Links Archive: April 2018

I don’t share links very often, because honestly I’m pretty bad at keeping track of them. I’ve been trying a new method of saving them for myself to look at later, and it’s working out better… but now I need a way of clearing them out so that it doesn’t get too cluttered. So I’m posting some here. This isn’t something I plan to do on any kind of schedule, since this can be quite draining work, but I might do this periodically from now on. In the future, these probably won’t be as long as this one.

If you’re looking for some things to read, here are some articles I recommend from the past six months or so. This is pretty long, but I’m not trying to make this an exhaustive list or anything, so please keep in mind that these are just the articles I still have on hand in my little saved list, that I haven’t already linked to somewhere else.

Readers, you are welcome to share links you recommend in the comments, too.

Asexuality & Queerness

  • Asexuality BC (Before Cake) – This is an expanded-for-2017 version of Nat Titman’s notes/slides for a talk on the early asexual community (starting in the 90s) at the 2012 WorldPride Asexual Conference in London.
    • Even though I first started paying attention to the ace community in late 2004 which is after the time period discussed here, much of the things discussed here are familiar to me, as they were still pretty apparent when I joined. It really was a very different time, and people who weren’t around back then mostly don’t have an appreciation of just how much the separatist, exclusionist faction shaped community norms back then. Talking about sexually active asexuals really was unthinkable for a long time and got the barest minimum of attention if it did happen, which is one reason I started this blog. Unfortunately, partly because of aces fighting against exclusionism and partly because of the allosexual gaze, the idea that aces might have and enjoy sex has over time become over-represented, if not in the amount of people actually talking about that, at least in the amount of articles shared and in 101 materials. I regret that I am partly responsible for that too. It was never something I anticipated.
  • The Ace/Aro Atheists panel at OrbitCon – with Siggy, Sennkestra, and luvtheheaven
    • I had a bit of a running commentary on this one while watching it, as my partner walked in and out of the room and played Skyrim. At one point, someone said something about uh… asexuality just getting ignored I think? So my partner goes, in the style of NPCs in Skyrim detecting skeaking, “Huh? What was that? Oh… must have been asexuals.” LOL, accurate.
    • Sennkestra (I think? paraphrasing): “It’s kind of hard for people to hate asexuals if they’ve never heard of it.” Me: “Not that hard!” — I mean yeah, there’s more open and unprompted hostility explicitly targeting asexuality now, but… eh, you know, I sure did experience a lot of hostility towards the concept of asexuality even before people were aware of it as a word that applied to humans. Although yeah, I was particularly unlucky.
  • How bisexuality gets erased, explained by the reaction to Cynthia Nixon’s candidacy – Caroline Framke at Vox
  • Why it’s so unhelpful to talk about the male or female brain (apparently retitled “The non-binary brain” but I feel that’s less informative than the original title, since it doesn’t really talk about NB-identifying people’s brains) – Emily Willingham at Aeon


Mental Health & Disability

…I guess I don’t really have a lot of stuff that fits in this category but doesn’t really talk about/focus on sexual violence. I’m putting all of those behind a cut and obviously, all kinds of content warnings for those.

