Friday, April 15, 2011

How It Ended

We're not even considering Dan Savage. Thank you, Jack. Nice decision. :)

Also, today was the Day of Silence, so expect another post in a few hours when there are pictures up!

Monday, April 11, 2011

This summer, I'm taking a huge step. Like, life changing. Radical. I'm going to stick it to the man, and the woman, and anybody who doesn't like it can bite me.

This summer, I'm going to refuse to hate my body.

In case you weren't aware, (but I suspect you were) this is a huge step for any American woman, because we really are surrounded with the subtle implication that we really aren't good enough.

Well, I say fuck it.

I'm going to ignore the makeup adds that assume I can't be pretty without lipstick. I'm going to ignore the dating columns I posted about a while back that say I can't be happy without a man to tell me I look good. I'm going to ignore fashion magazines, pictures of celebrities, and that girl in my class who thought a size eight was fat. (Fuck you, Sarah. You said that to my face.) I'm even going to ignore the idea that being fat is a bad thing, in terms of beauty. Why can't fat girls be considered pretty? If anyone's telling me to lose weight, it had better be my doctor.

I'm also going to go to the gym regularly, which I've been doing for a while now, because I like feeling strong and dislike being out of breath when I want to run someplace.
I'm going to like my body and that's all there is to it. I know this won't work every day, or even every minute of the days it does work, but so what? I'm going to be happy.
I'm going to dress however I want. I'll wear a short dress without worrying that everyone can see my thighs, and what if my knees are unattractive? I'll wear shirts with no sleeves and stop caring that maybe my arms look fat.

I'm going to learn to like myself, and it's going to be great.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Dan Savage Can Suck It

I've written this twice today, so it becomes a blog post. :) The first part of the conversation was this: PRISM threw out the idea of having Dan Savage as our keynote speaker for our Queer celebration next year. I dislike that idea, primarily because of this, from his column, published in February. "NSNA" is the person who wrote to him.

"With all the minimally sexuals out there making normally sexuals miserable, NSNA, it should be obvious to all regular readers that there’s not exactly a shortage of people who aren’t interested in sex. With that being the case, why would you even contemplate inflicting yourself on a normally sexual person? Why not go find another minimally sexual person? You’ll be doing your minimally sexual self a favor, you’ll be doing your future minimally sexual partner a favor, and you’ll be doing all normally sexual persons everywhere a favor by removing two minimals—you and your future partner—from the dating pool."
This hurts my feelings. I will be pissed if PRISM has him come speak. Slim chance, I hope, but I will be pissed. The response was, is this so wrong? Shouldn't people be compatible? They could. There's nothing wrong with wanting that, but that doesn't have to be the be-all-end-all of every relationship.

Here was my response:
For one thing, he doesn't take into account the idea that people could be happy making compromises. I've sifted through some of the other things he's written about asexuals as part of this conversation PRISM is having, and without exception he's sarcastic and dismissive. His schtick is being an abrasive jerk and that's okay because nobody's making me read his column, but I don't want that for our keynote, because respect for everybody needs to be the default for speakers we bring to campus.
As for the problems I have with his ideas: He explicitly says that it is cruel for an asexual to even think about being in a relationship with a sexual. In response to another letter from somebody who is making that kind of relationship work, he does say that if that works for them, then okay, but he starts his response with "I think your boyfriend must be either a fool or a fag." He explicitly says he doesn't believe that the boyfriend could be happy with an asexual- that it's just impossible.
"Why would you even think of inflicting yourself on a sexual person." The wording here really sucks, because it makes everything I feel wrong and mean. If I even think about liking a sexual boy, I'm doing a bad thing. And removing myself from the dating pool would be doing everyone a favor- meaning then they won't have to deal with me. I won't be around to "fool" them because they assume that I'm straight. I never tell people I'm straight. I'm not fooling anyone- they assume and they're wrong. But in this paragraph, it's all my fault. What he's writing here blames asexuals for wanting to be loved and finding a dating pool consisting almost entirely of sexual people. What other choice do I have? If I knew any asexual boys, maybe I could be interested in them, but I don't. And everything he writes here blames me for that and tells me I'd be doing everyone a favor if I spent the rest of my life alone. {End of my response}

