Posted by: Shula Asher Silberstein | 26 August 2011

The Post I Don’t Want To Write

I don’t want to write this post. I really don’t. See, the whole world seems to believe that there’s no such thing as asexuality and that asexuals are people who are confused, or repressed, or secretly gay or G-d knows what. And I don’t want to add to that. But, I began this blog as my personal journey through the world of asexuality and dating. My journey’s took a lot of twists and turns that I didn’t expect it to take, and now I’m at the point where I’m questioning exactly what I am. So what better place to express all my doubts, and confusions and questions then in this blog?

This really is nothing new for me. I started wondering if I was actually demisexual back in January. I just wasn’t self-aware back then to know exactly what I felt, so I wrote the blog and forgot about it a few days later. But lately, I’ve been thinking about looking for a romantic partner, and the more I’ve dreamed of finding someone, the more I’ve been aware of questions about who and what I am.

It’s somewhat of a terrifying journey, because at the end of it I might find that after everything I’ve done to become visible as Ace, that’s not who I am after all. And so I’ve kept my thoughts and feelings mainly to myself (my life coach and a few close friends know and are supporting me while I try to figure this out.) But this morning I woke up way too early and can’t get back to sleep, so I’m going to share anyway.

Okay…having said all that… I don’t know where to begin. The thing is that I don’t experience sexual attraction — or I don’t think I do — but I do sometimes experience sexual desire if certain conditions are met. So I guess that’s where I’ll begin.

First of all, last night I was trying to figure out what sexual attraction is because my personal identity kind of hinges on it. See, lately I’ve noticed that when I meet someone I might notice they have nice eyes or a nice body shape but I never have any feelings of wanting to do anything physical with that person. So if sexual attraction means having feelings of desire because someone is pretty or whatever, then no I don’t have that. But if it just means the thought that a person is “hot” or “gorgeous,” without any desire to do anything with them attached, I’ve always had that.

The problem is that it’s difficult to explain what attraction actually is, especially to someone who might not have experienced it. Wikipedia says that sexual attraction is “the ability to attract sexual interest.” Oh so helpful. At first I found this really annoying and circular because it didn’t tell me anything about what I wanted to know. But I kind of understand. You can’t explain sexual attraction. It’s an abstract concept. That’s why I don’t know if I experience it or not. I mean, I think John Barrowman has beautiful eyes. Does that mean I’m sexually attracted to him even though I’ve never thought anything beyond that?

Okay, so let’s leave that aside because it doesn’t seem to have an answer. The fact is that I’ve figured out that I might enjoy having sex ONLY as an expression of deep emotional intimacy. For me, the emotional always comes first. I don’t feel the desire to have sex with random people or celebrities or whatever. But if I feel emotionally intimate with someone then I might want to do some things sexually with them as an expression of my deep emotional connection with them.

As best as I can tell, three things need to happen for me to feel any sexual desire.
1) Emotional intimacy — the person’s gotta get behind my walls and me behind theirs so we see everything about each other.
2) Some sort of feeling that the person is beautiful… that feeling that they have nice eyes or whatever.
3)The other person initiates sexual activity

I put the third one in bold because it seems to be a major part of the equation. See, for a while I thought I was aromantic. The reason I thought I was aromantic was because I have lived with my best friend for several years and we are very clear that we are not interested in more than friendship with each other. But I felt that emotional closeness with her. After we both agreed last year that our relationship was in danger of falling into a grey area between friendship and romance, and both seriously started dating other people and untangling our lives from each other a little bit, I thought, I wanted to find someone who was as good a friend to me as she was.

So I thought, I could live forever with a friend and who cares about whether I ever have any physical contact with the person. Therefore, maybe I’m aromantic.

But here’s the thing. Lately, I’ve been feeling that an aromantic relationship would not fulfill me. This is where things get sticky and I get embarrassed and feel my desire to write this blog slowing way down. Because it’s not that I COULD be physical within the context of a relationship. It’s that… I want to be. And wouldn’t that make me… kinda sexual?

