okcupid

An open letter to OKCupid about the proposed “Real Name” policy

I just heard about this new OKC policy shortly before this post popped into my feed. OKCupid is planning to replace usernames with people’s first names (presumably to be more like Tinder?) There’s a whole pile of reasons why this is a shitty idea, and the Bearded Genderqueer makes the point very clearly here.

The Bearded Genderqueer

Here is a copy of what I wrote in the OKCupid feedback form in response to their proposed policy change that would require real first names instead of custom usernames by the end of 2017.

Dear OKC team,
I’ve been a user since 2004, I met my spouse here, and I’ve had many relationships ranging from casual to long term that started on your site. I love a lot about your site and I am usually a fan of your changes, especially those to reduce unwanted and harassing messages. I’m not the type to complain every time someone releases a new feature, even if I’m not a fan.

However, I sincerely hope that by “real name policy” you don’t mean to police that like Facebook has done to the detriment and harm of transgender people. For many people, the name that everyone knows them by is not the name on…

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Online dating while genderqueer: I feel gross right now

[Content note: cissexism, genitals]

Every once in a while I will get a message from some dude on OKCupid who wants to know if he can ask me some questions, because y’know, he’s just a straight shooter, the kind of guy who lays all his cards on the table. He probably doesn’t mince words either, and maybe he just wants to get right to the point.

Anyway, the point is, he wants to know about my junk. And what kind I have.

Mostly I don’t super care about these questions – my standard response is “None of your business, since if it matters to you, then I’m not interested anyway.”

But sometimes they manage to be extra creepy about it. The most recent dude, for no apparent reason, made a point of letting me know that he had scoured my profile and all of the photos I included, but that he had not been able to determine on his own what my genitals looked like.

I suspect that this is because I, shockingly enough, have not included and photos of my genitals on my OKC profile. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be allowed to even if I wanted to. Nor do I describe my genitals in any of the written sections of my profile. Go figure.

But more to the point, my PSA of this day is:

Unless you are looking at a person’s genitals, or a picture of their genitals, no amount of searching their appearance for ‘clues’ or whatever will allow you to tell what genitals they have. The fact that so many people think this is possible is because they are cissexist douches.

That is all.

Be yourself (but stretch): dating while demisexual (April 2016 Carnival of Aces submission)

This month’s theme is a very challenging one, and I want to thank our lovely host over at A3 for coming up with it!. For this post, I am going to focus specifically on ways that I can affirm and celebrate my demisexuality in a dating context, since that has been on my mind of late anyway, and because I do feel that it can be a perpetual struggle for me.

I have adopted a strategy of being reasonably upfront about my demisexuality in some (largely passive) ways, in the way I date. My sexual orientation is listed as queer and demisexual on my OKC profile, and I have a link to this blog from my profile as well, for anyone going for extra credit.

People tend to miss those indications, though. Which is fair. I don’t often look at people’s basic stats when I’m on OKC either – I do filter by some of them, but once I’m at a profile I’m far more interested in what people have written there then which boxes they checked.

And I don’t talk about being demisexual when I am on dates with people. So I think a lot of the people I date don’t know about it really. It’s weird, because on the one hand I am afraid of discouraging people, but on the other hand, I want to discourage the kind of people who would be discouraged by that, anyway, so. I don’t know.

I’ve… gotten pretty good at seeming kinda allosexual (mostly accidentally, in how I coped with the weirdness of dating while demisexual back when I had the extra challenge of not realizing that I was demisexual) over the years, in small ways. I usually know within a couple of dates if there is just going to be nothing happening with a person, to be honest, so I can cut things short before people start really expecting sex to happen, so there’s that. And I think there have been times when I have just faked it til I made it – I don’t have to actually be attracted to someone to enjoy sex with them, though I do enjoy it immensely more when I am.

