Friday, October 29, 2010

Friendship As Polyamory

Some of my friends have already read this because I posted it on my Tumblr (no longer in use). I feel that this information is worth repeating, though.

I tend to think that if you have more than one friend you are polyamorous.  So ultimately, probably most people are polyamorous but many may refuse to call themselves that because of taboos or misconceptions and fear.
Here’s one example of a situation, to demonstrate: the best friend and the romantic partner. You have a best friend, whose opinions you take seriously, and who you make compromises with, maybe you see them on a regular basis and have emotional intimacy with. You would consider not dating someone if they said that you and the romantic date/partner were completely wrong for each other and the partner gives them super bad vibes, right?
If you call your relationship monogamous, how do you justify having some of your emotional/intellectual/spiritual/other needs met by someone outside of the monogamous relationship? Why should friendship get to be a special exception to the monogamous rule? Is it because your friendships are assumed to be non-sexual and non-romantic? Why is one kind of emotional intimacy acceptable but not another kind of intimacy? What if your friend is romantically interested in you (but you do or don’t reciprocate), or there’s sexual tension or flirting but neither of you takes it further than that? What if your best friend’s needs are sometimes more important than your romantic partner’s needs? Is it still an OK exception to a monogamous relationship? I think the above situations all represent types of polyamory, but probably most people who call themselves monogamous will go through or have gone through these things and may have struggled as a result of being monogamous.
So I guess that’s why I think monogamy as an institution is harmful, like my friend E talks about. Because where do you draw the line between friendship and something else, and how can anyone have all of their needs met by one person? Monogamy is all about solid lines and inflexibility, which probably more often than not leads to one partner becoming jealous of someone else in the other partner’s life eventually (a close friend, a family member, even a pet could become a source of jealousy). So why not just decide to be polyamorous and be open to negotiating all of your relationships with honest communication? Or, if romance and sex with other people would be bad for your relationship, why not negotiate what is acceptable for the relationship? I guess this might be what I’ve heard E say is “monoamory.” With monogamy there are no negotiations, you’re just supposed to assume that any kind of intimacy outside of your relationship will destroy the relationship—that’s the nature of the beast.
By the way, I have decided that I’m not going to judge other the dynamics of other people’s relationships as long as they have decided on the dynamic together and believe it will be mutually beneficial.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ace in SpAce/ or, I Won't Be Blowing Ponies Anytime Soon

Forgive the title. Warning: the sexually squeamish might not want to read some of this.

Lately I've been thinking about what it would mean to have asexual-friendly spaces.

This has been in the back of my mind, but last night I was really triggered into thinking about it more seriously. Last night I went to Blow Pony, which is a huge monthly queer dance party in Portland, OR. I've been to several of these parties, and last night I realized that it's unhealthy for me to go and that I'm never going again. Something I have discussed in passing is that in my experience, "queerness" is associated with lasciviousness, to the point that not being lustful is considered both not queer and repressed. Blow Pony is pretty much bordering on a sexual orgy, if you can imagine what I mean by that. BP is an extreme example of queer dances, but I think that's mostly because of the sheer size of the party. All queer dance parties I've been to have been similar in that they are highly sexual and frequently involve (also highly sexual) performances.

I'm sex-positive, do not mistake that, and when I distance myself enough (say, by being a wallflower or pretending I'm invisible), I can feel entertained by watching the energy and interactions. I feel like an absolute outsider, though. I love dancing, but at dance parties (that are specifically queer) I tend to feel scrutinized, or worse, extremely lonely. Because my friends will pair off with each other and dance, leaving me dancing awkwardly alone beside them. I don't know how to dance with a partner, especially not the way that my peers dance. I've tried to on many occasions, but it quickly becomes obvious that I have no clue what's expected of me. It's nothing against my peers; they aren't doing anything wrong. I'm happy for them. But I can't relate to their experiences. I don't fit in at these events...

...Which leads me to wonder, where the hell do I fit?

