The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

For discussion of general issues pertaining to asexuality.
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KAGU143
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The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby KAGU143 » Thu Oct 20, 2011 3:15 pm

I know this has the potential to become a hot topic, so I want to start off by asking everybody to try to stay objective. We can discuss things here at Apositive that dare not be mentioned on AVEN, so I have decided to do exactly that. This is the continuation of a post that I started in the "Reviving Apositive" thread.

By focusing on asexuality as purely a minority sexual orientation, I believe that DJ is trying to play down the statistical relationships between it and a host of other things, like sexual abuse, autism, several other mental conditions, gender dysphoria, hormonal imbalances, and - something that is almost a forbidden topic of discussion at AVEN - age. I am probably missing some other factors, too. I think he is setting himself up to fail in the long term by not addressing the "cause and effect" side of asexuality in more depth. It might also be possible that he is hoping for someone else to tackle those aspects and to try to fit them into the overall picture.

Put simply:
Many people are born asexual and, for them, it is a perfectly normal state of being. This situation is ideally suited to inclusion within the "we were BORN this way" LGBT movement.

However,
A person can also become asexual (or "functionally asexual", if you prefer) due to a variety of reasons, and once it happens they can fit the definition of asexual to perfection, meaning that they will experience no sexual attraction whatsoever, to anybody, and that they will be perfectly content to remain like that for life. This situation is NOT suited to inclusion within the LGBT movement - in fact, it undermines everything that they stand for. The very last thing that they want to consider is that a minority sexual orientation might sometimes be associated with some sort of mental or physical pathology. The ramifications of that are staggering, because the next assumption that follows (albeit wrongly) is that it can't possibly be natural and should therefore be "cured" if at all possible.
Hence, AVEN is in the very awkward position of having to deny the relevance of something that is plainly visible to anybody who wishes to look for it.

Seeing DJ's movie really drove home the message of how dependent he has become on the LGBT activist movement. At this point, I don't think he is able to separate himself from it.
I am not 100% sure that his approach is the best one for educating the general public about asexuality as a whole, but I am also not sure that it isn't.
It is not a simple black and white issue because such a large percentage of asexuals do, in fact, identify as queer. "Queer" in the most general sense simply means "not heterosexual", and I believe that that is DJ's way of looking at it. DJ's views will end up being those that AVEN endorses by default, because it is, after all, his website - even if he wants no part of running it.

But Apositive can be different from AVEN if we wish to be. I will probably end up affecting this site's overall feel as much as DJ has affected AVEN, but I want to consider the views of our membership nonetheless, because my own views are subject to change if I see tangible proof that I am wrong.

So ... How do you think that the existence of asexuality SHOULD be made visible to the public?
For instance, do you think that DJ has chosen the best approach?
Do you think it can be successfully explained or defined as only a minority sexual orientation, or do you think that it would be better if it were defined as a state of being which can result from any of a wide spectrum of causes, some innate and some acquired?
Do you think that more than one approach can be used at the same time?
Other ideas?

I don't really expect answers to those questions in order, or anything like that. I am hoping that they will serve as general guides to establish the topic - nothing more.

Let's see if we can discuss without having a war. (I don't want to drag out that ol' ugly admin stick and start flailing around with it, but I have it laying around here someplace ...)
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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby flergalwit » Thu Oct 20, 2011 4:36 pm

Actually the relationship between the "born this way" thing and LGBT is really not that clear cut. Sexual fluidity is coming to be recognised as a valid sexual identity within the LGBT movement.

There have been debates on AVEN recently about fluidity. The "born this way" hard-liners were - with one possible exception - all people opposed to LGBT inclusion. Every pro-LGBT person in the discussion supported the idea that orientations can change. (References to be supplied upon request.)

I actually completely agree with your point about correlations. Another one that has long bothered me is the apparent correlation between introversion and asexuality. (Yes I know, this might be distorted by so much of the movement being online, but still.) But again I don't think the restrictions on discussing this has to do with LGBT per se. I think it's more to do with AVEN being a safe space. Again safe spaces are all well and good, but the safety restrictions tend to distort the overall discourse. "Safe" is not the same as "valid" after all!

Back to the original topic: I'm one who has spent way too long debating (and defending) LGBT inclusion online. But I've come to think that "should we be involved with LGBT" is the wrong question. The correct one is: how can we better reach out to the non-LGBT public *in addition to* (not instead of) the queer community. The efforts of DJ in LGBT and that of (far lesser) players such as myself are not going to stop. But I'd definitely support reaching out more to other groups.

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby Harmony » Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:13 pm

I believe DJ doesn't have to be involved in running the site because enough people are there to relay his message. Asexuality is his version regardless of how it was discussed before and other definitions used for it. He was the one who decided to frame it as a sexual orientation so that he could ride coattails of the LGB activists.

I look at some of the responses people have received when "coming out" as asexual and I can actually understand why they are receiving some of those responses. It's not that the people lack understanding and acceptance, it is that they question how the whole concept is being portrayed. You have to admit that Dr. Joy had those concerns also.

