For the asexually curious and the curiously asexual

Born to perform

Wotcha, dudes and dudettes. Let’s talk about PERFORMATIVE GENDER. And performative sexuality. And how they’re often confusingly confused.

And by talk, I mean squeal excitedly over this. And this. And this.

Because they’re all utterly amazing. And the first two, the one I found this morning and the one I refound this morning say such a lot about masculinity. Performing masculinity when it’s not automatic. Performing masculinity when you’re queer. Performing masculinity when you’re asexual.

I’ve been thinking recently about how amazing it would be to perform asexuality. Without purchasing a shirt that says ‘this is what an asexual looks like’ because that’s, you know, cheating! A surprising number of people have twigged from my general demeanour that I’m queer but not gay, and I’m now wondering, as a little social experiment, how high I can ramp up that number. How intuitive can I make my sexuality presentation? How on earth do you codify asexual?

I think some of it is about challenging gender stereotypes, but in a way which differentiates oneself from the camp. Personally, for example, I’m thinking in terms of the Edwardian morning suit, more than the muscle shirt, the feather boa. Alternative gender constructions that don’t owe much to previous ones. But I don’t know how much that’s just me, and the pernicious influence of the yadas.

I think there’s a lot I tend to reveal by the way I act, just on the basis of going around and being non-normative. I think some of it is in the way I just refuse to fit in the box in anyone’s head marked ‘single’, or ‘looking’. Some of it is in the way I play with sexuality, sexual attraction, gratuitously in conversation, with a perspective that’s clearly alien. Some of it, maybe, is in the way I’m clearly unmotivated by the possibility of relationships, and it shows in how I express myself.

I’m building up all these little flags, just from living in my own head long enough that I have an automatically new perspective.

And this roots itself in how I perform masculinity. It seems perfectly obvious to me that I’m affecting masculinity from a queer viewpoint. To follow DJ’s terminology, I’m subverting masculine sexual power by bringing that power to the heel of my asexuality.

In conclusion: Just read the posts/song I linked to at the beginning. While you’re reading Garland, think about how what he’s saying is also kinda relevant to asexuality, in a whole number of interesting ways. How performing gay has such a wide number of functions, and performing asexuality maybe the same. No, I’m not doing the hard work for you. Yes, I should be. Sorry, I have essays to write. Like, genuine, non-asexual ones.

There’ll probably be more on this later though.

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Comments on: "Born to perform" (7)

  1. Sheesh, I wish I could perform gay so I could be more visibly so, but the thought of it makes me die a little inside. Fashion is not my thing, and the mannerisms make me feel such a fake. I don’t know how so many people can perform masculinity (or other) when it’s not automatic. They must either be more fluid, or have more motivation than I.

    • Yeah, it’s kinda obvious even from internet presence that you’re relatively butch/non-affectational. Personally, I always used to feel uncomfortable with the idea of faking femininity, though I never used to apply it to myself. And now I’ve brought myself to an area where I feel comfortable affecting some weird masculinity. Mostly because I genuinely like pretty waistcoats…

      And there is this issue of what’s performed and what’s affectation, and it’s very confusing.

      Did you get the comment I wrote for your latest post, btw? I’m proud of it, because it doesn’t *immediately* start talking about asexuality, but I think wordpress ated it.

      • I found it in the spam filter.

        I don’t think I’m as butch offline. It’s hard for me to tell. I kind of have a poor grasp of what constitutes gender performance, presentation, affectation, and so forth. I’m sorta looking forward to the impending gender discussion on the asexual blagotubes.

  2. I’m still trying to think how to respond to this, because I really have no idea how I perform gender. With the possible exception of my hair, my personal appearance has a lot more attention paid to comfort than to how people are going to perceive me. The point, for me, is to have to focus as little as possible as on what I’m wearing on any given day.

    (Which is possibly why I get labeled as non-gender-conforming as I do; it seems that not particularly being interested in one’s appearance beyond keeping clean and presentable is a trait gendered heavily male, largely because of the pressure put on women to be attractive at all costs.)

    So… in terms of performing asexuality, I have no idea. I suspect that my disinterest in performing femininity is what gets me labeled queer as often as I do, but I haven’t had your experience with people guessing “non-gay queer” to nearly the same extent. Another problem with it is that there are so many ways to be asexual; there are people who think sex is gross and who think sex is boring and then there are the ones who want to sit down and deconstruct it to figure out how everyone works. And so forth.

  3. How to perform asexuality…story of my life! But I must be doing something right, because it’s not like anyone was surprised when I told them I was asexual. I know I come across as much more feminine than I feel inside. But I just like the look of many girly things. Actually I like things that are so over-the-top girly, they make fun of it. Like the whole Japanese “fruits” aesthetic. I don’t wear entire outfits like that, but I like the style. Also, I like clothes that are funny or unusual. I’ve worn some very strange outfits in my time. Maybe that’s some version of an asexual presentation, because I’m focusing on something, but it’s completely unrelated to sexiness.

    • Yeah, I think having a creative drive ‘completely unrelated to sexiness’ is a good angle to go for. Over-the-top performativity can, I think, put you in that kinda-quirky so clearly only friend material zone, if you do it right, and don’t end up a manic pixie dream girl (although it’d be a rather fabulous title to have).

      EDIT: Manic pixie dream girl being a name for someone quirky and anti-authoritarian, yet sexually attractive and able to obey your whims.

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