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"Dumbledore is ace/aro. Discuss."

Yeah, this is all Jessee's fault. The conversation turned to Dumbledore as a source of gay/queer representation on Crone Island last week, and they pinged me when they moved the conversation to a new channel with that particular summary. They were pretty accurate when they said I would have some thoughts on the topic.

Here's most of what I had to say. I started with discussing Dumbledore as gay representation, transitioned into discussing representation of marginalized groups in fiction more generally, and wound up talking generally about ace character portrayal in mainstream fiction. )
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Man, I am going to really, really miss doing these when I graduate. I hope I can find a way to keep getting involved in panelling at my graduate school, because this is fun. (Also, our panel coordinator told me today they wish they had four of me, which is always really warm and fuzzy to hear. :3)

Today's was pretty chill, overall. The obligatory religion question came up, and I got to mention the atheism thing again. I had one person bring up Sheldon Cooper and go "well, Sheldon is asexual but he has feelings for a woman on the show, do you have sexual feelings for people?" which was, uhhhh. Still, better Big Bang Theory questions than House questions, I guess. (I used that one as a springboard to discuss grey-As and emphasize all the grey areas in sexuality more generally; the fact that we also had a lot of discussion about lesbians/women who mostly date other women who also occasionally date men helped to reinforce that "sexuality isn't always clear-cut!" point.)

One guy asked us all about whether we felt the need to bring up our sexual orientations or whether it came up organically or what when we met new people. All my copanelists got to say things like "well, I just mention my girlfriend where other people are mentioning their partners" or "it comes up when we're discussing which celebrities are hot" and then there was me. Sigh. I went into a brief spiel about how bringing it up is something I need to proactively do or else I'm going to get a lot of really annoying curiosity later, and also about how I basically get to do a mini-panel every time I come out because really, and then mentioned some of the segues I tend to use.

Had someone who asked mid-panel for a more in-depth explanation of asexuality than the one I breeze by in my coming-out story; that hasn't happened for a while, and usually they ask as soon as the panel starts for real. (I don't define asexuality in my intro, I just describe my coming-out experiences and that usually involves a sort of implied definition, so it's clear we're talking sexual orientation and not sex or gender.) He was pretty relaxed about it, though.

Oh, and the nature vs. nurture question came up. I have got to stop geeking out about behavior genetics when that comes up, I always want to babble on about how it's more complicated than "is it genetic?" can ever hope to get and how complicated behavior is and especially human sexuality and aaaaaagh. Er, and we got asked if there was anyone in our lives we weren't out to, and I got to explain about my very conservative extended family and how my grandmother never gets to be told and things. Can't think of anything else offhand.

Also, apparently asexuality came up in the panel for the class period before mine, and someone actually hung around from there for a whole hour to ask me a question before I got there. Apparently her best friend from high school's brother had quietly claimed to be ace all through high school and she and all her friends hadn't believed him at all or thought that was something you could be, so she was really interested in what I had to say--she was very respectful to me, but I felt bad for the poor brother! She also (again, politely) asked me my gender before she left, which I'm not sure if that was a genuine misconception about aces or just a reminder from M (who was in the panel for her class period and is genderqueer) that it's more complicated than just male/female plus my gender presentation being nonstandard.
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It was a pretty quiet crowd this time, honestly. I think it was noteworthy for being the only panel so far with two people standing for one identity (both my copanelists IDed as gay) and also no trans* representation. Most of the questions were pretty standard, although after the obligatory religion question I did have someone ask me if my parents had thought about encouraging me to be a nun. This is... really hilarious given my distinct tendency to turn into a waspish atheist when poked with the religion stick. My parents can be pretty emotionally obtuse but they're not actually stupid.

I also had someone ask me something along the lines of "Asexuality must be really, really rare--there aren't very many of you, right? So do you get hostility from gay people, too?" which felt pretty pointed given recent events. For that one I said roughly "yes, in some circumstances, gay-friendly =/= asexual friendly" and then emphasized very heavily that Lambda has been an actual safe space for me.

Also, I have hit myself in the head on inanimate objects four times today and yesterday I got a flat tire for the first time (now fixed!) and I would just like this week to be over now, please. Aaaaagh.

