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.


Responses

  1. I’m really sorry you experienced this, the words hurt me just reading them. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you and so many others have been writing about the ace experience for longer than I’ve known the word! You have been paving the way for those coming along behind you and making it just that much easier for other aces to be okay with who they are and giving them the strength to respond (often over and over and over again) to attacks on their identity. Thank you for all the risk you’ve taken, for all the attacks you’ve absorbed so that maybe others won’t have to.

    • Thanks. It’s funny, I never thought of myself as an activist until recently… just one lone Ace trying to live her life as best as possible. I’m glad that my writing about it is helping others.

      Lately the number of people who know what asexuality is seem to outweigh the “I wish my homework was asexual so it could do itself” people on Twitter and other social networks, so things are definitely improving. Thank you for contributing to the growing knowledge about asexuality.

  2. I am going to give you a hug now. -hugs- I’m sorry.

  3. Wow, nuts. I’ve heard things like this before–you’re selfish, you’re deluded, you think you’re better than us. The best thing to remember is that these people aren’t seeing us; they’re projecting. They’re seeing themselves with a piece removed, projecting onto us the ridiculousness of what they themselves would be without a part of them that helped form their mind and attitude. What they don’t understand is that we are whole people who don’t happen to have that part. The person you quoted is demonstrating an incredibly shocking inability to empathize.

    “There’s no such thing as an unsexed human” is kinda hilarious. We’re not claiming to “be unsexed.” We’re claiming to not feel sexual attraction to other people. We’re not denying biology, claiming specialness, or suggesting that sex should be unimportant to “other people with genitals.” We’re simply challenging the assumption that every human is interested in other people sexually. And frankly, the amount of vitriol embedded in that person’s comment makes me think there’s an awful lot more going on here than just simple disbelief and dismissal. I think this person mistakenly believes that your existence challenges the person’s own sexuality somehow, and that you must be handing down judgment through your actions (or inactions).

    I have two YouTube videos in which I talk about WHY I bother with visibility in the face of “why do you bother to talk about this, no one cares!” and the letters I feature are much like yours–abusive, dismissive, pointless. I also wrote an article about how people who think they’re sex-positive actually reveal their sex-negative attitudes when they hand down abuse like this. I’d be glad to share my materials with anyone who needs more resources or ammunition for fighting this sort of idiocy.

  4. Man, I’m really sorry that guy reacted that badly. I tend not to get the “but you think you’re SO MUCH BETTER THAN US” reaction too much when I get bad reactions, so sometimes it’s easy to forget that it’s actually quite common to run across people who think that.

    It’s frustrating, too, because it’s such a stupid reaction–if he was listening properly in the first place, he ought to have noticed that you aren’t trying to say anything about anyone but yourself and other ace people. People get over-defensive over nothing!

  5. Wow. That’s truly awful. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. Thanks for all the good work! I’ll be keeping an eye on your blog.


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