Make Sure To Frame Asexuality, Clearly, as a Sexual Orientation

This is my (1 day late) entry for the June 2017 Carnival of Aces, which was themed around “Asexual Education”.


Today, in the afternoon into evening as we went grocery shopping at a few stores and then cooked dinner together, I had some amazing conversations with my dad, spanning:

  • the nature of asexuality and aromanticism
  • the complexities of what different people experience
  • the often unintentional and subtle erasure in TV shows
  • multiple real people’s experiences in the local ace meetup group and what that ends up playing out like
  • etc

And basically I was engaging in a much more 201 (rather than 101), in-depth version of asexuality education, imparting my nuanced lived experience from 4-ish years exploring these topics and what’s been on my mind lately to a straight ally who has enough foundational groundwork to basically “Get” all of it.

For this month’s Carnival of Aces, one of the suggestions of topics we could talk about was:

How can those of us who aren’t professional educators teach about asexuality? What are some good places/resources to start? Is anyone currently looking for people to teach about asexuality?

and I think there are so many ways!! It’s such a complicated topic.

Continue reading “Make Sure To Frame Asexuality, Clearly, as a Sexual Orientation”

The kindest letter I can muster up for my abusive mom

(Note: I don’t understand why the paragraph breaks aren’t showing up correctly… maybe I can fix it later, but I’m going to sleep right now.)

June 27, 2017
Happy 55th Birthday, Mom.
I remember 15 years ago, how stressful it was purchasing a gift for your 40th birthday, how important it was to me that I succeed in getting something you’d like. The fact that this is a milestone birthday number wasn’t lost on me.
How I, a 12 year old who’d only had my ears pierced for a little over a year at that point, shopped at a huge Jewelry Exchange place for the first time in my life and told my dad (your ex-husband) about your taste in always gold and not silver, how we (he) spent $100 on pretty earrings made of white gold with gold plating so it still didn’t look silver in color and…  and then when that weekend spent with my dad was over, when I was back home…  I waited with bated breath to see if it would make you angry because I’d failed at gift giving in some important way I’d overlooked.
You must not have liked your Mother’s Day gift 5 or so weeks prior because why else would I have been so determined to do this well this time? I’m not sure. Maybe I remembered a different gift thing you hated but it was probably Mother’s Day. I think I gave you little Hallmarks figurines of like a lighthouse and other things you’d see at the beach. Because despite how much i remembered you being unhappy at the beach the last time we ever went, when I was 8, you in the years since would comment that you liked the beach… you even wanted that “By The Sea” song played at your funeral
In the end, you smiled weakly in my bedroom when you opened your gift and said you liked it – without sounding like you meant it. And I thought that was the end of my feelings about giving you this gift. That the reaction happened,  and it was over.  It could’ve been worse,  it could’ve been so much worse, this was a pretty good reaction,  but I wanted to cry anyway, because I’d tried so hard but you still weren’t happy.
Literally nothing would make you happy, because you were in the midst of Persistent Depressive Disorder, but none of us knew that. Not my dad or me and my brother, not you.

I wrote a bunch of other stuff recounting the awful but I just hit “backspace” for a few paragraphs. I changed my mind. I want this to be… in a different tone.

I saw you for the first and probably only time I’ll ever see any glimpse of what you in your 50s looks like back in December at your mother’s funeral home visitation (my grandmother’s). It was so jarring seeing 54 year old you. Your hair was so much grayer. Your hair was shorter. You were wearing a shirt that actually looked pretty nice, I was surprised I liked your style.
I hadn’t seen you in 7 years. I haven’t even seen any new photos. My brother noticed your teeth looked decaying. He noticed your breath smelled like cigarettes. I didn’t notice these things. He even noticed you flip off the casket.
You came over to me, and my brother, and two of my younger cousins, including the 17-year-old one you later made burst into hysterical tears with some harsh whisper. Why did you do that to her? But sorry, I’m digressing. You came over to us and you called your mother abusive. You said she was an evil bitch. You asked the 4 of us to “Name one good thing about her. Just one!” and I felt so guilty that in that moment I couldn’t think of how to respond. I wanted to defend my grandmother. There were plenty of good things, I’d been mentioning them to people in the days before and after that moment, and other points that day when you weren’t there. I’d been hearing about them from others. But in that moment, when you asked me, my cousins were ignoring you on purpose and not taking your bait, being calm and reasonable about your scariness. I, on the other hand, was so hurt by everything about your presence, so outraged on behalf of my grandmother and on behalf of my cousins/aunts/uncles/the strangers who shouldn’t have to deal with you and everything else.
But you know who else I could say “one good thing” about, “just one”?
Well. You.

