What is it I’m on the Project Team for?

This is the 1-year anniversary of my election to AVEN’s Project Team. Full terms last for 2 years, and barring something like wanting or needing to step down, or winning a moderator election that was too tempting for me to not run in, I intend to serve a full term.

Specifically, my role that I was elected into is the Resources and Survey Director, a position created for an election in early 2013, as a way to restart the official AVEN census in English. The only official English AVEN census done was in 2008, and while later attempts to restart it had been made, they hadn’t been successful.

My history marks me as a very strange candidate for the Project Team. They’re a group of volunteers elected on AVEN to manage projects on asexual visibility and education, and are considered responsible for the AVEN brand name. Of all the Project Team members that AVEN ever had, I know that I’m one of the least representative, because of my history, and because of it, I feel like I can’t be trusted with handling their brand name. How did this weirdo win an election, and what am I in it for? I really did see myself as a darkhorse candidate.

Like anyone else who has ran in a PT election, I’m enthusiastic about raising asexual visibility and education. I spend much of my time on AVEN greeting newbies in the Welcome Lounge board, and answering questions in Q&A. When the Resources and Survey Director position became available again later in the year, I was eager to run for it, because I have a background in psychology, and from it, a background in statistics and research methods. I could put some of that knowledge to use for the survey. I’m also interested in the history of the asexual community, and how much it’s changed over the years.

So many people I’ve seen on AVEN’s Welcome Lounge board, and tumblr’s #asexuality and #asexual tags, wrote about how they felt “broken” or lost before they found the asexual label. It’s also sad that many have dealt with a lot of sexual peer pressure, and thought they were “broken”, or something was wrong with them that had to be fixed. Some wrote about how they went to far as to try to “cure” themselves. It was all because they didn’t know that asexuality is real, and there’s nothing wrong with it.

However, my focus isn’t just on asexuality, and I’m concerned about possible conflict of interest because of it. It’s been nagging at me ever since I ran in my first election. That’s why I said I feel like I can’t be trusted with the AVEN brand name. As you might know, I identify with the rejection of sex first  (your terminology may vary!) and asexuality second. There are parts of AVEN’s terminology and framework that I disagree with, and there have been times I’ve been discontent with how “celibacy” as a concept gets taken for granted, leading to the assumption it’s simply not having sex, and not something that needs to be elaborated on.

With the survey, I took matters into my own hands. This is not to say that I singlehandedly wrote the survey. Certainly not. Writing the survey was a team effort. Each of us were mainly involved with different sections. The preliminary results supported what I’ve observed in the asexual community about celibacy/sexual inactivity: Most don’t actually identify as celibate as part of their sexual identity despite all the talk about “celibacy”, mainly because of the connotations of that term. Most would just say they’re sexually inactive, or don’t use a label for it, and that many of them don’t have a set length for their sexual inactivity.

It’s important that there are now statistics behind these observations. Talking about “celibacy” is actually pretty confusing in asexual spaces, and the results from the survey may give a better idea of what a lot of people in asexual spaces mean by that term, and show that even for asexuals, it can still be more than just not having sex.

There’s nearly no visibility for celibacy/long-term sexual abstinence that’s voluntary, and for non-religious reasons. I believe that’s detrimental to the voluntarily celibate*, including those within the asexual community.

The stereotypes that asexual and voluntarily celibate people face, are many of the same ones. A lot of great efforts have been made to fight against those misconceptions towards asexuality, and asexual visibility has grown a lot just this year, and great job to everyone who contributed!

However, that understanding of how asexuality doesn’t mean sexual repression, or that it doesn’t mean shaming others just for having sex, may not extend to the voluntarily celibate. Asexuality isn’t any kind of celibacy, and distancing asexuality from it, because they aren’t the same thing, is necessary. However, not acknowledging celibacy, other than “asexuality isn’t it”, may undermine one of the intended ideas the asexual community fights for, and that is to not have sex is a valid option.

People aren’t likely to connect the dots and think “Oh, I get it! Many of the stereotypes surrounding asexuality also apply, and people who don’t want sex, regardless of sexual orientation, are also erased by society, and may feel like something is wrong with them too!” I don’t want them to be left behind, because of the harm of not knowing that not having sex is a valid option. Not everyone who doesn’t want sex is asexual. I’m afraid that there’s this unintended message of “It’s okay to be asexual, but not okay to not want sex”, or “It’s okay to not have sex, but only if you’re asexual”.

I’m advocating for asexual visibility efforts that save people from falling through the cracks. This includes positive acknowledgement of related groups that have a considerable overlap with asexuality, whether individuals in that group are asexual or not. Within the asexual community, there are ways sex-repulsed asexuals fall through the cracks, and ways that aromantic asexuals do too, making it difficult for either group to talk about their experiences. The understanding of alloromantic asexuals and sex-indifferent asexuals, who are considered more “familiar” to mainstream society, won’t extend to aromantic and repulsed asexuals respectively, unless those groups are outright included, in a way that doesn’t try to gloss over them. Right now, I’m trying to do my part with creating 101-level resources.

