Tag: wtfromantic

Why “Romantic Orientation Does Not Apply” Does Not Cut It (For Me)

This is my second submission for the August 2016 Carnival of Aces, which was themed around Naming It. And yes, it’s September 1st now, so I’m late. I apologize. Please enjoy the post below!


Sure, people don’t have to apply* the split-attraction model to themselves if they don’t want to. That’s what the vast majority of supporters of this model say – only use it if you want to. If it feels right.

And if I’m having a lot of trouble coming up with any identity label that feels right to me other than just “asexual”, then maybe I should consider myself to simply be asexual, end of story. Maybe I should not apply the split attraction model to myself. Maybe that’d be the easiest, simplest solution. Maybe that’s all I need to do.

But there are a lot of reasons that it makes sense for me to want to apply it to myself.

One of the main reasons is that I am a member of a group (the online ace blogging community, specifically) where most people seem to apply a romantic orientation to themselves, and if they don’t actively claim one, with time they tend to eventually accept that they are aromantic – by default, by nature of not dating, etc.

Another reason I feel like I need a romantic orientation is because, while I know I am cisgender (female), I need to clarify exactly why I’m not “het” in the way the “aces aren’t LGBT” discourse on tumblr lately has been going, talking about “cishet aces” to… at their most generous, only mean the heteroromantic aces. Because at this point in my introspection, one thing I do know deep down is that I’m not heteroromantic.

Now “not wanting to be marked as cishet” is not just me trying to be “a special snowflake”, although I’ve let that cross my mind. No. That’s unfair to me and so so many other aces.

Continue reading “Why “Romantic Orientation Does Not Apply” Does Not Cut It (For Me)”

How to Positively Represent Asexuality within Humorous Fiction: Part 2, “Options that can be funny without being hurtful!”

The following is part 2 and the conclusion of my two part submission for the July 2016 Carnival of Aces which was titled “Make ’em Laugh” (and which is more broadly themed around humor). Check out the Carnival of Aces Masterpost here for more information on what The Carnival of Aces is.


As I said in part 1, there are many ways, both positive and negative, that humor can be utilized in ways that directly affect your asexual characters and how your readers/audience members are likely to perceive them.

Part 1 was about what to avoid.

The good news: there are other options for how to use humor around asexual characters in fiction. Ways that I believe are less harmful, possibly not harmful at all! Even better yet: Ways that in the long run could be helpful to everyone for expanding our understanding of the world, and all the variation of human experience. A way that lets aces feel represented… without also hurting them at the same time.

The most obvious option:

  1. Instead of making asexuality part of the joke, just let the asexual character be in jokes that are not at all related to asexuality.

Continue reading “How to Positively Represent Asexuality within Humorous Fiction: Part 2, “Options that can be funny without being hurtful!””

How to Positively Represent Asexuality within Humorous Fiction: Part 1, “What to Avoid”

The following is part 1 of my  two part submission for the July 2016 Carnival of Aces which was titled “Make ’em Laugh” (and which is more broadly themed around humor). Check out the Carnival of Aces Masterpost here for more information on what The Carnival of Aces is.


There are many ways, both positive and negative, that humor can be utilized in ways that directly affect your asexual characters and how your readers/audience members are likely to perceive them.

Here in part 1, I will list examples of things to avoid when using humor in relation to an ace-spectrum character.

  1. There is a character who is asexual and the other characters make fun of him (or her, or them).

This is not ideal representation because it implies that “someone being asexual” is, in and of itself, a funny thing. It shows no respect for asexuality, nor respect for all of the people in real life who happen to actually be asexual. Perhaps to many people reading this blog post of mine right now it is fairly obvious that this can be one of the worst types of asexual representation, but unfortunately I think it does need to be spelled out because it’s clearly not obvious to some creators.

As someone who is speaking from a United States perspective and who has consumed mainly American fiction, with a side of some stuff from the UK and some television from Canada too… and then has engaged with the social justice communities online… I’ve noticed that most minorities (specifically meaning minorities-in-the-USA) have to face a particular issue when it comes to representation.

