Why ‘Come Out’?

Before, I read a blog post (didn’t finish it admittedly), about a lesbian mother of young children and her struggle to ‘come out’ to strangers she comes in contact with. My question was ‘why’? To family or friends, if you feel secure enough. But strangers? Then, I realised, everyone does it. Let me explain.

People, especially women, often freely, talk about their family and relationships, spouses, etc. If you’re not in a traditional, heterosexual relationship/ marriage, what do you say when the conversation turns to you? I’ve been there, especially in my early 20’s. What do we say? I stayed silent, for most of the time. When I did speak, I mostly just went along with the conversation, kind of just went with the tide.

Frankly, the most awkward conversation is when I asked when I ‘like’ anyone (meaning man). I say, ‘no’, and for the most part, that’s where the conversation ends. That’s fine. But sometimes, I want more. I want to say, ‘welllllll, actually’….. and tell the person/ group the truth. Well, the basics anyway. This is why this blog is good for me, frankly. My posts appear on my Facebook wall (and Twitter feed), and, although I was reluctant at the start, I’m glad that it’s getting out there, and people I know (hopefully), are coming to know me as an asexual (I son’t really talk about romantic orientation). It’s been really positive, actually. There hasn’t been a backlash and no ‘unfriends’, so that’s good.

So, I guess everyone ‘comes out’ in everyday conversation, in a way; talking about martiage, kids, who likes who, etc. it’s just in reality, for those of us who don’t fit the ‘norm’, so to speak, it’s not good or bad (most of the time for me, anyway), it’s just another dimension I sometimes find myself thinking about. I’m sure it’s the same for others too (not all). Sounded like a dilemma for the mother I was reading about, too.

Advertisements

Why Is Singleness STILL Looked Down Upon?

I was reading an article in this month’s issue of Australia’s Matie Claire today and there was an article on how women are still pitied or feel pressured by friends to find a partner. Seriously? This annoys me for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, it means we still value people (particularly women) on their relationship status, and ultimately, their sexuality. Apparently we haven’t got the whole ‘tolerance’ thing down pat, yet. Women still can’t choose how they express their sexuality. They have to still fit a ‘norm’. This is frustrating to hear, because, like I said in a previous post, it’s a barrier that asexuals, especially aromantic or non – partnered asexuals deal with. Why can’t we just stop judging each other on this issue so much? NEWSFLASH: some people actually LIKE being single. For some people, it’s hard to find a partner/ spouse. The last thing they need is to feel crap about it!

Secondly, there is a double – standard between men and women. It takes two to tango, right? I know there are women who’s ‘biological clocks’ are ticking away, and I do believe all women, when and if they decide to have children, should be mindful of their fertility. I’ve got to say that I don’t have any moral objections to procedures like IVF, but that’s no guarantee either. OK, I’m going to say something people will find controversial… currently, in New South Wales, I think IVF can be legally accessed by single women and same – sex female couples. In Victoria, before the last State election, Labor candidate (and current State Premier), Daniel Andrews did mention that he might also loosen IVF laws to allows same – sex female couples to access IVF. Also, recently, some foster care agencies have also allowed same – sex couples and singles to apply to take a foster child due to demand. Before anyone jumps on me, I’m not saying this to promote anything. I’m not trying to destroy the nuclear family. I’m just simply stating what’s currently allowed in Australia that I’m aware of. I get that people are morally opposed to these things. And if you are, then that’s fine.

Thirdly, let me ask a question: is it better for anyone (regardless of gender or orientation), to enter a relationship when they reakly don’t want to? Or get into a relationship with the wrong person because they feel like they’re under pressure? Do I really need to explain why this could be a really bad idea?

 

So, women (and men, and any other people of non – binary gender), shouldn’t be pressured into relationships. If you want a partner, good luck to you. If not, then people should be able to respect that. Stop valuing (or degrading) people due to their sexuality! That includes their relationship status.

 

Have you ever felt pressure to enter a relationship?

‘There’s Gotta Be Somebody….’

I can’t say how many times I’ve heard/ read that there’s ‘somebody out there fir everybody’. But is that ‘somebody’ always a romantic partner? I’d say, ‘no’.

  • It could be a best friend
  • Queer – platonic partner
  • Close family memberm
  • Maybe even a pet
  • Maybe multiple people and relationships are important to someone.

I was thinking about this when I was on Facebook before. The big problem we have when defining that ‘special someone’ is that, well, at least I think, that aromantic asexuals in particular are  automatically excluded. But why? Why can’t a platonic or queer – platonic relationship be given just as much emphasis?

