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?”

Romantic Initiatives, Part I

So, Ily got me thinking with her comment on my last post and subsequent post about how it all started, and I think that’s a worthy topic to explore. I have been one of those people who goes, “Uhh, I don’t know, it just sort of happened,” when it comes to the question of how I started dating C. Maybe explaining the circumstances of our first meetings will help both to elucidate how a friendly outing can unexpectedly turn romantic, and to give me some much-needed perspective on what we started with, and how we ended up this way. I have a lot to say on this topic, so I won’t try to say it all in one post!

It was just over a year ago, now. The girl and I would have celebrated her birthday two days after she broke up with me, and our first anniversary the day after that (if we bothered to celebrate it, that is; she doesn’t like to celebrate arbitrary dates, but I think it might as well be an excuse to have fun–but so much for that idea!). We met on an internet dating site, but it had never been our intention to go on a date. It was supposed to have been an innocent friendly outing to see Kung Fu Panda at the dollar theater, and that was all. “I’m going to be too shy to talk to you when we meet,” she told me over IM. I didn’t quite believe it, because we had already had several fairly long and interesting conversations before, just not in person. And, sure enough, after I suggested that we go and get something to eat–since I was interested in actually getting to know her, albeit as a friend and not a date, and 90 minutes in a dark room just sitting next to one another and watching a movie didn’t really give me that opportunity–sure enough, we got to talking.

And after we had gone through a pot of tea at the local hippie New Age gay-friendly tea and trinkets shop, we didn’t want to stop. So we didn’t. I said that we could stop by my dorm and grab the moldy bread that I had been meaning to take out to the pond, and feed it to the ducks. We kept on talking and talking, and when we were done with the bread we started wandering around campus together. We wandered vaguely in the direction of her car but then never went to it. We kept circling around it, until it was more than obvious that neither one of us wanted her to leave. We kept ending up near the dumpsters, which spawned an inside joke about dumpsters being super romantic.

We talked about all sorts of things, dating being one of them. I told her I didn’t understand how dating worked, and had never really been on an actual date before. I didn’t really know what they were like; all I knew was that traditional dating seemed so structured, so overly formalized. I didn’t understand the game, the etiquette, or the point. Because, after all, from my perspective, it seemed to me like dating, at least in the mainstream world, was aimed primarily at two things: sex in the short term, and marriage in the long term. Neither of which I was even the least bit interested in, so why would I want to bother? Not knowing what the other person was after would have made me extremely uncomfortable, and not knowing what I was supposed to do would make it even more so. I’m sure my date, unless maybe he was someone like M, would have been quite uncomfortable with it too, because of the way I was acting. About three years ago, there was a boy who had a very obvious crush on me, and although he was generally pretty charismatic, always seemed rather weird when it came to me. Eventually, he asked me out on a date, and while I considered going out with him, I had to turn him down because it would have just been too awkward for me, and probably painfully so to him. But it wasn’t that I was uninterested in relationships in general, mind. Only that I would never date someone traditionally.

Then she told me about her dating experiences, which were mostly internet based, but included one case of what struck me as pretty much a romantic friendship, where the two of them were so close they really could have been thought to be dating. The only reason they weren’t, she thought, was because he was too straight to go for someone with a male body, which she still had at the time. It was almost like a more informal version of dating, it seemed. I wondered if dating wasn’t always as strict as it had seemed to me at first. I wondered if my lack of experience was just limiting my perspective on what it was like to go on a date. Maybe it isn’t always like how it is presented in the media, which was up until then my only source for understanding how the dating world worked. Meanwhile, she was telling me that she had been previously involved in a polyamorous relationship with a married couple. She described some of their sexual escapades, which I found interesting but confusing at the same time. When the topic turned to whether or not we would be a good fit for a date, she said, “You’re really not my type at all. So don’t worry, I’m not trying to date you.”

