In search of a lexicon
Writing a good post about a subject that’s new to me in my second language, with specific words and sensitive matters I’m not clear on… it’s like a pot of gold. There’s a rainbow involved, I don’t know when it will appear, but I’m not going to stop chasing after it, even when I never seem to reach it. Because I can’t stop thinking, stop writing, stop wondering.
Several posts and articles I encountered recently made the importance of language very clear… Joss Whedon tries to propose “genderist” as a replacement for “feminist” in a speech that I decided not to link to in my previous post1. Five minutes’ research pointed out that a) it’s unnecessary2 and b) genderist already is a word, used to describe those who discriminate against transgender and genderfluid people3. Urban Dictionary is inconsistent on the subject4.
Since this happened a week after I’d read how Flibanserin might cause asexuality to be treated as a low sex drive that can be cured with a pill5, and BytheGoddess’s post on how asexual people can be recast as the romantic or celibate version of gay, bi or hetero6, I realised I’d run into a problem.
My lexicon is lacking. The words I have do not satisfy me, and they fail in conveying what I mean with the care it deserves. I want to use antonyms, colloquialisms and synonyms in order to avoid using the same word twenty times in the same post. I want words that rhyme for poetry and be able to vary the style of my posts… I don’t want to sound academic when writing what’s on my heart.
I’ve hit the point where I stop being comfortable writing whatever. The Flibanserin article in the New York Times points out the danger of not making the proper distinction between not being interested in sex and asexuality… the former might erase the latter. Cake at the Fortress paints an even starker portrait7 of how two words for the same lifestyle, celibate and antisexual, might divide a community because they indicate two different philosophies, or at least, two groups that disagree on several points.
I know I’ve used celibate and abstinent interchangably for choosing not to have sex, because those are the words I know, with little thought for what connotations they might have and who would feel included and excluded by the labels.
As far as wishing to have sex to some extent, I’ve run into a lack of words… How to describe, for example: 1. the state of engaging in sexual fantasy, but not actively masturbation or the act of sex. 2. a person who sees people as sexual, but will never act on that, because the act isn’t interesting. 3. being indifferent to sex in general but strongly interested in it for the sake of procreation.
I know I still switch too easily between romantic, sexual; loving a friend, loving a partner platonically and loving a partner sexually; wishing there were different verbs for all three… When writing about what I am, I confuse “demisexual” as my identity with “asexual” as my community.
Stuff can be described, but it feels… clunky. I guess I still have a ways to go.
- Joss Whedon proposes Feminists should be called Genderists, youtube video
- A good article pointing out the various reactions to the above speech and problematising the coining of a new word
- Genderism explained succinctly
- Urban Dictionary thinks genderist comments are about women, while genderism is about discrimination of the transgender and genderfluid
- NYTimes writes about Flibanserin
- By the Goddess’s post “I’m only going to say this once”
- Cake at the Fortress’s post “A tale of two sites”