Trying to Make Religion Work

So tomorrow night (Friday the 23rd), I will be appearing at FTBconscience 3, a free online video conference hosted by the FreeThought Blogs network. I’m on the Asexual Spectrum Atheists panel along with Siggy, Cerberus, and Sciatrix. The panel will be at 9 p.m. Central. There are a lot of other really cool panels, so check out the schedule!

Back in October, the Carnival of Aces was about Religion or Atheism and Asexuality. I had meant to make a post for it, but unfortunately during that time my life got crazy complicated, including some significant time where I didn’t even have access to the Internet, and it didn’t really let up until the beginning of this year. Since I’ll be spending a lot of time talking about religion and asexuality on the panel though, I’m just going to be focusing on my background with religion and why it didn’t work for me in this post.

Please be warned: this post will discuss religious abuse, domestic violence, and minimizing/policing the way I talk about it. Very brief mentions of sexual violence. Serious criticisms of religion, especially Christianity, are below the cut. If you’re sensitive about that, don’t read on.


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National Coming Out Day

“It’s like Valentine’s Day for queer people,” C joked. In that the people who are already out shout about it from the rooftops, and the people who aren’t already out usually feel kinda bad about it and wish they were.

This post doesn’t have much more of a point than to make that joke, really. But I guess to give it some more substance, I’ll say this: sometimes, people have really horrible, awful, terrible reactions when you come out. Yes, as asexual, too. It’s really, really NOT just “annoying at best” as so many would like to think that it is. I never talk about what my father said when I came out to him as asexual. You know why?

Because he said, “You’ll change your mind the first time you get raped.” Direct quote.

Isn’t that delightful?

Anyway, I guess the point of this post is, while I suppose it’s nice to have a day for coming out and spreading awareness and all, let’s just try not to pressure the people who aren’t totally out, all right? Because some people have a very good reason not to bother, and we ought to remember it’s perfectly understandable to make that choice, too. Just like there’s nothing wrong with being single on Valentine’s Day, there’s nothing wrong with being closeted on Coming Out Day, either. It’s totally awesome if you choose to come out today, and I hope things go well! But if not, don’t feel bad about it or pressured to do it anyway. Do it on your own terms, but only if you want to.

And because I realize this is kind of a depressing and cynical post, here. Watch sneaky kitty!

The internet, as it turns out, isn’t actually for porn. It’s for posting cats.

(By the way, I suppose I should say that I’m way over this reaction by now. I think it’s been five years, or something like that. I mostly don’t talk about it because other people are shocked and find it depressing. It’s a mood killer, nobody wants to hear it, and because of that I suppose it’s somewhat taboo. But to me, it’s just a fact of life.)

Infantilized

This is going to be a somewhat short post, because I don’t have much time to elaborate, but I really wanted to pass along some links. First, Trashing Teens, a Psychology Today article about how childhood is being extended later and later. I could certainly relate to this, because as a teen I was restricted in far too many ways, and what “responsibility” my parents did offer me was a joke, because it only meant chores. I didn’t get any extra freedoms to go along with it, and in fact more than once my parents even removed my bedroom door because I had been demanding some privacy (and more importantly, attempting to protect myself from my abusive alcoholic father by locking my bedroom door). My concerns were never taken seriously, and to some degree they still aren’t. Fortunately I live on my own now, but I still have to rely on my parents for a lot of things.

And if I say I’m asexual? Never mind my parents, the world at large doesn’t really believe me. I’m STILL too young to get it, apparently. How long do I have to wait before people will say, “Oh, okay. You’ve waited long enough. There probably is no right person.” 30? 40? 50?

It is ridiculous that people in their twenties are not considered old enough to have figured this out yet. And I’m of a mind to say that teenagers should also be taken seriously when they figure it out, although because asexuality is based on not feeling something, it is reasonable to keep an open mind about it for a bit longer than it would be for other orientations. But to outright deny it, to say “Oh, you will someday,” as if you know the future? No way.

But back to the article. I’ll admit I was a little torn on this at first because I really don’t tend to get along with most teenagers, in general. I really disliked my peers when I was a teenager, and I don’t like spending time with the majority of the younger crowd now. But then I realized that in large part, it is because of the culture that has come out of teens being so infantilized. I like a significantly greater portion of my peers now, but a lot of college kids act like just that—children. They are perfectly capable of acting like adults, but they don’t, because they have been taught not to.

My distaste for this kind of infantilization extends to my fashion statements, as well. I wear gothic lolita clothing when I can get away with it, which is meant to point out the irony of being an adult and choosing to look like a child. There’s a certain dark humor to it, and certainly a commentary on contemporary society.

