Carnival of Aces August 2017: “Post-Fact” and “Alternative Science”

[This is my post of the Carnival of Aces for August 2017 hosted this month by Asexual Research. The topic this month is “Asexuality and Academia“]

I really shouldn’t have struggled with this topic as much as I have since I’m a) asexual and b) a student. For my post I’m going to write my reaction to This Article titled “In Post-Fact America, Alternative Scientists Put Belief Ahead Of Fact” by secondnexus.com.  I originally saw a link to the article on twitter.

My biggest issue with the article is this part-

“…this alternative science — that is, science based solely on opinion supported by no evidence or proof — is gaining influence and demanding equal access.”

“Science” that is not based on evidence or proof is NOT science and should not be called as such. The article is both criticizing and legitimizing pseudoscience by calling it “science” and its practitioners “scientists”. My concern is that media outlets are, intentionally or otherwise, legitimizing “alternative-facts” and a “post-fact reality” by how they talk about them.

My favorite movie of all time is Denial (2016), a courtroom drama based on the book History on Trial: My Day in Court With a Holocaust Denier by Deborah Lipstadt. It’s not really a “how-to” when it comes to dealing with post-fact individuals… actually, I’m going to do like they do in the film and call them what they are: liars. The film isn’t a “how-to” when it comes to dealing with liars and falsifiers, but it presents the problem in a “dragons can be beaten” kind of way which is something that I need on occasion.

Liars have it easy. The common man isn’t going to take the time to fact check, especially if there’s a grain of truth to what is being said. It takes tremendous time and effort to get to the bottom something. Researching is a learned skill and it’s not a skill I personally learned easily or willingly to be honest. I hated doing research for classwork because the emphasis was on the process, not the necessity. 

I realized research was a necessary skill when I had to sign my own medical consent form for the first time and the form said in plain text, “Medicine is not an exact science.” I looked at the receptionist and asked, “What do you mean ‘medicine is not an exact science’? Shouldn’t it be the oldest and the most exact science there is?” It’s no wonder that shortly afterward that I discovered asexuality by doing my own digging. I realized that I needed to seek out information relative to me. I had to start asking my own questions without relying on the answers being spoon fed. Research became necessary.

Unfortunately there is so little research about asexuality. 1% might not sound like a lot, but redheads (like me) make up about 2% of the world population and there are some very important, medically relevant quirks doctors need to consider when treating a red haired person. It really sucks when I’m in the middle of a dental treatment and the Novocaine is starting to wear off.

I’m worried that media outlets are fueling the “alternative-fact” mindset. I’m worried this will hinder asexual awareness efforts. I need asexuality to be taken seriously for my own health and sanity, but I have to wonder if the truth of asexuality is enough to compete against the much louder, more controversial, and perhaps more news worthy beliefs of liars and falsifiers. I also have to wonder, do they outnumber us?

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Carnival of Aces July 2017: Barriers to Off-Line Ace Meet-ups

Hi folks! This is my post for the July Carnival of Aces hosted this month by the Asexuality Archive under the topic of “Ace-ing it up Offline”. I decided to write about barriers that I’ve personally run into when it comes to meeting aces Offline.

Barrier #1: Location, Location, Location:

I live in a small city in Texas. I pass SIX churches on my 8 mile drive to work everyday. People in my area still can’t even say the word “gay” like it’s a swear word or something. My closest major city is San Antonio which for me is a 40 minute drive (we count distance in time in Texas because it’s makes the drive seem shorter and that’s going 5-10 miles over the speed limit like we do). I haven’t been able to find any info about meet ups in San Antonio because when you look up “aces in San Antionio” on Google it takes you to the local community colleges website which is called the “ACES portal” so not helpful.

According to Google there’s a pretty good Ace presence in Austin which is an hour and a half drive away and in Houston which is three and a half hours away, but then we run into the next barrier-

Barrier #2: Time and Money:

I don’t work a 9-5 job. I work part-time at a grocery and because it’s summer time we lost all our labor hours, but despite all that I’m still working 40+ hours a week! Somebody called in on Tuesday and my supervisor asked everyone and their mother if ANYONE was willing to stay. Even though everybody says they want more hours they’re not willing to work for it when we need it. I was already scheduled 40 hours this week, but I was the only one willing to stay so I worked 12 hours on Tuesday. Friday rolls around and I finished all the work in my section and as much fun as it is to get paid to stand around and do nothing, I asked my super if I could leave early since I was over hours from Tuesday. Literally one minute before I’m about to clock out my supervisor calls me and asks if I can stay because apparently one of our new employees (chick hadn’t even been there two weeks) had just quit on the spot. So, I end up working 11 hours on Friday.

