What Masculinity?

I come across a mental barrier in my exploration of gender. Namely, that when I ask myself “how about exploring masculinity?” my brain comes back with “what masculinity?” and throws up a handful of examples of toxic instances of masculinity I do not even wish to touch. Yet, this is the road I see before me, to pick up elements of masculinity to see if they suit.

Riley J. Dennis mentions in her “Everyday Feminism” series* that the word ‘gender’ comes from the same root as ‘genre’. This was a productive thought for me, one that I brought me a little further in this dilemma. Genres, after all, have some characteristics that would be well-suited to helping me understand genders as non-binary:

  • They are distinct, but not mutually exclusive
  • They are based on, but not limited to, a set of tropes
  • They are suited to telling, and classifying, particular stories or experiences
  • New ones may be introduced
  • Existing ones often evolve
  • These categories are constructed for the market, the classroom and to talk about sets of stories
  • They can be subverted or critiqued
  • They have gatekeepers

If masculinity, or rather masculinities, is a genre with a set of subgenres, then one may be found that I am comfortable exploring and it would add to, rather than contradict, the rest of my sense of gender. However, I think about gender as genre and complications immediately come to mind:

  • Stories often present a rigid binary
  • Essentialism prevails
  • Classifications are prescriptive, not descriptive of lived experiences
  • Modern masculinities seem not to exist, in stories
  • Existing masculinities do not seem allowed to evolve
  • Gender is presented as ‘natural’ and conflated with biological sex
  • Any subversion or critique is met with hostility and violence
  • Online, the alt-right is setting itself up as the one true gatekeeper

Note that the above describe my personal experience through the lens of this particular conceit, not fact. But I do believe it is sufficient to illustrate a trend. One that I find singularly counterproductive, dammit.

The irony is that I have started to see surprisingly parallels between what’s prescribed for ‘woman’ and ‘man’, among self-proclaimed defenders of binary gender roles, especially that of ‘man’. It’s perhaps most easily illustrated by their attitude towards sexuality. The campaign for control over women’s bodies is matched by a campaign for control over men’s bodies by other men. Centred on forbidding masturbation and forcing sexual conquest, rather than forcing reproduction and forbidding sexual activity. Hatred of the other, whether that’s women, queer persons, persons of other countries or religions, is matched by self-hatred.

Can you see the inversion of the great commandment (love others as you love yourself), or the golden rule, if you will?

This leaves me hesitant to even enter that politicised poisoned mental minefield.

Feminist thought isn’t much help, since it seems more concerned with circumscribing traditional masculinity than proposing a new masculinity.

Neither does circumspectly asking men what being a good man is like, since the answer often boils down to “I grew up and became less of an impulsive idiot.” A surprising problem with straight, white men (which all of the ones I can ask are) being the default is that they regard their lived experience as just that of people, not men. Which means it doesn’t tell me much about where their stories may be distinct.

So here I am, the trailing end of the spectrum of my gender in hand, unexplored territory ahead of me, with no good map for guidance. I cannot leave these thoughts alone because I have first-hand stake in this now, even if it’s only with a part of myself, even if it’s new, even if it’s small and secret and private.

So I keep asking, what masculinity?

*I do not remember the particular video, but it’s an educational series: https://everydayfeminism.com/author/rileyd/

A Private Performance

You sit on your bed, stalling
Here, here is the line
You have swung, before
Across the full spectrum of womanhood
Found it wide and wild and good but
An end, trailing
Of the spectrum that is you

Do I cross to follow?

Butler and you were wrong
You were bound up in performance
Clothes according to the feeling of the day
Manners and fantasies and thoughts
Did you disregard the start
The feeling
From inside, calling

Do I cross to follow?

I am woman, have been
Forever settled, yet unsettlingly
Not full
The moon she is not full
She is gibbous
After first quarter, growing

Do I cross to follow?

