For the asexually curious and the curiously asexual

Archive for the ‘Rant time’ Category

Update: Aromantic sexuals- still evil

What’s this? An asexuality test? Now we can pinpoint with precise accuracy whether someone is a/romantic or a/sexual. Like, HALF the bandwidth of AVEN could be saved by this simple test! If only there weren’t these minor flaws in just a few of the questions:

1. Confuses sexual attraction and sexual activity.

2. Gives two options- finding sex a ‘biological necessity’ and ‘not caring’ about sex. Also, ‘liking to date’ and liking casual sex, and ‘not caring for a partner’ is kinda a restrictive spectrum. In fact, I’d personally agree with ALL FIVE of those things (admittedly, the first one only from a species-wide viewpoint). It makes ticking one box kinda hard…

3. How would you describe your libedo? Erm… irrelevant to my sexuality? We’ve kinda discussed this one. To death.

4. And this is where my WTFromance gets the better of me. I want EVERY SINGLE kind of relationship they propose. The rub being- I want them with different people, possibly at the same time. Because I’m fickle like that.

5. Do you think you are asexual?  Finally, the question is right! But every single answer is wrong:

‘Yes. I do not desire, want or care about sex’ -Not the definition of asexual

‘Maybe. I am a bit indifferent to sex, so it would be interesting to see the results’ -I’m not sure where to start with the wrongness of this one.

‘No. I am a sexual being.’ -A relatively trivial and arguable point, but I think that everyone with some sort of reproductive organs or piping is a sexual being. My definition of ‘sexual being’ is based in biology, not in sexuality. Of course, you can make a word have two meanings.

Ok, so badly written quiz, you say. Wait! There’s more! Here’s what I got:

Aromantic sexual

You are basically out to fulfil your sexual desires without buying into romance or love. On a purely honest level, you are admirable, but as an exemplar of social standards, you are dispicable.

Erm… thanks? This quiz just called me dispicable- I’m sure gonna give it a high rating. I mean, luckily, I wasn’t the only one it stereotyped. “American society is alien to you (asexual aromantics) and you are alien to it.” I mean, they’re TECHNICALLY correct- I’m not American, nor have I ever been to America, so, by the traditional meaning of ‘alien’ as ‘foreign person’, I am definately alien to America. God, this quiz is insightful. Or I could have been a Romanic Asexual!  Which means ‘of or relating to Rome or Latin’. So, you know- TOGA PARTY (do any of those people know how heavy togas are? They are definately not party gear, unless you have lots of chaise longues to be pinned to). Anyway, as well as all that lead poisoning, and the discomfort of living in a society that seems to socialise mostly through orgies, I would also ‘seek a prince or princess’, ‘suffer agonising loneliness’ and ‘be burned by my partner’s groinal needs’. No, serously.



Why am I spending all this time taking the piss out of a quiz which probably took 5 minutes and isn’t even spelt correctly? Well, I’m not gonna lie, it’s partly because when I took the quiz and got “Oh, hi! You’re dispicable! (dictionary definition: worthy of hatred and contempt)”, that really, really hurt. BUT! It’s also partly because very, very shortly after I took that quiz- this guy showed up.

It feels rather great to have someone else who has some stake in the label ‘sexual aromantic’ to be blogging. Because now I have someone to justify how dispicable I am. Because he has lots of awesome ideas about intimacy, and the way romantic monogamy as a culture creates and uses artificial intimacy scarcity. Let’s pull out some quotes from his two non-101 posts:

[On possible definitions of aromantic] saying that aromantics can form deep emotional connections, but they aren’t a “purposely initiated monogamous separation as found in romantic couples”. This definition seems little better, as it puts the essential difference in external, culturally defined relationship practices. This definition would include all polyamorous people in the definition of aromantic, which seems to miss the point….

…I think we’re onto something here. According to J, this natural high is much stronger with people she would consider herself romantically attracted to, doesn’t require touch but is amplified by it, doesn’t require symbolic gestures like flowers but is enhanced by them, and is not necessarily connected to sexuality, conversation, or “good company” (though it can and often should be combined with those things)….