...but I did get a ridiculously cool mutant in my fly stocks which I am attempting to create its own stock of, anyway, so that will be an interesting side project. It had one extremely tiny eye with a ton of little eye-like blobby growths on that side of its head, which I thought was fascinating. My mentor says I should name it strawberry if I can get it to culture.
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A while back, I signed up for a thing my campus queer group does where they have people go into classrooms and related situations and answer questions from the standpoint of a Real Live gay/bi/trans/etc. person. Today was my first panel ever.

It was actually a lot of fun! The class was very polite and did not ask the Dreaded Masturbation Question, and I got a lot of questions directed specifically at me. Besides which, I got thanked personally by three or four people for talking about asexuality, which was kind of awesome.

I'm also working on setting up a panel-type thing for Asexual Awareness Week here. Out of curiosity, anyone in travelling distance of Athens interested in showing up and answering questions for that? I figure it's probably going to end up being just me and the other ace in said queer group, who definitely wants to be involved, but the offer to join us is open in case anyone is interested in a bit of fairly low-stress visibility.
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So this popped up on Tumblr today. And I read it and got very excited--not even entirely because the idea of Tim Drake being asexual is awesome, but because it had a creator discussing an asexual character and acknowledging that asexuality is a sexual orientation that real people have, and oh my gosh I never get to see that.

And then I noticed that the source was broken. And that when I Googled around I could find no other mention of it. And then I stopped to consider what the actual likelihood of DC Comics doing something like this was and... yeah. Unlikely.

I just. I don't even. Why would you lie about this?! What possible reason would someone have to create this hoax? Why would you do this?

I'm angry and upset and frustrated, because it feels like someone dangled a delicious sandwich in my face while I'm starving and then snatched it away. And now, on top of everything, I'm feeling especially sensitized to the way creators frame asexual characters in media. Because you know that creators never bother to mention that asexuality's a sexual orientation, or that actual asexual people might want to see themselves now and again. That alone ought to have tipped me off, and I am so angry and sad that I feel that way.
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So [personal profile] nami_roland and I have been making cupcakes. And we helpfully took photos so as to document our amazing creations!

A white plate with a black-ringed rim on which sit three cupcakes. The tops are black, broken up with white and purple spots, and the cupcake cups are purple, white, and black swirled.

More photos behind the cut! )
We had (and have) plans to experiment with mixing the layers up a little more so they're less black-heavy and maybe reverse the order of the cupcakes to see what happens. Unfortunately I'm a bit clumsy and managed to drop the entire second tray in the crack between the oven and the door, so we didn't get to see how those would have turned out. The plan is to redo them tomorrow to see if we can't get them looking even nicer.

Hilariously, the roommate I am not yet out to came home after we had finished, noticed the cupcakes, and spent something like twenty minutes gushing over how awesome they were and how we should totally remake them for my birthday. (My birthday plans involve making the Periodic Table in cupcake form with different flavors of cupcake for each of the subfamilies of elements--we're running out of flavor ideas.) I have to say, this idea seriously pleases me!
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 So, what with the fact that right now most of what I really want to say revolves around asexuality, I thought I'd start up a blog specifically for that. 

This Livejournal will still be up for random musings/half-formed thoughts/things I want to say on other subjects, but the asexuality stuff will be over at Writing From Factor X.
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 So I have started up an RSS feed in a vain attempt to get a handle on keeping up with the blogs I follow. Yes, I am desperately uncool and behind the times. As usual, I have been trying and failing to avoid change. Go me. 

There was recently a new asexuality paper posted on mandrewliter's site. I have to say, it did not impress me. There were some serious methodological problems with their categorization, including the fact that a study ostensibly specifically designed to collect data on asexual people chose to employ measures of asexuality which completely failed to provide actual asexual options. For example, when collecting data on a "desire-based" scale of identifying asexual people, the authors chose to use a national survey which did not provide an option for asexual people (that is, there was no "I do not experience attraction to men or women" option) they used people who chose "not sure" and put them in the asexual category.

In fact, all of their measures of asexuality on this survey were overinclusive with respect to asexuality, which raises serious problems with their data. I understand that pre-existing national surveys are cheaper and easier to access for data on huge numbers of people, but when the questions on this survey give no meaningful measurement of the number of asexual people (which is not the same as the number of people who fall off the hetero/homo/bi spectrum), you need to work with a smaller sample and create your own survey which actually asks people relevant questions to determining sexuality. I'm not even going to go into discussing how asexuals with mismatched affectional orientations will often answer according to their affectional orientations on these things, because when there's no answer to fit you and you know exactly why, picking the closest answer is a bit better than "not sure." I'd argue that "Equally attracted to the same and opposite sex" is absolutely as "asexual" an answer as "not sure" is, and I've answered that way myself on similar surveys--I know very well what my attractional patterns, so saying that I am equally attracted to both makes a lot more sense to me than saying "not sure," especially when it's absolutely correct. I am equally sexually attracted to both sexes: not at all! 

