prejudices, religious persecution and gender stereotypes. Plus a whole slew of other things I’m sure. The point being, why would anyone want to take a refuge like that and close its doors in anyone’s face?

With all of that said, there were also many people defending Asexuals who were not asexual and many people from the LGBTQA community insisting the doors were open for all. There will always be people trying to shove others inside the boxes they have made in their heads instead of just building a new box or rearranging the ones they already have. I for one am trying out a little box burning, I mean it worked for the feminists and their bras right?!

I want to remove stereotypes from my life. Let everyone be who they are and let their actions and words define them not some label I have stamped out with my keyboard. I want people to not be afraid to claim identifiers they feel describe them because someone they know won’t understand. I am asexual, panromantic, polyamorous and non-binary.

Also, I like the acronym QUILT BAG. A friend of mine told me about it. I like it for its inclusion of all groups currently known.

Until next week, I leave you with this video:

It is about bi-erasure and one girl’s struggles with feeling acceptance but the message at the end is for everyone in many situations.

Sex? No, thank you.

It has been only a year or two since I claimed the identifier of asexual. It fit me in ways I never knew there was a group for. The first example I can remember would be from when I was younger, all of my friends would talk about this movie star or that and how cute they were (which turned into sexy when we got older) and I never understood what the fascination was.

I did not hear about asexuality in a way I found relateable until I joined an LGBTQA club in college. I have had gay, lesbian and bisexual friends for as long as I can remember and even dated a host of gay guys in middle school (before they had identified as gay obviously) but had never met any asexual people.

After identifying myself as asexual, I found the AVEN forums and dropped myself into a world of new people and ideas. Having always been a very forward person and having come out as “bisexual” years before, I just informed people of my shift and went about my life.

The problem came when I met new people, people outside of my accepting bubble of LGBTQA members. Most people didn’t know what Asexual meant outside of freshman biology and I got to explain and many people’s minds were blown. I had read many post on the AVEN forums of people who said horrible things to them when they came out and considered myself quite lucky, and still do.

However, there is one experience I would like to share, in which a new coworker of mine, upon learning of my asexuality, tells me (and I quote) “I don’t believe in [asexuals]. They just haven’t had any good D.”

All I could do was stare.

It was the first time I had encountered such stupidity, face to face, on the subject of asexuality and I experienced a “I just can’t even…” moment. I was stunned into silence which, let’s be honest, doesn’t happen to me often. (I was the child reading books of snappy comeback in elementary school.)

Therefore, in hopes to prevent the cloud of ignorance from growing ever darker, I point you to the internet. It’s not like our age lives in darkness because of a lack of access to the information. If there are things someone doesn’t know and continue to not know after hearing a tidbit about them, it’s is purely the fault of said person. The internet is full of answers to (almost) all of the questions. And yes, I know the internet is also full of lies but that’s why more than one source should always be read.

Example A:
This is just a basic article about Asexuality, something to get the ball rolling and to make people aware of things they might not have known they could explore before.

Example B:
If you are asexual and looking for people who might share your experiences, please check out the Asexual forums. If you are curious and want to see what is happening in the community, you are also welcome to have a look around as long as you’re going to play nice. 😛

As with the article I posted, this will be the first in a series on Asexuality and it’s definition, the community and problems it faces.