Asexuality Awareness – Part 3

Friday 28 October, 2011

Today is the 5th Day of Asexuality Awareness Week. If Asexuality Awareness Week is like the Working Week, then today is also the Final Day of Asexuality Awereness Week. I believe that a week ends on a Sunday, and a new week starts on a Monday, so therefore, as far as I’m concerned, today is the 5th Day of Asexuality Awareness Week, but it isn’t the Final Day. That’d be Sunday.

And now we’ve got that trivial matter out of the way, I am free to share more pearls of wisdom with you concerning Asexuality.

So what’s on the cards today? The Portrayal of Asexuality Within Popular Culture.

I’m going to be honest here, we don’t get much representation on TV. I can think of three well known people who are said to be Asexual, and two of them are fictional.

The first is Sheldon Cooper, the super genius from The Big Bang Theory who is riddled with autistic-like behaviours and obsessive compulsive disorders. In the first two series, he was shown as not having any interest in anyone on a romantic-based relationship level. Considering the way he treats his friends, it’s sometimes hard to believe he’s maintained friendships. From what i’ve noticed, he sees things as “Scientifically Relevant”, “Relevant to his interests or well being” and “Irrelevant”. He has changed over time and now he even has a “girlfriend”, who from where I saw upto, he referred to as “a friend who was a girl”.

Now, I know that asexuals can have relationships. Some asexuals even have sex. I have said this. Sheldon being in a relationship isn’t the problem. It’s the attitude towards him being in a relationship and the rest of his character. At first, I really liked Sheldon and then, I don’t know, as the series went on, I just felt more and more like he was giving Asexuals a bit of a bad name. Or at least helping bad stereotypes.

It’s his idiosyncracies that might not be related to Autism, it’s his problems understanding people and relationships and it’s this idea that if he is and since he has been in a relationship, he’ll “get more normal”. It’s the idea that, because Sheldon is alone in his quirky little world, he’s missing out on something and this relationship with Amy, that’s the character’s name, is going to make him realise that and “fix” everything. I really like the actor who plays the character, but even he has said some things in interviews that have got to me. I just feel like all these things, together, make Asexuality seem like some sort of disorder.

Isn’t it bad enough that people think that a lack of interest in sex and relationships is an indicator of depression?

The second is Sherlock Holmes. ACD never used the word “Asexual”, to my knowledge, but he very much said that Holmes showed no interest in people in a romantic sense. He had no time for them. People were tools to get to the important thing, the crimes and the understanding of how and why crimes were done. He was pretty much an early day Criminalist with a love of Chemistry. The only people who “caught his attention” one way or another, even outside of the cases and the drug use, were John Watson, the only person who Sherlock Holmes considered close enough intellectually to him for him to be considered a friend and a colleague, and Irene Adler. The One Woman who bested him. People can see this as a romantic thing,  and it is up for interpretation. I see it this way:

In the era Sherlock Holmes is set, Women were still second class citizens. Adler was your average woman, who just happened to be a common criminal. She wasn’t a mastermind. There is cleverness in the incredibly simple, and someone so smart like Holmes was bound to overlook the simple things. He is so used to people trying to best him by raising the bar higher than he has set himself, he never anticipated someone reaching lower. So someone of average intelligence getting the upper hand was a big punch to his ego, the fact that it was a woman doubly so. So she became The Woman. The only one worth his attention.

Yes, it’s such a cliche that arch-enemies of opposite gender are just so full of hatred for each other, it’s actually pure attraction. But Sherlock Holmes? I don’t see that trope, myself.