Look, it understand for most people, a ‘significant other’ is going to be a romantic/ sexual partner. It’s never going to be for everyone though. But I believe everybody needs to loved regardless. To quote Canadian rock band Nickelback:

‘Nobody wants to be the last one there

Everyone wants to feel like someone cares

Someone to love, with my life in their hands

There’s got to be somebody for me like that

Cos nobody wants to do it on their own

And everyone wants to know they’re not alone

Somebody else that feels the same somewhere

There’s gotta be somebody for me out there’. (Note: yes, in the context of this song, Chad Kroeger is talking about a romantic/ sexual relationship. But I still think it can apply to the need for love in general).

 

 

 

Being Able To Pass As Straight

There’s this idea in I’ve noticed on certain blogs about being able to ‘pass’ as being straight. That is, when looking at someone, you don’t automatically come across as not cisgender or straight. Even though I’ve never been in a relationship, for years (and for some people, probably even now), most people have classed me as straight. Some bloggers who’ve talked about this have pointed out some privileges that come with that, but I want to focus for a moment on why it can become problematic.

The biggest problem for me is my reluctance to set the record straight (no pun intended), when the topic comes up. When I first realised I was asexual, for example, I was having dinner with two friends and Tge topic of dating and marriage came up. Whilst I did participate in the discussion and went along with it, I felt a bit out of place. And there’s been other times when the conversation has come up and I just went along with it again. In fact, the only times I have mentioned asexuality, the conversation was started by me, often out of the blue.

How do you bring up asexuality if your among a group of friends in those conversations? Is there anyone who does bring if up there and the or do you just go along with it like I usually do?

The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to AsexualityPart 2 Ctd

I’m back to continue my review on ‘The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality” Part 2’ by Julie Sondra Decker. Sorry for the delay in writing this.  So, the next topic that Decker was relationships, particularly intimate partnerships.

Asexual people, for the most part, want to experience intimacy on some level and desire some sort of committed relationship, romantic or otherwise (in this section of the book, her main focus seems to be romantic relationships).

There is a common misconception that romantic asexual people will automatically go for people who are asexual. However, it’s usually not so clear – cut for a number of reasons, as Decker strongly argues. Firstly, the lack of visibility of asexuality in society could mean that an asexual person could enter a sexual relationship or even marriage before realising that they are, in fact, asexual. I’ve read about this many times on Facebook. Even people who may be in their 50’s and have been married for more than ten years may have just realised with certainty that they are asexual.

Another reason why asexual people may fall for a non – asexual is because of their social group may not have any self – identified asexuals, hence, if they fall for someone in that group, they’re highly unlikely to be asexual. Talking about asexuality and attraction- just because two people are asexual, doesn’t automatically mean they’ll be emotionally attracted to each other. Attraction, regardless of orientation, rarely works out that simply.  A romantic asexual could fall for someone who isn’t asexual. It’s that old adage, I guess: you can’t choose who you fall in love with. That would go for asexual people as well.

Meet ups of asexual people do happen around the world, but they are rare and have to be deliberately planned in order for them to happen. I’ve never personally been part of one, but I have seen them talked about on Facebook sometimes. They mainly seem to happen in the US. I don’t know how many happen in Australia, or where (anyone from Australia who has been to a meetup, feel free to comment). Plus, there are no “meetup” clubs or such specifically for asexuals like, for example the gay community.

Another problem with the assumption that romantic asexual people would automatically fall for  other romantic asexuals, is the fact that asexual visibility is still at it’s infancy. There are people who may not know that they are asexual or know it’s even a thing. There is growing awareness, yes (I’ve wrote about media coverage on asexuality in the past on this blog), but it’s still limited. Also, there is a lack of awareness and acceptance in education and medical fields as a valid orientation (I’ll talk about this at a later date).

Like my above argument about attraction, it’s pretty obvious that not all romantic asexual people are going to automatically be attracted to each other. And not all asexual/ asexual relationships ideal. They can face (at least some) of the same problems that any other relationship has.

