Announcement: Resources for Ace Survivors website

So I’ve been working with Queenie for the past few months to expand Resources for Ace Survivors to a stand-alone website. Please check it out!

Special thanks to Stormy, who has also been working on this with us! We really wouldn’t have made this happen so quickly if we hadn’t had so much help!

Here are some features of the site that I’m quite excited about:

  • We’ll be launching a multi-author WordPress blog sometime in the next month or so. We’re currently looking for contributors—both to blog with us regularly and to submit guest posts.
  • We have a private forum which we’re currently testing, and using to organize all of our projects. If you’re interested in working with us but not quite able to devote a lot of time to it yet, you can still help us out by joining the forum, helping us test it, and giving us your opinion on how you’d like to see it run. And we will really need some moderators!
  • We will be able to offer an alternative method of communication between survivors who need someone to talk to and people on The List. This will be really helpful for survivors (like me) who are too triggered or vulnerable to their abusers to use tumblr!
  • We will be launching a very big project to educate therapists, health professionals, advocates, grassroots organizations, and so on to competently treat ace survivors. This includes providing educational resources, and also collecting a list of recommended providers/organizations to refer survivors to, along with contacting existing organizations and working with them to create asexuality tags for the therapists/etc. in their systems—and better educate their volunteers.

Please check out our full list of projects. There’s a lot to do, so please consider joining us if you can!

Thanks to everyone who consulted with us to help get this going! I am really behind on emails right now because I’ve been focusing so much on getting all of this ready in time for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so I’m sorry I haven’t been back in touch with some of you. Please know that your help has been very much appreciated!

Guest Post: Asexual/Allosexual Relationships and Sex

This is a guest post by onlyfragments, reposted with permission for the purpose of making more resources available to people reading my How to Have Sex with an Asexual Person post, which I plan to revise. I will be collecting as many different articles related to the topic of respectfully approaching sex with asexual people as people are willing to write, and linking to them from that article when I fully revise it—ideally I’d also like to cross-post them here on my blog. If there was anything you wished had been covered in the original article, please consider submitting something, even if you are only writing about your personal experiences and not making an expert’s guide. I can give you feedback and help you edit before publishing if you feel your writing could benefit from that as well. You can reach me at prismatic.entanglements [at] gmail.com.

This article is cross-posted here at onlyfragments’ blog.


 

[ Warning to friends/family/others: I’m going to discuss my sex life below. If that’s TMI for you, I suggest not reading this. ]

After reading PrismaticEntanglement’s post about the topic of sex between allosexuals and asexuals, I decided to write my own post about how my girlfriend and I navigate this difficult topic. I’m going to try to impart some advice based on our experiences; that being said, this is based solely on my personal experience and what worked for us. I’m not an expert – just a person with a blog. Continue reading

Question: “can an asexual ever have a one time encounter that’s extremely satisfying…?”

[tw: fetishizing, mentions of: rape threats, Magic Genitals, sex as self-harm]

So I usually don’t do this anymore, but today someone got here by this search term:

“can an asexual ever have one time encouter that i’s extremely satisfying with this one person” (sic)

I think it’s reasonable to assume that whoever typed that meant a sexual encounter. If it’s about non-sexual encounters, then it should be pretty obvious that of course that’s possible, so I see no reason for them to be asking that question. So let’s assume they meant a sexual encounter.

My answer: Possibly? Maybe? But it would be exceedingly rare.

If you’re hoping for that to happen in real life, don’t. Most of us are not interested in sex. Those of us who are open to trying it are usually not looking for a one-night stand type of situation. Most of us who do try that (one-time encounters) find it to be… well, lackluster. If not worse than that, because it’s been coerced. Some of us might seek out situations like that not for pleasure but to self-harm, or while desperately trying to be not-asexual. In my experience, people generally do not care enough to make sure a one-time sexual encounter is a good experience for asexual-spectrum people. So a more likely scenario is that such a thing would end very badly.

