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TAAP is writing a book… and we need your help!

The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project

We were approached by a publisher several months ago who would like to publish a book on asexuality and aromanticism.  This book would be geared towards people who work with asexual and/or aromantic people in a professional setting — i.e. mental health professionals, doctors, guidance counselors, volunteers/employees at LGBTQ+ centers, etc.

The goal of the book will be to review the various issues aces and aros face and present possible solutions and ways of approaching the issues. Our hope is that professionals can use the book to help improve the quality of care they provide to the asexual and aromantic spectrum people they work with.

We are aiming to make this book representative of a diverse range of experiences, and in order to do that, we need your help! We are looking for people who might be willing to share their experiences; either in the form of direct quotes or…

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Ace and Aro Hospitality Suite is Official at Creating Change 2019

The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project

On May 25th, 2017, thirteen asexual activists sent an email petition to Andy Garcia, the Creating Change 2019 conference director, to include an asexual spectrum hospitality suite as an official part of the event in Detroit, Michigan this coming January.

Hospitality suites at Creating Change are places where people of similar identities can connect with one another, and they often offer resources and light refreshments. Last year, the conference had hospitality suites for elders, trans people, youth, disabled people, bisexual+ people, and people of color.

For the past few years, an “unofficial” asexual hospitality suite has been hosted by asexual activists who were attending the conference. This suite was often bursting at the seams with aces who were attending the conference — despite the fact that it was being hosted in a hotel room and it was not included in the conference program.

Last year, three TAAP members joined the…

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I Can’t Just Let The Future Pass Me By (alternatively: Finding The Twigs For My Nest)

This is my submission for the April 2018 Carnival of Aces. I kinda ran out of time to write this and still get it in by the deadline but I’m forcing something so bear with me. Also I’m typing this on my phone so please forgive autocorrect errors. I’ll probably fix them eventually.

This month’s theme’s inspired by a medieval Flemish-Dutch sentence:

Hebban olla vogala nestas hagunnan hinase hic enda thu[,] wat unbidan we nu[?]

All the birds have begun nests except me and you, what are we still waiting for?


On a most basic level, when my peers began navigating flirting, dating, when and where to first have sex, and (for some of them) when to enter marriage, I was indeed “left behind” as an aromantic-spectrum & asexual young adult. This medieval sentence describes a point of view I can relate to, sure. In fact I felt so left behind when my younger brother experienced his first kiss before me (he was 16, I was 18) that I actually cried.

I didn’t realize my future might take a different path when it comes to matters of romance than the average person my age, because among other things, I didn’t realize aromanticism or asexuality existed.

So I kinda just felt like a social failure, someone embarassed to have to admit to college roommates I’d never been on a date, mortified after my first kiss at age 22 to be asked if it was my first time kissing.

But at the same time, I kinda did know that the future was uncertain really early on. Sure, I incorrectly assumed I was straight, but I knew that not every straight person takes the same path to happiness in adulthood anyway.

In fact, I saw firsthand from the 3 main people who raised me that not everyone gets happiness at all in adulthood, because my grandmother seemed pretty unhappy most of the time, and my abusive mother was downright miserable. The third person to raise me was my dad, who found happiness in his kids (and maybe in his career, and in small things in life like music, or nature, or good books, television, and film all of which he knew how to truly appreciate). But my dad never had any romantic partner the entire time I could remember (my parents split when I was 3), and seemed to really lack in the friendship department as well. He seemed stuck in a toxic cycle with the mother of his children holding too much control over his life too, and life wasn’t fair for him on many levels either.

Expecting my adult life to just turn out with me happily married or loving being a mom seemed far from something to take for granted.

Continue reading “I Can’t Just Let The Future Pass Me By (alternatively: Finding The Twigs For My Nest)”

Viewing Shipping, Sex Scenes, even Friendship through Asexual Eyes: a Privilege and a Curse since 2013

This is my second submission for the Carnival of Aces October 2017, themed around Asexuality in Fandom. I’m a day late finishing this one up… The call for submissions is here.


