I’d be willing to wager that phrasing makes you think of sex work, and while that is one type of transaction, it’s definitely not the first I learned. The first example of this for me was in the animated Aladdin. I can still picture Jasmine in the red outfit, flipping a switching and beaconing the bad guy with a come hither tone of voice.
That is my first memory knowing that sexuality, particularly women’s asexuality, was something that was not so much felt, but offered. The next time I saw this type of behavior was a Stargate SG-1 episode where the men were chemically seduced by Hathor. The women were locked up since they are unable to be controlled in this fashion, hick up their shirts and get their flirt on with the male guards.
Science fiction is a common offender of this trope, which says fair reaching things about the assumed submission of women to men, and how men are slaves to their urges.
But today, I’d like to highlight how these examples teach aces that sexual behavior is something offered in exchange for something. This is a wildly dangerous situation when aces date simply because a friend is needed, or when aces have sex because protection is wanted. These events are at times consensual, but are transactional in a less obvious way than sex work.
For aces in particular, depictions of Jasmine’s red outfit inspired sexuality, or Stargate’s flirt ploy, can dangerously misinform aces about how to navigate the topic. Women’s sexuality is displayed as a weapon towards men, and one that far to easily can turned against us. A weapon not of our own consumption￼, and not for our own empowerment.
And without feeling earnest sexual attraction we have less of a chance to make course corrections into situations that make us feel respected.
While this article does not paint a complete picture of all the reasons aces might have sex, but it does ask for a growing awareness that the behavior of aces, and many other groups, are the result of simply trying to survive in a world where compulsory sexuality and amatonormaity are demanded.
And acknowledgment ￼that aces face this, that women face this, that anyone may￼￼ face this, might be able to keep our sexualities from feeling as if they were for sale to the hetro-patriarchy.
How looking at the spilt attraction model can better help people understand SAM and Non-SAM people.
There is a long standing tug of where between groups over where aros fit, and has it’s own set of purity politics that follow. This article is not gossip explaining interpersonal community friction, at its core more queer theory specially on how a-spec communities organize.
I think all this tension, and often infighting, is the product of being upset with intersectionality. I personally find asexuality and aromantism’s twin like behavior and shared history a boon. It’s a ven diagram, that as far as I can tell, skews ace. And no other community probably overindexes aces as much as the aromantic one. Which creates a tension of ‘why can’t we have our own things’ as it does equally ‘why aren’t aro aces doing more for aros specifically.’ Mind you, I think the second is unfair. But the point I’m trying to make goes as follows.
I was listening to this philosopher and he said that humans often dissect to understand concepts. Spitting things apart, and apart, until you reach the atom. And then say aha an atom, the smallest thing, from the word which means cannot be spilit! And then, oh dear… we split the atom. Now there’s protons, neutrons, electrons, and then maybe there’s more things in there too, and hey what’s this quark I keep hearing about? And these dissections makes the world more complicated. You see this all the time as a complaint about the a-spec community. Why new words, why spilit attraction model, and so on.
Going back to our example, well maybe you were looking to heal what ails you and now people are talking about things on a cellular level. And don’t get me wrong, that sort of understanding is a net gain for doctors to help you. But the lgbtq communities whose sole goal is “people should be allowed to be who they are without limitation” makes such exact concepts on how to do that more complex. Now that’s as true for a-specs as anyone else.
But I feel like for a-spec people, some want to just pull an proton out without realizing the electromagnetic force that keeps the neutron nearby. And I find it deeply ironic that communities based on the acceptance over the lack of strong attraction, have trouble viewing two separate things, that often times share in lived history, share experiences, and by the changing of language which spilit a previous understanding of asexuality further to help make sure aromanticsm was not forgotten, do have an electromagnetic-like attraction to each other.
And honestly? That spilt and pull towards each other is not unique to asexuality. This division to better see the communities parts, to further explain them in English this has been going on for a century now. While it is important to learn through the dissection of human sexuality, we mustn’t forget its compilated because humans make it so. This means it’s natural state isn’t compilated at all. It just is, like the grass just grows.
