(alternate title: current challenges with asexuality 101)
Not only am I involved in the asexual community, I’m also involved in a particular subset of the celibate community (if it counts as ‘celibate’, and if there is a cohesive celibacy community in the first place, that is), and am the admin of a forum related to it. I’ve felt overwhelmed figuring out what to do with so little input, but so many issues to balance, and I’m also leading work on static content, and am looking for help refining it. In the first thread, I said that I’m envious of the fact that the asexual community is largely cohesive, and has had years of trial-and-error figuring out a balance. I assumed that the balancing act that’d have to be done for this would be similar to what the asexual community has done.
However, I wrote the first two posts of that thread under the mistaken assumption that the balancing act that the asexual community is currently struggling with, has been resolved! As can be seen from recent and ongoing discussions about the treatment of sex-repulsed/averse and ‘sex-favorable’* asexuals, which Sciatrix summarizes here, this is clearly not the case. When I was writing that, I was thinking of the most blatant examples of the asexual community being unbalanced in the past. (*’sex-favorable’ in quotes, because that group as being a separate category from indifferent/other not-repulsed asexuals, and that specific term, are disputed.)
This ‘balancing act’ issue is still there. It’s not as blatant as it used to be, but it’s still leaving the asexual community in a bind where asexuals who can enjoy sex are frequently erased, and asexuals who are repulsed by or averse to sex feel silenced, despite making up such a large portion of the asexual community. Those who enjoy sex, because of their erasure, might feel like they have no right to be part of the community, and those who are repulsed or averse question if they feel welcome. In most cases, I don’t think the exclusion is intentional or malicious, but it nonetheless has major consequences.
Beranyth makes an excellent point that we should reconsider how we are doing our visibility efforts, which overwhelmingly seem to be geared towards allosexuals, with a pressure to make asexuality as ‘presentable’ as possible to them. Yes, we do need some resources introducing asexuality to allosexual people, but it needs to be done in a way that’s respectful to all asexual sub-groups.
While the existence of ‘sex-favorable’ asexuals is important in showing that it’s possible for someone to want sex itself, and still be asexual (also showing that sexual attraction and personal attitude towards sex are indeed separate things), we need to consider that they’re only a small part of the asexual community. They are just as important as any other sub-group, but from the looks of a lot of discussions about asexuality and sex, it’s easy to overestimate the percentage of asexuals who aren’t repulsed (whether indifferent or ‘favorable’), and to underestimate the percentage who are repulsed or averse.
We also need resources that are geared towards asexuals, and those who are questioning. Ace Theist’s post here shows that our current visibility efforts still have other major shortcomings, such as how it handles the topic of asexuality and abuse.
On another note, I apologize for my reply in their related post, which “This Week, in Discussion Disasters” was a follow-up to. I assumed that the person involved in this conflict, the tumblr user who made that inappropriate response was out to invalidate nonsexual relationships. That’s what it looked like, I didn’t know that they were a survivor of abuse who doesn’t think they have the right to identify as asexual until the follow-up post. If what I said was out of line, in light of the follow-up post, I’m sorry for that, and I feel terrible about it.
I’ve been spending more time on tumblr, taking note of posts related to asexual visibility efforts and how to avoid pitfalls, and try to reblog them when I see them. One of the first I’ve seen is anagnori’s list of the common pitfalls in 101-level presentations. Taking note of all this has also made me rethink what’s the best way to reach out to sex-averse, repulsed, or other people who are, or want to be celibate, but I’ll also have to think of what pitfalls would be unique to that community.