When you don't offer answers that are correct on a survey to people, they will try to pick the closest possible thing. You cannot assume in this situation that "not sure" means anything even remotely close to "asexual." This is the big downside of mailed-in surveys with fixed answers: if you haven't asked the right questions, you're not going to get anything close to accurate data. And this entire paper is suffering from a great big case of wrong, wrong questions. 

Also not that impressed by "behavioral asexuality," which is functionally indistinguishable from celibacy and doesn't actually get at asexuality in any meaningful way (especially when you conflate, for example, asexual celibate people with involuntarily celibate people). There's too much crossover between sexually active asexual people and nonasexual celibate people for celibacy to be a useful measure of asexuality, IMO. Or sexual orientation in general. 

My own work is going okay, except that yesterday I managed an amazingly klutzy trip and flung my established crosses across the incubation room. Luckily it's a wee little room and only two of my six existing crosses broke, but I may just throw the remaining four out of my sample and focus on the crosses I will be setting up on Monday. Sigh. I really want the stocks for my other two populations so I can set them up and make them happy this coming week. 

Also, my boss just reminded me I could totally do Rally Obedience with Oliver. This might just be the thing to stave off my puppy cravings...
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So we went over the chapter on Love and Relationships in my Psychology of Women course today. And it was generally no worse than I expected it to be, especially since there's a chunk of the chapter on lesbian relationships near the end and it's pretty good at not being heteronormative so I don't feel completely erased most of the time.

Except for this: as a class activity, we were asked to write down a list of qualities we wanted in a person we'd want to marry, and then a list of qualities we'd want in a person we'd want to have sex with. Fine. I can do the first one, anyway, at least in theory; and I figured I could just ignore the second one since there's no way in which it applied to me. But then we were instructed to break up in groups with at least one guy in them (this class is maybe 90% female) and discuss the characteristics we put down. Okay, I thought. Fine. I'll just... try to unobtrusively get through the discussion without sharing anything. (I'm not sure whether it could have worked--I'm normally pretty talkative and loud in that class, but on the other hand it was a pretty freaking big group, maybe twenty people.)

And then the girl next to me, who I've been snarking and chatting with off and on since class started, asks me what I put down. Which... er. I ended up saying that I identified as asexual so I really didn't have anything to put down, and she seemed to confuse that with identifying as genderless (and asked me "when did I decide") so I spent most of the rest of the allotted time for discussion clarifying that. It ended well, but I wasn't planning to come out in that class except to the professor (which I already have done, through an email about asexual-as-orientation vs. asexual-as-"intersex"-status), and I felt more than a bit blindsided by the whole thing--and also really, really invisible, because it was clear from the exercise that people who weren't sexually attracted to others were just not considered at all. Which on one level I get--yay visibility, and this is why--but at the same time it's rather depressing. 
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So I haven't written in here in a while, largely because I've been working until I'm exhausted. Last week, I was commuting to Athens and back every day and then doing family chores at home while my parents were gone. This week, I've been settling into the new room and my new job, which is awesome even if all making vials of fly food is a bit repetitive. Doesn't matter, since the people are awesome, especially my supervisor B.

Anyway, I recently got my hair cut. Well, cut shorter than it was, anyway; it used to be a good three to four inches when it was freshly done and now it's a one-inch pixie cut. And I'd actually wanted to do that for a long time; I've always wanted very short hair, and I've been gradually choosing shorter and shorter cuts and inching my way to what I really want--hair which won't be in my eyes or on my neck or cause tangles or need a lot of work in the morning. The hairdresser I went to also has short hair and made me feel great about choosing the cut I did. I was so pleased on the way home that I sang the entire way back, loud punchy enthusiastic songs. I love this haircut.

And then my parents came home and saw it. And the look of horror on my parents' faces just made me die inside, just a little. My mother in particular seemed particularly upset, and since she was the one to drive me back to Athens I got stuck with her in the car expressing how upset she was that I'd decided to get a short pixie cut without styling it. She was very insistent that if you want to have short hair, you should wear make up and feminine clothing and big earrings to make your femininity obvious. I even asked her "what, do you want me to get my ears pierced?" because I wanted her to just stop. (I have no desire to pierce my ears.)

