carnival of aces

Messages to Ace Exclusionists: September 2017 Carnival of Aces Round-up

This is the round-up of posts for the September 2017 Carnival of Aces, hosted by yours truly, with the prompt “What’s one thing you want to tell ace exclusionists?“. Posts are listed in order of submission. Thank you so much to all the contributors; I’ve really enjoyed reading all of your posts!

“Don’t hate anyone” | The Song of the Lonely Whale

Anonymous submission: “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.”

“If you include, you may be included. If you exclude, you will be excluded.” | Mundo Heterogeneo

“if I can only say one thing to an ace exclusionist, it’s that straight people don’t let us in their club, not even the heteroromantic ones among us.” | From Fandom to Family


In addition to the above submissions, ettinacat commented on the call for submissions highlighting a couple of older posts on Abnormaldiversity. Because there weren’t a whole lot of submissions this month, I’m going to include them in the round-up. The messages from these posts are:
“Being invisible isn’t a privilege.” and
Aroaces are definitely not straight

 

Guest Post: Messages to Ace Exclusionists – Anonymous Submission to the September 2017 Carnival of Aces

[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.

What’s one thing you want to tell ace exclusionists? September 2017 Carnival of Aces Call for Submissions

I’m very happy to be hosting the Carnival of Aces for the third time! (Check out my previous times as host, and my submissions to others’ topics here)

For those that don’t know, a blogging carnival is an online event where a host blog suggests a theme, and people submit pieces based around that theme.

The Carnival of Aces is a monthly blogging carnival that was started all the way back in 2011, and is currently run by the awesome ace resource The Asexual Agenda. For more information check out the Carnival of Aces Masterpost.

Last month’s Carnival was hosted by Asexual Research on the theme of “Asexuality and Academia“. Go read the post round-up [link to be added once I have it]!

This month, I want to take a look at ace exclusionists.

For some reason (technically, for a bunch of terrible reasons, I guess) there’s a contingent of LGBT people who would rather have allies included in the LGBTQIA+ initialism than ace and aro people. It’s a problem, obviously, and many ace and aro spectrum people (and allies) have put a lot of hard work into pushing back against this exclusionary attitude.

For this month’s Carnival of Aces, I’m hoping to pull together a bunch of great sound-bites (and, of course, longer form thoughts) to use in response to ace exclusionists. With that in mind, I’m making the theme a question:

What’s the one thing you most want to tell ace exclusionists?

Of course, please don’t feel like you actually have to limit yourself to one thing! I’m mostly just hoping to be able to compile a variety of solid soundbites for the round-up, which will be expanded on within your posts.

You can submit your responses by commenting on this post, through Twitter (@valprehension), or by email (valprehension@gmail.com).

I look forward to reading what you all have to say!

Asex Ed? – Carnival of Aces Submission June 2017

[This post as a part of the Carnival of Aces, a monthly blog carnival centring around topics relating to asexuality. This month’s  carnival is hosted by Writing Ace on the topic of Asexual Education.]

For this topic, I am focusing on one of the specific suggested prompts: “How should asexuality be taught to children? Where and when should asexuality be taught to children?”

I have a lot of thoughts about the ways in which we teach (or don’t teach, as the case often is) children about sexuality. Sexuality really can be much simpler than we make it most of the time, if we manage to look past the strange moral filters and anxieties so many of us carry around these topics.

For instance, lots of parents have a dread of the day their children first ask where babies come from, because that means they need to tell their kid about the s-e-x word now. Except it doesn’t mean that at all, as it turns out!

My favourite book about baby-making for children is  Cory Silverberg’s What Makes a Baby? In the book, you learn that babies are made when you put together sperm with an ovum (some bodies make sperm, and some don’t; some bodies make ova and some don’t), and give the blastocyst this creates somewhere to live (a uterus! Some bodies have ’em, and some don’t!)

Ta-da! Simple as that, and sex doesn’t enter the conversation. I mean, for the record, it’s not that I think we need to avoid taking to kids about sex, it’s just that not all babies are made from people having sex anymore, and honestly, when children innocently ask about where babies come from, they don’t really want to know about what a man and woman do when they fall in love. In some cases, they’re probably more worried about whether their body might start growing a baby inside of it than anything else. It’s ok.

So, when do we talk to kids about sex? This is something we do need to talk to children about implicitly from a very young age – as young as possible really, simply because of the shockingly high rate of childhood sexual abuse. We need to teach children about their bodies and the ways it is and isn’t ok for other people to touch them. But the explicit conversation is less important, really.

And, if it were up to me, that standard birds-and-bees talk would be massively different as well. And yes, it would include asexuality, at least implicitly!

Something along the lines of this:

Sometimes grownups like to touch each other in special ways! [Talk about touching genitals, what genital arousal and orgrasm (generally) look like, various kinds of intercourse etc.]  We usually refer too all of these things as “having sex”. Sometimes people just touch themselves in ways that feel this way, too – we usually call that masturbation, but it’s a part of our sexuality too!