I’ve looked back on my previous relationships and I’ve realized that in every romantic relationship I’ve been in, I’ve wanted to hug, kiss and cuddle. Okay, so far typical romantic asexual, right? Well, if and only if the other person has initiated going beyond that, I’ve developed an interest. Obviously the emotional connection has to be there because when people want to be sexual with me and I have no emotional investment in them, more often than not it really upsets me. But if I’m in a relationship and the person wants to be sexual, not only do I consent, but I start discovering that there are certain things I like and want to do and look forward to doing.

My relationship with my best friend didn’t develop that way — she wasn’t into me that way and so she didn’t initiate anything of that nature and thus I didn’t develop sexual feelings for her. (Which is good because I would have had more of a mess if I had…) But because the emotional closeness I had with her was so close to what I wanted I got confused and thought it was all I needed.

So I guess that does make me demisexual or something. I can’t say I’m purely 100 percent asexual at this point. Lately I’ve been saying I’m quasi-asexual.

I’m trying to remember it’s just a word and its only purpose is to help me define what I want, but it’s really hard to let go of a label that has been me for as long as I can remember, and I don’t want to betray the asexual community or the people that I have helped encourage.

Posted by: Shula Asher Silberstein | 20 July 2011

What’s Missing?

In the past, I’ve found asexuality painful at time. It seems like I always feel attached to somebody — usually someone who is a close friend — and I could see myself being with that person forever, or at least for whatever part of forever we’re allowed to both be on this earth. But invariably, the close friends that I love don’t love me back in the same way. They love me — as a friend and as a brother. But no further. So at some point, every time I love someone, I have to tear down my own illusions of what I think could and should be and face the fact that I can’t have the relationship I want with this particular person. It’s depressing and lonely and sometimes I’ve wondered if it’s because I’m asexual that I feel this way, even though I know sexual people are more than capable of having their hearts broken. But it just seems different.

Anyway, this morning, while throwing out the trash, I had a revelation that I’m not quite sure how to explain. It occurred to me that there’s something…missing in my internal list of what I want in a partner. I’ve been focusing on the ways that some of my close friends would be right for me if only they felt that way too. But if I keep finding people who would be better as friends than as partners, then surely there’s some error in my thinking about the whole thing that attracts me to these people in the wrong way.

I don’t know yet what is missing. Fur sexual people, as I understand it, one of the essential components of a romantic relationship vs a friendship relationship is sex. Since I don’t experience sexual attraction, obviously the desire to have sex with my partner is not the missing thing. But something is…

This is something I wrote the other day about what I’m looking for in a partner:

I represent a challenge because I want someone to penetrate me emotionally. I want to feel so strongly about someone that I can’t help but tell them everything and for it to not scare them away, for it to make them cleave more tightly to me. Kinda like my core and their core are magnets. I’m looking for the one who understands the things I can’t tell most people about who I am, the one who sees me, all of me and goes, “Yunno, you’re pretty cool.” before I say it about myself.

I’m pretty sure whatever it is that I need to change about my thinking, whatever’s missing, is locked in that paragraph somewhere. It’s odd in a way how I apply the language of sex to something that is mainly non-sexual for me. But obviously, since this came from some writing I did when I was feeling especially lonely and asking myself what it was I needed that I couldn’t find, this represents my deepest feelings at the moment of what I’m looking for. In true keeping with my panromanticism, I don’t care whether my partner is male, female, in between, from some other planet, or anything else. I do care about whether that emotional connection is there. Although I would like to date a female-identified person because I’ve always dated men and it’s done nothing for me so far, and would like to see what dating a woman would be like. And being gender-neutral/male-leaning, it makes more sense for me to be with a trans person or at least someone who is female-leaning. But hey, I’m open to whatever the universe gives me in that department. I’m not picky, at least not in that sense.