Continue reading “The kindest letter I can muster up for my abusive mom”

The Relief…

Imzy is shutting down. I want to preserve these little original writing things I did for the 100 words community so I’m reposting them here on my blog. The prompt at the time for this one was “Sweet”.


She never intended to actually drive us out of her life, but oh it happened anyway. My mom was yelling, I was crying, my brother was defending me, she was ignoring him, and the next thing we knew…

There was the sweet relief of freedom.

His hand broken from having punched the wall, my grandmother yelling at her daughter over the phone at 1:00 AM to stop calling – (we all needed to sleep, after all) – the many stressful, difficult things that were still to come…

None of that prevents this memory from being somehow fond in my mind.

Humor as coping mechanism

Imzy is shutting down. I want to preserve these little original writing things I did for the 100 words community so I’m reposting them here on my blog. The prompt at the time for this one was “Comedy”.


Sometimes humor is a reasonable coping mechanism. Finding a way to laugh at the trauma and pain means, well… maybe you’re doing okay despite everything. At least you’re able to talk about what happened.

Other times, though, the humor turns into a bad habit. Even when you don’t mean to make light of a situation, you find yourself chuckling. The people in your vicinity think you must not care, or at least that this isn’t a big deal to you. Even when it’s huge!

Sometimes, it hides your pain. Even from the people you were trying to reveal it to.

Falling

Imzy is shutting down. I want to preserve these little original writing things I did for the 100 words community so I’m reposting them here on my blog. The prompt at the time for this one was “Fall”.


In my life, there have been multiple instances where I’ve felt embarrassed – in fact, where I’ve felt lesser as a person! – simply because I had the misfortune of tripping and falling. Sure it makes sense to not want to fall. Literally being hurt in a physical way is, indeed, negative. Becoming skilled at avoiding injuring the only body we get is an important skill if we want to survive. But my instinctual first reaction? “Oh no; other people can judge me right now.” This shame seems illogical and problematic. I wonder… Do I shame others when they fall?

“Kissing, Hand Holding, Bed Sharing, etc!” – the May 2017 Carnival of Aces Round Up of all Submissions

(I’ve cross-posted this round-up to my tumblr as well, if you want to reblog it!) The “Carnival of Aces” is a blogging carnival where each month people are invited to write on a specific topic that is related to asexuality/the ace spectrum in some way. Aromanticism is often grouped in as a thing to talk about as well, or even just “instead”, if desired. 😉

Check out the masterpost of all of the other amazing topics previous carnivals have been on: https://asexualagenda.wordpress.com/a-carnival-of-aces-masterpost/

April 2017’s was on “Aromanticism, Asexuality and Parenthood” and received 5 submissions (see all the way at the bottom of that post for some of them) – it was hosted by Ettina over at Abnormaldiversity.

For this current month, May, this was the fourth time that I hosted the carnival, and once again it was a big success! Thank you to ALL of you who submitted.

I tried to choose a broad topic:

Kissing, Hand Holding, Bed Sharing, etc!

and the “etc” was important and part of it too, I swear lol. Feel free to go back to the call for submissions if you’re curious for what I suggested and explained the topic to be.


This month, 10 different people turned in posts, and 1 of those people did their submission in two parts.

One other person claimed not to have enough to say in order to write a post for the Carnival but did write a great paragraph response on their thoughts on the topic and gave me permission to include it here as well. (So you’ve got 12 links to click. )

I’ll (sort of) try to group them by theme:


We’ve got the general replies to thoughts on the whole Carnival.