Now there’s a modern remake of Sherlock Holmes and I have to say, I absolutely love it. And moreso, Sherlock implies right in the first episode that he holds no interest in romantic relationships. His actual words are “Girlfriends? Not really my area”, he doesn’t have a boyfriend, and he considers himself “Married to his work”. Later on he says he’s a High Functioning Sociopath, but I honestly reckon that’s a misdiagnosis, self-diagnosis, and/or a complete great wall of China to keep people away. You’d be surprised at how often people of high intellect see a pattern and develop one of their own in reaction to protect themselves. When you’re a genius who probably got mocked and ostracised by everyone, have enough understanding of people to manipulate them but have no personal experience to uphold relationships, you’re probably going to find it difficult to work with people. People who seem to direct their intelligences in different ways. (Apart from John Watson, who can just about keep-up)

And honestly, some of the facial expressions and pauses pretty much shoot the idea that he’s a “high-functioning sociopath” right out the window for me.

Now, I have been asked what the difference is between Sheldon and Sherlock for me to like one portrayal of Asexuality and not the other. The simple answer is this:

Even Sheldon’s friends try to change Sheldon, and Sheldon doesn’t seem to do himself any favours in that respect. There is a lot more focus on how weird, quirky and riddled with disorders he is, it makes me feel like they’re saying “Sheldon is asexual BECAUSE of the rest of the way he is.” Where as with Sherlock, I don’t get anything like that from those portrayals. Sherlock doesn’t abhore company, touch or even other people, he just hates idiots and stupid mistakes and people who can’t see what is obvious to him. Watson might try and help ground Sherlock, he is certainly a liason between The Rest of The World and Sherlock Holmes, but rolls with the punches. Holmes says something callous, and Watson understands WHY he’s said it. He probably won’t agree, he might try to tell Holmes it’s not acceptable behaviour, but he still treats Sherlock with respect and kindness. And most of all, when relationships become a focus within the stories, the films and the shows, I get the feeling that they’re saying “Sherlock is a genius who can’t stand idiots. He is ALSO Asexual.” They are not connected. It somehow, very subtly, seems to have a very good positive look on Asexuality, without explicitly saying so.

The third person I know of that’s said to be is Lady Gaga. I have no opinions what so ever on her portrayal of an Asexual to the public eye. If she is asexual, then she seems at least to be a sex-positive one. The problem I have, to be honest, is… she’s a very big attention seeker and she says a lot of stuff in interviews that seem to be said just for shock value. Here is this provocatively dressed singer, sings about relationships with people… saying she’s asexual. It doesn’t add up, but maybe that’s a good thing. Stops some stereotypes or pre-conceived ideas in their tracks. But she reminds me of this friend I once had who was a compulsive liar. He always wanted attention and he would come out with the thing that would give him the most attention at that time. For a while, he was openly gay. Asexuality is something that is gaining in visibility. I wouldn’t say it’s an “In-thing”, but more and more people are becoming aware of it and though they might not know anyone, they recognise that it is something that a lot of people are and know that it’s sometimes considered a “controversial issue”, due to people being disbelieving about it.

So being a famous singer who thrives on getting attention for being “out of the oridnary”, what could make you seem more out of the ordinary? Why, being part of a minority that is just gaining awareness. It’s passed the “Whaaaaat is that?” phase, it’s moved onto the “We’ve heard about it, but we don’t believe it” stage and it’s just the perfect time for someone to voice their asexuality without too much of a backlash. If you’re a famous person anyway. There’s always good lawyers on their side…

And if she isn’t really asexual, I think we as a minority sexuality could face a very big backlash. We are, comparitively, in the stages homosexuality was in the 70s and 80s.

And that’s all I have to say for today. I welcome discussion on this entry and anything I’ve said, but I can’t actually reply to comments individually, so please keep checking back for responses on future updates.


Asexuality Awareness – Part 2

Tuesday 25 October, 2011

Today is Day Two of Asexual Awareness Week. I’m not quite sure how I’ve gone from barely acknowledging my connection to Asexuality to blogging about it twice in one week, but here we are. I’ll deal with it as I go along.