This desire for the deepest emotional connection is what confuses me sometimes. I meet someone and I feel a sense of kinship with them, some kind of bond that goes deeper than having just met, and wanting to get to know them further. I have, in the past, called this a “crush” and assumed it was romantic. But now, I’m not sure. How can I tell if my desire is to get to know someone further as a friend or to explore the possibility of having a life partner? Where is the line between friendship and romance? Is there one, and does there need to be one? For me there has to be one somewhere because lately I have been feeling very deeply that I want to find a partner. But for me, a partner mainly means someone to share my life and my feelings and my goals and my values with. Sure, cuddling and holding hands is nice. I probably would like that a little. And there are certain other things I might want only in the context of a relationship (though I have never wanted a fully sexual relationship.) But when I’m looking for a partner, I’m not thinking about or wanting those things. I’m wanting that emotional connection.

So I’m still not 100% sure what I’m missing in my thinking about partnership, but I think part of it has to do with the blurring of the line between friendship and romance. Yet there is something, something elusive, that makes a romantic partnership different than a friendship for me, and that something is what I need to find before I can ever hope to find the person I’m looking for.

Posted by: Shula Asher Silberstein | 30 June 2011

Yes, Asexuals Can Love Captain Jack Too!

For those who don’t know, the video at the end of this post is the moment where Captain Jack finds out why he is immortal. It also explains why I love Captain Jack even though I’m asexual and he’s pansexual. In fact, even though he is very open with his innuendos and his love of all things sexual (not in this scene, for the most part. Sexphobes can still watch it), there is a lot more to Captain Jack’s character than his sexuality, and I think sometimes people get too caught up in that aspect of him and allow it to overshadow the rest. Jack’s not ashamed of his sexuality, and he shouldn’t be, but there is also so much more to him than that.

Speaking of which, one of the things I find interesting is that until this scene, Jack couldn’t stand being immortal. As totally comfortable as he is with his sexuality, he is totally uncomfortable with his immortality. He has a lot of reasons for that — he’s experienced a lot of pain and seen a lot of people he loves die. But at the same time, every time I watch this scene it reminds me of how I felt at first about being asexual. I felt really alien, like I lived on this planet but didn’t belong here. People would tell me I was lucky to be asexual or they would tell me there was something wrong with me. Either way, it felt the same. I thought nobody could understand me and that I was the only one in the universe who felt this way besides fictional characters. I cried because I watched an episode of Monk where it was pretty clear he was asexual and I didn’t think anyone but me ever felt that way in real life.

So yeah, somewhat of a different reason, but when I watch the first season of Torchwood and the Dr Who crossovers, I see my own struggle for self-acceptance mirrored in Jack’s pain.

I’ve never been suicidal, but I know a lot of people who have been because of being LGBT. Those of you who know me really well know how deeply personal a cause that is to me, and how grateful I am that Hadassah survived her suicidal feelings and is alive and happy now. So the last little bit of this particular scene really really gets me every time, because life is life, whether mortal or immortal, and I can’t help crying and cheering at the same time at someone choosing it.

I also have my own reasons for understanding Jack’s immortality beyond that, which really go way beyond what I wanted to write about here. Suffice it to say that before I came to North Carolina, I had made some serious wrong choices in my life, and looking back, I am literally lucky to be alive. I don’t like to think about that, but I do feel like I have a whole new life now.

Anyway, now here I am focusing on one aspect of Jack’s character and there’s so much more to him than his immortality just like there is so much more to him than his sexuality. And that’s what it comes to. I find Jack to be a very multi-dimensional HUMAN (or human feeling, anyway, I’m not sure what planet he’s from) character. I could write more about his compassion and his conflicted feelings about being a leader and wanting to try to make the universe a better place but feeling too damn responsible when things go wrong, which I also identify with.

One last thing… for me, a lot of the sex scenes in Torchwood — and especially with Jack — are about love. For me, this illustrates the way asexual people and sexual people are the same…we just express it differently. I know we don’t all feel romantic love, but what the fuck does that matter? Love is love. I’ve watched Torchwood and seen Jack kiss Ianto because he knew there was a chance they might never see each other again, and even though I don’t know that I ever want a romantic relationship with anyone, I can understand wanting to tell someone you love how much you love them, in case goodbye is forever.