If you’re writing a story where that happens, really don’t. It’s completely unrealistic as a representation for a group that has almost no representation as is, and it plays into the Magic Genitals myth. (That is, that some “right person” is going to come along and magically make us have amazing sexual experiences that somehow “turn us,” like vampires or something—and yes, people actually try to be that person. In real life. It’s a type of rape threat.) You will do our community vastly more harm than good, because people really want that myth to be true, and they will latch onto it as if it’s representative of the whole community. People sometimes tend to fetishize asexual people.* That’s not cool.

If that actually does happen? And you’re sure that’s what’s happened, not just assuming it? Then okay, fine.

But do not expect it. And DO NOT try to coerce an asexual person into a one-time sexual encounter with you. If you’re in a situation where an asexual person might actually agree to have sex with you, please follow this guide. Be respectful of their identity and try to make it the best experience they could have had—and if the best experience for them is not having sex, then don’t push for it!


* My ancient article about fetishization** is getting linked around a bit again, but for a more recent (and less creepy) example, check out how journalists treat David Jay.

** That old article makes me cringe now, as much of what I thought back then was the product of grooming. Being fetishized (among other things) was something I was conditioned to accept instead of challenge, and I was barely starting to break out of that back then. And the landscape of what’s out there about asexuality has changed drastically in the past seven years, so keep that in mind too.

Writing About Asexuality in a Classroom Setting

Cross-posted to the The Asexual Agenda.

Earlier this month, I wrote about some of the trouble I encountered in creative writing classes here [tw: verbal abuse by teachers, domestic violence mentions]. Consider this post a sort of follow-up to that one. It is also my official submission for the March Carnival of Aces, although I think most of what I wrote about this month is on-topic enough to include even though it wasn’t specifically for the carnival.

Last time, my focus was on trouble with teachers, and how as a survivor (and secondarily, as an ace) sometimes creative writing classes are especially difficult. This time, I want to focus on reception of different types of work about asexuality specifically, and mostly from peers rather than teachers.

Essays

I first started writing about asexuality in essays, for your basic English 101 class—the slightly advanced version, I guess. This was in 2005, which was well before our movement had gained most of the momentum we now have. It was a basic 101 class, and a basic 101 essay. Continue reading

Tentative Revisions

[TW: corrective rape implications, compulsory sexuality, mentions of violent search terms & comments]

A few of you may have noticed that I revised the introduction to How to Have Sex with an Asexual Person. I haven’t touched the rest of it yet, although I do plan to once I get more time to focus on it properly.

Before we continue, some context about that post for people who may not know, just in case this gets picked up on tumblr:

  • The title is the exact wording of a SEARCH TERM that led someone to this blog. I didn’t just make it up.
  • I know the title is triggering—it was for me too when I first read it. I was directly addressing the creepy people who got here by searching that. I’m sorry that I had to use the search term as the title, but otherwise, I wouldn’t reach those people.
  • I am a survivor too, but back then I wasn’t open about it. Please don’t forget that.
  • We are in a pretty different place in ace discourse now than we were three years ago.
  • This is a strategy of harm reduction. In a better world, I wouldn’t have to say this.
  • The intended audience of the post is limited, although the script being offered can be applied in many other contexts—and it is being applied in a much wider context than originally intended.
  • I tried to reach those people who are already determined enough to try to get an asexual person to have sex with them that they’re researching how to do that. Saying “don’t try to have sex with asexuals” is not going to work with them, so my goal was to at least provide an alternative model they could use to be better (as in, more decent towards aces, not better at being horrible).
  • If that search space wasn’t taken up by me, something much worse would fill it instead.
  • This article attracts perpetrators (as intended), and I regularly get people trying to tell me how awful and “self-centered” I am to dare suggest that they not rape whatever asexual person they are trying to “have sex with.” This is a bare minimum, yet they can’t stand it. I do not publish those comments. Some of these people will never listen, and will do everything in their power to twist my words to support their own compulsory sexuality.
  • At the same time, there are a lot of people who DO change their approach after reading! And it’s not perfect or 100% pressure-free, but at least it’s less bad. (I tried to encourage people to aim higher than not bad, but there is not much space for it—still, that’s about the 3rd most clicked outside link on this blog.)
  • Originally, I had planned to write a series of additional articles to reduce pressure. More needs to be written; it just doesn’t all fit in this one article.
  • But the response to that article was so overwhelming that my blog became an unsafe place for me. That is the biggest reason this re-examination of that post has been so long delayed.

