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All the birds but us… – April Carnival of Aces Call for Submissions

Hail, brave content creators, welcome to the April edition of the Carnival of Aces. With the spring equinox behind us, Passover and Easter upon us and April Fool’s day tomorrow and everything around us blooming and reproducing… Well, no time like the present to feel melancholy. Or cheerful. One of the two.

This month’s theme’s inspired by a medieval Flemish-Dutch sentence:

Hebban olla vogala nestas hagunnan hinase hic enda thu[,] wat unbidan we nu[?]

All the birds have begun nests except me and you, what are we still waiting for?

Penned in the 1100 by a monk, probably to test his quill, it’s the oldest sample of my native language. It’s always struck a chord.

Rarely does a shift in orientation work out in a person’s life according to expectations. We wander into such wildly unexpected and unknown futures.

I think we need those stories.

So the question for this month:

How did your (a)sexual and (a)romantic orientations impact your (expected or imagined) future?

Prompts to help the creative juices flow (feel free to deviate):

  • All the (other) birds:
        • Was there a clear or typical path in life that you decided to diverge from, when others didn’t?
  • My nest:
        • What life have you begun to build since your (a)sexual and (a)romantic orientations changed?
  • Except me and you:
        • If you had to sketch a potential life or partner or relationship or family, what are some of the ingredients that make it a good, safe, peaceful and/or joyful prospect?
        • You’ve decided you do not wish for a partner and may find fulfilment in your life through alternative means, please share!
  • Still waiting
        • What expectations for your life are you uncertain about or struggling with after having discovered your (a)sexual and/or (a)romantic orientations?

To submit:

  • Leave a link to your contribution, be it post or vlog or art piece, in the comments.
  • Send your contribution to my email: demiandproud@gmail.com so I can host it on my blog.
  • Leave your thoughts on one of the prompts in the comments.

Please do let me know if you’ve contributed somehow, I do wish to honour all the awesomeness. If you have specific preferences for pronouns and/or descriptions for your submission, let me know those as well, please. Late submissions added throughout May.

Associated posts, links to be added as they appear:

 

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Asexuality and Verbal Warmongering

While staying in the US, I’ve had Chick-fil-A’s fresh lemonade and loved it. The trouble is that they are part of a group express a “Christian” philosophy that opposes mine. Much like Hobby Lobby who recently has in court tried to fight for a weird-ass religious freedom1. What’s so bad about it is rather neatly on display in a twelve-minute sermon. Go watch it2 if you’d like and then come back to read what’s so toxic about it for a Christian demisexual in an asexual community, associated with a wider LGBTQIA community.

I’ve commented as I listened. Warning: prejudice and sarcasm.

The first minute is lighthearted stand-up comedy. When he’s established himself as a jovial all-American guy, he starts.

1:13 “I want to sound a warning: there is a war on religious liberty in the United States of America.” First off, no there’s not, there’s freedom of religion. Second, he’s claiming there’s a fight and thus an us versus them with his words right off the bat. Not a good sign. Third, what people spout off in America doesn’t stay in America, but finds its way around the world, especially since English-language material is dominant in the worldwide Christian community, the way what’s said in Arabic finds its way around the umma.

1:28 “This war on religious liberty is targeting people of the Christian faith.” It’s hard for a vocal, affluent majority to be the underdog. Notice that he tries to create enmity amongst the audience with his words before defining the supposed villain.

1:49 “We are on the verge of having our faith criminalised.” After plugging his book and name-dropping Mike Huckabee (? no idea who the dude is, not sure I want to Google him) he digs the hole for the as-yet mysterious enemy a little deeper. By the time he lets them enter stage left they might as well be wearing devil’s horns. And you’re about as far as you can get from persecution, in America. Hell, even in Holland we’re rather privileged as minorities go. Muslims catch the worst of the prejudice.

…I’m going to skip over Miley Cyrus, who he just mentions for pearl-clutching mileage…

2:14 “It was about that time that Phil Robertson, one of my heroes of the faith from Duck Dynasty did an interview with GQ magazine.” Nevermind that this dude from a B-rated TV show is clearly set up as part of the “us”… that interview was controversial to the point where it’s actually on the Wikipedia page of Duck Dynasty when I googled it.3 (and hey look, there’s Mike Huckabee too, mentioned in one breath with Sarah Palin, the world’s most famously clueless Republican. Oops.)