I’ll leave off by passing along this, which comments specifically on the sexual aspects of teenage oppression. It’s completely ridiculous what can get you on the list of sex offenders. People think “sex offender” means rapist or child pornographer, but really you might be on there for having consensual sex with someone of your own age group. It’s really gotta change.

Edited to add: Here’s another link that goes really well with these—Ken Robinson on creativity in schools.

Radicalizing the Children

I’m going to take a quick break from (procrastinating on) writing final essays to pass on a link I just stumbled: Feminist books for five-year-olds.

I found this interesting particularly because of its mention of a book about a princess who doesn’t want to get married, and even intentionally turns one of her suitors into a toad in order to discourage them all from trying to woo her. There are precious few stories out there for children about people who don’t want to get married, so it’s no wonder that the kids had so much trouble accepting the idea that there are people out there who would make that choice. They really are just culturally indoctrinated to believe that getting married is wonderful, to the extent that it is the only possible option.

This attitude mirrors the beliefs of older people that there couldn’t possibly be anyone who doesn’t want to have sex. Children of this age have no idea what sexuality is in the first place, so of course we can’t really introduce them to asexuality (not that we should need to anyway, right? Aren’t children already pretty much asexual?), but to introduce them to the idea that some people don’t want to marry would provide a precedent for the idea that some people don’t want to have sex. Maybe kids who come to understand that as a possibility will, when they are introduced to the idea of asexuality later on, be more inclined to say, “Oh, of course! That makes sense, why didn’t I think of it before?”

Coming Out Again (and again… or not)

Real life has been eating up my time pretty heavily as of late–school has been incredibly stressful this semester due to the higher level of the courses I’m taking, and the fact that they all involve a ton of reading and writing. On top of that, I’ll have to move in a month, so I’m pressed to find a place. Of course, I’ll be moving in with my girlfriend. Whom my parents know absolutely nothing about.

I’ve come out to my parents before, as asexual. I was met with little success; my parents are still firmly convinced that I must be a lesbian. This time, oddly enough, I’ll be coming out to them as… not lesbian, which of course they will probably expect a firm statement of how “this is who I am” or something like that, but as just simply being in a relationship with a girl. Again, from their perspective, since they thought my pre-transition FTM ex-boyfriend was a girl. Except, of course, what I don’t plan to tell them is that my current partner is still legally male. Oy.

I’m not even sure whether I want to tell my mother or not–okay, no, I DEFINITELY don’t want to tell her, but what I meant to say is, I’m not even sure it’s wise to tell her, given that I am still financially dependent on her for my schooling (and since I am working a student job, I would lose that too if I had to drop out of university). But, at the same time, I’m not sure how I’m going to hide it from her given the fact that we plan on getting a one-bedroom apartment and sharing a bed (which, actually, we’ve already bought and use regularly). My parents are pretty horrible about all this stuff–absolutely convinced (my father to an absolutely pathological degree) that God says homosexuality is wrong. My mother, there might be hope for, maaaaybe, but my father unfortunately is the one who lives (most of the time) close by, and whom I might have to rely on to move my stuff–at least from his house back into my car. But on the upside, I don’t have to rely on him financially.

Of course, the irony in this is that I’m not actually homosexual, or even homo-anything. I’m asexual, but if they don’t believe me about this now, how on earth will they believe me after they see that I have now been involved in a “second” so-called “lesbian” relationship (to their eyes–of course, there is no reason to tell them anything whatsoever about M, and I don’t plan to. The less they know about my private life, the better!) I’d be two for two. Personally, I find it extremely difficult to come out to someone without using a commonly accepted, easily identifiable label. There are some asexuals who recommend avoiding labels in favor of explanations, but in my experience, I receive skepticism either way, and all the more so because the people I’m talking to are totally unwilling to sit down and listen to a long, drawn-out explanation, which I am loathe to give them anyway. The less time I can possibly spend around these people, the better. I don’t really care if they believe that I am asexual; I just want them to drop the conversation, and I don’t want to have to deal with the shit they’ll inevitably give me for something that isn’t even true.

But it seems doubtful that they will simply leave it at that. This is pretty much a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation. There is probably nothing that I can possibly do to make them leave me alone about it, except not to tell them, but even then, that can only be a temporary solution. They’ll eventually get suspicious, especially since my girlfriend and I are very, very bad at hiding the fact that we’re together–and in most situations, we don’t want to.

And if you take all that and then factor in the trans stuff, it gets even MORE complicated. My parents certainly haven’t reacted well to any mention of trans people before–in fact, my mother seemed to think I was a pervert when she found out (by my sister’s spying on our conversations and subsequent tattling) about my ex. Another piece of ironic contradiction to my asexuality. Of course, I’m not too worried about that, since my girlfriend passes pretty darn well. Still, it just adds another layer of difficulty to the already precarious situation (like, what if our parents meet? Her parents don’t use the right pronouns), so we will need to be that much more careful when dealing with it.