That said, let’s move on. Continue reading

Blog Rants: Introduction

Cross-posted to Asexual Agenda.


Do you want to start a blog about asexuality? Do you already have a blog, but want your posts to hit harder, better, faster, stronger? Are you on tumblr but considering joining WordPress? Or do you just want to critically examine the way that ace community discourse has been shaped? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then this is for you.

Continue reading

The Trouble with Creative Writing Programs

[TW: domestic violence mentions, normalization of child abuse, marginalization of survivors.]

I’m a writer. I’ve dedicated years to learning my craft, and continue to practice daily. Eventually, I’d like to be able to subsist solely off of royalties, but I know that isn’t likely to happen in the next decade. I’ll probably linger in relative obscurity forever. I have a fairly realistic view of my situation, I’d like to think.

When I was in school, I waffled about trying to decide on a major. Computer science? Sociology? Linguistics? Women’s Studies? Japanese? I had many interests, but none of the above captured my attention quite as much as creative writing. When my school developed an undergraduate English program focused on creative writing, I switched over.

And for the most part, it was wonderful. I learned a lot about writing, especially the importance of revision. It was great to meet other writers and be part of a critique circle. Some of them in particular were so good, their work was a real joy to read. I felt honored to be able to do so. The creative writing program’s teachers were knowledgeable and quite genuinely very nice, and for the most part perfectly willing to accommodate me when I (inevitably) succumbed to symptoms of PTSD. Some of them didn’t even need to hear a reason for my absences or late assignments; they just worked with me.

Except one. Continue reading

Thoughtfully Advocating for Inclusion

This post is for the Carnival of Aces. This month’s theme: Cross Community Connections.


Whenever an asexual person reaches out to engage with another community and advocate for an approach inclusive of asexuality, it’s always risky.

Reactions can range from eager acceptance, to confused tolerance, to a civil refusal to engage because it would constitute “mission creep,” to indignant outrage that anyone would dare suggest that even a small fraction of the community’s time could be spent on asexuality, to even—sometimes—outright abuse.

I’ve seen all of these and more over the past ten years. Lately, I’ve seen more success than failure.

Frequently, communities have no unified front. Different members have different reactions, and whether or not you make any headway largely depends on which people are in charge. If you get a bad response, it can sometimes be worth it to try again after the leadership changes. People do learn from their experiences, and although you can’t count on it, it’s possible that once a leader has seen membership drop due to intersectional frictions that were never addressed, they may become more willing to consider dealing with such issues.

Tenacity is important for making progress, but must be tempered with sensitivity. If leaders see you as someone who busts in like the Kool-Aid Man or pesters like a Sea Lion—someone with a pet issue trying to force the rest of the community to accept you as a member without regard for others’ boundaries—they may get defensive and become less likely to consider your points.

Sometimes their perceptions are unfair. Sometimes they want to exclude. Sometimes there are good reasons for them to do so. We should respect that decision even if we don’t understand or agree.

A thoughtful approach can make all the difference. To determine the best approach, I ask myself these five questions:

1. What are the community’s stated goals?

This can take the form of a mission statement, but some communities don’t have anything that clearly defined. Sometimes community leaders have inherited a mission statement, but want to take a different direction. Sometimes leaders have no clear goals, or don’t agree with each other. If you’re not sure about what a leader’s vision for their community is, ask them to tell you more about it. Try to find out whether their focus is broad or narrow—for example, is it just for lesbians, or is it meant to be for any “queer” person? Consider whether they are more interested in political change, providing support, or whether they just want to make friends. A support group may need to be very narrow in order for the members to feel safe enough to talk about their issues—try to find out what kind of support they provide, and what might be unwelcome. A political group may be focused on only one or two issues, and unwilling to address other issues for fear of narrowing their base.