…So here’s a preliminary definition, that I’d love to get some comments on:

“Aromantics are people who do not experience the feeling of romance. Romance is a natural high that occurs in the presence of certain people, without obvious connection to sexuality, ‘good company’, or emotional intimacy.”…

…Looking back at my life, a lot of the things I’ve done have been an attempt to squeeze a little more intimacy out of the world around me.

There is, however, a socially sanctioned way of getting more intimacy: a “relationship”. In a (sexual, romantic, monogamous) relationship, you have a lot more freedom and power to gain intimacy. You are supposed to be a scheduling priority, and you can expect a certain amount of regular alone-time. You have some say into where your partner lives, and if the relationship goes long-distance you’re assured of constant communication and visits as frequently as possible. You have both the time and societal permission to really let down your barriers and be emotionally vulnerable. All of this is wonderful. There’s a reason I don’t spend much time single…

…No one negotiates with their platonic best friend about how their relationship will progress… but why not? Platonic relationships can be just as meaningful as the best sexual/romantic relationship, why not give them the same time and energy and communication skills? Why do we assume we have to only be “partners” with people we’re attracted to? If we decouple intimacy, sex, and romance, then we have so many more ways we can make our relationships work for us. Why not have a straight guy and an asexual guy as primary partners, with the straight guy having sex with women on the side? Why not have a triad where only one of the relationships is sexual? If we break down the assumption that we have to sleep with people we’re intimate with, we can start to solve our intimacy problem.

I think the (whateverwe’regoingtocallourselves)romantic scene needs this. I suspect a lot of the exciting discourse around romance, intimacy, relationship models, is going to happen around Intimacy Cartography. I’m happy because I finally have a second go-to blog for this stuff, now Asexual Underground doesn’t update regularly. I’m also happy because a (possibly) aromantic sexual is contributing to society. Is honest and emotionally mature and non-deceitful. Is, essentially, not wearing an opera cape and a twirly moustache. On a purely social level, we’re dispicable. We’re worth hating. Which shows we’re onto something good…

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Get me off this tiger

I want out. Yeah, the hard way’s more rewarding if you survive it, but I really fucking want the easy way. Because we are the first, and we have no idea if that elusive milk-and-honey land that we’ve been telling each other about actually exists. Because we’re deluded fools on a ship bound to nowhere. Because I’ve been swimming against the tide for a few months now, and I’m starting to feel like I’m drowning. Because I can’t imagine how I could live my life like this.

And it’s true, only a few hours ago, I was feeling happier about this than I have done in weeks, talking to a friend who really genuinely gets where I’m coming from. And it’s true, I’m blaming aromanticism for completely other issues, screaming at myself that it’s my identity to blame rather than confronting what’s really going on. Yes, I have a crush that’s becoming unignorable. Yes, I have no idea how I’d ever translate that into any sort of mutually beneficial relationship without my aromanticism flaring up. Yes, it kills me to see him go home with another guy. But it’s more a standard story of unrequited love. If he really liked me, we could work something out. It’s the fact that he doesn’t like me (after, I should point out, spending almost no time with me socially) that makes all my old insecurities come screeching back with “YOU’RE DULL! YOU’LL NEVER BE AN INTERESTING PERSON!” Which, I should probably mention, is where a lot of my fears about aromanticism truly originate.

But sometimes you just need to rant, and lately, this blog has been nothing more than a place I can scream. And scream.

Construction will come tomorrow. And I mean actual construction, not this crappy, fake ‘blame it on the identity’ thing. I mean actually what’s bothering me, and why, and what I can do about it.

For now, just remember that feelings make you stronger. Remember that feeling you had as you were leaving and you shook your crush’s partner’s hand, staring into his face and wishing him a good night, smiling.

That’s a new one.

Quick post-freshers week update

Hi, all. Little internet access, so this’ll be short.

Apparently, the uni LGBT is both vaguely transphobic and probably asexophobes, too. I’ve not had any first-hand experience of them because I accidentally fell in with a small and awesome splinter cell who are much more accepting.

