Asexuality as a hard limit (or: the cat is dead)

This post has been cross-posted to The Asexual Agenda.  This post was originally posted on Tumblr.

Content warnings: discussion of abuse (with a few examples given, including one having to do with food restriction) and boundary violation, discussion of anti-sex-averse sentiment, mention of sexual violence, animal death in the context of a metaphor

In the past few months, I’ve seen a lot of posts in ace communities stating that “asexuality has nothing to do with whether you want or like sex.”  This isn’t a new assertion, but it is one that often makes me uncomfortable for reasons that are hard to explain.  However, recently, Talia wrote a post using Schrödinger’s cat as a metaphor for how we should approach aces attitudes toward sex, and I finally figured out how to verbalize my discomfort.

The assertion that “asexuality has nothing to do with whether you want or like sex” is uncomfortable to me, because I specifically identify as asexual because I don’t want sex.  Asexuality, for me, is a hard limit.

Continue reading “Asexuality as a hard limit (or: the cat is dead)”

Advertisements

On being unrequited

This post has been cross-posted to The Asexual Agenda.  On a completely unrelated note, today is my fifth anniversary of writing for TAA!

This post was originally posted on Tumblr.

Content warnings: mention of suicide in a fictional work, discussion of trauma messing with conceptions of the future and relationships, brief mention of abusive relationships (with no specifics), some crappy statements about the insufficiency of aces in relationships

Let me start by saying that this is a topic that I’m still puzzling out how to talk about, but let me start here: It’s hard to overstate the impact reading Cardcaptor Sakura had on me as a teenager.  It wasn’t the first piece of media I’d consumed that depicted women in love with other women (I’d been in a production of The Children’s Hour, a play in which the lesbian character, predictably, commits suicide), but I think it may have been the first story I’d read that had (non-adult) girls crushing on other girls.  For those not familiar with Cardcaptor Sakura, it’s a manga (later made into an anime, retitled Cardcaptors in the US) about a magical girl named Sakura.  Sakura’s best friend, Tomoyo, is in love with Sakura, but she knows that Sakura doesn’t return her feelings, so she spends much of the series supporting Sakura from the sidelines and cheering her on as she pursues other relationships.

Part of the reason this manga had such a huge impact on me was because I was reading it just as I was realizing that I had a crush on one of my very close friends.  I was absolutely certain that said friend didn’t return my feelings, so I decided to be a Tomoyo and cheer her on from the sidelines.  As long as she was happy, I would be happy.

Continue reading “On being unrequited”

Linkspam for supporters of ace survivors

resourcesforacesurvivors:

A selection of posts from RFAS’s recommended reading list, plus a few extras.  See also @resourcesforacesurvivors‘s #for supporters tag, as well as the education category on our website.

This is very much a work in progress, so feel free to recommend additional links/resources/categories!

In general, it is best to assume that all of these have trigger warnings for sexual violence attached.  Many (but not all of them) have additional trigger warnings listed at the top.  Proceed with caution and respect your triggers!

Basic information on asexuality and sexual violence

Asexuality 101

The Twisted Logic Used for Trauma by @captainheartless​ is about how asexuality is taken as an indication of trauma, and asexual people (especially those who have been traumatized) are expected to search for their “real” selves.

On Sexual Abuse, Repulsion, and Aversion in the Asexual Community by @rainbow-after-the-stormy​ addresses the idea of trauma shaping identity (including sex-aversion/sex-repulsion), and ultimately rejects the idea that an identity influenced by trauma is “fake.”

Challenges faced by asexual spectrum survivors of sexual violence by @queenieofaces​ is what it says on the tin.

For friends and family

Stop bringing up sexual assault to dismiss asexuality! by @swankivy

Pro-tips for interacting with Rape/Sexual Assault/Sexual Abuse Survivors by @buxombibliophile

How to Be an Ally to People with PTSD by Lydia Brown

“That totally happened to me, too!”: The Urge to Relate by Miri

How Not to Say the Wrong Thing by Susan Silk is about “comfort IN, dump OUT.”

Avoiding Awkward: A conversation about how we talk about rape when we talk to survivors by SCAR

Supportive Words for the Gray Areas by Coyote is about how to affirm people’s experiences and feelings even when they won’t or don’t want to refer to what happened to them as rape or sexual assault.

 

Why Triggering Someone Is Not Therapeutic by @shulamithbond

On friendships, part 1: feeling I am not entitled to friendship, and I am a burden by Elizabeth is a personal narrative about the difficulty the author has had getting support from friends as an ace survivor.

For activists and ace community leaders

Things supporters can do to actively make ace spaces more welcoming for ace survivors of sexual violence by @queenieofaces

Disingenuous, “shallow” support by Elizabeth is about how passively supporting survivors isn’t enough and abuse can even come from in-group members (such as other aces).

Here goes everything by @queenieofaces is about the way that ace survivors’ narratives are utilized for specific political means in ace communities, while survivors themselves are ignored and silenced.