This has left me having one of those evenings where I'm almost having to convince myself that there's nothing wrong with me, and that's hard. Even a friend who's always been a good ally in the past, and who still is, can't see a problem with what's being written here.
It makes me feel alone- if even my allies think he's right, maybe he is, I think to myself. Even allies wouldn't be able to bring themselves to love somebody like me, and in theory don't they already? Don't they, or do they not really understand? What if I had them all wrong?
I'm so, so glad that I'm not the only asexual person in PRISM when we're having this debate. For some reason, this hurts worse than anything, maybe because my allies are haivng problems seeing why I'm upset- I'm not getting any of the support that I believed I could expect from these people. That hurts as much as the crap Dan Savage is spewing up there. I feel let down by them, and it makes me question whether I can rely on them when it's really tough, when push comes to shove- like it's doing now. When I ask them to choose between believeing the validity of my feelings and believing the validity of Dan Savage's arguments, what if they choose him?

This conversation is far from over, and I haven't heard from everybody who was in the meeting tonight where this was discussed. The reactions may be totally different when we have a chance to really get into this matter next week.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Crappy, Girly Dating Websites

Every so often, I get into doing this thing where I read dating and relationship blogs. I'd love to know why I do this, because the heteronormativity of it all drives me insane after a while. So, let's explore that. Also, I'm sitting in my Geology class and I'm bored.
Question number one: Why on earth am I reading relationship columns? Honestly, the answer is kind of TMI...

I'm hormonal. Yeah. Sorry for that. I think there's more to it, though. Like, why crappy dating websites and not rom-coms? (Apart from the fact that I hate rom-coms at any time of the month.)
Part of it may be that I'm searching for some kind of a relationship model. By the standards of the blog I'm reading, I've been single so long I should take up spinning (as in yarn or thread, not as in the exercise bike thing my Grandma does). This means that I may have forgotten how to date- at the very least, there's a part of me that thinks I'm doing something wrong. By reading about the kinds of relationships I might like to have, I imagine that I'm trying to learn how to do what these women are doing. Typical me, trying to read something to learn how to date.
The other aspect may be an attempt to find a specific kind of vicarious experience. I get to read about the ups-and-downs of a relationship and daydream and live through the writer, but I neither have to be hurt myself or feel envious. I can watch the writer's relationships happen but I can't watch my friends'. The writer doesn't always have other dinner plans. (Well, she does, but I don't care. I don't count on her to eat dinner with me.) I can enjoy the light drama without it ever affecting my life.

So, that explains why I would read junk like this. Now lets talk about why it eventually drives me nuts. This is as simple as my first reason, and half as embarassing for you...

Hereonormativity. Yeah. That. I highly doubt that the writer has anything against GLBTQQIAAP such as me (or us, if you identify that way, too) but of course her experience is of a straight, sexual woman. This asexual girl has a really hard time identifying with that experience. So much of what she writes is about whether she was sexually compatible with her date, or how fast they did or did not have sex, or whatever... One of her lists (I like lists) is of things to remember now that she's in a relationship and one item on that list is to remember how much she would have enjoyed regular sex with a loving partner when she was single, and so not to say no too often- not in a sense that she owes it to the guy for some reason, but in an attempt not to take for granted a part of her relationship that's special to her.
Obviously I can't relate to any of that. She does redeem herself to me, though, my putting that farther down the list than the reminder not to forget about her friends and family, and to be sure to make time for the other people she loves.
The last aspect of this that I dislike is that she is clearly a person who prefers to spend 90+% of her time with the boyfriend, when she has one. People like this make me feel like an afterthought and also uncomfortable, so I can't identify at all with the way she percieves her relationships.

