Blog Rants: The Early Ace Blogosphere

This post is part of a series and cross-posted to The Asexual Agenda; you can view the masterpost here. It also fits the theme of the July Carnival of Aces on Asexual History, although it’s slightly late!

Previously, I contextualized my personal history with both blogging and the asexual community leading up to my decision to join WordPress. Now, I want to talk about the formation and history of the Ace Blogosphere proper. Continue reading

June 2015 Carnival of Aces Round-Up: Mental Health

This past month we’ve had a lot of really important conversations about mental health. It is my hope that these will serve as a point to ground future attempts to educate therapists in the actual lived experiences of the aces who most desperately need their care. Too often, in their haste to de-pathologize asexuality, asexual activists say “We’re not broken!” and forget about those of us who really might be. No effort to educate health care professionals will be acceptable if in doing so we continue to minimize and stigmatize aces who do face mental illness.

We should neither have to pretend to feel happy and never distressed or confused about asexuality in order to convince the world it’s okay to be ace, nor play up our problems or say they are all because of asexuality in order to gain “oppressed enough” status.

So please read these entries with that in mind. I’ve organized them into three categories based on theme. Personal narratives and discussion of the asexual community were so often paired that I found it easier to combine them. The second most frequent theme was about therapy and barriers to treatment. Finally, we had some discussion of how we can cope and support one another.

Personal Narratives and Asexual Community Discourse

Laura (hella-non-mono) wrote about having Binge Eating Disorder. This post spawned a lot of good conversations (check out the notes), and then an entirely new blog specifically for the intersection of asexuality and eating disorders (as well as other body image-related issues).

Thicketofcomplication shared her story [tw: sexual assault mention, hypersexuality, mention of sex, self-harm, dissociation, drinking].

Laura P. wrote about how isolation, erasure, and invalidation have affected her mental health.

Jon wrote about the complicated tangle of asexuality, neurodivergence, and bipolar illness. [tw: abuse, suicide ideation, compulsory sexuality]

Aqua wrote about asexuality and codependency. [tw: sexual coercion, emotional abuse, invalidation]

Queenie wrote about what having PTSD is like. [tw: sexual assault mention]

Sara at Flying While Falling Down wrote about deciding not to talk about sexual assault anymore. [strong TW for rape, abuse, not being believed, self-harm, eating disorder, suicide attempts, pregnancy]

The Anonymous Asexual wrote about how assertions that “asexuals aren’t broken” hurt. [tw: gaslighting, ableism related to mental illness, brief mentions of trauma]

Tristefere wrote about the way that the asexual community’s respectability politics harm, and how the simplistic narrative around mental illness needs to change. [tw: depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, Oppression Olympics]

Soodalgwayeou wrote about identity crisis, self-questioning, and invalidation. [tw: brief mention of childhood abuse, corrective therapy]

Kria wrote about sexual self-harm, and a delayed realization of asexuality because of it. [tw: self-harm, sex discussion, depression, some abuse mentions—nothing graphic, however]

Maris wrote about neurodivergence, anxiety, and doubting their asexuality. [tw: mentions of abuse, sexual trauma, homophobia, suicidal implications]

Demisexual and Proud hosted a series of responses: 1, 23, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 [tw: Number 8 mentions sexual assault and victim-blaming.]

Morgaine has won wrote about how difficult it is to figure out whether or not identities were caused by trauma. [tw: emotional abuse mention, sexual abuse mention, grooming mention, emotional numbness, dissociation]

 

Therapy and Barriers to Treatment

An anonymous person offered a South Korean perspective on asexuality and mental health. [tw: erasure, invalidation, abuse, suicidal ideation]

Laura P.’s second submission dealt with obstacles to therapy as an asexual Muslim convert.

Stormy wrote about why it’s okay to refuse therapy. [tw: medical abuse, therapist abuse, rape mention]

Epochryphal wrote about CBT and the sneakiness of therapeutic abuse. [tw: gaslighting, abuse, self-blame, invalidation]

Alice wrote about relationship status and sexual orientation as gatekeeping for transition, and the importance of ace affirmative therapy.

Nicola wrote about difficulties finding competent treatmenttherapy that works and doesn’t work [tw: invalidation, ableism]

Writer Ace wrote about the need for therapists and schools to make spaces explicitly safe for asexuals.

