Carnival of Aces: Briefly Comparing My Communities Online

[This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces for February 2021 hosted this Month by Ace Film Reviews on the Topic of “Comparing Ace Spaces“]

My first introduction to the Ace Community was through the WordPress community in 2014. I was 25 and had just come back home to Texas after working out of state for two years and had finally ran out of excuses for why I had literally never dated. Well, obviously the answer is my interpersonal skills leave much to be desired BUT I had also come to the conclusion that if dating had been a priority in any way for me, I would have found a way to do it. So, the real question was, why wasn’t dating even on my list of of priorities? With that in mind I finally sat down and literally Googled “25 and never dated”. After skipping over a bunch of pop-psy articles that amounted to “don’t worry, your prince will come” I finally came to a wordpress blog by an asexual man.

I kick myself everyday for not bookmarking the page because I have never been able to find it again nor thank him. Part of the reason I keep this blog going is as a way to pay that moment forward. That man’s blog post means a lot to me because it set me on the right path to finding out that not only am I asexual, but I’m aromantic and agender too. Before that I was living and believing the lie that I was cis and straight “by default”. It’s scary to think it’s like I didn’t even know myself before that. Because of that the WordPress community will always have a special place in my heart as a place of learning and personal growth.

The next community that meant a lot to me was Tumblr. Specifically the chat created by The Asexuality Blog. I’m missing a huge chunk of history and discourse knowledge because I tended to avoid drama. I mostly used tumblr as a resource for writers. Every single job title you can think of was putting out lists of common bad tropes and mistakes writers make. Doctors, EMTs, MEs, nurses, lawyers, firefighters, *literally every professional* you might have as a background character had wishlists of tropes they wanted writers to stop using. Historians and scientists putting out debunk lists. Every minority group you could think of was putting out dos and donts and how to lists as well as answering plot specific asks. It was a magical time to be a would-be writer. I eventually left tumblr because the nsfw ban also nuked my *collection of writer’s resources*, but before that the ace chats gave me a chance to talk to real humans in real time and that was an important step in not only accepting that I was aromantic, but also an important step in figuring out I was agender.

One major difference that was kind of alienating between wordpress and the TAB chats was the age difference. Most of the aces in the chats were in their teens and I very much wasn’t. It just felt weird for most of the chat to be talking about figuring and setting into their ace identity on top of highschool problems (by which I mean absolutely zero judgment because high school problems are serious, serious business) and then I was off in the corner figuring and settling into my ace identity while complaining about paying rent, the ethicacy of tax returns, and debating the pros and cons of coming out to coworkers. Granted the chat mods were older and wiser, but they were there to moderate rather than counsel. I still owe a huge debt to the chats for helping me figure out I was nonbinary.

Another alienating thing about the chats is how amatonormative they were. Even the aro chats! I now know that I’m a romance-repulsed aro trying to figure out life and stuff, but people are constantly wanting to talk about how cute/amazing their partner/gf/bf is. I’m not anti-romance; absolutely gush about your five year anniversary, but sometimes I *just want a break* that doesn’t involve isolating myself from other humans.

Last, but not least, I’m now mostly involved with the Twitter community. It’s kind of a mix of both info dump and real time interaction. I’ve tried discord, but that gets too overwhelming. Twitter offers a lot of control over what content you want to interact with because you can save searches and mute words as well as accounts. Since the pandemic started I haven’t actually been doing the most “healthy” of searches since most of the time I’m snooping for content for @AphobeHottakes like a sleezy mag reporter. There ain’t no drama like Twitter drama. If you missed the tumblr discourse era, don’t worry, it plays out every week like it’s on syndicate in the Twitter stream.

I can’t attest much to the conversation about RL meet ups because the only other ace I’ve met in RL is my high school friend who stopped talking to me for other (and I’m prerry sure are perfectly valid) reasons. Even at 25 I still had a LOT of growing to do as a person and while I mourn the loss of a friendship even after five years, the only thing I can control is trying to maintain what I only hope an upward trend of personal growth. For now RL meetups are on hold because of Covid, but I maintain the hope that they’ll happen some day in the future.

