the activism bug

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Michael Smoker
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the activism bug

Postby Michael Smoker » Thu Dec 30, 2010 8:04 am

During my travels around the online asexual community, I've encountered of a number of instances of asexuality being turned into the vermiform appendix of other movements, most notably autism and LGBTQ.

I've encountered a number of fundamentally hostile and confrontational people who seem to see being ace as a portal into expanding the constituency of other visibility movements. Thankfully, I haven't encountered any here.

It seems to me that sexual orientation is fundamentally personal information, which means that it's released on a need-to-know basis. Beating people about the head with my aceness is not something I particularly want to do--or be associated with other aces doing, especially when the real aim is to promote the cause of something other than aceness.

My biggest concern is that people are going to start jumping to conclusions about me personally based on how other aces-plus-other-stuff behave. It's a concern no doubt shared by many other people with alternative orientations, who quietly live their lives and resent the screaming from the rooftops that others of their orientation do.

Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts on this matter. Again, I'm not saying anything about people on Apositive.org, just about what I've seen in other places.

Michael

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Dargon
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Re: the activism bug

Postby Dargon » Thu Dec 30, 2010 9:48 pm

Sure, sexuality is something personal, and I hope one day it can be a need-to-know sort of thing. But as things stand now, gays are often considered immoral and asexuals broken, hence the need to be out and active. Being vocal is necessary for people to realize that such people are just normal people, not the demonized freaks they have been raised to think they are.

That being said, with anything, be it sexuality, religion, or other political causes, there will be those that attempt to promote visibility in the most intrusive and obnoxious ways possible. I would say the best way to counter that is not to sit quietly by, but instead to go ahead and let it be know, and still just be yourself.

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Re: the activism bug

Postby Siggy » Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:46 pm

Michael Smoker wrote:During my travels around the online asexual community, I've encountered of a number of instances of asexuality being turned into the vermiform appendix of other movements, most notably autism and LGBTQ.

I've encountered a number of fundamentally hostile and confrontational people who seem to see being ace as a portal into expanding the constituency of other visibility movements. Thankfully, I haven't encountered any here.

LOL, I hope I wasn't one of those people. I may disagree with you sometimes, but I don't want to chase you out of every single forum.

Well, there's several things here. One is intersectionality. Most of us are not just asexuals end of story. We are real people, with all sorts of personal characteristics, and sometimes other identities. To take me as an example, I identify as gay gray-A, which has a huge impact on who I socialize with, how I deal with coming out, and what sort of relationships I seek. Also, the majority of my visibility efforts are directed at queer audiences. If we were to completely remove LGBTQ from asexual discussion, it would lose much of its relevance to my personal life.

You, too, must have some intersecting experiences. I'm sure you had the experience of going on AVEN and asking, "Are there any other asexuals who are _____?" You might have asked about something that has nothing to do with asexuality, but it was still important to you to find someone who is both asexual and ______. That's the most basic kind of intersectionality right there.

The second thing going on is that we can learn from other movements. There's no reason to reinvent the wheel, or repeat mistakes.

The third thing going on is the avoidance of hypocrisy. If you're familiar with the LGBT community, you know that relationships between the L, G, B, and T are not always happiness and rainbows. Historically, gays have oppressed lesbians, both have oppressed bisexuals, and all three have oppressed transgendered folk. How would you like to be that old white gay man who still thinks that asexuals and bisexuals are just closeted gay people? I would invest much effort to not become that person.

Michael Smoker wrote:It seems to me that sexual orientation is fundamentally personal information, which means that it's released on a need-to-know basis. Beating people about the head with my aceness is not something I particularly want to do--or be associated with other aces doing, especially when the real aim is to promote the cause of something other than aceness.

My biggest concern is that people are going to start jumping to conclusions about me personally based on how other aces-plus-other-stuff behave. It's a concern no doubt shared by many other people with alternative orientations, who quietly live their lives and resent the screaming from the rooftops that others of their orientation do.

Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts on this matter. Again, I'm not saying anything about people on Apositive.org, just about what I've seen in other places.

