Unofficial Asexual Awareness Week 2012 – Part 4

Friday 26 October, 2012

So I know I’ve kept comparing this year to last year, to give a clearer idea as to what’s going on in the asexual community and how attitude shifts outside of it have affected the dynamics within, or maybe it’s the other way around. This last entry will be no different, except this time the topic is about me specifically.

When I first delved down this path, I was still struggling to get my head around it all. I had some idea I was asexual around 2007 thanks to that friend of a friend bringing it to my attention, but I never said anything. I kept the label tucked at the back of my mind. I found people aesthetically pleasing, I liked the idea of being in a relationship (as long as sex was not involved) but knew it was very unlikely that I’d be in one at that point, so there was no big reason to mention anything.

And even though I’d end up lurking on the AVEN forums every once in a blue moon, I knew what it meant for me and me only. I didn’t know the rest. I’d only really just started to learn all of that in early 2011 and even on my blog entries last year, I still had more to learn.

Well, a years gone on and I’m still no spokesperson, but I am more confident that I know what i’m talking about, especially when it comes to myself. I’m no longer afraid of being backed into a corner by someone asking questions and pointing out the variety, as if a different person’s answer to the question negates my own.

When I wrote the last entry, I’d only ever said to three people that I was asexual. As I’ve said before, it’s never a case of me coming out that’s important, it’s not the aim. Raising awareness so that other people know that Asexuality exists is the aim. Since my last entry, though, things have changed.

During the last Asexual Awareness Week, one of my friends saw my daily twitter posts about asexuality and without even addressing it, accepted that I was asexual. I wasn’t even aware he’d put two and two together, because I had used very impersonal language to raise asexual awareness. A few weeks later when he was talking about his relationship, he stopped talking and chastised himself for “making the asexual uncomfortable”.

Two months after Asexual Awareness Week, I redesigned the blog but I wanted opinions first before I finalised it. Despite me using a clone blog rather than redesigning and linking out the real one, my Good Friend remembered the Blogger address and checked up on that. He ended up reading all that I’d said about Asexual Awareness and about me being asexual. All in all, both very positive experiences with “coming out”, even though I didn’t really intend to.

This year I’ve mentioned a few times about being asexual in various corners of the internet, so more people do know that I am asexual. But these aren’t people in my “in person” life. I tend to keep groups of people separated, because I don’t have much experiences with worlds colliding like that, so although two very dear friends of mine particularly did know, the rest didn’t. Until yesterday.

I did the twitter/facebook posts again and again stuck to impersonal language, but my friends are apparently more intelligent than I give them credit for. It took just one person to comment on me being asexual for others to follow suit, including the friend whose friend it was that first introduced the concept of Asexuality to me.

I have effectively outed myself to all of my friends, and although it wasn’t intentional, although I felt very awkward and wanted to hide under my covers until they all went away… there was not one single negative comment.

There were questions. Of course there were. I was even geared up to answering these questions, in an impersonal way, but they were directed towards to me and my experiences. Nothing too personal, nothing to the degree I’ve seen. Just along the lines of “and what does that mean to you?” which was nice. It allowed me to talk of my own experiences and throw in how another asexual might answer that question without feeling attacked. A bit under scrutiny, but not attacked.

After seeing a year of the asexual community change, after witnessing more and more ignorant comments be thrown at the asexual community as visibility has increased, after being made to feel like we, on a whole, are making a bigger issue out of it than it needs to be, I needed a good positive experience like that. It did make it feel like a non-issue, but due to the fact that it was accepted, not because others were telling me that my experiences, my opinions, my own feelings on how I identify are incorrect due to their experiences being different.

So yes, I am asexual. It is not an orientation that negates your orientation. What asexuality means to me does not negate what another asexual might feel or do in regards to their relationship, and vice versa.

If somebody can’t accept that, then the problem lies within them.

This has been the last entry of The Unofficial Asexual Awareness Week 2012. Comments are welcome and encouraged!

-AFJ-

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Unofficial Asexual Awareness Week 2012 – Part 3

Thursday 25 October, 2012

Last year when I blogged about asexuality, I talked about how much representation we do and don’t have in the media, and how the portrayals could potentially and actually do affect the asexual community.

I used Sheldon Cooper, Sherlock Holmes and Lady Gaga as examples, because those at the time were probably the most visible to a mass audience and fan base. A year on, and, well, hmm… Let’s start with Sheldon, shall we?

Sheldon Cooper is a fictional character from The Big Bang Theory. Now, I’ve not seen the show since before the last time I blogged about this exact same thing. I saw up to where Amy came into it, and Sheldon kept stating that she wasn’t his girlfriend, she was a friend who was a girl. Sounds ridiculous, but can make all the difference in the asexual community.

