Tag Archives: why i write

Communities

1 Jul

(Last minute post for blogging carnival is last minute.)

Communities have made a huge impact in my life, but, for a long time, were not something I (thought I) needed.

I discovered that other people used the word asexual when I was in my early teens, and I didn’t actively attempt to get back into any asexual community until I graduated from college and entered graduate school, a span of about five or six years.

During this gap, I wasn’t really in any community. I had my friends from school, and a couple of friends I met online. There were one or two attempts to get into the asexual community, but they were mostly half-hearted. I lurked some on AVEN but found the “explanation” pages more useful than the forums, and my experiences with the forums were either hurtful or unhelpful.

My set of friends wasn’t particularly sex-focused, so I didn’t really feel out of place or pressured with most of them most of the time, even though I wasn’t out to most of them and don’t usually come out to people I meet offline. But eventually I … wanted to see how everyone else was getting along. “Everyone” being people in the asexual continuum. Also, I was getting older. Wondering more about dating, about life beyond school. And feeling kind of lonely.

Plus, I was in a new fandom, in a community that encouraged discussion between members, unlike the one previous fandom I had been in. Also unlike my previous fandom, this one features predominately queer pairings, and most of the people I know through that community are also queer. There are even a few other asexual people. It was nice, being in an environment that not only featured a lot of queer narratives but also had people who were queer, concerned about queer issues and occasionally discussed them within the community. (Not to mention everyone being geeks about the same thing.)

It made me want that for myself. Or, it made me want that more narrowly — it made me want what many of my new friends and acquaintances had. People who understood the places they were coming from, the concerns and questions they had, the ways that they felt they didn’t fit into society at large.

What I was looking for in a community was basically what I wanted in friends, or in a good English class, or a mix of both, I guess. A comfort level high enough for me to actually speak out and add my voice to the conversation, and spaces where you could have a mix of personal conversation without it erasing the possibility for a focused discussion on a topic (as I found the AVEN forums to oftentimes do). And a place small enough or organized enough that I could speak to people one-on-one. On blogs, this is easy, on Tumblr, you can kind of do it through reblogging. On forums like AVEN, it’s easier for the more extroverted to overtake and direct the conversation… which is not a place an introvert like me prefers to be.

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Realizing my asexuality

6 May

I’ve identified as asexual for about nine years. Since I’m in my early twenties, this is nearly half of my life, and includes all of my teenage years. I remember some of how I came to identify as ace.

I remember some of the first conversations that I had before I started using the word asexual — my ex-BFF and I were discussing my emotional state, and a lack of emotional reactions to certain things. We were joking that I must be some kind of robot, and that somehow went into a conversation on how I never remarked that people were ‘hot,’ and I said that I must be asexual. And we both laughed.

See, I thought the word asexual was a joke. I’d heard of gay people before, and I assume I’d heard of bisexual people at that point, but I’d never heard of asexual people. But even though I thought it was a joke, it still kind of fit. I must have been oblivious to a lot of the sexual culture around me in middle school, but I don’t think I ever felt particularly pressured by classmates to talk about sex — this is half the particular friends I hung out and probably also half me being oblivious.

I do remember being extremely puzzled at my first introductions to sex in literature: the first three Dragonrider novels (SO NOT how I would ever introduce anyone else to sex), and the Song of the Lioness novels, which were confusing because I didn’t know what Alanna was going through, being attracted to all these guys.

But basically I just meandered along for a couple of years before finding AVEN. At which point I learned that my inside joke about myself wasn’t actually a joke, or didn’t have to be.

Actually, I have an extremely embarrassing journal entry about this, in that my handwriting is pretty awful and I also definitely sound like I’m in high school. It reminded me that I actually found AVEN through searching ‘asexual’ in FictionPress and finding some essay about being asexual. (So if you’re a writer and think your writing about asexuality may not matter, you have no idea how people may come across it, and what it may mean to them.)

Reading this journal is yet another reminder to me that visibility is important. Because when you’re invisible to other people, they may ignore you unintentionally, they may not make space for you, they may make assumptions about people with your behavior sets. And when you’re invisible to yourself, you may make assumptions, too.

If you have no explanation for your feelings, you may think of ways to fix them, or other explanations to ascribe to them, or try to find the failings in yourself that are making you feel this way. You may try to feel another way. You may try to figure out how other people are feeling. Or you may try to ignore how other people are feeling, and how you’re feeling, and blunder through for a while not acknowledging or exploring yourself.

When you keep failing, maybe you think there’s something wrong. Maybe you think you’re wrong. Maybe you hurt yourself. Maybe you think about killing yourself. Maybe you even try.

Below are the most salient quotes from my old journal entry, and I’m glad that I have them, but I hope one day the word asexual is so well-known that people just learn it when they’re young, and don’t have to wait years until someone else shows them or they somehow come up with the word on their own and search it at some website that happens to have a result.

I’m not defective, do you hear that? I’m perfectly normal! … I am normal! … I feel free, I feel liberated.

Writing as deliberation

23 Mar

Providing a shared context for constructing meaning, documents are the beginning rather than the end of the process of negotiation. Understanding this, Huizinga was particularly critical of the teaching of writing in the States. Writing, he worried, was presented to students as the outcome of deliberation. Whereas, Huizinga maintained, it was really just another part of the deliberative process.

– page 10, The Social Life of Documents, J.S. Brown and P. Duguid. Emphasis mine.

Writing is definitely how I work out the majority of my thoughts (that and lying awake for hours at night). I write. I write the same post over and over again, until I discard it or edit a 5-page document down to 5 paragraphs.