You sit on your bed, stalling
It’s so small in your hands
Will it even fit over your head
Wrestling hook by hook by hook
A minute later, familiar
A sports bra without foam triangles
Instead, one panel across the front

I pause

You sit on your bed, breathing
Let your belly blow up, balloon
And hold and let it smooth out
Deep. Your feet on the floor, rooted
Deep. To the bottom of your lungs
Down. The exhale streaming
Shoulders sag

I wobble

You stand beside your bed, breathing
Today seemed like a good day
Home sick, the rain unceasing
If you were going to be miserable
You were already miserable today
It’s not a vest, not a corset
Familiar elastic cradles your ribs
Until

I cross my arms

No soft round flesh presses down, oh
So odd, this space above your forearms
You mimic drawing a bow and arrow
Amazonians bubbling to the surface
Mind collecting new connections
For new sense memory, new
Excuses and disguises, the enabler
If you dare go outside at all

I cross the hallway to the bathroom

Far enough today, the sight
Amusing all of the sudden, pecs
When you have never worked out
The gym the slim woman’s domain
Clothes, chosen with ritual care
As you do for formal occasions
Jeans, a unisex T-shirt you hate
Normally, no good on a woman

This is as far as I cross

You do not look at your face today
But your shoulders are fascinating
Broader, bracketing a flat surface
Below the fat distribution’s a bit…
That’s work for another day
No constriction. Deep breath

I back down

In the bedroom you undress
Pyjamas and blankets pressing down
You burrow. It was fine. Surprisingly
Familiar. Surprisingly fine.

Stuck Right Outside Denial

TW, cussing and internalised transphobia (yes, really, seriously so).

I haven’t been posting here because I haven’t been in a great place. Then I found my way back to my blog, looked around for some way, any way to start this post and decided to go see what this month’s Carnival of Aces was about… ‘reaching out, reaching in’ is the theme. What can we do to reach you? What do you do to reach out?

I’m in that unproductive frame of mind where that type of question only serves to make me feel harassed and guilty. I have done nothing, nothing, nothing all ace week. I also don’t feel I’m in a place where I need reaching. The ace community is easy enough to reach when I want it. I was just all clammed up and angsting my little heart out.

The irony is that it all started from something good. I got away from the church community that had started to feel oppressive, just because of the soft, insistent peer pressure that comes with unquestioned heteronormativity. I took some space, some rest.

I finally had the time to notice I’d gotten rather messed up.

Turns out, it wasn’t just the heteronormativity, it was the cisnormativity, too. See, I’m turning out to be one of those nice little white middle-class feminists who was so proud to try and be trans-inclusive, but the moment the question ‘am I really cis…?’ seriously crossed my mind?

I hate myself a lot more right now than when I was in the middle of ‘gosh I’m pan and probably that means queer, too.’ Fuck have I built up a lot of hate inside myself. I am somewhat twistedly happy that both times the subconscious prejudice exploded in my face when it was about myself, not about other people. I’ve probably made enough of  the-ignorant-person-says-insensitive-shit mistakes without doing anything on purpose.

It was so easy to accept I was demisexual, by comparison. An orientation that was unknown, no stigma attached. I felt conflicted about adding the pan- to the -romantic, both relieved to fully accept gender plays no role when it comes to attraction for me, but so scared of the many what-ifs that came with it.

Now, oh fuck, fuck, fuck do I get why people are so scared to go through the questioning and acceptance. I get why people make a one-eighty straight back into denial. I sure want to put this shit in reverse and stomp on the gas paddle.

I. Hate. Myself. SO. MUCH.

It wasn’t long after I discovered asexuality that I felt I could be more feminine some days, less so on others. These last few years that gender shit had gotten rather tied up in the traditional gender roles being preached in church. So while I’d been able to explore how far along one end of the gender spectrum I wanted to go (dress, yes, make-up, nah), the other end had gotten rather neglected. I just tossed on jeans and a shirt on the days I felt less of a woman.

Overall, I just thought asexuality meant I’d gotten more comfortable, more happy with my body. Not so much, or maybe not just that. I’d gotten more comfortable with expressing my gender.

