Edge of Everywhere

Archive for the ‘asexual visibility’ Category

I got an email from WordPress the other day with my 2010 summary, letting me know that even though I barely wrote on this blog over the past year, a surprisingly large number of people visited it, which was nice to hear. I hope that my past writings will continue to be of use as a representation of one of the ever-growing number of asexual voices online.

The other recent occurrence that reminded me of this blog’s existence and prompted me to start writing again was the Jezebel article “Deep-Pocketed Woman Will Pay For Platonic Love.” The woman in question made a long Craigslist post expressing her disinterest in sexual relationships and offering compensation for a platonic companion, with many details about the type of relationship she seeks. The writer finds the subject “oddly riveting” and tries to dissect her motives, but doesn’t seem to know about asexuality. Luckily, many commenters chimed in and expressed their hope that the platonic relationship-seeker (and Jezebel’s readers) would visit AVEN to learn about asexuality and discover that platonic companionship is a completely normal thing to want–and doesn’t have to cost anything.

I don’t talk much about asexuality in real life, but things like this article make me feel like it’s my responsibility to help spread the word that asexuality exists as an orientation and a valid framework for different kinds of relationships. That way, maybe people like the woman in the article would be more likely to find validation for who they are and what they want, and ultimately feel less alone.

The other day, I told one of my friends, who is clearly attracted to me, that I’m asexual. His immediate response was, “You’re not asexual.” Not helpful. He then expressed skepticism about the existence of asexuality as an orientation. I think he was driven by wishful thinking that I’m normal and he might have a chance at hooking up with me. I tried my best to explain it, but I hate being on the defensive and got flustered. By the end of the conversation, he actually had me half-convinced that I might not be asexual after all.

I was brought back to reality when I read the recent post by The Gray Lady in which she discusses her current relationship. She writes, “The key to my enjoyment is in the approach my partner takes towards asexuality. If they try to convince me I’m not asexual, I won’t be comfortable with it. If they try to understand asexuality, accept it and work around it, then it won’t be an issue.” I realized this applies to me as well. If someone can’t accept what I tell them about my identity, then I can’t be involved with them. I have this habit of making huge sacrifices in relationships without even realizing I’m doing it, and I can’t keep getting stuck in a trap of going along with what other people want if I know on any level that it’s not what I want. 

I’m so grateful to have found the asexual community. Reading about other people’s experiences has been invaluable to me. It helps so much to know that other people have experienced the same things I have, and to be reminded that I have the right to decide what I want in relationships. I know it sounds obvious, but sadly, deciding exactly what I want in a relationship and making sure I get it is somewhat of a foreign concept to me. It’s great to feel like I have the support of people who, for once, acknowledge and accept the way I am and inspire me to make sure that the people in my life do so as well.

There’s a great Modern Love piece in yesterday’s New York Times by Lauren Slater called “Deeply, Truly (but Not Physically) in Love”. Ms. Slater, a woman with “almost no sex drive,” describes her disinterest in sex and touches on the problems it has caused in her marriage. She also includes a telling history of her sexual life, including the time she was driven to lie about having been raped in order to put off having sex with a lover when she was young. Problematic, yes, but also a moving testament to the deep shame and confusion that can accompany a lack of desire for what society expects us to want.

Towards the end of the article, Ms. Slater writes, “I am a woman in love, but I am not in love with sex. I am in love with glass and stones, with my children, my animals. I am in love with making, as opposed to making love. ” The final five paragraphs describe the wonders of the world that thrill her in a way that sex never could, ending the piece on a positive note. It excited me to read about many of the same feelings expressed on the AVEN boards and asexual blogs in the Times.

Yesterday, someone I had just met asked me whether I’m queer. It was in the context of trying to figure out whether I would be able to relate to some experiences she has had as a lesbian. I said no, because if I have to pick a word, I guess I’m heteroromantic, but I didn’t feel totally comfortable with my answer. I mean, I know that if someone wants to know if I’m queer, they most likely specifically want to know whether I like girls, but I also know that asexuality is often said to fall somewhere on the queer spectrum by virtue of being something other than heterosexuality. It’s been strange realizing that I’m not part of the majority, as I always assumed I must be due to my romantic attraction to guys, but that I can’t easily seek refuge in the queer community either, where I feel like the assumption that I want to have sex with guys would most likely just be replaced with the assumption that I want to have sex with girls. Right now I’m feeling pretty invisible.