Monthly Archives: January 2015

Walking the tightrope

A brief follow-up to my previous post, let’s consider this part 1.5. inspired by Ace Admiral’s account of the 2011 debacle. He mentioned that shaming of the repulsed was another issue during the debacle, among other issues.

This was during a time when asexual community overall just wasn’t a safe space for the sex-repulsed, aside from some splinter groups. By 2010, AVEN took sex-positivity too far, and the repulsed were being shamed, and accused of being elitists if they said something the wrong way. The splinter groups weren’t that active, so where else to go?

Sciatrix’s post that he linked to, her account of the 2011 debacle, reminded me of how difficult it was for me to go through the asexual tags on tumblr too. I can relate to so much of what she said. It was often nerve-wracking, but I read through the tags because they were the only part of the asexual community I was a part of at the time.

I felt like I needed to do it, after 2 years of self-doubt and feeling like my right to identify as asexual was taken away from me, I needed to get it back. I wanted to get involved, but was always on edge.

I felt like I was in a tightrope; one wrong move, and I’ll lose everything. In my eyes, I was just regaining my confidence and right to identify as asexual, after they had been taken away from me, and I was afraid of losing it again. Coming out to the wrong person, or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time could’ve cost me the progress I made.

I was almost afraid to contact my campus’ local LGBT groups, because of what I read about asexual inclusion in LGBT groups. I knew that some groups were inclusive, others not, and I had to cross my fingers and hope the local group was inclusive, or would at least tolerate me. I was lucky that they were inclusive. Many of the members didn’t know of asexuality until they met me, but were willing to learn, and were respectful. I was really lucky, because if that had gone badly, that likely would’ve scared me off from ever trying again, and lose what confidence I built up. Their acceptance helped me a lot, but I was still nervous coming out to others.

I thought the tumblr community would be safer than AVEN. In 2011, this wouldn’t have been the case. In 2012, there was the potential for change. The tumblr community was clashing with AVEN, and I knew that a lot of people were leaving AVEN because they didn’t feel welcome. One of the issues had to do with the treatment of the sex-repulsed on AVEN. The tumblr community seemed like the safer option, despite how difficult it still was for me to browse the asexual tags, and it was still difficult to talk about being sex-repulsed on tumblr.

This was in 2012, when things were cooling off somewhat. I can only imagine how much more nervewracking it would’ve been to go through those tags back in 2011! It’s probably a mixed blessing that I didn’t try to get involved until 2012. Those who endured the 2011 debacle are among the trailblazers of the asexual tumblr and blogging communities. They endured a lot of challenges for the rest of us, so it’d be a shame if this era of asexual community history were forgotten. We’ve come a long way in just a few years. I like Ace Admiral’s take on the debacle; we were getting heard outside of AVEN. We were pushing forward, and overcame a lot of resistance.

Aftermath of the 2011 Ace Tumblr Debacle

This is going to be part 1 of a series I’m writing about, of the asexual community history since 2011.

2011 was a controversial year in asexual community history, especially for the tumblr asexual community. Epochryphal detailed the clashes and controversies that happened that year, and a post on The Asexual Agenda asked about this largely forgotten era of asexual community history.

Every community has its growing pains. 2011 was a year of a lot of growth for the asexual community, especially the tumblr community, which grew in prominence, and would rival AVEN by 2012. Up until then, AVEN was seen as the asexual community (aside from some splinter groups that formed in response to it) It was the year that (A)sexual was released, introducing so many people to asexuality for the first time.

Tumblr’s highly open format made it easy for many asexuals to get involved in the asexual community, but that same format makes it very open to outsiders. Some of these outsiders wanted to learn, and be allies, others were detractors, and there were a lot of detractors that year, in what some call “The Ace Tumblr Debacle”, or “The Great Ace-Hate”.

I first found the asexual community in the second half of 2012 through tumblr, and I remember that most of the issues of 2011 were still being debated. The flames only died down somewhat. 2012 was still a rocky year for the tumblr asexual community, but also for AVEN (but that’ll be for part 2).

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Tread carefully in this gray area

More writing about the sexual gray areas, including possible gray areas within consent.

(Warnings: sexual assault, rape, gaslighting, invalidation of survivors’ experiences)

The latest The Asexual Agenda linkspam rounded up many posts written in response of Queenie’s post on sexual gray areas and gray-area consent. In the comments, Elizabeth brought up some very important concerns, and I agree.

The concept of gray-area consent may be useful for some peoples’ experiences, and I found it useful for mine. Some people sincerely feel like their experiences were partially consensual, and don’t fit the all-or-nothing view on consent.

However, there are ways that the concept could be used, or misused for harm.

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Another adventurer mapping the gray area…

…of consent.