The main problem I have with acknowledging asexuality, is down to my own feelings about, well, everything that other people need to be told about. I’ve spent most of my life out of the loop, barely having friends outside of school and no two worlds colliding. Similarly is “The Internet” and “People In My Life”. Not even most of my “Internet Friends” know about this blog, or indeed ~The Whole Asexuality Thing~. If I had something visible or physical to share, like an actual boyfriend or whatever, then I can see the point.

But what’s the point in announcing that, actually, I’m not having sex? Why is that something to shout about?

Well, Asexual Awareness is a pretty good reason. And here we are.

It’s just like everything else in people’s lives. Unless people say “Oh no, i’m exactly like that too,” people might think there’s something wrong with them. People might be made to feel bad about themselves for being different in this way, have no reason to explain, feel alone and try to fix themselves. Or worse, keep putting themselves into situations that aren’t good or healthy for them. This isn’t just a case of a phobia or commitment issues, this is a lack of something that a lot of people find important in relationships. Knowledge leads to understanding and the power to make informed decisions on whether people want to try for a relationship they otherwise wouldn’t want to be in, or to say “No, actually, nothing is wrong with me. I am fine the way I am. You can’t make feel bad about this. We can either come to a compromise we’ll both be happy with, or we’ll have to end it.”

That is why Asexuality Awareness is important.

Yes, there are supposedly just 1% of the population of us. Yes, we are probably very few and far between. But that’s no excuse for other people to ask us “Why aren’t you normal?” and demand some sort of compromise that, personally for me, wouldn’t be a true compromise. It is, sadly, a deal breaker for a lot of people. Being an asexual myself (THERE! I Said it *proud of self*), I can’t understand how that works. I thought it was bad enough when people state that they can’t imagine being in a relationship with someone disabled, but I can at least understand that to some degree. I live with a disability, it is a very demanding thing that never goes away. It is very imposing on other people’s lives and causes a lot of stress and worry.

When they say that about asexuals and Asexuality, on the other hand, I can’t understand it at all. The less said about this train of thought, the better, actually…

So, how did I hear about Asexuality myself? Seeing as there’s a very big lack of Asexuals represented within the media…

Well, one night, I was talking in a group chat with a friend and his group of friends. They used to over share a lot of information, but after a while, it was something I learnt to get used to and ignore. A question was thrown my way in an attempt to rile me up and I replied that I was in no way interested, at all, and would probably never will be. And that I really thought my time was better spent doing better, more important things that I actually had an interest in.

It was intended to be insulting as well as a truthful statement, and one person asked “Does that mean you’re asexual?”

And to be honest, I didn’t answer because it was the first time i’d heard of it, as something I could be that would explain… it, all, everything, Something. Also, I thought replying either way would bring on an a new round of “make fun of the outsider”. Before that, I’d named it “nonsexual” or as a joke, “the name of the celebrity I fancied”-sexual, even though I didn’t see him as a potential partner in that respect either. The easily embarrassed and shy cards always came in good use for when I was otherwise unable or unwilling to answer questions.

And then since then, I’ve dabbled and lurked around asexual-related circles, became frustrated at media portrayal, shared woes secretly with other asexuals, told three people… inferred and implied to a lot of other people…

And wrote this blog.

I hope my efforts are enlightening to someone. I can’t state that everything I say will be applicable to all Asexuals. It won’t be. There’s a lot of variety, like I said yesterday. I am not Queen Representative of Asexuality, or a pioneer. I’m just… me.


Asexuality Awareness

Monday 24 October, 2011

Today marked the start of Asexuality Awareness Week.

This is my first proper blog post ever about the subject, in fact it’s the first time I’m publicly acknowledging asexuality personally, so I’m a bit nervous about this. Please bare with me.

So, Asexuality. Also called Non-sexuality and on one memorable occasion, “Anti-sexuality”. I think maybe all three of these can be accurate, but not interchangably so and definitely not exclusively so. That’s one thing about Asexuality, it’s all a bit varied. And it’s not to be confused with the scientific term that means a biological ability to procreate by itself. Thank you, Anonymous Friend in 2009 who asked me “What? Like Godzilla?”

