The internet is very US-centric. Most of the popular social media platforms and search engines are US based so the US and its quirks are at times over represented in digital spaces. A side-effect of this is the bias that the US view is the dominant view or even the “right” view. Like-wise the ace community, which very heavily relies on digital spaces and communications, over represents US views, history and living memory when a more global understanding is called for. This is why I’m disappointed, but not surprised that the AACAU report was met with hostility from US-based aces.
“When I recently read the AACAU report on asexuality, discrimination, and violence, one of the things to stick out to me was a part that asks how come information on this subject is so hard to find. The reason this stuck out to me is because that information is out there, and work has already been undertaken in this area, and the report doesn’t talk about that. Whether or not this was an unintentional omission, this reflects (and contributes to) a gap in community memory.”Coyote (2023, April 23). “Community Memory and the Search for Unassailable Abuse”. The Ace Theist. https://theacetheist.wordpress.com/2023/04/23/community-memory-unassailable-abuse/#more-30701
My first reaction to Coyote’s post was “OMG! I do remember Queenie! <3”. However, what I take issue with is Coyote is imposing our community memory onto the world and expecting the rest of the world to get our references with ease. It’s been a while since I’ve checked into the long-form communities, but I’m concerned that this is a bias that isn’t being addressed. One of the perks of a micro-blogging format is if you say something overtly bias it takes seconds for somebody to jump in and point it out. Without including non-US sources in Coyote’s blog post and reading list, I’m concerned that once again it is the US-centric bias that is winning in this debate rather than the credibility of the AACAU report itself.
Another example from living memory that I can recall was the drama around “Ace Day” where, if you’ll kindly remember, there was a disagreement among the global ace communities about what day we should coordinate our respective digital ace awareness campaigns. One of the suggested dates was a major European day of remembrance and therefore was not appropriate and the backlash about that simple fact was uncalled for, unnecessarily hostile at times, and perfectly illustrates the USness that is a legitimate problem if the ace community wants to truly be a global community.
Coyote says in reply to a comment:
“The group did not reply to my last email to them sent on April 16th, and I got the impression that they are uninterested in further correspondence with me…but I don’t have a reason to believe that my concerns are important to them.”Coyote (2023, April 23). “Community Memory and the Search for Unassailable Abuse”. The Ace Theist.
And I have to wonder why??? What business do you have telling an ace organization on another continent, in another time-zone, in another hemisphere how to conduct their survey? I find it very confusing, especially since I also have talked to Kate Wood. The internet is magical like that and she’s lovely and a delight to talk to by the way (as seen here on The Ace Couple podcast) Kate said she would have loved and accepted “reasonable criticism” which strongly implied that the emails were probably not very tactful if not outright hostile. Kate also told me she is in the process make changes to the report based on community feedback. Coyote is welcome to approve her comments on the post whenever is convenient, so yes, the post has been seen by the relevant parties.
Time for a language tangent! It’s my favorite go-to. Let’s talk SAM (Split-attraction-model). By now, everyone’s read up on the history, checked the archived tumblr posts, and we’re all up to speed and all that good stuff. So, the last time I checked, I thought we had all agreed that it was personal choice whether or not somebody wanted to continue to use the term as a reclaimed term while the community explored other options. I believe “divergent attraction” was suggested but I don’t think it caught on because you can’t force language. Language is a very organic beast. Eventually, the younger crowd started just using “orientated”, especially with aroaces who felt strong non-sexual/non-romantic attractions. I recently saw “orientated” make the jump to older aces/late adopters and I was like “yes! it’s a thing now.” It’s kind of like how all my younger coworkers use the phrase, “say less” but it hasn’t made the jump to the 30-somethings yet, but once it does BAM- It has achieved thingness. Language defuses, it doesn’t magically change overnight (although it certainly feels like it does when your’re older). With that in mind, when I casually mentioned “orientated” in a moderately globally diverse space (twitter) I was reminded again that oops, US=/=World. There are still parts of the world where SAM is the preferred language. It’s on the way out because language marches on at top speed in minority spaces, but this happens at different rates in different places.
I love my ace community. This is the community that helped me figure out a very confusing time in my life and has helped me course correct so many times and helped make me who I am now as a person. All the kudos. I’m just really confused why some folks are getting uptight over another ace org’s business, especially if you forgot to leave the US-centric viewpoint at the door beforehand. It’s great that Coyote, who is a PhD student (presumably soon-to-graduate), is willing to advise people on how to conduct community surveys, BUT there’s additional nuance that comes with surveying minority groups that should probably be touched on- but that’s a whole other post for later because I have scholarly sources for that. Until then, check your biases please.
Post script: I’m genuinely concerned that people will get caught up in nitpicking that they overlook that community driven research is awesome. As an information science student being able to see in real time a minority group meeting it’s own information needs without needing academia for validation is a eureka moment. When we argue with acephobes in digital spaces we often rely on scholarly citations (not that the acephobes ever read them) but being able to point to community sources is awesome and I want more community driven research organized by and for the community.