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 I do not publish those comments.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.

So far, other than some minor edits, I’ve only revised the introduction.

I was more than a little too snarky in the original version of that post’s introduction, and my intent really didn’t come across well. Many people, both ace and not, took my comments as a genuine endorsement of compulsory sexuality, rather than as a (dry, sarcastic) description of the probable motives of visitors who were getting here by the search term in the title of the post. It was meant to be gently satirical—not strong enough so that those people would quit reading, but just enough so that they would hopefully begin to question what they were doing. But that wasn’t a good strategy. I think it may have ended up being used against people, and I’m truly sorry for that. Really, genuinely sorry.

At the time, I felt that post needed such a description in order to grab the attention of visitors who were genuinely searching for information like that, and that I could gently dissuade them further on. But it was fairly naive of me to expect people to read that far down and really process that information. Most people don’t. I realize now that the introduction is the most important part of a post. Now that the post is firmly ensconced in Google’s rankings, there is really no need for such an approach anyway, and I can adopt a stronger stance from the beginning. I may lose some of those people by doing that, but they wouldn’t listen anyway, and it’s better not to give them anything they can use as ammunition.

I am also experimenting with these revisions to see how Google changes the way it displays the post in the search results. It seems fairly arbitrary what text is added underneath the post title. I can’t figure out any way to tell it what to use.

Some people also confused my statements in the original introduction with the ones that I made in this post, which was written two years before the one in question and responding to a different (but related) search term—which, again, I used as the post title, but in this case, it was not an intentional strategy to bring more people looking for that to my blog. I added a note to the top of that post as well.

The context of the older post is drastically different from the later one. I was ridiculing the absurdity of people genuinely thinking that they could seduce an asexual person—and I was talking to a MUCH smaller audience back then, of primarily other ace people. I’m sure it was this post that enabled someone to find my blog by searching “how to have sex with an asexual person” in the first place, but until I posted that, I didn’t get to see how widespread this attitude really is. It was only occasionally that it came up. It’s colored by my own survival strategies as well, but for now, I don’t want to get into that discussion.

Next Steps

I am not ready to do a full revision of this post yet.

I think that several other things need to happen before I fully revise this.

Mainly, I think we need several more articles to be written from scratch so that I can link to them. Because that post is long enough as it is—and already pushing the limits of my intended audience’s patience. I think it’s more important to prioritize reaching that audience than risk losing them by trying to expand it, because the only way to truly reduce sexual violence is by targeting potential perpetrators, and changing them. I want to offer people a new script to use so that they can avoid falling into the most harmful ones. And it’s meant to be a starting point, not the end of their research. So my goal is to write with a narrow, specific focus—but link to other articles to expand that focus for those who are still interested.

The thing is, I am not the best person to write these articles. I would like to feature them as guest posts, so if anyone is interested in writing a companion article, let me know.

There were so many things that my article left out, and so many people wanted me to cover them, too. But honestly? I’m just one person. I can’t do it alone. Not only are my time and resources limited, but for some of these topics, I just have too much privilege to write about competently.

At some point later on, I will start gathering up a big list of things that still need to be written about, and post them wherever I feel it’s appropriate to try to see if anyone is interested in writing them. Feel free to mention things you’d like to see in the comments, or link me to anything already written that you think would be good to link to.

I also need to clean the comments section of that article. I want to remove the comments that were not made in good faith, or were especially problematic, and document them somewhere else where people can avoid looking at them.

But for now, my primary focus is going to be working with Queenie to create a stronger support network for ace survivors. Because a lot of this stuff? It could be really triggering. Even the damn title is triggering. So I want survivors to have a lot more resources before I really focus on revising that post, and that’s what I’ll be doing instead. This is a gigantic project, though, so please expect this to hold my main focus for a long time. More details will follow sometime soon—and let us know if you’d like to get involved.

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23 thoughts on “Tentative Revisions

  1. I would be willing to attempt to help in some way(s). I’m not quite sure where I’d begin, but I have a blog of my own and feel fairly comfortable writing and putting myself out there. I also don’t know how but I could try to help in your & Queenie’s endeavor to make a stronger support network for ace survivors.

    You could email me at pemk7@aol.com if you’d like to discuss with me, in private, things I might be able to do to help. I would love to be pointed in the right direction, or asked to do something specific.

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    • I have a couple of things in mind that you could help out with, but it will probably take a while for those plans to actually come to fruition. I will contact you when we’re getting ready to actually implement them. Thanks for volunteering! :)

      As for writing prompts, hm… Maybe you could start by elaborating on ways you’d feel if you found yourself approached in different ways about the topic of sex and whether you might be interested in it. What kind of context would make that better, and what would make it worse? (For “context” here I’m talking about things like body language, previous interactions, setting in which that conversation takes place, that sort of thing.) I don’t know if that speaks to you at all, but I think it would help to have many examples of how ace people feel in situations like that to link people to. Everyone is different, but giving lots of specific examples about what can make that conversation more or less pressured would really help people get a better idea of what to avoid doing.

      I dunno, maybe I should make this into some sort of blog carnival or something?

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  2. I’d be willing to write something for you as well; I can come from the place of an ace who was once sex-negative and anti-sex but who changed to being sex-neutral and even sex-positive (as long as it’s with my girlfriend) and talk about how we navigated those waters.

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  3. Would it be possible for you to make a minor edit to the new introduction? I think that the sentence “Having a mutually satisfying sexual experience is perfectly well within the range of an asexual person’s capabilities.” would be better phrased as “Having a mutually satisfying sexual experience is within the range of most asexual people’s capabilities.” This phrasing would be more inclusive of aces who may have low arousability or for other reasons feel that they would not in fact be able to have a satisfying sexual experience (in addition to not experiencing sexual attraction).

    I think the new introduction is much better, and makes it much more clear what you are hoping to achieve. I appreciate the work that you’ve put into this project.

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  13. Hey! This sounds like a great project. I write a bit about asexuality already, and it’s possible some of the things I’ve already written might be helpful. If you’re interested you can find them here: https://taikonenfea.wordpress.com/category/sexuality/asexuality/

    I’m mostly in the gray/demi area of the spectrum, but have absolutely had the types of coercive/seductive encounters that you are talking about and am willing to write about them if you think that would be helpful. Otherwise I would love to hear any ideas you have of articles that are sorely needed. I might be able to provide some.

    Thanks for making this happen!

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