For the asexually curious and the curiously asexual

Image: Pinkie Pie, the overenthusiastic and gregarious horse from My Little Pony; Friendship is Magic, is rearing up on her hind legs. She has been crudely photoshopped to resemble a Bad Asexual Fairy, with an ace-of-spades shaped wand, sparkly wings and an asexual flag over her flank. Behind her, and partly obscured by her, is a wall of text, starting with large font and ending up tiny. This says:

GREAT, YOU’RE ASEXUAL! HAVE YOU FIGURED OUT WHAT ROMANTIC ORIENTATION YOU ARE YET?! WE ALL HAVE ONE! (KINDA). THAT GUY OVER THERE IS HOMOROMANTIC, HE’S ATTRACTED TO PEOPLE OF THE SAME GENDER, BUT NOT IN A SEXUAL WAY! ISN’T THAT GREAT! BUT IT DOESN’T STOP THERE! IF THAT DOESN’T HELP, YOU CAN SPLIT YOUR CONCEPTS OF ATTRACTION DOWN INTO SMALLER AND SMALLER PARTS UNTIL YOU HAVE A REALLY GOOD IDEA WHAT MAKES YOU TICK, AND, HEY LOOK, A CONVERSATION ABOUT NON-TRADITIONAL INTIMACY MODELS, YOU COMING? SO IT DOESN’T MATTER TO US WHAT YOU DECIDE YOU ARE–THE IMPORTANT BIT IS THAT YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR LABEL FITS AND IS COMFORTABLE, AND IF THE WORDS DON’T WORK YOU SHOULD TOTALLY MAKE SOME UP!!! MAKE UP SOME WORDS! GO ON! IT’S FUN! HERE, TRY SOME PUNS!! HAVE A GOURD! DOES THIS FIT? NO? WELL, HOW ABOUT THESE? DO THESE MODELS SEEM USEFUL? LOOK! I DREWED YOU A GRAPH! AND ANOTHER GRAPH, I DIDN’T LIKE THAT ONE!! YOU ARE THE POINT OF ORIGIN! NOW YOU’RE SPECIAL!! HOORAY! LOOK, HERE’S A RIDICULOUSLY COMPLEX SPIDER CHART! HOW MANY MORE DIMENSIONS DO YOU NEED? I’M UP TO 26! YOU SHOULD SEE IF YOU CAN CHART YOUR ORIENTATIONS TO BOTH MEN AND WOMEN AND POSSIBLY NONBINARY PEOPLE!! HAVE YOU NOT QUESTIONED YOUR GENDER YET, BY THE WAY? GET THEE TO A YADARY! IT’S FUUUUUUUUN! AND WHAT MAKES GENDER ANYWAY? HAVE SOME MORE LABELS…

The image is based on a conversation Sci and I had after reading Dan Savage’s interview with DJ, and the text is all taken from that conversation. Essentially, this is the standard reaction towards anyone who enters the asexual community. It explains why asexuality is actually one of the worst places to be if you’re in denial of yourself.

I suppose I should have a serious reaction to the interview. I don’t, really. Savage is still trying to make it seem as if asexuals are trying to keep their shameful secrets until the wedding night, to ensnare people, when our actual concern is simply that asexuality should come out at about the same time as other baggage, not in the first five minutes of the first date. It’s definitely something to have been addressed by the first time you have sex, or would have had sex, and that’s not the stage, in most of Western society, by which you’ve committed an irretrievable mass of time and energy to the relationship (possibly? I know nothing about romantic norms). I think it’s reasonably obvious when a relationship is still a musing over potential and when it’s an actual thing that is committed to. The entire thing feels like a non-issue to me.

So my only strong reaction was “Bad Asexual Fairies?!!?! NOW I know what I’m wearing to World Pride!”

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Comments on: "Said the bad asexual fairy:" (9)

  1. “I think it’s reasonably obvious when a relationship is still a musing over potential and when it’s an actual thing that is committed to.”

    I strongly disagree. The default of every relationship is that neither party knows what the hell is going on until someone takes the initiative to communicate about it.