 

Next, she talked about the issue of compromise. She argued that all relationships require a level of compromise, and, in the context of sexual/ asexual relationships, that includes a certain compromise (on both sides), when it comes to sex. Contrary to poular belief, the “compromise” isn’t always on the asexual person to participate in sexual activity (I would argue that sometimes that may be deemed close to impossible in some cases, particularly if they’re sex – repulsed or sex – averse – however, for many sexual/ asexual relationships, it’s a possible compromise). Other possible compromises that can be made in an asexual/ sexual relationship that Decker listed are:

  • The sexual partner agreeing to remain celibate and take their own needs in their own hands (that was a pun)
  • Both partners agree to have sex either regularly or irregularly
  • Open relationship/ marriage
  • Polyamory
  • Other forms of physical intimacy (kissing, cuddling, etc)

In an imperfect world, sometimes, such compromises don’t work out and the relationship/ marriage ends up deteriorating and eventually ending. In these circumstances, asexual partners/ spouses are sometimes automatically viewed to be at fault for the relationship breaking down. But, as she argued, some relationships just aren’t meant to work out, and she emphasised that it was important to admit and be OK with that, however, painful it is. Everyone should be able to be honest with themselves (and I’d say regardless of the status of the relationship or gender and orientation of the partners), about whether the needs are being met in that relationship and whether conflict is reconcilable.

She talked briefly about relationship counselling. This is where prejudice and discrimination against asexual people can be come evident. According to Decker, there are therapists who don’t acknowledge asexuality as an orientation, and as such, may solely focus on the asexual as the “problem”. However, Decker didn’t discourage relationship/ marriage therapy. And there are asexual – friendly therapists as well (I mentioned one: http://https://asexualityinasexualworld.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/mama-mia-another-article-on-asexuality/

Sometimes, in an asexual/ sexual relationship, self – esteem issues and fears need to be addressed. I’ve talked before about how hard it can be to admit that you’re asexual and be OK with it (I’ll talk about it more in the future, too). This can be detrimental on the asexual person psychologically and as a result, the asexual person may stay in unhealthy relationships. This is why asexual visibility and acceptance is so important! It’s why I continue this blog, despite my doubts in the past. Nobody should have to feel like they don’t deserve to be accepted and loved! I feel so strongly about this! Self – hatred/ low self – esteem, especially when seemingly enforced by general society is so damaging it’s not funny! I’ve been there. Fortunately for me, it hadn’t got to a stage where it was both physcially or psychologically destructive, but even what I’ve experienced with myself, I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. And, I’ve got to say, hating yourself, for fearing judgement from others about your sexuality is I think one of the most destructive things that can affect one’s well – being. (Please note: I get that there are other factors that often contribute the damage of someone’s personal state. It’s just from MY OWN personal experiences, it’s been a major thing for me).

In the context of married relationships, many asexuals feel obligated to be sexual with their spouse, regardless of their personal feelings about it. Now I agree with negotiation and compromise, but just simply saying that the asexual person should ignore their own feelings isn’t right. In fact, Decker condemns such attitudes as downright abusive. I tend to agree. Each couple needs to and should be able to work out how to carry out their relationship, without one partner (e.g. the asexual partner in this case I’m talking about), feeling like their own feelings and opinions don’t matter.

Just a note: As I’ve been reading through this book, I’m surprised and, frankly, quite horrified about how asexual people are often mistreated, discriminated against and/ or dehumanised. I don’t know if this occured to anybody, but yes we asexuals are HUMAN! We have feelings, desires. We feel the way we feel and for the most part, we can’t help it. Telling us to change our orientatoin is just as futile (and probably just as damaging), as telling a gay person to go through “conversion” therapy (which has largely collapsed in the West, particularly the US).

Many asexual people are married and want children. For this reason, some women may at least tolerate sex in order to conceive a child. Also, like I said above, some people are already married before knowing what asexuality is, or the fact that it’s an orientation.

As pointed above, some asexuals are involved in non – monogamy with a sexual partner. Some people, including asexuals, actually prefer non – monogamy relationship styles, such as open relationships or polyamory. I think it’s fair to say that it wouldn’t be everyone’s taste, but it may be an option for some.

 

So, here that concludes Part 2 about relationships (there’s much more to come, so bear with me). Next time, I’ll be writing about the asexual links (or lack of) to the LGBT community and more on discrimination and how it affects the asexual community. Stay tuned.

 

“Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality” Part 2 – Review

I’m finally here. This is a review of the first part of Part 2 of “Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality”.This is only the first part of the chapter. I felt that the chapter was too long for a single post (and I had stayed up late last ngiht planning it). So here goes.

Part 2 of the book, titled “Asexual Experience” basically explains, quite indepth about the role attraction and libido plays in asexual people’s lives. She started an introduction into romantic orientation (I’ve wrote about it briefly here and http://https://asexualityinasexualworld.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/1127/. (In the book, though, Decker explains it a lot better and a lot more in depth than what I did). I won’t rehash all the terms.