Well, likewise. She wasn’t my type either, or so I thought. But at the same time, I did enjoy her company a great deal, and on many levels she seemed to get me, and what she didn’t get right away, she had already proven through our few weeks of chatting over the internet that she was curious enough and open-minded enough to put a great deal of effort into discussing. Although she wasn’t sure about dating an asexual herself, at least she didn’t have a problem accepting it–she was even intrigued by it. She brought to the table a cutesy style backed by a lively intelligence, an intriguingly unconventional perspective, and collections of sex toys and socks. I wasn’t in the least bit infatuated with her and wouldn’t get to that point for quite a while, but I did like her. I suppose that’s how a lot of people must feel on first dates, now that I think of it.

Apparently, the secret to getting me to date you is to approach me strictly as a friend.

Tired of walking, we went off to find a secluded bench somewhere, hoping that our already hours-long conversation wouldn’t be disturbed anymore by passing people that we knew. We sat Indian-style on top of it, facing one another, and I remember feeling the coldness of the thick marble slab seeping through the seat of my jeans. I don’t remember if I was wearing a jacket; I don’t think I was. Since it had been a hot afternoon and I hadn’t planned on staying outside so late, either I hadn’t bothered to get one, or I had gotten one that was too thin. In reality, we were right near my dorm so I could’ve gone to get a nice warm sweater if I had wanted, but I didn’t want to bother going back there, and risk the awkwardness of seeing people we both knew who would want to invite us to come hang out with them. For some reason, even then we were bothered by people interrupting our private, two-person-only conversation. So I was cold, and my hands were especially so. I folded them together as if I were praying, rubbed them together a little bit to generate heat. She stilled my hands, and covered them with her own to keep them warm.

We kept on talking and talking until it was nearing midnight. She had an early class, so she really had to get home and get some sleep–I had already kept her up past her usual bedtime. Finally, we parted, but before we did, she said, “This is a date, isn’t it?”

I still hadn’t really thought of it as such, but it seemed to be true. “I guess so,” I said. I didn’t know, really. I thought maybe it could be.

We hugged each other then, and it wasn’t like a typical friendly greeting. I had friends that would give me long tight bear hugs, but this wasn’t one of those. It was long and lingering and ever so slightly awkward, but nice, too. I was kind of shocked about it, that our meeting could have run so counter to both of our expectations and intentions. I didn’t have any fuzzy feelings, I wasn’t sure if I would develop them, and I didn’t know what would come of it, but for the moment, I was okay with seeing where it would lead.

[Part II]

Identity Maintenance

Time passes me by lately like water does a fish—I am always in it, it is always flowing around me, but each moment is just something I live in without really thinking about it. I pay attention only to the strong currents and my eventual destination, letting the usual ebb and tide just make its lazy circles about the unconscious.

Of course, I’m still able to focus on time and its various aspects, bring it out of the background and into the forefront as I am doing now. But that kind of focus might as well be a flash of lighting. For the most part, it passes, and I make neither an effort to live in the moment nor hold fast to hope or memory. Things happen, mostly boring and not worth reporting—or so it was for a while. Unfortunately, no news does not necessarily mean good news, even though I am significantly less likely to update without the motivation of conflict. This past summer, I’ve been beset by a number of injuries and illnesses, including a brief visit to the hospital (which fortunately turned out to mean nothing except that I should take better care not to exhaust myself). Those injuries and illnesses have continued since I started school, which means that I have missed a lot of class and my ability to keep up with assignments has suffered. My relationship with my partner suffered a lot as well—partially, indeed, as a result of my being sick so often—and now we have broken up, albeit somewhat tentatively and while keeping the possibility in mind that we may be able to resolve our differences and work back up to a romantic relationship.

With all this going on, I hadn’t really been thinking about asexuality.  Over the summer, there were still plenty of moments, from time to time, when I would see my girlfriend looking at porn and, upon hearing my comments, she would groan at me and says, “You’re so asexual.” But for the most part, it went unnoticed, and barely mattered.