Michael

That may be a concern, but you can't really tell people to stop fighting for visibility, no more than they can tell you to out yourself to everyone in your life. That is to say, you can tell them, just like I can tell you to come out of the closet. Come out! It's nicer outside! :lol: ;) No, but really, it's your decision, and I'm not qualified to decide for you.

I also think you may be overestimating how much asexuals are really beating people's heads over. As I said, I'm a visible asexual in the local LGBT community, and people often thank me for this. Most of them have never met an asexual in their life, and didn't know a thing about it.

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Re: the activism bug

Postby KAGU143 » Sat Jan 01, 2011 7:05 am

I have been wanting to add something to this topic since it first appeared, but I have been too short on time to give it the attention that I think it deserves.

I think that activism is very important up to a point, insofar as it is synonymous with visibility. Without visibility we would be right back where we were when I was growing up in the 60s and 70s, thinking that I was the only asexual in the entire world and seriously wondering if life was even worth living. I honestly don't wish that experience on anybody else because it was horrible, and that is the one and only reason that I became involved in the activism part of the asexual movement.
I kept thinking, "If only I had known there were others like me," and that thought was enough to keep me involved. I became a mod at AVEN and later did TV appearances, radio and newspaper interviews - the whole bit. Nowadays I am content to stay behind the scenes and to let the next generation take over. Technically, I suppose that running this website could be seen as a form of activism but it's pretty tame compared to marching with a sign, making a YouTube video, a podcast, or things of that sort.

Now, I think that the connection between asexuality and other sexual orientations, gender dysphoria, and/or other miscellaneous conditions is a somewhat different topic.
There IS a statistical connection, but WHY? I don't entirely trust statistics but I can't totally discount them either.

The question of how to deal with the issue of so many asexuals being "asexual plus ____ " is a very good one, and I don't think it has ever been properly or even openly addressed on AVEN - probably because DJ wants to focus on asexuality ONLY as a stand-alone sexual orientation in order to gain as much public support as possible.
In a lot of cases that is exactly what it is, and that is ALL that it is, but for a significant number of people the situation is a lot more complicated.

Unofficially, and with no scientific basis or proof whatsoever, I have been privately thinking of asexuals as either innate asexuals or functional asexuals.
An innate asexual would be someone who is apparently normal in every other way; they simply lack the ability to feel sexual attraction to others.
A functional asexual would be someone whose asexuality is caused by, or associated with, something else, and there is a huge laundry list of potential "something elses" - believe me!

I haven't ever broached this topic on AVEN because I think it would be like throwing a live grenade in there. Just imagine it! This aspect of asexuality is like the elephant in the corner that nobody dares to mention, because they have enough problems with asexual elitists already.
A lot of people are very quick to say that certain others aren't "real" asexuals because of ( X, Y or Z) but I don't think that is true. I believe that a functional asexual is still a perfectly valid asexual, with their asexuality being just as "real" as anybody else's, regardless of how it came about. They are just as out of step and alienated from the sexual world as any innate asexual, and for their fellow asexuals to alienate them even more just seems needlessly cruel to me.

This would be an interesting topic to discuss in greater depth. Once again, I am short of time and I have to be elsewhere for a bit, but everybody - please feel free to offer your ideas on this topic. Disagreeing is fine, just try to be civil. :)
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Siggy
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Re: the activism bug

Postby Siggy » Sat Jan 01, 2011 9:29 am

KAGU143 wrote:Unofficially, and with no scientific basis or proof whatsoever, I have been privately thinking of asexuals as either innate asexuals or functional asexuals.
An innate asexual would be someone who is apparently normal in every other way; they simply lack the ability to feel sexual attraction to others.
A functional asexual would be someone whose asexuality is caused by, or associated with, something else, and there is a huge laundry list of potential "something elses" - believe me!

This is derailing the original topic, but... no, I disagree.