So I figured, I’d go wander down the other end of the spectrum to see how far I was interested in going. I’d been so happy being able to be more feminine on the days I felt like it, after all. Finding the other end of the line should have been therapeutic.

Yeah, that was a rabbit hole I fell down.

One that was dark and where I’d stuffed all the shit I’d never wish on another person.

I don’t know what label I’d have, if I even want one. I don’t even know about pronouns or how to express what I’ve found, when it comes to myself. Will I ever want to express it? I don’t know.

I only know that I found, which, well. Where “woman” ends, in my head, I continue. I don’t know what the hell to call that part of myself. Person? Man? Neither of those quite feel right. Masculine comes the closest, perhaps.

The problem with exploring it is I flip out every time I touch those thoughts for too long. And I have no one to talk to so I can distance myself enough by putting nebulous thoughts into more concrete words. So here we go, anonymous, on the internet, as is the traditional way with figuring out forbidden shit for my generation.

Transgression, there, that’s what this feels like. I transgress because the whole of me doesn’t fit in the one gender.

Wow, God, that’s already much better than hate.

And now I can poke that thought until I figure what shit I’ve internalised to make me feel like I’m going to go to hell.

Queer In My Dress

This is my contribution to August’s Carnival of Aces, about “deviant identities”, hosted by The Demi Deviant.

Queer In My Dress

I am queer in my purple dress
Pressed between postmodern sexuality
And the outdated marriage myth

I am, willfully not wanting sex,
Faultline in the fiction of virginity
I am queer in my blue dress

Am I lacking? people ask, perplexed
A woman divorced from intimacy,
Dating and the marriage myth?

Truth is, my desire is more complex
For company, beauty, sensuality
I am queer in my red dress

As the third wave wanes, I need to address
How asexuality clashes with
The outdated marriage myth

I want love with no regard for sex
A partner who sees I am not less
To be queer in my bridal dress
Let’s update the marriage myth

This started out exploring a deviant (queer) aspect of my asexuality and ended up trying to express how queer (weird, outlandish, new, upsetting, estranging) asexuality itself can be. Particularly an aspect I don’t often see explored: that asexuality upsets both traditional and modern ideas about sexuality, often at the same time.

In its simplest form, I think choosing to identify as (some shade of) asexual and daring to say “no, I do not feel sexual attraction like that” combines and subverts

a) the traditional ideal of lust or sex as a morally ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thing

b) the modern ideal of everyone having a natural sexuality that is inherently human

c) the queer ideal of affirming your orientation through sexual acts

by claiming

a) absence of lust is a neutral state of being rather than a purity or innocence that can be preserved or lost; sexual activity is optional at all times, rather than forbidden or required at any time.

b) our motivations and experiences are more complicated than (mutual) sexual attraction leading to consensual sexual activity, orgasms, falling in love and sexual-romantic relationships.

c) queerness can be complex and comprise a multifaceted orientation and gender identity that has very little, if anything, to do with sexual acts.

Even as I write this I am aware I am already simplifying by focusing on the above as flowing from an asexual identity above any other.

Yet still, here is my demisexual-panromantic-monoamorous* deviant little fantasy, to wish to find and legalise a longlasting partnership and celebrate that with my community, without having to submit to the strictures society still imposes on that institution.

Oh, and go full femme on the day.

Today, at least.

I might dream of wearing a three-piece steampunk period costume tomorrow. Who knows.

*Since both polyamory and the newly-coined nonamory** are common in the ace community and I came across the word ambiamory*** (someone who can go for either monogamous or polyamorous relationships), I figure we’d clean up the vocab and go for monoamory as the correct word for the majority option on that list/spectrum. Also, also, I think we need a word for the grey area (greyamory? demiamory? semiamory?) between disinterest in relationships (nonamory) and interest in relationships, whether one or multiple (alloamory?).

**Relative, it’s been around a few years, I didn’t know it until this year. I like the new terms cropping up in the a-spec community, especially the ones that are useful. Can you tell I like words? I really like good words.