She also told me that the (women's!) polo shirts I like are "really a men's style" despite the fact that when I wear them, they hug my body and emphasize my waist and curves. But I guess the collar makes them MANLY or something. And then when I said "look, I'll buy paste and put it in my hair of a morning and all" to placate her, and I said "I just liked the way pixie hair cuts looked, okay?" because I was by this point really defensive and a little upset, she said "Good. I just don't want to be around when some girl tries to pick you up, okay?" ...really? Really? 

I just don't know how to be myself around her. I don't know why she's so hung up on my gender expression--it's mine, and I've told her repeatedly that if I get mistaken for gay or hit on by lesbian women, I'm not going to be any more upset or weirded out than if a guy hits on me. Hell, I told her that I don't identify as straight about a month ago. I don't know why she thinks that I would give a damn if someone female wanted to date me. Do I need to say "Mom, I identify as queer, what with the whole asexual thing, and furthermore I think I'd actually rather be in a relationship with a woman if I wanted to be in one at all?" (Not that I've ever had a crush on anyone, it's more that I generally get along much better with women than with men.) And I don't know how to bring that up without hurting her, because I know she loves me and I really suspect that a lot of this is her projecting her own issues with femininity onto me. And I get it a lot, because K is the easy heterosexual Catholic feminine daughter who is sweet and nice and doesn't keep coming up with uncomfortable personal revelations. 

Hah. I used to think that all I wanted out of my parents was to quit asking me who I had a crush on and asking me if I was gay and wanted to come out to them. Now I'm not so sure. Now I've had a taste of people who accept me for who I am, at least in the gender/orientation way, and my god is that ever intoxicating. (J came by to see me for the first time since I cut my hair the other day and looked surprised for a moment and then immediately said "Wow, I like your haircut, it looks good on you!" I'd been terrified she would judge me about it too, maybe not quite rationally, and proceeded to tell her exactly how awesome she was and how upset I'd been about my parents.)

For my final paper for my Psych of Women class, I have to transgress a gender norm and write about it. And there's a note at the end of it which says that my professor hopes that the assignment will give us "increased compassion for those who violate gender roles every day." Which... I just feel so bitter about, because I'm freaking cis. I'm not genderqueer or trans or neutrois. There's nothing wrong with those things, but it's not me. And I'm so very fucking tired of having my gender expression policed because I maybe don't always scream "LOOK AT ME I'm A GIRL GIRL GIRL SEE MY GIRLINESS" from a distance. It's at the point where I maybe say I'm more butch than I really am because every possible choice I make about my appearance that is less than feminine brings on the "but you'll be perceived badly" from her.  
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There has recently been a kerfluffle on AVEN regarding whether it is appropriate to tell newbies when they're being offensive. Obviously, I am involved--I love a good argument too much not to be, and in fact it was my comment which started it--but what really hit me was an assertion that, in an argument, a person who becomes obviously angry has lost. (Or, extended, the first person to talk about emotion has lost.)

That strikes me as foolishness. Anger in service of a cause is what fuels that cause. Anger, properly harnessed, is power. If you never get angry about the topic you're debating, you don't care about it enough to make it win. An angerless debate has no spirit, no heart, no passion. Which I suppose is the point, to reduce debate to a sport rather than a productive discussion. Under this rationale, you cannot believe in anything, any more, or else you cannot discuss it; and what on earth is the point of an argument when the only method of choosing sides is assignation, because no one cares about either one! You can't even say "the point is learning how to debate," because if no one can debate topics important to them, we're back to the problem of no one caring. It's a road down the path to Brave New World.

You know, I'm actually quite a cerebral person. It has taken me years to figure out how to label my emotions, how to deal with them, and how to channel them most effectively. Last week I was accused of being a Vulcan. (Yes, really.) And yet the more I consider this, the more value I place in emotion, and more I reject the idea that only completely dispassionate analysis is of any use. Don't get me wrong; I love analysis. It is how I experience the world. But analysis alone, with no conviction and no heart, is worthless. Passionate people get stuff done; people who won't emotionally commit to anything and play their sophist games in the sand. I know which I would rather be. 
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So I was sitting in Dr. M's class today, and he brought up the menu conundrum; that is, as the number of choices available increases, the level of anxiety and fear about making one increases. His particular example was the habit of educated college students not being able to choose what to do with their lives, because it's all on us to decide. He argued that without tradition, and without really being encouraged or able to seek advice from older adults about what they thought we should do, it became the burden of the young person to come up with a life path completely from scratch--and he pointed out just how difficult and terrifying having to do that really is.