First of all, this is not an appropriate distinction. See, there are a lot of distinctions we can make between different "kinds" of asexuals. We can distinguish between left-handed and right-handed asexuals. We can distinguish between asexuals with sex drive or no sex drive. We can distinguish between asexuals with conforming and non-conforming gender. But who cares about handedness? Is sex drive really that important that it should be an essential part of our identity? Does one's gender performance really affect what kind of asexual you are, or does it just affect what kind of gender performance you have?

A distinction between functional and innate asexuals... is this really that important of a distinction to make?

Second of all, this is getting into the etiology of asexuality. Etiology is a real muddle. We can't know about the origin of people's orientation, because causation is one of the hardest facts to establish (and easiest to fool yourself into seeing). The only way to really establish causation is by careful study of an aggregate group, so it will never work as a way to distinguish individuals. In fact, I'm not even sure if it is meaningful to talk about this kind of causation pertaining to individuals.

And how meaningful is it to distinguish between two kinds of causes? Read my blog post about the difficulties of distinguishing between two or more causes (because I blog about things other than asexuality). The main conclusion is that on a fundamental level it's meaningless to talk about how much a result is caused by one factor vs another factor. (And I take it from your post that you weren't even thinking about degrees of causation yet, but you should have been.)

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Re: the activism bug

Postby SlightlyMetaphysical » Sat Jan 01, 2011 10:58 am

Siggy- I agree. People who's asexuality was caused by things shouldn't be a seperate category. After all, everyone's sexualities were caused by things.

"It seems that I have a stalker.

I left another forum because I was being subjected to both sly/underhanded and overt personal abuse, and the admins on that other forum were taking sides with the abuser. Now the abuser has stalked me to Apositive and just signed up today for the sole purpose of hurling vicious personal attacks and insults at me"


FYI, Michael- no you don't, no you weren't, and no I didn't. I am a completely different person to the one we're both referring to. And, if you look at the column on the right, you'll see that I have been here a long time, and have been a (vaguely) frequent poster.

I posted because I believed your op was a specific attack against one person, spreading misinformation, in an immature way. I still do. As well as this, I also believed that you were completely wrong on various important counts. The mods have called me out for that last post, so I'll keep away from anything personal and summarise my arguments:

You said that people who are asexual and also something else (autistic, queer romantic orientation and trans were the examples you used) should not discuss asexuality in relation to their intersections. You said that it spreads misinformation, and links you to them. I disagree with this attitude. If you're unaware of the discussion the asexual community has already had surrounding this, I suggest that you read this blog post: http://theonepercentclub.blogspot.com/2 ... xuals.html
And also, youtube search for 'unassaliable asexual', for the Hot Pieces of Ace videos.

You said that you think asexuality should be something private, which we shut up about. I don't know of any asexuals who would agree with you. Asexuality needs visibility, and asexuals need to be able to be out.

You said that you don't want to be represented by people who do activism. I'm not sure, then, who you want to represent you.

Now, we could have a discussion about methods of asexual activism. I'm prepared to accept that they're flawed, that we queer activists aren't making life easy for less queer-identified asexuals, a whole bunch of other things. But if you respond arguing with that, remember that you're arguing that a whole group of people shut up because their visible existance offends you. At various points in your op, you even applied that argument to asexuals. So I'd urge you to consider your answer carefully, and whether you have the right to be offended when other people speak.

EDITED TO ADD: Michael- I'm rapidly cooling down, and I think this post was still too harsh. I apologise for my tone, but this subject distresses me because I know a lot of people who are told to shut up about their identity because they make asexuality look bad, and I know how much it hurts. I would like to hear what you say as a response to what's been talked about here. I'll pipe down a little until I can get a more detatched, a-positive style tone going.
Last edited by SlightlyMetaphysical on Sat Jan 01, 2011 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: the activism bug

Postby KAGU143 » Sat Jan 01, 2011 11:18 am

Siggy, yours is the kind of discussion that I really enjoy.
I will read your blog and then come back later tonight when I have a better understanding of your viewpoint. (Damn real life! I need more time, dagnabbbit!)
I will also attempt to explain my own views, hopefully in a way that will make more sense. I think we might be talking about different things or maybe we are looking at the same thing from two different directions. It will be interesting to find out.