***Can’t find the original article but here’s a Rolling Stone article referencing the same research, which, actually, also uses monoamorous in its abstract.

Clarity On How Welcoming a Church Is

In an addendum on my earlier post about how churches can be really unclear whether they are actually welcoming to queer folks – there’s a website that actually rates them on it, both on whether they honestly strive to welcome people from diverse sexual orientations and genders and how egalitarian they are (and how clear they make all of that online): www.churchclarity.org

They also did a better job of explaining why a church being clear about how it will treat queer visitors or members is crucial, comparing it to consenting to therapy fully informed of what it will entail.

They primarily have churches from the United States in their database, but also a decent start on churches in Canada, New Zealand and Australia, from what I can see.

It’s a work in progress to which you can contribute. Just sayin’.

Unfortunately less helpful if you’re from outside the English-speaking world, or even the UK, Ireland, India or South Africa. I’ll have to keep on looking to find a helpful website for my own neighbourhood. But hey, they exist, these resources.

Queer Christian Baiting (And How to Avoid It)

This is a contribution to the July Carnival of Aces by The Ace Theist, on the topic of home. The short documentary that inspired this post: “The Dark Reality of Celebrity Endorsed Mega-Churches” by State Of Grace on the Refinery29 youtube channel.

TW: (internalised) homophobia

Alienation

My asexual orientation, demisexual panromantic, is rather important to me, on par with my nationality, my college major, my gender. My religious identity goes even deeper, because to me, God is someone I love dearly, as close as a parent or a good friend.

I wished these deep-level affiliations to be in harmony. I wished to practice my faith and orientation without hiding one from the other. Instead, my church brought up all the homophobia I had internalised over the years. I was at war with myself as soon as I started identifying as queer, because it had already started to dawn on me that queer people weren’t welcome in my church.

It changed from a spiritual refuge to the source of spiritual conflict.

I blamed myself for being a coward. I blamed myself for all the fear and anxiety. I blamed myself for not seeing it sooner.

I have made peace with myself, but I am still negotiating how much I pass and how much I am out at any given time.

I still haven’t found another church where I’d be welcome, rather than tolerated. This in a community that is supposed to be a second home.

Entrapment

The truth was, I was told I was welcome, same as in my old church. The pastor made a statement to that effect several times.

Then I walked into a charity’s presentation after service one Sunday, all unsuspecting. They raved about how they, too, welcomed all queer people, so they could gently convince them how wrong they were. Could “lead them back to a more godly lifestyle.” I felt sick.

Later, it was confirmed to be the church’s stance as well, when they showed clips of a woman who had “graduated” from conversion therapy, and from a son who’d reunited with his mother after he “got over his rebellious phase as a homosexual.”

By this point, half my friends were from this church. Most of my social activities were tied to this church. I had just stopped feeling lonely in my new town. I couldn’t just leave, especially when I there was so much I liked.

I made like an ostrich, head in the sand.

I kept a tally of how many times I heard a homophobic remark in this community, either a quip in passing or a ten-minute sermon. The average came to once every two weeks, over the next half year.

Hidden Agenda

Now that I have started exploring other (protestant) churches and trying to find other queer Christians’ experiences, mostly online, I find the answer to “are you open to queer people?” is always “yes,” in churches, but they mean any of the following:

  • Hate: Yes, we are open to queer seekers (non-believers) or new Christians so we can show them the error of their ways. We consider queerness to be a) a curse, b) an addiction, or c) sinful behaviour that we will actively try to change.
  • Discomfort: Yes, we are open to queer people… so long as they pass as cisgender and heterosexual, aren’t in a relationship and don’t try to serve as elder or deacon. We’ll allow it to be an open secret nobody talks about.
  • Tolerance: Yes, we are open to queer people… they can even be members and help out with lay ministries. God loves all people equally and we’re all sinners, after all. However, they cannot marry or serve as clergy in our church.
  • Love: Yes, we are open to queer people… God loves all people and they’re not sinners… we seek to be allies and stop the Christian persecution of queer people. Please tell us how we can pray for you, respect your gender and your relationship and if you need counseling for the hurt you have experienced in the past.