Lib at is the person who didn’t turn in a post but whose thoughts near the beginning of their A “Catch Up” Post I felt would be good to share with you all. Most of that blog post is unrelated to the Carnival, but near the beginning there is a paragraph that sums up Lib’s feelings on most displays of affection:

https://acubedblog.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/a-catch-up-post/

Isaac at mundo heterogéneo wrote this month about his thoughts on all three things in the title of the theme — kissing, holding hands, and bed sharing:
https://heterogen.wordpress.com/2017/05/31/my-thoughts-on-kissing-holding-hands-and-bed-sharing/

Blue Ice-Tea over at Ace Film Reviews wrote Growing Up Platoniromantic: Kissing, Hand-Holding, Bed-Sharing, etc.

https://acefilmreviews.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/growing-up-platoniromantic-1/

Continue reading ““Kissing, Hand Holding, Bed Sharing, etc!” – the May 2017 Carnival of Aces Round Up of all Submissions”

Kissing Aversion, but Demi-Sensual About Other Touch

This is my entry for the May 2017 Carnival of Aces, which I hosted and chose to theme around “Kissing, Hand Holding, Bed Sharing, etc!”. The round-up of all 12 submissions that month can be found here. I’m sorry this post is so long. I’m sort of overflowing with thoughts. Also this was written in one sitting late at night so please feel free to point out errors. This was cross-posted to my tumblr as well.


I don’t feel like I need touch in my life much at all, most of the time.

That being said, I have the ability to really like it. In a kinda demi-sensual kind of way, if that’s a thing. (I’m 100% asexual, no grayness there, no sexual attraction, but if I have a lot of trust-feelings for you, like a LOT of positive feelings about our relationship, then there is a pretty good chance I’ll like touch.)

I am comfortable but fairly neutral with touch when it comes to me and small children. (They can still cross boundaries that make me uncomfortable, such as making me take off my glasses and then I feel overly vulnerable, which kind of happened to me a week and a half ago with a 3 year old in my extended family lol.) I don’t crave touch from small children – I crave other types of attention from children, I want to make them happy, I love the emotional reaction they can have to me at times, but I’m not overly touchy feely unless they initiate it. I am much more comfortable holding babies than holding any animal though.

With people who are peers though, fellow young adults, or from older family members… I can have positive associations with touch!

Continue reading “Kissing Aversion, but Demi-Sensual About Other Touch”

Guest Post: Carnival of Aces Submission

This is a submission for the May 2017 Carnival of Aces which I myself hosted this month here on my blog. The theme is “Kissing, Hand Holding, Bed Sharing, etc!”

I offered to host guest submissions on my blog if anyone desired that. Here is Rachel’s essay:

I define myself, broadly speaking, as sex-averse, romance-averse, and touch-averse, but the more that I think about it, separating these repulsions into neat and tidy categories really doesn’t make sense.  The three blend so easily into each other that I can’t conclude which is causing which.  For example: kissing?  Not a fan.  Now, is that because of sex aversion (since kissing can be coded as sexual), romance aversion (kissing is coded as romantic), or is that just generalized touch aversion?  All three?  Rinse, lather, and repeat for all other sexual/romantic/sensual coded activities.  

Now, it isn’t unusual for repulsions to be inexplicably arbitrary in their limits and tolerances (some aces/aros like cuddling but hate kissing, may like or tolerate certain types of sexual/romantic materials but not others, etc.).  Me?  I’m an aro ace who is vaguely repulsed by both sex and romance, yet am actually astonishingly positive toward sex and romance under certain circumstances.  Like, I am okay with and sometimes really enjoy romance in media, to the point that many of my standard complaints about romance in media are identical to those of alloromantic people (the characters have no chemistry, the writing is cliché, their dynamic is forced and obligatory, etc.).  With that in mind, it makes tidy categorizations of repulsions even more hazy.  Because how much, philosophically, can you stretch a term before it loses coherence and value?  What value is there in calling myself sex-averse and romance-averse specifically when I’ve admitted to not having the conspicuous and visceral reactions that repulsion otherwise implies, the way the community usually talks about them?  Am I actually sex and romance repulsed, or is that just the unfortunate overlap of generalized touch aversion with activities rooted in touching?

Given the above, it makes separating repulsions kind of arbitrary and impossible, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t find the terms useful.  I obviously wouldn’t use them if I found them pointless.  Calling myself sex-averse is a useful way to get across “no, I am not, in fact, interested in or open to sex with you (or anyone else for that matter).”   The same goes for romance and touch.  Because people tend to assume that if you aren’t explicitly revolted by something, that something doesn’t really hold inherent appeal to you but doesn’t specifically upset you, then that means that you’re broadly okay with it, right?