I have been trying to decide what is different about the part that sex played in our relationship as compared to the part that it plays in a pairing of two sexuals, but I can’t come up with much. It’s not as if it isn’t generally enjoyable, and I can’t say that it isn’t intimate. There were periods when we go without for quite a while before either one of us would crease her brow and say, “Hm. When was the last time, anyway?” That is probably the most obvious sign of my asexuality combined with her relative lack of sexual attraction to me. The thing is, our relationship actually did seem to suffer more during the dry spells than when we were doing it relatively frequently, despite my conviction that sex should not be a necessary part of a relationship.

Continue reading

Dating Site Review: OKCupid

As we all know, asexuals are scarce. It’s hard to meet other asexuals in real life. Even if by chance we do meet up with another one, it’s not like there’s any way to pick an asexual out of a crowd just by their appearance, and the topic of asexuality may not be likely to come up. Or the person might not yet have realized that they are asexual (this happened to me with one of my closest friends–consider this a shout out!). There are a lot of barriers to overcome.

Most of the asexual or near-asexual people I know in real life I initially met online. Most of the time it’s just been by chance, meeting them through other interests and then discovering that we’re both asexual, but a few times, I have met asexual people specifically through online dating sites. I know that often, we romantic asexuals do end up foraying into the (potentially scary) world of online dating, so I thought I might help those who are considering it by putting up some reviews of the dating sites I’ve tried.

First up: OKCupid.

This is where I met my “wife,” so obviously, I’ve had some success with it. To some extent, I realize I was extremely lucky, but at the same time, this site ranks up there with the best dating sites of all time. I am really hard-pressed to think of any that are anywhere near as successful, and although I would attribute that to my own ignorance, I’ve asked a few other people too, and they can’t come up with anything, either.

ADVANTAGE NUMBER ONE: It’s free. Not that I would even bother with any sites that aren’t free, so I guess that’s not saying much.

DISADVANTAGE NUMBER ONE: The options in the drop-down box for orientation (and gender too, if that’s an issue) are limited. You must choose straight, gay, or bisexual. That’s it. Obviously, this seems to be very unfriendly to asexuals, but honestly, using the current system, I can’t imagine how allowing “asexual” as an option would work. You have to realize that this is being used as an indicator of gender preference, not as an indicator of sexuality. The sexuality is simply assumed, because everyone is assumed to have a sexuality, and of course that’s stupid, but that’s not really what this is about. In order to allow people to find your profile, you have to indicate whether you’re interested in men, women, or both. So in order to get the system to work, you have to be willing to “lie” a little. I personally think that instead of using a drop-down menu as they do now, they ought to just have little ticky boxes for men or women. That way it would be easier to add in an option for asexuals, and they could also configure it so that we would be able to search for each other.

ADVANTAGE NUMBER TWO: But all is not lost! There are other ways that you can indicate that you are asexual. Obviously, you can write about it in your profile (which I’d recommend if you’re not worried about outing yourself to people you know in real life–otherwise you can just tell people using the messaging system). The second way you can do it is by answering user-created match questions. If you search for “asexual,” you will see a list of questions (and quizzes) that are about asexuality, and if you answer those and make the questions mandatory, then anyone trying to message you will have to answer those questions before being allowed to do so, and it will significantly impact your match percentage with that person. If you do a WTF report with that person, you can see exactly what they answered and decide whether you want to message the person or not. So, although you can’t choose “asexual” from a drop-down box, you still have a few different ways to communicate to potential matches that you’re asexual (because really, who else would have “would you be willing to date an asexual person? (yes)” as a mandatory question?), plus if the questions that already exist about asexuality (admittedly, there are not that many yet) aren’t satisfactory, you can always add your own.