Sometimes I’m surprised I made it this far on the PT, but I did make it to my goal: To be on the PT for at least 1 year, and finish the 2014 survey.


Footnotes:
*I know I’ve flip-flopped between multiple different terms here, but I often use “voluntary celibacy” as an umbrella term for anyone choosing to not have sex, regardless of what label they actually use for themselves, because this terminology issue is a minefield to navigate. It sounds contradictory, knowing that there are people who’d rather identify as other labels (myself included!), but it’s easier than saying “people who choose to not have sex”.

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18 thoughts on “What is it I’m on the Project Team for?

    1. Aqua Post author

      Do you mean why you don’t understand why some people find these labels, and distinguishing them to be important? If that’s what you mean, it’s important to separate not having sex, from not feeling any desire for sex.

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    1. Aqua Post author

      It’s more complex than that. In kids shows, good vs. evil is usually a clear-cut issue, that the heroes are definitely good, and the villains are definitely evil, and the cause of all of the hero’s problems. Asexual and/or voluntarily celibate people have to navigate a world where everyone is expected to desire sex/experience sexual attraction, and want sex at some point. These social norms weren’t created by a single person or group, they’re a system that extends far beyond individuals, and is perpetuated by everyone, until (or if) they unlearn those norms. Some of the people who perpetuate those norms, saying things like “it’s just a phase”, or “you’ll find the right person” might not have malicious intentions behind it, but it’s still harmful.

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      1. snowflake0w0

        I often use the gay situation to compare.This time I use another example:

        Craniofacial deformity ,intersex and mentally retarded people have to navigate a world where everyone is expected normal development.These social norms weren’t created by a single person or group, they’re a system that extends far beyond individuals, and is perpetuated by everyone,until (or if) they unlearn those norms. Some of the people who perpetuate those norms, saying things like “it’s just a phase”, or “you’ll find the right doctor” might not have malicious intentions behind it, but it’s still harmful.
        (Maybe the mentally retarded group can’t feel it’s harmful…)

        so…………………………?Would you say those words to those groups of people?

        How can people so easy to discern good or evil?

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        1. Aqua Post author

          They live in a society that’s prejudiced against them, and pathologizes them, treating those parts of their identity as something to be cured, though they don’t get those parts of their identity dismissed as phases. People still need to unlearn the societal prejudices against them.

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  1. snowflake0w0

    (re typing)
    LET’S TROLL~~~!!!
    I found a new troll method :
    Go to a dating website>
    pick “a woman looking for a man”>
    “romantic relationship”>
    And then use your best photo to upload on the site>
    you see many in heat animals>
    chat with them a while >
    tell them “I am ASEXUAL~~~I am ASEXUAL~I am ASEXUAL”

    It’s entertaining~
    Revenge always be so sweet~

    以子之矛,攻子之盾(to set your own spear against your own shield; to refute somebody with his own argument; to attack someone by exploiting his weakness)

    I know many of animals ,if they have sexual desire but can’t mating ,it would faster to go die.But in your viewpoint ,you still believe you are the victim ,right?I have no problem and no comment for it.I just want to understand more part of the world instinctively.

    Maybe you can be a better troll than me .

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    1. Aqua Post author

      I understand the point you want to make, but I’m afraid that strategy could backfire, because some people on dating sites still refuse to acknowledge asexuality as real, and some people will take it as a challenge. Some men on dating sites (and it almost always is women receiving creepy messages from men on dating sites) are egotistical enough to believe that they can turn any non-heterosexual woman straight. There is an asexual community activist who detailed her experiences on dating sites, and dealt with a lot of not just ignorant comments from men, but creepy ones too.

      That strategy does however show that not everyone is sexually available, and people need to accept that the world doesn’t revolve around their own sexual desires and wants.

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  2. snowflake0w0

    I don’t know you really understand me or not.D:

    Your reaction tell me you don’t have too much experience of troll.Such unprofessional…
    After you troll them,you have to move their ID into black list to prevent revenge.(Usually they won’t build a sock account to revenge in my experience,but still with small chance)
    And you don’t have to use your real photo,do you think I am using my real photo in my avatar?

    >because some people on dating sites still refuse to acknowledge asexuality as real
    Actually ,I know the “asexual” concept from a “language learning” site (the site claim it’s for language learning obviously),but most people are looking for dating/relationship on there.I trolled many people involuntarily on there..many of them are odious.

    >Some men on dating sites (and it almost always is women receiving creepy messages from men on dating sites) are egotistical enough to believe that they can turn any non-heterosexual woman straight.
    No,they are not “egotistical”(maybe the definition is different by person).Usually they are that kind most most insecure with lowest self-confidence people in real life with ugly soul thus they only dare piss off people on internet.I never feel a little bit guilt for trolled this kind of people deliberately.Low confidence guys often are quite annoying.
    And most of “woman “on those site think they can get their benefit(just don’t keeping to pretend the victim ,the real number of victim is very small),…and some of them even are not “real woman”.