Sometimes the entire thing is the conclusion I reached from spending hours on it, sometimes I start off with my original quandary at the beginning and meander through my thought process to my conclusion. Sometimes I just have to spit things out and go back to them later to figure out what they were. Sometimes I’m soliciting opinions on my problems, and sometimes I’m just trying to update people on how I’m doing.

This works fairly well for me. For various reasons I’m very uncomfortable discussing deep emotional issues with people in person — it’s much easier for me to write them out behind the barrier of a computer screen. Even if I never post my thoughts, I’m still more content after I write, because the process has gotten me to an endpoint or at least a midpoint: less confused, more settled.

While attempting to contribute to public conversation, though, this works against me. I get convinced that I have to keep editing, because I’m convinced only a perfect product is worthy of a post. I’m never satisfied, and a post never goes up, or a comment takes days to write, or a comment never goes up at all.

In formats like WordPress, there aren’t centralized forums where individuals can get to know other individuals. That’s the format I’m used to. In the blogosphere, off of places like Dreamwidth and LiveJournal, it’s not nearly as easy to figure out how to get to know people. It also takes longer to establish yourself: people who read your blog aren’t coming there from a position of having known you for six months in community X.

I am trying to get better. Trying to leave more comments, trying to at least save blog post ideas even if I’m convinced there is no way I will ever get them ready for publication. Because I know in the asexual blog world (and I guess the neutrois blog world too), there just aren’t that many people, and I can’t let my anxieties eat my words. I started this blog because I felt obligated to contribute to asexual media. I can’t do that if I’m too afraid to let my writing show that it’s a “deliberative process” — if I’m trying to show it only “as the outcome of deliberation”.

Promise I’ll try to at least fix the typos, though.

Leave us our words

27 Jan

Last spring I took a creative writing course where we had to write a short play. We read one where all the characters insisted the main character, who I’ll call Guy, was gay. To the point where one of them showed him her Playgirls, porn, etc., to bring him out of the closet.

In the last scene, Guy said that he was asexual. He loved his girlfriend, but he wasn’t sexually attracted to her. The class fell silent, probably because they were confused, and me because I was going “Holy shit holy shit” in my head. A play about asexuality, with a good definition of asexuality! I went with the old “I have asexual friends, this is great” thing, because I didn’t want to come out to my class — and because I knew someone in the class was queerphobic.

Then my professor said, “I like it, but I don’t think you should use the word asexual.”

Part of me was crushed. My professor had never heard of asexuality before, and he was saying that the word shouldn’t be used. Guy would be more interesting without claiming that for himself.

I’d pretty much forgotten all this, but I was reminded of it when Sciatrix said:

When I say asexuals are oppressed by invisibility, I don’t only mean that the usual state of things is, right now, for asexual people to grow up without even the simplest words to describe what they are, even to themselves.

I came up with the word “asexual” on my own. Seeing people exposed to the word and the concept in a positive way gets me excited, because maybe it means one day people who can’t come up with it on their own will have a better chance of finding it.

When I think about what my professor said, it hurts a lot more than it did at the time. I had the e-mail address of the author of the play, and I should’ve contacted him and told him how important it was that asexual people, fictional or not, be able to use their words, and how I supported his use of it. But I was afraid it would get out to the rest of the class, and I didn’t feel safe there.

It hurts me to think about it, because if I didn’t have that word, I might be going to doctors and trying to find medicines to “fix” myself, I might be trying to date people and forcing myself to have sex because maybe if I had a good experience, I’d like it, I might be self-harming when none of that worked, and I might end up feeling so isolated that I wouldn’t want to go on anymore. I don’t think that’s too bleak a picture to paint.

We’re not well-known enough, even to ourselves, to let our words be erased. If we don’t have words, people think we’re a single person on whom they can impose whatever ideas they want.

If we’re asexual, and we’re told that word isn’t important enough to be used, it’s a lot easier for people to erase us, and write in what they find more interesting: straight, closeted, confused, scared, naïve, or alone. An aberration, a freak of nature. Forgettable.

Introduction

26 Jan

I’ve been thinking about starting a blog about asexuality and the experiences that I have being an asexual person since December, and it’s taken me a while to come up with a name. “ace space” was actually already taken (there were pictures of cows, when I checked), so while “asexual space” doesn’t have the benefit of rhyming, it was available, and accomplishes nearly the same thing. I suspect most people will read the link as A Sexual Space, though.

The idea of writing about asexuality alternatively fills me with excitement and dread. I do have things I want to muse on. While my friends who know about it are supportive, it’s not quite the same as discussing asexuality with someone who really understands where you’re coming from. In that vein, this isn’t really going to be a 101 space, partially because writing 101 makes me feel like shit. An emotion which I may eventually talk about.

The dread comes at the thought of violating my standard operating procedure of being relatively silent in public spaces. Since I’m not a very talkative person, and since I know (and I don’t even know them that well) a grand total of two asexual people, I’m hoping this blog will help me get more comfortable with myself. Which hasn’t really been a problem before, but some recent gender revelations have put me in a position where I know I’ll need to go to therapy at some point in the near future. I want to have explored some more stuff before I go in.

And, now that I’m older, I’m noticing things about the world that I didn’t notice in seventh grade. Such as the lack of asexual literature out there, which made me flounder a bit when I went looking. I’m not really an AVEN person, for a variety of reasons, and as horrifying as the prospect of putting myself into a public arena is, I would like to be a part of the asexual community. I think this is a decent way to do it.