DISADVANTAGE NUMBER TWO: It takes time. These filters aren’t a sure thing. You may still be inundated with messages from jerks who don’t even bother to read your profile, or send you stupid messages about asexuality not being real (though that has never happened to me, personally; I’ve found most everyone who talked to me was very nice about asexuality, and wanted to learn more even if they weren’t interested in dating an asexual person), to the point where you may start to feel discouraged. This site was not created with asexuals in mind, so you will probably run into a lot of people who aren’t interested in an asexual person before you will run into someone who is. However, in a way, this is an advantage in itself, because you may be able to find people who would not have specifically searched for an asexual themselves (maybe because they had never heard of the idea, or never really considered it), but who are willing to date one anyway. But with a little time and a little luck, you may well be able to find someone who is compatible with you.

ADVANTAGE NUMBER THREE: This is a very well-known site with a LOT of people to choose from. Sites that are specifically targeted to asexuals and/or celibate people generally have the disadvantage of being very obscure. OKCupid, on the other hand, has a target audience broad enough to attract a decent amount of users, has been around for long enough that most people who use the internet on a regular basis have probably encountered it, if not because they have any interest in online dating, then because of their great selection of time-wasting quizzes. I had an OKC account long before I actually started using my profile for dating purposes, because I found the quizzes to be an excellent way to waste inordinate amounts of time on the internet. I think the quizzes are a big reason why OKC has become such a success, since they managed to find a way to advertise to so many idle bloggers wanting to put some neat quiz results on their journals. So the chances are relatively high, compared to other sites, that you will be able to find compatible people in your area (I have heard, however, that OKC is quite US-centric, though since I am from the US, I can’t really judge that for myself).

MINOR QUIBBLES: The IM feature sucks (but not enough that it’s unusable). There are also a few annoying things about searching for matches, like that my highest match (my gf) doesn’t always show up when I search for “highest match” in every range.

ADVANTAGE NUMBER FOUR: User-created content. I know I already mentioned this, but I think it’s just that important to mention again. This means that you can create your own quizzes and match questions, so there is an inbuilt flexibility to the system that can allow for anything the creators (and the rest of the user database) overlooked. This is good news for little-known sexual orientations and anyone who practices alternative relationship styles. And because the site is so well-known, we can get some free awareness-spreading done just by trying to score ourselves a date. Just think of the possibilities!

OVERALL RATING: 9/10

If you’re ONLY looking to date a fellow asexual, you may not like OKC. But if you’re going to go for the chance that you might find someone who’s not ase but willing to date one (and by “date,” I mean have any kind of romantic or blurry-lines relationship), then by all means, go with this one. It has a ton of advantages over other dating sites, and is flexible enough to accomodate all manner of people. With time, it will probably grow more and more asexual-friendly, too. Good luck!

Apparently, the internet works.

For those of you who have been wondering where I’ve disappeared to these past few weeks, I’ve recently gotten a girlfriend, and she has been regularly kidnapping me. Met her on OKcupid, and by coincidence we turned out to have already met in person, but not directly spoken to one another, at our local QSA. We sort of ended up going on a date by accident, as our originally planned “first” friendly meet-up ended up lasting five or six hours longer than expected. I’m quite pleasantly surprised at this recent turn of events; I hadn’t expected to find someone so soon after M, especially not around where I live.

She has been ridiculously supportive about asexuality, too. She not only asks questions, but also spends a lot of time thinking about it by herself, trying to come up with definitions of sexual vs. non-sexual attraction. She listens to me and tries to understand, and being a fellow queer person (currently without much of a sex drive) it comes quite a bit more naturally to her.

I’ve been trying to balance my time with her against school, my friends, and the internet. Since my priorities are in that order, and we’re in the middle of midterms, well. My updates to this blog have obviously become less frequent. I’m going to try to post more often, but I surely won’t be able to keep up at the same pace that I did previously. I will also eventually get around to replying to comments.