And it was all I could do not to burst out laughing. Bitterly. My entire life revolves around trying to find a path of meaning after throwing aside the central construction to the "accepted" path of the culture I live in. I mean, romance is so important to our cultural narratives that we can't even tell a single story without making a subplot for the main character to begin a romantic relationship. When there's no extended family, it's all about the nuclear family, and there's nothing for me in the traditional path to creating one without the whole attraction thing. I could do it, but I would be lying to myself and, more importantly, to someone I at least purported to care about, and I can't countenance that. So that leaves me with making my own path, and all that entails, because even if I'm not closing the possibility that I might one day be interested romantically in another human being or that another type of unconventional relationship exists that would work with who and what I am, I'm not counting on it. There's no point in planning on something which is unlikely to happen.

So I get to define what family is. I have all the choice in the world, and all I can do is walk into the future and try to live each day as it comes. I always hated those assignments I got in high school, when I was expected to plan out my future and say where I wanted to be in ten or twenty years. How can I know that? There's nothing to tell me how my life should go, no easy ubiquitous story to hear and build on. There's no story of my life out there at all, so all I can do is tell mine, day by day, and make it up on the fly. Maybe one day I'll be able to help younger asexuals figure it out, maybe one day I'll have something coherent to say.

Later, divorce came up in the class discussion. As class ended, I brought up the point that divorce isn't necessarily bad, and the conversation ended up with Dr. M going on about this new trend of women in their thirties marrying only because they want children, and then divorcing early once the kids are there. And I thought "wow, that's my life plan, except that I'd rather use a sperm donor entirely." I love that class, but there have been so many moments when I think to myself "yeah, and you don't know the half of it" when things come up. And I can't even say or do anything, because I'm damn sure not coming out to an entire class. There's feeling of being outside a house, and looking in--I can think of few things more alienating.
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So someone on AVEN recently asked whether, since identifying as asexual, they'd started feeling more pressure to conform to the asexual "norm." Which is actually a pretty good question, with a lot of different parts to address. 

First of all, what's the "normal" asexual? There's the idea of an "average" asexual, the most common type of person who feels comfortable identifying as asexual; and there's the idea of the "poster" asexual, who we use to promote our orientation in media coverage; and the idea of the "stereotypical" asexual, the sort that tends to get paraded in popular media or fiction when mainstream culture at large caricatures us.

I'm certainly not much like the "average" ace, which as far as I can tell seems to be a nonrepulsed hetero- or biromantic with some degree of libido. Granted, that might just be my impression of the majority of posters, and it's been noted that self-identified aromantic posters seem less likely to hang around the site, but let's assume that my subjective impressions and poorly-sampled AVEN polls are right about that. I certainly don't feel much pressure to skew my personal expression of asexuality towards either romantic orientation or libido; I might sometimes feel in the grey area in both, but that I think is more an outgrowth of my natural curiosity than anything. In any case I'm not particularly repulsed, but I heavily suspect that repulsion grows exponentially when an asexual person feels pressured to, themselves, engage in sex and I've never felt that pressure particularly strongly either. Coming to AVEN young helped with that. So let's reject the idea of being pressured into conform to that particular ideal.

What about the poster ace? This one is a bit more nebulous to define. I think for a start I'd go with clear of any hormonal or neurological abnormalities (let's just say able-bodied and -minded in general), youngish adult and not bad-looking (capable of attracting SOs if desired), and totally confident in themselves at all times. The bits about being youngish adult and my looks fit me fine--I"m not some sort of Venus descending from on high to comfort the poor hideous mortals or anything, but I look average bordering on good when I feel like dressing up a bit. But I've never altered myself to conform to that; actually, I started identifying as ace much younger than the "poster" age, back when it would have been easy to dismiss me, and I went through a very militant anti-dressing-up-at-all phase through middle school and early high school. And I identified as ace then, and it was only sinking more comfortably into my status as an out asexual that let me feel more comfortable with performing femininity when  I wanted to. No pressure from the community-at-large there. The nondisabled part, though... hoo boy. Let's start with saying that I had a hormonal test done for other reasons and found that my testosterone levels are very high for a woman's, and that I have PCOS. So I don't get to pull the "hormonally totes normal" card, per se, but I do get to point out that PCOS is exceedingly common in women, particularly in my family on my mother's side, and I'm still the only ace woman I know. Anyway, I can't change hormones, and I haven't personally been told to get a hormone check yet... but I suspect it's a matter of time if I start coming out more often in the future.