You’d think with all this overtime I’m working, and remember I’m just a “part-time” employee so I should only be getting 30 hours a week, I should be rolling in money. I go to check my account so I can pull some cash to go on a pub-run with my coworkers (because this Friday I needed it) and I have $12.80. So, no Pub-run. I can’t pull from savings because my car needs new tires this month, plus I already owe over 700 dollars on my credit card. I get paid well above minimum wage, but clearly it’s not a living wage.

What all the hell am I buying? Bills. Food. I like a hot lunch and why reheat rice&beans when I could just steam a bag of frozen veggies in the microwave (2.65 plus employee discount) or have a nice hot bowl of soup (2.99 plus employee discount). My personal favorite is the single oatmeal cups (99 cents) because I like to toss in some trail mix (45-80 cents). I’m having flashbacks to Les Miserables “All the bits and pieces/Jesus, it’s amazing how it grows!”

Barrier #3: Making a Connection

One of my friends from high school is aro-ace like me! How amazing is that? Think of the odds. We share the same awkward “what’s wrong with me?” “Am I broken?” “What’s an ace?” experience. I was the one who blurted “I think I’m asexual” and she said “me too” so we should totally be besties hands down, right? Yeah, not what happened. I actually don’t really know what happened other than we had our own crap to deal with and lost touch. I’ve talked to her maybe twice since I came back to Texas. It sucks, but the reality might be I’m just not enough or the right kind of support she needs right now. If I had to make a guess I would say that it’s because she’s black and I have the genetic diversity of Wonderbread. It doesn’t mean I’m not a great person, it doesn’t mean we don’t have anything in common, but I will never be stopped by a cop and fear for my life or freedom. I trust that she knows what she needs in her support network and I’m not going to be offended if I don’t fit those needs. Sometimes people just can’t connect or the connection doesn’t hold up when people change.

I personally have a hard time connecting to people under the age of 25. I run into this problem when I’m online too. Sometimes I just want to vent or I need emotional support over a topic that a younger person hasn’t had to deal with yet. For example my parents are having marriage problems. That means something completely different when you’re closer to 30 than it does when you’re still a teenager. It would be nice to talk about it over a (as in singular) beer and some nachos because I have work at 6AM the next day. I really like talking to my older coworkers because we’re all going though similar experiences and it’s nice to have that “is this normal?”/”oh, yeah. Me too,” conversations.

Honestly, being ace is old news to me now and it gets kind of tiring hearing the same conversation of “Last year/month/week I realized I was ace because…and my family reacted like…” Now I need the conversation, “I’ve identified as ace for X amount of years…” and then what? I want to connect with other aces offline, but emotionally I need to connect with other adults more.

Preferably somewhere less than an hour away with a budget under 20 dollars and I can’t stay too late because I (more than likely) have work the next day.

Carnival of Aces June 2017: Here’s Why I Don’t Do “Asexuality 101”

The short answer is because I live in Texas. Texas still does “abstinence only” for sex ed and that stupid “Bathroom Bill” is still making headlines. I don’t generally talk about asexuality in my everyday life. I’m proud to be asexual. I have ace art on my walls, collect ace patches and stickers, and 90% of my wardrobe is ace colors. But I don’t talk about it because it’s exhausting when every conversation I have about asexuality turns into “Asexuality 101”

Since last March almost all of my weekends I’ve been doing what my job calls “demo”. Basically I put on glittery make-up (yuck), flutter my eyelashes for all their worth and try to talk people into buying  really expensive imported cheeses. Unfortunately for me I’m very good at it. It’s that communication’s degree finally working for me. One of my coworkers has complained that he’s bought cheese every weekend since I’ve started doing it (mwahaha). My job is to convince people that a) this not only the best cheese they’ve ever had in their life, but b) it’s definitely worth the sixteen-seventeen dollars per pound they’re about to spend on it only to let it sit in the refrigerator until it goes bad, and then I get to do it all over again next week. My coworker says he still has three different cheeses sitting in his freezer that he’s bought from me. ;-]

