[I received the following submission via email]
Exclusionists, I promise you I’m not under the impression that I can tell you anything. (At least not so long as it isn’t that I, as an ace, support your exclusionism, which I am not saying, because I’m not one of the “good ones”, as it were.) But there are some things I wish you would consider, on your own, if you have the time, and with no accountability implied.
(And by “you” below, I don’t necessarily mean “you” individually? I know no one person does all of it.)
•Exclusionists seem to get angry at every manifestation of ace identity or community. You get angry at the flag and its colors. You get angry at rings. You get angry at the goofy puns, get angry when we talk seriously about trauma. You get angry at our online spaces, get angry when we show up in public. You get angry at asexuality in fandom and angry at it in canon media and angry when it’s acknowledged by non-fictional people where anyone can see or hear it.
I’m not saying your anger isn’t a real feeling or that you’re somehow feeling it on purpose, but emotions are inflamed to the point where you take any and all evidence of our existence, unless it’s an explicit statement that we understand why you don’t want us around, and no matter if it’s in no way directed at you, as a punishable offense or disrespect or a threat. (Because why don’t we FUCKING STAY DOWN?) “I am” has become an offensive statement. And I wish that worried you.
•Despite all of this anger despising us has a recreational element. Social circles are built around it. It’s something you opt to discuss and make graphics and jokes about in your free time. It’s fun. And I wish that worried you.
•It’s true that the community needs a lot of help in a world that’s hostile in a thousand ways from a thousand directions. There are a multitude of ways to offer that help, too. Faced with all the wide array of community needs (and of course I’m not scolding anybody for not building a second Lambda Legal on tumblr after they finish their AP Chem homework – that’s ridiculous – and of course I’m not blaming anyone for limiting their activity to online spheres when their irl environment isn’t safe – that’s evil) you looked at the roles you could fill and decided to be the patrolmen in mirror shades asking everyone for their identification.. And I wish that worried you.
•You and yours lift and repurpose hateful arguments from all over the place that have been used against every other community group, including gays and lesbians, despite the fact that those arguments bring underlying assumptions with them:
- “You’re endangering children!”
- “Accepting you means we’d have to accept pedophiles!”
- “You ARE just pedophiles!”
- “You have a disease.”
- “That’s not human.”
- “You’ll grow out of it.”
- “That’s not real.”
- “You want to be oppressed.”
- “If you knew better than to attract attention you’d be fine. Whatever happened to you, you brought it on yourself.”
- “You’re innately abusive and selfish and can’t be trusted as partners.”
- “You’re innately homophobic.”
- “Your presence is a danger to us by definition.”
- “If you’re not gay, you’re straight.”
- “You’re not not-straight enough to be here.”
- “Use of your own terminology is wrong. Use of existing terminology is also wrong.”
- “The community is already defined; more groups can’t just join.”
- “Not indulging someone’s sexual interest in you is hurting them.”
The baggage on these is substantial.
- “It’s healthier for kids if knowledge of certain identities is kept from them.”
- “Victimization and consent aren’t the deciding factors in whether your sexual conduct/identity/preferences are morally acceptable or not; we as a community are incapable of making decisions on this basis.”
- “Pedophilia is a label that can be casually applied to anyone whose orientation I dislike..”
- “Sexual orientation ought to be subject to medical intervention.”
- “Sexual orientation is sufficient grounds to deny someone’s humanity.”
- “What matters isn’t your present reality, it’s that something must have changed you into this and something else might change you back.”
- “People can’t be trusted to recognize their identities on their own.”
- “Opressed status is a cynical prize whose function is to get things out of other people.”
- “Your abuse is your own fault.”
- “Sexual orientation correlates to moral degeneracy.”
- “Behavior doesn’t make the bigot.”
- “The range of sexual orientations is properly understood as one goal with multiple failure states. Such failure is moral in nature.”
- “Silence and isolation are fair demands to make of marginalized people.”
- “Community is best understood as having impermeable and immobile borders and community membership must be inherited.”
- “Sex can be owed.”
I know that you didn’t build these weapons from scratch – preexisting human nastiness left them lying around. Pericisheteronormativity left them lying around. And then radfem rhetoric came along, made some aftermarket modifications, and left them lying around. But you and yours have really gotten into picking them up and swinging. I wish this worried you.
•Splash damage is getting everywhere. Under SGA logic, bi/m-spec issues are understood as identical to gay and lesbian issues, when that’s not true. Enbies get their identities forcibly collapsed into definitions that don’t fit. Ageism and ableism are flat-out necessary, if you’re going to seize on the idea that liking the option of some community social spaces that aren’t clubs and bars is homophobic.
You say you don’t like TERFs, but they love your stuff.
Why did you glom so hard onto the claim that intersex people as a group don’t want to be included in the community, when that’s not true either?
I wish this worried you.
I don’t want to cheapen the bonds you have and the love you feel for the people you do consider a part of the community; they can’t have been easily come by. And I don’t want to dismiss the visceral comfort that comes with finally making it to a place of safety and slamming the door behind you.
But I wish you could acknowledge, without its being a source of pain, that all groups whose identities represent benign violations of the dominant narrative about sex and gender and love have common cause, and that more light will come from resisting that narrative than resisting each other. That consent is the best measure of benignity. That we can have our own spaces within a much larger one.
That, to borrow physics for a needlessly poetic moment, the end of the rainbow is always farther away than it looks.