My Asexuality and Writing Submission Part II: Fanfiction, the Forgotten Part

In my last post I talked a little about my personal history regarding writing and asexuality. I left a small part out: I have also written fanfiction with asexual characters, and asexual characters in relationships. I left it out for a reason, a reason that ties in with my last post’s overall theme: the growing nastiness and bad faith present in the tumblr asexual community.

I’ve been wanting to get the chance to sit down and write for this month’s Carnival of Aces all month. Asexuality! Writing! Two things I love to talk about it! Sign me up, siblings!

Ok. Today I finally got that chance. I checked the guidelines on the Call for Submissions post, and as usual, glanced at the comments to see what others had written about (I don’t like to reinvent the wheel twice).

Someone wrote about asexuality and fanfiction! Wowy zowy! That was great, I was excited. I love reading about those two things. I clicked on the post, read through it, and my mouth almost fell open. This person had some advice for people who wrote asexuals in fanfiction.

See, they had some advice for people who write asexuals in “mixed relationships” (an asexual and a non-asexual in a relationship). Specifically, for people who write the asexual having a relationship where they have sex with the non-asexual partner to make them happy–you know, advice for people like me.

They had three points. The first two were presumptions of the writer’s ignorance of asexuality and ace relationships. The third point though, really blew me away. And I quote:

“just stop fetishising Asexuality please and thank you.”

This is what I was talking about in my last post. Ignorant, baseless assumptions about people, and gross accusations against other asexuals. According to this person, my little stories, which were largely a form of wish fullfillment, where an ace character lived a happy domestic life in a beautiful home with their clever, charming and suave non-asexual partner who they happen to have sex with some times, is me fetishizing asexuality.

Who knew? I’m tired of this bad faith, of this lashing out and attacking other asexuals out of baseless assumptions. Of this rampant stereotyping and generalizing. “Someone writing about an ace having sex with their non-ace partner? Most be a disgusting fetishizing alloromantic allosexual scumbag! Just stop fetishizing us eww.

This sort of thing is exactly what I was talking about in my previous post. Albeit milder than many of the examples I see.

You may of course, read their entire piece for yourself. On Tumblr.

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Do You Have the Time, To Listen to Me Whine, About Writing and Tumblr All At Once?

This post is an intended contribution for the March 2015 Carnival of Aces: Writing and Asexuality call for submissions.

Kind of inspired by Redbeardace’s post, I thought it might be a good idea to look back at my own history of writing about asexuality, and writing asexual characters.The majority of the writing I have done has been non-fiction. On my old blog, I was never a prolific blogger. I didn’t make a lot of posts, and I didn’t update frequently at all. Nonetheless, I stuck at it for three and a half years, and as a result (going by the public posts on that blog) I wrote some 25,000 words of non-fiction about asexuality.

Many people have contributed more. But I have contributed some, so I feel happy. I wanted to continue my minor contributions to asexual visibility here on this blog, but have mostly failed. My busy life (work + school + some attempts at a meager social life) and lackluster time management skills would have doomed an attempt at the prolificacy I envy in others, but I thought I could at least keep up the pace of my old blog.

However, seeing the toxicity, cruelty, and bullying that is so rampant in the Tumblr asexuality community depressed me and created in me an apathy that kept me from writing again. (The Tumblr asexual community is probably the largest place for ace discussion and visibility work now, and much of its style of nastiness seems to be spreading to other asexual places.)

Write about asexuality? For who? For a bunch of people that will turn around call each other stupid, privileged scum, “literally trash”, etc for using a new ace term wrong? Asexuals who are more interested in watching for any possible excuse to trash other asexuals than in asexual education?

When I first starting writing about asexuality, in 2010, I felt so proud, and eager, to contribute something to other asexuals. The asexual community consisted of people who were largely kind, supporting, intelligent, or at the very least, possessed the bare minimum of human decency in the way they treated others. I felt that I was contributing to a movement that was doing good.

My writing would help validate others who had newly discovered their asexuality; it would spread information for curious friends and families of aces, my writing would be part of a growing mass of recorded ace information, perspectives, and experiences.

Maybe it did that. Maybe it continues to do that. But I have to wonder if that is the majority contribution now, or if it mostly serves as a link for a bully to post to score points on someone? A citation an ace can use to snarl at another ace that they’re too privileged to talk about their own experiences and opinions? Will I one day follow a referral link back, and see my own posts’ URL accompanied by the text “go kill yourself you alloromantic-privileged scum“? Or something similarly, almost unbelievably ridiculous sentiment that is nonetheless made commonly on Tumblr?

The possibility puts a real damper on the “I want to write something for the ace community!” motivation of mine.

Similarly, that’s what killed my asexual fiction attempts. For a while, I thought to abandon blogging and non-fiction writing for the glorious world of fantasy–after all, it’s so seemingly less controversial. No cringing at the possibility of people’s outrage over an opinion on terminology use, or asexuals’ position in the LGBT community, or privilege and asexuals…right?

I wrote 3,105 words of my asexual fantasy story, and I quite liked what I had. It was going to be much longer, and I showed it to my beta to go over a few concerns I had over the plot. We both agreed it should go in a different direction than originally intended, and I sat down to re-work the story a little. And before I began, I reconsidered. I re-examined my priorities. This was a story I was putting a lot of work into–more work than I usually put in writing, especially my fictional writing. And I could just picture the flak I’d get for it. Someone who didn’t like what I said about this or that stance in a blog post would accuse me of being racist and colorist for having a mixed-race protagonist or whatever accusation they could drag out of the text.