I wish I could quickly explain that “community spaces” are not geological territories based on land. The idea that queer people will abuse each other over this concept of a club that has no physical barriers is mine numbingly incorrect.
This dream of fully protecting a community from outsiders that would do it harm is a false one. “I want the lgbtq community safe from people who have a privilege” is nobel, but flawed.
We don’t kick cis people out because there’s trans people in the community. We don’t kick white people out because there’s people of color in the community. We don’t kick abled people out because they’re disabled people in the community.
And this idea that we can even kick people out, at all, is a false one. Our communities are multiple communities, ranging in physical location, online platforms, and the idea of human categorization itself.
You can keep your interactions with the people you deal with as safe as you believe. Measured by whatever metric you believe in. But it is impossible to wholesale protect the community from all harm because you are not all knowing, all present, or responsible for anyone besides yourself.
Exclusion does not only fail because asexual‘s are inherently targeted by hetronormality. Exclusion fails because we are not one community, but the many. Liberation is not won on a single front. We are, and it is, endless.
You can no more protect the community and the people with in it from harm than a parent can protect their child from harm. All you can do is be a loving environment in yourself and teach what you know so your child may protect themselves with or without your presence.
We never should never fool ourselves into thinking this is a country. There’s no authority, we are all equal, and while that makes organization harder at times it’s a constant reminder of all own worth.
Final thoughts for the #BelieveAces series:
I was talking with someone the other day, and we were having a very frank conversation about the abuse we faced in life. Awful things that got us targeted because we were both asexual. And this person kept saying things like, “you’re a girl, you get it”. A bunch of times. And this article holds no ill will or blame because I didn’t correct them for it. For a curious reason I’d like to explain.
Now this is based on my personal interactions with cis women. Trans people have every right to completely halt a conversation until they are properly seen. For me, I’ll sometimes allow it because these situations always show my ever fraying connection to “womanhood”, whatever that means. And makes me realize that whatever it does mean, I don’t feel it in such a literal way.
Interactions where I can nod along and agree to “I was targeted by men because I am asexual.” Are common. Let me say that first. They are so jarringly common that opening our ask box can be triggering. But the point I want to make is times when I am able to nod along, and say this is shared abuse because we were seen as women who were unavailable. That’s really the only connection to womanhood I do feel. But trauma bonding is not gender.
So often bigots want to excuse abuse faced by asexuals as simply the abuse of women, and it’s such a dismissive thing because multiple genders are being ignored. My ability to say “Being asexual made me a target” is honestly the only detail I like sharing. And by hearing cis women say the same thing is validating in a way. I get told often that any aggression I face is misdirected. But by listening to others stories reaffirms my own ability to clearly describe my own experiences and what caused it.
As a society we don’t listen to abuse victims, and when it comes to aces even less so. Same with trans stories. Because identity is treated as an excuse for detractors, not a factor. My assumed in-availability towards sexually entitled men connects me to women, and connects me to lesbians, and connects me to aces of all genders.
While we all should be more aware not to assume gender of those we are talking too, I don’t really find this empathic reaction as a complete failure. Instead it should be a reminder that we are all people. All living in this society that only views us as binary and straight.
– Roses from a digital typewriter
I’ve been thinking a lot about the removal of labels.
Largely posthumously, like in the cases of Stephen Donaldson and Martha Shelley, activists of the 1960’s. In life they commented on how they took flak from leaders for being bi. How their relationship was treated as a scandal because they weren’t visually performing their sexuality in a way that was useful to others. This is such a clear cut case of bisexuality only being valued if it reads as homosexuality. It happened when they were alive, and it still happens when people discuss them, and their specific concern.
Another recent after death label change was done by Rolling Stone magazine. One of their staff writers, with a habit of making fun of asexuals, decided to target Yasmin Benoit for her connection to Bianca Devins. Yasmin is the creator of #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike, and her path briefly, and digitally, crossed with Bianca when Bianca submitted herself to the AsexualLooks instagram. This disbelieve of not only Bianca’s words, but Yasmin’s is endemic of society at large.
People don’t believe asexuals when they speak.