She made one interesting observation; that asexuals face some treatment that wouldn’t be really deemed acceptable by most people toward others. This includes trying to tell people how they feel instead of letting people own their onw feelings, and asking overly personal questions (about masturbatoin, etc). I can’t help but feel annoyed by that (luckily, I haven’t experienced such events myself). Why is it OK to disrespect asexual people in a way which would be frowned upon if done to anyone else? Seriously.  Again, both Decker and I both plead the non – asexual community, please be respectful to asexual people you come into contact with, like you would anyone else. Rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t say something to people in general (like personal questions), please don’t ask us those same questions. I get you probably mean well, but I’m begging you, please don’t.

Another thing that is oftne dismissed is the love that an asexual feels and that love is so intertwined with sex, however, sex without love seems OK (at least in certain circles. I can kind of debunk the love = sex myth using science (in layman’s terms – in truth, I’ve barely got a scientific bone in my body). On the BBC3 documentary: “How Sex Works”, they showed a couple who just got together to examine the brain activity of the participants. What they actually found was that different parts of the brain were activated when the participants were shown sexually appealing stimuli (that were not their partner, like a model, or whatnot), as opposed to being shown a picture of their partner. When shown a picture of their partner, the part of the brain that (I’m guessing) signals romantic love lit up. Now, this is just my conclusion, but to me that seems to scienfitically indicate that erotic/ sexual attraction and romantic attraction are different on a neurological level.

And yes, love that asexual people feel, whether romantic, platonic, queer platonic (controversial term I know, I’ll explain later I promise. Please don’t attack me), or other forms are affection are real to asexual people, as it can be for anyone else. We’re not all “loners” or “psychopaths”, or whatever, frankly, offensive term you can come up with. Like anyone else, asexual people are a varied group. Some are romantic (see link above), some are social butterfles (like me), some enjoy close friendships, some have aromantic partnerships, some prefer their own company…. I think we get the picture, don’t we?

 

There was quite a funny quote describing what it’s like for asexual people who may experience fleeting sexual desire by “Tom” from the Asexuality Archive:

For some asexual people, the thought “I would like to have sex with that person” could seem as unexpected as “I would like paint that person blue, cover them with twigs and dance around them in  a circle all night.

Don’t know about anyone else, but I found that to be quite an amusing analogy.

 

She wrote a specific part of the book about aromanticism and how their relationships are affected. So, aromantic is someone who doesn’t experience romantic attraction to anyone regardless of gender. This is not exclusive to the asexual community. You can be heterosexual, but atromantic, or anything else (my guess is that this would be somewhat rare). Non – aces with mismatched romantic and sexual orientations can be frowned upon too, as sex and romantic love is so often linked. Non – aces with mismatched sexula and romantic orientations can too, feel confused, isolated and shamed for how they feel.

She goes on to talk about aromantic asexual relationships. Of course, many aromantic people have family and friends that they can bond with. Some have a non – romantic but committed partner, some have intimate relationships that seem “mor than friends” but are not labeled as “romantic”. These relationships are often referred to in asexual circles as “queer platonic”. Now, understandably, this term has been heavily criticised, particularly from members of the LGBT community, because of the term “queer” often used to mean “gay” or another non  – heterosexual orientation (however, someone wrote to me on Twitter explainning that sex workers sometimes use the term “queer (or the letter Q) for themselves…. hmmm).

What confuses things even more in asexual circles, is what’s deemed romantic? If it’s not commitment (since aromantic people can have rather comitted relationships), if it’s more intense than traditional friendship than what is it? I think that each person should be able to decide for themselves (or work out for themselves), what a relationship or even feeling actually is. Let them explain it in THEIR terms if they want. Then, maybe sometimes they don’t know…. yeah, it’s complicated.

Another thing. The above paragraph hints that partnerships aren’t easily defined just by looking at them. A same – sex couple isn’t automatically a gay or even homoromantic couple. Same with opposite – sex couples. A thought to ponder.

Orientations are not always as simple as aromantic or romantic. Some are somewhere in between (grey romantic) or ocurring at times when an emotional bond is already established (demi – romantic). My understanding of demi – romantic, is that they don’t experience “love at first sight” per se. That’s just what i thnk (I’m not demi – romantic myself, if you are and would like to explain your experiences in the comments section, got ahead. I’d love to learn about it from first – hand).

 

This is all I’ll write on  this post. In the next post, I’ll continue with reviewing the chapter (probably Friday).