And here is where the core of my aversion lies.  When I say that I am averse to these things: it isn’t because they inspire a deeply-felt, immediate, all-consuming gut reaction; it is because they don’t.  I cannot find the words even describe the special kind of NOTHING that I feel when interacting sensually with others.  Yeah, I tolerate touch as social protocol, and don’t mind it in small bursts from people that I know well.  But knowing that I supposed to be feeling something positive, and getting nothing from it internally, no matter how sincerely-intended the gesture, makes touch a dissonant and hollow experience.  My life is filled with Voldemort-awkwardly-hugging-Draco moments.   It has taken me years to admit to myself that I am emotionally indifferent to touch, and that, no, touching the people that I care about doesn’t provide any warm and fuzzies (to the point where I suspect neurodivergence), it’s just this vaguely disconcerting thing that I’m expected to perform.  This all makes sex and romance-coded behaviors feel invasive in their hollowness, and it is for this reason that I ground myself in the vocabulary of aversion, rather than mere indifference.

The triple-combo of sex, romance, and touch aversion creates sites of conflict for me.  This overlap heavily stymies my ability to pursue relationships that otherwise interest me.  Because when the ace and aro communities talk about relationships and practicing physical intimacy, this is what I mostly see:

Alloromantic aces: We may not like sex (unless we do), but we still like romance!  Kissing!  Cuddling!   Holding hands!  Sensual stuff!

Aro allosexuals: We may not like romance (unless we do), but we still like sex!  Kissing!  Cuddling!  Holding hands!  Sensual stuff!

Non-touch averse aro/aces: We may not like sex or romance (unless we do), but we still like touch!  Kissing!  Cuddling!  Holding hands!  Sensual stuff!

The more repulsions that you have, the more it chisels away at your ability to perform the motions of intimacy under the predominant relationship models.   The way we talk about relationships in the ace and aro communities, whether sexual, romantic, or none of the above, still contains the language of touch-as-intimacy, and that leaves people with stacking repulsions effectively out in the cold, as our communities scramble to highlight what physical intimacies remain.  But what happens none remain?  Because, seriously, how many in our communities would be on board with a relationship where not even nonsexual or nonromantic sensuality is involved?  Who will have you, when even your own community probably won’t?  This is something that I wish that both communities would discuss more directly, rather than just giving lip service, leaving cute validations, and then things going back to the same as before.   It’s all well and good to say that people with  multiple aversions deserve to have the relationship models of their choice, but that doesn’t mean we get to ever have them in real life, or guide us through navigating them if we do.  

My relationship prospects being more or less nonexistent, I’ve more or less settled on being perma-single, something that I am, luckily, fine with.  But this creates problems with possible parenthood.  Being disabled, having a someone to co-parent would set me at ease with having children (and this is my backdoor response to last month’s submission, an entire month late), but as I’ve detailed before, that isn’t likely or practical.  Also, being a single parent with touch-aversion threatens parent-child interactions (children, as a general rule, require a lot of touch for bonding and development), which having a co-parent would alleviate.   Our community’s lack of exploration of these questions leaves me alone, without guidance, and uncertain of my options.  

As a community, we need to discuss touch-based intimacy, the place it holds in our relationship models, and how to we ought to restructure said models when its pieces wear thin.  As a community, we need to discuss touch aversion with the same gravity that we do sex and romance aversion, as being a serious part of many ace and aro experiences, not just as an afterthought.  There comes a point when pithy positivity posts and acknowledgements stop helping you progress, and talk of practical and living concerns needs to take its place.  I’m hoping that this Carnival serves as a start.   

Rachel

“Kissing, Hand Holding, Bed Sharing, etc!” – the May 2017 Carnival of Aces – Call for Submissions

The “Carnival of Aces” is a blogging carnival where each month people are invited to write on a specific topic that is related to asexuality/the ace spectrum in some way. Aromanticism is often grouped in as a thing to talk about as well, or even just “instead”, if desired. 😉

(Also, vloggers are invited to speak on the topic in videos, artists/poets invited to be inspired by the topic, etc — whatever format you wish to participate with, please, use that format.)

Check out the masterpost of all of the other amazing topics previous carnivals have been on: https://asexualagenda.wordpress.com/a-carnival-of-aces-masterpost/

April 2017’s was on “Aromanticism, Asexuality and Parenthood” and received 5 submissions (see all the way at the bottom of that post for some of them) – it was hosted by Ettina over at Abnormaldiversity.

For this current month, May, this is the fourth time that I am hosting the carnival. I hosted in 2014 and 2015, and it’s been a while but I’m excited to host yet again. I decided to make the topic Kissing, Hand Holding, Bed Sharing, etc!.