Carnival of Aces August 2020 Round Up: What are you Hoping to get out of the Ace Community?

[If I’m missing anyone’s submission please post a link or a note in the comments or send me an email at lettredemarque(at)outlook(dot)com. I’ve been checking my spam box but life happens. Speaking of life happens if anyone has a late submission they want me to retroactively add I’m okay doing that too]

Greetings! This takes us to the end of this month’s Carnival of Aces and I’m happy to present our five fabulous submissions based on this month’s topic of “What are you hoping to get out of the Ace community?”

First of up we have Coyote, the author behind The Ace Theist here on WordPress, with “Directions for Ace Community Advocacy”; It’s a quick read that brings up several advocacy points the community needs to be thinking more about and individuals should probably be incorporating into their advocacy plans:

…I see mental healthcare as a key issue for the ace community for a number of reasons — because it can be psychologically damaging to be trapped in a sexnormative culture, because it can be difficult to access treatment for other mental health issues when anti-ace narratives stand in the way, and because “low sexual desire” is officially pathologized as a disorder in the DSM. For all these reasons and more, I think ace advocacy should be prioritizing therapy as an important area of concern…

Up next we have redbeardace’s post “Get Out Of It” about wanting to step back as an activist but not willing to leave the community floundering to repeat past mistakes or without a clear direction forward:

…For years, the primary drive has been visibility.  Shouting “WE EXIST!” as loud as we can until someone hears us. Okay.  They’ve heard us. What now? How about fighting singlism, pushing for better mental and physical healthcare, tearing down compulsory sexuality, inclusion in anti-discrimination policies, more and better media representation, sociological research that’s not mind-numbingly out of touch…more and stronger advocacy groups and closer ties/direct involvement with general queer groups, reaching all the people who are long past high school and feel lost and broken and confused because they haven’t heard of asexuality yet, and that’s just the beginning

Moving right along Henry sent me a submission via email; “A Disconnected Past, and A Curious Present” brings the perspective of feeling unwelcome and disconnected to the ace community. This post actually reminded me of when Vivek Shraya (a Canadian trans activist) visited my college and mentioned that community spaces were some of the loneliest places she had ever been in and it was in the art community that she found love and acceptance. Henry had a similar experience and reminds that while there’s a lot of shared experience among aces, not everyone’s asexual journey is going to look the same:

…I had instead followed my fantastic side to a very different community. This other community is all about self-discovery and self-expression, and both is very open about sexuality and extremely non-heteronormative. Their art was the perfect thing to feed my imagination and my fiction writer’s pen. The friends I made were just who I needed. Not only could I talk to them about my imagination, but I could write very NSFW stories from it they would eagerly lap up…

lokiofjotunheim’s post simply titled “Carnival of Aces – August 2020” talks about being relatively new to the ace community, how they discovered asexuality, learning community history and what they’re hoping for in the future:

…I want other 15, 16-year-olds, 40, 70, 90-year-olds who’ve never quite had a word that fit to find that for themselves. I want people to not have to be resigned to (and I was resigned, heavily) living life as “straight by default.” I’m not active in the sense that I’ve done activism. I have my Tumblr, sure, where I reblog ace posts and sometimes add a comment or two on the occasional post. I’m in several ace discords, and I have my ring, and my flag but…that’s about it…

Lastly we have my own submission for this topic, “I am not an Activist” which is basically just me venting about acephobia for three paragraphs and listing things I appreciate about the ace community; namely it’s nice not to feel alone in my experiences as an asexual even if I don’t have the skills to necessary to carry the community forward.

Edit: Not your professor, I accept late submissions! Drop a link below and I’ll add it to the round up. Here are the posts that were added after Aug 31st:

Elisabeth talks about “Virtual Meetups” (click here to read part one of “Increasingly Accessibility” series). Your asexual movement isn’t inclusive unless it’s accessible. With the world in the middle of a global pandemic the logical thing seems to move meetups online, but that doesn’t automatically mean online meetups are fully accessible to everyone:

My biggest problem with the state of virtual meetups in asexual communities right now, though, is just the sheer amount of effort it takes to even find out about them. Most groups are set to private, so you have to already be a member to know what they’re up to

The Call for Submissions for September is already up with the exciting topic of “Manifestos”

Please help us keep the conversation going by volunteering to become a future host!

