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[personal profile] underthewillows
Warning: definitely Too Much Information ahead. If you don't want to go "I really didn't need to know that about you", skip this one.

Some stuff in here I've only told my sister. Some stuff I've not told anyone ever, either in Real Life or online, partly because I would have died of embarrassment and partly because I didn't have the vocabulary, knowledge or context with which, and in which, to express it.

I get the greatest links (she said sarcastically) from the various places I hang around on, am active in, or just innocently wander across. Here's one of them.

I know nothing about the FCKH8 campaign, its founder or founders, its purpose, or whoever runs the Facebook page linked above. I do have an opinion on this particular comment, however (I have an opinion on something I know little to nothing about? There's a surprise!)

I asked you to educate us. How are asexual people oppressed under the law? HOW is it an identity. I usually jack off with my right hand and not my left. Does that count as an “identity?” Are asexual people bullied, harassed and rejected by their friends and family because they don’t get hard ons or something? confused. Educate or quit whining. LGBT people had to do it, now it’s time for A people to step up to the plate and explain because it seems like an emo fad and a way to be different without being gay and to have a chip on your shoulder. So put on your activist hat here and teach us all so we get where you are coming from :)

Quite aside from the charming analogy used, I don’t owe these clowns an explanation for anything. But I’ll do this much, and reveal this much of my privacy, in reply to the question posed:

Are asexual people bullied, harassed and rejected by their friends and family because they don’t get hard ons or something?

Short answer? Yes.

Longer answer: Has any LGBT person ever been told “It’s a phase”, “You don’t know your own mind”, “You’re confused”, “You’ll grow out of it”, and the kicker “But I don’t want you to be lonely and alone when you get older”? It’s just as much denial and ignoring our decisions, our choices, our orientation, when it happens to asexuals.

We get the “Oh, you don’t really mean that”, when we’re younger, the “Isn’t it cute - just wait till he/she gets older and discovers boys/girls, then he/she will change his/her mind!” when we say we’re not interested in marriage and kids, then as we get older it develops into the “So, when are you getting a boyfriend/girlfriend?” questions, that keep on for years. ”When are you getting married?” ”You know, you really should be thinking of settling down now”. ”Any news?” (meaning, ‘Have you succeeded in becoming part of a couple?’). ”I’d like grandkids while I’m still able to enjoy them!”

Seeing all your friends, your age cohort, getting married or settling into relationships. Everyone saying “It’s your turn next!”

Then the earnest “Look, if you’re gay/lesbian, I don’t mind, really; you know you can tell me anything?” phase of questions kicks in.

Finally the questions peter out and stop, not because it’s been accepted that no, you’re not interested in being part of a couple, but because it’s too sad and desperate to keep on arguing over it.

If you’re lucky, you don’t get the awkward “Em - this doesn’t mean you like weird stuff like animals or little kids, does it?” attempts to understand why you’re not interested in ‘normal’ love, romance, sex or any combination of them. If you're lucky. If you're not, you may get it said to your face, or it may be whispered behind your back. But the notion that 'there's something wrong with him or her/that one is a weirdo/what a creep/loser' hangs about you.

In the Bad Old Days, not being interested in sex meant that women were labelled as frigid (which was a psychological problem, and probably even meant they were secretly lesbian or suffering from penis envy), and men were labelled as impotent (and therefore less than men, or even effeminate/possibly homosexual). However it was, the aim was to medically treat you so you would be ‘normal’, you would fit in.

Modern society isn’t all that much better. Modern society is saturated in sex, and whether you think that’s a good thing or a bad thing, it’s unavoidable. That means there are no places for those not interested in sex.

Valentine’s Day - a whole official celebration of ‘tonight is the one night you are sure to be gitting sahm!’ and ‘today is the day for love and romance and coupledom!’

If you’re single and want to be part of a couple but haven’t managed it, you’re a failure. If you’re single and not looking to be paired off, this is unthinkable, unimaginable.