Imagine you really needed glasses (or contact lenses – you needed vision correction of some kind!) in order to see the world clearly, but you didn’t have them. You never knew you needed them. Zero people around you have glasses and every single person you encounter assumes level of eyesight is pretty consistent across humans. So you just assume it too. They look at you and just assume of course you can see with clear vision! (Everyone does.) You don’t realize they’re seeing more than you.

You manage your life for a while, maybe a long while, only very gradually realizing you’re… not fully seeing all the detail most people around you are. Maybe your vision is getting worse and worse all the while. Eventually you are pretty sure your vision is worse than other people’s but you don’t imagine any solution is possible, so you just try to make the best of the situation.

I wear glasses and I know the metaphor is far from perfect. But one day finding out about the existence of and/or need for select people to get vision correction (in this ridiculous hypothetical world I’ve come up with where average teenagers and adults aren’t already aware that people lose eyesight from genetics, age, illness and/or injury, plus are unaware that some people are completely blind, etc etc…)

Well in this hypothetical universe, the opportunity for vision correction would feel practically like a lifesaver, after all those years of being used to life without them! This is huge. This is what real people in our actual present-day world experience when they get their first pair of glasses, but to a much more intense degree. Once you possess those glasses you needed, you can’t help but notice many details all around you that other people overlook. You can’t help but feel very attached to your glasses. You guard them as the valuable item they are. You hate taking them off ever even when it’s only practical for something like sleep. You get frustrated by the lack of any characters in fiction either wearing glasses or even seeming to know low vision can exist…

The point isn’t that you finally could see exactly the same things as people who don’t need glasses. (That’s not at all how it works for us aces and… “Feeling sexual attraction” and that kind of thing. We don’t want or need a “cure”, and regardless no such thing exists.) The point I was going for is that the glasses themselves (the asexual identity), that item, were a thing you needed, something you find immensely useful, and an item other people around you don’t personally need to wear but you feel you do.

Ok I’ve clearly run this metaphor into the ground. It was never a very good analogy in the first place. But the idea I was trying to set up for this blog post is:

I was in fandom for between 6 and 7 years without knowing I was asexual or that asexuality existed.

And then, and I’ll admit the shift wasn’t instant like putting on glasses would be, but during the course of 2013, as my worldview shifted to accommodate both 1) the fact that asexuality existed and 2) the fact that asexuality included me.

(My worldview also, during this time, shifted to accommodate aromanticism, which in some ways was harder and slower for me to fully accept perhaps, and also took more time before l would understand that I myself was on that spectrum.)

I was freshly seeing fandom through asexual eyes.

It’s not like I was seeing the world through allosexual/”straight” eyes before, but it was eyes of not knowing what I wasn’t seeing/not knowing fully who I was vs being very much aware of it all, and it has made a huge difference.


In many ways, the shift was jarring and surprising to me, not something I realized would become a part of my experience… and also impossible to ignore.

I went from being indifferent to sex scenes or even curious and intrigued by them, perhaps trying to learn about allosexuality through them before I knew that’s what I was doing… to just instantly when a sex scene would come up feeling reminded that in real life I am sex-averse (because after giving sex a shot I knew I wasn’t ever going to enjoy it), instead of hopeful or expecting to one day be in those characters’ shoes.

Continue reading “Viewing Shipping, Sex Scenes, even Friendship through Asexual Eyes: a Privilege and a Curse since 2013”

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?

Sexualized Language

This old post from The Thinking Aro (formerly The Thinking Asexual) is something I mainly agree with so I’m going to reblog it. Generally please remember to read everything this person writes with a grain of salt – read critically and acknowledge that sometimes they are wrong. In fact sometimes VERY wrong. They are elitist in many of their writings and make a lot of generalizations about all romantic-sexual people, and they don’t allow any comments on their posts these days and haven’t for quite a while. That all being said, sometimes they’re the only person to have written on some… really interesting topics, especially concerning aromanticism. It certainly frustrates ME that a few of these words are assumed to have a romantic or sexual meaning in contexts where it’s intuitive to me to use them in non-sexual, non-romantic ways.

The Thinking Aro

The following words are examples of sexualized language that pisses me off, and I want to bring them to your attention because I feel the way most people use these words is harmful to everybody’s freedom in relationships and particularly to asexuals and aromantics.