Then we can go into the fact that I am not neurotypical, and I am known to suffer from depression. That opens up a lovely can of worms from the people who are insistent about finding a reason we're all abnormal this way, even on AVEN. Which, yeah, I have felt pressure about, even if it's largely internal pressure combined with growing anger about the idea that my sexuality isn't seen as valid all on its own as, say, homosexuality or heterosexuality is. I'm not talking about the greater AVEN community telling me we should all be NT here, but there's definitely a part of me which is very uncomfortable with insinuations that asexuality stems from mental illness and/or neuroatypicality, and I think that part definitely reacts to this idea of a "poster asexual." Which again, I'm really not. Confidence, eh. I sometimes use confidence as a weapon to prevent people from challenging my self-identification, and I've come to the conclusion that others probably do the same, no matter what their sexuality. I certainly don't have any evidence to suggest that my identification as asexuality is incorrect.

Let's just finish up with the "stereotypical" asexual, which is the sort you might find in the mass media. This one's usually male and intensely socially awkward, might call himself asexual out of sour grapes, or otherwise has gigantic neon issues surrounding sex and (usually) women. Alternatively the female version of this trope was at some point horribly abused and can be fixed via Healing Sex with her True Love. Most of this is very much not me, but the socially awkward/not totally sane connotations here I think might play a role in the abovementioned asexuality/mental illness problems I have. I don't think there's much pressure in the community to conform to this one, for obvious reasons, but I think that the reaction to it forms a lot of the basis for our trope of the "poster" asexual. I think there is actually some pressure not to conform to this one, if possible.

So I don't feel I've felt much pressure regarding my status in relation to any of these norms, with the minor exception of the "poster" asexual. But then, my deviations from the "norms" are largely not uncommon. I wonder how much more uncomfortable a grey-A or demi might feel in this context, since they have more differences. Or a strongly repulsed asexual who feels concerned about falling into the "severe issues with sex" box in the "stereotypical" norm, or an asexual who was abused or raped and who is still trying to figure out what that means to them, or whatever. I'd like to hear from people on that. Is it easier to talk about things which don't make you "poster children" for the movement if you're concerned about "letting the side down?"
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Bleh. I hate massive study days. Especially days when I have to focus on photosynthesis, of all things. I hate biochemistry.

L mentioned a new YA novel with an asexual character in it today. I wish that didn't make me as happy as it did--I still feel self-conscious about seeking out books with asexual characters in them sometimes, even if they're not necessarily otherwise my cup of tea. Sometimes it's easy to feel like a freak for needing that bit of remainder that I'm not the only one who's asexual out there, especially when my meatspace friends are going on about this or that crush or I'm missing out on post-Quizbowl sex talk or whatever. (It's not necessarily the sex talk I'm missing--I wouldn't have much to contribute anyway--but the bonding.) And seeking out asexuals in media makes me feel even more out-of-line sometimes, like I'm spending all my time on my orientation and making everyone focus on it. I guess I'm glad that she noticed it and thought I might be interested, although I wish she'd stop making comments on what my taste is.

Which doesn't make logical sense, to be honest. I barely mention being ace or AVEN in my daily life. I think I've brought up an event on AVEN exactly once, when it was something really bothering me about intersectionality, to L. No, twice, but it was the same event. I've never explained about romantic orientation to them, or the fact that I'm still trying to evaluate what romantic relationships even mean to me, or what falling in love is. It's not that most of my friends don't know, but it's also not like I spend a lot of time talking to them about my experience of being ace. I've never even referred to myself as "ace" rather than "asexual" in real-time conversation--in part because imagining explaining the fact that there actually is slang for my orientation sounds so cringe-inducing, like we're "real" or something. (Except we are. I am real. Huh. I think I have more to unpack there.)