(warning: talk of sexual coercion, sexual harassment, compulsory sexuality and sex-normativity)

Several posts have been written about this topic over the past few days, starting with when the topic of “gray-area consent” was brought up at The Asexual Agenda. I’m glad that it was brought up. Queenie said many of the things that I wanted to write about, but didn’t know how to, nor did I know if anyone could relate to this concept.

Back in October, one of the questions of the week asked about personal experiences with romance, gender, or sexuality that are difficult to categorize. I mentioned my romantic orientation as an example, but as I was typing my answer, I wanted to mention that I felt like my experiences with consent fell under gray areas, but I held back. I thought it’d be too controversial.

A lot of people in the asexual community, and in feminist circles, believe that consent is all-or-nothing: You either consent, or you don’t. Consent should be all-or-nothing, and I believe it would be in a world without compulsory sexuality and sex-normativity. However, these things exist, and their existence complicates consent in practice.

There are a lot of people, inside and outside of the asexual community, who had experiences with consent that could be considered questionable. The frameworks used for consent, usually don’t account for these experiences.

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It was better to put less on my plate

It’s tempting to get everything you want on your plate, and for bloggers, it’s tempting to try and write everything that we want to in one post, but that can lead to a lot of waste, and regret. If a post doesn’t get published because the author gave up due to the difficulty, then that’s wasted time and words. I’ve had that happen to me before, both eating too much at a buffet, and giving up on an unwieldy post that I spent a lot of time on.

Starting on the beginning of the 2014 Asexual Awareness Week, I had the ambition of creating an asexuality 101 page that would cover the various concepts discussed in asexual discourse. My goal was to get it published by the end of that week.

I finally got the “Asexuality (and related concepts) 101” page done, as the first entry on the “101-Level Resources” page! It’s not finalized, because there is still room to make corrections, and add in other topics if need be, but I’m glad I was able to get it polished enough to post.

I posted a draft of it in four parts (part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4) and thanks to everyone who commented! However, I bit off way more than I could chew (pardon the cliche), because many of the topics could easily have their own pages. I left a lot out of the published page, including the “rhetoric to avoid” sub-sections, and the “relationships” sections, but I plan on incorporating what I wrote onto separate pages about those topics.

A topic I considered adding in was self-doubt, because I’ve seen so many doubt their asexuality for different reasons, mainly related to the “Unassailable Asexual” concept, and I’ve especially seen this doubt among those who are survivors of sexual violence. I’ve seen so many newbies on AVEN who are survivors of sexual violence ask if they “really” are asexual, concerned that their history invalidates it. I’m not sure I should include it, make it a separate page of its own, or leave this subject to someone more qualified than me.

Part of why I missed my goal, and why progress continued to stall afterwards, was that it was trying to cover so many topics, and in so much detail. It was overwhelming. I found The Asexual Agenda’s post “So you want to start your own blog” very helpful, especially the points “Shorter is better”, and “One small issue at a time”. Today, I was able to push myself to finish the page, by cutting a lot out. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by that page anymore. It actually felt manageable, and I felt like I could finish it.

I found it better to cut a large topic, or a sprawling manifesto into bite-sized pieces, and link them together. I believe now it can be done without sacrificing the details that I wanted to originally include. I can always go back, and incorporate what was cut out of it, into new pages.

What is romance-repulsion?

Little has been written about romance-repulsion. I’m in the process of writing something about what romance is, but want to include a section on romance-repulsion. I know it exists, I relate to the concept personally, and I’ve seen some discussions about it. Sometimes I still can’t tell if it’s a repulsion towards romance itself, or repulsion towards conventional ideas of romance and the expectations surrounding it. Or could it really be either one?

Personally, I’m repulsed by the conventional ideas of romance and its expectations, and I also oppose them on an ideological level. I still might without romance-repulsion, because of how unhealthy conventional ideas of romance glamorized by society are, encouraging possessiveness and codependency, and treating friendships as disposable. As someone who’s suffered through codependency, and am still trying to recover from it, it’s not love, it’s hell.

It disgusts me that codependent relationships are seen as “true love”, and glamorized by the media. I also value my friendships too much to want to toss them aside.

I’m still uneasy about the thought of entering a romantic relationship in general, and I can’t tell if it must be because of those expectations looming over me, and that I’ve been dragged into relationships I didn’t agree to before.

Anyone else identify with the concept of romance-repulsion, and how does it manifest for you? Is your repulsion influenced by the conventional ideas of romance, how they’re portrayed in the media, or is it a repulsion towards the concept of romance itself? I’d also like to know if it manifests differently between aromantic and non-aromantic people.

To you, is romance inherently possessive? I’ve seen some romance-repulsed people say that it is, or isn’t.

