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.
This post is an intended contribution for the March 2015 Carnival of Aces: Writing and Asexuality call for submissions.
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
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.
- A possible upcoming Asexuality Game Jam is being discussed on on /r/asexuality. The concept of a Game Jam is actually new to me–it’s essentially a session where people gather to produce games in a short period of time. This one would be themed around asexuality. I think it’s a really neat idea and would love to see it take off and create some interesting ace-friendly games. Remember that there are a lot of different roles and skillsets needed in game creation, and that there are a lot of easy-entry methods to make amateur games these days, so prior game-creation experience is not needed to participate.
Speaking of how I found out about that…
- From the Midwest Aces Meetup Group, a new Meetup group which is open to aces all over the Midwest. I was very happy to see that there are a lot of online meetups and activities in the works for those of us who can’t travel for in-person meetups for whatever reason. There aren’t a lot of places for aces to just hang out and make friends, and just like chat with each other or game, so seeing another space for that is cool.
[UPDATE December 2014: The group Midwest Aces has since closed. What a shame, hopefully there will be new groups in the future to make up for it. It was fun while it lasted.]
All this talk of new resources is inspiring, but of course every community sometimes loses an old one:
- This week, the asexualityresources tumblr closed. Hopefully everyone had time to make backups of anything they wished to save, and we will see more asexuality resources created to take the place of old ones we lose.
There aren’t even words for how excited and happy this makes me. (And not just because I need tuition money, heh). No, I’m excited because this is a resource, a real, established resource we will have that will help us support each other and other aces. This will help us give an ace a leg-up in getting an education. This is the kind of thing we need and that I hope we will see more of.
It is also another thing that will hopefully increase visibility and establish our credibility and the validity of our movement and identity. My college at least, will put scholarships that students have won on a list, and will say “X scholarships is awarded to students who are X. Students from this university were awarded this scholarship in 2006, 2008, and 2012.” I’m sure some other schools do similar things.
Not to mention having an actual established scholarship fund that we can apply to just helps our personal credibility. Having a scholarship fund established for aces flies against the idea that asexuality is just some flimsy litle online thing that has no real validity or presence in the offline world.