Slightly Metaphysical ... I think you are trying to take a somewhat more reasonable tone with your second post, so I will respect that and leave your comments in place this time, but it would be best to leave whatever happens at AVEN over there.
As for your views concerning the various kinds of asexuals - by all means, please state your ideas.

Maybe I am completely off base, but I am painfully aware of how much the medical community wants to discredit asexuality and to portray it as nothing more than some sort of sexual disfunction or personality disorder. My thought is that the best way to fight this attitude is to first analyze it and figure out exactly where it comes from. I don't see how we can accomplish that by refusing to take a close look at the statistical connections between asexuality and other factors.
You can rest assured that the "professionals" are doing exactly that, and I think we need to keep up with them in that area, even though we will almost certainly draw different conclusions from the same data.

More later ...
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Re: the activism bug

Postby Siggy » Sat Jan 01, 2011 11:49 am

KAGU143 wrote:Maybe I am completely off base, but I am painfully aware of how much the medical community wants to discredit asexuality and to portray it as nothing more than some sort of sexual disfunction or personality disorder. My thought is that the best way to fight this attitude is to first analyze it and figure out exactly where it comes from. I don't see how we can accomplish that by refusing to take a close look at the statistical connections between asexuality and other factors.
You can rest assured that the "professionals" are doing exactly that, and I think we need to keep up with them in that area, even though we will almost certainly draw different conclusions from the same data.

Well, okay, yes. What is inappropriate in the context of individual identities may be appropriate in the context of academic study.

But I highly doubt that academic study will ever show, or try to show, a distinction between innate and functional asexuals. I mean, how would you even design a study like that?

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Re: the activism bug

Postby Michael Smoker » Sat Jan 01, 2011 1:59 pm

There is a significant difference between visibility efforts and political action. Visibility efforts involve trying to inform people about something they are not aware of. Political action nearly always involves trying to acquire personal power under the guise of fighting social injustice on behalf of a marginalized group. People might consider my view of political action cynical, but that's how I view it.

I am a minority in only two ways: being ace (1% of the population) and being a man (47% of the world's population). By personality I am not a squeaky wheel. The result is that my perspective often gets submerged in the perspectives of those who are more vocal. If asexuality is engulfed by political action, I am increasingly going to find myself in situations where people assume that, for example, I _must_ be transgendered because all of the vocal asexuals are transgendered. That will create a new level of misunderstanding for me to have to deal with on a personal level. And before people have knee-jerk reactions, no, I don't see anything wrong with being transgendered or identified as such. I see something wrong with an identity being applied to me when it isn't accurate or relevant.

Thre's a software glitch that prevents me from seeing what I'm typing wny more so I have to stop now.

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Re: the activism bug

Postby SlightlyMetaphysical » Sat Jan 01, 2011 5:33 pm

Michael Smoker wrote:Thre's a software glitch that prevents me from seeing what I'm typing wny more so I have to stop now.


I have that one. On pretty much every forum I go on. It annoys the heck out of me.

And I've had personal experience with my university LGBT of people grabbing personal power. Call me hopelessly optimistic, but I don't think it has to be that way.

Personally, I really don't think it's likely that ALL visible asexuals will be tran or any other relatively uncommon thing. I also think you need to distinguish between the basic visibility and explaination we do, and the discussion we have among ourselves. The discussion we have among ourselves is unlikely to be found by that many people, let alone interpreted as a basic definition. It'll also largely be framed as 'this is what it's like to be both asexual and ____", which would imply just by itself that it's possible to be only one.

In short, I don't see how the mistake you're talking about would happen anything like reguarly. And, if it did happen, it would be relatively easy to correct. Unless the person decided that they wanted to invalidate asexuality by linking it to something. In which case, we have whole other problems, which couldn't be helped by any sort of evidence or rationality.

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Re: the activism bug

Postby KAGU143 » Sat Jan 01, 2011 7:35 pm

[off topic]
Just an aside - I had that same glitch, and the thing that fixed it for me was to run this website in "compatibility view." I have to do the same thing in some other places, too. I'm not sure why that is. (I'm running Vista and this computer uses a 64 bit system if that matters.)