It was never explicitly said that Sheldon was asexual. The closest we got was when his friends talked about “His Deal”, meaning what he was ~into~, gender inclination wise, and his best friend Leonard said he didn’t think he had a “Deal”, implying asexuality. But it was enough to go on for the time being, because it’s the closest a show had got to saying “This character is asexual”.

The thing is, and this is where it gets a bit muddy, asexuals do have relationships. Asexuals have sexual relationships, even. But a year on, they have Sheldon in a relationship with a character who isn’t asexual and any changes in the nature of their relationships seem to be played for laughs. It’s no longer just a question of whether this character is asexual or not, it’s a question of how many of this characters oddities affect his romantic life. As I’ve said, I’ve not seen the episodes, but if TV Tropes are anything to go by, he’s getting more and more romantically and sexually involved with his now more-of-a-girlfriend-than-just-a-friend and is more likely just repressing that side because, well, in-show reasons are probably down to scientific reasons. Hygiene, cleanliness, waste of time when he could be figuring out the higgs-boson particle.

Out of show, though, in Meta Land, it’s probably just to make fun of the character by saying “Oh look how weird he is”.

It leaves those of us who are asexual and don’t have sex and so on and so forth in the dark with a bit of a sour taste in our mouths. Now, of course, he could be demisexual, he could be a grey-A, his sexuality could have changed due to sexuality being fluid. But this isn’t reality, this is Chuck Lorre land where things aren’t that complex. It wouldn’t surprise me if Sheldon having sex was treated as a phenomenal event as he finally transcends from Wierdsville into Normal Land.

I was never too happy with Sheldon being a portrayal of an asexual in the first place, just because of the way they treated it as a part of his quirks and characteristics. It was like the icing on the cake. But it was better than nothing. Now if people were to use him as an example of an asexual, I don’t think many asexuals would be happy about it.

Next up is Sherlock Holmes. Now, given the time and era that the stories were originally written in, it was also never said outright whether the character was asexual, just that he had no interest in relationships. There probably wasn’t even a word back then for asexuality,  they barely understood homosexuality, so the description leaves a gap for people to fill. It might mean he had his heart broken pre-canon and it left him disinterested in trying again, it could mean he wasn’t interested in relationships but used, erm, women of service if you get my drift. It could mean anything if you didn’t want to go for the flat, straight forward meaning of the words “not interested”. The lack of a known and defined term isn’t proof that he wasn’t asexual.

Nobody can say for sure, but there’s plenty of reason to believe ACD was trying to portray a man who didn’t care about sexual relationships with men or women, only the work and his enemies and of course, his dearest friend John Watson.

There’s also plenty to go on in the canon to suggest he’s gay. Maybe he’s not interested in relationships because homosexuality was a punishable crime during that time. You look for something and you’ll find it in some nook or cranny of one of the stories. Is it likely that Conan-Doyle intended to write a gay romance story incidental to a detective series? Again, there’s enough there to suggest yes as there is enough there to say that’s a ludicrous suggestion.

Last time, I talked about the BBC modernisation of the stories, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. There were many reasons to believe that the BBC version was portraying an asexual Sherlock. Even after series two aired. The problem is, of course, are the writers.

They’ve written scenes that imply he’s asexual. The awkward dinner at Angelo’s with the awkward “married to my work” conversation being the first that comes to mind (which I also mentioned last time), followed with the un-aired pilot’s version of that scene where it’s made even more clear that he doesn’t do relationships. Even the Irene Adler episode, which was turned into a story about a dominatrix blackmailing people to save her own life.

Many might say that, due to the chemistry and the nakedness and Sherlock’s interaction with her, and the way John treated Sherlock’s interaction with her. that he felt something for her. He certainly gained some respect for her, even if it wasn’t really how it went in the canon, but even if he did care for her on some level, caring doesn’t automatically mean a sexual interest. Maybe to sexuals, but not to asexuals, and that’s the problem. That’s the very nature of asexuality, caring for people without a hint of a sexual connection.

Personally, I don’t see it. She was a clever person who got into a bad situation who gave Sherlock the run around, but I can’t see him being interested in her beyond a case the same way I can’t see him being interested in Moriarty beyond a case. He didn’t do anything to encourage her interest, and as we know from one scene, he didn’t even reply to her texts.

I think there was more in that episode to further the asexual possibility, or the gay rumours, than there was for romantic interest in Irene Adler.

But then the writers say “Oh, well, you know, we didn’t intend for that to be the case. He is a sexual person, but he’s too busy to be interested in it.” and interviews that suggest that asexuality might just be a bit too weird for Sherlock Holmes.