It would be foolhardy for me to define myself or talk about myself based on the political motivations of someone else.

My impression when I saw Montel and 20/20 with the media team from AVEN is that this was a group of people who lived very contented lives without partnered sex being a requirement in their lives or relationships. If this could have been presented as a response to the current societal message that everyone must want sex and pursue sex and how that message doesn't work for everyone, then that would have been quite helpful. It could have drawn alot of people to AVEN (both "asexuals" and "sexuals") who would agree that part of their engaging in sex was based on outside pressure and from here on out, they will do what they want to do because they want to do it and not for reasons external to themselves or the relationship. And they will pick their relationships accordingly including deciding not to be in one.

Instead, however, it is phrased as a sexual orientation and there seems to be pressure for everyone to figure out their sexual orientation. But sexual orientation has to do with the comparative sex between you and your significant other. What does being content without having sex in your life have to do with this?

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby Olivier » Fri Oct 21, 2011 12:08 am

Harmony, that would be well and good if what people were talking about was promoting the acceptance of low libido, or the rejection of oversexualisation in our culture.

Both of those are interesting and reasonable topics for discussion, but they're not the same as discussing asexuality. My own relationship is a case in point. We're neither of us much given to being pushed into our views by the media. We're pretty grounded, mature adults and we don't even have a television. Neither of us is or was trying to make our relationship "like it's expected to be", but simply we've tried to make it what we want it to be. It's fairly non-traditional in a number of ways, and hugely successful. But still, the way we approach sex - how we interpret it, what our expectations are, and what our wants are - just didn't click. Not having even heard of asexuality, we naturally approached the problem as one of libido mismatch, and (because it wasn't a libido mismatch) pretty much everything we tried failed.

Low libido and reaction against oversexualisation both deal with the issue quantitatively: how much sex is reasonable? Is none reasonable? How should people deal with differences in how much sex each wants or expects?

What that discussion totally fails to address is the idea that there can be qualitative differences in how people experience sex. Our issues just weren't quantitative, they were utterly qualitative. Seeing it as an orientation mismatch explains everything. We have far more in common with couples where one partner is straight and the other gay than we do with couples where one has a high libido and the other low or none.

To frame asexual discourse as being no more than deciding that it's possible to be content with no sex actually erases the asexual (as opposed to libidoless sexual) experience, just as you carelessly commit bisexual (and asexual) erasure by blithely asserting that "sexual orientation has to do with the comparative sex between you and your significant other."

There surely is a place for discussing acceptance of sexless lifestyles, but for that to come at the expense of understanding that sexual orientation is more complicated than checking your partners genitals to see what shape they are is too high a price. That sort of oversimplification, and the invisibility of asexuality that goes with it, caused me and my partner 17 years of unnecessary difficulties regarding sex that are largely behind us now, and any activism that seeks to put an end to that oversimplification and invisibility is activism I approve of.

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby Harmony » Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:52 pm

Olivier, that is all "sexual orientation" addresses, the comparative sex between two people in a significant (to them) relationship. Since so much more goes into how people form relationships, focusing on whether two people have the same looking genitals or not is superficial at best. If you choose to label yourself a heterosexual and make that announcement, according to the formal definition all it means is that you have an established pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to members of the opposite sex. All we can possibly surmise is that if you were to form an emotional, romantic, and/or sexual relationship with another person, that person would likely be female. And while that might be significant to you, it's not the only thing that is significant, is it?

While you and your wife may have qualitative differences on your views of sex, that isn't enough for me or a whole lot of other folks to agree that you are mismatched orientation. You two are obviously oriented towards each other and attracted to each other on some level. That's all that is really required for you to be labeled a heterosexual couple made up of two heterosexual people.

The concept of "sexual orientation" was an attempt to de-pathologize homosexuality. It really shouldn't have been necessary in the first place. However, Kinsey and other researchers asked people a series of questions and categorized them according to their responses. Their "self-identity" or "ideal partner" was given some weight, but not full weight. So, sexual orientation is really a means for others to categorize you. Specific views on anything do not come into play.

To move on to the main point, discussions on quantitative and qualitative differences on views of sex can certainly be discussed without inventing a new sexual orientation. To assume there are no differences is buying into an externally derived notion that everyone is from the same cookie cutter. Additionally, did you need some external confirmation that what your wife was saying was actually true?

Perhaps public discussions on television or message forums on alternative forms of normal can be beneficial in and of itself. Labels aren't any more necessary, in my opinion, than stereotypes.

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby Olivier » Sat Oct 22, 2011 12:48 am

Harmony wrote:Olivier, that is all "sexual orientation" addresses, the comparative sex between two people in a significant (to them) relationship.
Really, no it doesn't. By such a ludicrous definition single people have no sexual orientation.

Harmony wrote:Since so much more goes into how people form relationships, focusing on whether two people have the same looking genitals or not is superficial at best. If you choose to label yourself a heterosexual and make that announcement, according to the formal definition all it means is that you have an established pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to members of the opposite sex. All we can possibly surmise is that if you were to form an emotional, romantic, and/or sexual relationship with another person, that person would likely be female. And while that might be significant to you, it's not the only thing that is significant, is it?