Even when a creator thinks “hey, I’m (finally) representing your group; you should be grateful”, the audience members/readers/content consumers who belong to that-particular-marginalized group realize that the character who represents them is being laughed at for being in a minority or marginalized group. It is a common issue for characters who belong to minority religions and/or characters who are ethnically Jewish, for characters who are members of certain (most non-white) races, sometimes for disabled characters, and yes, for all types of Queer characters. See the TV Tropes article on the “Queer People Are Funny” trope. (That site includes instances of the tropes in multiple fictional mediums by the way – not just television.) There is also a whole “Queer as Tropes” page for more options, such as overly exaggerated flamboyance in gay male characters.

When asexuality becomes another type of queerness that is deemed inherently funny, this can be harmful to asexual people in real life. Asexual people who have not yet heard of asexuality might never even think to consider that they might be ace, because it’s not being presented as a valid orientation for a person to be. It can make a viewer who does realize they are asexual feel attacked. It makes the asexual character the one you’re not supposed to relate to, and encourages the general (non-ace) audience to not even sympathize with their pain at being bullied or treated unfairly. The asexual character’s asexuality is exaggerated or stereotyped too because the writer didn’t respect the need for careful/realistic portrayals and spent no time on research.

Continue reading “How to Positively Represent Asexuality within Humorous Fiction: Part 1, “What to Avoid””

Risk & Courage, Disappointment & Resilience, Everything Changing & Me Catching Up (Part 3 of 3)

This is the third and final part of a series of blog posts I’ve written (mainly belatedly) for the June 2016 Carnival of Aces on the topic “Resiliency”. Please check out part 1 here, and part 2 here


My queerplatonic partner broke up with me in June, a little over a month ago now, and I really thought I’d be able to write this post while it was still June.  But for this post in particular, (part 3 of my mini-series…) I think the delay was partially because I needed more time to get over all my disappointment and sadness, to “grieve” if you want to call it that, and settle into being…  Not “just” friends with him, but… Well I guess “friends-who-aren’t-partners”.

I just so happened to be an ace going through a break up during the course of the same month when the Carnival of Aces was themed around Resiliency. Of course. That would just be my luck, right? 

I don’t know when the last time something brought me to tears to quite this degree was, and in some ways I’m really surprised by my own emotions. I actually cried on a few different occasions over this break up! I didn’t cry when I broke up with my only ever other boyfriend. In fact, it’s almost like what I experienced as a child here… I have at times over the course of letting this break up sink in for me felt a disconnect between what I actually “think” versus what I (subconsciously?) am/was feeling. But with time and more self-reflection, what I feel makes more sense, and it’s all very tied to my asexuality.

Continue reading “Risk & Courage, Disappointment & Resilience, Everything Changing & Me Catching Up (Part 3 of 3)”

Risk & Courage, Disappointment & Resilience, Everything Changing & Me Catching Up (Part 2 of 3)

This is part 2 of a three-part series of blog posts I have been writing for the June 2016 Carnival of Aces. Please check out part 1 here, first. Sorry parts 2 & 3 came late, once it was (is) already July. I expected to be able to finish in June but… ended up not.


So you know that feeling, when you look at the Carnival of Aces being about Resiliency, and all you can think about is about how the biggest things where you’ve needed strength, and to be able to “bounce back”, in your life, have had nothing at all to do with your asexuality?

Like just how little your mother being abusive intersects with the fact that she isn’t aro nor ace and you always were those things but didn’t know it back when she was in your life? And you’ve had to become someone who simply doesn’t care about not having a mother in your life, despite other people’s attempts to make you care, and how resilient you had to be to shield yourself from how that would’ve made you feel.

Or how the days, when you think back on your life, that were the worst days of your life, the most painful, the most stressful, had literally nothing to do with asexuality? Most of those days happened years before I’d learn that asexuality was a thing, let alone fully come to accept that it was who I was.

Well, I certainly know that feeling.

But you know… I gave it some time, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized just how resilient I’ve had to be in some ways that are directly related to my asexuality.