    Also, I happen to think that the first five minutes of the first date is an eminently reasonable time to bring up asexuality. It is, as Savage said, quite relevant. In fact, it’s so relevant that it will come up within the first few dates unless the asexual is being actively dishonest. I mean, this is based on my own experience and from gossip about friends (who are all gay men).

    I think Dan was being very generous when he suggested three weeks as too long. I was rather annoyed that DJ’s response to this was “possibly…” and then to veer off into non-romantic relationships. I attribute this to DJ having no experience in conventional relationships, but to other listeners, it sounds like dodging the question.

    • As I said, I know nothing about relationship norms, but I’d compare asexuality to other information that might make a relationship difficult. Savage uses the example of being HIV positive, you could just as easily use, say, not wanting to have sex before marriage, being a soldier and thus away for most of the year, lots of other things that might make the relationship not what is normally expected. My interpretation of the norms was that you have a period of at least one and a half weeks (assuming you’re not communicating very directly about the relationship) from the first obvious signs that a relationship is imminent to the point at which you actually go exclusive and, in some significant ways, commit to the relationship. Disclosure should happen before or about the time of commitment, but the way I understand it, that week or so of inexclusive non-verbalised prying is there deliberately to see if you’re compatible. If you’re not majorly compatible, neither partner is at fault.

      It’s, of course, very possible that I’m misinterpreting all this. The concept of dating around and then becoming monogamous once you’re pretty sure you’ve hit it off baffles me, but apparently that’s the way it’s done.

  2. I’m going to have to use the phrase “Get thee to a yadary” in the future, possibly at an AVEN meet.

  3. I tend to like bringing up asexuality fairly early on, simply because in many relationships the assumption is that sex will happen within 4-5 dates or that it will at least happen within the first few months of the relationship. Even if sex isn’t a given in my date’s mind, they may expect that a kiss on the lips to end the date will be okay or be looking for signs that I am looking at them in a sexual manner. I prefer to mention asexuality as early on as I mention being homoromantic. That makes sure that the partner is even an option romantically speaking. Rather than seeing it as baggage, I see it as getting to know a person.

    The idea of being asked a gazillion questions the second you start questioning is not so unique to asexuality. When I went to the queer student group at my college, I thought simply saying I was a lesbian would be okay. Nope. People asked me why I was so into labels and started asking me how I could really be sure that someday, some alternate dimension wouldn’t pop out a male that could somehow attract me. My own label was seen as short-sighted and closed-minded and I was harshly encouraged to question it. Additionally, the fact that I was securely cisgendered at the time bothered a lot of people who felt that anyone adhering to traditional gender identities was horrid. Being monogamous also wasn’t cool. It can be overwhelming for someone who is just trying to understand who they are to be presented with a lot of questions that may or may not apply to them, especially when the questions are not presented politely.

    • My response to the ‘why label yourself?’ crowd tends to be a fairly raised eyebrow. Another asexual blogger describes labels as past patterns that it makes sense to believe will carry on. So if some people are only ever attracted to women, it makes a lot of sense (especially from the point of view of anyone who wants to know if they’re compatible with that person) to define them as only being attracted to women, unless that changes. Otherwise we’re going to have an awful lot of people wandering around who identify as pansexual when they’re only really into one gender, and that makes no sense.

  4. Hi, I love the image and what it says about the asexual community!
    I have a blog where I translate interesting English posts about asexuality into French: http://asexualite-underground.blogspot.fr I would like to repost your image (without modifying it) with a translation, and you will of course be credited as the author and linked. Are you okay with this ? :)

  5. […] written about reductionism in the asexual community, but there’s also the phenomenon of the Bad Asexual Fairy.  You enter a conversation thinking, I’m ace; he’s ace; we’ll probably talk […]

  6. […] When asexuality started to seem like the right term for me, I was regularly reading a lot of ace blogs. (No comment on which of those things caused the other.) And I picked up the general impression that the next thing one acquired, after the word “asexual” or “demisexual” or “gray-A”, was a romantic orientation. This free-floating notion — so gentle and unintended that I’m hesitant to call it “pressure” — is beautifully immortalized in a “Bad Asexual Fairy” graphic. […]

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