No, it isn't, but "not the only significant thing" does not equal "isn't significant at all".

Harmony wrote:While you and your wife may have qualitative differences on your views of sex, that isn't enough for me or a whole lot of other folks to agree that you are mismatched orientation.
With all due respect, what you label my or my wife's orientation is not something remotely interesting to me.

Harmony wrote:You two are obviously oriented towards each other and attracted to each other on some level. That's all that is really required for you to be labeled a heterosexual couple made up of two heterosexual people.
Sure it is. Lots of people label us that way. We did ourselves until we got a better understanding of what was going on. Doesn't make that label remotely useful, though.

Harmony wrote:The concept of "sexual orientation" was an attempt to de-pathologize homosexuality. It really shouldn't have been necessary in the first place. However, Kinsey and other researchers asked people a series of questions and categorized them according to their responses. Their "self-identity" or "ideal partner" was given some weight, but not full weight. So, sexual orientation is really a means for others to categorize you. Specific views on anything do not come into play.
No, it really isn't. Sexual orientation is something that people understand about themselves, and a shorthand for a well observed phenomenon in human sexuality of often exclusive preference for sex with a particular gender, or the absence of such a preference.

I've explained to you how understanding my wife's orientation changed our relationship. The fact that the entire rest of the world (my wife isn't out) categorises us as both heterosexual doesn't bother me in the slightest, it's our own understanding of our orientations that's important to us, and nothing else.

Harmony wrote:To move on to the main point, discussions on quantitative and qualitative differences on views of sex can certainly be discussed without inventing a new sexual orientation. To assume there are no differences is buying into an externally derived notion that everyone is from the same cookie cutter. Additionally, did you need some external confirmation that what your wife was saying was actually true?

No. In fact what she needed was words to express what she wanted to say. In the "you have a male partner so you're heterosexual" world we both grew up in, there simply wasn't a clear way for her to describe how she felt.

Harmony wrote:Perhaps public discussions on television or message forums on alternative forms of normal can be beneficial in and of itself. Labels aren't any more necessary, in my opinion, than stereotypes.
Not necessary, no. But useful for communicating our commonalities and differences nonetheless. They're just shorthand for describing exactly the same thing using more words. Why say "I've never been sexually attracted to anyone in my life even though I feel attractions on other levels" every time when you can just say "I'm asexual"?

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby michaels » Sat Oct 22, 2011 4:11 am

I've already said that I don't consider myself queer. In fact, in my environment, bisexuality is pretty much normative, so even some of those who have traditionally called themselves queer, really aren't queer around here,

But I think there is a valid distinction between those who practise asexuality based on health and other factors and the kind of asexuality that, for lack of a better way to put it, comes to a person naturally. Yes, human sexuality is fluid and does change over time, but in general people are changed by their experiences and the conditions of their existence. What is natural for a person today might not have been natural for them 10 years ago and might not be natural 10 years from now. That doesn't change the fact that it's natural right now. And in using the clumsy word "natural," I'm referring to states of being that have no discernible pathological point of origin. This applies to all sexuality. Someone might have been born gay, but it took being seduced at age 10 by a 25-year-old man to establish a pattern of preferring sex with men; otherwise the person might not have figured out they were gay until much later in life. And nobody can say to what extent the seduction was _causative_ of the orientation and how much of it comes from some deep, mysterious genetic origin. With asexuality it's the same thing. Sexual trauma can contribute to asexual tendencies, but we can't really say to what extent it causes asexuality and to what extent those tendencies are the deciding factor. And, in case I seem to be contradicting myself, the environmental factors that are involved in both cases are not necessarily pathological. Much of human experience is not pathological. So, yes, there is a difference between someone who tried sex and found out they didn't like it, and someone whose genitals were crushed by a pipe and no longer function.

The enmeshing of asexuality with highly political social movements has complicated this issue because, frankly, the sole purpose of politics is to pee in your apple juice and poop in your spaghetti sauce. Politics makes everything indeterminate, even potentially scientific questions. There is a whole bunch of questions that seem purely scientific that will never be resolved in a scientific way because the involvement of politics in them has made the answers indeterminate. I really don't want the same thing to happen to asexuality, but with the hegemony that AVEN has on the subject, it might already be too late.

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby Harmony » Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:33 am

That's correct. The sexual orientation label is not remotely useful because it was not meant to be remotely useful or all encompassing. There are so many things that are not addressed. The only thing it does address is the comparative sex between two people. And I am not being ludicrous in the definition because "ideal partner" was taken into consideration, finally, for single people.

And I am not saying that the fact that you are a male and she is a female isn't significant at all. In fact, it is the only thing that is significant in labeling someone heterosexual.

And remember. The formal definition of sexual orientation doesn't just address sexual attraction. It also addresses emotional or romantic attraction also. If you believe in sexual orientation, then you must believe that your wife is heterosexual if she is emotionally and romantically attracted to you. To believe that all heterosexuals share the same qualitative views on sex is stepping outside the purview of sexual orientation and either working with externally promoted stereotypes or regarding everyone just like yourself.