I mainly wanted to post this so that I could get some of my concerns articulated before Wednesday. My gf and I are scheduled to go and have a talk with someone who might be able to give us some advice about it, and then we’ll decide from there. If anyone else has any suggestions, feel free to throw them out there. I might not have the time to make a long post to update about the situation, so I’ve decided to try something different. I was a little wary of trying this service at first, since I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about how spammy and annoying it is, but… I now have a twitter account integrated into my blog, so you can read my tweets on the sidebar on here, or follow me as you like. I probably won’t be making super-frequent updates, and I’ll always post something at least tangentally relevant to this blog, which is interesting or amusing–i.e., I won’t be posting about what I’m having for dinner! Hopefully, the focus will keep it from getting too irritating. Anyway, it’s bedtime now, so until next time!

Don’t Throw That Bouquet At Me!

So Ily said she wanted to hear some asexuals talking about their views on marriage. So I guess I’ll talk about my views on marriage.

When I was still in Japanese class, I remember we were given some exercise, and I can’t remember exactly what it was about, but I think we were supposed to use the ~と思う construction to comment on what we thought our classmates would be good at, or would become in the future, or something like that. All, of course, in Japanese, so I can’t remember exactly what was said (nor could I decipher everything due to some of my classmates’ strong accents), but someone made the comment that they thought I would make a good mother, and thought I would get married and be happy someday.

I was… a little bit surprised, that someone who had known me for all of a week would think I would be a good mother, though I guess I shouldn’t have been because it’s a standard answer. I just figure you kind of have to know a person better than that to be a good judge of whether someone has kid-smarts (which I don’t), so unless I’ve heard a person specifically say something about motherhood, I wouldn’t even go there. Anyway, I said I didn’t want to get married, and everyone, especially the teachers, seemed shocked. I guess in Japanese culture it’s a huge thing to get married even more so than it is in western culture. They asked why, but I couldn’t really give a full answer because I didn’t want to sit there explaining my stance on marriage for ten minutes, especially since my ability with the language was not that great.

I can’t remember what I told them anymore. I’m not sure if I told them anything.

But really, I just don’t see marriage as being necessary, and given my circumstances, it’s not a worthwhile goal. Continue reading

Giving it a Wide Berth: The Three A’s

As Ily observed in her blog a while ago, asexuals like teetotaling. Although not all of us are teetotalers, many of us are, or have been at one point in our lives, including me. My attitude towards alcohol has changed a lot over the years, from, “That stuff is nasty and horrible!” to “Whatever, just stay away from me when you’re drunk,” to “Okay, so you want vodka and what?”

To understand my changing perspective, it is necessary to understand my background as a survivor of domestic abuse. I won’t go into exhaustive detail, but suffice it to say that my father is an alcoholic, so naturally, for a long time I had a very strong knee-jerk reaction to alcohol of any kind. I could see only its negative effects, just a bunch of people running around stupidly heedless of the damage they were causing. I’m sure it didn’t help that I have such a serious and introverted personality that parties were never my idea of fun to begin with, but of course my terrible experiences of being forced to deal with violent inebriates exacerbated that tendency a thousandfold, to the point that I never wanted to have anything to do with most of my peers, at the age that they all were starting to go out and party. I’m sure there will be some people who would say that these traumatic experiences and the subsequent disidentification with my peers are what “caused” my asexuality, or whatever, but I don’t think the two are related (or rather, not causally related). After all, my sister went through the same experiences, and she’s about as sexual as she can get. Had I felt any sexual attraction, I’m sure I would have felt more of an impetus to get over my disgust in order to act on it. But as it was, the connection between alcohol and sexuality actually turned me farther away from any vague inkling I might have otherwise had to try it.

If abuse laid the foundation of my youthful hatred for alcohol, it was asexuality that poured the cement. I mentioned earlier that in my early teens, I considered myself celibate until further notice. At the time, I did not understand that I was different from my peers in a fundamental way, because I had not yet recognized that they were all developing a kind of interest in others that I didn’t have. I had absolutely no understanding of sexuality, although I did know that sex was something I was supposed to take an interest in at some point. I just thought that point would be far, far in the future (which it was), and I made the decision to focus on other things until I was sure I was mature enough to handle it. I knew because I had no interest that I hadn’t reached that point yet. It didn’t occur to me that perhaps some of my peers were ready for it; I simply thought they were getting themselves into big trouble. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. Continue reading