2:25 “Phil Robertson defended traditional marriage.” A marriage in which a man marries a woman to form an alliance between families, gain property and secure legit offspring. A marriage in which a man must have sex to produce an heir and spare, and a woman must have sex because her body is the property of the husband. A marriage which has little to do with equality, love or living a happy life with the partner of your choice and all those other modern things we young rebels wish to have.

…Miley Cyrus again, for bonus pearl-clutching… (“celebrated for her active debauchery” SRSLY?)

2:33 “But Phil Robertson castigated for standing up for the Bible” Notice that our mysterious villain has yet to be revealed and Phil Robertson, too, is first firmly established as a paragon, before it’s said WHAT actually he defended. Now it sounds as if Robertson’s defended the Bible literary, historical or spiritual value. I doubt that’s actually what he said. (Especially since I got spoiled by the Wikipedia page, like a good quasi-millenial)

2:43 “I feel like a Duck Dynasty guy living in a Miley Cyrus world and Washington DC is twerking on all of us.” MENTAL IMAGE… MY POOR EYES… Also, getting close to a conspiracy theory without revealing the subject of the discussion. I notice that the sermon’s been cut for length. I’m glad.

2:56 “I believe that we are just a few short years away from the government imposing their will on Christian churches.” Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached the heart of our conspiracy theory, in which freedom of religion will suddenly disappear. Brace for further wild speculating along this line.

3:05 “I believe that pastors could find themselves at odds with the law of the land” Because freedom of expression will suddenly disappear as well??? There are always pastors at odds with the law. They are diverse, like the Christians in their congregations. That’s the point of your freedom. And of redemption. Can’t choose for or against God if you can’t choose.

3:30 “Brothers and sisters, my fellow southern Baptists, the Supreme Court may have redefined marriage, but God hasn’t redefined anything.” Actually, He has. Over the course of the Bible He changed the law by which humanity was supposed to live several times, and it’s subject to further interpretation by way of Bible study and personal revelation according to even the most conservative Christians. The definition of marriage changed as well, as this boy explains in his Bar Mitzvah speech on marriage equality4.

3:57 “On Friday, a mom-and-pop bakery out in Oregon was fined [a lot] for refusing to participate in a lesbian wedding.” What, you want your country to condone discrimination for “religious reasons”? Very, very, very slippery slope. Also, as far as I know you may pick your customer, but you cannot break a contract once they are your customer or then proceed to harass your customer… so what part of the story aren’t you telling me here?

4:06 “[Amount repeated] That was the price they had to pay for standing in the faith.” No… that’s what they were fined for discrimination and thus violating human rights. As Christian, you’re supposed to appreciate every human, actually, and their sexuality, even if you object to it, should be no reason to treat them badly. As Christian with another sexuality, that makes me very scared of what you’d do if I visited your church and spoke up about it.

4:22 – 5:10 Marriage clerks have to resign if they refuse to bless gay marriage, oh the horror. Well, duh. The separation of church and state, advocated by Martin Luther himself 500 years ago, ensures churches a measure of freedom in the management of their privileges, such as blessing marriages, but also means church and state may differ on the subject. It ensures you are free to practice your religion as you see fit while others’ rights are not infringed upon, which may create mild moral dilemmas for people with government jobs. Oh, the horror.

5:18 “The Supreme Court’s decision now means that Gay Rights trump religious liberty.” No, it doesn’t, it means that Christians practicing their religion may from now on not infringe upon one of the basic rights of people because of their sexual orientation. For someone with a non-standard sexual orientation, that’s very comforting. God has not punished Holland with a great flood for legalising gay marriage years ago. Though that flood may still happen, if you keep ignoring environmental change.

5:20 “Churches and faith-based organisations must prepare for the law-suits and government investigations that are on the way.” Yes… if you discriminate against people, then yes. Be prepared for the law to be enforced by the government of your country and God save you from America…oh, wait… Also, did I mention the conspiracy theory?

5:43 “Thank goodness there are men of God like your pastor […] who are willing to stand up to the government and stand up for the Word of God.” Don’t worry, no really, you get to choose what happens inside your church, just not outside. And I am a Christian, who together with other Christians went over the Bible rather thoroughly, led by a pastor, and then decided gay marriage should absolutely happen in their church, indicated by a vote from the members and ratified by the church council and included in our rules, completely according to church management as Calvin proposed back during the Reformation. I feel insulted that he accused us of being less than Christian. As a member of a religion who knows her position to be alien to others of that religion, I feel discouraged.