No. Not like Godzilla. Nor like the more common comparison, an Amoeba.

In simple terms, it basically means “I have no desire or natural inclination to have sex with you or anyone else.” It should be that simple, but then people get involved.

In not-so-simple terms, the default line is still there but people vary and what it can mean is “I have no natural inclination to see you in a sexual way, but I will have sex with you for your sake anyway because making you happy would make me happy.” and/or “I have a mild natural inclination to see you in a sexual way and desire you as such, but not all that often. The feeling comes and goes, really.”

Lots of people take offence to this and I honestly don’t understand why. Would a woman be offended if a man said “Sorry, you are very good looking and lovely, but actually I’m gay”? No. She’d probably be embarrassed.

If someone has acknowledged being asexual for a while, they have probably heard it all. “You haven’t met the right person yet”, “Well clearly they mustn’t have done it right”, “Maybe you’re gay?”, “You’re just immature and you need to grow up”, “Could it be depression or a hormonal imbalance?” and even worse, “Well, you have all of these other issues, maybe this is another one of them.”

Actually, no, even worse is the people who insist that if an Asexual has never had sex, then how do they know they don’t like it.

Let me tell you something. I’m 100% sure that I don’t want to jump off a cliff and free-fall to the ground, and I don’t need to do exactly that to know so. Just because Adrenaline Junkies think that it would be a good idea doesn’t mean we should all have an interest in jumping off cliffs and free-falling to the ground. Not everyone has the interest, not everyone is built for it, and the same goes for sex.

I don’t understand why people don’t understand this. I’m actually pretty lucky that I don’t get much said to me in this regard. That’s because when I’m not too busy being on bed-rest and going back and forth to the hospital, when I do have some sort of social life, I play the shy and quite easily embarrassed card.
iI am actually quite easily embarrassed, but I’m more along the lines of Social Anxiety than shyness. There’s a difference. This is also related to my On-line Dating post. All in all, it’s nobody elses business. If I have something I’d like to share, I will share it.

But back to Asexuality.

There are, of course, some asexual people who do have sex. They’re usually considered Grey-As or Demisexuals. Usually there needs to be a bigger investment involved for these people to have sex**. This doesn’t negate the whole existence of Asexuality. Nor does it impose on heterosexuality or homosexuality. This is just comparable to cutting your hair! Some women are more comfortable with longer hair, some women are more comfortable with shorter hair, some women go with a degree in between and some women make a conscious effort to grow out their hair as long as possible before making another conscious effort to getting it all cut off.

I’m not in anyway trying to trivialise the issues of Asexuality, by the way, i’m just trying to convey how sometimes a sexuality is just about feeling right about yourself and how sometimes, feelings can change.

There are people who are Asexual and Aromantic. This is where they have no interest in having sex, or romantic relationships at all. Might it change? Well, I believe anyone’s sexuality can change. I believe there might be That One Exception for everyone***. It’s not just for TV Tropes or Fanfiction, it’s for real people too!

Then there are Biromantics and Homoromantics. This isn’t just an Asexual-only thing, but many people who are sexual and are homoromantic or biromantic, just lump their sexuality into the simple “Bisexual” or “Gay” categories, with a subheading of “Mostly interested in…”

And then there are people who are of some sexuality but are aromantic. These are all degrees of asexuality. Like I said, should be simple, but then people get involved.

According to surveys, only 1% of the population are Asexual. This is a very small amount of us. There’s barely anyone in popular culture to represent us, and when there are, there are usually other aspects of their personalities that seem to “excuse” their Asexuality.

It’s just not very fair. We do have varied personalities like “normal” people, most of us crave relationships to some degree, and a lot of us end up feeling very alone when everyone else leaves us to go off and be loved and sexed up couples with their “other halves”.