I'm too queer for dance parties at "straight" clubs, but I'm not lusty enough for "queer" dance parties. So I pretty much have to go to these events and either fend off straight dudes who want to rub their junk all over me, dance awkwardly by myself at queer parties, or dance alone at home. I could enjoy dancing at parties if my friends wanted to dance in a circle, maybe, rather than grinding by default. Sometimes at "straight" clubs I can dance in a circle with women folk, but this usually attracts dudes who want to do the fore-mentioned thing. I just want to dance, dammit!

I think this problem is bigger than just places to dance. The problem is the lack of asexual knowledge in general making it so that every space is sexualized in some manner. Since most people are not aware that this orientation is an option, sexuality is constantly imposed on each and every one of us, everywhere we go. The only ace-friendly places, right now, are ones established by aces themselves. These are online and at meetups. I think if knowledge of asexuality were common, then there would be more ace-friendly spaces because people wouldn't have those sexual proverbs embedded in their minds. You know the ones: everyone is sexual, everyone has sexual needs. I don't want people to stop enjoying each others sexualities, I just don't want people to assume that sexual attraction is universal.

I'm queer, I'm ace, and I'm not repressed. Can you hold all of those ideas in your mind simultaneously? If so, we'll be able to create positive spAces together. All that's required of you is consciousness and a sharing of consciousness.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It Might Not Get Better

Many people I'm friends with on Facebook and in meatspace are enamored with and supportive of the It Gets Better project started by Dan Savage. I am not a supporter of this project.

While for certain queer people life after high school may get better, for many others "it" won't get better. Dan Savage pointed out in his video that after high school he didn't have to see the people who bullied him or the uncaring administrators. Many people don't have the privilege, for example, to move away from the town where their high school is located and may end up working with and possibly working "underneath" the people who bullied them after high school. Not every queer person's family is going to learn to love and respect them and their partners. Some people might be ostracized from their families even before completing high school and end up living on the streets, homeless.

Savage's story about how his life got better after high school was also basically homonormative. He found a partner, got married, adopted a child, he became a published author of notoriety, his parents accepted him and his partner, and they lived happily ever after (and you can, too!). Not everyone is going to find a partner or will want to get married (or be able to if they do want to!) and adopt a child--not everyone has the privileges Savage has. Many of us may live in various levels of poverty for most or all of our lives, not find a "life partner" and be discriminated against for our lifestyles--we may even face serious violence for not conforming.

When you insist that "it gets better," you're also saying that the oppression we face as queer adults is tolerable. That when we are no longer minors and are legally responsible for ourselves, that maybe the oppression we face is our own fault or that we can just ignore the discrimination and violence if we choose to. Some of us are privileged enough to be able to ignore the discrimination, but for other people ignoring it isn't even an option.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not happy about teen suicide. I just want you to check your privilege when you support the "it gets better" campaign.

What if instead of just saying "it gets better," we work on actually making our world a better place to live in and teaching young people to respect and support each other? How about we build loving communities instead of spreading around empty slogans that don't reflect reality?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Choosing An Identity

Much of this may sound like old news to you. This post is the culmination of conversations I've had recently.

You may be aware that the argument has been made, and in some cases is still made, that homosexuals "chose" to experience same-sex attraction and to engage in same-sex sexual relationships, and that they could (and should) choose to become heterosexual. Part of the task of the queer movement is to assert that sexual orientation is not a choice. 
I can't prove anything, but I generally agree that we have little to no control over how our sexual orientations develop, and that we can't train ourselves into another orientation.

We can, however, choose our identities. Our identities change as we learn about ourselves or as our life circumstances change, and this is true not just of sexual orientation but in every facet of life. For example, if you lived in Arizona for ten years and then moved to Ohio and resided there full time, you'd become an Ohio resident and no longer be an Arizona resident, though you could still identify as someone who used to live in Arizona, if that was meaningful to you. In terms of the identity you choose for your sexual orientation, that may change as you discover parts of yourself you hadn't explored before for whatever reason. A lesbian identified person could change their identity to bisexual, for example, upon discovering that they are capable of being sexually attracted to a male. This person's orientation didn't necessarily change --they were always bisexual but weren't aware of it, what changed was a new experience and the decision to incorporate new knowledge into an identity.