6:13 “Public schools where they are now deconstructing gender, they’re teaching children about gender fluidity.” Oh good, that should be a helpful addition to sexual education that should lessen bullying based on gender and help even cisgender children with being more comfortable with not being very manly or girly-girlish. Inviting a guest speaker would be really good. A pair of representatives from the local LGBT awareness centre answering crude questions from red-faced teenagers really helped prevent bullying based on sexual orientation in our high school and helped me not be totally clueless ten years down the line now I’m exploring my own sexuality.

6:20 “[They’re teaching t]hat there’s no such thing as male or female. That you might wake up feeling like a boy, but by third period you might start feeling like a girl.” Er… you should fact-check. Really, even the five-click google method of research should suffice. (in which you click the top five results after googling a question, fact or word) Here, I’ll help: “God in his eternal wisdom created more than the two simplistic gender roles your limited mortal mind can conceive of.” There you go, I’ve even packaged it in Christianese.

6:27 “And that’s okay.” Yes. It is, if it works like that for someone.

…and we’re skipping his hyperbolic story about a Nebraska school, I feel he’s repeating his mistakes… (“You’ve got to start calling the kids purple pinguins.” SRSLY?)

…and we’re also skipping further ‘anecdotes’ of people being ‘discriminated against’ because of their opinions on LGBTQIA issues, I feel he’s on repeat again and I don’t know the specifics of those cases…

9:15 “Dietrich Bonhoeffer said this. ‘Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.’” You do realise he was protesting his church’s pacifism towards the Nazis and arguing for not condoning the Holocaust, right? Ooooh, Godwin’s law!

9:30 “We have reached a Bonhoeffer moment for every Bible-believing Christian in the United States of America” That’d be why I’m speaking, or rather writing, instead of just punching a wall and yelling at God about your utter stupidity and could He please have a little less mercy on that. And this is relevant for Christians worldwide and especially every asexual spectrum person among them and in touch with them.

…we get our final ‘anecdote’, a boy’s religious valedictorian speech was ‘censored by five government officials’ and he was ‘helped by the holy spirit’… (Ripping your speech in half is ‘an act of civil disobedience’ SRSLY?)

11:00 “They may demand to know the content of our prayers. They may try to shut down our bakeries. They may try to silence our voices. But we will not be silenced. We will not be intimidated. A Chicago pastor said this. We don’t bow down to the Republican Elephant. We don’t bow down to the Democratic Donkey.” I give you some more pearls of conspiracy theory rhetoric. AND THIS BUGS ME, WHO IS OUR MYSTERIOUS VILLAIN??? He has yet to name a concrete person or group the audience is meant to oppose. It’s implied it’s some sort of amalgam of the government and the LGBTQIA community, but MYSTERIOUS VILLAIN IS MYSTERIOUS!!!!!11!!!1!

11:22 “We bow down to the line of Judah.” Oh really? If you want to follow Mordechai’s example from the book of Esther, you’re only to bow down to God, not Jesus’ human patrelineal ancestors. “The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.” Right, that one. Good save.

Aside from a cathartic blog post, I hope this serves as an example of what harm this type of rhetoric can bring if you’re both Christian and part of the asexual community. A short summary.