Because most people on Tumblr don’t research the statements they reblog, or check them for factuality and basis in reality, misinformation spreads like a wildfire.

Pretty soon, “Ace in Lace is racist” spreads. Someone mentions liking my story. They get an ask. “You shouldn’t read Ace in Lace, she’s racist and transphobic and a cis white male” someone says. OP apologizes “Sorry! I didn’t know. I’ll take that post down right now.

It sounds outlandish. It sounds paranoid and ridiculous. Only if you’re not familiar with Tumblr though. All the scenarios I’ve mentioned are things I’ve seen happened, and can post examples of if needed.

Why would I spend my time writing fiction or non-fiction, solely as a contribution to the community (which is still severely lacking fiction and non-fictional works about asexuality) to get treated like garbage? When I could…

1. Write something for an audience that doesn’t have the issue of rampant misuse of social justice principles, resulting in witch-hunts on writers and artists

2. Write something for myself

3. Play a video game with a friend

4. etc,

Point of this post being, once upon a time I loved to write about asexuality and longed for little more than for the time to write and contribute something to other asexuals. Now I’m so disturbed by so much of the asexual community on Tumblr that the passion and fire has gone. I probably sound like I’m whining and being self-important, but it’s not about POOR ACE IN LACE, it’s about weighing opportunity cost as a writer. When I write about asexuality, it means I’m giving up time I could be writing about something else. And when a community treats its members vilely, the incentive for members to want to interact with that community diminishes.

My Vivofit: Not Just a Pedometer

I do not have a Fitbit. I have a Vivofit, by Garmin. They are not the same, but since I’ve never used a Fitbit, I couldn’t tell you exactly what the differences between them are.What I can tell you is what my Vivofit does—it tracks my steps, my calories burned, the current time and date, my goal (the amount of steps I’m aiming to walk that day), and the amount of miles I’ve walked.

Today, for instance, I’ve walked 11,534 steps—4.82 miles, according to the Vivofit—and have burned 1809 calories. (Oh crap, I ate waaaaay too much of that Margherita pizza.)

In addition it will also keep track of my sleeping patterns if I wish it to, and it will let me know if I’ve been sedentary too long, via a creeping band of red squares across the digital face that warn me that I should get up and take a quick walk.

Some people allege that the Fitbit, and other fitness trackers, aren’t really useful or even much used. I disagree. Like many, I was given my Vivofit band as a Christmas present—and it is now February. It has not gone unused and forgotten after the first week. In fact, is has been quite valuable.

The value is not in letting me know exactly how many steps I’ve walked—the Vivofit, like all fitness trackers, has its ups and downs when it comes to accurately recording steps.

Even supposing though, that your fitness tracker is giving you 100 steps instead of the fifty you actually took, or merely 100 steps for the 200 you’ve taken, it’s still useful. Why?

Because you can still quantify the data and understand it. Assuming you do similar actions every day (or can take into account the differences) it’s still good for comparison. “I took 1000 steps today and 3000 yesterday” still lets you know that you’re accomplishing a third of the exercise of yesterday, even in fact, the difference is really that you took 3,000 today and 9,000 yesterday.

Accurate it or not, you can still tell that “Gee, on my off-days I usually walk only 3,000 steps, but today I haven’t even cracked 1000. Better get a walk in before dark.”

The accuracy isn’t all that important. The long-term trends are, and the short-term monitoring regarding those trends.

Now this is where the charge that fitness trackers are just “glorified pedometers” comes in. Yes, I could buy a pedometer for $5—but would it upload all my data to the internet for me, and make neat color-coded bar charts? I don’t think so.

Look at that chart. It’s lovely.

Look at that chart. It’s lovely.

(Yes, I could make my own every day and week with Excel—but that is time-consuming.)

And time is valuable for most of us these days. The charts Garmin gives you let you look back not just at the week, but at the last few weeks, months, or even years. I can see that for some reason, I did really, really well with my goals in January—I exceeded my weekly goal every single week.

Now, if I do not meet my goals in February, I can try to understand what was different about February. Weather? Time commitments? Hours on the job? The Vivofit’s tracking is a way to understand what was different this month and what I can change or adapt to in the next month to meet my goals. A $5 pedometer won’t give me that.

It also won’t give me the 45k Step Challenge. Sure, I’m sure there are sites and forums out there to compete against other people in regards to steps and miles and things—but the Vivofit puts you into appropriate challenges (if I win the 45k this week I will move up an increment, probably to a 50k or 75k weekly challenge—if you do very badly you get bumped down into a more appropriate challenge) automatically, and since everyone is using the same tracking equipment, it’s reasonably fair.

It also gives me nifty little badges to encourage me.

Other benefits? Unlike the ugly, cheap plastic pedometers I’ve gotten at dollar stores before, my Vivofit is very fashionable. I don’t even have to wear a bracelet anymore, it serves as an adequate accessory (the person who bought it for me sought long and hard to get it in my favorite color). I also don’t have to wear a watch—and twitching the button to bring up the time is far more convenient than digging for my phone.

There is also the fact that most cheap pedometers simply do not endure—I have not had a single one last as long as my Vivofit already has. No, the Vivofit is a good bargain and does far more than a simple pedometer. Let those who scoff and scorn it try one for themselves. I am confident they’ll find themselves much mistaken about fitness trackers’ quality and usefulness.