Even more recently, a Wikipedia editor refused to accept that labeling of a celebrity as ace as proof. Locking the page, and claiming that the actress was being too ambiguous. This real time erasure makes coming out an arbitrary bar people need to clear in order for outsiders to consider them as the words they use for themselves. And the point here isn’t even about trying make sure a label sticks to someone. Or the historical record either. It’s to point out that at all points, asexuals say something and are not fully believed at any time of that journey.
A visit to our FuckYeahAsexual inbox shows countless cases of this happening in countless ways. A quick scroll shows three messages raising the concern of people denying their label for wanting to have children. Two express concern that asexuality is being confused with virginity and having their labels denied eitherway that coin falls. Other asks are a point blank statement. “I’ve tried to explain asexuality to people and they don’t get it.”
Asexuality is a sexuality of it’s own, it intersects with queer theory, but like the field of study the reductionist review of outsiders deciding what is of isn’t asexuality is serving no one, and nothing besides ignorance.
Allosexuals need to interact with aces in a way that allows for our infinite diversity. Not only in race, gender, and ability, but behavior. There isn’t a single facet of asexuality that is a fixed point. Any idea to the contrary holds us all back. It’s high time we start believing aces and the words they say. Other people’s sexuality don’t need to meet any’s preconceived ideas of it.
It is my hope that when we start believing people, we will start truly seeing them as the people they are, or were… Whether they be, bisexual, asexual, other any other queer identity.
– Roses from a digital typewriter
We get so many asks in our tumblr ask box. It’s such a high volume that we do our best to answer them all like a one on one conversation with someone. But occasionally, they will be less of a question a far more of a statement. And if I’m really lucky, they will rattle a bigger thought forward. Something so big, and in need of a conversation that I turn those thoughts into an article. Today I’d like to introduce my #BelieveAces mini-series. Its goal is to show the endless amount of ways that people are not believing the words this community says.
We have an FAQ, but the question not on the list that’s just as popular ‘people keep using this script when they talk to me, so when I say something, it gets dismissed.
It’s enough to fill a bingo card. “Oh, you haven’t met the right one.” “Oh, you’ll want kids someday.” “The abuse you face is caused by something else” “Maybe you are just lying about what happened in the first place.”
The fact that abuse victims are not e believed, and that bisexuals and asexuals have the highest rates of abuse of sexualities. That fact that ace communities over-index in having trans people among them. Further goes to prove the culture of disbelief of our community from outsiders.
The demands placed on asexuals and the wider queer community are so often an arbitrary bar we are told to clear. They demand that sexuality become performative. “Be out how we say. With the words we declare are okay.” Aces are told they must simultaneously have had sex and abstain in order to know if it’s for them. Abuse, or mental illness, or anything that doesn’t make us a gold star individual is further used to not only undermine us personally but us as an identity. By treating asexuality, and being out, as a spectacle we will lose and have lost, so much to erasure.
People rarely discuss the reasons asexuals have sex, for good or ill. The occasional article about it usually frames the topic as a compromise for an allo partner. But still don’t really dig down to the why of the behavior. And there’s a ton of whys.
I know here, my mods and I do our best to point out every reason including boredom. But widely? It’s a good day if asexuality isn’t treated exclusively as life long virginity.
The seemingly contradictory facets of asexual lives make it hard for aces to see themselves, but that isn’t because aces aren’t diverse. It’s caused by the disbelief of everyone else on a larger scale. The general social unawareness that asexuality is an option and the undermining when it is suggested.
Aces in history are too easily forgotten. Ones who marry are omitted, historical figures with any known sexual history are excluded. Those who stayed chaste their whole life are still excused away as something else. That is why sharing our stories, and sometimes even the complications in facing compulsory sexuality and abuse are so important.
Every single ace story has something important to add to the conversation. Each with their own intersections that connect us to others.
The spark of this article was an ask that said: “I think asexuals are more present than others.” On the surface that can find sound like the 1960s line: “If we give up men, we will have more time for the revolution!” But in truth, it’s context had a spin on the idea that put a spotlight on the assumed.