And that's where discussion should come in and perhaps a good reason why there should be a discussion. It's not about oversexualization in the culture, per se, it is about externally promoted stereotypes that don't pan out in reality.

Could your definition of sexual orientation be more of a definition of sexual attraction? You are speaking of a preference for sex where I am speaking of preference of gender. I am using the formal American definition, which you don't have to accept, but simply note that it is where I am coming from.

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby Olivier » Sat Oct 22, 2011 2:28 pm

Harmony, I get where you're coming from, and I understand the definition you use.

It's exactly the fact that your definition references gender only, and says nothing about sexual attraction specifically, that makes it completely useless when discussing things such as the dynamics within my marriage. That's why you have to talk of there being so much variation in experience of sexual attraction within an orientation such as heterosexuality - you've grouped to together people who have significant differences (including, importantly, people who do and who don't experience sexual attraction) and so you have no choice to say heterosexuals can be sooooo different from each other.

Now, I'm not proposing cookie cutter sexuality, but I am proposing that when we discover that some "heterosexuals" have such a different pattern of attraction - one that doesn't include sexual attraction - that it's useful to (a) recognise that as a distinct flavour of sexuality (b) understand the implications of that for such individuals and their relationships, and (c) give what we've discovered a name so we can talk about it.

Once we have a language that includes terms for what we're interested in discussing, discussion can go on at a far higher level. This happens in every field, not just sexology, and isn't inherently political.

That's what's happened in asexuality discourse. It's not some byzantine political conspiracy, it's just people talking to each other to discover common experience - common experience that many of them never knew existed because the language needed to discuss that experience never existed, or - if you want to talk politics - was suppressed by a culture that eschewed the non-normative.

So feel free to stick to your definition of sexual orientation that by your own admission does not speak to patterns of sexual attraction, at all. Just don't pretend it's at all relevant to discussions about sexual attraction. If you want to talk about gender preference only, then really there's no place for that in asexuality discourse as it stands. When I discuss the dynamics of my relationship with others on AVEN who are in relationships where one person experiences sexual attraction and the other doesn't, it really doesn't matter whether the person I'm talking to is a lesbian, because it's the effects of sexual attraction mismatch we're talking about, experiences we have in common. Gender preference is not remotely interesting in such a conversation, and it's treated as the irrelevance that it is.

It's utterly clear that using your definition my wife and I are both heterosexual. It's utterly clear (to us) that there's something fundamentally different between us in the way we relate to sex. While you have nothing more to offer that "well heterosexuals aren't all the same", asexuality discourse has allowed us to talk to people with a wealth of personal experience with similar life experiences. We've learned from their mistakes without having to make them ourselves, we've gained the benefits of their successes with insights that might never have come up with for ourselves. We've found good company in good times, and truly understanding supportiveness when we have problems. We hope we've passed on to others some of the benefits of what we've learned from sharing our experience - knowledge that mainstream sexology still largely ignores.

It's also utterly clear that I'm using terms like "heterosexual" and "asexual" to specifically refer to patterns of sexual attraction, as is the norm in asexual spaces such as this one. It's useless, and dull, to have you ignore the fact that I'm using terms in this way, deliberately interpret my posts as if I were using your definition (which is not the usual one in this space) and then attack that strawman version of my posts. What is gained? A political defence of your preferred terminology? That's just semantic games. How about when you come to this space, you acknowledge that people use terminology differently, and you reply to people based on the substance of what they're writing. That way we might be able to have a discussion with some substance, not this empty and useless discussion over terminology every single time.

Yes, asexuality discourse has co-opted some terminology such as "heterosexual" and uses it in discussions of patterns of sexual attraction to refer to people whose patterns of sexual attraction are towards opposite-sex partners. It's a pretty obvious choice. But really, even terms such as "heterosexual" are rarely used - usually it's just contrasting "asexual" with "sexual": specifically referring to the experience or non-experience of sexual attraction. Coming in to a discussion where people are sharing insights about how to navigate the world of relationships without experiencing sexual attraction, and saying "but you're both heterosexual because you're different genders" adds nothing. And saying "but heterosexuals can be so different to each other" adds nothing, either, because we were already taking about differences before you came in, and your insistence on not using terms like "asexual" and "sexual" to talk about this particular difference just makes discussion of this particular difference harder, or impossible.

So if you want to cotton-wool terms like heterosexual to only refer to gender preference for significant relationships, how do you propose we discuss differences that arise from the experience or non-experience of sexual attraction? What terminology would you use? Why would it be better than the terminology people are already using to discuss this difference? In short, what positive things do you have to bring to this discussion?

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby cuttlefish » Sun Oct 23, 2011 11:28 am

I feel that there are enough commonalities between the experiences of LGBT people and asexual people as minorities to ally ourselves, but what asexuality needs right now isn't so much activism, as it is an intense publicity campaign.

