This is a tale of how I became the admin of two similar sites that have contradicting stances, and how to try and reconcile it, on top of having to reconcile that with my involvement in the asexual community.
I wasn’t expecting to eventually create the latter site when I created Cake at the Fortress, so this wasn’t any deliberate foreshadowing months in advance. In March 2014, I created Outside of Sexuality, and I was expecting it to be the only site I needed to create as a resource for voluntarily celibate people, but a split happened earlier this year.
This post I wrote for this blog explains what led to the split. I wasn’t yet ready to mention it, but I had created FORTRESS just a few days before that post.
Regardless of what terminology and framework were to be used, I aimed, and still do aim for OOS to be a support group for voluntarily celibate people, to allow critical discussions of sexuality and how it affects others. I aimed for it to be as straightforward as possible, to reduce the chances of it being taken the wrong way, and to be more easily able to reach out to others.
I knew right away when I created it that some people who’d join would identify as celibate, and others identify as antisexual, and this difference isn’t a problem in itself, but I knew I’d have to figure out how to reconcile, and explain that, because I didn’t want to alienate either group. In regards to what label to use, there was no consensus, but I could see all sides. I knew that members, regardless of which label they’re using, are on the same side, as people choosing to not have sex, and feel alienated by a hypersexualized society. Did they know that though?
I wanted to explain it early on, and explain where the terminology differences came from so both sides could more easily understand each other, and not have the wrong assumptions about each other, but I could’ve been catastrophizing this whole time.
There was so much that I wanted, and needed to say, but I had to word it just right. I knew it’d be difficult, so I rushed into creating OOS, and thought I could explain soon after, but kept putting that off due to my own anxiety, and later due to worsening stresses of real life getting in the way.
Early on, most of the members identified as antisexual, which I was okay with, except I feared that others who may be interested in OOS would be scared away by that unless they made it absolutely clear what they meant. Over time though, the balance shifted and nearly everyone who remained identified as either sex-repulsed or celibate, but what as needed the whole time was a balance.
That balance was needed in order to determine what is it that we are, what are our underlying values as a community despite our differences in experiences and ideologies, and for not just outsiders, but also for ourselves to understand the range of viewpoints that fall under the “voluntary celibacy” umbrella.
With that knowledge, another goal was collaborating with others to write articles for the main page, because I also wanted to reach out to other people who don’t want sex, other outsiders of the sexual world.
You might be thinking that I’m overthinking it with the labels. Maybe I am, but from what I’ve observed over the years, I think there are significant differences in experiences and ideologies between those who identify as celibate vs. antisexual vs. sex-repulsed vs. abstinent. I wanted to be able to discuss those differences, while allowing everyone to understand that we had the same underlying goal, and were fighting the same fight together.
I’m afraid I became a sellout due to my own anxiety, not yet knowing how to reconcile the creation of OOS while I’m also part of AVEN’s Project Team, and fear of “How do I explain this to outsiders?” getting the better of me. Of course now, there’s even more of a conflict of interest issue now that I also created FORTRESS.
Early on, I wrote about avoiding elitism, but may not have made it clear what I meant, so those who identified as antisexual may have ended up alienated by that over time. Without them, I couldn’t address some of the most important topics I had in mind, I thought they were among the only people who would understand. I also felt terrible about them being alienated, because OOS was one of the only places where they themselves would be understood without having to justify themselves to others.
What I had meant, but didn’t properly explain by elitism, was avoiding an overall atmosphere of elitism, because it restricts the opportunity for critical discussions, meaningful exchange of views, and opportunity for growth.
What I wanted to say, and regret not saying more clearly, is that one can have their attitudes towards sex, and ask questions like if sex is inherently bad or not, or if so, why. In fact, I found those questions important to ask, but what matters the most is being able to discuss differences in viewpoints respectfully.
Around the 1 year anniversary of OOS, I was aware of how much it strayed, and ultimately that it didn’t reach out to everyone I intended. Around that time, I was feeling stuck with what to do next, and was on the verge of giving up on it, thinking it was just a failed experiment that I wasted so much time and energy on.
It was trapped in a standstill, because I had a fundamental difference in viewpoints from the rest of the remaining members.
What became the consensus on OOS, that there doesn’t need to be a default label for choosing to not have sex, isn’t necessarily wrong. After all, the asexual community in its earliest phase still managed to be cohesive based on shared experiences, even when there wasn’t yet a consensus on what term to use for the lack of sexual attraction or lack of sexual desire that they had in common.
The lack of default was a stance that I agreed with for a while, but to avoid disrupting what had become established, because some people still found it useful, and to be able to address certain topics more easily, I created FORTRESS. It still has the same intended goals, but a different approach and framework that some people may prefer instead.
Creating FORTRESS also allowed me to accept what became the consensus on OOS, and accept that it had taken a different direction than I had intended, because it is no longer bound by the expectations that I originally had in mind. I can now envision OOS as being able to continue as a general voluntary celibacy site, while FORTRESS has a more specific niche.
It’s an awkward situation running two sites that have a lot of overlap, yet have some contradicting stances, but this happened because just one of these sites on its own may not be able to reach out to everyone that I intended to.
I feel more free in no longer feeling pressured to make one site that has to please everyone. I don’t expect everyone who is interested in one of these sites to be interested in the other. I’ve seen some people say they much prefer one over the other, and that’s okay with me, just as long as despite our differences, that we know that we’re in the same fight together against the norms that sexual society imposes on us.