These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of December 12th, 2015. These are notes about what we talked about, relevant links, and other information about discussion topics. This is not meant to be a transcript and is not necessarily even meant to be a coherent recounting of the discussion.
Privacy of group members and keeping that room a safe and open place is important to me. I will try my best to not post personal information or individual stories without permission. If I write something that you’d rather not have on here, please let me know immediately and I will remove it.
“The Ace Vibe”
There was a short discussion about whether or not there’s an “ace vibe” that we give off. Several people mentioned that they rarely, if ever, were approached by someone seeking a romantic/sexual relationship, and were wondering if it could be because people sense a lack of interest.
On the other hand, it’s possible that it’s just obliviousness. Perhaps others are flirting and we’re just missing the signals of interest. (As in my case where I was on vacation and had driven over two hundred miles before I realized that a woman had been flirting with me.)
We spoke about the perception that asexuality is strictly a “youth” orientation. On the positive side, asexuality is accessible many young people because of how widespread it is on social media. On the negative side, young people are demonized for exploring their sexual identity. “You’re a special snowflake, using five words to describe your sexuality.“
There was also an unfortunate side effect of this brought up. Because it’s so heavily explored and discussed by younger people, older aces might feel alienated from the space. “I don’t want to be a special snowflake, I don’t want to uage to use all these words to describe me.” How do we reach out to people who are starting to discover who they are at a later stage of life? How can people discover asexuality when they’re not involved in the young-skewing social media world where it tends to live? (I’d personally like to explore this topic in more depth in a future meeting.)
Asexuality’s appearance on House was mentioned. In the episode “Better Half”, an asexual couple was featured. For the first two thirds of the episode, the portrayal of asexuality was positive and handled as legitimate. But because House Must Be Right™, in the last commercial break, House “proves” that one of them had a brain tumor and the other was lying.
This awful portrayal has caused numerous people to think that they can’t be ace because “House proved asexuality can’t be real”. Here’s a collection of reactions and posts to that episode: https://writingfromfactorx.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/house-linkspam/
Sirens also had an asexual character. Sirens was a show that ran on the USA Network for two seasons. The ace character, Voodoo, was in the supporting cast, and several episodes revolved around her relationship with one of the primary characters. The portrayal of asexuality was largely accurate and positive. However, other characters said many ignorant and rude things about asexuality. Asexuality features prominently in the episodes “The Finger”, “Transcendual”, and “Screw The One Percent”. (Note: Sirens features crude humor and frequent sexual themes. Stay away if that’s not your thing.)
We spoke about how people have negative reactions to asexuality.
I’ve written extensively about the nonsense you’ll see in Comment Sections.
SwankIVY’s Letters To An Asexual also covers these themes.
Gordon Hodson’s “Prejudice Against Group X” article, and its accompanying paper (”Intergroup bias toward Group X”, MacInnis/Hodson) talks about “Differences as Deficit”, where any difference from “normal” is viewed as wrong.
We wondered if it will get worse before it gets better. As more people know about us, will their reactions become more negative?
At the same time, the more well known asexuality is, the more people will know someone who is openly asexual. That’s where the contact hypothesis comes in. People are less likely to be prejudiced against groups that they know on a more personal level.
Some people mentioned getting negative or dismissive reactions from doctors. Sometimes they’ll say things like “Well, that’s what you think”, other times they’ll ask if you were abused, etc. There are often invasive or irrelevant questions, like a form for an eye exam that includes relationship status or sexual orientation. Doctors sometimes expect patients to be sexually active and do not believe it when they say they’re not.
Resources for Ace Survivors has a reading list and printable fact sheet for healthcare professionals.
Coming Out, Being Out, Staying In
Some people “Live Out Loud”, where they are openly and freely asexual with anyone who comes along. Some people “Sneak Out”. Others come out to friends, but not family. Some people tell their family to stop the “When are you bringing home a [boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other/grandchild]?” conversations. Other people don’t tell their families because they don’t really want to talk about their sex life (or lack thereof).
Tips for talking to others about asexuality included:
- Slip it into conversation and don’t make a big deal.
- “You know how there are people you aren’t attracted to? I feel like that about everybody.”
- “Does hypersexual exist? Then why not asexual, too?”
Sometimes people bring up the past when you come out to them. “Well, what about when you…?” They don’t always understand that’s not who you truly are, that maybe you were trying to be something you’re not, trying to meet someone else’s definition of “normal”.
Relationship vs. Friendship
Some things brought up as possible ways that a “relationship” is different from a “friendship”:
- Being able to negotiate intimacy and what you’re looking for.
- Being a primary consideration.
- Whether or not concepts like the “Five Love Languages” are applied or make sense, and whether you’re able to assert how you feel about them.
Are things more difficult for extroverted aces? Introverted aces can go to their personal hermit caves and be fine. But to extroverted aces feel conflict, where their desire for more personal contact ends up in an undesirable sexual realm?
Apparently goth clubs might be worth checking out for aces who want to go clubbing, especially for more introverted aces. Compared to regular clubs, they’re more individual, there’s more of a personal bubble, and less “Lady Gaga and d-bags”. Some goth clubs/nights include the Mercury, the Baltic Room, and Contour.
Also mentioned was Night Crush, which was described as less hypersexualized, more full spectrum than other clubs.
Books and Documentary
We had a brief overview of three books about asexuality.
First was Asexuality: A Brief Introduction. (Also on Amazon) This is my book. It’s virtually all content from my website, so you’re probably better off reading it there. In book form, it can get redundant, because it’s a collection of webpages that were written to stand alone.
Julie Sondra Decker’s Invisible Orientation was mentioned. It’s in paperback now, so it’s cheaper than it was.
Anthony Bogaert’s Understanding Asexuality was the final book to make an appearance. It’s also now in paperback. I gave my opinion on it: It felt like he forgot asexual people existed about halfway through, and it seemed like he had a bunch of papers he hadn’t published elsewhere, so he jammed in a paragraph about asexuality then slipped them into this book.
The documentary “(A)sexual” is available on numerous streaming services. Though imperfect, it’s worth a watch. The ending is especially a downer, however I have heard that David Jay has had a happier ending since the filming. (I’m not privy to the specifics, though, and I can’t find where I heard that.)
Speaking of Books…
Let’s write one! The idea was floated that there should be a book of ace experiences: Stories, vingnettes, comments, etc. Not just focusing on one aspect of asexuality, but exploring living as an asexual.
I know of a few similar projects:
- The Asexual Story Project
- The Asexuality Blog’s Ace Stories project
- (There’s also my abandoned “An Orientation Comes Out: Asexuality in its Own Words” project.)
So yeah, let’s write a book.
Let’s March In Pride
This is our year. Let’s do this. Who’s with me? … And who’d like to organize it all? We’ll need to get started now to build momentum, reach enough people to have a good showing, and to meet all of the deadlines for being a contingent.