So I think I’ve said enough for one blog post… I’m gonna shut up so you can all enjoy the video clip.

Posted by: Shula Asher Silberstein | 1 June 2011

I Will Not Shut Up

I should be working right now, but I’m fucking pissed off so I’m going to go ahead and get it out of my system. This blog is going to be a lot rawer and intense than most of my blogs are, so if cursing or anger offends you, stop reading now.

This morning I posted a link through tumblr to a blog about asexuality. As usual, one of the responses I got on my Facebook page was, “We know you’re asexual. Stop talking about it.”

Let me make this fucking clear RIGHT NOW. I am NOT shutting up about asexuality until everyone else fucking shuts up about the causes that are important to them, about their relationships, about their broken hearts, their loneliness, their love for their partner, their joy.

In case anyone is sarcasm impaired, I don’t actually want people to shut up about those things. But I have the same right to share my life and my opinions as everyone else. And yes, I know people have a right to say what they want. But do not say it on my page any more.

I don’t get what makes people so fucking uncomfortable about asexuality that they feel a need to try to stop people from talking about it. When I post about gay issues I don’t get this reaction. But both off and online, the response to asexuality is “we know who you are, so stop talking about it.”

Do you? Do you really know who I am? Let me tell you a few things.

I’m normally a positive person, so I don’t share these aspects of my life because I don’t want to be a whiner, but now I’m going to, just so we’re all on the same page here.

I’ve cried myself to sleep before because I am asexual, okay? It hurts when people day in and day out don’t get who or what you are and constantly tell you that either you need to be fixed or that you have no right to talk about your pain because your life is supposedly easier than theirs. My heart has been broken because I’m asexual and because my idea of love, romance, partnership, etc isn’t the same as most of the other people’s that I meet. I’ve gone to LGBT spaces and had people ask me how much I masturbate because “we all know asexual people do themselves.” I’ve gone on dates and had people I really, really clicked with tell me, “I’m sorry, but since you’re asexual, it won’t work” without even giving me a chance or letting the relationship develop to the point where we could figure out whether sexually things could work out between us. I’ve been told more times than I care to remember to get my hormones checked or to stop being a Puritan or a thousand other things that have nothing to do with me. I’ve been told that the word “asexual” is inappropriate to use around children but that “LGBT” is okay even though it totally ignores and erases me.

And that’s only a fraction of the pain I’ve experienced in my life because I’m asexual. I actually like myself and don’t want to make it sound like my sexual orientation is a tragedy. But sometimes, being asexual hurts, and a good portion of the hurt comes from being invisible and misunderstood.

So, no, I will not shut up about asexuality. I will not be quiet and let people think I’m sexual or think my life is easier or whatever the fuck it is they think.

I am asexual, and I don’t care how politically correct or incorrect it is, I will always talk about it.

If you have a problem with that, you don’t need to know me.

Posted by: Shula Asher Silberstein | 31 May 2011

Blog Carnival: Mainstream Blogs

One of the reasons I haven’t been blogging as much as usual is that what little time I’m not spending working I’m devoting to Asexual Awareness Week. I promise I’m going to get back to blogging for real soon. In fact, I already have a blog in mind about why, as a proud Asexual, the super-sexual Torchwood and especially the character of Captain Jack are fascinating to me.

But that will have to wait until I have more time. For now, I want to share an exciting project I’m doing for Asexual Awareness Week.

I’m working on getting Ace blogs into the mainstream blogosphere, with a blog carnival about all things Ace. Not only will an amazing number of writers be blogging about asexuality in October, but those blogs are going to be published on established blogs that lots and lots of people read!!! You don’t have to be Ace to write a blog as long as you write about something related to asexuality.

