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Singles and Asexuals: Their Intersextion January 23, 2013

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, sex, single and happy, We like. . ..
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psychedelic_girl_2_by_simonfalk-d5c0ktyAn ‘asexual person’ refers to someone who does not experience sexual attraction.

To many people, this sounds startling, or freakish. They may say it’s impossible; the asexual person must have something wrong with them.

A ‘non-seeking single’ refers to someone who doesn’t particularly care if he or she finds The One or gets married. 

To many people, this sounds startling, or freakish. They may say it’s impossible; the single person must have something wrong with them.

*****

Whoaaaaaa there, some of our Copious Readers might say. Why are you comparing asexuals to singles? You’re just perpetuating the stereotype that non-coupled singles don’t get any sex! And that’s not true! We get a LOT of sex! Sometimes!

No, this is not about that. This is about rhetoric. Asexuals and singles of many stripes are alike–in that they suffer from (or are irritated by) the same kinds of prejudiced rhetoric. I recently watched the documentary (A)Sexual. Its primary hero is David Jay, the founder of  AVEN, the Asexuality and Visibility Education Network. The film also follows asexual advocate Swank Ivy. I stared with fascination as she described her Top Ten List of Things People Say To an Asexual.

If Onely had compiled a Top Ten list (why didn’t we ever think to do that?) it would be pretty much identical to Swank Ivy‘s. (Although her online list varies slightly from the verbal list she gives in the movie, their essences are the same.) Note that she writes from the point of view of a hetero woman, but the list could easily be tweaked to fit men:

You’re in denial.

You’re a lesbian.

There’s something wrong with your hormones.

You’re too busy.

You couldn’t get a man.

You hate men.

You’re just inexperienced.

You’re afraid.

You’re traumatized.

No, asexuals are just born that way.

David Jay initiated a worldwide discussion asexual people. Before, they were a demographic that most people (including me) never even knew existed, much less talked about. But Jay said Hey, we are here!,  then set about challenging the misconceptions about asexuals. Nonetheless, the topic remains under-discussed and under-recognized.

In many ways, this lack of dialog reminds me of the fight against singlism (discrimination against singles). The topic is barely discussed (though more so than asexuality). Yes, lately the media has been writing or talking about happy singles, though less so about happy non-seeking singles. However, the underlying problem of institutionalized singlism–the government laws and corporate policies that favor married people–remains under-discussed and under-recognized.

And another similarity: Asexuals  ‘have the same emotional needs as everybody else and are just as capable of forming intimate relationships’ (to quote from the AVEN home page). However, people assume otherwise because our culture is so couple-obsessed and defines coupling in sexual terms. The same thing happens to socially single (uncoupled) people. They have to explain that single doesn’t mean alone. Unmarried individuals usually have the same emotional needs as everybody else and are just as capable of forming intimate relationships.

Copious Readers, do you think that Asexuals should be in corporated into the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Transgender) community? When Jay and his friends marched in the Pride Parade, they encountered mixed reactions. Some marchers cheered them, and some shrunk from them. Should we start saying GLBTA? What about singles? Should they participate in this gathering of sexually marginalized people? GLBTS?

It can’t hurt to add two of the most coveted Scrabble letters to that otherwise awkard acronym: GLBTAS can be rearranged to make BLAGST, which is actually pronounceable! But that sounds like some excavated rock from the paleolithic era. Copious readers, can you help?

–Christina

Photo Credit: Simon Falk

Comments»

1. Bella DePaulo - January 23, 2013

This is brilliant, Christina! Esp love list. As for all of those letters of the alphabet, I think it is time to switch to some word rather than continually adding letters (even good ones!)

Onely - January 23, 2013

Yeah I agree. . . I just don’t know what the word would be. . . Copious Readers please help!

KC the MoUsY spell-checker - January 24, 2013

On Tumblr, the attempt to spell out a pronounceable word for all the different sexualities and gender identities has given us “QUILTBAGPIPE”. (See http://yada.wikia.com/wiki/QUILTBAGPIPE)

More seriously, some people use “GSM” for Gender and Sexual Minorities. By definition, that would include asexuality.

Of course, that only works if people are actually being inclusive rather than just using the different term to sound more inclusive. All too often, people refer to”LGBT issues” when they are really talking about gay and lesbian issues.

Onely - January 26, 2013

!!! Gender and Asexual and Sexual Minorities. GASM. You’re brilliant!

