I have some frustrations with the way that attraction is discussed in the ace community, which are related to and further amplified by biphobia/bi erasure. This will be part one of at least two parts, because this is something that’s really complicated for me, and so difficult to talk about that it’s been sitting in my drafts folder for more than two years! So strap in, because it’s finally time to do this. Continue reading
Hello everyone! Welcome to the May 2018 Carnival of Aces!
What is the Carnival of Aces?
This is a monthly blogging carnival, a long-running event organized by The Asexual Agenda to spur discussion among asexual and ace-spectrum people. Each month, a volunteer host sets out a topic for discussion, collects responses, and posts links to all of the responses at the end of the month. Anyone can participate, and I’ll have further details about how to participate below. If you’d like to volunteer to host a future month, please check out the Carnival of Aces Masterpost for instructions.
Last month, the Carnival was hosted at Demisexual and Proud, and the topic was inspired by a very old Flemish-Dutch saying, “All the birds have begun nests except me and you, what are we still waiting for?” Please check out the responses at the round-up post!
This month’s theme is…
Nuance & Complexity
Asexuality is a complex topic, and often difficult for people to understand. Because of this, we sometimes have a tendency to elide nuances about our experiences in an effort to explain simply enough that others can understand. This month, I want us to focus on those things that we tend to avoid talking about, for fear of being misunderstood, or anything that we may have felt we can’t quite (openly) articulate.
Sometimes, people accuse aces of overthinking things or “making everything too complicated,” without having any understanding of why we talk about things the way that we do. I think that from the beginning, the ace blogging community has had a lot of focus on exploring complexity and nuance, and a lot of previous topics for the Carnival of Aces also apply here. But instead of focusing on complexity/nuance of just one topic, like identity or labels/models (which have been chosen multiple times), this gives people the freedom to choose whatever kind of complexities they’re interested in discussing, or zoom way out and analyze the ace community itself. So it’s kind of a meta topic.
Here are some prompts to get you started:
- When it comes to being on the ace spectrum, what complicates things for you? Trace some of the nuances of your experience of asexuality.
- What are some models that you have used to explain or understand asexuality or the ace spectrum? In what ways do you feel that these models exclude you or oversimplify your experiences?
- Are you Gray-A or demisexual? Or perhaps greyromantic? What are some experiences related to grayness that you typically minimize or don’t know how to explain?
- Do you have any thoughts about words typically used as synonyms that the ace community has differentiated? (For example, “sex averse” vs. “sex repulsed.”) Do you differentiate certain words used within the ace community in a way that most people unfamiliar with the ace community don’t recognize or understand?
- Are there stereotypes that you’re sometimes assumed to fit that you don’t really? How do you defy them? How do these stereotypes flatten you and erase the realities of your experience?
- What other aspects about you intersect with your asexuality? How do these things inflect and inform your experiences, viewpoints, and approach to the ace community?
- If you sometimes find the ace community inaccessible or too exhausting to engage with, what are the reasons for that? What would make it easier for you?
- Are there certain words or labels that you have found in the ace or aro communities that are meant to describe something close to your experience, but still don’t quite fit or feel comfortable enough for you to adopt?
- Are there any words or labels associated with another community that you’re a part of that you feel uncomfortable with because of your asexuality or aromanticism?
- If you are multilingual, what is it like to describe your experiences related to asexuality in one language compared to another? Do certain connotations exist in one language that aren’t there or aren’t the same in another?
- What topic do you feel is still taboo in the ace community, that makes it difficult to discuss your experiences? What do you wish you could talk about?
- What assumptions do others in the ace community sometimes make about you that you feel are unwarranted? Do you feel that others tend to think of you in terms of a model or framework that doesn’t really apply?
- What is something related to asexuality that you don’t totally understand about yourself? Something that, perhaps, you haven’t really mapped yet but you’re actively working to discover? What is this process like for you?
- What do you feel is the best way that you know of to illustrate the complexity and diversity of the ace community as a whole? How does it compare to any other ways you have tried to do so with less success?
- How do you feel about the idea of “overthinking” or “over-complicating” things?
- What are the benefits of closely examining and analyzing aspects of your own asexual experience? What are the drawbacks? Do you feel comfortable with the ace blogging community’s culture of exploring nuance and creating new language to describe things, or do you feel frustrated or conflicted about it?
Please feel free to submit anything else you can think of that addresses nuance or complexity and asexuality.
How to Submit
- Write about the topic in a blog post—or record a vlog or podcast, or draw a comic or other illustration instead if you’d rather do that—and post it to your own space. Usually this means your own blog, but of course if you made a video or something, you would host it on YouTube or wherever (please see #4 for more on that).
- What if I don’t have my own blog? That’s okay too! I will be happy to host a guest post for you here on my blog. Please email me your submission at prismatic.entanglements at gmail.com and I will post it here. Remember to let me know what name you want me to use, as well as what pronouns I should use to refer to you. If you want to be anonymous, that’s okay too.
- Once you have published your submission, post a link to it in the comments of this post. Or email it to me at the address above. I will usually see pingbacks too, but they do require moderation so they may not appear right away. I may have some days this month where I’m not able to approve comments, just so you know, and don’t worry about it if you happen to submit on one of those days.