If you’re interested in writing a blog for this project, please leave me a comment and I’ll get you set up. If you don’t want your name attached, that’s totally cool. I haven’t figured out the details yet of how to do anonymous blogs for this carnival, but I’m sure I and the fabulous team I’m building can figure it out.

Speaking of which, if you don’t want to write, but you know of a blog we should be looking at (or better still, know the blog owner!), I want to hear from you. I need people on my team to search out blog hosts as well as to write blogs.

Finally, if this all sounds awesome but you don’t really have the time to get involved, please announce this carnival on your blog or tumbr or Facebook or wherever you post more. The more bloggers the better!!! I’m hoping for 20, but I believe I can get more. After all, I have 14 people in Aces United now, and that’s just in one city in one state.

Happy blogging, and thanks!

Shula

Posted by: Shula Asher Silberstein | 8 May 2011

Why Don’t We Have a Common Language?

I just realised I haven’t written in this blog in nearly two months. I’ve been avoiding blogging because of a situation that came up about a month ago, and I didn’t want to write about it in case the people involved read the blog. My intention is not and was not ever to make things worse, so I didn’t want to write about it but at the same time I did.

So I said nothing.

I decided to break my long silence tonight because I want to talk about communication. I am coming to believe more and more that the majority of conflicts occur because PEOPLE USE THE SAME WORDS TO MEAN DIFFERENT THINGS. People keep redefining words to mean something other than what they mean and it causes all sorts of confusion, and then we begin fighting each other because we think we said the opposite of what we were trying to say.

Let me give you an example. I’ll use the Incident that I didn’t want to talk about (since at this point I want to talk about it anyway.)

About a month ago, I wore a shirt that Hadassah made for me to temple. The front had the asexual heart. The back said “Asexuals party hardest.” Somebody complained that I was exposing children to the word asexual. Throughout the conversation I tried to have with the rabbi and a few other people about it, it was clear that we were not communicating.

For example, I was trying to explain that by being told that I should cover up such shirts or just not wear them in the first place, I felt that the temple community did not accept me. The rabbi insisted that I was accepted and that I had just used poor judgment in wearing an “inappropriate” shirt.

We were using two different definitions of the word accepted. For me, being accepted means being accepted as an open asexual and having the right to express who I am without fear. For the rabbi, being accepted means being welcome as long as I follow his rules, which apparently and suddenly meant not wearing shirts expressing that I am asexual.

Since we were using the same word to mean two different things, communication was impossible. Even though we were both speaking English, we were not speaking the same language.

Now, there are going to be times when people misunderstand each other. But when we misunderstand each other instead of clinging tightly to our words and insisting we’re right, I think the important thing is to try to understand what the other person is saying. I have a theory, as I said at the outset, that a lot of fighting comes from NOT doing this, from continuing along in our non-communicative path. I believe that a lot of in-fighting in particular comes down to fighting over words and labels instead of stepping back and seeing what those labels are attempting to convey.

The main reason I’m writing this blog is something that happened last night. I was talking with some Bisexual activists about pansexuality. I consider myself panromantic because I am attracted to the soul regardless of gender and because as a gender neutral asexual, I am most romantically attracted to other gender neutral people as well as transpeople.

Well, apparently there are some people in the Bisexual community who are offended by the suggestion that Bisexual and Pansexual are two separate things. According to these people, it is Biphobic to say that the prefix bi = two or to suggest bi people aren’t attracted to those who don’t fit into the gender binary. These activists believe that it is an act of erasure to suggest there is a difference between being attracted to people who fit gender norms and people who don’t, and that the transgender community is trying to force gender identity politics (whatever that means) on them. I was also informed that asexuals are bisexual if they are attracted to more than one gender.

I’m going to leave aside all the erasure that was being done to asexuals, gender neutral and transgender and transsexual people in these comments, even though it pissed me off last night. What really struck me is that people were getting insulted and offended over the definition of a word. No, not even the definition of a word. The definition of a PREFIX.