I am Not an Activist

[This is my own submission for the Carnival of Aces hosted this month by me, for the prompt “What are you hoping to get out of the ace community? I will be posting the Roundup on Monday night, Aug 31st, so if you’ve submitted something and have not received a like on the comment or a “thank you” acknowledgement let me know because that probably means that I missed it. If you sent me something via email and didn’t get a response please resend it and let me know in the comments here or the Call for Submissions post so I can be on the look out for it. Thank you!]

As the title says, I am not an activist. I don’t think of myself as an activist, I don’t call myself an activist, and I try not present myself as an activist because I am not an activist. I merely exist as an asexual (and aromantic and agender) person and I infrequently ramble on my personal blog (and admin a Twitter account that posts screenshots of aphobes being assholes on the internet, which is also definitely not activism).

The thing is just existing as an asexual person comes with caveats. For instance if an acephobic troll shit-post goes viral on Twitter (or tumblr or Facebook or any mainstream online media) you literally have hundreds of armchair pharmacists, evolutionary biologists, and psychologists swarming the comments trying to pick apart your existence based on what they probably remember from their high school biology textbook. LGBTQ exclusionists demand “proof” of your existence and “oppression” in the form of peer reviewed journal articles and hard science while hypocritically using PowerPoint slides that they’ve clobbered together based off of a preliminary study/article they either obviously didn’t actually read or obviously didn’t understand how the data was being interpreted because the orginal source overtly contradicts their claim. Then there are “well meaning” family members and friends who instead of listening to you as you share a deeply personal, core aspect of your very self and personal identity, they brush you off or offer irrelivant/harmful advice because what you are saying contradicts the status quo they’ve been conditioned to believe without question their entire lives. What I’m hoping to get out of the ace community is just a goddamn break.

It is completely and utterly exhausting to go through life feeling isolated, disconnected, and othered by every emotional support system you’ve build up, especially if you can’t fully trust the medical systems in place because of heteronormative bias on top of cost/availability. It’s almost like life decided to push out of a plane with just a spool of thread instead of a parachute and you just have to find a way to deal with it. Okay, the parachute thing might be just a bit over dramatic (again, personal blog, I can vent if I want), but just because I’m “complaining” it doesn’t automatically make my perception untrue or “out of turn” and it’s really nice to know that there’s a group of people who understand that. Day-to-day I’m really just hoping for bare bones, basic dictionary definition of “community”.

I am looking for a human connection that I literally cannot get in my regular life. It’s nice to have a conversation with a stranger who already knows what asexuality is. It’s nice to have someone who’s sympathetic to my crappy coming-out-to-my-parents story. It’s nice to know there’s other people who also didn’t realize until later in life that there’re more options than just “straight or gay”. It’s nice to know that even though I barely had the energy to put a new coat of gorilla tape on my car today, there are other people who are working really, really hard on the daily to make real, meaningful changes to laws, medical practices, and general awareness regarding asexuality. I’m not an activist, I can’t organize people, I don’t consider myself charismatic, I don’t know anybody important, but I do a pretty good impression of a warm body when the situation calls for it. It’s not much, but it’s also not nothing either.

[Carnival of Aces Guest Post] The Ace Community and Me: A Disconnected Past, and A Curious Present

This is a submission for the Carnival of Aces August for the topic of “What are you hoping to get out of the ace community” written by Henry:

I would like to thank Lib for posting this. Though you can find me in a couple places on the internet if you look for me, I didn’t feel any of them were a place to host this essay.

That fact is probably a pretty good introduction: you are about to read about my early struggles with asexuality, why I didn’t feel like the community spoke to me then, and why I am cautiously looking into it more now.