And how complicated and confusing it all can be at times.

Continue reading “Risk & Courage, Disappointment & Resilience, Everything Changing & Me Catching Up (Part 2 of 3)”

My Queerplatonic Relationship: Ask us anything!

So coming up in about a week will be the four month “anniversary” (4th monthiversary) of me and Robert* deciding to officially become queerplatonic partners!

I asked him if he’d be interested in doing a thing for my blog where we interview each other and post some answers for my readers. He said he would be up for that!

And then I suggested that maybe my followers would have some questions for both of us (or in a few cases, for one or the other person). Robert thought that was a good idea, asking you guys to help us.

That means you guys, my readers, coming up with questions that the two of us in this relationship will answer (unless for whatever reason we decide we don’t want to answer – no promises on answering every question we get.).

You may pose questions just for him, especially if it’s a question where you already know how I’d answer because of my previous blogging, you can ask a question just for me, or you can ask a question that both of us will try to answer.

For basic information, I identify as both wtfromantic & aromantic, and I am asexual. I’m 26 years old, cis-female.

Robert is aromantic and gray-asexual, 27-years-old, and cis-male.

I look forward to seeing what questions you might pose for us to potentially answer in the comments below!

Alternatively, if you wish to ask a question more anonymously than in the comments, feel free to email me the question(s) at pemk7@aol.com and I will keep your identity private, no one besides you and me has to know you asked.

 


* Robert is not his actual name. He chose this name, when I asked him to provide an alias for my blog. 😉

By nature of being asexual, I’m defying gender norms

[Content Note: Brief discussion of biphobia/inaccurate stereotypes about bisexual people which my dad apparently believes/believed, mentions of conservative Judaism and Christianity, and general discussion of heteronormativity, the gender binarist world we live in, etc. I am a 26-year-old cis female, non-libidoist, aromantic/wtfromantic asexual from the USA.]

This post was written for the March 2016 Carnival of Aces, which is themed around Gender Norms and Asexuality.


Last night, a discussion about how it feels like most of the aces I meet in the local meetup group are either non-religious, or Jewish, transformed into me mentioning to my dad that one of my friends (friendly acquaintances?) whom I met last year at an ace meetup was raised in a conservatively Jewish home. This meant, actually, that when she came out to her parents as bisexual, it didn’t go well, and that’s why she still hasn’t felt like coming out to them as ace.

I was explaining that she thought she was bisexual before she realized she was asexual, and my dad was really surprised.

That concept was difficult to wrap his mind around, because “it was like she went from hypersexual to non-sexual”. It seemed my dad was wondering how anyone could be so confused?! How could they jump around so much with their thoughts on their sexuality?

And I cocked my head at him. I shot him a look, surprised by his reaction for multiple reasons. Yes, I was surprised by his unchecked belief that bisexual people are all hypersexual. (Hadn’t he watched that ABC Family TV show Chasing Life with me? If that kind of bisexual representation didn’t help him imagine a world where some bisexual people have a pretty average-seeming sex drive, I’m not sure anything would’ve.) And the first thing I said was that that was not an accurate idea of what bisexuality really is. But the other thing that jumped to my mind was… Oh. For all that we talk about, for all that I try to discuss with my family, when it comes to nuanced issues it takes me a long time sometimes to really get around to bringing them up. I only recently tried to explain queerplatonic relationships to them, right around when I started to consider entering into one, really!!

And even now, I don’t think I’ve told anyone other than the people at the ace meetup group and also everyone who reads my posts on the internet that I had multiple fleeting instances of questioning if I might be bi. I explained to my dad something broader, but my own personal experience with it didn’t make it into the conversation. Maybe I’ll find a way to bring it up soon.

What I said to my dad was that actually, it was a pretty common narrative in the ace community for people to think they were bi before coming to the conclusion that they were ace. That I might’ve thought I was straight-by-default, but some people kind of think they’re bi-by-default, because if they really aren’t attracted to either gender, equally, then they feel the same way toward both genders, and that can be easily interpreted by someone who doesn’t know asexuality is a possibility as “I must be bi”.