What makes me so good at my job is I know I’m not going to be able convince everyone to buy this cheese. I’m not even going to be able to convince half of the people who take a sample to buy this cheese. I would say a good 90-99% of the time by the time someone reaches my station they’ve already made up their mind that they’re either a) Not going to buy the cheese and they just want the free sample or b) They already buy cheese every week regardless whether or not I’m giving out samples. There’s no way I’m going to change these peoples minds and it’s not even my job to change these people’s minds. My job is to persuade the tiny number of less than 10% of people who haven’t made up their mind yet. Sometimes they buy cheese, sometimes they don’t, but my boss says I’m the one most qualified, experienced, and skilled to convince them.

Whenever I end up talking about asexuality it’s the same thing; I’m either already talking to someone who already knows about asexuality and they’re talking about their personal experience or I’m talking to someone who just wants everyone to be happy and in love like a Disney princess. Both of these groups have already made up their mind/opinion and it’s going take an act of heaven to get them to change their minds either way. It’s very rarely that I’ll find someone on the fence about any topic actually. The flat-Earth theorist coworker has already made up his mind. The peta-propaganda-peddling vegan that also works at my deli has already made up his mind. They are going to pick and choose the facts that support their preexisting biases and ignore facts and circumstances that might disprove those biases. This nasty habit of ignoring facts is called, “confirmation bias” and once again all that college is finally paying off.

My Best Example of Confirmation Bias: I have Never. Dated. Anyone. Ever. in my 27 years of living. My parents are still somehow convinced that I “just haven’t found the right one” yet. Obviously they just want all their children to be happy and healthy even if that means ignoring facts and circumstances that might suggest that happiness might not look the same for everyone. My version of “happiness” isn’t going to be featured in a Disney and/or Hollywood movie anytime soon.

When it comes to spreading awareness and asexual education, the individual level just isn’t very effective. Advocacy groups are going to have more power. By banning together, showing strength in numbers, and reaching out to ally groups, that’s how change is going to happen. I hate to say it, but we need to find a way to “normalize” asexuality if we want to spread awareness. Instead of having one or two shows with a token ace character, we need ten shows with multiple ace characters. We need books, articles, news stories. But to do that we need more organizations. AVEN is the one everybody knows, but we need more than that and we need them to be as equally well known. We need groups and we need people willing to lead those groups and be willing to sacrifice personal time and their personal lives to the cause. The individual ace isn’t enough.

Carnival of Aces March 2017: “Showing Ace Pride”

[This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces for March on the topic of “Ace Pride” hosted this month by (Purr)ple (L)ace. For more information on the Blogging Carnival see the Call for Submissions link.]

Since I’m not out to the majority my friends, family, or coworkers my Pride symbols are going to be very subtle. I have a couple ace rings; my favorite is one with a heartbeat line on it because to me it says, “I’m here! I’m real!”

asexual pride ring

I’ve sewn a couple pride patches into my favorite hoodie. I have one on each arm for aromantic and agender and then one over my heart for asexual because the patch was heart shaped. ace pride patch

I also buy clothes specifically in pride colors only. It helps that the ace, aro, agender, and nonbinary colors are all very flattering for my coloring. I’ve actually made myself a cheat-sheet for when I go shopping. For me it’s pride colors or no sale except for bluejeans.

Lastly I have a couple pride posters on my wall in my room. Here’s one for asexuality-

wp-1489542550932.jpg

It’s my favorite ace artwork. I love simplicity.

Blue is technically my favorite color, but I invest in a lot of purple, black, and gray things. I’m super lucky those colors are flattering for me. I’m not a fashion expert so this has actually made my life a lot easier when buying and picking out clothes and outfits. I do most of my pride shopping on Etsy and Redbubble. The pride patches are my favorite pride item because I can undo the stitches and reuse the patches if I get a new hoodie. So far nobody’s asked about what my patches mean and I take comfort in asserting my identity quietly in public.