Continue reading “[Carnival of Aces Guest Post] The Ace Community and Me: A Disconnected Past, and A Curious Present”

What are you hoping to get out of the ace community?

This Carnival is already closed and you can find the Roundup Post Here

Greetings! This is the call for submissions for the Carnival of aces for August 2020. A blogging carnival is where a bunch of blogs will get together and post about the same topic and a host will select the topic and gather all the links in a round up post at the end. Future host spots are open!!! To see past round ups or volunteer to be a host check out the Masterpost on the Asexual Agenda. The topic I’ve selected is “What are you hoping to get out of the ace community?” To see July’s roundup on the topic of “Renaissance-people’s experience with ace culture and how they have seen it change.” hosted by the Ace Initiative Center (AIC) the link will be HERE when it becomes available.

What are you hoping to get out of the ace community? This is intentionally a broad topic, but here some suggested ideas to get you started:

  • How did you find the ace community and why did you decide to join? If you’re not an active community member, why not?
  • How is your experiences in the ace community different from the larger LGBTQIA+ or other communities (ethnic, religious, ect..) you belong to?
  • What are new activists doing that you think is working or not working? Who are your favorite activists and why? What have activists done in the past that you’d like to see make a comeback or you’re glad people are no longer doing?
  • What would you like to see more of in the ace community or is there something lacking?

Submissions can be blog posts, videos, Twitter threads, poems, whatever, as long as it relates to the topic. Just drop a link in the comments below or send an email to lettredemarque(at)outlook.com. I will be posting the round up on September the 1st so please have the submissions in to my by then. Happy blogging!

Carnival of Aces Round Up: Then, Now, & Tomorrow

Alright folks, this is the Carnival of Aces Round Up for June 2019. The topic for this past month was Then, Now, & Tomorrow.

<> Our first submission is an enlightening post titled “On Purity, Asexuality, and Timing” by Perfect Number . In it she talks about Christian purity culture and touches how she would like to see asexuality included in sex education:

…if I wasn’t in purity culture, would I have had sex I didn’t want, because I thought it was “normal”? The sex-ed stuff I read now, it’s not written in a way that’s inclusive of aces. (ace = asexual) I’m trying to imagine an alternative to purity culture, that teaches kids it’s okay to have sex before marriage, but also helps asexuals understand their asexuality and be confident in their feeling that “no, I really don’t want to have sex…

<> Next up Jess wrote about both physical health and mental health in a fantastic post that is sure to get everyone thinking about their own future challenges:

… over the past year or so, I have dealt with new challenges to my mental and physical health that have really made me reconsider my priorities… [Aro-ace] lives have the potential to be very different from whatever roadmap we envisioned when we were younger, and living life without that roadmap …

<> Ace Film Reviews wrote a riveting post titled “Unhappiness and Other Unexpected Blessings” that will hopefully get folks thinking about something to look forward to:

…Is there a word for the opposite of nostalgia? Whatever it is, it’s what I felt as I stood in that chocolate shop. Not a memory of the past coupled with sorrow and longing to return to it. But a memory of the past coupled with relief and gratitude that it was over!

<> The last submission this month IS A POEM! titled Then Now & Tomorrow by LoyalTiger06 so be sure to check it out and let them know how awesome they are in the comments

A BIG “thank you” to everyone who took the time to make a submission this month and I hope everyone had a happy Pride. To see past Carnival of Aces submissions and/or to volunteer to be a future CoA host (it’s super easy, I promise) please check out the master post on The Asexual Agenda. The next Call for Submissions has been posted by The Ace Theist

Carnival of Aces Call for Submissions June 2019

First of all, Happy Pride Month Everyone!!!

This is a Call for submissions for the Carnival of Aces for June 2019. A “blogging carnival” is when a bunch of blogs get together and post about a single topic. The purpose of this is to bring awareness to the topic and to gain a variety of perspectives and voices. At the end of the month the host, yours truly, will collect all the links into a single post for everyone to see. To learn more about the Carnival of Aces, see past topics and submissions, and/or to volunteer to be a future host please check out the master post on The Asexual Agenda.