Fact is, though, that I'm not nearly done reading everything on this website. Chances are this is what I'll do with my evening (and put off the reading that I should have finished by the time I pick Rūta up at the bus station tomorrow).

Can't wait until my hormones calm back down...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Schmekel, Sheldon and Role Models

A few weeks ago, my beloved PRISM had the super awesome band Schmekel (Transgender, Jewish Punk/Polka? Heck yes!) play at our school for TransAction day and we got to take the band out to dinner. I was lucky enough to show up late and occupy the only empty seat, which was with the band and a couple of my PRISM friends. So we got talking about any number of things, but the overarching theme was queer stuff- go figure- and at one point one of the band members commented that they "end up being big brothers" to other trans kids who are in the process of coming out.
And then I kind of started wishing that I'd had somebody like that, an asexual big brother or sister who already knew how it all works and what it's like.

As it is, I began my asexual journey with no clear indication of how one went about this. I didn't have anyone to discuss my coming-out process with, or to trade stories with. One of the ways in which we validate our identities is through discussion and construction of narratives about how our lives are lived as people who identify a certain way and I think we all know that there's no perfect substitute for being able to construct that narrative alongside somebody who is going through the same life story.

In the absence of a personal friend or acquaintance we can look up to and learn from, how are young asexual people supposed to find a role model for our lives? We have a few places we can look and one of them is, I'll tell you right away, a failure: the media.

Now, don't get me wrong- I love Sheldon Cooper. Problem is, he's fictional. He's also abrasive, oblivious and obnoxious. He makes a great sitcom character, but a terrible real-life friend. Sherlock Holmes is much the same way, although the BBC version of him is reasonably endearing. A slightly better choice is Kevin from Guardian of the Dead- he's the "best friend" character and is written as a believable asexual character which is to say, like a normal person who, by the way, is ase. Overall, though, the media's a crapshoot. Role model status is a lot for Kevin alone, so let's move on.

Online options are slightly better, and I often fill the role model position that is open in my life by reading asexual blogs and frequenting Livejournal. This isn't too bad- it gives me access to older asexuals, or at least asexuals who do lots of deep blogging, and this gives me a way to participate in some kind of dialogue with other asexuals. It's what I do if I'm feeling alone, because it's a quick way for me to get a fix of the feeling of belonging. Long term, it's a great way to stay in touch with the asexual community and become part of this dialogue.

The last option, which I'm sort of combining with the online option, is to adopt role models of other orientations and identities. What I've ended up doing is learning from the older queer students on my campus. Lacking an asexual role model, I've watched how older (and sometimes not older, just other) queer students negotiate the world around them. From them, I have been able to learn what it means to live with a queer identity and I'm grateful to all of them, maybe even more because they accepted me and took me in and let me belong even though I was, for some of them, the first asexual person they had ever met and they were as clueless about the formation of an asexual identity as I was. They were and are my role models without even knowing that they are. It would be weird to say it to any of them directly, I guess, but I can say it here- they do beautiful things for my soul and I'm grateful every day to know and be part of this community.

At that dinner, with Schmekel, the talk turned to one of the guys at the table coming out as trans and kind, "older brother" advice was offered. "However they react," somebody suggested, "just take it in stride. It'll be okay."
And although it wasn't meant for me, I listen and I learn. And I take it in stride- it'll be okay for me, too.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Best Out-Coming Ever

It feels good to be blogging again. After a hiatus of, what, a year and a half, I feel like I have things to say again, and more of them. We shall see.

After yesterdays depressing gripe-fest, I'm going to share something happy, something worth celebrating, something that makes me feel good about life and my sexuality.
In this story, that something is my friend Sean.