It's also perfectly legitimate, in my opinion, for the person in this example to maintain their lesbian identity even if they have and recognize this new experience. There are many reasons why someone might choose to identify a certain way regardless of how well they "conform" to the assumptions of that label. What matters when choosing an identity for yourself is how well that identity serves your needs.

I talked about this today with a friend who was questioning asexuality. When deciding if it's OK or right for you to call yourself an asexual, what you should really be asking yourself is how identifying that way will enhance your life. If calling yourself asexual makes your life easier to understand, if it helps you think about the boundaries you need to lay out in relationships, or to clarify your emotional and other needs, then use it! It doesn't matter so much whether you conform to a particular definition of asexuality. Deviating is OK, you don't have to force yourself to live any particular way or judge yourself if the way you experience your sexuality changes. You can choose to call yourself asexual if that identity will serve your needs, and if someday you find another identity serves your needs better, you can change it! 

Identities do not describe a person in their entirety, they just help us to establish some basic things so we don't have to keep coming up with new words for what we are every time we speak. Everyone has multiple identities, and every person has different attitudes about those identities, needing them for different reasons. Let's say someone tells you that they are a Christian. You can assume that they believe in God and believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, but just hearing that a person identifies as Christian doesn't mean you know what parts of the religion they follow or how they worship. Another example, if someone tells you that they are French, that doesn't tell you where in France they are from or how they feel about French politics or anything really except perhaps their citizenship or residential location. Identities simply form places for us to compartmentalize our lives and make it easier to converse and get to know each other. Of course, identities are also frequently misunderstood and used against people to oppress them, but having an identity in and of itself shouldn't be oppressive. If your identity doesn't describe you in any way and you can and want to change identities, do it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Giving my first lecture!

Looks like I'll be giving my first official lecture on asexuality on October 28th, in my lesbian literature class. The first time I spoke to a class about asexuality was in March of this year, but it was only a five minute presentation given in refutation of the scientific literature we were reading which proclaimed that all people experience sexual attraction, during the class Science of Women's Bodies. The lecture I'm giving on the 28th will be about 45 minutes long.

I'm in the process of deciding what to discuss. I'll give the basics, of course, but I want to relate this to the subject of lesbianism, so I'll probably talk about romantic friendships, as well as identity politics and the potential problems of conformity (or what conformity even means). I'm hoping that after hearing my lecture my peers will come away with an understanding that there are alternative ways of "reading" relationships and constructing sexualities, ways which are not part of the dominant paradigm. If you, my readers, think there is anything in particular that I should touch on in my lecture, I am open to suggestions!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

People Who Are Not Asexual

I struggle with finding the right word, or the right set of words, to describe people who define their orientations as something other than asexual. Yes, I could just say the latter half of the previous sentence, but it's a mouthful.

Many people say "sexuals," but I feel that this is too broad and that it might actually encompass asexuals. If you say "sexuals," do you mean people who experience sexual attraction, people who identify as an orientation other than asexual, people who have sex or do things that are sexual, or something else? Whenever I read or hear the word "sexuals," I think about how anything could be considered sexual. Whether or not one chooses to think of any behavior as sexual is pretty much subjective, and this is probably part of the reason why so many people object to the word asexual. "You can't be asexual, because you do x, y, z" or even, "I think of you sexually, so you're not asexual," are examples of reactions which indicate how subjective the idea of what is sexual actually is.

I usually say "nonasexual," but even then I feel that I'm splitting sexuality into this horrible binary of asexuals and nonasexuals which fails to encompass the diversity of sexualities and narrows the focus down to identity, rather than orientation.

I'd like to hear more ideas about how to handle this situation.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reconsidering Sexual Attraction

Yes, I'm still asexual. "Reconsidering" in this case doesn't mean that I suddenly stopped being asexual. I didn't magically become the pansexual I assume I would've been in a world where asexuality isn't real, rather than panromantic asexual. If I'd been a pansexual instead of an asexual, I wouldn't even be me--so there! Let's not even roleplay that asexuality isn't real, it's giving me the creeps.