What makes it all so much weirder is that I'm still trying to figure out how and when to come out to A about the fact that I do in fact identify as asexual, not "I've never fallen in love" or a heterosexual-in-waiting. I had some sort of vague notion of not coming out right away to her and seeing how that colored my interactions with her, and then she said something about not having ever met gay people in her tiny town and I sort of got wary about coming out at all. I have no intention of being someone's museum piece or anything, and I'd be terrified if she reacted badly and I suddenly had no one to live with, especially considering how well we get along. And at the same time I'm juggling that, I'm trying to figure out how open I want to be about my asexuality and considering whether I want to start wearing the ring, and it's a path which is a little nervewracking to walk. We'll see whether I do come out to her about that; I did mention the autism recently which went pretty well. I don't know--maybe I'll take a summer off to be more open about myself and see what comes of that.
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It would be really, really nice if for once I could log onto AVEN, scroll through the posts, and not see some new and exciting post implying that my sexual orientation is a form of/is caused by/is linked to some sort of mental illness. It's depressing and rage-inducing and upsetting all at once, and I can never figure out how to deal with it without exploding. (Seriously, schizophrenia?)

Going to AVEN is supposed to remind me I'm not the only one. It's supposed to remind me that I'm fine the way I am, that there's nothing wrong with me, that it's okay for me to be asexual. That's why I come here. I don't come here to scroll through endless questions about whether my sexuality is caused by a mental illness on the same fucking board which is supposed to be for promoting asexuality as a sexual orientation. I'm tired of it.

And hell, I am an asexual with a less-than-typical brain. I am an asexual with touch issues, with people issues. But does that make my sexuality any less real? I mean, hating neck touches and not being able to tolerate ball games don't really mask the fact that I don't get tingly in my vulva for anyone. When you get down to it, are the non-neurotypical (in the broadest sense of the word) not allowed to have a sexuality? Because let me tell you, most of 'em aren't asexual. They might get treated as if they were, but that's another issue. If I wanted to fuck someone, I think I would notice, autism or no, touch issues or no.

It's almost making me want to leave, and that would be a shame, because I am fond of the community. But I think I need to evaluate whether or not staying is especially healthy for me. 
sciatrix: (Default)
Yeah. This one has been brooding since my friend L made a joke which implied that I was agender. I don't think I would be so pissed about it if this hadn't happened before, and if I haven't occasionally heard her use "asexual" as a shorthand for "agender."

I'm not even sure where this comes from. Admittedly, most of the real-life people I know conflate asexuals with me, probably because I am the only open ace most of them have ever met. (Probably not the only ace, if that old 1% Category X figure is correct, but I am one of few lucky enough to have discovered AVEN and patient enough to be Asexual In Public.) And I am not the most effeminate of women. One of the things I love most about my asexuality is the freedom it gives me to defy whatever social norms I want to, which means in practice that if I feel lazy, I'm damn well going about my day in sweatpants and a t-shirt. I don't wear jewelry often because fiddling with it is counterproductive. I don't have pierced ears because I'm too afraid of having to sit still and let someone do something to me that hurts, and I don't feel like the shiny things are quite worth it. And I do have short hair, because I am lazy in the mornings and I hate things on my neck.

And then there's all the other things about me that don't code conventionally female. I don't get emotions very well, least of all my own, and I'm no good at negotiating tricky social situations which can't be solved with profuse expressions of fondness. I am fairly aggressive and have no hesitation about getting angry and pushing to get my way, or enforcing my boundaries, or reacting badly if someone crosses one. I like my world to be ordered, logical, and routine. (Most of those traits, ironically enough, I seem to have inherited from my mother, who I greatly respect and think is a totally awesome woman and who not-so-incidentally seems to have a lot of panicky issues related to her femininity.)

But the thing is, I'm still cis-female even if I don't play to the stereotypes. I identify as strongly female, actually. I resonate with strong female characters and stories. It's a little difficult to elaborate on this properly, actually; it makes me feel sharply for transgender people who don't fall neatly on the extreme of their gender presentation, because if it's this difficult for me to impress upon others how strongly I feel that I am a woman, not a neuter, how difficult must it be for someone like me in their presentation who was still born with the wrong genitalia? I am a daughter and a sister and if I ever choose to parent children I will be a mother, with all the weight that that implies. I think like a woman and I feel like a woman and I am a goddamn woman irrespective of whether I actually want to copulate with anyone.

And it makes me angry, because that's my history and my identify and my sense of who I am which is getting erased. I have been raised as a woman, I have all the glass ceilings and drawbacks that being a woman brings, in every way that counts (and some that don't) I am a goddamn woman, and it pisses me off that a few people I know seem to have a hard time recognizing that. I thought we left this gender-essentialist crap behind in the fifties, where it belonged. Guess not.


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