There's not enough information out there. It isn't understood. It isn't being studied enough and it's barely acknowledged. Luckily because of the internet, people's experiences can finally be discussed. Some people aren't even aware that it's an option though. I almost reached 30 before I found out that there was a word to describe how I felt and that there were other people that felt the same way. That's way too late in my opinion, because I can see in hindsight that it has adversely affected all my romantic relationships and that I was pushing away potential relationships because I wasn't able to completely understand and articulate my feelings. If I had known then what I know now, there's no guarantee that I would have had better luck, but all the angst I put myself and my partners through with mixed signals and feelings I had no frame of reference to interpret would have been avoided. It is extremely hard to articulate an internal state without words to describe it and confidence in the fact that your feelings are valid even if 95% of the population has different expectations.

By entangling asexuality awareness with LGBT activism so quickly, it feels like a step has been skipped. We aren't being discriminated against in the same way LGBT people are (that I'm aware of). The general public barely knows what it means to be asexual so they're working with assumptions based on a lack of information because it's not as easily categorized as being bisexual, homosexual, or heterosexual. It's harder to grasp as a concept it seems. There are very valid reasons for people who are asexual to want to support LGBT activism. I just feel like visibility and information need to come first at this point. Whether it's classified as a sexual orientation or not, there needs to be acknowledgment that there is something going on in terms of differences in experience with regard to the need for sex, relationships, and intimacy that are equally as valid and likely to work within the context of intimate relationships as the type accepted as standard.
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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby flergalwit » Sun Oct 23, 2011 11:58 am

A few more points that spring to mind.

(1) Asexuality is a sexual orientation - just by the definition of the terms. Whether it is correlated or causally dependent with any other physical or mental condition - or whether it stands independent of all other known causes - is another question.

(2) The oft-repeated idea that asexual people do not experience the same discrimination or physical assault etc as a result of their asexuality that LGBT people do is false, as I have first-hand experience of.

(3) Is there really any evidence that the LGBT association is the doing of DJ, or mostly the doing of DJ? As I understand things, back in the early day, the most serious online alternative to (h)AVEN was the LJ asexual community. The founder of this identifies as genderqueer, and is/was at least as LGBT involved as DJ is. The same can be said for a very large portion of the outside-AVEN asexosphere, which today is mostly tumblr.

In fact, what I've heard is that the LJ founder stepped back from publicity, leaving the bulk of it to DJ, on the grounds that they would be giving a distorted impression of what asexuality actually is - due to being outside the gender binary.

I think the LGBT association would have happened anyway, with or without DJ. In fact DJ's prominence has almost certainly distorted the media picture towards the straight, cisgender, "nothing unusual at all apart from not wanting sex" image, and if other members of the asexual community had a fraction of his fame, things would be very different in this regard.

So, I think people who constantly whinge about being associated with LGBT should be thanking their lucky stars for DJ.

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby Olivier » Sun Oct 23, 2011 3:29 pm

cuttlefish wrote:I feel that there are enough commonalities between the experiences of LGBT people and asexual people as minorities to ally ourselves, but what asexuality needs right now isn't so much activism, as it is an intense publicity campaign.

There's not enough information out there. It isn't understood. It isn't being studied enough and it's barely acknowledged. Luckily because of the internet, people's experiences can finally be discussed. Some people aren't even aware that it's an option though. I almost reached 30 before I found out that there was a word to describe how I felt and that there were other people that felt the same way. That's way too late in my opinion, because I can see in hindsight that it has adversely affected all my romantic relationships and that I was pushing away potential relationships because I wasn't able to completely understand and articulate my feelings. If I had known then what I know now, there's no guarantee that I would have had better luck, but all the angst I put myself and my partners through with mixed signals and feelings I had no frame of reference to interpret would have been avoided. It is extremely hard to articulate an internal state without words to describe it and confidence in the fact that your feelings are valid even if 95% of the population has different expectations.

Yep. That was my wife's experience, too. I wish people like Harmony would just sit down and read posts like this over and over and over and over again (and there are plenty of them about) until they get that by voluntarily limiting the meaning of the term "sexual orientation" and, worse, trying to police others who are using it to express and understand far, far, more about themselves than just gender preference, that they are actively removing from sexuality discourse the tools that people whose patterns of sexual attraction are more complex than "men" or "women" need for self-discovery.

But even LGBT organisations are often happy to fall into the "either you're straight or you're gay - just look at your partner" trap. Bisexuals have been copping the wrong end of that for years, so it's no real surprise that the same oversimplification will be applied to the detriment of asexuals, too.

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby flergalwit » Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:57 pm

So we screened the movie for the first time in the UK yesterday, at Kent uni. (I had watched snippets before on the plane and on the train.)

It was much more mainstream than I was expecting. From what others had said previously, I was expecting a confusing mind-f***. Actually it was very much your standard Asexual 101 for the most part, with a few twists here and there.

Hmmm. I'm not sure how much we're actually allowed to discuss the thing at this point in public. Maybe I'll contact the director to ask...

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby michaels » Thu Oct 27, 2011 4:33 pm

So let me get this straight.

Someone claims they were physically assaulted because they're asexual.

My guess is that this person is gay or transgendered and was assaulted because they are gay or transgendered. The fact that they're also asexual had nothing to do with it.