And whenever “we” complain, we seem to be given two typical responses.
1) Suck it up and deal with it, because this is how normal people are and you can’t expect everyone else to join you on your Asexual Raft
2) Go and try a relationship. If the “lack of sex thing” becomes a problem, then it’s your problem and you need to see someone about it. Because Everyone has sex and the Asexual is just too frigid.

It all reeks of how homosexuality was treated years ago. This old fashioned attitude that therapy is required, that it’s not normal, that it even goes against religion and what’s expected of us. I’d like to think that in twenty years time, people will be just as disgusted with this behaviour as they.

Really, we’re people too. We just don’t want to have sex.

Cuddles are usually welcomed though.

And that’s my contribution to Asexual Awareness Week.

(How did I do?)

** – I’ve had some comments and whilst I’ve made some changes to this post to impove the wording of some things I meant to say but didn’t say quite well enough, I think one of the commenters made something clearer than I ever could. So to avoid actually stealing this person’s explanation and using it to sound enlightened, I’ll link here to the comment. It explains and expands on what I meant by Usually there needs to be a bigger investment involved for these people to have sex

*** – In response to another comment, I’d just like to take a minute to explain that i’ve worded myself terribly here and said pretty much the opposite of what I meant. And I understand why it’s come across that way. What I meant, really, is that Some People Might have an exception, along the lines of Fluid Sexuality, and if, say an Aromantic Asexual, did find someone that was their exception, then that doesn’t negate their life long sexuality. It in no way means that other people were right and that the person just needed to wait for “The Right One To Come Along” or that they’ve been in denial all this time about the sexuality they were saying they were. It also doesn’t mean that, if they do apply a new definition to themselves, that they are automatically compatible with this so called Exception.

What I meant, is that a person might find themselves feeling a different way about someone, just one single someone, and that what they feel might be within a different part of the sexuality scale. They might still be Aromantic, they might still be Asexual with a different Romantic inclination. It doesn’t mean it’ll stick, it doesn’t mean what they feel is exactly the same as what other people feel when they feel similar things.

I’m sorry that I can’t articulate what I mean very well when it comes to this issue, but that really is the thing about Asexuality. It’s very varied and complex and complicated and even the simplest things can cause people to get tongue tied and seemingly talk in contradictions.


In memoriam

Sunday 16 October, 2011
You and I have memories 
Longer than the road that stretches out ahead.
1985 – 2005
Because you will never be just a memory

Dating Site Woes

Thursday 13 October, 2011

Have you ever had a friend who, after finding themselves happily in a relationship, become insistent that their lonely, single friends also should be in a relationship with someone? Even if they have no interest what-so-ever in being in one? Especially if “Being Alone” and “Being Lonely” are not synonomous?

Well, I have. I’m sure my friend means well. She understands that right now, my living and health situations as they are, I have no time and place for a boyfriend. She has been insistent, however, that I should at least try to lay down some foundations for friendships that may or may not lead to having a boyfriend some day.

To cut a long story short, I agreed to have a look at Online Dating Sites. What was I thinking?

I’ve come to the conclusion that someone needs to make a list of Do’s and Don’ts for Dating Site Profiles. Following that conclusion, it took me a week to come to this conclusion:

I shall write one myself.

Feel free to read the above sentence in the style of Mel Brooks in Dracula: Dead and Loving it. You know what bit i’m on about.

Anyway:

Do: Read your profile information out to yourself so that you’re sure it sounds all right.
I read a profile that had the sentence “I like to go to parties n shit.” Now, I know what the guy was trying to say, but read that out loud right now. Does that sound like the best way to word it? Not really. What he meant was “I like to go to parties and other fun stuff that I can’t be bothered specifying”, what it came across to me as, was “I like to go to parties and defecate, it’s possibly my aim in life to go to as many parties as possible and defecate in as many rooms whilst I’m there.”

Don’t: Put your main profile picture as a group photo where there’s no way of knowing which person it is that’s the owner of the profile.
Yes, safety in numbers and all that, but I came across a profile where the only picture I could see was one of a large group of guys and one girl were on top of a mountain. The profile’s username didn’t give much information away and even though the gender was specified as male, that only narrowed down the possibilities by one.

