Today, my dear Decaffinites, I did something I try really hard not to do and usually judge other people for doing: I got into an argument on the internet.
It was a dude that J and I had been watching on facebook for a few days. He was a recent convert to Atheism and was extremely passionate about his new outlook -- IMPORTANT NOTE THAT WILL INEVITABLY BE BROUGHT UP: IT IS MY LIFE MANTRA THAT I RESPECT ALL RELIGIONS/LACK THEREOF. MY ISSUE DOES NOT LIE IN HIS ATHEISM. HE HAS AN INHERENT RIGHT TO BELIEVE WHATEVER HE WISHES AND I WILL NEVER DISRESPECT AN ATHEIST FOR THEIR DISBELIEF IN A GOD. THAT WOULD BE BIGOTRY. -- and was posting non-stop about his new revelations. He started with simple affirmations about his new beliefs as a way to let the internet know who he was now. I thought it was very brave to do it so publicly. But, as the week went on, he grew less self-searching and more lets-disrespect-religion and finally I-will-disrespect-and-belittle-anyone-who-doesn't-agree-with-me.
This morning I was perusing facebook, coffee in hand, bleary eyed from watching crime shows all night, when I stumbled across a picture he had posted from a few days before. He and a family member were discussing opposing views; if I'm being honest, his family member was trying to share a very personal story of how he came about his particular faith, in what I thought was a calm, respectful way, and our rude friend was being, well, ladies and gents, there is no other way to describe it than the word asshole. I'm trying to find a better word for it and I can't. He went on to say that this man's story was completely useless and that his experience didn't matter and then he went on to claim that the woman in the story was only able to reach his relative because, due to evolution "as all females do" she had a great of expressing herself . He then went on to spout that "men homosexuals and bisexuals mostly dislike and turn from religion but the females stay because of evolution it's hard for them to give it up." (note: paraphrasing. not an exact quote. you get the general idea.).
Well, my dear Decaffinites, you know how much I love generalizing, stereotyping, and general ignorance, so I broke my rule and jumped in. I said (in many more words and in a much nastier tone, I am afraid to admit) that the Queer Community was not a monolith; they are a diverse group of people with many different beliefs. I then directed him to a facebook page I followed called Believe Out Loud, which is group for Christian LGBTQA and Allys. I also called out the blatant sex stereotyping and reminded him that women are just people and we do not all share the gift of communicating and holding on to a religion. And I also threw in that his gendered use of male and female did a great disservice to the Trans* community, some of whom probably practice a religion and were completely neglected in his war on others who think differently.
I'm not going to lie, I wasn't very nice.
He answered me and tried to direct the conversation back to religion, which I wasn't having. I had no interest is discussing religion with him. That wasn't my problem. My issue was his grievous blanket stereotyping of two people groups I feel passionate about. I repeated myself and asked him to answer me. His answer was to "find me someone [someone in the queer community who goes to church] and then we'll talk."
So I said. "I am. I am Asexual. I love Jesus."
There was a pause in his end on the keyboard.
"but yiur not asexual, yiu literaly admitted to having sex ith j." Direct quote, ladies and gents.
After throwing a very personal, direct wrench in his argument, he realized that since he couldn't question my outward devotion to my religion, he decided my sexual orientation had to go so he could continue to make his point.
In the conversation that followed, I posted the link to AVEN (an asexual support and information website) at least five times. Our friend's answer was to Google "asexual" on dictionary.com and read that back to me, telling me to look it up cause I obviously didn't know what I was talking about. He kept trying to start an argument about religion, but I didn't back down. I kept posting the link. He ended up telling me that, because only 1% of the population were documented aexuals it wasn't a real thing, that I wasn't asexual, that the definition of asexuality was simply not having sex, that I kept using the term asexual but I obviously didn't know what it meant..... J jumped in and reminded our ignorant friend that sexual activity and sexual orientation were two extremely different things and you can't tell anyone what to identify as -- but our friend plowed on. He was very determined.
I cannot tell a lie, dear Decaffinites. It was a little disheartening.
I realized that, as a whole, Asexuals are pretty much left in the dark when we talk about LGBTQA rights and the Queer Spectrum, because our orientation is about the absence of something rather than a public deviation from a largely heteronormative society. Asexuality is something that is only detectable between the sheets and while the rest of my Queer Community has to fight for the right to marry, work, and live without violence, Asexuals usually just have to argue with their partner about the frequency of sex. I can honestly say I have never been harmed for my orientation and I don't think I ever will be. In my mind, it is right that the L, the G, the B, the T, and the Q get more attention because they are more in danger.