I can understand asexuals coming under social pressure to be sexually active, get into romantic relationships with a physical component, or have children. But the idea of someone getting beaten up purely because they're ace is kinda silly. I don't believe it unless I see the police report.

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby flergalwit » Thu Oct 27, 2011 6:02 pm

michaels wrote:So let me get this straight.

Someone claims they were physically assaulted because they're asexual.

My guess is that this person is gay or transgendered and was assaulted because they are gay or transgendered. The fact that they're also asexual had nothing to do with it.

"Someone" is me and your guess is wrong. I am straight and cisgendered.

michaels wrote:I can understand asexuals coming under social pressure to be sexually active, get into romantic relationships with a physical component, or have children. But the idea of someone getting beaten up purely because they're ace is kinda silly. I don't believe it unless I see the police report.

You may believe whatever you want to. And no, I didn't report any of the times I've been assaulted to the police.

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby KAGU143 » Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:04 pm

That would then make two people (that I know of) who have been assualted for no other reason than being asexual.
The first case involved a young girl in Florida who was gang-raped by a group of young men that she had gone to school with. Their rationale was that they could 'cure" her by showing her how wonderful sex (with them, naturally) could be. She is still hetero-romantic despite that abuse.

It came close to happening to me as well, but I was more willing than she was to accept social ostracism and ridicule rather than submit to date rape. The coping strategies that I had had to develop thanks to frequently being "that new kid" (ie: social outcast) finally served me well.

Michael, sexual assault is still assault. Personally, if I had to choose between the two I would prefer to take the beating. The damage would heal a lot faster.

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Kæth keeps threatening to write one since he used to do that sort of thing professionally but he is trying to find the right way to approach it. I know that it isn't going to be entirely flatttering due to some questionable journalism practices that he believes were used, but aside from that ... well ... I will leave the rest to him.

I know that there were several things about it that disturbed me. Not saying it was all bad - not at all - but I have some very serious misgivings about DJ's graph of what he seemed to think were intimate relationships. I almost need to see that again. Surely it couldn't have been as bizarre as I remember ... ?
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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby flergalwit » Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:30 pm

KAGU143 wrote:I know that there were several things about it that disturbed me. Not saying it was all bad - not at all - but I have some very serious misgivings about DJ's graph of what he seemed to think were intimate relationships. I almost need to see that again. Surely it couldn't have been as bizarre as I remember ... ?

In the Q&A afterwards, I got asked about this quite a bit. Not that I have any more insight into this than anyone else, but I think he was just making the point that what some people get out of romantic relationships, others may get through (multiple) close friendships.

The main negatives I would have to point out were
- no discussion of grey asexuality or demisexuality - aside from a very brief affirmation that sexuality is a continuum
- little indication of the gender diversity in the asexual community; as far as I can tell, someone could have watched that and come away with the impression that the asexual community is just as cisgendered and binary as most of the rest of the population.

The result Brotto mentioned - finding no correlation between asexuality and various other physical conditions such as mental health problems, depression etc. - was interesting and something I was not aware of (which shows how badly read I am on the research). Based on anecdotal evidence, this is not something you'd expect.

My heterosexual friend who was there, like me, found the ending a little sad in some ways. But I don't want to give too much away...

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby michaels » Fri Oct 28, 2011 12:30 pm

Thanks for cluing me into how someone can be assaulted simply because they're asexual. I hadn't considered sexual assault simply because I'm not a likely victim of it.

OTOH, if anyone has heard of someone being non-sexually physically assaulted for being asexual, as sometimes happens with gays and transfolk, let me know.

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby flergalwit » Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:49 pm

I've heard of "corrective rape" used as a weapon against asexual women too. Very similar to lesbians in that regard.

I do not want to talk about myself too much. But...

In my case, I'm talking non-sexual physical assault. On more than one occasion. I absolutely agree with Nancy that, bad though it was, I'd take it over being raped like a shot.

I do not like whinging about it, because - sadly - getting physically assaulted really is not that uncommon. I only bring it up when people trot out the tired old "asexuals don't get beaten up as a result of their asexuality" line.

Was it to do with the perception of being gay? Very likely. Asexual people and gays are often indistinguishable, in the eyes of the ignorant. If it's not one gender you're attracted to, it must be the other.

Note that I never said it had anything to do with explicit "A-phobia". I don't think I got beaten up necessarily because they hated asexuals. More likely, they didn't believe in asexuality and any evidence for asexuality was taken as evidence for homosexuality instead.

However...

(a) I was not assaulted because I am "gay or transgendered". I can't have been, because I am not "gay or transgendered".

(b) That my being "asexual had nothing to do with it" is false, because the perception of homosexuality was almost entirely a result of my being asexual.

(c) The fact that asexuals can easily be mistaken for gay people, and suffer the consequences, simply underlines the fact that we can face very similar issues, and that their problems are often our problems too.

Now... maybe back to the main discussion?

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby apsaf » Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:44 pm

Since I don't live in the US, I thought I'd tell about my own experience with the "LGBT" community here. The "queer" label fits me well as the organization I joined considers itself a group of "queer activists" instead of the standard LGBT movement and they do not seek the same LGBT rights. In this sense, I feel I totally belong in that movement and their goals.