If anything, I now feel considerable doubt that I've ever experienced sexual attraction. This has been going through my head for awhile, so I thought I'd drag it out into the light. If you've read my zine Asexy, or if you've heard me talk about my particular brand of asexuality, you know that I've claimed to have experienced sexual attraction to three different people. Now I am fairly certain that I've never experienced sexual attraction. What I have felt was something far more complicated. Part of the reason I believe the feeling is not sexual attraction is because it can be rationalized into many components.

The components, which I previously thought of as sexual attraction, are:

1) A feeling of being comfortable, and therefore open to exploration
2) Strong aesthetic admiration
3) Anxiety produced by romantic feelings
4) Feeling flattered by the person's overtures
5) Having an endorphin rush when touching the person
6) Being able to imagine myself doing sexual things with the person,
without forcing myself to think that way
7) Having obsessive thoughts about the person (which also happen with people I haven't felt "sexually attracted" to).

Moreover, I don't think my experiences were sexual attraction because I don't have the overwhelming urge that I've witnessed in nonasexual people which makes them act spontaneously. Nor do I have the intuitive sense of being sexually attracted. This intuition makes it impossible (or at least highly difficult) for nonasexual people to describe what sexual attraction is. My understanding is that sexual attraction isn't something that can be rationalized when it happens.

Granted, I think that what I experience is akin to sexual attraction even if it's not the same. The combination of feelings is still strong enough to create an impetus in me to pursue sex (however weakly I may do so).

I think I'm still in a gray area because I have the above feelings which lead me to desire sex. While asexuals can desire sex for a variety of reasons, a lot of what drives (many) people to define themselves as asexual is their sexual behaviors/lack of any desire for sex. Also, I have had fantasies (which I did not force myself to have) about the three people I thought I was "sexually attracted" to, and apparently most asexuals don't have sexual fantasies. So if I say I'm a gray-A, it's kind of more excusable to say I'm an asexual who wants to have sex sometimes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

An Update on Zines

I'm working on two different zines right now.

One is Asexual Feminism, the second issue. I might change the name to Asexual Feminisms (plural), because precise language is important to me. The second issue is coming out probably in mid-December. I'm accepting submissions until the end of November. The theme I want to address is medicalization of asexuality, but I'll take anything! I'm doing this out of love for asexuality and feminism, not to be all dictatorial and exclusive.

The other is my personal zine, Asexy, also the second issue. It's proving rather difficult for me to write about myself and my asexuality, so the second issue is taking a long time to create. I've been rereading the first issue and I feel dissatisfied with the way I portrayed my sexuality. Was it really a good idea for me to begin describing my experiences by talking about fantasies and how I wanted to be a slut? I think that maybe this confuses things, because I also had no idea what people were on about when they said they had crushes and I had to force myself to fantasize about people sexually (I mentioned neither of these things in the first issue). I feel like most of the things I wrote about in the first issue are things that I did and felt about myself when I was trying desperately to be "normal." So hell, perhaps the second issue will be a critical examination of the first!

At the Gray Lady's request, I'm posting a link to the .pdf of the first issue of Asexual Feminism here, and am attempting a tutorial on putting it all together.
Warning: putting this zine together through the .pdf may be frustrating!

There are two ways you can make the zine from the .pdf.
1) print out the entire zine on single-sided pages and manually place them front-to-back, perhaps taping them or gluing them together, then order them folio style (check out this tutorial for folio style folding). Take this to a copy machine, and make double-sided copies (2 --> 2), collated.

That might sound complicated, but personally I feel more confident doing it that way.

2) print them out double sided and then place them folio style.

One potential problem with option 2 is print rotation. You might end up with pages that are upside-down. This happened to me when I tried to print it out (hey, gotta test your own work right?), but the printer I was using was stubborn and not exactly user friendly.

The way I ordered the pages into the .pdf is set so that the first page which prints is the front and back cover, and the final page that prints is in the center of the zine. Theoretically, if you print double-sided and the rotation is accurate, you should be able to just take your stack and fold it. Then, ta-da! Read on.