Because “romance” is more difficult to define, and more subjective than sexuality is, where is the line between repulsion to romance, and ideological opposition? I’ve seen some romance-repulsed people define their repulsion in a way that to them, romance is inherently possessive. I feel like this line is a lot less clear, because I understand that someone can have ideological reasons for not having sex (but not see it as a sacrifice akin to how religious celibates see it), without being repulsed.

About time I tried to introduce myself for the new year?

First post of the new year, and I’ll try to actually introduce myself! I finally got to updating my “About” page, which I’d been putting off since I started this blog in August.

I intended to introduce myself, and the background information that relates to my viewpoints, the scope of this blog, and what it’s supposed to be about. Because of how complicated it is, and that there are a lot of concepts that may be unfamiliar, I intended a multi-part introduction as soon as I started this blog to explain it all. It got put off again and again because of the difficulty, and my own tendencies to procrastinate. There’s also a lot of pressure to get this introduction done just right.

I could say that I got most of it done, but not in the way I expected. Over the months, I wrote pieces about it, but here, I’m going to piece it together.

The first part turned out to be my entry for the August 2014 Carnival of Aces. (warning: talk of sexual coercion, ableism and invalidation) It worked out perfectly that I started this blog in August 2014, and that month’s Carnival of Aces was about the “Unassailable Asexual” concept. The first people I came out to, were some unsupportive friends, who frequently, and thoroughly invalidated my asexuality. I internalized their invalidation, in ways that are directly related to the Unassailable Asexual concept.

I wrote a few follow-ups to that post. The second part of my introduction, was a post that I drafted that was titled “If I can’t be asexual, I’ll be antisexual instead!”, which was about the toll their invalidation took on me, how I nearly did cave into unwanted sex because of them, but how I managed to save myself.

I split that drafted post into two parts because of the length and difficulty. The first part was published, and re-titled as “They nearly pushed me over the edge“. The second part retained the original title, but has yet to be published. It was one of the most difficult posts I’ve attempted, but I did end up explaining the main points in my “About” page, if that counts for anything, so those would be parts 2 and 3 of my introduction then. As I said in part of this draft that did get published:

“To many asexuals, the asexual community is a refuge from the hypersexualized world; it’s the first place they find out that they’re not broken, nor wrong for not wanting sex, and feel affirmed to meet other people who feel the same way!… I had to turn somewhere else to find that assurance that I was needing… I needed to find another site of resistance against compulsory sexuality, and the sexuality that was being pushed on me. I had to take a very different path.”

I was dissuaded from finding the asexual community, but I was able to save myself from caving in. I didn’t say it outright in that part, but was going to in the second part, it was from the Antisexual Stronghold that I realized that I’m not wrong for not wanting sex, and that I don’t need religious reasons to say no to it!

I also intended to write a post showing the difficulties I had when I first found the asexual community, and that some of these difficulties are ones that I still struggle with. I wrote something, but still haven’t finished it. I’ve clashed with people on AVEN before, over differences in terminology of all things, and because there were some things I took the wrong way. Let’s put it this way, AVENites saying that they understand that I’m not an asexual elitist, and that I don’t hate sexually active people, but say that I’m not antisexual, I’m using the wrong label, and that I mean sex-repulsed instead, isn’t helpful to me. I’ve gotten frustrated, because it seemed like no one was listening.

I found the terminology and concepts from the Antisexual Stronghold to be very useful, despite being impractical to translate into English, and I don’t want to give them up and completely assimilate to AVEN’s standards just to be approved by the membership of AVEN at large. Sure, I’d fit in, because this is very isolating, but I’d feel ungrateful, like a backstabber. I’d also feel broken (or more broken). I’m not simply a sex-repulsed asexual, like some people say I am. I consciously rejected sex, and it wasn’t for religious reasons, nor was it a sacrifice of any sort. It is that rejection of sex that I consider the most important part of my sexual identity. I feel broken if I can’t use a term for this, and AVEN doesn’t have one.

I did explain how and why I’m currently part of AVEN’s Project Team, which could be considered the last part of my introduction. Now that I explained all of this, and pieced it together, you can see just how strange of a candidate I am for the role. This is what I mean by my concerns over conflicts of interest, and how much worse those concerns are now that I’m on the PT. Sometimes that still eats away at me, thinking this was a mistake, and that I should’ve never ran for this position. I knew this’d be an issue before I ran for PT, but I wanted to contribute, and further serve the asexual community despite that.

I’ve expressed regret over the path I took, because it’s so hard to explain, and is isolating. Sometimes I wish I had found the asexual community right away. I could’ve had a straightforward introduction, and fit in. I wouldn’t have had the clashes that I did. On the flip side, I know so much about the voluntarily celibate, including the self-identified antisexuals and what they mean, because I didn’t find the asexual community first. It is because of this knowledge that I challenged the monolithic approach towards “celibacy”, and am using this knowledge to create resources.