I agree with the OP that asexuals cannot all be simply placed in the cut-and-dry "born this way." In fact, once I commented about it to a friend. I personally came to the conclusion that asexuality, and every other orientation, is part nature, part life experience and that each person's character and reaction to experiences play some role as well. But I worry that analyzing what causes asexuality might be used by some as a means to validate asexuality or validate people who identify as asexuals.

If it were up to me, I'd emphasize that there are as many asexualities as there are asexuals (just like believe there are as many heterosexualities as there are heterosexuals) but I wouldn't dwell on explaining and dissecting people into nature, behavior, experience, character, mental illnesses... and base their asexuality on one or even a few of them.

I hope my two cents made some sense!

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby KAGU143 » Thu Nov 03, 2011 12:31 pm

It makes perfect sense to me, apsaf. :)

My only concern is that we should be prepared to defend asexuality as a perfectly valid ... erm, "state of being" (whether it's defined as an orientation, a condition, or whatever) when it is still sometimes going to be dismissed as some sort of physical or mental affliction. I don't think we have yet progressed to the point where it is fully accepted by all aspects of the medical and pharmaceutical industry. (IMO, they see too much profit potential in "curing" it to give up that easily.)

I have a sideways style of discussing things. Sorry - I can't help it! I like to accumulate all of the threads relating to different aspects of a subject before I try to weave them together into a coherent tapestry. Still, the need to validate ALL forms of asexuality is the point that I was eventually hoping to address. It isn't exactly in line with the main focus of this thread, but it has been on my mind quite a bit lately.
Acquired asexuality is very problematic if we are completely unwilling to even consider asexuality as anything other than a sexual orientation.
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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby Possibility_Girl » Sun Nov 06, 2011 12:55 pm

I'm curious... what do people here think of the description of asexuality as a lack/absence of sexual orientation? I've seen it floated a few times on AVEN, and I've used the phrase myself to explain asexuality to sexual friends as it seemed to get the idea across. I'm not 100% sure, though. Is it something you would feel comfortable with, or does it lend weight to the notion that it's something that should be fixed?
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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby flergalwit » Sun Nov 06, 2011 3:13 pm

Possibility_Girl wrote:I'm curious... what do people here think of the description of asexuality as a lack/absence of sexual orientation? I've seen it floated a few times on AVEN, and I've used the phrase myself to explain asexuality to sexual friends as it seemed to get the idea across. I'm not 100% sure, though. Is it something you would feel comfortable with, or does it lend weight to the notion that it's something that should be fixed?

I've always preferred to think of asexuality as a minority orientation rather than a lack of orientation, for at least two reasons.

(1) Theoretical.

It seems to fit better with how the word orientation is used. An orientation can be thought of as a *set* of people you're attracted to. A set can be empty.

To put it another way, if asexuals don't have an orientation does that mean that bisexuals have two orientations?

(2) Pragmatic.

I think it's better for visibility to include asexuality in the list of orientations. It's much easier to eradicate or discount asexuality if it's not an orientation at all, just a lack thereof.

In the final analysis though, this is just semantics. Use the words in whatever way makes most sense to you!

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby Dargon » Sun Nov 06, 2011 4:44 pm

Asexuality as a lack of orientation...honestly, it makes sense. To borrow an expression from another a- prefixed identity I belong to, "if asexuality is an orientation, then not collecting stamps is a hobby."

That being said, orientation is something that everyone is supposed to have. And as flergalwit said, if we're going by sets, it makes sense to define asexuality as an orientation.

In any case, again echoing flergalwit, this in particular seems to be an issue of semantics. Describing it as a non-orientation or as an orientation of being attracted to no one pretty much means the same thing. It's all how you opt to describe it.

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby Possibility_Girl » Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:12 pm

I agree that it's an question of semantics, and in that sense it's pretty much a non-issue. However, the reason I brought it up in this thread is that I can't make my mind up about the connotations of the phrase. In my experience, the 'lack of orientation' stance is a little easier to defend in conversation, but that may just be due to the people to whom I was talking at the time.

flergalwit wrote:To put it another way, if asexuals don't have an orientation does that mean that bisexuals have two orientations?


Hmm.... I like that. You're probably right, then.
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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby Dargon » Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:37 pm

Possibility_Girl wrote:
flergalwit wrote:To put it another way, if asexuals don't have an orientation does that mean that bisexuals have two orientations?


Hmm.... I like that. You're probably right, then.


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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby tysephine » Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:34 am

I figured I would jump in this crazy pool - don't mind me.

Going back to the original post -
I feel like there is so little known about how sexual orientations work - who gets which and why - and that the idea, relatively speaking, is so new that occasionally there will be times we all find ourselves in a muddle. Not all models work for all people, and since we do not know the determining factors (or if there are any at all) for sexual orientation we will be floundering until at least some answers are known.

