I’ve very loosely followed this Ace Day drama from a distance. I don’t get it. So many things about the event—how it was planned, how it was criticized, how it was promoted, why it is even on the 8th instead of the first of some month, and why it apparently had to happen RIGHT NOW instead of say, in three weeks, if there had been so little preparation for it that had been promoted to neither AVEN (as in, on the forums) nor The Asexual Agenda.
(That’s a lie, actually. I can figure it out. I think it had to happen sooner because it had to do with promoting the Asexual Outreach Indie Go-Go campaign. They need the money for the conference in June, so waiting wouldn’t have been ideal. Please donate to it if you can, though, honestly. It’s a good cause.)
Why did the ace cards have to represent romantic orientation? Nobody ever sat down and thought about how having to categorize like that would leave a lot of aces out? I wouldn’t have known which suite to pick.
When the day rolled around, I made a joke out of all my confusion:
— Elizabeth Leuw (@prismatangle) May 8, 2015
It’s even funnier if you know me personally.
Moreover, why are we only considering ace cards from the traditional deck of cards? Ace cards in other kinds of decks are beautiful and well worth photographing, too. We don’t need to hold so strictly to tradition, and the incessant focus on categorizing is not helpful.
The most significant effect that I noted (from my limited corner of the community, and no, I was not following closely) as a result of Ace Day was that search engine traffic was very high, and many googled “alloromantic” on May 8th. They mostly seemed to flock to Queenie’s article criticizing the divide between alloromantic and aromantic. Knowing that may at least assuage some of the frustration those who felt pressured to categorize their romantic orientation felt, I hope.
Today has been brought to you by: confusion about what the word “alloromantic” means.
— Elizabeth Leuw (@prismatangle) May 9, 2015
Jokes aside though… there are some serious credibility issues with this campaign. And theasexualityblog has seemed… totally oblivious about them, and somewhat belligerent and unconcerned when those issues have been pointed out. (I’m not saying that’s actually the case, btw—I’m saying that’s how people have been reading theasexualityblog’s responses, and with good reason.)
To begin with, I think that while a lot of incorrect and very hurtful things were said about Blackout and TDoV… I think people are correctly perceiving an opportunistic attitude on the part of theasexualityblog. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with opportunism—or being inspired by other successful activist campaigns—by itself. And Ace Day did accomplish something. A day of pride and love for asexual people is not a bad thing. This type of campaign is not something that appeals to me, but if other people like it? Hey, why not?
But the way that it was handled was not ideal. I think a lot more care has to go into planning for next year—and the idea has to be expanded to be inclusive of all aces, not just those who are easy to categorize (and, perhaps, more palatable to the mainstream?).
But the very worst credibility-killer is that they seem to think that they actually have enough credibility to get wikipedia to acknowledge them… and have fundamentally misunderstood the way that wikipedia works. (Discussion of wiki spamming here.)
What on earth is getting a page on wikipedia going to accomplish anyway? The event is over. Do it again next year, and the year after that, and build your credibility before demanding to be acknowledged. If you’re expecting wikipedia to somehow give you credibility, then… LOL. Wikipedia is actually being considered less and less credible anyway.
The thing is… if you start spamming people with things without first building credibility? They stop listening. The filter learns your name, and you get automatically deleted. Spamming doesn’t work for emails, and it doesn’t work for wikipedia either.
And I’m sorry to say it, but doing this sort of thing really makes you come across as unprofessional, and will have an impact on others’ willingness to submit to or invest in your future projects. Building credibility is slow. It takes hard work and a lot of time. If people see you as unwilling to invest that time, if they see you trying to brute force acknowledgement and take credibility… how can we be confident that you won’t try to take those shortcuts in anything else you do?
Learn from these mistakes—and acknowledge it so that people know you’re listening. Learn the rules first, and don’t try to make others change their well-established guidelines for you. Next Step Cake has made a guide to getting on wikipedia for you. Ace activists, please take it to heart.
I know I will.
Addendum: There was a gap of time between me writing this post and seeing new things that had been posted about this (my posts are frequently scheduled to go up when I won’t be at the computer). I think this one is relevant, and shows a considerably better response. A clarification: The wikipedia article was not planned by theasexualityblog, and was written by someone else. I should have made that more clear in the original post, so I apologize for that.
More further reading: I posted some more thoughts on #AceDay with some specific things to consider for next year. Theasexualityblog responded to criticisms that were raised here. I think it’s a good response and addresses how people had been feeling pretty well… although I will note for clarification that Sara seems to have interpreted “opportunistic” as I used it here to mean something far more negative than I meant. “Opportunism” in my view does not necessarily imply exploitation or being motivated by personal gain; it means seeing an opportunity as it arises and going for it. Other critics may have assumed that Ace Day was exploitative of trans people in some way, but I don’t agree. I will also note that tumblr’s absurdly bad format in itself is probably responsible for a lot of the confusion, misinformation, and critics not being well-informed—things will always have to be addressed multiple times if your responses get lost on tumblr, which I think is some degree of inevitable. It’s my hope that linking Sara’s response here will help keep it from being lost to the ages—since WordPress is far more conducive to creating posts with longevity than tumblr.