If you're still confused as hell and would prefer for me to just send you a copy, email me at
Note on ordering a copy:
I'd appreciate a zine trade or a donation of approx $2 for each copy (well concealed cash is OK by me for now) if you would be so kind, to help me print out more copies. By no means is the $2 mandatory at this point in time if you only want one copy. We'll swap info over email...

I'm planning to have an etsy store up as soon as I come out with the second issue of my perzine. Then it'll be possible to do this through paypal. For complicated reasons, paypal doesn't work for me right now.

Why I Came Out

In honor of Coming Out Day, I'm blogging about why I came out as an asexual.

Asexual: one who does not experience sexual attraction.
Demisexual: one who is an asexual, but can become sexually attracted to a romantic/other kind of emotional partner (much to their surprise in some cases, I should add)
Grasexual: one who falls somewhere in the gray area between asexual and nonasexual.

Those are some pretty "standard" definitions, but people will define these things in ways that they need to, and that's perfect too.

I'd love to say that I came out after serious processing on the necessity of being "out," but I didn't. Not originally. I came out on accident, on the day of the Women's Studies Colloquium at PSU. K and I were talking about gender variation and their presentation on the lesbian "bro." I had asked them during this presentation about androgyny, and since they admitted to knowing nothing about that, we ended up chatting briefly after the presentation. I mentioned that most of what I knew about androgynous people came from my conversations with asexuals on the internet. "Are you asexual?" they asked me. I sighed, and said, "Not exactly. I'm demisexual," and went on to grudgingly explain what that was. I didn't want to come out, I wasn't ready to, but the question came up and I would rather not lie to anyone, ever.

After that I came out alternately as demisexual or asexual. It's harder to come out as demisexual, because although people have a hard time seeing asexuality as an orientation, it's pretty much impossible to convince people that demisexuality is an orientation and not a choice one makes about the conditions they've set in place for having sex with someone.  Eventually I stopped identifying as demisexual because it wasn't a good fit. Asexual is a better fit for me. Grasexual is even more precise, but asexual is a good umbrella term for what my orientation is.

Anyway, after I came out to K I started coming out to a lot of people by choice. I decided that asexual visibility and education was important to me. I have felt a kind of loneliness and despair for most of my life which is in great part related to my sexual orienation, and the only way I can see to relieve the pain is by sharing openly and honestly who I am. Until recently, I never knew anyone had experiences like mine and I believed there was something terribly, horribly wrong with me. Depression is prevalent among asexuals (from what I've heard), and I experienced it for over a decade. If I can reach even one other person who knows that they are like me and thought they were alone, I'll feel like coming out was worth it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I love being what I am. I've gone through some stress for sure, and lately it seems that I cogitate almost constantly on asexuality. But I'm coming to a place where I feel that knowing what my orientation is only makes my life experiences that much richer.

I worry a lot about "proving" my asexuality to others. The truth is that there's no possible way to prove what I feel and know about myself. There's no way I can demonstrate to the world that I don't feel sexual attraction. I can only state my truth, and live my life the way I have to. And in doing so, I'll be living proof of what an asexual is. A dynamic person with many different needs, desires, and experiences.

I'm also super lucky that my online asexual acquaintances put up with my questionings, although some of the theoretical thinking that I'm doing has already been done. I really dig the support.

Attraction versus Desire, Why It Matters For YOU

The idea that sexual attraction and sexual desire are completely different types of emotions is something that asexuals have hashed and rehashed over and over again. Seemingly, one of the big difficulties in coming out/having any discussion about asexuality with nonasexuals, is bumping into the association that sexual attraction has with sexual desire.

Certainly they can intersect. If you are nonasexual or in a gray area (like I am), you may want (desire) to have sex with someone because you are attracted to them. But maybe there have been situations where you have not been attracted to someone and still wanted to have sex with them anyway. Maybe you were experimenting, maybe you enjoyed being desired, maybe you needed comfort, maybe you were having a night on the town and wanted to have some fun with a stranger, maybe you thought that sex would be physically plesaurable, but you weren't attracted to the person you had sex with.