1. The word “love” to specifically, exclusively imply romantic/sexual love:

Usage: “I love him/her.” ; “Do you love him/her?” ; “I’m looking for love.” ; “I want you to love me.” ; “I don’t feel loved.” ; “All you need is love.”

Translation: “I romantically love him/her.” ; “Are you romantically in love with him/her?” ; “I’m looking for romantic love.” ; “I want you to love me romantically.” ; “I don’t feel romantically loved.” ; “All you need is romantic love.”

What This Usage Communicates and Why It Sucks: Either you don’t love anybody other than your romantic-sexual partners, or you don’t consider nonsexual/nonromantic…

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Relationships that lack stages

This is my third and final submission for the January 2016 Carnival of Aces, which had the theme “Relationship Stages”. I’m a day late with this one, yes. Oh well. 😛 For more information on the Carnival of Aces, click here.


 

One thing that I think, traditionally, is so special about friendships is that they aren’t supposed to have stages, rules, limits, ultimate end goals, none of that. There are still ways friendships can go wrong, ways you can feel like you don’t have any friends or not enough, feel like you feel more attached to your friendships than your friends feel attached to you, etc. But it’s nothing like the distinction between being “single” vs “in a relationship”.

There are a ton of things that are special about friendships. They’re a kind of relationship that spans little kids (even toddlers) through old age. They aren’t relationships where you need to have a conversation about if you count as friends or not — you can just sort of let it happen and decide that you consider someone else your friend, regardless of how they feel about you. And there is a large array of different ways for friendships to play out that still feel “acceptable” in our society – there is not just one script for friendship.

If you Google “stages of friendship”, sure, plenty of things come up, often about the stages before reaching “best friend” status, and weirdly some results about specifically “female friendship”. But there isn’t a checklist for friendship the same way there is for romantic relationships. There isn’t a list of experiences most people expect to reach when they consider their own friendships, or consider entering into a new friendship. And when a friendship ends, there isn’t usually a need for a big significant “break up” — in fact most friendships just fade and these people couldn’t tell you the day they stopped being friends with that person. 😛 You don’t really feel like your relationship “Failed”, just that it “ended”, because in general, there is no goal for “success” when it comes to friendships the same way there is that kind of “goal” in traditional monogamous romance.

There are other kinds of relationships that, to me, don’t feel like they have stages either. Something like a relationship a person has with their sibling, their aunt, their uncle, their cousin, their grandparent — most of their family members (except not their parent/guardians) these are bonds that may or may not really be bonds at all, you can have a family member and not know them, never spend any time with them, etc, but if you do have a relationship with them… there isn’t really a progression, a set of common experiences that is easy to generalize among all families… there are just so many differences in how people experience these relationships. And often, there is constancy in these bonds. It doesn’t feel like they go through stages. I could be wrong and other people do experience what seem like stages in their familial relationships of these types, but the general cultural narrative I’ve picked up from living the the USA is that there aren’t general ‘stages’ one is expected to go through in these relationships.

Also, temporary relationships, as in, ones meant to not last. A job that you know you’re only at for a summer and your relationships with your coworkers there. A year in high school where you develop a kind of relationship with most, if not all, of your teachers but you know after you leave their class, the relationship will be over. These also are definitely types of relationships that don’t really seem to have “Stages”. True there is the “first meeting”, a period when, if you’re lucky, you feel like you know them better and they know you better, and maybe a “Goodbye”, but… but I feel like these types of relationships are not usually considered in terms of separate stages, that people usually think back on it in simpler terms than that.

Does this make sense to anyone besides me?


 

Anyway I enjoyed thinking through these things for the Carnival of Aces this month. 😛 I used my blogging as a way to help me think through the issues. I hope maybe someone enjoyed reading my thoughts.

Stages in Relationships

This is my second submission for the January 2016 Carnival of Aces, which had the theme “Relationship Stages”. For more information on the Carnival of Aces, click here.

[Content Warnings/Notes: Mentions of death. Discussion of abusive relationships. Brief mentions of sexual assault in a section about virginity.]