- For alternate media posts: In the interest of making this as accessible as possible… Preferably, if you can, please also make a blog post with the media embedded along with a transcript of your submission, so that those who cannot watch/listen will still be able to participate in the conversation. Images should have descriptions for those who cannot see them as well. If you cannot host a transcript yourself, I can make a post here to host it. Please email me to let me know you’d like me to do that, with the transcript included. (I probably won’t have time to make a transcript myself, sorry!) If you can’t make a transcript, let me know and I can ask for a volunteer to help out with that. I know this is extra work and it’s understandable if it takes time to make a transcript, so it’s okay to submit without one and try to make one later. I just want to try to do what I can to make it easier for everyone to participate.
That’s it! Let me know if you have any questions.
Remember, the deadline for submissions is May 31st, 2018. The round-up post will be scheduled to go up on June 1st at 10 a.m. EST. Late posts will still be accepted in June, and edited into the post as they come in.
I look forward to seeing what people have to say!
Content Note: contains a brief mention of sexual assault, and discussion of the impact of trauma on relationships.
The question for this month is, “How did your (a)sexual and (a)romantic orientations impact your (expected or imagined) future?”
When I was a child, honestly, I didn’t really have an expected or imagined future. I didn’t know “what I wanted to be” when I grew up, and I found the question so obnoxious that I started to routinely protest it by giving an impossible answer. (“A cat!”—because nobody ever asks cats that kind of question.) Continue reading
I’m taking an American Sign Language class right now. I’ve always thought it would be cool to learn ASL, but in the past several years it has become especially pertinent, because I now have a family member who uses some ASL, due to being autistic and mostly non-verbal. I’ve also found it helpful to use basic signs to communicate with my partner at night, since (without getting into medical details) both of us have some issues that can make it painful to speak that tend to flare up at night. There are a lot of benefits to learning a gestural language, and I’ve been enjoying it a lot.
We had a group assignment recently to perform a funny short skit. We could do whatever we wanted as long as it wasn’t inappropriate or anything, but the teacher strongly suggested fairy tales as something that would likely be the easiest.
“Let’s do Cinderella!” one of my group members said.
“Yeah! I’ll be one of the stepsisters!” She pointed to me. “Elizabeth can be Cinderella!”
“Huh? Wait, why me?”
“You’d be perfect for it! You’re blonde,” she reasoned. Continue reading
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
- These Common Spring Plants Are Also Extremely Dangerous for Pets – Rae Paoletta at Inverse
Mental Health & Disability
- How to Avoid Giving Your Cancerous Friend a Panic Attack: An Introduction to the Psychology of Pain and Sicklit Literally Traumatized Me – Miri at Brute Reason
- The Spirited Debate About Ghosting – Kitty Stryker at Medium
- Sen. Tammy Duckworth Saves the Americans With Disabilities Act—For Now – Robyn Powell at Rewire News
…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.
Ace readers, prepare to cringe. Consider this a blanket trigger warning for the rest of this post and most of the links. To my fellow ace survivors, I hope you are taking care of yourselves, and please don’t feel that you have to engage with this.
Teen Vogue published an article by Jaclyn Friedman entitled “Why Sexual Pleasure Must Be Included in #MeToo Conversations” — and of course it has the tagline, “Let’s refuse to be silenced about our sexualities, and celebrate them instead.”
Okay, fine, let’s do that. I’m refusing to be silent about my sexuality.
I am asexual. Continue reading
[Content note: All the trigger warnings for this post. However, the worst part is front-loaded, and brief.] Continue reading
This post is for the March 2018 Carnival of Aces on the topic of “Physical Health and/or Our Bodies.”
I don’t talk about my body much. I tend to think that people don’t want to hear it, and that the world needs more body positivity rather than contagious insecurity, especially coming from someone of average weight and relative privilege. But not talking about these things doesn’t make them go away, so for this one little post, since it’s on-topic, I’m going to try to stop ignoring my discomfort and examine it for a little while.
Fair warning: it’s mostly trauma and aging-related stuff, with some mention of racism. I’m not getting into weight or diets or anything like that, though.
Feel free to tune out now, but listen in if you want. Maybe a few people will find this relatable. Continue reading
This post is for the January 2018 Carnival of Aces, on the topic of “Identity.”
This is going to be completely off-the-cuff rambling, so bear with me if you will. There’s some stuff that I’m trying to get at that is very difficult to describe, so I’m doing it in a roundabout way. I’m also barely editing this post before I publish it, because I tried writing about this before and then scrapped the entire draft last minute because I didn’t like how it was going. Instead, I’m just going to do a “thinking out loud” style post.
I don’t really like writing about (my own) identity.
There. I said it.
Maybe that’s surprising to you, I don’t know. Maybe not. It seems like it might be surprising to some, considering that the entire reason I started this blog was to discuss a particular identity, asexuality—and more specifically, gray-asexuality, which I no longer identify with. There, I suppose, is part of the reason I don’t like talking about identity. When you’ve come to be known for having a particular identity, and then that changes? Well… Continue reading
As my final farewell to 2017, I’m writing up some game reviews. The year had a very definite mood for me, and I found that the commonality within the three games I played the most of (besides Pokemon) was being post-apocalyptic. So here I want to compare and contrast them a little bit: what kind of outlook do these games present? What can we learn from them?
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
This game is amazing. I don’t know what I can say about it that hasn’t already been said about a million times before, but seriously, it’s incredible. Before this game came out, I thought it was probably over-hyped by an extremely dedicated fanbase. I had never played any Zelda games and never been especially interested in them, so I thought it might not be as great as people were making it out to be.
Then I played the game.