The prefix bi means two. It does not mean “two is inferior to three” or anything of that nature. Yet somehow it is “biphobic” to state that if a prefix means two, it is illogical to expect people to understand that YOU mean “indefinite number” by it. These same people get offended by the suggestion that they are attracted only to men and women because they have decided that bisexual means “anyone who does not identify as gay or straight”. Thus, they are offended that a gender neutral and asexual person such as myself chooses not to use the term bisexual to define hirself. Communication totally breaks down because if I say “I am not bisexual” they hear “I am not attracted to more than one gender.” while I mean “I am attracted to people who fall outside the gender binary.”

The thing is that there is absolutely no REASON for bisexual people, pansexual people and asexual people to be fighting with each other. If we look at what each other is saying, we are all saying the same thing. So in essence, people are offended because of a difference in LANGUAGE, not a difference in IDEAS. Are there not more important things we could be spending our energy on than this?

I see this in all areas of my life. It’s difficult enough for me as an asexual to explain what I mean by romance, attraction, relationship; I don’t have the same reference point as sexual people and therefore there is confusion. But it just seems like every time we try to talk about anything, someone misunderstands based on using a different definition of a word and that leads to lots of straw man arguments and anger and frustration for no reason.

I don’t know what the solution is, but please, can we find a common language? And can we take the time when there is a misunderstanding to back up and figure out what the other person means?

Isn’t what we are trying to say far more important than if we use the exact right word to say it? Isn’t the idea behind the word the point?

Posted by: Shula Asher Silberstein | 24 March 2011

Is Acephobia a Big Deal?

Last month Glee aired an episode which had some aspects that, in my opinion, were ace-phobic, or at the very least implied that there was something wrong with anyone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction. While discussing the episode on Twitter, I pointed out that GLAAD is unlikely to do anything about it unless the asexual community pressures them to, and someone pointed out that aces don’t face the same consequences to being mocked as transgender folks do.

And she was right. To the best of my knowledge, asexuals do not get murdered or arrested or turned away from jobs simply because they don’t experience sexual attraction. Any oppression we do experience, we experience because of being members of another group that is oppressed. For example, asexuals who are also transgender individuals experience discrimination against transgender individuals. Asexuals who wish to have romantic partners of the same gender might be read as gay and treated accordingly. And so on.

So I agree that asexuals are not oppressed for being asexual, merely invisible.

And yet…

Being invisible still hurts. Being mocked for who you are and not having others understand why it isn’t a big deal still hurts. And I want to be able to turn to someone with some power and say, “This is wrong,” and have them agree that is a Big Deal and worth telling the offender not to do anymore, without it taking away from the actual harm that others suffer as a result of untrue and negative beliefs about them.

Also, it’s not a competition. I don’t understand why it’s being framed that way… as if the members of the group that is treated most horribly “win” and the rest don’t even count. I want to live in a world where I can be for gay rights and bi rights and trans rights and asexual rights, rather than just having to pick one and fuck over everyone who belongs to the other groups.

Posted by: Shula Asher Silberstein | 8 March 2011

The Times, They Are a Changin’

I’m facing lots of changes in my life right now, so this blog may be a little bit more personal than my last few blogs.

First of all, I’m moving ahead with my asexual activism. Which is great, because it feels more like what I really want to do. I’m writing for the Examiner at least twice a week. In addition, I’ve done two more Squidoo pages about asexuality — one about Asexual Awareness Week, which I’m really excited to be participating in, and the other a general FAQ about asexuality.

Ever since I started writing more about asexuality, I’ve lost interest in my for-pay writing, which is about bankruptcy and taxes and the like. Unfortunately, this just won’t do. So far I’ve made 45 cents from writing about asexuality, which is not nearly enough to pay my rent (which is already late as it is …sigh…)

In the meantime, I’m trying to find another apartment, one that is closer to Raleigh where all my friends live and where I hope to have more meetings of Aces United once I get settled. So far it’s been really hard finding apartments that are affordable, and I’m nervous that I won’t be approved to live there anyway because of how many times my rent has been late in the past six months. Not to mention that I’m a month behind on nearly all my bills because I barely make enough freelancing to survive, so I’m sure my credit is shit right now. Plus I don’t have a traditional bank account; I have a Paypal account, since that’s where I get paid and where I pay all my bills from.