Yes, there is bias and prejudice in society against LGBT people. But imagine an official day in the calendar that exists to rub your nose in your pariah status. Imagine all the novels, songs, movies, TV shows, that make the single person the outsider, the weirdo, the failure until he or she achieves success by finally getting that guy or girl.

I don’t want to reveal my age, so I’m not going to tell it here. But I’m considerably over the age of twenty, let’s put it at that. Here’s more fun experiences from the life of an asexual: going for the first appointment with a new gynaecologist. Doctor takes medical history (so far, so normal). Asks about any kids, ever been pregnant, what birth control used, etc.

Gets a “no” to all of the above. Repeatedly, because doctor keeps trying to get sexual history that does not exist, because doctor does not accept that adult female has no sexual history to recount.

(1) Doctor asks if I have ever had penetrative sex, with helpful accompanying hand gestures* because it seems I must, even at my advanced age, not know what that means. Obviously, it’s perfectly possible I have had sex and not known I was having sex, even though I am of average intelligence and not suffering any developmental or cognitive impairment so that I would not know what ‘sex’ means.
(2) Doctor then tries to find tactful way to ask if I am lesbian.

Because an adult female, in this society, cannot possibly not be having sex with someone. Cannot possibly never have had a sexual partner. What are we, Victorians?

So for you to say that asexuality is not a real thing, that it’s no more of a distinction than which hand you use to masturbate with (and how would you like someone telling a young guy first identifying as gay that being sexually attracted to men rather than women is no more a ‘real’ distinction than “jack(ing) off with my right hand and not my left”?), that asexuals do not get bullied, harassed and rejected -

- you and your campaign are full of shit.

Note: yes, there isn’t ‘one size fits all’ for asexuals: some of us are sexual but not romantic, some are romantic but not sexual, some are neither, others are in varying proportions of both at varying times. Being asexual doesn’t mean we don’t have sexual feelings (we have ordinary physical bodies, of course biological influences affect us), it doesn’t mean we don’t like people, it doesn’t mean we don’t have sexual fantasies, it doesn’t mean we don’t masturbate, it doesn't mean we don't have a sexual or romantic orientation: for instance, I've known I'm heterosexual, ever since the age of twelve when I started making lists of cute boys I saw on the telly/in magazines/in movies. But I've known since the age of nine that I wasn't interested in marriage and a family, and no, that didn't mean I wanted a partner but no kids, it meant I didn't want a spouse or a lover. I may not have had the words to express what I meant, but I knew it.

But primarily it does not mean we’re only going through an emo, attention-seeking phase trying to be as cool as the gay kids without incurring the stigma of being gay or lesbian. It is genuinely only in the last couple of years that I have become aware of asexuality as a "thing", that I received enough information to go "Yeah, you know what? I think that's me." It explained so much to me: why I had the feelings I had, more importantly why I didn't have the feelings I didn't have, why I could experience sexual arousal, have sexual fantasies, find men sexually attractive and yet still not want a relationship, either physical or emotional.

Saying "You lot are just emo kids wanting to be cool without paying the price" is peddling the old Freudian pop-psychology line from the early 20th century of "You're just a frigid woman or impotent man who needs therapy". It's telling me "No, it's religious guilt about sex that indoctrinated you that it's dirty is what's the matter!" Ironically, religion rather than Modern Sexual Liberation has been the most helpful to me in this; Matthew 19:11-12 where Jesus is giving the teaching on divorce:

11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. 12 For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”

That let me feel "So, I'm one of the 'eunuchs who have been so from birth', and this is also is part of the natural order. I'm not a problem, I'm as valid as the rest of it."

It's telling me "You're repressed" and nowadays, to be sexually repressed is the worst sin possible. A little pink pill for the girls, like the little blue pill for the boys, will fix me right up.

It's telling me that I need to be 'normal', that what I am now is not 'normal'. It's telling me I don't know my own feelings, that I can't trust my own reasoning.

It's telling me all the things that a campaign about homophobic bullying should know better than to say, because they've heard it in their context, but seem perfectly happy to repeat it in another's context.

*Yes, a gesture along these lines. I had a moment of staring in disbelief and mentally going "This is my life now?"
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