To be honest, even the church I was homesick for was only tolerant, for all that they do allow same-sex marriage now.

I find I have grown more critical in my search. I want to feel at home in my church, I want to be loved by my spiritual family, queerness and all. I want a church that exhibits the same love I believe God has: unconditional and inclusive.

Search Criteria

Since churches cannot be trusted at their word on whether they are welcoming, I have developed the following search criteria:

  • Follow the Money: If a church supports a mission organisation that is known for promoting abstinence, run. If a church supports a charity promoting sex education and handing out condoms to fight AIDS in Africa, continue. Charities and ministries a church supports are often listed on their website.
  • Mission, Creed or Doctrine: I scan their “this is who we are” and “this is what we believe in” for evangelical phrases I’ve picked up like “family values” and how literally they take the translation of the bible.*
  • Look at the Clergy: If the elders and/or clergy listed are a mix of ethnicities, genders, ages, etc. then they are more likely to be an inclusive church. Old white men in suits only? Stay away.
  • Flag or declaration: If the church building has a rainbow flag or a statement explicitly welcoming people of all genders, sexualities, races, etc., they are likely to be tolerant at least.
  • Did they go to Pride? Some churches will literally go to or participate in the parade, if their city has one, or have a Pride-themed service. This information might be found on the events page.
  • (Affiliated with) LGBTQ ministry? I haven’t seen this with churches in my own area, but some offer counselling or a small group specifically for queer people, or work together with an organisation that offers it. Do read the description to make sure it’s not conversion-therapy-lite.

I also learned that review apps or third-party websites can be outdated or outright unreliable.

*Fun fact: the “Clobber Passages” in translation seem to condemn (clobber) homosexuality. In their original language and context they condemn a) normalisation of sexual violence (Sodom and Gomorra), b) sex with temple prostitutes and c) Greek pederasty (sex with underage boys).

In conclusion

I hope this information will be helpful to other queer Christians out there. I hope it also illustrates how hard it sometimes is to know if a church is welcoming and how disillusioning learning otherwise can be. I cannot stress enough that church isn’t just a club… it’s supposed to be a safe place to meet a God you love.

I continue my search for a church that is truly welcoming so I can make it my home. Many churches openly tolerate queer people, especially in 21st century Holland. And I can certainly understand staying in a tolerant church if you’ve been a member for a while.

I want to find a church where I am truly accepted. After the false welcome in my current church, I have no desire to settle.

 

Queer Parenthood and the Rainbow Accords

I, Queer Parent

“A small percentage of homosexuality is beneficial to the survival of a species, especially those that live in groups,” a tour guide at the Artis Zoo tells our group during Pride Week of 2015. “A same-sex pair will adopt abandoned young, or collaborate with the rest of the herd to raise young together.”

It takes me three years after that moment to accept I can be demisexual, queer, probably single and still want and have children.

The dream of finding a (male) partner and having children, is the heterosexual lie that I hold most dear. I mourn its loss when I realise I don’t want sex. I mourn it when my relationship strands. I mourn when I grow to accept I want a platonic partner, gender irrelevant. I mourn when I realise I don’t want my womb open for business.

I meet a single woman who will be a foster parent. I have a pair of friends who choose to adopt due to genetic conditions. I have family who decide to be resource parents for struggling single-parent families. Still the denial wanes only gradually.

Yes I’m queer, but I can want children, I finally accept.

Here’s the evolved plan I hold in my heart: I would like to adopt or have children within the next decade. I may coparent with a romantic or queer-platonic partner. I may coparent with friends. Now I have to look into how to do that.

The Rainbow Accords

Holland has held nuclear families up as the ideal since the 17th century. The last decade has seen some queering of the idea. A lot of parents choose to remain unmarried, living together has become the standard. Some women simply choose to have children on their own without a partner. Any civil partner or spouse of a birth mother may now register the child and their legal parenthood. Genetic parenthood and legal parenthood have thus started to diverge more and custody started to be more complicated.