I now return you to your regularly scheduled topic. [/off topic]
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Re: the activism bug

Postby ily » Sat Jan 01, 2011 10:49 pm

KAGU143 wrote:I believe that a functional asexual is still a perfectly valid asexual, with their asexuality being just as "real" as anybody else's, regardless of how it came about. They are just as out of step and alienated from the sexual world as any innate asexual, and for their fellow asexuals to alienate them even more just seems needlessly cruel to me.


Then what's the point of labeling them "functional" (as opposed to "innate"), which would, quite possibly, lead to their further alienation? It seems needlessly divisive. If someone wants to identify themselves as a functional asexual, I would not take issue with that. But, I would take great issue with that label being imposed on people. Especially when, as Siggy mentions, causation can't be proven. Are there "functional" and "innate" heterosexual, homosexuals, bisexuals? Personally, I find the concept to be offensive. You seem to think that people won't "see the truth", but maybe they just find your comments hurtful. I hope you don't see this comment as uncivil, but on this particular point, I just strongly disagree with you.

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Re: the activism bug

Postby Michael Smoker » Sun Jan 02, 2011 12:50 am

I'm trying to run this website in compatibility view as suggested (thanks, Nancy! :) ) and am deliberately going to make a slighly longer post in order to see whether that deals with the glitch. So please accept my apologies if I carry on longer than necessary.

The term "functional asexual" seems to me to suggest a pathology. It's as if "real" asexuals are born without sexual desire and others become asexual for other reasons, such as childhood trauma or lack of sexual fulfilment. I know that isn't what's intended, but that's how it comes across to me. Now, I have to admit that I am indeed a bit confused by the way natural asexuality is distinguished from sexual pathology, namely the concept of "lack of distress," primarily because of the many ways "distress" can be defined. Someone may have a medical condition, such as a thyroid problem, that basically shuts them down sexually, and they may have no psychological issues with their own lack of sexual interest, and may even enjoy it. Meanwhile, someone else may be naturally asexual but be pressured by society into trying to behave like they're sexual and experience significant emotional distress about it. (The latter was the case with me for several decades, and I'm sure at least some of the older aces here can identify with that.) There's also the fact that sexuality seems to be fluid over the course of a person's life, and there's no way to tell right now whether a change to an ace orientation arises out of healthy personal growth or is caused by pathology. So, although my way of expressing this is not as elegant or sophisticated as Siggy's or SM's, I have to agree with them that classifying asexuals might be premature until we have more solid scientific knowledge about asexuality. (Sorry, Nancy, I know you've been very fair and supportive to me, but this is not a personal disagreement, it's a theoretical issue. If I've totally misunderstood what you meant, please let me know.)

I should add that my personal bugaboo of politicizing science arises here. Because the primary function of politics is to pee in the apple juice, scientific questions become indeterminate once a scientific issue is politicized. It might be that human sexuality will never be understood scientifically because it has already been so politicized that objective testing of hypotheses is now impossible. This applies to the physical world as much as to the social one. I mean, is there such a thing as vestibular bulbs? They were authoritatively described in Shere Hite's report on sexuality, but anyone who cuts open a female cadaver and either does or doesn't find evidence of them can be accused of bias in one direction or another. It might even be possible that reality is different for people of different belief systems and one anatomist finds vestibular bulbs while another one doesn't, or that the former person who is now the cadaver either has them or doesn't have them according to what _her_ beliefs were in life. It's all kind of disheartening and is the major thing that makes me averse to efforts to change the world.

Michael

PS: The compatibility view suggestion appears to have worked. Thanks again!