Last month was hosted by Demi and Proud on the topic of “Asexuality and Gender At Play” which you can view by clicking here.

For this month I picked the topic of “Then, Now, & Tomorrow“.

I’m turning 30 this year and my life is completely different from what I thought it would be when I graduated high school in 2008; Not better, not worse, just different. I’m actually pretty happy with how I turned out as a person, specifically as an aromantic asexual in an alloromantic/allosexual world and I’m looking forward to continuing that positive trend. On that note I’m curious to see how you folks have:

  • Grown as a person the last few years
  • What factors or people have helped you grow
  • What set backs you might currently facing, past obstacles, or even possible future obstacles and how you’re dealing with them
  • What you’re doing now to continue learning and growing
  • Where you see yourself in the next few years
  • Where you see yourself when you turn 25, 30, 40, 50, or whatever milestone is next for you
  • Any combination of the above
  • Or anything else you can think of along the lines of the prompt “Then, Now, & Tomorrow”

I’m looking forward to seeing where everyone is at in their life’s journey. To submit a post you can just put a link down in the comments or send the link in an email to LettreDeMarque(at)outlook(dot)com (mind the spelling) with your preferred name and pronouns. If you want to submit an anonymous post let me know in the email and I’ll put the post on my own blog. Just a friendly reminder that submissions are not limited to blog posts and that video essays, poems, comics, and other formats are perfectly fine as long as I can get a link for the round up post at the end. I’ll also take late submission up to 3 days after the deadline (I know the evils of writer’s block and that life gets in the way) which will be midnight Eastern Standard time on June 30th.

Happy writing everyone!

Carnival of Aces May 2019: Beyond the Binary

Greetings everyone! This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces for May 2019 under the topic of “Asexuality and Gender at Play” hosted this month by Demi and Proud. To learn more about the Carnival of Aces, to see past topics, or to volunteer to be a future host please check out the master post on the Asexual Agenda.

Phew! Gender is actually tough topic for me to write about because I don’t actually have one. This might be a hard idea for some folks to wrap their heads around, but I do not have the little voice in my head saying “you’re a girl” or “you’re a boy” or whatever. For the longest time my dumbass thought that 1) gender was a only cultural construct and 2) all genders were assigned. The way I understood it was that genders that were available to you were based on whatever gender roles existed in your culture; So the older and more complex the culture, the more diversity in gender roles and assigned genders. I know this idea is entirely bogus now, but that’s how I rationalized that Western culture only had two genders while older cultural groups like the ones found in Asia and American Indigenous groups had multiple genders.

It took a long time (all the way until I was almost 26) and some serious research for me to understand that there’s a psychological component to gender and that your self assigned “gender identity” actually pretty much fully developed by the time you’re four years old. The reason I was so confused by this for the longest time was because every time I ping my brain for a gender identity I keep getting an error message back (usually in the form of dysphoria). So, just like I’m asexual I’m also agender.

Whenever the topic of gender was brought up in an academic class setting, whether it be history or anthropology, I didn’t have my own gender to use as a comparison and it got frustrating really fast when I was clearly not understanding something and the instructors don’t know any other way to phrase it because they assume everyone had a gender to use as a comparison. It’s like being 100% asexual and having to ask people what sexual attraction feels like and they look at you like, “What do you mean you don’t know?” Actually, I should say that asking cis folks is what was frustrating. After figuring out that I was asexual I was able to sit down and actually talk to transgender aces (online because I live in an area full of Bible toting conservatives) and finally ask “How did you know you were really a boy/girl/nonbinary/whatever?” and every single time they told me “You just know”.

Boom! Light-bulb moment. I know a lot of young and questioning non-binary folks find the “you just know” answer to be a pain-in-the-butt and very unhelpful, but I was actually able to gain insight from it because I didn’t “just know” and I used that as my starting point. I went to the gender wiki and just went straight on down the list, “Does this sound like me? Nope. Does this sound like me? Nope. Does this sound like me? Nope.” Until finally I went back up to agender which, for me at least, is a nice and neat “none of the above” and said “that’s me”. Which means that I am an aromantic, agender asexual. Sweet!