Well, I know plenty of asexuals who say that exact thing. Yeah, they could have sex if they wanted to, but there’s better things to be dong. It, for them, is exactly what makes them asexual. I’m a bit offended by this brush off, when scholars and literary fanatics have plenty of source material out there that suggest that is also exactly what makes Sherlock Holmes asexual, and that the only reason we don’t know for sure is because ACD never said. (And we’ve come full circle)

Don’t get me wrong, I adore Cumberbatch and his acting, but he has a hell of a case of verbal diarrhoea, and Moffat can be just downright offensive with his opinions of the asexual community.

Unfortunately, like I said in my first post this week, more visibility has led to a lot more anti-asexual comments thrown around. I still think Sherlock Holmes, in most formations, comes across as asexual. Maybe not aromantic, but definitely, in my eyes, asexual. Even if Gatiss, Moffat, Thompson and Cumberbatch don’t agree, I hope they’ll remain just as respectful as the canon not to screw with it too much in the third series and aim for a romantic interest for Sherlock. It was never in the books, and Moffat and Gatiss are Canon fanboys, so there’s hope. But there’s also an audience to please and there’s plenty of people hoping for romance between Sherlock and Molly…

Sherlock Holmes of the Elementary series, however, apparently made it very clear that he was not asexual. I won’t go on to comment as I haven’t seen it for myself, also I don’t want a comparison between the two versions of Modern!Sherlock to take over.

I think the worst hit to the asexual community this year was probably the episode of House. I’ve not seen the episode because I gave up on House a few years ago, but I know the outrage it caused.

This was the first time Asexuality was brought up on a hit television show that hits a very wide audience across the world. It would have been the first many people will have even heard of asexuality. Television shows, whether they mean to or not, do help shape some people’s opinions about things. They’d already seen the effect it had on the medical profession, whether it was people self-diagnosing themselves with conditions they’d seen on the show and being wrong, sometimes being right, or influencing the level of standards patients expected from their doctors. Even some research facilities reported a demand for tests and equipment that worked the way they do on the show and actually aiming to create/recreate them (the same way Star Trek invented CDs).

Given all of that, which they are aware of, you’d think it would have aimed to treat it with respect, but no.

The asexual characters were disbelieved, mocked and then proven to not be asexual, just as House had said all along. It showed asexuality to be caused by a brain tumour, and his wife just lied to make him happy. It furthered the opinion that people can’t possibly know they’re not interested in sex until they can try it properly, it furthered the opinion that asexuality was something to cure and most importantly, it portrayed asexual people as not really existing.

Now, people say it’s just television. No one in their right mind would believe or take anything away from that episode, but I am telling you as a member of the asexual community that it did have an effect. It validated all those people who don’t believe in asexuality, and I know it because I’ve seen comments that say so.

And worse, when people of the asexual community complained and demanded an apology, the response from the general public was “I don’t know why they’re so upset.”

If that was any other minority, there’d be outrage in the general public too. But no, because asexuality still isn’t understood, this portrayal was allowed and worse, accepted.

No apology can reverse that.

So, who do we have left who may or may not be asexual in the mass media, hitting a wide audience?

Well, Lady Gaga’s suspiciously quiet as of late but at least she hasn’t announced she’s no longer asexual.

Castiel, the angel from Supernatural is apparently asexual. He’s an angel. I don’t know much about the show, but it is a big hit so that definitely counts if it’s true. There’s not much else out there.

There’s plenty around in the small corners of the internet but as for reaching the masses? We’re once again left wanting.

Thank you for reading!


Unofficial Asexual Awareness Week 2012 – Part 2

Tuesday 23 October, 2012

When I wrote last year about Asexuality, I didn’t know where to begin or where to go. Asexuality is just as complex as the rest of human sexuality. It’s an overall term for many subheadings, and I only had my own experiences to go on. It’s very hard representing a group of people when there’s so much variety within, and any time someone explains asexuality, there’s always going to be one person who slips through the descriptions.

When I first heard about asexuality, the definition that seemed to be the most agreed on was “A lack of interest in sex”. Over the past year, as I’ve learnt more and as the sexuality has grown in visibility, the definition has changed somewhat. AVEN has grown in visibility and from what I understand, their definition is and always has been “A lack of sexual attraction to other people.”

When I first entered the world of the asexuality community, I found more people accepting of all the terms under the one big umbrella term. Over the past year, I’ve found that acceptance has waned. I come across people like me, who have no interest, resenting those who do have interest but lack sexual attraction, because it overshadows their personal definition. I’ve read blog entries from those who lack sexual attraction but have sex anyway saying there needs to be another term for the rest of us, because we’re making them look frigid.

And outside the community is getting worse too. The more visibility we’re getting, the more dismissive people are getting. I read the term “Special Snowflake” every single time asexuality comes up. I read people saying “If you don’t want to have sex, just don’t have sex!” as if that was ever the main issue being discussed. That’s of neither use nor ornament to someone who says they feel lonely because they can’t keep a boyfriend/girlfriend because they’re asexual. They know they don’t have to have sex, but their partner didn’t seem to get the memo.