However, it never hurts to educate. So today I will be coming out to all my readers and many others and explaining a few key points of Asexuality.
ASEXUALITY IS AN ORIENTATION.
So far in our studies of the spectrum of sexuality, we usually categorize with heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, and pansexuality. In basic terms, it means you are attracted to the opposite sex, the same sex, both male and female, no one at all, or all type of identities.
Asexuality as an accepted orientation is still pretty new. As an orientation, this means that A) I was born this way or B) I was born with this predisposition and a whole bunch of factors came together to shape me the way that I am. As with other orientations, Asexuality is not a disorder or the result of abuse or trauma. The way that I am is best described using the hunger analogy. Let's say that Heterosexuality is like being a Carnivore, Homosexuality is like being a vegetarian, Bisexuality is like being an omnivore, Pansexuality is like eating everything, no matter the state of the food, and Asexual is like never craving food.
I AM COMPLETELY PHYSICALLY CAPABLE OF HAVING SEX.
Keeping with out food analogy, Asexuality is like never craving food while others are hungry and gain enormous pleasure of eating. I recognize that food is important to others and, as a general rule, good for their health. So while I neither desire nor obtain pleasure from eating food, my body is capable of digestion and all that other food stuff.
Man, now I'm hungry. and I almost lost where that analogy was going to go.
Basically, I have no desire for sex/sexual touching but I recognize J's need for it and I don't turn into a pumpkin or whatever if I have sex.
and PLEASE NOTE: Some asexuals enjoy the physical feeling of sex but don't crave it or care until they are right in the act. This does not make them any less asexual than someone like me.
ASEXUALITY IS WAY DIFFERENT THAN CELIBACY AND ABSTINENCE.
I have done all three.
My abstinence was me and J choosing not to have sex until we got married. My celibacy was the period before my wedding where I fasted from touch for religious reasons. My Asexuality (which I didn't realize until I got married. Fun story for another time) is my orientation, which is not a choice or a religious pressure.
ASEXUALITY IS THE DEFINITION OF WHO YOU ARE ATTRACTED TO, NOT WHO YOU CAN LOVE.
This can be a tough one to understand. The simplest way to put it is that -sexuality is who turns you on, and
-romantic is who you can fall in love with. For many people, the two are intrinsically linked. Not so for asexual. I am not turned on/want to have sex with anyone. But I identify as heteromantic, which means I am romantically attracted to men. Hence why I wanted to marry J. Some asexuals also identify as aromantic, which means they have no romantic attraction to anyone, and they basically have no interest in romantic relationships of any kind.
ASEXUALITY IS A SPECTRUM. WE ARE NOT A MONOLITH.
As with all other orientations, no one can truly tell you how an asexual is supposed to look, feel, or behave. You and you alone decide your identity. There are, of course, parameters that help people decide, find support, and establish community, but if any of these make someone feel uncomfortable they may choose to identify as "Queer" or eschew labels all together. Some asexuals become sexually interested in someone when they have established a deep emotional connection but they prefer to keep the asexual label.
There is no "style" for asexuals and you cannot identify them by how they look (which you really shouldn't be doing to any other orientation, by the way. that's very ignorant.). I love short shorts and strapless dresses because they are comfortable and show off my tattoos. And I like how they look on me. Some asexuals feel uncomfortable with body parts on display so they cover up fully. Asexuals come in all colors, hair styles, and modes of self-expression.
There is no particular political affiliation or religion/lack thereof for asexuals. Like all other orientations, we are very diverse and individual. I am a Christ-Follower and agree with Libertarian principles. A friend of mine is also Asexual, and she is an agnostic with a more Liberal leaning.
The moment when I realized I wasn't quite like everyone around me and sex wasn't all it had cracked up to be, no matter how hard I tried, how truly awesome J was, and that, in fact, everyone else actually really liked sex and they weren't pretending like I thought they all were early in my life.
Me after finding AVEN and realizing there was nothing wrong with me and I had a new identity and the tools to work on my marriage.
I celebrate myself. Asexuality is not my defining factor, but a small part of a bunch of attributes that make me who I am. It is not to be marginalized or glorified but accepted. It is not something that I wish to be in the spotlight but rather out in the daylight, free and protected and a part of who I am but not the whole.
Let's just love who we love and live and let live, okay?