Continue reading “By nature of being asexual, I’m defying gender norms”

What Stage of a Friendship Am I Even In?

This is a post written for the January 2016 Carnival of Aces. I believe it is just the first post I will be writing for this month’s Carnival topic (“Relationship Stages”), but time will tell if I actually do write any of my other ideas.


 

  • If you want a specific kind of relationship, how do you go about looking for someone(s) to develop that kind of relationship with?

  • Do you go looking to start a specific relationship intentionally or do you wait to see if it happens serendipitously?

  • Do you start off with an ideal image of your relationship member(s) or are you just open to seeing what works?

Life works in mysterious ways. I’ve generally been the kind of person who just lets life happen to her. At least, it’s sort of how I perceive myself. All 4 years away at college and not a single truly close friendship was formed, I just let myself get assigned random roommates each time.

Continue reading “What Stage of a Friendship Am I Even In?”

October 2015 Carnival of Aces Call for Submissions — Aromanticsm & the Aromantic Spectrum

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.

(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/

September’s was on “Living Asexuality” and was hosted by Jo over at A Life Unexamined.

For this current month, October, I am hosting, and I decided to make the topic Aromanticism & the Aromantic Spectrum. Honestly, I’m surprised this has never been a topic in the carnival before.

The topic is meant to be broad.

Some ideas on what people might write about:

    • What led you to identify as aromantic or with an identity on the aro-spectrum?
    • What did you first think when you heard about romantic orientations and that an aromantic orientation was an option?
    • What are your thoughts on the conflation — or perhaps, the separation — of aromanticsm and asexuality?
    • What does it mean to be aromantic, or aro-spectrum, in a practical sense in your current life?
    • How does being aromantic or on the aromantic spectrum influence your plans for your personal future?
    • How do you feel society treats romance, and how do aromantic people fit in?
    • What does it mean to “participate in romantically coded things” while being aromantic?
    • What counts as romantic/non-romantic to you, personally?
    • What does it mean for aromanticsm to be most often talked about in asexual communities?
    • How is aromanticsm currently portrayed in fiction? In non-fiction news and documentary/biography media?
    • In an ideal future, how would you hope aromanticsm would be portrayed in either fiction or non-fiction?

Please consider these as some jumping off points. You may blog about anything that is related to the topic though. Surprise us!

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 . 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.

Thanks!

“Sensual” Attraction? People feel that?

This is my entry for the December 2014 Carnival of Aces. Please consider writing something too! There’s still time – the beginning of January is okay too. 😉 Or… consider writing something for whatever the current month when you’re reading this is, since the Carnival of Aces likely is still going on! Hopefully it will continue to go on, into 2016, and beyond!

Content Note: Around the middle of this post, I discuss my mother’s physical abuse toward me when I was a child/teenager.


Soon after I learned what asexuality was from AVEN’s website, I also discovered terms for other types of attraction, rather than sexual attraction.

To be honest, to this day I still don’t feel like I fully grasp what most of the other types of attraction mean. I’m not 100% sure how much I have in common with people who do and who don’t experience varying types of attraction. Some days even the concept of sexual attraction can continue to confuse me. Lmao. It’s hard when people don’t have concrete definitions for these things!! It’s harder when most of it is based on describing feelings one already has, so when you likely lack the feeling… you’re never going to fully get it.

When people speak of aesthetic attraction, for instance, I imagine this magnetism to LOOK and well for me, while I can judge people on a scale and decide who seems prettier than most, and while I can appreciate certain looks, I don’t feel drawn to stare most of the time, so I wonder if I experience aesthetic attraction for people at all.

Since the theme of this month’s Carnival is “Touch, Sensuality, and Non-Sexual Physical Intimacy”, allow me to focus upon sensual attraction.

When I’d first read Coyote‘s Differentiating Types of Attraction post, ey really introduced me to the concept.