And then of course there’s people who think that we can’t make up our minds and get unreasonably angry, because we have all the subheadings. I can see where they’re coming from, if we “can’t decide” on what asexuality is – whether it’s a lack of interest or attraction, then all the extra information just come across as bizarre. Asexual Aromantic, Asexual Biromantic, Asexual Panromantic, Asexual Heteromantic, Asexual Homoromantic, Grey Asexual, Demi-sexual.

But anger? Really? We’re not trying to be “Special Snowflakes”. As much as I’m not sure whether labels are a good thing or not, we are humans and as humans, we categorise. We put people into boxes for our own selfish reasons, and we put ourself into boxes for the sense of community.

It’s not that we “can’t decide”, it’s that all of those things can and do make us asexual. But explaining that doesn’t seem to go down well either. It’s as if we regard everyone else as not being as varied. They’re the progressive ones, because everything’s cool with them and they don’t need no stinking labels. Except the experience of a person who is heterosexual is different to that of an asexual, and that’s what we’re saying with the whole label thing. It doesn’t negate their experience, but it does negate ours when someone says “I had the exact same thing happen…” when it is different.

And there’s still people who don’t accept asexuality at all. Even those who accept that some people just have no interest in sex or experience attraction, will not accept that it’s a valid orientation.

Lately, thanks to the visibility and subsequent growth of acceptance against the growth of refusing to accept, it’s a bit like being in a very busy room with lots of people shouting. Some will be right, some will be wrong, and even if those who are wrong are in the minority, their words seem to be the only words they’re hearing.

But there’s no way around it. Asexuality exists and people are asexual. At least 1% of the whole entire world identify as such. What that entails will be up to them to decide and explain, all I can do as an asexual is describe my experience, explain what other possible experiences might have occurred for other people and hope for the best.


Unofficial Asexual Awareness Week 2012 – Part 1

Monday 22 October, 2012

This time, last year it was Officially Asexual Awareness Week. This year, The Powers That Be decided that to increase Awareness, they weren’t going to dictate a specific week to generate awareness. Instead, and this was mostly geared towards America, people should decide for themselves when would be best to have Asexual Awareness Week so that they can get more out of it.

It meant that colleges and universities in the US would be able to make the individual choice that fitted well to their own schooling schedules without causing a scheduling conflict to other US colleges/universities. It also meant anyone not attending a college would be able to group up and throw events in the name of Awareness at a time of year they felt best worked for them and the events, and that any individual person not affiliated with US colleges/universities or splinter groups could decide completely for themselves what they wished to do.

If they wanted to join in with the dates their local College/University chose, they were free to. If that didn’t work for them and they chose their own ways of raising awareness, for example: blogging, vlogging and competition give-aways, then they were well within their rights to do so.

It was ultimately so that people could make the most of their time and wouldn’t feel like they’d be missing out if a dedicated week on a global scale didn’t work for them. Personally I feel like it’s let the sense of community suffer for the sake of American convenience, when it’s usually American Culture filtering through into other cultures that makes these one solid weeks of awareness work so well.

We can’t flood the waves if we’re splashing out of sync. An all year long thing might sound like a good idea, but how far does the word and actions of a splinter group go if the message isn’t loud enough?

Anyway! Although it’s an Unofficial Week of Awareness, if anyone has yet to join in or would like to join in again, I invite you to make this week your week. I think I said an awkward sentence last time about how there was no indication of how long the actual week lasts, whether it’s Monday to Friday, or Monday to Sunday. I’m going to aim for Monday to Friday. Please join me.

I’m A Failed Journalist, and I’m Asexual.

End of Day 1.


In memoriam

Tuesday 16 October, 2012
You and I have memories
Longer than the road that stretches out ahead.
1985 – 2005

Shake the dust off, I’m back!

Wednesday 10 October, 2012

Hello, A Failed Journalist here and I am now officially announcing my hiatus Over!

Yeah, yeah, don’t all cheer at once. I had a tedious task to do, but it’s finally done and now I can get back to business being a twenty-something Failed Journalist.

First of all, I haven’t done much with the place since I moved everything over here, so I’ll be checking to make sure it looks good everywhere and that nothing’s broken, all links and settings are polished and doing their job. I’ll be making a page about my self-inflicted LoveFilm Watch and Review Challenge, and then McFly have released a biography called “Unsaid Things”, so I’ll be writing about that, and then Asexuality Awareness Week is sort of back… and that’s just all in October!

So, yeah, Watch This Space as they say.

Thank you for reading!

-AFJ-