Also, I’ve decided not to label myself as asexual anymore. This decision happened more than a month ago, but I somehow never got round to writing the long-winded explaination. Basically, if the label fits, it’ll come back to me. However, I’m still aromantic, I’m getting more and more sure of that. So:
-I still feel like part of the asexual community.
-I should still have a lot to write on here. Whether and when I do depends on how busy my life is.

My society went out to a trans resources centre, and they had forms which actually had an asexual option on them! I ticked them, partly because asexual is the option I most identified with, and partly because I didn’t get a single asexual tickbox when I actually was asexual, and I don’t want to miss out on the opportunity.

Salad


First off, here’s a picture of Spiderman, making the American Sign Language sign for ‘I Love You’. It’s derived from a mixture of the signs for I, L and Y, so what Spiderman is actually saying, as he swings his way through the streets is “I love you, Ily!”
This is clearly a shoutout to the fantastic and most prolifically asexy blog Asexy Beast, and its writer, Ily. Even superheroes demand asexual visibility!

Now, with that acknowledgment out of the way (random, but I promised Ily I would), here’s a David Mitchell-esque rant about innuendo that I thought asexuals might particularly enjoy:

Did you really have to make the word salad gross? Just from a foodie point of view, didn’t you think there was enough of a force in the world that made salad seem disgusting already, to all those people who are scared of vegetables and things that haven’t been grilled or fried? Did you really have to make it so that, whenever anyone says “I’m going to have a [blank] salad” in company, someone else is going to take advantage? See, it might seem like harmless fun at your en- to you, but this rant really isn’t about sex. Can you understand that, innuendo? Do you get that something could possibly not be about sex? Because what this is about, is language.

As you close off words, as you make more and more obscure sexual acts share the same lexicon as innocent things, what you are essentially doing is making those words unusable in the context they were meant to be used in- in an uninterrupted conversation that isn’t about sex, but is instead about, say, watersports.
Have you read 1984, innuendo? In that book, people are controlled by words. When there are things they can’t say, there are things they can’t think. The greater the vocabulary, the more open the consciousness of society.
I reckon you’re also starting to go bad for sex, as well, innuendo. Sex being all about communication, why can’t it be “You want to stick your what where?” All these nonsense terms for obscure (dare I use the term pornified?) acts almost amounts to using Urban Dictionary as a checklist. Which is not going to give anyone what they really want in bed.
I think you’re dying, innuendo. It started with come. One of the main verbs in the English language and you thought it would be oh-so-clever to take it for yourself. And now almost every book or short story or imperial-verb using conversation in the world contains an innuendo at least once.
The problem, innuendo, is not that you’re too hard. It’s that you’re too easy. You, innuendo, are a slut (word used rhetorically, this blog does not endorse slut-shaming). Sure, we’ve had our good times over the last few years. Remember that time when the racist Americans all called themselves teabaggers? Gee, that was fun. Or the last time we watched Rocky Horror together, when Frankenfurter was like “I’m coming” and we were all like “So’s Brad!” See, you used to know how to have fun, innuendo. Now you’re trying too hard.

So, innuendo, when you finally die, under the crushing weight of your own hunger, I’ll be at your funeral. I’ll even go to the wake. There’ll be salad. And it won’t be funny.

On privilege

I’m a big fan of the theory of privilege (if you don’t know what it is, look it up. And this may still not be the post for you). As a model, it makes a lot of sense. I see it playing out in the real world all the time. It gives a direction with which everyone- privileged and unprivileged, can start to understand why we’re not a fair society.

However, I’m also a big fan of the meta-theory that models can never be true, only useful. The privilege model is an incredibly useful model. But I see problems when it is seen as not just useful, but true.

I’ll list some examples so we’re not just into theoretics. Bisexual people often experience various shades of biphobia from gay people. Often, this is justified by privilege. Bisexual people have straight privilege, therefore it’s impossible for them to need the protection of their identity that gay people need, goes the theory. I’ve heard something similar happens between Asian and black people in Usian racial dynamics, but couldn’t comment from personal experience.
It gets even more muddy when you rigidly apply the privilege criteria to transpeople. Especially transwomen, here are women who’s privilege (as biologically men) was the very cause of their non-privilege (as trans-people). Ensue not just transphobia but also transmisogyny. I believe it also works the other way, with transmen being disapproved of by some feminists (as well as the status quo) by trying to ‘claim privilege’ that is outside of their rights.