Having sex is normal, and can be really great if all the people involved want to do it, but this kind of touching can also carry some risks [talk about stis, pregnancy, and what acts do and don’t carry those risks. Note that pregnancy is only a risk for certain combinations of genitals etc].

Most people like to have sex because it feels really good to them (and some people have sex for other reasons, like if they want to get pregnant, or to make someone else feel good), but just like not everyone loves chocolate, not everyone likes sex either, and that’s ok! And some people only like certain kinds of sex, and not others, or only like to masturbate, and that’s all ok too.

Sometimes having sex can also make people feel more emotionally close to each other. In fact, lots of people have strong emotional reactions to having sex in different, but some don’t. Sometimes being in love with someone is what makes a person want to have sex with another person, but sometimes people have sex with each other just because they like how each other looks, or because they enjoy spending time together!

Not everyone falls in love or wants to have romantic relationships, but they can still have sex if they want to and if someone else wants to have it with them! And not everyone likes to have sex with anyone ever! All of these things are ok, and only you can decide how or when or who you want to have sex with, or if you even want to have sex ever at all!

If you really wanted to, you could mention that some people only ever want to have sex with people who are of a specific gender (some women only want to have sex with women, and some women only want to have sex with men, while others might want to have sex with people of different genders), but I think that if you manage to talk about sex in a gender-inclusive way and if children actually internalize the idea that it’s ok to want to have sex with people of whatever gender, no matter what gender you happen to be, then it kind of doesn’t matter if they are only attracted to one gender or another?

Anyway, yes, that’s my ideal way of framing what sex is, (with the existence of asexuality built right into the discussion!) not just to kids, but to literally anyone!

Casual physical intimacy, and “cuddle dialogue”! May 2017 Carnival of Aces submission

[This post is a part of the Carnival of Aces. This month’s carnival is hosted by From Fandom to Family on the topic of “Kissing, Hand Holding, Bed Sharing, etc.”]

I was vegging out with my nesting partner recently, cuddling on the couch and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for umpteenth time, when my brain coined the phrase “cuddle dialogue” as I was trying to articulate something about our compatibility as cuddlers. Because the thing is, for me at least, the best cuddling very much is a non-verbal dialogue of sorts: it’s active, and responsive to each other. And this partner and I have got it down, to be honest. Our bodies comfortably communicate very well with each other, without needing to cerebralize it. And it’s a beautiful thing!

It’s also a significant thing, because when it comes to romantic relationships, casual physical intimacy is honestly one of the most important things in the world to me!

This can seem a little strange, because I am not a particularly touchy-feely person in general. Although this has softened somewhat as I’ve become (marginally) less socially awkward in transitioning from young adulthood to regular adulthood, I am still reticent to initiate physical contact with people in general.

Once I’ve established a level of physical intimacy with someone though, all bets are off (within the boundaries of what the other person is comfortable with, of course!) Basically, if a romantic partner is within reach of me, I’m going to want to be touching them, even if it’s just putting my hand on their arm while passing by them at home.

This all seems clearly related to my demisexuality, since I basically work on an all-or-nothing basis in terms of how I feel about physical intimacy with people – cuddle-attraction definitely goes hand-in-hand with sexual attraction for me. Which is to say, such desire doesn’t exist at all for me with most people, most of the time, until suddenly it does – and then, boy howdy does it!

However, this doesn’t mean that sensual and sexual touching are the same for me! Cuddling, in and of itself, is incredibly important to me, and in particular it is absolutely necessary for me to experience non-sexual physical intimacy in my romantic relationships. Touch that isn’t fraught by my partner’s desire to have sex with me is a must-have.

The paradox with that, though, is that this kind of unfraught touch will inevitably lead to me wanting more sexualized touch as well. Or at least, it does provide a necessary framework of safety and comfort for me to be open to that kind of desire.

My relationship with physical intimacy seems very simple in some ways – my internal experience of my bodily and emotional responses are largely unambiguous (though I still sometimes struggle to trust them), but becomes a complicated mess when I try to put words on it. So this post has been a struggle for me to write, and hasn’t wound up looking like what I thought it would, but here I am at the end of the month and I want to get something out, so yes. Those are some thoughts I had in response to this month’s prompt!

The best parts of ace communities, or: how my connection to ace communities converted me into a Hufflepuff

[This post is part of the January 2017 Carnival of Aces, hosted by Ace Advice on the theme of “Many ways to be ace“.]

Cross-stitch by me! Photo by John D. Botelho

Cross-stitch by me! Photo by John D. Botelho

I’m really happy about this month’s prompt, because it helped me realize that a bunch of thoughts I’ve been having lately are worth writing down. As I mentioned in a past Carnival post, I have a strange sense of identity with respect to asexual community/ies, in that even though I am comfortable with my a-spec, demisexual identity, I feel like my role with respect to asexuality is more akin to allyship than anything else.