Related to terminology -
I think that in the beginning, when the concept of asexuality was so new, a certain set of terms and definitions were created to better articulate ideas and facilitate discussion. Since then, the community has come to realize that there is much more complexity to the situation and as a result the terminology is in some cases inadequate to express these complexities. Creation of new terminology or the redefinition of old - either one would be needed to speak at more complex levels.
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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby TheCalinlapin » Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:27 pm

Edit :

Hi,


KAGU143 wrote: Still, the need to validate ALL forms of asexuality is the point that I was eventually hoping to address



I'm not sure, and maybe I misrepresent you line of thinking, but I do think I've got an idea of what may be bothering you with the way DJ is making asexuality political. And it has clearly something to do with "validating" asexuality.


I would like to condense what is "making asexuality political" before I begin. Making asexuality political is -in my sense- the claim to be recognized as a minority. Because - as other minorities - we think that our identity (our sense of who we are) has something to do with being A. To not be recognized, is a form of oppression, imprisoning ourselves into a distorted way of being (See Charles Taylor - Politics of recognition).

So far so good. But...

The real question is : what is our oppression, what is our distorted way of being ? Why are we justified in claiming recognition ? If we can't answer that, we can't convince people that we should be recognized and we won't be. Last time I saw DJ he was rollerblading at the San francisco Gay pride giving stickers and notes to people on the side... I mean come on ! Who would really consider giving recognition as an oppressed minority to this kind of people ?

Don't misunderstand me, I think this oppression of our identity exist. But...

Take blacks, gays, feminists for example, they all developed a large literature on how they are reduced in false way of being, on how they are oppressed. They all made clear that their identity was imprisoned in some way. We don't. I mean, we really don't.

As to give a small beginning of answer, I think it is very interesting to note that we stumble very often on the idea of assault and violence (we don"t experience it, LGBT does). There is a reason for this to come back again and again. It's because - as crazy as it seems - it will make our job as activist easier. It will be easier to justify our claim to be recognized.

To answer more clearly to the OP question. I think we are - at this time - unable, not to validate asexuality, but to validate our right to be recognized as a minority. We don't have a clue, in fact.



(Note : English's not my mother-tongue, so...)

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Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby PiF » Tue Nov 15, 2011 7:37 am

I have often wondered who we are claiming to promote asexuality for?

can't use apositive as an example but certianly the other place..my own personal feeling is that about 80% are not long term asexuals

the 1% figure has always been quoted but was nothing more than a best guestimate, my own feeling is that it is much much less

and there in lies the rub for me..when we say we want to promote it and some want to latch onto the the lgbt because our own is too slow for them..i personally think/feel that the asexual awareness IS in relation to it's minute numbers

so why the lgbt then? well certianly they are not similar as they are a sexual body and we are a asexual body..so the biggest reason stands aloud

so again why the lgbt..some say that it's because they are a minority group? so are the stamp collectors of bolivia (yes they do exist)
so the fact again the alledged natural link claimed..isn't one

they are aware of the persecution and abuse of minorities then? from what i have seen on the boards unfortuneatly homphobia stills exists but some reality also needs to come in..it will always exist even though over the last 20 years..it has become less and less

so are we as asexuals persecuted and have violent attacks against us, I've seen one claim they have been on this board but mostly those that i have seen have said they were abused because of thier asexuality gave the impression to the abuser that they were gay..it doesn't make it right of course..but..it does highlight the real risk of the dangers of wrongfully aligning..the kkk is a minority sexual group with a history of being abused for thier views they would feel..should we align with them?

so..what else does the lgbt have to offer? and this is where the fairyland scenario that some try to paint collapses

from what i have seen just as many lgbt also feel asexuals should not be within the lgbt on the most defining defintion there can be..we are an asexual body..they are a sexual body

i'm not anti lgbt..i am just anti wrongfull alignment with any sexual bodies of which the lgbt seems to be the most mentioned

i personally feel our current awareness is in line with it's number and for that..we don't do to bad at all

ASIC

Re: The relationship between asexuality and LGBT activism

Postby ASIC » Sat Dec 03, 2011 7:13 am

I feel that LGBT liberation campaigns have left the public impression that it's O.K. to have sex with anyone nowadays... but not to do it with noone. I don't see that this has done asexuals any favours: if anything it has reduced the pool of people with whom one can reliably assume that one is not expected to copulate... (i.e. if you don't like women, why then, just try men!)

And as Harmony (and many others) said: people who define themselves in terms of asserting their right to sexual activity - for whom sex seems key to their identity - are not natural bedfellows for people who desire to disassociate themselves with sexual activity. (Why is sexual 'orientation' so important? Why do people feel the need for sexual [transsexual/homosexual] communities? Why would people want to define the most important element in their lives as being, to put it brutally, their masturbatory habits? Every so often I realise I just have this massive blind spot about things that seem to consume other people's interest...)

This may be an obvious inaccuracy to those who are involved with the LGBT movement, but to those of us who are outsiders the idea doesn't viscerally connect: one might as well link up with feminists on the grounds that they are also asserting their right not to provide 'sex on demand' (the right to 'say No') and their distaste for the regard of bodies as sexual objects and advertising.