Another thing that motivated me to restart blogging, getting involved in the asexual blog community, and try to get back into the tumblr community was the recent realization that by spending all of my asexual community involvement on AVEN, I’ve forgotten about some less-represented viewpoints and experiences, including those that I fall under. I created, with the help of some other AVEN members, the mixed relationships pamphlet that was handed out at the asexual events at the 2014 World Pride. I wasn’t able to make it to World Pride, but I was glad I was able to contribute something to the asexuality events. From what I was told, it was pretty well-received overall, but still had its problems.
One criticism is that it prioritized able, indifferent or favorable, alloromantic asexuals over the more marginalized, which I didn’t intend. When I saw these criticisms, I regretted not asking the tumblr asexual community for input, because from having perspectives different from AVEN’s as a whole, they would’ve caught details that were overlooked, and helped my group avoid mixed messages, and unintended implications. My first response on tumblr was to give clarification to some points in the pamphlet, while asking for clarification on what others said.
Part of the problem was using the word ‘compromise’. When I first found the asexual community through tumblr, I learned that it can be a loaded term, especially for asexuals who felt pressured to push themselves into sex in a mixed relationship. This issue was going on right around the time I found the asexual community, which was 2 years ago, right around this time, but some time after joining AVEN, I forgot all about that issue. Nextstepcake’s response alludes to that major conflict between AVEN and tumblr that was happening at the time.
On the other hand, on AVEN, talking about ‘compromise’ (using that wording) in mixed relationships doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal, because there are plenty of asexual members in mixed relationships who’ve talked about it with their partners, and allosexual members in mixed relationships asking for advice on how it can work with their partners. These are mostly people who unlearned, and challenged the societal assumption that relationships are sexual and romantic by default.
The pamphlet was handed out mainly to people who are new to asexuality and mixed relationships, and these are people who may not have yet unlearned the assumptions about relationships that can pressure asexuals and/or repulsed people into sex, while their partner compromising by not having sex, isn’t seen as a possible or thought-about option. Because of that pressure, an asexual compromising by having sex, and an allosexual compromising by not having sex, aren’t equivalent. That’s something I overlooked, because from the discussions I’ve seen on AVEN, they look to be equivalent.
I understand that giving up sex as a compromise can be difficult for some allosexuals, because of what significance sex has to them, but societal expectations about relationships put more pressure on the asexual partner to compromise by having sex, and the possibility of the allosexual partner not having sex doesn’t cross a lot of peoples’ minds.
The points that were made on the pamphlet only implied that relationships shouldn’t be seen as sexual and romantic by default, but that’s not good enough. I should’ve said it outright, in order to more effectively challenge assumptions. Unlearning the societal assumptions about relationships should be the first step in navigating a mixed relationship, or any kind of relationship for that matter!
My second response on tumblr is admitting how terrible I feel about messing up the way I did. I’m sex-repulsed, voluntarily celibate, and an abuse survivor, and not a very romantic person (not aromantic, but close to it), and I’ve been in an unhealthy mixed relationship. From personal experience, I should know how difficult the topic of ‘compromise’ can be for many people in the asexual community!
How did I disregard that? I didn’t realize until it was too late that the voices of the more marginalized asexuals are still under-represented on AVEN. I thought AVEN as of 2013 and 2014 is more balanced than it was in 2012 (while in 2012, things seemed to be strongly skewed towards sexually active, sex-indifferent and favorable asexuals). Even if it is, there’s still ways to go. The more marginalized groups’ voices are still under-represented, even the sex-repulsed/averse, who make up about 55% of the asexual community!
Don’t get me wrong, I still like AVEN. I like answering questions and meeting people there. I won’t be leaving, but I realize now that I can’t have it be my only source of information on asexual community politics, because so much of it tends to be left out. I didn’t realize until recently that I had shut myself off from a large part of the asexual community. I shut myself off from a lot of under-represented viewpoints, and issues that I only thought were resolved. I shut myself off from a large portion of the under-represented groups, including those that I’m part of. No wonder why I’ve had a hard time talking about some of my experiences. I just thought I’d been feeling isolated because I consciously rejected sex (I saw it as a deliberate decision, and this is actually unusual for an asexual person), and am not originally from the asexual community.
I think that AVEN, and the asexual tumblr+blog community both have their own niches and goals, and it was a mistake for me to see my time spent on AVEN as a replacement for the time I used to spend in tumblr+blog community.