While first steps have been made, the need for a comprehensive reform of parenthood has become more clear. This came to be known as multi-parenthood (meerouderschap) since one of the core demands is more than two people could be legal parents. Several years’ research into multi- parenthood (meerouderschap) was handed in to the government in 2016 and has yet to be made into a law (meerouderschapswet).

The Dutch LGBT centres have started organising Pink Debates before elections in the last few years, both national and local. After those, political parties sign what’s known as Pink Accords or Rainbow Accords, in which they promise to look out for queer rights. Among that is the promise to make the new parenthood law happen.

I find myself coming back to the initiative. I rather need parenthood to be redefined. Like everything my asexuality touches, being a parent seems to need thorough deconstruction in order to work for me.

Parenthood Redefined

Current scenarios for legal parenthood and custody, when having a biological child. I have chosen to reflect the cisnormative language used, but do not agree with it. Note a father may only recognise an unborn child and be acknowledged as father with permission of the mother.

  • Only a birth mother who’s the legal parent. There is a donor who has no custody and may be a legal parent or anonymous.

  • Two mothers, married or civil partners. The birth mother is a legal parent and has custody. The other mother may have custody, then the father is a known donor who is the legal parent. The other mother may be a legal parent and have custody, then the father is an anonymous donor.

  • Only a birth mother and a father, not necessarily spouses. The mother is legal parent and has custody. The father is a legal parent and may request joint custody when the child is born.

  • Two mothers, married or civil partners, and a father. The birth mother is a legal parent and has custody. The father may recognise a child before birth and become the legal parent and may or may not request joint custody after birth. The father may also recognise the child after birth and the two mothers will then have joint custody.

  • Two mothers, married or civil partners, and two fathers, married or civil partners. The birth mother is a legal parent and has custody. One father recognises the child before birth and may or may not request joint custody. One father recognises the child after birth and becomes the legal parent, but custody is awarded to both mothers.

  • Two fathers, married or civil partners, and a birth mother. The birth mother is a legal parent and has custody. One father recognises the child before birth and may or may not request joint custody.

Important to note here is that awarding custody to other parents is HARD if two legal parents exist.

I found the above very interesting because a) it heavily protects birth mothers and so with the current law it’d be far easier for me to actually have children naturally and b) it is heavily biased towards either heterosexual or married homosexual couples. This seems especially useless when it comes to asexual persons who wish to have children. The ability for two or more people of any gender and any relationship status to coparent would be crucial. These are heavily restrictive scenarios, especially for persons without wombs.

The state committee for redefining parenthood (Staatscommissie Herijking Ouderschap) advised the national government that having more (than two) legal parents (meerouderschap) and more (than two) people who have custody (meeroudergezag) benefits the child and ought to be made law on December 2016. They make recommendations based on the Convention of the Rights of the Child and seven principles they set out for good parenthood:

  1. an unconditional personal commitment (een onvoorwaardelijk persoonlijk commitment)

  2. continuity in the parental relationship (continuiteit in the opvoedingsrelatie)

  3. arrangement of and investment in physical wellbeing (verzorging en zorg voor lichamelijk welzijn)

  4. raising of a self-sufficient participant in community and society (opvoeding tot zelfstandigheid in sociale en maatschappelijke participatie)

  5. organising and monitoring the upbringing in the family, the school and the public domain (the three spheres of influence) (het organisering en monitoren van de opvoeding in het gezin, de school en het publiek domein (de drie opvoedingsmilieus)

  6. the formation of a heritage/ethnic identity (de vorming van de afstammingsidentiteit)

  7. facilitating contact and socialisation with persons important to the child, including another parent (de zorg voor contact- en omgangsmogelijkheiden van voor het kind belangrijke personen, onder wie de andere ouder)

The recommendations the committee made for queer parenting, paraphrased:

  • Let the biological relationship between a parent and child weigh as heavily as the intention to raise the child in awarding responsibility.