So yes. I guess my approach to dating while demisexual is very much a case of being myself, but stretching that self to fit more closely to expectations. Though I don’t entirely know why I do that, other than a long-standing ingrained habit of avoiding awkwardness, or more specifically, of avoiding disappointing people. I’m… not entirely comfortable with it though, when I think about it.

I am definitely interested to see what others are contributing to this topic, and whether my feelings of discomfort around it are shared!

Brief thought: Online dating while genderqueer/This is not what allyship looks like

I got an OKCupid message last week which contained the statement “I fully believe in being non-binary”.

All I could think was “Oh thank goodness, since we enbies depend on the Fairy Dust Principle and other people’s belief in our existence is the only thing keeping us alive.”

Snark aside, though, this sort of thing pisses me off. If the best you can offer me is “I believe that you exist”, I will not have the patience to deal with you. Particularly, as a person who wants to date me, if this is the best you can offer, you are probably going to be a major dysphoria trigger for me when all is said and done.

Like, literally, the best you can do is “Hey, I’m not going to gaslight you or explicitly deny your gender identity”? That is not good enough. Especially since I know to take literally anything anyone says on a dating site with enough of a grain of salt to translate “I fully believe in being non-binary” into “I’m willing to avoid saying anything snarky about non-binary genders for a little while if it will get me laid.”

/rant

March 2016 Carnival of Aces Roundup

Here is the roundup of posts for this month’s Carnival of Aces, on the topic of gender norms and asexuality! I loved being the host this month, and I have enjoyed reading all of your submissions so much; there has been much squeeing with joy, so thank you all who contributed! Without further ado, here are this month’s submissions, in the order I received them:

Passive vs. Active Femininity: Does Asexuality Affect It? | the notes which do not fit
Sara examines the ways in which her femininity is often the result of passive conformity to female norms rather than an active gender expression, and considers whether her approach to femme-ness is related to her asexuality.

(a)Gender and (a)Sexuality: Chickens and Eggs | darkmetineknight
Maris considers the ways in which kyr dysphoria contributes to kyr sex-repulsion, and vice versa, and the way these things feed back into kyr agender and asexual identity, concluding that they are so deeply related they can’t possibly be pulled apart.

Female Stereotypes and Asexuality | aroacelennie
Lennie writes about how, despite their agender identity, other people often try to frame the aro and ace aspects of their identity through common female archetypes.

When Dudes Talk Gender & Asexuality | The Ace Theist
Coyote unpacks some of the oversimplifications and other problems with the ways some asexual guys talk about the tensions between their gender and their asexuality.

Gender and Asexuality | quizzicalsloth
Amber explores potential explanations for asexual people’s tendency to not feel a strong connection to binary genders, from a personal perspective, and considers how gender plays a role in their experiences of platonic and aesthetic attractions, and relationships.

Do gender roles serve any purpose for asexuals? | It’s An Ace Thing
Dee questions the purposes gender norms serve, and concludes that many gender norms simply don’t serve asexual people.

Genderqueer and demisexual: two sides of the same coin for me | Valprehension
I wrote about the ways in which my genderqueerness and my demisexuality are inextricably tangled up with each other, and fundamental to my overall identity and sense of self.

Sexism at work | A3
The author of A3 relates their experiences of sexism (and heterosexism) in the workplace, as an agender aro ace who is not out about those aspects of their identity, and who is perceived as a woman.

Gender, Or Why I’m Glad I’m Aro/Ace | Grey Is My Favourite Colour
Mara explains why they’re glad to be aro/ace, because of the potential complications of parsing gendered attractions (and sexual/romantic orientations) as a non-binary person.

The Healer Role | Prismatic Entanglements
Elizabeth considers her tendency to take on healer roles in video games, and considers how this role relates to her identity as a cisgender woman, and the ways in which this tendency is reflected (and not) in her asexual activism.