Coping and Support

Elaine wrote about her mental health leaving her with few options other than marriage for financial security, and the bind that would put her in due to asexuality and Islam. [tw: compulsory sexuality, some discussion of marriage as prostitution]

I wrote an overview of components of resilience, which helps me to identify how I can fortify my own ability to cope. (Cross-posted to RFAS, where I will likely write a further breakdown in the future.)

Nicola’s third and fourth submissions were about community and coping, and support.

Hope for Aces, a “dedicated space for asexual spectrum, aromantic spectrum, and sex-/romance-repulsed people to discuss eating disorders, body dysmorphia, or other body-image or food-related issues,” was created. There have been a lot of good posts geared towards coping and supporting one another there!

 

July 2015

The next carnival will be held at Next Step: Cake, and the topic is “Asexual History.” If you’d like to volunteer to host a future carnival, please do so at the Carnival of Aces Masterpost.

You can still submit late entries until the end of July, and I will edit this post to add them in. After that, please continue discussing! You can send in links from before or after the carnival to Resources for Ace Survivors, and we will feature them on our Asexuality and Mental Health page. This blog and RFAS are both still open to hosting guest posts.

Please let me know if I’ve missed anything! Thank you all so much for participating. :)

Last call for submissions

June is now over! That means the Carnival of Aces is moving on.

I’ll post the round-up in the next couple of days. In the meantime, you can see what entries I’ve received here. If yours is not on the list, please resubmit!

Also, some of you go by different names and I’m not always sure which to use, so if you have a preference, let me know. I may have also missed a trigger warning here and there, so if you see something else that needs tagging, let me know.

This is a particularly difficult topic and I know some of you are still working on your submissions. That’s okay! I may even post a late one as well. I’ll accept late submissions through the end of this month. After that, you can still write on the topic and have your post featured at the RFAS Asexuality & Mental Health page—there is no deadline for that.

And you can still submit anonymous guest posts, or submit in a format other than text.

The July carnival will be held at Next Step: Cake.

Major Victory, Minor Aggressions

Everyone is aware of this by now, of course, but the Supreme Court of the U.S. announced today that same-sex marriage is legal everywhere in the country.

It was sweet news to wake up to this morning. I’m not about to go get married—it was already legal where I live, and my partner and I aren’t ready for that right now, although we’ve seriously considered it a lot in the past—but it’s wonderful to know that if we do, we won’t have to worry about it not being recognized should we decide to travel to my home state or the state where most of my extended family lives. By now I’m out (about dating women only) to most of them, too, and especially on my dad’s side, they’re mostly pretty accepting or at least willing to let it be—because they were already used to the idea.

It’s great to know that my uncle, who paved the way for that side of my family to (at least halfway) accept me, can now get married to his partner if he so desires. I wonder if we’ll be getting an invitation at some point soon.

But of course, this war isn’t over. I was reminded of that when my partner and I went to the grocery store today. The check-out clerk rather rudely said that we “spend too much money at this store” and that we’re “always here.” We tend to go at least twice a week, but we only buy a little bit at a time (and there are health-related reasons for that I won’t get into, but let me just note that it’s shitty on multiple levels to make that kind of comment). I’m fairly sure that she just always notices us when we are there because we’re That Lesbian Couple. No matter where we go, we’re always noticed. I’d like one day for people to be so used to it they never give us a second thought. In any case, it seems very likely that the ruling this morning may have been the reason why that clerk decided to comment on our visibility today.

Employment discrimination is still a big issue that both C and I have faced within the last year, and I hope that we’ll see work on inclusive non-discrimination acts soon. As well as a whole bunch of other issues that are a lot more social than legal.

And of course, there are still many places around the world where this victory isn’t won yet.

But today? It’s a good day. This is not a trivial victory—it’s one that has taken decades. I hope that this trend will continue, and make all our other battles a little bit easier.

Guest Post: A South Korean Perspective on Asexuality and Mental Health

This is a submission to the June 2015 Carnival of Aces on Asexuality and Mental Health by a South Korean person who wishes to remain anonymous. It has been very lightly edited and formatted for easier reading. I would like to thank the writer very much for sharing! It is not often that the English-speaking ace community gets to hear a perspective like this.