 

If you go to Google and start searching for “Parenthood stages” you will find PDFs like this one on 6 distinct stages: http://arbetterbeginnings.com/sites/default/files/pdf_files/Six%20Stages%20of%20Parenthood.pdf or, to my dismay, an article from bigoted/anti-LGBT group Focus on the Family on there being four “phases”. You’ll find various books published on the topic and various academic articles at .edu websites on research people have conducted.

Clearly, it’s not just romantic relationships that either seem to have stages. I could think of many ways a relationship between a parent and a child seems to usually… “evolve”, “progress”, etc, much like it has its own kind of relationship escalator. There are ideal stages for kids and parents to be at depending on the age of the child, and this extends until the death of the parent, which is “supposed” to happen prior to the death of the child. Obviously the child dying first is one way the stages won’t happen “according to plan” or according to “how things should be”.

But in truth, there are many ways for parent and child relationships to not follow society’s ideals for the stages. A child having a disability or being neurodivergent can easily throw off the course of the stages, slow them down, prevent some from happening, and the same is true if the parent is like that. A parent dying too soon means not all stages can be completed. Sometimes people just don’t follow the stages for no obvious “Reason”, but the world around them still judges them as doing the whole “being a family” thing wrong. You’re supposed to be exactly the right level of aware of what is going on in your child’s life, but not be overprotective or overly strict or overly bragging, obsessing about your kid when in social contexts, etc, and also you can’t be neglectful, distant, not involved enough, “oblivious”, etc. As a child, you are supposed to respect your parents, but also not be a clingy child one could make fun of with terms like “momma’s boy”.

You’re supposed to become friends with your parent once you reach adulthood, and people who don’t have good relationships with their parents need a good explanation, need an excuse, as for why they don’t. The default is that you would. Deviating from that norm is not usually accepted. People will wonder why the deviation has occurred.

One common reason for a deviation from that, a reason to not have a good relationship with your parent(s), is if they were abusive to you.

Abuse is something that has stages too. More specifically, abusive relationships of many different types, from romantic to familial to queerplatonic and many other types of dynamics as well, have specific recognizable stages.

Continue reading “Stages in Relationships”

Aro-Relationships

I just realized I have a lot to say in reply to this, so I’m coming up with a new blog post as a reply to this instead of just a comment. 😉

Ace of Spades

I have been digging around in a lot of ace and aro stuff on the internet lately. In part for the powerpoint that I posted a while back, in part so that I have some material to bring to ace club, and in part because I really want to know and try to understand all the different ace and aro perspectives.

One thing that comes up a lot in ace forums and pages is an asexual participating in a sexual relationship for whatever reason (they use sex to connect with their partner, they enjoy the act despite lacking the attraction, etc.). What I haven’t seen a lot of (hardly any, almost none) is an openly aromantic person participating in a romantic relationship. The individuals involved would not necessarily be getting the same things out of the relationship, someone would feel romantically fulfilled by the relationship, and someone else would be platonically…

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What are search terms I might’ve used before I knew “asexual”?

This is my response to Asexuality Archive’s question.

See the full tumblr post and look through the “notes” for all of the “Reblogs” with many different perspectives and comments, too.

He said:

Before you knew what asexuality was, how did you think about or describe the collection of feelings that you later recognized as asexuality?  What were some of the things that you sensed were different?  What were some of the questions you had about the way you were?  If you looked for answers using a search engine, what were some of the search queries you used?

I have an idea for a new section for my site that comes at things from that angle, from the point of view of the ace that doesn’t know what asexuality is.  It’s still sort of fuzzy.  I’ve got about 85% of what I want to talk about, but it’s still missing a clear picture of the other 15%, something that connects all the pieces.  Basically, I want to reach out to the undiscovered/pre-identified asexuals, using the words and phrases they’d use and the thoughts they’d be having.

So, before you understood that you were ace, how did you think about things?

And someone else answered, and I reblogged and replied too. I realized I said enough for it to be a whole blog post… so I’m posting my tumblr response here too.

“I figured sexual attraction would come, but I thought I needed to pass some milestone, whether it was age or experience.  I had other things to do“

THIS.

