Edge of Everywhere

Archive for the ‘asexual rants’ Category

I think it’s funny when sexual people assume that all it takes for them to have a chance with someone is having a compatible sexual orientation. One of my heterosexual guy friends told me that he had a huge crush on a female member a popular indie band until he found out she was a lesbian and his hopes were crushed. As if the only reason he’d never end up with her is because she likes girls, not because she’s from across the country, spends most of her time touring, and will most likely never know he exists.

I’m always surprised when I remember that for a lot of people, crushes are predicated on the expectation of something happening, because for me, they’re simply a pleasant feeling of looking forward to seeing someone cool and enjoying my time with them (or, if they’re an actor or musician, enjoying their performances).

It seems that when a woman announces that she is getting married, it is the duty of all the other females in her life to get hysterically excited and immediately start drilling her for all the details of the proposal, wedding plans, and so on, and then maintain that level of excitement through the whole process. It’s one of those rituals I just don’t understand at all, because when I hear the news, I don’t feel anything, except maybe annoyance at the fact that I will inevitably have to fake excitement.

It’s not that I don’t care about the happiness of the people in my life–quite the opposite. And if they find meaningful relationships that make them happy, I think that’s truly great. However, I don’t understand why I’m supposed to feel extra happiness about the fact that they are getting married. Personally, the idea of spending my life with someone has never been connected in the slightest to legal contracts, public spectacles, dresses, rings, or making my family members buy me expensive appliances. The whole wedding package holds no interest for me (and honestly, seems downright terrifying and torturous, because I am very private about my relationships), and the institution of marriage holds no meaning for me.

As an asexual person who is only ever going to be in somewhat unconventional relationships, it is very difficult for me to buy into the idea that people who are getting married have found the best, most meaningful relationships possible, because it can feel to me like an implicit invalidation of my relationships. When one of my coworkers gets engaged to a man she met only months ago and the frenzy begins (this has happened a few times), I can’t bring myself to believe that whatever she has found and fallen into so quickly is the be-all, end-all thing she hopes it is, or that it is somehow categorically better than any ultra-close, lifelong, yet not socially validated relationship of mine. I secretly feel superior, stronger, because I lack two of the things that seem to bring many these brand-new couples together: sexual attraction/desire, and (in my very cynical view) susceptibility to societal pressure to be married, which seems to lead them to put the ceremony before the years-long process of actually building a relationship together, and hope that the relationship actually lives up to the symbol.

Yes, unfortunately, I saw the movie. Not my idea, I promise. It actually wasn’t as horrible as I expected, but there were some annoying messages. Mainly:

1. If she doesn’t sleep with you, she’s not into you. If she sleeps with you at first and then stops, she’s not into you.

Of course, we know that she might just be asexual.

2. If one partner in a mostly perfect long-term relationship wants to get married and the other doesn’t, but then the marriage-obsessed one comes to appreciate the relationship for what it is, that’s not really a happy ending. The person who doesn’t believe in marriage needs to propose anyway in order for there to be a happy ending.

This baffled me. Why should we feel happier for people who feel forced into social conventions than for people who build successful relationships outside of those conventions?

I hate the word asexual. I hate that the “a” can be easily swallowed and the “sexual” is so prominent. Asexuality is the only orientation without a widely known alternative word, and I think it’s ironic and cruel that when asexuals come out to people, we’re the only ones who have no choice but to use a word containing “sex” even though we’re the only ones who don’t care about having any. It’s also unfair that we have to use a word that describes only one aspect of our relationships, the one aspect we don’t care about. It doesn’t say anything about the relationships we do have and want. It confuses people, makes them try to diagnose our “problems,” makes them feel like they have the right to know about our masturbation habits. I can’t wait until asexuality is more widely understood and “ace” catches on, because that’s something I can actually feel good about saying.

On a music blog I read, posts about bands with female members invariably draw comments about the attractiveness of the woman or women in the band. For some reason, some heterosexual male readers seem to feel a constant need to broadcast to the entire world whether they would “hit it,” i.e. have sex with the woman or women pictured. (I have never seen a comment of this nature on a post about an all-male band.) Occasionally, someone will chime in and remind these commenters that “she would never let you hit it.” A good point, but the way I see it, the damage has already been done. I imagine how the musicians might feel if they read the posts (and it’s possible that many of them eventually do). Getting press for your band is exciting; hearing people talk not about your music but about your sexual attractiveness (especially for the girls who get the comment “I would not hit it”) must be sickening.

I’ve been thinking lately about common negative statements used to decribe women, and how they might apply to asexual women in particular. The one that probably bothers me the most is the idea of a woman being a “tease,” because in my opinion, there is no such thing. The word reveals very little about the woman it is used to describe and a lot about the person who uses it; this person is very often a heterosexual man with bruised ego who believes that he has been denied something—usually sex—after perceiving that a woman promised it to him in some way. The ways in which a woman can make this so-called promise can range from dressing sexily or flirting to kissing and engaging in certain types of physical activity but declining to participate in others. By this standard, an asexual woman, just by living her life and doing what she desires but not what she doesn’t, is inherently a tease in that she is likely to make these kinds of implicit promises countless times but never deliver on them.

In high school, a friend of a friend whom I barely knew in person but talked to online sometimes asked me out—over AOL, as a multiple-choice question. Very classy, I know. I declined. Later, my friend recounted a long car trip on which this guy supposedly spent a significant amount of time ranting about how I was a bitch and led him on—”she led me on” being the more PG-rated equivalent of “she’s a tease.” How did I lead him on? By talking to him on the internet and being nice to him, I suppose.

Heterosexual men need to get it through their heads that women do not ever owe them a date, a kiss, sex, or anything else along those lines—no matter what we do that makes it seem like we may want those things. We shouldn’t have to worry that our words and actions will be misinterpreted and lead us to be labeled as liars and temptresses.

When I was younger, I never got hit on on the street. Over time, I guess I got more standardly attractive–some weight loss here, a better haircut and some makeup there–and now I occasionally do. I’ve even been asked out on two recent occasions by guys who were actually polite and nice about my rejection (although I must admit I told them both I wasn’t single; that seems to be the best tactic). Both times, I remember thinking, “How could he possibly know I would be worth talking to? He knows nothing about me and I’m sure we have nothing in common.” This line of thinking probably stems partially from my asexuality and partially from the fact that I am really picky about the company I keep, so I wouldn’t be interested in talking to a random stranger unless their appearance signaled shared interests or subcultural affiliations. The appearance of these men signaled neither. So it kind of baffles me that they decided, based (I can only assume) on my physical attractiveness alone that I am worth spending time with. If I knew what it was like to be sexually attracted to another person, would this make more sense to me?