  • Remove the demand for a father-is-unknown declaration when two mothers wish to be a child’s legal parents.

  • Replace “recognising” a child with “accepting (legal) parenthood” of a child.

  • In the case of more (than two) legal parents:

    • the candidate parents need to agree about legal parenthood, so the arrangement is not accessible to people who can’t agree on who plays what role in a child’s life.

    • The candidate parents need to make an agreement about having more than two legal parents before conception.

    • This arrangement will be accessible to at most four parents from at most two households.

    • This arrangement will be accessible to the birth mother, genetic parents and life partners of these persons.

    • The candidate parents make an agreement which will be seen by a judge, each child will require a separate agreement that must go before the judge.

    • The judge will appoint a curator who will speak for the future child and monitor its rights.

    • The legal framework for the multi-parenthood agreement (meaning all legal documents) need to be arranged before the child’s birth. Otherwise adoption is the only way.

  • Enable a wish to become a legal parent between unmarried parents to be made known before birth so that joint custody will be awarded to all legal parents at birth.

  • When a legal framework is in place, it also specifies custody among the legal parents, in the case of more than two parents. If not, custody may later be requested and a judge can see if the requirements for multiple parents have been satisfied.

  • Make partial custody possible for foster parents and step parents.

  • Make multiple parent agreements possible after the birth of a child, when more adults wish to be responsible for the care of a child, keeping the requirements for having multiple legal parents in mind.

Out of all the recommendations the committee makes that are relevant to queer parenting, I find the very last to be the most relevant. It alludes to an arrangement already possible in California, where one may adopt a child without giving the child up for adoption. This, I think, would be the avenue that would allow one or more asexual persons who wish to coparent to step into that role.

Having gone through the information and translating parts of it, I find it important to 1) know what parenthood entails and 2) be able to coparent. Knowing the current law I am very tempted to have biological children rather than adopt simply because it seems easier. However, I feel uneasy at the idea of pregnancy so I think I’d like to look into adoption further before moving that option from the top of my list.

I also recognise how very gendered the law is, the current one but even the recommendations for the revised one. Last year, a person was awarded a passport with X for sex/gender rather than M or V (for female), after a lawsuit. The law for this is still under revision, but… I’m thinking that’s something that should play a role in a parenthood law, if it’s truly meant to give queer parents equal rights… that non-binary persons be recognised, and not shoved into the role of either mother or father but be able to be just a parent. We did just sign a law that makes discrimination against transgender and intersex persons illegal. I do like that the revisions at least would make it possible for two gay fathers to have custody without adoption, which the current law does not allow.

Sources (All in Dutch)

Meerouderschap factsheet: https://pilpnjcm.nl/meerouderschap-een-juridische-factsheet/#_ftn2

Regenboog stembusakkoord: https://www.rainbowvote.nu/

X in het paspoort: https://nos.nl/artikel/2255409-geen-m-of-v-maar-x-voor-het-eerst-paspoort-veranderd-in-genderneutraal.html

The future past of mandatory polyamory

When I entered the asexual community back in 2015, a specific polyamorous scenario was touted as THE way some of us asexuals could be in relationships. Namely, that we ought to let our partner have sex with someone else while they remained otherwise true to us. At the time, this just squicked me, even though some beautiful webcomics existed exploring this scenario. Now, I can see the harmful assumptions packed into it that turned me off:

1) If you aren’t asexual, you need to have sex. Never mind that many heterosexual and queer partners don’t have sex with each other for extended periods of time.

2) Sexual attraction is mandatory for having sex. I think we’ve since come to realise there are many more motivations and rewards in this act.

3) Asexuals are always interested in relationships. Some are, some aren’t.

4) As asexual, you aren’t allowed to negotiate boundaries for sexual exclusivity or be monogamous. I believe partners must be equals in a relationship.