So these examples, as you can tell, are all very much from what I’ve read on the internet, and little from personal experience. Sorry if I’ve oversimplified (which I undoubtedly have) or got anything wrong. The main example I can see in my own life, as a male feminist, is the way the model of privilege is (ab)used in feminism. To an extent, it is incredibly useful. There’s a whole range of privileges men have that need to be recognised as privilege. I’m thinking higher wages, the right to a reasonably unjudged, autonomous sexuality and appearance, the right to see themselves in the media not as clichéd stereotypes, the right to basically assume you’re not going to give up your job to look after your children, the list goes on and on. But this creates a very gender essentialist outlook. Feminism can and should be incredibly useful for men, too. Not just pulling them down, but broadening their prospects, too. And when it becomes a case of beating the nasty men, well, do you really think you’re going to win? Remember all that privilege they have. All you’re doing is pointing at the nasty men and saying “That’s what all men are. Nasty!” And then more men are nasty because it is seen as one of the defining things of being a man, and then you really are stuck in a war against lots of nasty men, and you will lose! And they will lose!
When what men really needed was the freedom to break the bounds, to be whatever they wanted to be within their gender. When you’re busy breaking down gender stereotypes for women and building them up for men, the net result is just more gender stereotypes.
The idea that men are nothing more than walking bags of privilege, when applied universally and without discrimination, ignores the very real gender stereotypes that men, too, are forced into, the very real harms that are persecuted against men by the patriarchy.

So, yeah. Privilege. That’s what I was meant to be writing about. It annoys me when ideas of privilege are taken as if they were laws of physics, like the laws of thermodynamics. So you have rules like “An unprivileged person cannot have privilege against a privileged person,” a rule which is true, but misleading. Particularly annoying when you assume that there are no closed systems. As in, when one person would have privilege globally, that person automatically always has privilege, even if they’re in a country, room, or other closed system where they might seem (if replicated on a global scale) non-privileged. To take a fictitious (and thus hopefully non-divisive) example, the Ancient Greek men who lived in fear of abduction and torture by the Amazons* probably weren’t especially pleased because, in terms of the world or country as a whole, men had privilege. They lived in a closed system where men very much didn’t have privilege. In fact, the very fact that they were in the privileged group probably added to their lack of privilege, making people simultaneously believe that they were too weak to be men and strong enough that they could never be truly victimised because, well, they’re privileged.

Ok, ignore the complicated mythological situation for a moment and look at the sentence before. The one that starts “When one person would have privilege…” That’s what’s wrong with the way the notion of privilege is used. That it forces otherwise reasonable people to use sentences like that. I’ve seen people having whole arguments in which both sides have to refer some holy ‘Laws of Privilege’ to make a point.

This is sociology, people! It’s not physics. Physics can be neat and mathematical and logical, but this is the way people live. It needs common sense. It needs analysis that can be, if it needs to be, truly independent of the buzz-words. It doesn’t obey rules and is dirty and messy and incomprehensible. Remember what we were searching for when we started using the word privilege? Remember why we like it so much? It was a quest for empathy, for new ways of looking at things. Sometimes, we need empathy, new ways of looking at things. Sometimes, the model of privilege just gets in the way of that, and that’s when we should quietly put it on one side for later, not try to force it in a space it won’t go.

So this wasn’t a discussion of a/sexuality and gender, as I promised you in a side-bar that is, as you read this, probably way up above you. It’s something that’s been cooped up inside me, as I read various things, for a while. Judging by the effortless length, I didn’t realise how much this did mean to me.
But this is one of those things that I really want to say before we get into the proper discussions of sexuality and gender. As a person who’s basically privileged in every way, I want to articulate this as pure theory, because I’m going to need it if I ever take that step to call someone out on it. I needed to write this before too long, because I thought it needed to be said. In the space in my own head, at least, and I tend to think of this blog as an extension of that.