    >and people need to accept that the world doesn’t revolve around their own sexual desires and wants.

    That’s why I hate kids so much.

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    1. Aqua Post author

      I know you’re not using your real photo for your avatar. 😛 I’ve never intentionally trolled anyone with relationships, but some of the people I knew in-person who were interested in me romantically essentially accused me of trolling them just because I wasn’t interested in them back.

      People with very low self-confidence and are very insecure, can still be very egotistical, though in a different way than an overly confident person.

      They may take their anger out on other people, because they feel they have nothing positive about themselves, but also believe they have the unchallenged right to do that, because of it. That also reminds me of some abusers in abusive relationships: They’re so insecure, and know that their personality is terrible, that they turn to micromanaging their partner’s life, out of fear that their partner will abandon them for someone better.

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      1. snowflake0w0

        >but some of the people I knew in-person who were interested in me romantically essentially accused me of trolling them just because I wasn’t interested in them back.

        Usually I would tell this kind of people “You are not my type”,and hopefully they don’t keeping to being stupid.

        >People with very low self-confidence and are very insecure, can still be very egotistical, though in a different way than an overly confident person.

        I found this kind of people are the perfect match of internet fake woman or internet fake rich guy. : D .I feel I have my formula for calculate perfect match…

        >They may take their anger out on other people, because they feel they have nothing positive about themselves, but also believe they have the unchallenged right to do that, because of it.

        Yeah.That’s why they are disgusting.Same kind of personality/mindset with pedophiles.But pedophiles even more extreme.I often wonder where their confidence came from ,their schizophrenic “confidence” looks like combustible waste.Gradually,I understand that isn’t confidence,it’s sheer hostility to piss off people.I suspected that rapists in modern society are this type as well.Be careful them.Biology tell us those male have low chance to get a willingly mating tend to rape.Lowest self confidence is a mark.

        Although you like emphasize the gender stereotypes here(I dislike it),I find this kind of idiots love to piss off any gender people who don’t agree with them as well,although they usually targeted one of gender.

        Maybe you can design a troll way base on these personality weaknesses .Because I like watching they suffer.

        >They’re so insecure, and know that their personality is terrible, that they turn to micromanaging their partner’s life, out of fear that their partner will abandon them for someone better.

        Seem quite easy to troll.

        Although I like troll some kind of people ,but I dislike name calling and cursing,many female love it.

        I feel my avatar is more lovely than your avatar ,do you agree?

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        1. snowflake0w0

          >They’re so insecure, and know that their personality is terrible, that they turn to micromanaging their partner’s life, out of fear that their partner will abandon them for someone better.

          I just re think the gender difference of this kind of behavior(Since you like mention it) ,I think female more than male generally……………..

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        2. Aqua Post author

          I assume their mindset behind their confidence or hostility is “I know that everyone is going to see me as a monster just for who I am, so I’ll be the monster they think I am!”

          I like your avatar. I thought about changing mine.

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  3. Hezekiah the (meta)pianycist

    You mention that you’ve worried about your having a conflict of interest re being part of the PT, but I’m unclear on what the conflict of interest is. From what you’ve written, it doesn’t seem like a conflict of interest at all that you want to see more nuanced references to celibacy in vis-ed materials, especially because of how that could be helpful to newly-realized sex-repulsed & aro aces.

    Full disclosure: I’m repulsed and aro, and I first found online asexual communities ten years ago, when vis-ed efforts (among anglophone aces) generally didn’t alienate repulsed aces, though they often alienated aces who weren’t repulsed. I actually wonder what caused that shift?

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    1. Aqua Post author

      Sorry that it took me so long to reply back to your comment. One of my newest posts explains that “conflict of interest” issue I’m concerned about. I wanted to write that post before replying, and that was a difficult post to write.

      I’m glad that there are others who agree with more nuanced references to celibacy, because I was clashing with people on AVEN over that too (not just terminology differences). I was discontent with both how “celibate” people (regardless of label actually used) are treated like a monolith, while being told I’m using the wrong labels and definitions. I thought I was the only one on AVEN having issues with that, and I often felt hopeless. These issues feel like an uphill battle that I know I’m not going to win, but I feel compelled to try anyways.

      I suspected that what caused that shift was backlash against the Official Non-libidoism Society. I think it was because of them, that repulsed aces had to defend themselves, and prove that they’re not elitists. However, that might not be the only reason. Weren’t there also a lot fewer nuances being discussed about asexuality at the time? From what I’ve seen about the asexual community history, it’s only been in the past 1-2 years that sex-favorable asexuals have been talked about a lot, with that label being used.

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