Here's a scenario. A woman has multiple sexual relationships with men, and then one day she realizes that she is a homosexual. Homosexual lesbians experience sexual attraction to women, and they lack sexual attraction towards men (I'm talking cissexual men here especially). So what are some possible reasons that the woman in this scenario could have wanted to be sexual with men? Experimentation, physical release, assumptions about attraction, to be more connected to her partner, because she thought it would be the thing to do, opportunity, etc.

It's important to understand what motivates someone to have sex, rather than assuming that all sex is based on sexual attraction. The above scenario can also illustrate another common issue faced by LGBTQA persons, which is the "I cured you!" dilemma. It doesn't matter if you are asexual or not, if you don't understand the difference between attraction and desire, then anyone can claim that your sexual orientation is false and you will not be able to defend yourself.

If the woman in the above scenario were a so-called gold star lesbian and had never had sex with a man, she might be able to say that she knows she's a lesbian because she's never had sex with a man. One problem with this argument is that it equates a lack of sexual experience with a lack of sexual attraction. Therefore, a counter argument could by someone who is ignorant of the difference between attraction and desire. "You just haven't had me yet," or "if you tried it you'd change your mind," are both instances of assumption that experiencing sex and being sexually attracted to someone are the same thing. It's also typical to argue that if a heterosexual man is experimenting sexually with another man then he must experience homosexual attraction that he is hiding from himself/others. What if the opportunity arose and he was just horny, or he was curious, and doesn't feel sexually attracted to men at all? If he's a queer ally, is it really fair to say that he's in denial if he still identifies as heterosexual? Are we so insecure with our own sexualities that we have to accuse him of being gay or bisexual, hypocritically using the same arguments made by homophobic people?

Thus, even experiencing sex (nevermind wanting to have sex for any reason) gets confused with sexual attraction because people have not learned the importance of differentiation. If you think that experiencing sex and sexual attraction are the same thing, then you must also think that a victim of rape was sexually attracted to their rapist. Totally ludicrous. Even if a rape victim is in a relationship with their rapist and is sexually attracted to them, that doesn't mean that they will always desire sex because of this attraction/that rape is excusable. This conflation also lends credence to the argument that rapists always commit rape because they are "overwhelmingly sexually attracted" to someone. Again, totally inaccurate. Rapists desire sex because they want to control/express violence, and whether or not they are sexually attracted to the victim is irrelevant.

I bring this subject up because I am an asexual-identified person who sometimes desires sex, even though I either do not experience sexual attraction or experience low-intensity sexual attraction. In any case, I think it should be clear that sexual attraction and sexual desire are incredibly important concepts to  differentiate in coming to understand sexuality. Sexual behavior is not an indicator of sexual attraction, even if one often follows the other.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Why Zines Are Important For Asexual Education and Visibility

While I realize that blogging and forums are the main sources of communication between asexuals right now, I feel that zines have a unique power and usefulness to asexuals which has been largely untapped.

Blogging has some advantages, certainly. Obtaining and writing a blog can be done without having to spend any money, especially if one uses public internet connections. Blogs are easy to direct people to and can reach a mass audience, with the right marketing and networking techniques.

However, blogs are not always the best way to convey information in face-to-face meetings. Here's a scenario: you come out as an asexual, and your acquaintance has questions about what asexuality is. You give a brief explanation. Not wanting to tire yourself out with the more complex questions which usually follow, you offer to email them a link to some blogs or other articles on the internet, or you write down the names of some blogs on a scrap of paper. This is all well and good, but there's no guarantee that this acquaintance will take the time to follow up and go read those blogs, or perhaps you'll forget to email them or be too busy to concern yourself at the time with that.

This is where a zine is useful. If you have a little booklet with information about asexuality already printed out, you can distribute this as freely as you want to. You can hand it out to passerby on the street, you can sell it at music festivals, you can share it with your friends so they'll get to know you better, you can take it with you to parties or always have a couple on hand to give out to new acquaintances.

