Discussion Group Notes 11/14/15

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of November 14th, 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.

Words

Several ace terms came up in today’s meeting.  Here were a few:

  • allosexual:  Not asexual/ace spectrum.
  • ace: Short for asexual.
  • grace: Short for gray-asexual.
  • lithromantic/lithsexual:  Feels attraction, but does not desire reciprocation

For these and other terms, there are several ace glossaries out there:

OK Cupid

It was mentioned that OK Cupid now has the option to select “Asexual” as your orientation.  Several people talked about their experiences on OK Cupid.

Some people expressed concern that listing themselves as asexual would limit their potential matches.  Others talked about how some people don’t actually read profiles before contacting someone, but that other people take it as a challenge or an opportunity to ask invasive questions.  It seemed like men encountered more people who were curious about asexuality, while women encountered more people who were hostile or rude about it.

There was also a discussion about using OK Cupid to potentially find friends, instead of romantic partners.

For more about OK Cupid and Asexuality, I’ll point you at SwankiVY, who has written extensively on the subject.

Relationships

Today’s meeting talked mostly about relationships.

Communication and a commitment to make it work are very important in a relationship, particularly in a cross-orientation situation.

The Five Love Languages

Other terms that may be of use:  Queerplatonic and WTFRomantic.

Consent and boundaries are important to talk about.  Things like “Want/Will/Won’t Lists” might help frame that conversation.

You never know what you’re getting into.  Even with the best of intentions and with good faith, people may change their mind.

It’s possible to raise a kid with someone that you’re not in a romantic/sexual relationship with.  Some people have had sex specifically with the intent to become parents of a biological child.

Relationship Scripts

Being asexual breaks a lot of relationship scripts.

  • Touching leads to sex.
  • “Rounding the Bases” vs. being in the “Friendzone”.
  • “We’re not there yet.”
  • “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone.”

Some aces might enjoy physical touch, but don’t want it to lead to sex.

Some aces might not view the “bases” as goals in a relationship, or don’t feel that a relationship without sex means the “friendzone”.

“Not there yet” leaves no room for “Not there ever”.

(And just what is the difference between a strong friendship and a sexless romantic relationship, anyway?  Exclusivity?  Jealousy?  Endearing faults?)

Sometimes aces feel like impostors in relationships.  Some are more insecure about their own ability to love someone adequately than whether or not someone else loves them.

Tension

There was a brief discussion about the “tension” between romantic and aromantic aces or aces who are repulsed/have no sex drive/etc. and those who do.  Some of it was chalked up to personality, some of it was chalked up to erasure, and some of it was chalked up to asexuality forces closer examination of things like romantic attraction/libido than other orientations, where those things are bundled together and taken for granted.

However, there is no “right way” to be ace.

Other Bits

Marching in Pride was mentioned again.  Here are a set of tips from someone who’s worked with the SF marching group in the past.  Here’s the Seattle Pride Parade Registration and information.

Social Anxiety and Asexuality

And Then What…?  (About relationship scripts not making sense.)

Center for Sex Positive Culture

FetLife

Discussion Group Notes 10/10/15

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of October 10th, 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.

Books:

Several books were brought up at the meeting.

How to be a Normal Person” by TJ Klune will be released soon.  It is said to be a gay/ace romance novel, where the gay man wants to become “normal” for the ace character.

The Invisible Orientation” by Julie Sondra Decker (SwankIVY of YouTube) is now available in paperback.  This book is an in-depth exploration of asexuality,

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain is a book about introverts, and how they are viewed and treated by society.

North American Asexuality Conference and Other Conferences:

NAAC2015 was discussed at the meeting.  This was a two day asexuality conference held in Toronto in June of this year, organized by Asexual Outreach.  Notes from a handful of sessions can be found here.

There was some discussion about the logistics of organizing a local conference (or unconference).  The annual SF Ace Unconference was mentioned.

The possibility was also raised about organizing sessions or panels for other conferences in the area, instead of (or in addition to) running a specifically ace event.  GeekGirlCon was mentioned as the type of event to look at.  The NWSA Conference and the Creating Change Conference are two large scale (but non-PNW) events which typically have ace representation, both in attendance and in conference sessions.