Additionally, if anyone knows of any Korean-language resources or communities for ace-spectrum, aromantic, or genderqueer people, please let us know about them in the comments!


[note: depression, OCD, forced outing, erasure/invalidation]

Hello, nice to meet you all. This is the first time I ever joined any Ace-related events. It is truly blissful that I found this event. Please pardon me if I make any syntactic, semantic, or lexical error, and if I ramble too much. English is not my mother tongue. What I want to tell you is that there are people like me in South Korea. My opinion does not and will not represent the general consensus about every Ace, Aro, and genderqueer issue debated in South Korea, but it might shed some light on it. Continue reading

What is Resilience?

This post is for the June 2015 Carnival of Aces on Mental Health. It is cross-posted to the Resources for Ace Survivors blog.

[tw: invalidation, gaslighting, vague mentions of abuse and compulsory sexuality]

If you spend much time around survivor spaces, you’ll see a lot of talk about resilience. What does it really mean, though?

Basically: resilience is the ability to recover quickly from really tough, painful situations. But there’s so much more depth to it than that. This isn’t the kind of thing that you either have or you don’t. If you’re dealing with PTSD, you may be tempted to blame yourself (as I did) for not being resilient enough, for not recovering on the timeline that others think you should, or for even having PTSD at all. But don’t. Or at least, try not to. Because it’s not your fault. And you are resilient. If you didn’t have resilience, you wouldn’t even be here at all.

Everyone has some degree of resilience. And it’s something you can always improve. It’s like how in World of Warcraft, you have a base percentage of the Resilience stat, and then you can add onto it. Unlike in WoW, however, it’s not as simple as putting on a different set of clothes.

Resilience is a complex abstract idea that doesn’t mean much until you break it down into the factors that make it up, and concrete practical applications of them. There are several components that are thought to contribute to overall resilience. Each of these is a skill that can be developed, or a practice that’s built up based on skills that can be developed.

In one of my first sessions with my current therapist, she gave me a little notebook, and had me write down these components of resilience:

  • adaptability
  • creativity
  • ability to manage affect
  • support network
  • tenacity
  • discernment
  • ability to develop a positive framework for life’s issues

Continue reading

Resources for Ace Survivors Blog now live!

And it only took all of forever! :P

Check out our announcement post.

You can follow our RSS feed on Feedly or any other RSS reader you like. (Here’s a handy guide to RSS readers with startup packages of great ace blogs to follow!) Or, you can follow the Resources for Ace Survivors Tumblr, which will still be running alongside this new blog.

We will be integrating the new blog with the Tumblr in some fashion, and I’d like to make sure it’s comfortable for everyone, so please weigh in on what you think the best option would be. I’ll also be making a list of tags and trigger warnings for everyone to refer to when writing posts. If there’s one you want included (especially if it’s not typically included), please let me know!

We’re also still looking for moderators and writers to join our team. We’re still very short-staffed on the forum. Check out the post for more details!

Reminder: this month’s Carnival of Aces is on asexuality and mental health, and we will be integrating links to the submissions into a page on the RFAS site (unless you’d like us not to) to give these issues more visibility. We can host an anonymous submission for you on the site if you’d like.

We have a lot more pages we’re working on writing, and we have some great submissions to share soon.

Thanks so much to everyone who worked so hard to help me pull this thing together! :) You all are amazing. Be well!

Conversations on Asexuality and Eating Disorders

This month’s Carnival of Aces has sparked a lot of conversations already. One topic that has long been under-discussed is asexuality and eating disorders, and this submission about Binge Eating Disorder has gotten that discussion going. [Obvious warnings for EDs, food, body image issues, etc. for this and all other links. Some also have references to sexual assault.]

Did you know that in Understanding Asexuality, Bogaert actually speculated that there would be no aces with bulimia? (Why bulimia specifically? It is a mystery!)

“In the first example [of ways sexuality and food intersect], if dieting and related body-image issues are often driven by mating concerns, might asexual people never or rarely have dieting problems?  Perhaps even a bolder prediction could be made: there may be no asexual bulimics (or at least no asexual people who have become bulimic).  This is not to say that asexual women may not be concerned about their body image for reasons other than sex/mating (i.e., finding a romantic partner if romantically inclined) but I expect their body-image issues and control of food consumption to differ from those of sexual women.”