2. Is the community inclusive?

What does the membership look like? Is it mostly white men, or is the group mixed along racial and gender lines? Does it reflect the demographic distribution of your area? This can tell you a lot about the group’s focus and outreach efforts.

Read the rest of this post at The Asexual Agenda.

And consider this my official announcement that I am now a contributor there! This should allow me to have a bit more room to separate my more personal posts from activism posts, so expect the scope of this blog to expand a bit.

Fun fact: This particular post was dreamed up like four years ago as a follow-up to my post linked above, but I never actually got around to posting it. I have a backlog of around 40 drafts of random things that I never finished and posted, so it’s often really hard for me to remember what I’ve said before and what I ultimately decided not to post.

Disingenuous, Shallow “Support”

[Warning: contains discussion of sexual and domestic violence, gaslighting, and disingenuous infiltration of communities by abusers (macktivists) co-opting the language of consent; mention of intra-community violence.]

Last week, two articles caught my eye.

First, let’s talk about this:

No More, the NFL’s Domestic Violence Partner, Is a Sham – Diana Moskovitz examines how several brands have decided that the reason why domestic and sexual violence persists is because these issues “don’t have a strong enough brand. So, to help get America talking about these issues, the brands created a brand, and partnered with other brands to promote this brand.” Upon asking their marketing director, Virginia Witt, to estimate how much money No More had raised for non-profits, the answer she received was… well, you can read it yourself at the link, but I think her assessment below says it all:

“Read generously, this is just marketing jargon (“brands … an asset … consumer engagement”) wrapped around an admission that no one has any idea whether or not No More actually does anything tangible for groups fighting domestic violence and sexual assault. Taken at face value, as it probably should be, it suggests that the measure of success for No More isn’t whether it actually directs new funding to, say, hotlines, shelters, and lawyers, but whether those who are already fighting domestic violence use No More branding in their own fundraising operations.

I took the No More pledge on their website. Since then, the only thing I’ve received from them is an email from Randel asking me to please share their advertisement on Facebook.”

Ah, yes. Facebook Activism. Because sharing something on Facebook for others to automatically click “like” without even reading is clearly the most effective way to promote real engagement with anti-violence work, and genuine support to survivors.

The idea that a brand is all that’s needed to get others to care, rather than something that is just there for others to adopt in order to look like they care, is so incredibly vile to me.

There are four lights

A Cardassian torturer famously tried to gaslight Captain Picard. His direct approach didn’t work. Successful campaigns are usually more subtle, and sustained for longer.

Why? Because it’s exactly the sort of thing that makes it easier for abusers to gaslight their victims.

Gaslighting is a tactic of presenting false information with the intent to confuse a person, and convince them that their accurate observations are wrong. Persistent, long-term gaslighting campaigns can really make someone feel like they’re going crazy, and severely cripple their ability to trust their own discernment.

No More’s logo requires absolutely no commitment to actually fighting domestic and sexual violence. Sporting it can make you look more saintly, and probably would make you feel good since it gives you the impression that you’re doing something, but it pretty much means nothing. But looking good—and silencing critics—is all the NFL cares about. This is an intentional marketing strategy meant to keep people just satisfied enough that they won’t dig too deep.

Can we really expect perpetrators—especially those who like football—to just ignore this potential tool for silencing their victims? I think not. I think some will use it to perpetuate. I think they’ll use it to project an image of caring about domestic violence and then turn around and say that what they’re doing can’t be real violence, because a person who “cares” about stopping such violence can’t be a perpetrator of it.

Which brings me to article #2.

This one is titled, What Happens When a Prominent Male Feminist is Accused of Rape? It relates the story of a group of feminists coming together to expose self-proclaimed “male feminist” Hart Noecker. It describes how he co-opted feminist discussion of consent, and used it to gaslight his victims: Continue reading