Addyi/Flibanserin:

The newly FDA approved “Female Viagra” was brought up, and its side effects and other problems were discussed.

Notable issues:

  • Rejected by the FDA twice before being approved.  Approved on the third attempt largely on “gender fairness” and not on safety and effectiveness.
  • Pill is barely more effective than placebo.
  • Is not actually like Viagra, in that it does not act physically to allow people to have sex.  Instead, it alters brain chemistry to make people more willing to have sex.
  • Side effect include spontaneous blackouts, risk of “accidental injury”, and increased risk of appendicitis.
  • Cannot be used with alcohol or birth control pills.
  • Makers claim that it won’t be prescribed to asexual women, but a lack of awareness limits this.  A woman who has never heard of asexuality can’t say “I’m ace, I don’t need that”.  Instead, she may think “I’ve never wanted sex, I’m broken, I need this pill”.
  • “The marketing for this drug spreads the disorder it is intended to treat.”

For more information:

Asexuality Pamphlets/Resources:

Pamphlets from WhatIsAsexuality.com were handed out at the meeting.

It was mentioned that Resources For Ace Survivors has an information sheet directed at doctors and other health care providers.

Also brought up was the High School Resource Guide from Asexual Outreach.

Pride Parade:

It was suggested that we look at marching in the Seattle Pride Parade next year.  While ace contingents have marched in past years, they’ve always piggybacked with some other group.  Maybe it’s time to march in our own right.

Here is parade registration and marching information.

I asked for marching tips, and here were a few that I received:

  • Start planning early.
  • Get things to hand out.  Pamphlets are good for information, and stickers and cheap and popular.
  • Get a banner with the group name and website.  (Note:  We need a group name and website.)
  • A parade is a long walk and it can be in the sun and heat, so be prepared.  Bring water, sunscreen, and snacks.
  • Walk, don’t drive.  (At least at first.)  Walking groups are easier and cheaper than vehicles.
  • A parade can also involve a lot of waiting.
  • Have a way to get out at the end.  It’s a long, one-way walk to PrideFest, and if you don’t want to deal with that, have an escape plan.
  • You WILL be on camera.  If you are not comfortable with being outed, do not march (or march in costume).
  • Consider a smaller Pride event in the area, which might be cheaper, calmer, and less intimidating.
  • Have your speech practiced:  “What is asexuality?”  “Why are you here?”, etc.

(Thanks, @sennkestra!  These and more posted here:  https://nextstepcake.wordpress.com/2015/10/13/tips-for-prospective-ace-pride-marchers/)

Some groups who have marched (and might be worth reaching out to for tips):

Asexual Awareness Week:

AAW 2015 is October 19th-25th.  Some suggestions were to wear ace-related clothing (including ace scarves, for the knitters), or put up ace-related information at work (either at your workspace or on a shared bulletin board).

GSRM and the Alphabet Soup:

The acronym GSRM was brought up as an alternative to LGBTQIA(etc.), QUILTBAG, and so on.  GSRM is “Gender, Sexuality, and Romantic Minorities”.  It has the upside of being inclusive by default (There can’t be squabbling about who gets a letter or what the letters stand for) and not becoming unwieldly long.  It has the downside of using the word “minorities” in an inappropriate context.

Another alternative is “MOGAI”:  Marginalized Orientations, Genders, and Intersex.

Some people tend to lean toward using “Queer” as the blanket term, but that word’s history can be a problem.

The One Percent:

Bogaert’s 1% statistic was brought up, and there was discussion about why that number might be low.  A question was raised about the prevalence of other orientations, and it was noted that the percentages vary wildly from study to study, survey to survey.

I am planning on writing a piece about the 1% statistic at some point in the future.

Misc./Other:

Merchandace is a site that links to ace themed shirts, jewelry, flags, keychains, etc.

The ridiculous “Padlock” image chain.

There is a recent series on therapists and asexuality on The Asexual AgendaPart 1 | Part 2

(Spoiler alert!) A screengrab of the final scene from Pacific Rim can be seen here.

Discussion Group Notes 9/12/15

These are notes from the Seattle and Surrounding Aces Discussion Group meeting of September 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.

Creating meetups:

A good location is important.  Try a café or a coffee shop or something that’s near transit.  Something next to a park and ride is a good option, because they typically have good bus accessibility and parking for drivers.