Also, Don’t: Put your man profile picture as something that would be unappealing upon quick glance.
Some Dating sites only allow you to see the one picture on search, some dating sites only allow you to see the picture and not the whole profile, some dating sites give you a time/click limit of the amount of profiles you get to see.
Putting your profile picture as Nosferatu, like one person I came across, was certainly eye catching, but in a bad way. Similarly i’ve heard of someone putting their main profile picture as The Beast from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and their secondary photo was of Adam, the prince The Beast becomes after the spell was broken.

The rest of the profile was otherwise filled in seriously.

Do: Try and fill out most of the questions

Don’t: Swear too much. There’s a difference between saying “I swear casually” and actually doing it on your profile. The first can be warmed up to if given the chance, the second can put people off straight away.

Do: Put some effort in to typing! I can’t believe the amount of profiles I’ve come across that are littered with text talk and spelling mistakes. Yeah, ok, so there are character limits, but they’re actually pretty decent character limits. If you find that you’re running out of characters, you’re going into unnecessary detail on your profile. Otherwise, there’s plenty of space to say what you need to say.

You just look like an idiot if you use text talk on the internet. Harsh, but true.

Don’t: Put obscene or otherwise indecent photos up. Not only is that usually against the terms and conditions of most dating sites, but not everyone is on a dating site to be met with full frontal nudity or suggestive of such. You wouldn’t go out in the street like that, would you? You’d be exposing yourself indecently if you did. It should be the same on the internet.

There are sites specialising to those tastes, use them if that’s what you’re looking for.

One person’s profile was “suggested” to me by the automated match system. I would have looked further into their details if their profile picture hadn’t have been a very close close up of their…. frontal nether regions. Luckily for my sake, they were wearing underpants.
Another person’s profile pictures were just of them, standing in front of a mirror, photos taken at different angles, focusing on their… *ahem* assets. A conveniently placed towel and sport shorts weren’t leaving much to the imagination, if you catch my drift.

I really didn’t need to see either of that, I’d like to think i’m not alone.

Do: Sound enthusiastic about something, whether it’s a hobby, a job, an aim in life, an aspect of daily life. Anything.

Don’t: Sound too enthusiastic. You don’t want to sound single-mindedly obsessive compulsive.
One person’s profile I came across just had “You’re not in to *type of sport*? Then i’m not in to you!” in their interest.

It’s a good way of weaving out the disinterested, I suppose…

Do: Make sure that you haven’t changed much in each of your uploaded photos.
I came across an otherwise nice sounding guy on a dating site, but the variety of pictures put me off. I couldn’t tell whether it was the same guy in all of the photos! One or two, where it was just a different style of hair was the difference, was obviously him. But in others? Honest to god, I was hard to press for a family resemblance at least.

Don’t: Put too much of an old photo up. It doesn’t have to be taken that day or even that week, but some time that year is preferable. Any older and you could be accused of being deceptive. People can change a lot in a year, in very subtle ways.

And finally:

Be respectful of other people’s sexualities. Some people have it in listed their profile, some people have kept what they’re looking for hidden, some people can’t actually choose the whole range of their sexuality on some sites. If you’re talking to someone and they say “I’m not actually interested because i’m *Incompatible with your sexuality in some way*” don’t be a prat and try to convince them otherwise.

Apologise for the damn mix up, stay and chat if they’re friendly and you were having a good time, or politely leave.

This is aimed specifically at those wanting to argue with bisexuals, straight transexuals (I don’t get what’s so hard for people to understand that gender and sexuality don’t necessarily go hand in hand?) and asexuals.

Dating sites seem to be a heteronormative world and trying to muddle in with limited options when that’s not the case is very difficult. Don’t go on a crusade, you’re only making yourself look like an uneducated moron.