As I'm sure we're all aware, coming out can be a real pain in the butt. It usually involves explaining asexuality thoroughly and, at least if you're me, lots of blushing and tripping over one's own tongue. That's why, on the way home from school for Thanksgiving break, I ended up coming out to a friend in the clumsiest way possible. The whole car-ful of us were mid conversation and how my sexuality became relevant I really couldn't say, but I ended up blurting out, "I'm... uh, I'm asexual. I can... uh, explain if you want, or I guess you could just google it."
Since Sean didn't ask for an explanation, I was kind of just praying he hadn't heard me and I could try the whole thing again when I was prepared to sound like I had a brain in my head, and the subject didn't come up again.

Fast forward about a month. Sean and I are in the car again, this time just the two of us, and I'm driving him home. Both being flaming liberals, we can talk politics together without getting mad and so that's what we were doing. Again, very casually, my asexuality came up and this time I was prepared. From what he was saying, though, it seemed that he already understood what asexuality is.
I asked him where he'd heard of it and it turned out that Sean, God bless him, had gone home and googled asexuality, just as I had so awkwardly suggested. He had read a few things on the subject and then gone to talk to his mom, who's a psychologist, and who is apparently totally Ase positive and accepting. His explanation was simple: He wanted to understand me.

This is possibly the nicest coming-out I've ever had and here's why. I didn't have to do the work here- Sean took it upon himself to understand me without asking me to put a huge amount of effort into being understood. There was no challenge of my identity and although I said later that if he had anything he wasn't sure about I'd be happy to explain, he's never really asked me to.
It's not that I mind doing the educating, but I appreciate the stance he took, which was that I was under no obligation to drop everything and teach a 101 lesson on asexuality. Not having to be a constant "voice of the community" was really lovely.
And then, having done the research, Sean was just totally accepting and his whole goal in this situation was to understand me as a person and as his friend. His interest came from a totally good, kind place and I hope I made it clear to him just how much I appreciated that.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

One of those days...

Yes, I'm having one of those days. I feel cynical and sad and lonely and queer. Funny how often that set of things goes together, I think.
I never feel straight or heteronormative or whatever- I never really have and being able to say that I feel queer or asexual is a huge improvement in a lot of ways. It's also not so much that feeling queer makes me feel cynical and sad and lonely (and unattractive). Quite the opposite, in fact; feeling cynical and sad and lonely (and unattractive, a perpetual state) drives home to me my essential queerness. Something inside says "you're not lovable and it's becuase you're queer."
Never does it say "I feel queer today- so I suppose nobody will love me."
Perhaps this is becuase I have so much evidence that I am loved, despite or because of my queer identity. My friends certainly don't care that I'm asexual and, in fact, I've made some friendships thanks to PRISM that I would likely not have made otherwise.
But frequently, when I'm feeling unattractive and unlovable my queerness opresses me and makes me wonder whether, if I were only straight or at least a lesbian, I wouldn't be more lovable?
I suspect that this is not the case. If I were the sort of person with whom others fall in love, as I wish that I was, they would fall in love with me anyway. I would still be asked out on dates, as I've made it very clear that I would date, given the chance.
This is precisely my problem. If I felt that I was dateless because I am asexual, I wonder if that would make it all easier. If I could somehow confirm that the only thing wrong with me is my asexuality, would that make it easier to feel desirable? Then it would be I who did not desire the boys around me. Instead, it is they who do not desire me. The fault, then, must lie with something more obvious than my sexuality, which I could hide if my priorities dictated that relationships were more important than the truth. The fault must be something deeper. Perhaps, I think to myself on nights like tonight, perhaps I am simply hideous. I'm too big for any boy to look twice at, of that I have convinced myself. I'm too tall and too broad and too... shall we say "fluffy"?
Hypocrite that I am, I support the idea of what they're calling "fat acceptance" and yet I want desperately to be thin and beautiful and alluring. Instead, I am chubby and thickset and awkward beyond all imagining.
I'm having one of those days.
Welcome back to my blog.