A highly specific and particular ace point of view that unifies every ace. A-spec people aren’t really playing at anything in social situations, at least not the same love games as everyone else.
This isn’t a problem, because instead of just needing to be dealt a different hand, an asexual point of view can actually help people be more present in their moments. The harmful lies of heteronormativity, compulsory sexuality, and amatonormality can be further disproved by our existence at the table already.
Not only does this help asexuals be aware of their choices when navigating through their own lives, a feat more distracting than it is a time-saver, but our collective possibility helps to point out that falsely assumed. Asks people to throw away their social scripts of harm systems, and may allow people to become more fully present in their own choices in the hopes that their life is liberated in a way that becomes of their own design.
Maybe A stands for more than our identities. It as easily, and something truthfully stands for Anarchy. For that’s the accidental call of any a-spec person. Live your life without needing any authority besides your own wishes. Find your absolute freedom of self. This is not a truth unique to our community, but the heart of any revolution.
– Roses from a digital typewriter
PS: If youfollow through the ko-fi link a typewriter view is included so you can see my raw thought process of finding words as I wrote it!
In this short article, I’ll explain how looking at LGBTQ+ labeling as addresses is a really good way to not forget that “micro-labeling’s” focus on intersectionality is not only completely normal but actually a healthy thing.
I’ve always loved the term intersectionality. I think it’s a brilliant word that gives you a visual right off the bat. It was coined black feminist scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in 1989.
“Stay in your lane” also fits this instantly understandable visual. While to me it sounds like AAVE, the earliest date for the metaphor from 1972 and largely something football players would hear from coaches to remind them to focus on their own task on the field. In recent years, it means to stick to your area of expertise.
Sports metaphors and black feminist theory don’t often overlap. But we can take these visuals metaphor further to explain a large number of problems I see daily in the queer community.
Mircolabels vs Umbrella terms
Often times people feel they have to choose between the two and if they pick an umbrella term it’s either a lie or holding something back. But we‘d all be much better served by looking at these two things as part of the same address.
Some people very much identify with their state. New Yorkers for example. In this case, New York refers to both the city and the state. For many, that’s enough. It’s all people need to know, but others may use a micro-label as a stamped letter that uses a street address or a zipcode to be even more precise.
Which parts of your ‘address’ you tell someone greatly depends on the situation. The info you share on with someone out of the country will differ from the info you share with people in your apartment building. One doesn’t supersede the other.
While you might know where you are, other people are lost in a big city and need the exact words right down to the GPS coordinates in order to find themselves, each other, or call for specific help. This sort of location pinpointing saves lives. As valuable as that information is, plenty of people will never need to get that specific in their daily lives. Those details still exist even if they aren’t known, mentioned, or are grouped as one.
A lie I often hear is that micro-labels prohibit change, hide your “real” identity, or other assimilation type lies. I have people come to me all the time worrying about labeling wrong. They want a label, they knew what feels like them, they even recite the definition of the word, but… what if…
And my answer is always, “and what if?” If it feels like home then that’s where you should be right now. And if for any reason it stops feeling like home, there shouldn’t be shame in “moving” to a new address. It doesn’t make your first address fake. You lived there for a time, and even if it wasn’t fully “your address” it was enough of a safe place for you to grow. Some people move often. Others don’t. There shouldn’t be any stigma in it.
In order for a soul to be free, it must have the ability to move or stay put as it desires. Be able to build a nest as intricate or as simple as they want. Labeling is no different. Even if it takes years or micro-labels to get everything just right.
When we are limited to “gay or straight” that is not freedom. Mirco-labeling says these are all the intersections I cross. It makes assimilation harder because it’s a reminder that no identity is just one thing. Society just ignores labels that are in power.
Our truths will never be nurtured if we refuse to admit a forest is made out of individual trees. On average there are around 3,700 trees in an acre, each a little different than the one next to it. In that same group, there are nearly 70 different species of trees. Why would humans be any less diverse?
Do you need to learn every about tree or address in the phone book to be a decent person? Absolutely not. But it‘s dangerous, to others, to run out in the middle of the street bemoaning that certain words exist because you refused to stay in your lane when pulling up to an intersection.