To a great extent, this comes from my allosexual-passing privilege, but it also relates to the fact that I am always extremely cognizant of how non-typical my flavour of asexuality is. But then, the more deeply I delve into ace communities, the clearer it is becoming to me that there isn’t really a ‘typical’ when it comes to ace-ness. Better yet, ace communities – possibly more than any other marginal-identity-oriented communities I’ve witnessed or participated in – often actively embrace and even centre the true breadth of diversity of ace experiences across multiple spectra.

The way that ace communities – at least in my experience – go well beyond acceptance and often outright celebrate our diversity is just so utterly squee-worthy. I just love it, and it’s the reason ace-focused spaces are some the safest and most pleasant spaces I’ve ever encountered.

And one of the sillier and more unexpected consequences of all of these experiences is that I’ve rethought my Hogwarts House! I have always been a pretty clear Ravenclaw by all accounts (I am a librarian, after all…), including Pottermore’s Sorting Hat. But, that is no longer where my allegiance lies! I am, in fact, quite certain I’m a Hufflepuff.

The thing about Hufflepuff you see, is that it’s the house for everyone, or at least anyone. Hufflepuff sometimes gets a bad rap or simply goes unnoticed, because it’s hard to apply a clear strength or trait to it (like Gryffindors courage or Slytherin’s ambition), not because Hufflepuffs are inherently unremarkable, but because Helga Hufflepuff believed that everyone had value and was happy to have anyone in her house.

Hufflepuff is the kind of club I want to be in, is what I’m saying. And, given Helga’s attitude about it, I’m quite certain that wanting to be in Hufflepuff is more than sufficient qualification to get sorted into Hufflepuff (we know the Sorting Hat takes that sort of thing into consideration, even!).

And I’d like to think that many of the lovely aces of all kinds would be right there with me :)

Am I a private person? I can’t even tell anymore

[This post is for the December 2016 Carnival of Aces, hosted by the A³ blog, on the topic of “Asexuality and Privacy“]

I have a… very strange and contradictory relationship to my personal privacy. On the one hand, I have been blogging pretty regularly, for almost four years now(!), about all kinds of extremely ‘private’ thoughts and feelings, around my gender, sexuality, and all kinds of other things.

I have also been systematically pulling my blogging persona and my general IRL persona closer together as the years have passed. When I started Valprehension, ‘Kasey’ was a pseudonym, but now it’s my legal name. I post links to my professional writing here sometimes, so y’all pretty much know where I work now. I haven’t explicitly linked anything in my professional persona back to here, but anyone who cared enough to do some digging would find this blog pretty easily.

On the other hand, I have always been weird about discussing my personal life with anyone but my closest friends. I’m queer, and non-monogamous; I am non-binary and have a non-binary partner; I am on the asexual spectrum. I don’t hide any of these things, but I also often just avoid topics directly or indirectly related to them because I just don’t feel like getting into these things. Back at my old retail job, even after I’d been there for over a year – and at the time I wore a wedding ring every day, for the record – people were still regularly surprised when they realized I was married. I just never really mentioned my spouse, because… um, it didn’t come up?

I think that in general, I want people  to know these things about me, but I don’t want to deal with their immediate reactions to them. This is why I find it easier to be open in online contexts than in-person ones, regardless of whether the people I am interacting with know me in real life.

…Or, maybe not ‘regardless’. I am always a little bit reluctant to connect with work colleagues on facebook, for instance, though I’d be hard-pressed to really articulate why. I think I just fear the moment-of-truth transition where people go from not knowing to knowing this sort of potentially relationship-complicating stuff about me, even though I’m happier once it’s over with, generally.

My ace-spectrum status in particular is one that most people are unlikely to ever know about me. Basically unless you read this blog, it’s not likely something that’s going to come up. In part this is because my relationship status pretty heavily obscures and misdirects people from even the possibility that I am ace (largely because of misconceptions about asexuality), and makes it even more unlikely that it will come up.

I can see it coming up if someone were curious about my dating habits as a non-monogamous human (since, as I’ve written about here, here, and here, my demisexuality is highly relevant in that context), but at the same time I prefer to do my coming-out about things implicitly, rather than by explicitly stating my identities: my queerness can be outed by the pronouns (and other gender-marked words) I use for partners (at least, when I’m dating people whose pronouns aren’t the ones that make people assume I’m straight); people may realize I’m non-monogamous if, for instance, they notice that I sometimes refer to a spouse, and sometimes to a boyfriend, or if they realize over time that the things I say about “my partner” at various times can’t possibly always be referring to the same person, etc.

I don’t think there’s any instances where me just talking about my day-to-day life would tip my hand about being demisexual, though, so ultimately this aspect of my identity is more private than many others, even though that’s not by design.

I’m not really sure what my conclusion here is, to be honest. But I do wonder whether some of this will resonate with other people, and I look forward to seeing the other submissions to this month’s carnival!