5) Polyamory is asexuals indulging their partners’ needs for sex, rather than people loving and having relationships with mutiple partners. Something asexuals must undergo, rather than something we potentially are.

I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones I see jangling around in this scenario.

I don’t see that scenario floating around anymore now and I’m glad of it. I wanted to take one look back at it, before considering what actual, healthy relationships for asexuals might look like in the future. It stuck with me through the years as an example of how we might hobble ourselves right out of the gate.

Carnival of Aces -May Round-up

A big thank you to everyone who contributed to the May edition of the blogging festival Carnival of Aces. The Pride month, er, June edition is being hosted by A³ with the theme Then, Now and Tomorrow. The call for submissions is here.

On the theme “Asexual (and Queer) Identities and (Gender) Performance and Play” the following:

But what does it mean to pass as a sexual person?

[…]

Also, it’s the default to assume that someone has sexual desires and to assume that young women want to get married and have kids. Since I actually do want to get married and have children, it seems like I am perceived to have sexual desires to the outside world.

It took a long time (all the way until I was almost 26) and some serious research for me to understand that there’s a psychological component to gender and that your self assigned “gender identity” actually pretty much fully developed by the time you’re four years old. The reason I was so confused by this for the longest time was because every time I ping my brain for a gender identity I keep getting an error message back (usually in the form of dysphoria). So, just like I’m asexual I’m also agender.

[…]

Anyway, I owed a huge debt to the genderfuck folks for helping me find the confidence to express my gender in a way that challenges the norm and makes me feel the most comfortable; By doing absolutely nothing.

(Go listen!)

The first is “gender identity”. I don’t have one. My relationship to gender is the same as my relationship to “romance”: I understand that it’s very important to some people, but I personally can’t imagine what it is, and I don’t think it makes sense for me to use this language for myself.

[…]

So, yeah, I’m not sure if my asexuality or (lack of) gender have influenced the way I dress. Perhaps not worrying about presenting in a normatively “feminine” fashion has just freed me to wear different kinds of clothes. I don’t exactly dress how I want – i.e. like the hero of a fantasy adventure game (you know: tunic, leggings, nice boots, leather pouch of infinite capacity)! But I try to make the best of the options available to me and have fun with them

[…]

What this sample will give you, though, is an idea of how I like to dress, and the kind of clothing I choose to wear when not constrained by weather or professional considerations.

(Followed by a really cool few examples)

It gave me words that were explicitly coded queer for the way I wished to look on any given day. “Female geek” also became “mildly butch” and “feminine” was replaced by “femme”. Old-fashioned surfing brought up two more words that tickled the imagination. “Lipstick” for “femme” and “chapstick” for “butch” which… yeah. I don’t always put them on but I’ve got chapstick stowed in all accessible places and lipstick only in my small make-up pouch I bring out for weddings and Christmas dinner.

I took and Anthropology of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality class this semester (one of the best courses I’ve taken in my academic career, but more on that later) which culminated in a research project, my chosen topic being how archaic gender norms – namely that men are naturally promiscuous and women naturally chaste – affect how people identifying as asexual view themselves. I made use of AVEN and sought out not only those even remotely in the gender binary, but also people identifying as agender. It was incredibly fun and interesting to hear stories from fellow aces, and I hope to do more of this kind of thing in the future.

(The rest of the post is about the findings)

If I forgot any contributions, please drop me a note!

Carnival of Aces round-up post coming soon

Thanks everyone for your wonderful contributions. I’ll hope to be able sit down and do the round-up post this Sunday. If you’re still looking to contribute, please drop me a comment!

The Demi Deviant

Demisexual, Demiromantic, Agenderflux Kinkster

The Asexual Agenda

Furthering upper-level discussions of asexuality

A Carnival of Aros

An Aromantic / Aro-Spec Blogging Carnival

Queering Closeness

Thoughts on the intersection of aromantic and polyamorous experiences

The Dancing Trans

A nonbinary dancer navigating the complexities of dance and society

A Space For Me

Sometimes, I have a lot to say