In addition to all of MY shit, since Hadassah and I plan to live together in the immediate future, it may be even harder to find an apartment because of our state not allowing her to have her legal name, which means she has to put her male name on all official documents (like rental applications) which means psychological distress for her and landlords legally being allowed to not rent to her if they don’t like transwomen. I haven’t blogged about trans issues for a while since I’m more focused on asexuality, but they do affect me just because my best friend and current roommate happens to be trans.

The biggest change I’m facing is that eventually Hadassah is planning on going to school all the way across the country. I totally support her doing this even though it means huge changes for our friendship. My feelings are, understandably, mixed about this. For me as an asexual, living with a really close friend in a nonromantic relationship has been absolutely awesome. I’ve always known that she would eventually find a sexual partner and that things would change. In the past two months we have had many discussions about our friendship and what to do to keep it a friendship and not something more. I’ve explained, or hope I’ve explained where I’m coming from and she’s explained where she’s coming from, many times over. That doesn’t mean that I don’t wish sometimes that things were very different.

So naturally sometimes, especially late at night when I’m alone in my room trying to get to sleep, I start thinking about the future and what it’s going to be like when Hadassah’s on one end of the country and I’m on the other. I’m planning on moving to Boston around the time she moves. Hopefully by then I’ll have my financial situation straightened out and my tax situation straightened out (I owe money for taxes too thanks to being self-employed…sigh…) so I’ll be able to move. And I’m excited about this great new life and I’m sure I’ll be able to visit her sometimes or her me. But like any change, this one is hard for me, especially because this non-relationship was closer to what I’ve wanted than any romantic relationship I’ve actually had has been.

In the meantime, I’m trying to focus on my day-to-day existence and resolve some of these financial problems and live the life I want to live. And not htink so much about the future, the present is enough for now.

Posted by: Shula Asher Silberstein | 3 March 2011

In Honor of World Sexuality Day, I’d Like To Say Something About Asexuality

So today is World Sexuality Day, and in honor of that I’d like to write something about my positive feelings about asexuality. Of course, I got very far behind on everything and forgot what the date was, but I don’t want to rush. So I’m going to take comfort in the fact that it will still be March 3 somewhere by the time I finish.

Okay. So.

When I come out to people as Asexual, very often they comment, “You are so lucky not to be tormented by the need for sex.” And honestly, that always confuses me because sometimes it doesn’t feel like a blessing. Because I am Asexual, I would prefer to live with a close friend and have a sexless relationship than enter a traditional romantic relationship. Building an emotionally close relationship takes time, lots of time, and lots of commitment. I have Aspergers, which lends itself to miscommunications and misunderstandings quite easily, so I have to spend a lot of time working out communications problems with friends for the health of the relationship. And then, because most people are sexual and looking for a sexual mate and not just to live with me forever, I’m forced to move on more often than I would like.

My sexual friends are, on the whole, looking for the same thing I’m looking for: a long-term, committed relationship. Except for them, that relationship also involves sex. And it seems like sometimes their need for sex overwhelms them so that they engage in it with people they know won’t give them the commitment they are looking for.

So I can understand why they say I’m lucky. I don’t have to ask myself the question of whether I should compromise on the relationship aspect for the sex aspect.

I don’t want to say that Aces are luckier than non-Aces, though, because neither one is better than the other. We just are who we are, and whichever we are, we should be proud of.

That being said, I’m happy being Asexual. For me, my lack of sexual attraction doesn’t feel like a lack. I’m satisfied with the close friendships I have, although I could use more friends and possibly a life partner. I spend my days working on various writing projects, meeting people, learning about and practicing spirituality, dreaming about the future, hoping to travel… all this is enough, or becoming enough, for me. Of course there are things in my life that aren’t as satisfying as I’d like them to be — money is one thing that comes to mind — but lack of sexual attraction is not one of them.