The topic is meant to be broad. You are not limited to one of those 3 things just mentioned.

A bunch of ideas on what people might write about:

  • A narrative of your personal experience(s) with something like kissing, hand-holding, sharing a bed for any reason, or other things that came to mind when I listed those things
  • A delineation of where specific actions fit, categorically, in your mind/experience/gut feeling. Is marriage inherently romantic? Is hugging something that fits in different categories depending on other factors? Does making-out kissing feel sexual to you?
  • A personal outline of specific positive desires and/or what you wish to avoid in your future that you feel are affected by your romantic and/or sexual orientation
  • Does your perception of certain activities influence your label/add to your reasons for identifying as grey-aro or grey-ace, or why you chose just “asexual” and not grey kind of a thing? How? Or contrarily, does the way you feel about something like “going on dates” or even “having sex”, an action or experience, influence how or why you identify?
  • Is there something that you love/appreciate, or hate/are frustrated by, in terms of how a specific action or set of actions are discussed in ace spaces?
  • What do you think of how these types of behaviors are used in works of fiction? “There Is Only One Bed” is a common trope on TV shows, for instance, or as Sara K. mentioned & linked to in her review here, a couple of us were discussing in a comment thread in March how sometimes writers seem to “consider the dividing line between ‘romantic’ and ‘aromantic’ to be enjoying kissing and hand-holding.” – How do you, the blogger in this Carnival, feel about that?
  • How does touch-aversion, sex-repulsion, or other aspects of your experience intersect with any of these types of scenarios?
  • Talk to me about consent in contexts it’s usually not talked about in!
  • Tell me how you define that nebulous word “cuddling”. When you say you do or don’t like cuddling, what action(s) are you referring to?
  • Are there certain actions that onlookers insist “Seem” or “must be” sexual, or romantic, but to you feel entirely non-sexual or non-romantic?
  • Anything else that this topic inspires in you! I want to know what you have to say!

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions or concerns.

To submit your entry, either leave a comment below or send an email to me at pemk7@aol.com . The deadline is the end of the day Wednesday, May 31st!  If you would like to post anonymously, I can copy and paste text from an email into a Guest post on this blog of mine, just let me know that this is your wish. You can also contact me via my tumblr, which is luvtheheaven.tumblr.com – links don’t send in “Asks” though. I do receive submissions and messages but in my opinion, email is easier, and comments here are easiest.

Thanks!

Me & wanting a future as a parent, an update

This post was written for the April 2017 Carnival of Aces, which is themed around Asexuality, Aromanticism and Parenthood. The call for submissions was here – and please check out the round up post containing all of the submitted entries! http://abnormaldiversity.blogspot.com/2017/05/aromanticism-asexuality-and-parenthood.html


Over on Asexual Activities, back in January (2017, so only a few months ago), 34 different people (including me) answered the theme on Having Children, plus one person replied to another person’s thought that being single meant they couldn’t adopt/foster and encouraged them to consider that that may not be true where they live. About 11 to 16 of the responses seemed to be “I don’t want children”, depending on how you count the “maybe one day” sentiments, meaning it actually is approximately 50/50. See all the different themes here: http://www.asexualactivities.com/tags, and click through to find the answers on asexual people’s perspectives on kids.  Which submission is mine should be pretty obvious if you read my blog regularly, or even if you just read to the end of this blog post.

About a year ago, in May 2016, aceadmiral started a conversation on tumblr also related to aces and having children, and there are two (– I think only two? Not 100% sure) different branches of the reblog chain/thread that are worth reading. If you’re interested in the topic of this Carnival, I highly recommend you click the “Read More” links, read the other linked things within the responses, there is so much that is interesting over there.

  1. https://aceadmiral.tumblr.com/post/144126451728/christian-ace-nerd-aceadmiral
  2. https://aceadmiral.tumblr.com/post/144128006058/tristifere-aceadmiral-luvtheheaven (yes I myself talked quite a bit in this one)

I have so many thoughts on this topic, honestly, but it’s hard for me to currently talk about. Nothing has really changed about what I desire since a-year-and-a-half ago when I wrote on Being an Aro Ace and Desiring (Foster and/or Adoptive) Parenthood, but also so much has changed since then in my life and in how feasible this desire seems!

Continue reading “Me & wanting a future as a parent, an update”