 

A revolution for the crooked souls by @lemonyandbeatrice​ is about the ways in which the Unassailable Asexual and the Model Rape Survivor intersect.

 

Responsible Sharing: When to Avoid Linking a Survivor’s Story by Elizabeth is what it says on the tin.

Ace Survivors as Rhetorical Devices series by @queenieofaces is a step-by-step guide to how ace survivors are utilized in political arguments, and suggestions for how to talk about ace survivors in a sensitive, non-exploitative manner.

For ace advice blogs

Basic Resources for Ace Advice Blogs and Examples of Bad Ace Advice by Coyote

Please give survivor-competent ace advice! by @queenieofaces

“Is this abuse?”: A Guide for Aces and 5 Tips for Identifying and Handling Abuse as an Advice Blog Mod by Coyote

For health professionals

Asexuality Basics for Health Care Professionals Printable Info Sheet by RFAS (en Español)

 

Advice for Therapists of Asexual Clients by Coyote

Why It’s Okay to Refuse Therapy by Stormy is about how avoiding therapy can be healing, especially given the difficulty in obtaining proper care if you belong to a marginalized group.

 

See also this collection of posts on asexuality and mental health.

 

There is a gigantic notice

on RFAS’s “Asexuality & Mental Health” page (not linked because
c’mon) that says PLEASE DO NOT LINK THIS PAGE DURING AN ARGUMENT and yet
people are still doing it.

If you link to us in order to argue on tumblr about whether aces
count as “oppressed enough” to be included in any LGBTQ spaces (or
acephobia or anything else), you will cause a wave of hostile traffic to a website specifically set up to support ace survivors. If you reblog an argument that contains such a link, the effect is the same.

Our bandwidth is NOT FREE. And there is an emotional cost to survivors when you decide to use our stories to win political points.

Ace survivors are not rhetorical devices. Mentally ill aces are not “receipts of oppression.” We are not sad puppies or oppressed lamps, and we are not your ultimate trump card. We are people. We have agency. And we are right here. We’re part of your community. We see what you are doing.

If you are going to engage with detractors, or “Discoursers” or whatever they’re being called by the time you read this, you DO NOT have permission to pull someone else into your argument.
If you want to use someone else’s story as an example, YOU NEED TO GET
PERMISSION FIRST. That is how consent works. If you circulate someone’s
story without asking, you are non-consensually exposing them to a serious risk of harassment. Even if no direct harassment occurs (or can occur, because the person may have shared anonymously), just being exposed to the argument,
especially when those involved have shown a disregard for your consent
and your safety, is INCREDIBLY triggering and anxiety-provoking.

And there is splash damage to other survivors and mentally ill aces, including
those of us who volunteer at Resources for Ace Survivors to help fellow
survivors. You tax our emotional resources, and make it so that we are
less able to help each other, because we have less energy to engage. And
you make other survivors & mentally ill aces witnessing the
argument feel LESS SAFE sharing their stories.

These kinds of arguments may make survivors and mentally ill aces feel too unsafe to even participate in the community at all. I
have personally already withdrawn from the ace community for a few
years because I did not feel safe enough to keep participating!

So if you do this, or if you reblog someone else who has done this, you are directly contributing to further harm of ace survivors and mentally ill aces.

Please, please STOP.

And look, I realize that a lot of you doing this are young and have
never thought about this before. I get that. I’m sure you didn’t intend
to harm anyone. But that still doesn’t erase the fact that it does harm people.

And I’m exasperated, because gentle reminders haven’t
had much of an effect. I don’t know what will reach people. Please feel
free to circulate the full text of this post on tumblr, because I am
not connected enough there to make a dent myself.

If you’re going to get in arguments with people about whatever topic, please do me a favor and don’t link anything I’ve written about asexuality and sexual violence (unless you want to link the series about how you shouldn’t use ace survivors in arguments).  When you link things I or other ace survivors have written during an argument, there’s a very good chance that the person you’re arguing with will attempt to “prove” that the ace survivors you’re linking to are either lying (”That never really happened; they’re just saying that so they seem sufficiently oppressed”) or misrepresenting their experiences (”They might have been raped, but it was because of racism/sexism/homophobia, not because they’re ace”).  Given how frequently survivors are victim-blamed and disbelieved, opening us up to more of that (without our consent or knowledge) is unfair and jeopardizes our safety and health.  Please don’t do it.  I really don’t know how to make this clearer.  Don’t do it.  Please.

There is a gigantic notice

Resilience through fiction, or that time I wrote a vampire novel that was secretly about trauma

This post has been cross-posted to the Resources for Ace Survivors wordpress.  It was originally posted on Tumblr.

This post is for the June 2016 Carnival of Aces, which is on the topic of “Resiliency.”