And so for me, I’m proud and happy to answer the old joke, “Sexual preference: YES” with, “For me, sexual preference is NO.”

Posted by: Shula Asher Silberstein | 1 March 2011

Why I Talk About Asexuality

I got my first taste of Ace-phobia today. I’d always known there was severe misunderstanding, of course — I did have to convince my therapist that I was Ace, after all, and I’m still never sure whether some of my friends and family realize I’m asexual rather than lesbian. I constantly struggle with the fact that asexuality is so invisible. I want to be open about my own asexuality as much as possible, although I’m n ever sure of exactly how to do that.  Asexuality is kind of hidden by default… just as most people are presumed to be straight, most people are presumed to be sexual, and unless the subject comes up, it’s hard to correct that impression.

Anyway, back to my original point. I was interviewed by Asexual News the other day. When the interview was posted, I shared it on my Facebook. Most people congratulated me on having been interviewed. One person, however, told me they were “frightened” by my “self-indulgence.”

Since I hadn’t said anything that was in the slightest self-indulgent and certainly nothing frightening, I was rather confused by this response. After some back and forth, the real issue came out: the person did not believe there is any such thing as asexuality and was offended by my labeling myself as asexual. My reference to 68 million other asexuals in the world failed to impress this person; his final words before choosing to drop me from Facebook were these:

Your level of self-importance and pretense is offensive. There is no such thing as an unsexed human. I’m also not going to keep a scorecard on how many intersexed people we may have known. Whether we elect to copulate is rather immaterial, …in the scheme of things, and pretty much a crapshoot, a lot of the time. However…

To physically engage, whether it is a sexual act or not, is a pleasurable thing. There’s also food, and heroin, and coffee, among other options. Your not valuing it places you into a bizarre minority that has no goal, no consensus value system, and no method of maintenance beyond the concept of resisting sex. You are ridiculous. I would think the same of a neutered dog, but even they still try to hump each other.

If you’re going to say that I “just don’t understand what you’re doing,” then I think I’ll have to live with that. LIfe is rather too short not to use my body as I see fit. If you think you’re doing something better, then power to you, but do not ever try to explain that nonsense to me, or anyone else with genitals.

You may think that you’re escaping gender, orientation, and sexual identity…but you’re not. You are not that clever, and you never will be.

I’m sharing this here even though the hurt I felt reading it has long since evaporated because I want my non-asexual readers to know exactly why it is that I talk about asexuality and participate in awareness campaigns and complain about offensive ads and do the myriad of other things that I do to make myself visible. There’s a special kind of pain that comes with someone informing you that your identity doesn’t exist. Trans people face it often, and unfortunately for them in many places the law attempts to deny that they are who they say they are. I’ve faced many people telling me that I’m not really asexual, but never anyone telling me that I’m making it up for self-gratification.

As for the rest of the crap that was said here, I’m having trouble understanding why anyone seriously believes as this person does. Asexuality is not a form of stating that people who don’t experience sexual attraction are better than those that do. One of my fears in hanging out with sexual people is that people will think that, though. There seems to be an attitude that anyone who isn’t interested in sex thinks sex is evil or something.

Anyway, in case anyone is wondering why I state openly that I’m Asexual or why I post about it often, or is thinking about telling me (again), “We all know you’re Asexual, stop talking about it,” this is why. The majority of people don’t know that Asexuals exist and some of them assign really bizarre and nefarious motivations to those of us who self-identify. So to combat the general attitude that Asexuals don’t exist and the specific attitude that Asexuality is some kind of snobbish fad identification, I talk about it.

I am not content to remain invisible just because that puts me one step ahead of people who are actively oppressed. I wish that I didn’t have to shout so loud, but Asexuality is so far under most people’s radars that the alternative is to remain invisible and irrelevant forever.

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