Coyote wrote:

Sexual attraction, as it’s typically depicted in media, often includes aesthetic attraction and sensual attraction mixed in as if inseparable, as they are for many people.  Nonsexual aesthetic attraction is sometimes treated as believable, especially between women.  However, nonsexual sensual attraction is treated with a little more skepticism, a problem not helped by the fact that some people use the word “sensual” as a euphemism or synonym for “sexual”.

Sensual attraction is a feeling pertaining strictly to touch, creating an impulse to initiate contact with the recipient. A nonsexual example of this would be touching someone’s face or embracing them in a hug.  Since this is a type of attraction, it’s not the same thing as wanting to cuddle someone as a way to comfort them when they’re sad, or as an expression of affection, or because you’re craving contact in general.  All of those are valid, real feelings, but they’re not what I use the term to refer to. The best definition for it I’ve ever seen — and I can’t find the source where I found this, unfortunately — is that sensual attraction is “the feeling you get when you see a fluffy kitten”.  For me, this term is a useful description for how I sometimes feel a random and inexplicable (but controllable) urge to touch people.

And it fascinated me. I walk through clothing stores and see a fleece jacket or something else that’s a cool texture, and yes, sometimes I want to touch, I want to revel in how soft these pajamas would be and oh I wish I had the money to buy them because they’re so amazing to touch. But… toward a PERSON? Wanting to reach out and touch them just to feel what they feel like? No… I’ve never felt such a thing. I’m fairly sure of it.

Pretty much the only times I’ve ever initiated touch of any kind toward the people in my life have been toward my closest 3 family members – my brother, my father, and one of my cousins. I’ve reached out to try to comfort with a hug or a gentle touch in a time of their grief, briefly. I’ve playfully/casually leaned my feet on laps or rested my head upon a shoulder while watching TV. I don’t do it very often, especially recently, though.

And I’ve never actively craved touch. I remember being comforted by a hug a total of one time in my life – and yes, this hug felt SO amazing, at the end of a day that was probably the worst day of my life in many ways. There was something so special about that form of touch, for me. But it was just one instance, and in other times of being upset, I’ve felt pretty comforted by other things, instead of touch.

As Sara K. said recently:

I am not touchy-feely; on the other hand, I am not touch-averse either. If I got into a close relationship, and my partner wanted to touch me a lot AND had respect for my boundaries AND communicated well with me, I don’t think it would be hard to find a mutually-satisfying arrangement. What I’m averse to is people touching me without permission or insisting that I must touch because touching is good for me.

I feel like her words describe me too. I’ve been on dates with 3 different guys, and all of them have touched me in different ways.

When the first guy I’d ever tried dating kissed my cheek, it felt SO intimate and amazing, like a rush of wonderfulness. When we tried holding hands, it was uncomfortable and awkward and did nothing for me. When guy # 1 & I kissed… I ended up in tears, so needless to say I did not enjoy the experience.

I found all 3 of these guys via online dating, btw, so when I first met guy #2 in person and the first thing he did after stepping off the train and us recognizing each other from our profile pics was embrace me in a hug… I wasn’t comfortable.

Guy #3, my first official boyfriend… I enjoyed leaning on while watching TV. I didn’t really like the awkwardness of having to shift from growing hot/sweaty/uncomfortable over time. There was something special about cuddling with him, perhaps because he was getting sexually “turned on” by it, and I’d never had that effect on anyone before. I had never cuddled in quite this intimate of a way before and it was a new experience, and overall pretty nice. Really, though, I didn’t “love cuddling”. What I loved more was being able to talk openly and honestly with him. Enjoying TV together. Him teaching me to play Magic the Gathering. Him giving me a homemade gift. Him actually watching my fanvideos I’d created and enjoying them. Him letting me make one of my favorite recipes for him. If I had never once touched him throughout our entire relationship, I wouldn’t have been longing for it. I’m fully satisfied by non-sensual and non-touch-related pleasures. Touching can be nice, but I can take it or leave it. I certainly don’t feel drawn to it. And I don’t need touch on a regular basis.