Anyway, this past Sunday was declared Asexuality Visibility and Education Day. I don’t spend much time on AVEN anymore, so I wasn’t aware of that until three or four days prior, but somehow I managed to arrange a meet-up with the two other asexual (or close to asexual) girls I know of in this area, whom I met over the internet (one on asexualitic, the other on LJ). We went to a little international cafe, and ended up talking for four hours. Which is certainly unexpected, since all three of us are shy and introverted. It was a great success! I guess meeting people over the internet really does work.

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

Passing

Apositive member Heligan wrote something interesting on there the other day:

I think for lots of people all they really want is for how they feel to be seen as a legitimate way to feel, certainly the ‘no sex asexuals’, have a harder time trying to fit into society; so maybe we should start with them. Lets face it Grey-As can ‘pass’ as sexual in most cases.

She had lots of other good points to make (you can view the full post here), but it’s the part about grays passing that really got me thinking.

Could I pass as sexual? I can’t say the thought has never occurred to me to try it before, but I have always dismissed the idea because in the first place I don’t want to, and in the second, I see it as unethical to try. I still think it’s unethical, at least in a romantic setting, and not only that but it probably wouldn’t be the best thing to pursue for my own personal well-being, but for now I want to put those considerations aside, and try to follow the idea through to a conclusion about whether it’s even possible.

I think, first of all, we have to consider what is meant by “passing.” Usually this is used in the context of transsexuals presenting themselves in such a way that they convince others that they are the sex that they weren’t born into, and thus assuming that social role. How well one “passes” refers to how easy it is to get other people to confer that social role based on the appearance and behaviors one presents to them. I think central to the concept of “passing” is the idea that it is intentionally sought, rather than something that is conferred by default.

Therefore, even though most people assume I am sexual, I am not really passing because that is the default assumption. In order to pass, I would have to intentionally do things to support that assumption, even well past the point at which most people would start to question my orientation. That means we’re talking about convincing people with whom I’m in fairly intimate relationships, here, certainly lovers and in some cases (depending on what type of subject comes up), close friendships as well. Continue reading

Almost-Sexual Frustration

Excerpt: As the title suggests, I have been feeling increasingly frustrated for the lack of physical contact with any other human being. Not sexual contact, but intimate contact: kissing, spooning, hearing someone else’s heart beat, feeling their skin beneath my nails, and pretty much anything that, according to popular ideas, is supposed to lead up to sex. Hell, I wouldn’t even really mind having sex, though it’s the part that comes before that I truly enjoy. Among asexuals, I seem to have a pretty broad view of what borderline acts are acceptable and enjoyable. This is why I sometimes call myself and almost-sexual, because if the definition of sexuality were broadened enough to include them, I might be able to identify as a sexual person. Although I still doubt whether even under the ideal circumstances, it would ever occur to me to initiate sex as it’s usually defined (i.e. intercourse, oral, manual). Point is, I still have a drive to be physically intimate with people even if I couldn’t care less about actually having sex with them. The only word I have to describe my feelings when that drive is frustrated is “sexual frustration” but it’s not quite that.
Continue reading

Insecurity

In the middle of the night, it gets ya.

You know, overall, I’m a pretty secure person. I’ve had a lot of trauma to deal with in my life (no, not sexual trauma), so much so that honestly, looking back over my life experiences, it’s a wonder that I turned out sane. Given all the shit I’ve gone through, I ought to (at the very least) have suffered years worth of depression by now, but as it turns out, I’ve only spent about four months of my life depressed, and even then, it wasn’t constant. I am damned good at minimizing, interrupting, and conquering bad feelings. I can fucking cope.

Still, I have some issues to deal with. Continue reading

Polyamory and Online Dating

Whenever a discussion about how to negotiate a relationship with a sexual person comes up, asexuals tend to toss out the idea of non-monogamy as a potential solution. This is something I’ve given a lot of thought to over the years, since even before I came out as asexual. I’ve had a couple of different friends who were polyamorous, and seeing a little bit of how their relationships worked, I gradually opened up to the idea of getting involved in some sort of poly arrangement myself. Continue reading