More flippant asexy posts soon? I hope so too.

*a mythical tribe of women in Ancient Greece who abducted, tortured and often killed (as far as I can remember, I may have my fake facts completely wrong) the menfolk near them.

You don’t count

“Isn’t it annoying how men are really sex-obsessed?”
“Not all men are sex-obsessed. If you thought about it for a moment, you’d realise that a lot of the men you know aren’t.”
“Give me an example.”
“I’m not.”
“Well, you don’t count. You’re asexual.”

“I think everyone would secretly do anything for sex, they’re just hiding it.”
“Again, not true. I wouldn’t.”
“Yeah, but you don’t count. You’re asexual.”

So what’s with this idea that, because I’m asexual, I’m outside of the normal spectrum of sexuality? I’m statistically written off? I think partly, it’s an example of how people construct a ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy in their stereotypes, especially of gender. They think that, for example, men like sex, and so think of men who like sex as being most typically men, and then, when they think of the people who they know who are typically male, surprise surprise, they all like sex.

There’s also an element, though, of odd otherness. Like when you cross the line to asexuality, your views are no longer useful because you’re in your own little subsection. Which is just not how it works. Firstly, asexuality is a spectrum, or several, not a little group of people born without any relation at all to the world of sexuality. Secondly, if you’re going to remove all the people on one side of the data, you’re going to have really badly skewed results. Thirdly, I’m a human being, dammit! (or a man, or whatever other population you were talking about). It’s as simple as that. I’m a human being so, whatever my sexuality, I am automatically one representation of how human sexuality can function. Even if that means functioning by absence.

I’d rather have 100,00 dollars

More inflammatory stuff here-

Found via:

Nonetheless, if you had to take more than three seconds to think about this question, you are absolutely crazy. Marital happiness is far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being. If you have a successful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled.

From the moment I saw the headline, I knew I just had to do a post on this. It seemed to slide so neatly into that whole dismissal of the aromantic lifestyle that I’ve been brooding on recently. However, as I read through, the research seemed laughably far from the hypothesis above. Basically, the big news was that money doesn’t make you as happy as social interaction! People who try to make themselves happier by getting more money fail!

This blog is basically anonymous, so I don’t want to take pictures of myself, but one thing you should know about me is that I have a very good and well-practiced unimpressed face. And I’m doing it now.

Anyway, skipping briefly over “Money isn’t the root of all joy! Who’d have thought it!”, I’m going to address the first issue in the article.

Brooks correlates achievement and finance in a way which makes no sense to me, a finance/’spirituality’ binary in which love is the spiritual side of life (oh, Ily, I hope you’re reading this). He says that a marriage gives the same amount of happiness as $100,000 a year. So, as an aromantic, my only hope is to become Scrooge*, amass a vast amount of wealth and prove him wrong. Or I could join groups, share dinner, live with people, have sex and hang out with people after work, all of the other options which he admits are just as viable as marriage, but, you know, they’re not proper relationships.

What doesn’t work is Brooks’ hasty analogy to Sandra Bullock. Because there, the game changes from financial success v. love to achievement v. love. These aren’t opposing forces. Pride in yourself, in what you’ve done well, is not a hollow and cold replacement for healthy interaction- it is the very core of healthy interaction. Good relationships with others can be no more than mirrors of good relationships with yourself. In the comments to one of my recent posts, Joy talked about ‘differentiation’, the idea that you can only have some form of success or happiness in a relationship if you have that connection to yourself.

Not sure where I’m going with this, I just know that it hurts when people say marriage is the only chance anyone ever has at happiness. Actually, that’s pretty much what this post and a lot of past and future posts could be boiled down to. Screw that. I have my primary relationships and I have my ambitions, and I have a whole damn life ahead of me. I’ll get me my $100,000 worth of happiness, one way or another…

*I think I’ve just realised why A Christmas Carol always makes me cry- and it’s to do with aromanticism. More on that story later.

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