If you’re trying to pull together an event-based meetup, pick something you like doing.  That way, even if people don’t show up, you still have a chance to have a good time.

Expect fewer people to show up than RSVP.  Many people who RSVP don’t show up, or duck out at the last minute.

Make the event predictable and regular.  If everyone knows that there’s an event every third Friday, it’ll be easier to plan for it.  Additionally, people are more likely to go to recurring events, because they will appear more successful than one-offs.

Don’t get discouraged.  Don’t give up easily.  Even if no one shows up the first time, try again.  Be patient and the event might grow over time.

There are more aces than you think.  Even if it seems like you might be the only one in your city, you’re probably not.  Maybe you just haven’t met them yet.  Maybe they’re all waiting around for someone else to start something.

Going to a café or bar, going bowling, or playing board or card games were suggested as good activities.

Consider having a Facebook group or Tumblr or something similar so that people can learn more about each other and see what the group is like outside of the events.  (Although Facebook has the disadvantage of being more visible to other people in your life that you might not want to be out to.)

Mort(e) the Cat Book

The book Mort(e) by Robert Repino was mentioned.  It’s apparently a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel about animals setting out to wipe out the humans.  The main character (a cat) was mentioned as being non-sexual/possibly asexual in some way.

#21acestories

Here is the series:  http://www.advocate.com/search/site/%2321acestories

And here’s some ace responses to it:

Coming Out

Coming out can open minds around you.  This is called the “Contact Hypothesis”.  By simply being openly ace, asexuality can stop being completely alien and strange to some of the people around you.  Now that they know an asexual, they know it’s not that bad.  They have a frame of reference.

“Just because you don’t feel that way, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  It doesn’t mean it’s wrong.”

Some people came out on Facebook to mixed results.  Sometimes, people were accepting, other times they were told “Don’t talk about that”.  People who judge there can be unfriended.

You don’t have to come out to anyone.  You can be out to some people, not out to others.  Sometimes you don’t want to come out because you know someone will take issue, sometimes you don’t want to come out because it’s just not something you want to bring up in that situation.  If you don’t want to come out, don’t.  It is not necessary to be out in any circumstances, for any reason.  Don’t tell anyone you don’t want to tell.

Other people around you may have already figured it out, even if they didn’t have a word for it.

Comic on asexuality:  http://adriofthedead.tumblr.com/post/65540442968/okay-i-realize-this-hilariously-late-for

“How many people do I have to meet before you’ll accept that there’s no ‘Right one’ for me?  I’ve met thousands of people.  10000?  100000?  I think the sample size is significant by now.”

There’s some discussion of coming out here and here.

There is “A Parent’s Guide To Asexuality”, which might be useful to send to parents if you come out.  If you don’t want to send it, it might at least give you some idea of how to respond to what they might say.

National Coming Out Day is October 11th.  There is typically a lot of information on coming out and support for doing so on or around that day.

And again, you do not have to come out to anyone for any reason.  Be comfortable.  Be safe.

Demi/Ace and Dating

OKCupid is a little bit better when being open in your profile, but there will still be people who only want in your pants as fast as possible who’ll try anyway.

But you don’t have to be open.  Keep in mind that there may be coworkers and other people you know who’ll find you on that site, since it is public.

Acebook was described as “slow” and “miserable”

Strong Platonic Friendships

OKCupid was mentioned as a place to say you’re looking for friends.  Not everyone understands this, so be prepared to deal with people who want more.

“Intentional Communities”, like communal houses, the Chinese spinster women of 150 years ago, etc.

Ace in a Poly Relationship

“I gotta get laid!”  “Well, go ahead!”

Sex Conversation

“Not offended, just bored.”

What’s the point of randomly inserted sex scenes?  Get on with the plot!

Random Bits:

Inside Amy Schumer sexting video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqYCsqUCNgo

Gold Star Aces:  SwankIvy talks about the Unassailable Asexual, which is related:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXXqYcZJUGI

Let Me Google That For You:  http://lmgtfy.com/?q=asexuality

North American Asexuality Conference Notes:  http://www.asexualityarchive.com/category/north-american-asexuality-conference/  The conference was put on by Asexual Outreach.

Ace Rings: http://www.asexualityarchive.com/black-rings/