Continue reading “Carnival of Aces May 2019: Beyond the Binary”

Carnival of Ace April 2019: The Languages of Luv

[This is my submission for the Carnival of Aces for April 2019 hosted this month by luvthehaven.wordpress.com on the topic of “The Five Love Languages”]

I’ll admit the title is me being just tad facetious because this topic physically pains me. As an aromantic I get major hebee jebees when people start tossing around words with romantic connotations particularly when the required reading for this topic is based on a book called “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” (Thank you Wikipeda), but I’m going to suppress my baser instincts that are screaming at me to run for the hills and try to form a rational, and hopefully relatable, opinion on the “Languages of Honest Affection” (there, I fixed the title in my brain so I can stop freaking out over the L* word, *shudders*).

It’s important to note that not all asexuals are allergic to tru luv like I am. One thing I’ve had to internalize for my own mental health is that attraction is a physiological response, meaning it’s not something we can control; like ever, no way, no how. It’s a knee-jerk reaction it just happens and ya have to just deal with the aftermath. It’s like when you brush your hand on a hot stove, your body just reacts and you move away from that hot stove as fast as humanly possible. What you do after that supercharged flinch is what’s actually in your control. Do you kick the stove for having the audacity for being hot or do you run to the sink to cool off your scalding flesh? Knowing that attraction is a weird thing the body just does because, I don’t blame people for feeling attraction and I don’t blame myself (anymore) for not feeling attraction.

Now that all that is out of the way, are these languages of honest affection applicable to me in my non-romantic reality? I’m going to go with “no, not really.” I actually don’t think this model would work in any reality because it’s way too simplistic. It’s like any other personality quiz or your daily horoscope. Sure, it might be true in a very broad, general sense if you only look at positive supporting anecdotal data and ignore quantifiable negative refuting data, but I’m totally bias against horoscopes and I want to keep an open, rational mind on this specific topic.

Physical Touch: It’s actually pretty complicated.
I’m going to tackle each point in reverse order and physical touch as a form of affection is actually hella complicated and I know this because I have a B.A. in Communication studies and one thing they stressed is physical touch is hella complicated and varies depending on the cultural group or subgroup. In the US polite social distance is about 4 feet or an arm’s length away so we tend to get wigged out when we travel to other places and a stranger gets up right in our face to talk to us. Guys walking down the street holding hands will get some looks where I’m from, but is totally acceptable if not expected in other places. French cheek kisses? Hispanic hugs? Where do you draw the line between what’s intimate and culturally expected? Where do you draw the line between what is friendship and romantic? Is it based on what is expected by the individual or what the in-group understands as the social norm? To say physical touch is a “language of love” without addressing all the nuances and meaning that come with physical touch makes this, in my opinion, an ineffective model already.

Acts of Service:
My first thought on this topic is, “I love my country, but I hate my job,” and I think that’s just me be facetious again. I spent two years working as a “professional volunteer” (which was literally my job description) for community service projects so I could receive and education award that would pay off my B.A. I currently work full-time in food service so that I can continue my education. For me personally “service” has too much of a “tit-for-tat” connotation. Everyday I serve people, often times very angry and mean spirited people, because I get paid to do it. When I take that extra step to help out my coworker it’s because that fosters a beneficial relationship that encourages them to help me out later on. If that mentality is applied to a relationship, any kind of relationship, I think that has the potential to negatively impact the relationship. I’ll use the example from the wikipedia article of the one spouse showing affection by doing the laundry and the other spouse is like, “Wtf? That’s not affection. It’s a chore that needed to be done so it doesn’t matter who does it.” In this hypothetical relationship both people are able to do the chore and it was a chore that needed to be done so does it really matter and is it really a sign of affection that one person does it over the other?