That’s pretty much it. This was a fun topic and I got to show off my stuff so I won’t go any deeper than that for this post.

 Edit: I forgot my ace pride sticker that I wear on my name tag. Here it is-

Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week

The week following Valentines day is Aro Spec Awareness Week where arospec folks and their friends raise awareness and talk about aromanticism. Several tumblr blogs are hosting prompt challenges and posts, but this year because of time constraints I’ll just be making one post. I’ve touched on being aro before, but for this post I’ll try to get more in depth. I’ve been identifying as aromantic for about a year now. I found out about asexuality first, but because romance is so ingrained in our culture, including in several of the ace resources I was looking into early on, it took me some time to figure out that I was actually aromantic.

Being aromantic means I do not experience romantic attraction. In simplest terms it means I don’t get the warm fuzzy urge to date or be romantically intimate other people, but that description barely scratches the surface. I was cleaning out some old boxes on Monday and I came across a diary from the 7th grade and another journal from the 10th grade. I had only glanced at random pages but in diary entry I had written, “I don’t have any crushes” and in the journal from the 10th grade I had written, “I don’t like romantic themes [in stories] because I don’t understand them.” I didn’t even know aromantic was a thing until much, much later. I feel cheated for not knowing about something that is a core part of my identity sooner because it’s not something people readily know or talk about.

Continue reading “Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week”

Carnival of Aces December 2016 Round Up

Happy New Year everyone! Here is the Carnival of Aces Round Up for December 2016. The topic was “Asexuality and Privacy

Ettina  made an awesome post about how Asexuality and Privacy related to their autism and being a survivor of CSA (child sexual abuse) in their post “Privacy, Sexuality and Shame

Kasey talked about the process of opening up about Asexuality through years of blogging and slowly coming out to people in their life and how that creates a confusing dynamic when it comes to privacy in their post “Am I a Private Person? I Can’t Even Tell Anymore

Sara talked about how being an aromantic asexual affected their view on privacy and how that affected what they shared with others in their post “I Do No Need More Privacy as an Asexual, but The Privacy I want is a Bit Different

A big thank you to everyone who made a submission! The next Carnival of Aces for January 2017 will be hosted by Ace Advice!  Happy blogging!

Carnival of Aces Reminder

Hey folks! We’re about half way through the month of December and so far I only have one submission for the Carnival of Aces this month.

“A blogging carnival is an event in which various people blog around a single topic.  At the end of the carnival, a host blog collects all the links.  It’s a way of encouraging a variety of different voices, and a way to bring attention to blogs that would otherwise go under the radar.
A Carnival of Aces is a monthly blogging carnival centered on asexual and the asexual spectrum (gray-As, demisexuals, etc.).  Anyone can participate, but responses should deal with asexuality or the asexual spectrum, and they should relate to the month’s theme (which is announced each month by the host).  Responses should postdate the call for submissions.  Alternate forms of media besides blogs are also welcome as long as they deal with the prompt.”

This month’s topic is “Asexuality and Privacy” which is a topic near and dear to my heart. If you need help with some ideas or aren’t really sure what privacy means to you here are some videos you can watch about why privacy is a serious and sometimes scary topic:

Full Frontal with Samantha Bee: “The Russians aren’t the only ones watching you.”
TedTalk: Christopher Soghoian “Government surveillance — this is just the beginning”
TedTalk: Glenn Greenwald “Why privacy matters”
TedTalk: Andy Yen “Think your email’s private? Think again”

Feel free to watch one of the videos and just send me your thoughts on that or see the original Call for Submissions for ideas. It doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t have to be written. Art, videos, poetry, are all acceptiable for submissions as long as they are relivant to the the topic. A lot of the privacy-topic videos I see mention how privacy is important to LGBT+ and minority groups, but nobody mentions asexuals specifically so I wanted to hear from you all and what you think.

Please have your submission in by December 31st for the link round up. You can leave a link in the comments below, submit via tumblr to http://a-cubedblog.tumblr.com/, or send me an email to lettredemarque(at)outlook(dot)com. If you sent something to the email and did not get a “thank you” reply, let me know. It means I probably didn’t get the message and I will try to find the lost email.

Good luck everyone!