My mother was abusive toward me growing up, and some of that abuse certainly was physical. I consider her abuse to have been mainly verbal/emotional… but to give you a taste of the physical…

It didn’t often leave marks, but on a few occasions I did bleed a tiny bit from small scratches caused by her fingernails onto my forearms or hands. More often, though, she’d use her body to trap me in a corner, and I’d try to push her away, but being a child I wasn’t strong enough, and all I’d succeed in doing was bruising her arms, which she’d later yell at me for, blaming ME for hurting HER. Or she’d violently push down my arms when I was using my hands to cover my ears as she yelled the loudest she possibly could. She broke a favorite, expensive bracelet of mine by ripping it off my wrist, while I was still wearing it. Or my hair was in a pony tail and she’d move my whole body by pulling on it, not even pulling out one hair, just pulling it enough to hurt a bit, to obtain control over me, and even to knock my much needed and expensive (breakable!) eyeglasses off of my face in the process. On a couple of occasions, she literally spit on me. She dumped out a bowl of cereal with milk in it onto my head. There are probably many, many more cases of things that were pretty “physically” abusive. But I think I’ve listed enough. So many of these things don’t leave physical injuries, just… emotional ones, I guess. But they often involved invading my personal space. Using “touch” in a negative way. Etc.

I remember that once I’d finally stopped living with her, while in the hallway of a courthouse as my dad and she fought over custody of me and my brother… on multiple occasions she tried to hug me and I jerked away. I did NOT want to be touched by that woman, okay? I wasn’t afraid she’d actually hurt me in a public place. I certainly expected it’d be “just a hug”, but the contradictory nature of such a loving action from her made me SO uncomfortable, and I wanted to avoid it.

As I soon ended up going away to college, on my campus there seemed to be a tradition at one point, by the Student Union, of “Free Hugs Friday”. And… I just really didn’t want to be hugged by strangers, okay? I felt so weird every time I dodged the people with their arms outstretched and the cheery posters. I felt like someone with “intimacy issues” who maybe would like hugging more if I’d tried it more. But whatever. I was happy enough with my life of not ever touching anyone.

I’m pretty sure part of the reason I identify as wtfromantic is because so many romantic ace narratives include so much TOUCH and I often feel like I must be aromantic, if I could be fully satisfied in a relationship that includes absolutely zero touch. That for most people, some level of touch that is reserved for only “non friends” is what makes a romantic relationship romantic, or something. But then again, I have a lot of other reasons for NOT feeling like I’m aro… but still, I feel like my relationship toward sensuality & touch, toward cuddling and non-sexual physical intimacy of all kinds… comes up a LOT in my self-analysis of my feelings when I’m trying to place myself somewhere on the romantic spectrum.

I feel like I enjoy hugging some of my extended family members slightly more now than I used to. Maybe enjoy is the wrong word. I think… I no longer feel awkward and uncomfortable hugging them.

I think for me, it’s about comfort with the person. How much I love them. How much I feel like they’re friendly and like me at all. How much I know them. To me, even a simple hug is a pretty intimate thing. My uncle who I rarely say one word to despite us showing up at the same Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, etc celebrations for years, who I don’t feel like I know at all? Hugging him is still uncomfortable and I’d rather skip that ritual when he decides he’s ready to leave the house, but I still go through the motions because I feel like I have no choice. But now that I’ve grown up, and I’m almost 25 years old… I feel like I really have gotten to know quite a few of my other extended family members better, after having many moments of conversational bonding with them… and all of a sudden hugging them feels so much more natural/simple/easy. Could I live without it? Sure. Would a wave hello and goodbye, or a simple smile, suffice? Yeah I’d be totally cool with never touching these people in any way, ever again.

If I compare my feelings of sex-aversion to how I feel about touch, I am 95% sure I’m not touch-averse, not as a blanket statement. I think I am pretty touch-averse in cases where the person is a stranger, a near-stranger, or my abusive mother. But in cases where I feel comfortable around a person and feel like I’ve gotten to know them fairly well, I can kind of find touch to be either something I’m indifferent to, or in a few select circumstances, a wonderful experience. I definitely don’t crave touch in my life, though. And I don’t experience sensual attraction toward specific people, either.