By nature of being asexual, I’m defying gender norms | From Fandom to Family
luvtheheaven unpacks some of the interactions between gender norms, (especially heteronormativity) and asexuality, and how those norms can make it difficult to come to an asexual identity, and even more difficult to get others to understand it.

Gender Norms and Asexuality | Aro Ace Gin
Gin considers the ways in which her asexuality has impacted her relationship to her gender as a cis woman.

Asexual E-Dating Diaries #1 | la pamplemouse
The author of la pamplemouse talks about her early attempts at online dating as an asexual cis woman.

Non-Binary Gender Norms and (A)Sexuality: Yeah, No | Queer As Cat
Vesper talks about why they just don’t see any connection between gender norms and sexuality for them, given that there are no gender norms that apply to their gender (maverique) in the first place, and much more!

On Gender and Asexuality | conasultingamadman
Bonnie explains how embracing her asexuality helped her understand her relationship to both femininity and androgyny, describes her journey toward a panromantic identity, and considers her feelings around others’ perceptions of her as a cis het white girl.

My Gender Aesthetics are All Kinds of Ace | The City of Cuova
S. Knaus unpacks the ways in which their asexuality has freed them up to explore their personal gender aesthetics without regard for whether they are attractive to others, and many other things.

Asexuality and Gender Presentation | [A] Life of Experiences
Jeremy writes about his experience in trying to subtly play with his gender presentation, how his asexual identity helped him find the confidence to do so, and both his struggles and enjoyment in pushing back against being seen as just another straight dude.

Obscure lines: agender and asexual comes together | golden weasel
golden weasel writes about the ways in which their agender-ness and asexuality are inter-related.

What Are You? A Question of Mixed Race, Gender, And Asexuality | Halfthoughts
The author of Halfthoughts explores the relationships and parallels among their Hapa/mixed race, asexual, and non-binary identities.

Gender in Space | Becoming a Person
elainexe explores her general lack of any strong gender identity, and her attempts to understand what gender is, linking some of her observations back to her asexuality.

No | Aros and Aces
Roses considers a wade range of influences – from Purity Culture to Megan Trainor – on their developing identity, and the ways in which coing to an aro ace agender identity has freed them from a lot of the baggage they were handed growing up.

“But what are you, really?”: or, what the actual fuck, OKCupid?

So, OKC’s expanded gender and orientation options seem to have been extended to all accounts now. I was super excited to get a message from my hubby letting me know the options had gone live (I was depending on him for the news, because I had to hibernate my account when the first-stage changes went through) and immediately reactivated my account and got to work updating it.

I deleted my overly-expository profile opening explaining that my basic profile stats were incorrect. And I hit “edit” on the basic stats.

I selected “Non-binary” and “Genderqueer” as my gender identifiers. It felt awesome to be able to do so.

I scrolled down.

The next question was: “Include me in” with a drop-down menu giving precisely two options: “searches for women” and “searches for men”. You must pick one, and you can only pick one, in order to update your stats.

For the record, you can absolutely pick both “woman” and “man” as identifiers. But even then you have to pick only one set of searches to appear in.

If you choose only to specifically identify as a “Trans Woman” or a “Trans Man”, you get asked to verify what you really mean by that. Because it’s not like they can possibly know what that means, right?

If you choose “Androgynous” and “Woman”, you get asked what binary category you really belong in.

If you choose “Man”, “Cis Man”, “Woman” or “Cis Woman”, the question does not exist. If you choose both “Man” and “Cis Man”, even, you do not get the question.

It’s only if your gender is weird and clearly totally incomprehensible (like, y’know, “Trans Woman”, srsly wtf I can’t even) that you get the question.

Fuck you, OKC. On so many levels, this is truly appalling.

What I really am, OKC, is genderqueer. What I really am is non-binary. What I really am interested in is dating people who want to/are explicitly happy to date non-binary people. Those are the searches I want to be included in.

And yes, I do realize that will significantly reduce the number of people who see my profile. I consider that to be a fucking advantage.