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Re: the activism bug

Postby KAGU143 » Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:49 am

('Glad the compatibility view fix seems to have worked for you, Michael. :thumb: )

I enjoy open discussion and I don't get overly worried if people disagree with me. I certainly don't have any illusions about my ideas always being right. (I got that nonsense knocked out of me ages ago!) I guess that what I prefer, ideally, is for my views to be given some serious consideration, and then, if they fail to measure up, I like to hear some opposing views and reasons explaining why I am in error. I believe that "the truth is out there," but I think it is scattered all over the place and that we all have a piece of it - we only need to figure out how to fit them together properly. Rather than continuing to drift on in this philosophical direction, I will try to explain where I am coming from with my thoughts about innate vs. functional asexuality. You all can then procede to shoot me down with logic bullets -- I won't mind. (Okay, realistically I might whimper a little bit, but I'll get over it. :P )

There are several reasons why I have been thinking in this direction. I won't be able to cover all of them at one sitting, but ...

I will start with the curious connection between asexuality and age.

In the few years since I have been modding the Older Asexual's forum over at AVEN, I have seen several members join and begin asking questions wondering if it is possible for a person to become asexual. For the most part these members have been formerly sexual women who have recently passed menopause, and they have discovered that their former interest in sex has vanished completely, and that they don't miss it at all! In fact, they are often relieved to be done with the hassle. In "the olden days" this would have been seen as a normal part of aging and it would have been accepted as such.

But now, add in all of the media hype about sexuality and how sexual desire should NOT end, *cue the sappy music* and you can imagine their confusion and dismay. They are concerened and frightened - not by their lack of interest in sex, but by the prospect of being unable to find any kind of stable relationship that doesn't require it. In a world where good, mutually enjoyed sex seems to be the primary currency that is needed to keep a relationship, they suddenly discover that they are out of funds.
We (or AVEN) would probably catgorize them, loosely, as romantic asexuals, providing that they were happy with that description and felt that it fit them, of course.
But for some people it isn't that easy. Suddenly being told that you are asexual when you have spent your entire life seeing yourself as "normal" just Does. Not. Compute.
In a sense, it can invalidate a person's entire previous life, and that is too much for some people to cope with. The old cliche' "To pull the rug out from under someone" comes to mind, and old people can fall down and shatter into bits when that happens.

Enter the concept of "functional" asexuality as it relates to age: It says that, yes, for all practical purposes you can be asexual now even thought you weren't before, and it's okay. Sometimes this happens and we don't know why, but it's a normal occurence and you are welcome to be a part of our community if you want to be.
This approach does not invalidate a person's prior life. Instead, it gives them a sort of permission, as it were, to continue to see themselves as essentially normal, with asexuality simply being a late addition to their life. (Like the need for bifocals.)
I think that older people are more likely to be able to understand why this hair-thin distinction can be so important, but I'm not quite sure if it will make sense to everybody.
I also fear that it might meet some serious resistance, because it acknowledges the concept that asexuality can sometimes (not always) be closer to a pathology than to a sexual orientation. I am not talking about loss of libido. I am talking about the loss of sexual attraction in a person who formerly had it. Once their sexual attraction is gone, a person fits AVEN's definition of asexual.

Or do they?

If all asexuals are equal, then why do we (the asexual community at large) not rise up in righteous indignation when media reps categorically reject formerly sexual older people whenever they are looking for "representative" asexuals to interview? Instead, my observation has been that this subtle discrimination has been willingly tolerated or even, in some cases, encouraged. The irony is that this group of aging, and, for lack of a better word, "functional' asexuals may very well be the most numerous category of all.

This is only one of those elephants in the corner of the room, but let's break with tradition and talk about it.
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Re: the activism bug

Postby Siggy » Sun Jan 02, 2011 9:52 am

Michael Smoker wrote:There is a significant difference between visibility efforts and political action. Visibility efforts involve trying to inform people about something they are not aware of. Political action nearly always involves trying to acquire personal power under the guise of fighting social injustice on behalf of a marginalized group. People might consider my view of political action cynical, but that's how I view it.

Well, okay. That sounds like an awesome way to silence people. You're begging the question (Is the activist in fact just trying to acquire undeserved personal power?) Criticize activists if you like, but you've got to look at the substance of what they're saying, rather than waving around vague blanket accusations with no support other than your personal impressions.