Sexual Violence

  • A guide to sexual violence terminology – Siggy at A Trivial Knot
  • This Moment Isn’t (Just) About Sex. It’s Really About Work. – Rebecca Traister at The Cut
  • There’s Nothing More Ordinary Than Abuse – Kelly Stout at Jezebel
  • Consent is just the Baseline: Emotional Labor, Pleasure, and Coercive, Shitty Sex – Marissa Korbel at Medium
    • I forgot about this one by the time I wrote this, but hey look, someone else did already say “maybe it’s time we talked about pleasure” in the context of #MeToo, way back in January. And in a less offensive way than just reproducing the sexual healing narrative uncritically without any acknowledgment that not everyone wants that and it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with them.
    • As an ace person I’m really not convinced that “Mutual pleasure, not consent, should be the goal of all sex and sexual encounters.” I do think it’s a valid choice to have sex for reasons like a desire to reproduce, and I have heard from people who have done exactly that. With a desire mismatch it may not be possible for both/all partners to attain the same amount of pleasure—or, for that matter, the same kind of pleasure. In that case the goal should be to at least make it as comfortable and enjoyable as possible for everyone involved, even if a mutual level of pleasure is unattainable. But yes, consent is just the bare minimum even so. We can do better than “well, it was consensual (… I guess?).”
  • The Unwanted Strength of Women – Stephanie Zvan at Almost Diamonds
  • On Aziz Ansari And “Bad Sex” – Katie Anthony at Bust
    • This one is from someone who had sexual experiences like the ones described by Grace, but doesn’t acknowledge them as sexual assault. It was ultimately worth reading for me and that’s why I’m linking it here, but I found this one especially triggering, and yes, problematic in some ways. Like…
    • The article ends with saying things like, “I think the opposite of brave isn’t scared. The opposite of brave is quiet.” and “We fail when we go quiet and walk away. Stick around. Be honest. Don’t be scared. Or be scared, but don’t be quiet.” — which I don’t agree with AT ALL. This shames survivors who have chosen not to share their stories. I doubt this was the author’s intent, but much more careful language is necessary to avoid this. Let me offer a counter-narrative:
    • It’s okay to choose to quietly walk away instead of sharing your experience with sexual violence. You don’t owe it to anyone, and you haven’t failed anyone, including yourself. If one day you want to talk about it, you can. If you are never ready to share, that’s okay too. If you want to talk about sexual violence, you can do that without ever saying #MeToo. If you never want to talk about it, that’s okay, you don’t have to. There are a lot of us out there trying to change the conversation, there is absolutely no shortage of people who will do this work. It is by no means necessary for every survivor to share their story—and honestly, sometimes it can be more harmful than helpful, to your own mental health. People do consume survivors’ stories as if they are salacious gossip, and some people will always refuse to believe and go on the attack. The constant barrage of stories about sexual violence can make it very difficult to exist as a survivor, and it is not in any way a failing to check out of these conversations. Avoiding these conversations can instead be a triumph, because you are taking care of your own mental health and setting good boundaries. So only engage when and if you’re ready.
  • What Aziz Ansari’s “Apology” Says About How Men View Their Encounters With Women – Teresa Jusino at The Mary Sue
  • Allegations Against Aziz Ansari are Forcing a Reckoning Around Intersectionality in the South Asian Community – Aditi Juneja at Medium
  • Abuse isn’t romantic. So why the panic that feminists are killing eros? – Jessica Valenti at The Guardian
  • Does Katie Roiphe Understand What a Sex Panic Is? – Katha Politt at The Nation
    • When I was first writing about sexual violence and rape culture for a class project in 2010, my teacher suggested that I read Roiphe’s The Morning After which is pretty much complete garbage full of victim-blaming bullshit. Charitably, I assume that this was supposed to be useful for engaging with the opposition’s arguments, but honestly I’ve had quite a few teachers who genuinely espoused arguments like Roiphe’s and made victim-blaming statements in class. How was I supposed to know, in that kind of context, that this teacher was actually supportive? I have since had this teacher again and it was a positive experience, but that was a time when I really could not be sure. I was not in a place where I could actually advocate for myself at the time, and even reaching out to the program on campus that was supposed to offer victim advocacy services seemed impossible. So… well, anyway, I still hold a grudge about that time period and thus I especially enjoy seeing Roiphe’s arguments cut to shreds.
  • Bernie Sanders, What Are You Even Doing? – Melissa McEwan at Shakesville
    • Bernie Sanders engaged in abuse ranking to minimize the allegations against Al Franken, and this explains why that’s inappropriate—it ignores that people have different trauma histories and responses to these things.
  • Does This Year Make Me Look Angry? – Ijeoma Oluo at Elle
  • The #MeToo generation gap is a myth – Anna North at Vox
  • Recovered Memories and Sexual Assault – Part One and Part Two– HJ Hornbeck at Reprobate Spreadsheet
  • Hammers, Nails, and Memory of Trauma – Stephanie Zvan at Almost Diamonds
  • Boys Often Don’t Recognize When They’ve Been Sexually Assaulted – Peggy Orenstein at The Cut
  • How Feminists in China are Using Emoji to Avoid Censorship – Margaret Andersen at Wired