And, I want to be clear, I actually don’t object on a base level to non-binary and/or binary trans people deciding whether they want to appear in searches for whichever binary gender they might be happy being included in. What I don’t understand is why the options are binary, why you can only select one, or even why you must select any at all – it wouldn’t be awful if I never showed up in anyone’s searches, but was still able to message people and reach them that way, after all.

Fix your fucking shit, OKC.

I’m done.

OKCupid’s expanded gender and orientation options

As I mentioned last week, the dating site OKCupid is expanding the options for gender and orientation available to its members. The new option set (currently only available to a small set of users, as a test phase) allows users to pick up to five identifiers from lists of options that appear to be as follows (presented here in alphabetical order, though they aren’t presented that way on OKC):

Orientation

  • Asexual
  • Demisexual
  • Bisexua
  • Gay
  • Heteroflexible
  • Homoflexible
  • Lesbian
  • Pansexual
  • Queer
  • Questioning
  • Sapiosexual
  • Straight

So this list of “orientations” – I specifically describe it this way, though many places are reporting these changes at OKC as an expansion of “sexuality” options, because that’s how the category is defined on OKC (as orientation)… So the issue here is hopefully obvious? Because yes, that list above is a list entirely composed of sexual orientations, not orientations generally. And given that this is a dating site, I really think it should be obvious to the people who managed to put asexual and demisexual on that list that maybe the people who identify that way would also want to be able to state their romantic orientation. Y’know, for the purpose of dating? That would be nice. And also presumably not that hard to add in given that for matching purposes, romantic orientations can be mapped very similarly to sexual ones. So, here’s hoping that this change gets made before the final roll-out (though I’m not holding my breath…)

Gender

  • Agender
  • Androgynous
  • Bigender
  • Cis Man
  • Cis Woman
  • Gender Nonconforming
  • Genderfluid
  • Genderqueer
  • Hijra
  • Intersex
  • Man
  • Non-binary
  • Other
  • Pangender
  • Trans Man
  • Trans Woman
  • Transfeminine
  • Transgender
  • Transmasculine
  • Transsexual
  • Two Spirit
  • Woman

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this, actually. I like that “woman”, “cis woman”, and “trans woman” are all options (so no one is forced to identify whether they were AFAB in order to identify as a “woman”, though they can is they want. Ditto for men. It is interesting to me that “Hijra” and “Two Spirit” are included, as the only culturally specific non-binary genders (although the category of “genderqueer” can also be seen as a primarily White, generally Western category, it’s not one thathas really acheived broad recognition or the kind of actual societal space that Two-Spirited people, for instance, can find within their cultures), whereas many other cultures have had third gender categories that aren’t represented here. I don’t know enough to take this analysis any further, though.

I have seen some trans folk concerned that these new options will open us up to more anti-trans harassment and violence on the site. It’s true that explicitly identifying as trans (or not doing so, for that matter) could result in a lot of trolling. But I’m not convinced it will really involve an increase in trolling. When I change my gender options, it will become easier for people with the explicit intent of trolling genderqueer folk to find and target me, it’s true. But at the same time, the straight-forward identification of my gender as it is will remove the need for the weird dance I sometimes have to do, where I try to figure out whether this new person messaging me actually understands that I’m not a woman. The last first date I went on (after having a perfectly pleasant conversation about gender on OKC) involved being called a “girl” the entire evening, so.

And personally, I’d rather deal with more open trolls in order to reduce the number of times I think I might be making a genuine connection with someone who turns out to be an ass who is only really concerned about what’s in my pants, and whether that’s acceptable to them (because seriously, if that’s a major concern for you, you’re not getting into my pants anyway.) Because it’s much harder for me to deal with ignorance from someone I think I might kinda like, than from some random.

Trolls are gonna troll, basically. But giving people more options for how they want to express and manage their identity on a doing site is always better than not doing so.