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Re: the activism bug

Postby pretzelboy » Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:14 am

Well, this thread seems to have a weird way of talking about three very distinct things. I'm going to address the functional vs. innate asexual issue. To start with, at some level I have long thought that there is something to the distinction, though I've never come up with terms for it, largely because I think it practically unworkable and suspect that even if we knew causation, we couldn't divide people into these two categories. Also, I can't really talk about "causes" of asexuality as I suspect that asexuality, being an absence of something, is in some sense uncaused; I suspect that it is certain mechanisms not bringing about certain results.

That said, I basically agree with Siggy's criticisms and would like to add a few points to make the issue even messier. Deep down, I suspect the "causes" of asexuality may be more normaly for some people and abnormaly for others, whatever that means. However, I don't believe that anything, objectively, is a disorder/dysfunction/disease. They only become such based on a whole lot of social/human values, some of which are quite uncontroversial (if something causes death, serious pain, or major impairment of doing everyday things, that is generally a bad thing), and some of which are deeply controversial. This makes rather problematic any kind of distinction between normal and pathological causes of asexuality. (The two main areas of controversy involve the pathologization of "problems in living" and other forms of "normal pain", and the pathologization of social deviance, crime, and things that are "different" but maybe still ok.)

Based on my suspicions of the things involved in leading to asexuality, this is likely to also be a serious practical problem. Based on some of the suspected correlates of asexuality--autism spectrum conditions, being transgender, "Schizoid Personality Disorder"--my suspicions are that something relating to these involve "causes" of asexuality. But Gender Identity Disorder, Aspergers Syndrome, and Schizoid Personality Disorder are all among the more controversial "disorders" with many arguing that these are different but still ok. (For that matter, Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder is also among the more suspect, as a lot of people are like, "Seriously? Not being interested in sex is a mental disorder?")

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Re: the activism bug

Postby Michael Smoker » Sun Jan 02, 2011 1:26 pm

Nancy, the reason media interviewers seek out young aces is probably for the eye candy value. In our society, young people are perceived as intrinsically more attractive than older people, whether they really are or not; and the media have always slanted toward attractiveness. It's kind of hypocritical because they are relying on the maxim that "sex sells" even when the subject matter of their programming is _a_sexuality. (And, no, I don't believe for a second that TV and magazine interviewers seek out physically attractive interview subjects for non-sexual aesthetic value. They are using viewers' and readers' sex drives to increase circulation numbers and sell more advertising. It's that simple.)

As a lifelong, middle-aged asexual who wasted decades succumbing to the pressure to try to be "normal," I'm not personally acquainted with the notion of a life change invalidating previous experience. My discovery of asexuality as a sexual orientation accomplished the exact opposite. It VALIDATED everything I'd gone through and enabled me to look on my former tormentors and abusers with distant pity and contempt rather than powerless resentment and self-blame. So I can't relate to what you describe about menopausal women. But I can still understand it. The question I'd have to ask, tho, is whether there is anything really "functional" about the asexuality of post-menopausal women who lose all interest in sex. It isn't as if they were somehow still sexual but just unable to function sexually. They used to be sexual, and now they're aces. Unless we decide that menopause is a pathological condition, their current asexuality is perfectly normal for them, and a separate category to describe them isn't really necessary. I do agree with you that romantic asexuals have a tough time of it, but that applies to all ages of aromantic asexuals. In fact, I'd tend to think that aromantic ace teenagers have a much harder time than post-menopausal women, because when you're a teenager the pressure to be sexually active is all mixed up with unstable hormones, coming-of-age rituals and the need to establish self-reliance and self-determination. It's probably a lot harder for a 19-year-old to find a non-sexual romantic relationship than it is for a 60-year-old or 70-year-old, no matter how aggressively sexual activity among the older generation is now marketed. (Which, incidentally, happens only because the drug companies want to sell Viagra and Cialis. There is no sudden, benevolent, altruistic concern for the quality of life of older people today; there is just the never-ending desire by some people to make profits.)

Sorry about the run-on paragraph.

Michael