Content warnings: discussion of trauma and violence (sexual and not), mentions of substance abuse and suicidality and self-harm, all in the context of talking about a work of fiction

Between 2008 and 2011 I wrote the longest piece of writing (fiction or non-fiction) I’ve ever produced–a 133,472 word, 251 page (single-spaced) vampire novel.  I poured most of my creative energy into it for 3 years and then just hid it away in my hard drive.  I returned to it recently, when I mentioned in a conversation to a friend and suddenly became intensely curious whether it held up or not.  For the terminally curious, I liveblogged my reread, but this is not really a post about the vampire novel I wrote (thank goodness–no one wants to read about that).  Instead, it’s a post about resilience, how the vampire novel I wrote helped me process a lot of the things going on in my life, and the extent to which I can gauge how much I have grown and changed by looking back on it.

Continue reading “Resilience through fiction, or that time I wrote a vampire novel that was secretly about trauma”

Ace Survivors as Rhetorical Devices (part 4): Avoiding Using Ace Survivors Rhetorically

This series can be read on The Asexual Agenda, Resources for Ace Survivors, and Concept Awesome.

Trigger warnings: discussion of sexual violence, including corrective rape and CSA, although nothing specific; policing of survivors’ reactions to sexual violence.  If you think this needs more warnings, let me know, and I’ll be happy to add them.

In the last two posts I’ve outlined two of the major ways in which ace survivors are used as rhetorical devices–by using them to win political arguments and by creating a monolithic narrative of The Way Sexual Violence Happens to Aces.  If you’ve read this far, you might be worrying about whether you’ve done either of these things in your own writing.  You might be wondering how to avoid using aces as rhetorical devices while still writing forceful, argumentative pieces.  This part is for you.

Continue reading “Ace Survivors as Rhetorical Devices (part 4): Avoiding Using Ace Survivors Rhetorically”

Ace Survivors as Rhetorical Devices (part three): The One True Narrative of Sexual Violence Against Aces

This series can be read on The Asexual Agenda, Resources for Ace Survivors, and Concept Awesome.

Trigger warnings: Discussion of sexual violence, including corrective rape and CSA; manipulation of survivors and their stories for political means; victim-blaming; erasure of sexual violence narratives that cannot be used for narrow political purposes; suicide
mention; racism; implication that all allosexual people are rapists.  As always, if you feel that I should add more warnings, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll be happy to add them.

In the last post of this series I discussed the way ace survivors are used to win political arguments.  In this post I’m going to discuss the way bloggers construct The One True Narrative of The Way Sexual Violence Happens to Aces.  This can take several forms.  First, the author may assume that all ace survivors fit into a particular narrative of sexual violence (usually corrective rape by an allosexual romantic partner).  Second, the author may acknowledge that sexual violence against aces may happen in multiple ways, but may highlight one way as more important or “real” than the rest.  (This frequently involves fabricating statistics regarding asexuality and sexual violence.)

Let’s take a look at some examples: Continue reading “Ace Survivors as Rhetorical Devices (part three): The One True Narrative of Sexual Violence Against Aces”

Ace Survivors as Rhetorical Devices (part two): Using Ace Survivors to Win Political Arguments

This series can be read on The Asexual Agenda, Resources for Ace Survivors, and Concept Awesome.

Trigger warnings: mentions of sexual violence, including corrective and coercive rape; manipulation of survivors and their stories for political means; statements implying that all allosexual people are rapists; victim-blaming survivors of coercive rape; pretty nasty discourse about non-aromantic people; anti-LGBTQ sentiment.  If you think this needs additional warnings, just drop me a line and I’ll be happy to add them.

If you’ve seen a post about ace survivors, there’s a very good chance it was in the context of ace survivors being proof that asexuals are oppressed.  In fact, ace survivors are often used as trump cards to win political arguments on everything from the oppression of asexuals to the oppression of sex-averse aces to the necessity of separating asexuality from LGBT movements.  This sort of rhetoric is a huge issue for ace survivors, as it treats us not as complex individuals whose needs and desires matter to the community but as pawns to be used or discarded at the whim of the author.

Let’s take a closer look at an example of this sort of rhetoric: Continue reading “Ace Survivors as Rhetorical Devices (part two): Using Ace Survivors to Win Political Arguments”

Ace Survivors as Rhetorical Devices (part one): Introduction

This series can be read on The Asexual Agenda, Resources for Ace Survivors, and Concept Awesome.

What’s the deal with this series?

This series is about the way ace survivors are used as rhetorical devices in ace communities.  I’ve already finished writing the series as of this posting–it’s 4 parts, and I’ll be posting a new part every 2 weeks until it’s complete.  This first post is just an introduction to explain what the deal with this series is.  In part 2 I discuss the use of ace survivors to win political arguments, in part 3 I discuss the creation of the One True Narrative of Sexual Violence Against Aces by ignoring or erasing the experiences of ace survivors who don’t fit the author’s political agenda, and in part 4 I offer suggestions for bloggers and activists who want to write/talk about ace survivors in a sensitive, non-exploitative manner.

Continue reading “Ace Survivors as Rhetorical Devices (part one): Introduction”