I have a much better example; A lesbian couple that I follow and adore on YouTube. One of the ladies is disabled and the other works in the medical field unrelated to the disability, but is more familiar with how the system works than your regular citizen. When they first started dating the abled lady noticed that her new girlfriend wasn’t doing so hot and she knew that things could be better so she used her knowledge of how the medical system worked so that her girlfriend could see all the specialists she needed and sat in with her during all the appoints and asked all the relevant questions so that she could have the happiest, healthiest life possible with the limitations of her disability. The two of them are happily married now and it’s not a matter of whose chore is what because they don’t have a tit-for-tat system and they credit that as one of the reasons they have such a loving and healthy relationship (along with open and honest communication of course). I usually point to them when I want to point out what an “ideal” relationship would look like and I seriously want to know what the secret sauce to their relationship is because compared to them all the straight couples I know look like they’re trapped in Hetero-Hell because social norms instead of Tru Luv.

I don’t think there’s any reality where someone can say, “Look, I did the laundry today as an act of love,” and not sound like an asshole. I don’t think the lady in my example would even classify taking her new girlfriend to every single doctor’s appoint as an act of love more so than as someone in the medical field doing everything they can to make someone’s life better even if they don’t get anything out of it besides making someone’s life better. I just have a really hard time wrapping my head around this language because if you’re doing something for someone for the appreciation then you’re disappointed when it’s not, then it’s not really an act of love if you were hoping to get something out of it in the end.

Words of Affirmation: Now we’re talking.
This is probably the one point where I will agree that this a love language. I’m all for open and honest communication, but something that seems to be overlooked is the listening part. I feel like nobody knows how powerful and appreciated listening to another person without judgment is. Do you know how hard it is to listen to another person without judgment? I practice everyday and I’m still not good at it, but I can tell when somebody does it to me and it feels amazing. Having somebody just listen to you and not judge you feels amazing. When we listen to people our first instinct is to either contradict them, voice our own opinion, or offer advice, but if you can manage to turn that off you have the ability to do so much good for other people. I’m terrible at this because my instinct is to try and fix the “problem” when really the best thing I can do is just shut up and listen. Like I said, I practice everyday and it’s still a work in progress so I want to shout out to people who have this superpower.

Quality time:
Actually no disagreement here. Spending quality time with someone you love is awesome so keep doing that. It’s probably going to look different depending on the person’s involved, I literally can’t think of a downside to this if you can make it happen.

Receiving and Giving Gifts:
Well, we’re back to the age old question of your grandmother gave you a shit gift, what do you do? No, seriously. My Grandmother gave me a Mini Mouse watch that probably had been sitting in her closet for years for my birthday. I hate it and it’s just going to end up sitting in the back of my closet because I don’t even want to look at it, much less wear it. Giftcards are a godsend. It takes all the guess work out of figuring out what to buy and people can finally get things they need or want. The last time I got someone a gift that wasn’t obligatory I got the standard, “Oh, you didn’t have to do that!” Yeah, I know I didn’t have to do that, but I did anyway and you know what? It hurt my feeling when they said that because and that was the last time I gave a non-obligatory gift. So, when my grandmother gave me a gift and I hated it I made sure I said “Thank you, it’s amazing!” Gift giving/receiving sucks. Maybe it’s just that I don’t have the best experience, but it’s not my favorite and I have a really hard time seeing it as a language of love since there are weird social norms about it like saying, “Oh, didn’t have to do that!” when it’s not an obligatory gift. Ugh.

Conclusion:
The languages of love seem like any other personality quiz. It’s cute, it’s fun (probably), but I don’t recommend taking it as relationship gospel. If you take the quiz again after lunch you’re probably going to get a different result than the one you took earlier because the results are too generalized to actually be useful. Relationships are complicated because it’s not just 1 + 1 = 2; Humans are infinitely complex and in a relationship you’re taking one complexity with its own wants and needs and trying to match it up with another complexity and you basically end up creating unpredictable mathematical chaos. It’s perfectly human of us to try to fit big, scary chaotic topics like love and relationships into five neat little boxes, but that’s like trying to stuff and elephant into a shoe-box. If being asexual has taught me anything it’s that neat little boxes don’t exist for things like love and relationships and that’s why I don’t think this model actually works for anybody.