Perhaps the greatest facet of zines is that they can be about absolutely anything, and they can be constructed however you wish. Zine writing can be academically rigorous or written in klingon if you want. Therefore, if you want your audience to learn about asexuality and how it relates to your own personal experiences, you can write about that. If you don't feel comfortable sharing your personal stories with strangers, you could also print out various materials from the internet that you think are relevant and make your zine from other people's writings (be nice and credit the authors, perhaps offer to mail them a copy!). If you still want to refer your readers to blogs, go ahead and put the URLs in the zine! There's nothing wrong with that. Anything goes!

Another great thing about zines is that it helps ground our communities in the real world. I so often feel that asexuality is an internet phenomenon, even with meetups most of the information that we share about ourselves with the world is online. What if at your next meet up you proposed to put a zine together sharing the stories of your local aces?

This is also a way to create a literary culture of asexuality, where one has never existed before! So maybe you don't write in a way that's publishable or the politics of mainstream publishing don't appeal to you. You can write and sell your story through zines at coffee shops, music shops, zine shops, through public libraries, anywhere in the world. Hell, put it on etsy! How widely your story is read all depends on how much effort you put into it. You can put your story out there, you can decide who read it. Who knows? Maybe it'll reach someone who needs to hear your story because it resembles their own. If people of other sexual orientations get to connect through personal stories, why shouldn't we do the same thing and boost our collective self-esteem?

If the cost of printing seems daunting to you, consider creating one page zines to cut down on the price. These zines are usually folded into 8 sides (therefore have 8 pages), and are rather small, but can be a rich source of information if utilized well.
Here is a great page with tutorials on folding. 

I recommend creating the template first, and then cutting and pasting your info onto the template, or handwriting onto the template if that's your style.

Do you make zines? What would your zine on asexuality touch on? Do you wanna do a zine trade with me?

Thoughts on the UBC Sexual Health Laboratory Study

This morning I woke up earlier than expected and decided to take the study which was linked from:

Asexual Explorations Blog: Recruiting participants for a study: "Here's the description for a study being done by the UBC Sexual Health Laboratory that is wanting asexual participants..."

"This study will help researchers understand the potential biological underpinnings of sexuality in individuals of different sexual orientations. In this study, we will employ a series of questionnaires asking about physical and mental health, sexuality, and biological markers of sexual orientation.

We hope that the data from this study will help to further our understanding of the health correlates and biological features of sexual orientation, and impact on the greater community to decrease stigma associated with individuals of all sexual orientations."

I'm not sure which biological markers they were looking for. The only portion of the survey that was obviously based on previous scientific research into the biological underpinnings of sexual orientation (namely homosexuality), was the part in which participants are asked to measure the lengths of their ring and index fingers.

The study asks a ton of questions about overall physical health as well as mental health, as well as (seemingly) asking the same question over and over about how satisfied you are with the level of sexual attraction you experience.

It was hard for me to gauge how satisfied I feel with my sexuality and level of experience of sexual attraction. Personally, I sometimes feel angry about my orientation, but this is not because I especially want to have sex (I don't), it's because of the way that one is treated for not being interested in sex. I feel angry about my orientation sometimes because it's difficult to deal with the pressure to pretend I'm interested like nonasexual people are. I think I'm more angry at the culture I live in than at my ability to be sexual... This is not something that one can clarify through the survey, though. 

I can't comment on the results yet because the study isn't finished. I will say that I hope it reveals a variety of experiences in terms of mental and physical health, as well as subjective feelings about sex and sexuality. What would make me sad is if asexuality were linked (through this survey) to certain physical or psychological disorders. I tried hard to make it clear that I'm in what is generally considered excellent health.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Throwing In The Towel