I really thought I was “just” inexperienced, although as time went on, I started experiencing more and more cognitive dissonance about it: https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2015/12/01/why-i-should-have-accepted-the-truth-that-im-asexual-sooner/comment-page-1/#comment-542

After I did know that asexuality existed, search terms I used were things like “Do asexuals not like kissing?” because I hated making out/kissing with tongue, the only kind of kiss on the mouth I’ve ever tried, and I thought it might be a sign that I was asexual. But what I found were all these asexuals saying “Can I still be asexual even if I like kissing?” so I felt more lost, like it must be that the guys I was kissing just weren’t “my type” sine EVERYONE, even asexuals, liked kissing.

If, @redbeardace​ , you had a search term like “Are there other people out there in the world who don’t like kissing?” or “Do some people like sex, but not kissing?”, that would’ve been the kind of thing I was wondering about then and searching for (wondering if I might like sex when I tried it in the future, even if I hated kissing.). Other asexuals could use, “Do some people like kissing, but not sex?”, lol.

Other things I started wondering about was if I might be demisexual/might just need to wait out being with my boyfriend for long enough to ”fall in love” before I could really give up on the idea that I was “normal”. I didn’t want to be asexual. If I didn’t know the words, I would’ve probably done the same thing, and I might’ve searched “how long until you enjoy kissing?” or “how long until you’re ready for sex?” or “how long until something your partner does gets you aroused/turns you on?”

Because, well, I have zero sex drive/libido/ability for arousal. http://luvtheheaven.tumblr.com/post/128500834127/non-libidoism-asexuality-aka-i-have-never-had

And I thought, I wondered, about hormone imbalances or about being stupid and about how maybe I was getting aroused and didn’t recognize it for what it was, or that I needed just the right trigger, needed to touch myself or be touched in just the right way, and then I’d experience what it was like to be “turned on”. I saw that hormone imbalances usually have other pretty obvious symptoms I didn’t have. I searched about a lack of or “no sex drive” or “low sex drive” in women and all I found were the types of things like, idk, what Flibanserin interviews talk about now. Older, married women not feeling interested in sex anymore, finding it hard to get in the mood, etc, and found that it’s normal for sex drive to decrease with age. But I was in myyoung 20s! Not that age yet!And even in my teens I hadn’t ever had a sex drive that I knew of!

I read this article: http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/what_if_i_never_want_or_feel_ready_for_sex and I really don’t like how they say it’s “unlikely” you’ll turn out to be asexual, (okay their exact phrasing is:

…most people, in a lifetime, will want to engage in at least some of them and will feel ready for at least some of them at some point.

But while that’s true for most people, it’s not true for all people. Some folks really don’t ever want to have some kinds of sex or even all kinds, because they just don’t feel those desires or don’t feel the desire to enact them.

but whatever)

because it made me doubt myself, doubt that that could be my identity, for longer. “What if I never feel ready for sex” seems like a search term more asexuals would use than non-asexuals, although maybe not, but either way @hellyeahscarleteen made it seem like there is such a low chance that asexuality is the answer, that you shouldn’t bother “worrying” about the fact that asexuality might be your answer, about figuring out if you’re asexual or not, in fact the word asexual isn’t even mentioned in the text there, only indirectly told people about asexuality being a possibility in the link under “Don’t feel those desires or don’t feel the desire to exact them”. It brushed off asexuality as a potential comfort to the asker of the question, and instead focused on all of the things in life you can do instead of sex, and idk, while I like the post overall, I know at the time it almost made me feel worse about myself, when I was confused and searching for answers and wondering myself “if I’m 23 years old and have a great boyfriend and I’m not ready YET, will I EVER be?”

They have these posts on a similar topic, too:

(see the second question here, especially, since sex isn’t enjoyable for the advice-asker, an aspect many asexuals could probably relate to) http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/im_not_readybut_am_i_just_overthinking_it

and:

http://www.scarleteen.com/article/advice/im_25_shouldnt_i_have_been_ready_for_sex

Anyway… I guess I had a lot of thoughts on this topic. I’m looking forward to your page meant for asexuals who don’t know the word yet! It’s important, for sure.