Carnival of Aces January 2019: Blessing or Indifferent?

This is my Carnival of Aces submission for January 2019 hosted this month by Demiandproud on the topic of Asexuality as a blessing

Actually this prompt is a real challenge for me (and not just because I’m kinda super tired right now). In my family we don’t really count our blessings anymore. My mom was raised Irish Catholic, but she stopped being religious many years ago. I remember when I was younger that my parents gave Church a valiant try because they know that strong community ties are important (and I agree) and are one of the many keys to a long healthy life, but my parents don’t tolerate ignorance well. A memorable example, according to them, was a minister was talking about Islam (and this was years and years ago) and he said that Muslims believed that the Earth rides on the backs of four elephants. Cue a double facepalm from both my parents. That was apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back because we stopped going to church after that. Then one summer my parents took the time to teach us about ALL the world religions from Amish to Zoroastrianism and said “Pick one”. We have parental permission to believe whatever we want, but only if we get the facts right. The elephant thing is first of all from Hinduism and considering all the engineering professors at the local University are from India they might have something to say about painting all Hindus with the same back-woods-simple-folks brush.

My family’s mental health isn’t all that great. My mom probably could use therapy, but she refuses to acknowledge her problems. My dad is an alcoholic and all of my siblings have been treated for depression. I don’t think going to Church would have fixed that, but clearly they’re missing a healthy support system. Somehow, I’m actually doing okay. I’m not sure what secret sauce I got that helps me not go down the dark rabbit hole, but asexuality probably plays a role in that.

Firstly, belonging to the asexual community gives me an extra rung in my support system that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It makes shopping for therapists a little tricky (especially since I’m also nonbinary), but I lean more towards self-help anyway since I don’t have a good track record with counselors (ugh). When I was just starting college (and didn’t know asexuality was a thing) I was part of a writing club and that was my healthy outlet because when I was writing anything was possible. My favorite character creation was an alien species where not having a gender or sex was normal and this character ended being one of the group’s favorites. Even if I didn’t know my gender or sexuality at the time I still found a way to safely express my doubts and feelings. My siblings didn’t have that because they’re “normal”.

Relationships are stressful. For every couple I see being cutesy and loving in public I feel like I see five couples arguing about dumb stuff. My brother and his girlfriend were arguing about dick tattoos while I was trapped in the car with them today, so…I’m actually really glad I don’t have that. My parents fight every day because they are literally an old married couple and it really takes the shine out of the long term relationship thing. Two of my coworkers just recently ended relationships that were at least borderline if not full on abusive. Does it make me sound cynical if I’d rather take myself to dinner and a movie than deal with another person. For every person who says I just “haven’t met the right one” I feel like my response should be, “Well, have you?”

I can’t say with absolute certainty that asexuality has actually had any positive impact on my life, but I can’t say for certain that it’s had any truly negative effects either. In Stoic philosophy there’s a term that isn’t easy to wrap your head around the first time you hear it; for me being asexual is an “indifferent”. This doesn’t mean that I don’t care that I’m asexual because it’s definitely a good thing to know. An indifferent is something that doesn’t affect your moral character. Being asexual doesn’t automatically make me a better person and it doesn’t make me a bad person. In Stoic philosophy things that matter are things that make you wiser, give you better self-control, ensure social justice, or help you overcome difficult circumstances. Since asexuality doesn’t meet that criteria, it’s not something I think about all the time (as seen by my infrequent posting habits).

I’m less concerned with my own asexuality and more concerned that all gender and sexuality minorities should be talked about, understood and celebrated. I’m less concerned about my lack of dating history and more concerned that all consenting adult relationships are celebrated and not just the boy-meets-girl ones. I’m concerned with people knowing what consent and power dynamics mean and that everyone gets the help they need when these things are ignored or abused.

Asexuality didn’t make me a better person, but it did give me a lens to see the world’s injustices from a specific point of view. Being asexual means connecting with so many amazing people and organizations that are trying to change the world for the better that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise if I was straight. Maybe that’s worth calling a “blessing”.