(Reblogged from my Tumblr and expanded).
I’m done with dating. Dating has never done anything positive for me. Dating is awkward and usually expensive. Dating comes with rules and expectations, and is essentially a game. A confining game. Dating, in my experience, rarely fosters intimacy. I think the game is embarrassing and dishonest, and I don’t want to play it anymore.      
Sure, I have felt that tingle of specialness in telling people “I’m going on a DATE!” But that feeling for me was mostly based on the comfort of doing something that is regarded as a common ritual of pursuing intimate relationships. When I date I feel more accepted by society (no matter whom I am on a date with), but I don’t feel relaxed, confident, and open as one should while getting to know a new (or old!) person of interest.                   
I don’t want to date. I just want to hang out and let my relationships develop as they will. Maybe that means you or I will have to take a chance and divulge our feelings for each other, whatever they may be. It’s not like the word “date” has ever truly clarified anyone’s feelings, needs or desires.
The problem is one of language. As I've stated, the word date implies that a kind of game will take place, and the pressure will be on to win the game, whether that means ending the night with something physical, planning the next date, making a formal commitment, etc. All of these things can happen when you're just hanging out with someone, but when one is on a date it seems that something momentous has to happen in the relationship or you've lost the game. So I feel that if we instead choose to say that we're going to hang out, then that really opens up the meeting for infinite possibilities. You can hang out with a romantic crush and end up kissing and cuddling, you can hang out with a new acquaintance and explore a new side of town, you can hang out with a long-time partner and reconfirm your promises to each other, you can hang out with yourself and fall in-love.

The Asexual Shane

If you're not familiar with the television series The L Word, then you might not be able to relate to this post. If you have seen the series or have some kind of familiarity with it, then you know about Shane.
Shane, the hypersexual womanizer.

In some respects, I used to be a bit like Shane. I was great at getting women I'd just met to open up to me fast, on a deeply emotional level. I loved it. I thrived on connecting to women emotionally. Shane, of course, gets women to open up fast, but in her case it is sexually.

A few years ago, when I decided that the label lesbian fit me (a label I recently dropped), I lost this ability. I had been going through this thing where I thought maybe I was sexually attracted to women, because I was both so emotionally drawn to them and found them aesthetically appealing in ways I never felt about cismen. I became very self-conscious in my interactions with women and stopped pulling on heartstrings and connecting the way I had before, because I believed that I was "supposed" to be making sexual overtones and guiding women into bed if I was going to be a for real lezzie.

I didn't really guide any women into bed. How could I? I'm ace. I just don't really get sex, and I don't understand seduction. Even when I feel like, might be an interesting thing to try I'm just missing something that nonasexual people seem to have which causes them to get together sexually. I'm not driven to sex the way most people report that they are.

So I could never be the kind of Shane who gets women to open sexually really fast. But I have been an asexual Shane, in that I could seemingly get just about any woman to be intimate with me emotionally if I wanted to.

I lost this skill, and I want it back! Where's my mojo?!

Have you ever felt like you were similar to a hypersexual character, or perhaps another kind of character who has a completely different lifestyle from yours?

Why Blogger?!

I decided to get my fanny over to Blogger and, for the meanwhile, ditch the Tumblr I've been using, because this is a better forum for the type of blog posts I want to create. Tumblr doesn't really lend itself to long-winded psuedointellectual rants on a/sexuality in patriarchal society. Nobody is gonna read that when they come to Tumblr to look at pretty pictures and read short quotes and other recycled web materials. Tumblr isn't a bad thing, it's just not what I'm after right now.

So this new blog, Another Asexual Radical, will contain all my ramblings about life as an asexual-identified person in a society which believes that a lack of sexual interest and sexual attraction is not only a sign of mental illness, but is an illness in itself. I will theorize about asexuality in various contexts, and, like many asexuals, write about radical new ways of conceptualizing relationships. I can't promise doctoral thesis quality writings, but I'll do my best to be honest, critical, and maybe provide unusual insights.

If this is to your liking, stick around I guess.

By the way, my name is Mage and I am the editor of a zine called Asexual Feminism. Really, it should be Asexuals Feminisms (plural!) because it is a compilation of writings from asexual feminists of a variety of theoretical and practical standpoints. Get in touch if you're interested in writing for the next issue, I'm pretty open to new submissions.

I also have a new perzine (personal zine) called Asexy, which is a bit like a reflective diary on how I came to my identity as an asexual person, what it means for me, why, and other things...

Moi moi,