2. clofa - January 23, 2013

Thank you so much for this! :) As an aromantic asexual, I find I relate much more to Onelys and singles than I do to romantic asexuals. As for the LGBT, I’m not sure how it is in the US but based on what I’ve been reading, not everyone agrees about asexuals belonging there (from both the LGBT and the asexuals’ sides). Here in Lebanon, I’ve met a group of queer women where I feel welcomed and very much at home even though I’m still the only asexual I know. Thankfully, they don’t seem to be yearning to fit in the heteronormative lifestyle and aren’t matrimaniacs. I always feel torn regarding the LGBT’s causes especially when it comes to gay marriage: on one hand I want to show my support (by voting yes for gay marriage) but on the other hand, I’m totally against marriage itself, actually the whole concept doesn’t make any sense to me. Anyway, thank you again!

Onely - January 23, 2013

You’re welcome clofa! Good to hear from you again, and I’m glad that you found that queer women’s group.

Lisa and I have similar awkwardness around gay marriage–on the one hand, we support gays’ right to marry, but on the other hand we don’t support the institution itself because it’s so tied to discrimination. CC

chami - July 13, 2013

I’ll create an account there and talk to you, thanks!

chami - July 13, 2013

Hey clofa, are you from Lebanon, as in the middle-east ? if you are then this is a happy surprise, i thought i was the only asexual there.

clofa - July 13, 2013

Hi Chami, well that’s a nice surprise for me as well! After about 5 years of discovering AVEN, I’m still the only RL asexual I know :)

chami - July 13, 2013

What does RL mean exactly ? I’m sorry i’m a bit new to all the terms because i have just recently started inquiring about asexuality. Although the term is new to me, the feeling has been there all my life, so forgive my ignorance.

clofa - July 13, 2013

No, I’m sorry, I guess I’m just being lazy, RL simply means “real life” as opposed to the Internet (though my interaction with my friends online are more “real” than outside of it, so I’m not even sure why I used that term :))

chami - July 13, 2013

Ohh okay i understand lol, that’s all right. Well i would love to talk more about this since it’s new to me and you obviously have more experience, if you don’t mind of course.

clofa - July 13, 2013

Are you signed up on AVEN? I’m BKAce over there. I’m not getting the chance to go there very much lately but if you’d like, we can “talk” there: http://www.asexuality.org/en/

3. Alan - January 23, 2013

I think it’s important to point out that sexual desire likely exists on a continuum. There will be people with less sexual desire than the average heterosexual but not completely lacking.

clofa - January 24, 2013

Actually, I’ve never had any sexual desire and I’m 35. But in the definition of asexuality, “attraction” is key; asexuals may have sex drives but they are never sexually attracted to people.

Onely - January 26, 2013

For sure. The movie does address that point.
CC

4. i01 - January 24, 2013

i don’t think it makes sense to put people with NO sexual attraction in the same category as those with it ……. i think they should always be separated. Pity as it makes the group more marginalised but it’s like merging chalk and cheese……. fwiw etc

Onely - January 26, 2013

Chalk and cheese? Well regardless of our asexuality discussion that is a metaphor I plan to steal for use in my everyday life. = )

5. Lucy - January 25, 2013

A search for purple cupcakes brought me to a blog about asexual pride, which brought me to AVEN, which took me to many blogs. I am a hyper-sexual bi woman, but I just want to say I think the LGBTQ (QUILTBAGPIPE!) community should include an A. I can’t stop reading this material because I have never seen so much thoughtful discussion of relationships & intimacy. I have a new perspective on my own marriage & on a confusing intense, but non-sexual, relationship in my life. Thank you for sharing (and reminding me to teach my ‘tween that it’s ok to have sexual feelings, but ok NOT to, as well).

Onely - January 26, 2013

Hi Lucy, Glad it was a help. And I love QUILTBAGPIPE even though I’m not sure where the extra letters come from. . . = ) CC

Onely - January 26, 2013

Oh I just saw KC’s comment below

6. swankivy - January 30, 2013

For the record, my list isn’t so much “from the point of view of a hetero woman”–it’s from the point of view of a person who keeps getting treated like she’s a defective hetero woman. The “you can’t get a man” and “you hate men” comments are just what’s most commonly said to me, because people assume “getting a man” is what I’m supposed to be doing, so that’s why it’s phrased that way on my Top Ten list. Hope that makes sense!

Onely - February 3, 2013

That completely makes sense and is a really good point. Thanks for your comment–we are happy to have a comment from the actual activist we were blogging about! = )

7. Asexuality and the Definitions of “Normal” « Pilgrim Outskirts - February 9, 2013

[...] Singles and Asexuals: Their Intersextion (onely.org) [...]

8. idabia - March 27, 2013

Reblogged this on Augie's space.


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