Quoted from Queenie’s review.

Even if it had been the case that Bogaert sought out asexual people for comment and found no one willing to talk (I doubt it), he still misunderstands eating disorders as being about sexual attraction—they aren’t, they’re about control. So yeah, I’d say this kind of discussion really needs both to happen and become visible to professionals, so that they will stop baselessly speculating about how such problems must not exist for ace people.

So now, flying in the face of that stunning display of erasure, there is a new blog focused on asexuality and eating disorders!

There is an open call for submissions. If you want to contribute something on that topic for the carnival but don’t have a blog yourself (or feel uncomfortable posting it to your own blog), you might consider asking to have it posted there.

I would also like to point people interested in this topic to Olivia’s blog, which has quite a lot of good articles on eating disorders, other mental health issues, and asexuality. Previous discussion of the intersection of asexuality and eating disorders here: Sexuality as Selfhood and Body Hatred, I’m Afraid of Identifying as Asexual. And Beautiful Asexuality about body image.

If anyone has seen this topic discussed elsewhere, feel free to link things.

A Blogger’s Guide to Links and Fancy Footnotes

My goal for this series of posts was to try to post something related to blogging once a month, but obviously things have gotten a little bit hectic, and I’ve had to push back my planned post on the early ace blogosphere. In the meantime, I’m just going to write up a quick (because I already have had parts of this written for a while now) technical guide to links, including how to make links from one part of a post to another.

You may have noticed that recently we’ve (as in, everyone using WordPress) started running into an issue where, when someone pastes a URL from Tumblr into a comment, the entire post is imported into the comment (that’s also true for posts, btw). This is an irritating new “feature” of WordPress that, for now, we apparently can’t turn off. All we can do is edit the comment to either change the URL into a proper link, or break up the link. The latter solution is familiar to Tumblr users, since the bare-bones options for communicating there do not allow links, but I think everyone would agree that it’s annoying to have to copy, paste, and then fix every link before you can visit it!

So here is the other option: a little bit of HTML. Continue reading

June 2015 Carnival of Aces Call for Submissions

Update: This carnival is over! You can view the submissions here. I will still be collecting posts on this topic at Resources for Ace Survivors, so feel free to keep sending me links.


 

Hello, everyone! It’s time for a new Carnival of Aces! In case you’re new to this, the carnival is a monthly event for collecting blog posts (or vlogs, podcasts, comics, or other mediums if you prefer) on a single topic. At the end of the month, I will post a summary linking to everything submitted.

Last month’s carnival was held at Becoming a Person, and the topic was “Identity, Labels, and Models.

This month, our topic is Mental Health.

I was surprised that this topic has never been chosen before—it seems that someone had wanted to do it in 2014, but didn’t end up hosting a carnival after all. I think it’s a really important topic, especially since our community struggles with fighting pathologization so much. There is of course already a lot of writing on this topic! But for the most part, not so much a specific, organized push for it.

One of the major reasons I chose this topic—and chose to do it now—is that Resources for Ace Survivors has a project called the Ace-Competent Therapists Project (ACT Project), wherein we plan to create and provide educational resources to mental health providers about asexuality, and create a database of ace-friendly providers and organizations to refer the people who come to us seeking help. We’d like to serve the entire ace community with this project, not just survivors—although an approach that actively supports ace survivors is mandatory. We can use volunteers to help with this project—especially if you are involved with any other organizations that provide similar services which we might be able to affiliate with and learn from, or you are trained in a related field.

So what I’m going to do with this carnival is slightly different, this time. As usual, I will still be collecting blog/vlog/etc. posts created from June 1st through June 30th, and these posts will be part of this carnival. But I will also be linking these at Resources for Ace Survivors, and will continue to collect posts on this topic after the month is over. These will not be part of the carnival itself, but they will be posted at RFAS in an appropriate category so that therapists and researchers can learn from our experiences. You can also (please do!) send in links to posts on this topic that you’ve already written or any kind of educational resources, and I will include them on the site. Continue reading