  1. These rich, white, heterosexual men and women in power are imaging themselves in the role of victim and underdog, fearing a nebulous mish-mash of government and LGBTQIA activists and promoting that fear. They lash out like cornered cats you really want to avoid.
  2. The inaccurate and defensive speechifying means there is no occasion for a dialogue or hint of welcome for the strange and unknown, like, say, an often overlooked and relatively new fourth sexual orientation and its diverse expressions in a percent of the population and the implications this might have over the course of their lives.
  3. They refuse adamantly to consider people who aren’t cisgender or heterosexual as normal or Christian. THAT HAS HUGE IMPLICATIONS. It means they refuse me and any Christian or seeker with an LGBTQIA identity spiritual guidance. It means they refuse us unbiased pastoral aid. It means they refuse us the space to practice our faith in peace anywhere they are present. It means they refuse to recognise us as Christians. And for one Christian to disapprove of another’s journey as follower of God… That hurts. I can be part of a different church and another denomination but… I would at least like for God to judge my worth, not for my fellow believers to sit in judgment when they really should know better.
  4. They spit this venom not just at Christians with an LGBTQIA identity, but at other Christians who approve of the LGBTQIA rights to be informed, educated, married, etc. and really, at anyone. To put it mildly, that gives me a bad rep by association, okay. I gotta explain that bullshit ad nauseam if I want to identify as Christian in public or people think I think like that too.
  5. Being American and white and English speakers, they play a large role in determining what the mainstream discourse is, what gets told in churches, in the media and in Christian schools and organisations worldwide. They are a roadblock in the face of myself and other demisexuals, grey-asexuals, asexuals, aromantics and others on the asexual spectrum from finding out about that sexual orientation, from being accepted for it, from being able to integrate it with their religious beliefs and identities. And I think that’s very sad.

Further reading and watching

  1. Last Week Tonight’s report on Hobby Lobby’s case in court for religious “freedom”. (video)
  2. Fox News dude Todd Starnes’s sermon “Chick-Fil-A is the official chicken of Jesus” (video)
  3. Duck Dynasty wikipedia page (webpage)
  4. Duncan McAlpine Sennet’s Bar Mitzvah speech on marriage equality in Portland Oregon (video)

The Creative Demisexual: Invisible Self

You cannot see
What I do not do
I cannot deny
What you do not say

When you do not speak
And I don’t do sex
Then what we have
Is buckets of silence

Leak

The holes where speech
Never will have been
When it never rains
The roof, not repaired

The drought will kill
So I went looking
See what I’d sow
Life I could reap

Speak

Because a lack
Is rarely spotted
Won’t you ever, though?
Sex, you don’t ask…

No, I believe that
I start the dance
Tweak your nose and
See if you follow

Demisexuality and Mental Health, give and take of support.

12. Who do you turn to for support? Are there any ways they could more effectively support you? If they’re doing a good job, that’s excellent! What are some specific examples of things they’re doing right?

13. Are you a support person for someone else? What have you learned from being in that position? Do you have any advice for others?

My family, and they did an awesome job. See earlier post.

No… I’m not really in a supporting role for anyone other than professionally. That’s what this blog is for, to explore my sexuality and hopefully provide a starting point for others to find some information and comfort in theirs.

Demisexuality and Mental Health, the secret weapon.

5. Are there any particular types of therapy that work better or worse for you? Or, are there any alternatives to therapy (like peer support groups) that you’ve used? Are there any other things that act as barriers to treatment for you?

My family was crucial. My parents loved me without reserve and this was the time I felt it. They gave me the space I required to express negative emotions. They supported me when I wasn’t able to do groceries or get out of bed on time. They gave me the space and time to recover.

They did not accept bullshit, however. They clearly communicated what they could and couldn’t do, not expecting me to ‘just know’. For all of us, it was uncharted territory.

And familial love was a powerful foundation to start rebuilding my life and activities once I had figured out the issues that were plaguing me.

A friend or partner could fill this role, as well, but it deepens the relationship to a degree of intimacy rarely present in a relationship where both people are healthy throughout. It’s good to keep that in mind, and discuss in advance if you’d want that, and if they consent.

Demisexuality and Mental Health, proper treatment.

2. Have you felt unable to access treatment because of asexuality or conflict? Or, was the quality of your treatment reduced? Have you experienced reparative therapy—done with the intent to “cure” or “fix” your asexuality? Even if the treatment you received was not aimed at “fixing” your orientation, was it more difficult because you had to spend too much time educating your provider instead of focusing on things that would help you?

I received treatment, but it didn’t have anything to do with my sexuality, but rather with a mental issue that preceded even puberty and struck during high school and college.

Having gone through several iterations of therapy, I think I can provide a few signs of treatment that will succeed:

  • You have chosen to seek treatment. No matter how clueless you are or powerless you feel you are, treatment, any kind, won’t work unless you wish it.
  • Your therapist is respectful of your identity, in its entirety.
  • The family or friends you choose to depend on during your treatment (and you’ll need a few) are completely respectful of your space, as if you’re a functioning, healthy adult even if you’re not, without enabling you to indulge in whatever bad behaviour you exhibit due to your issues. This, truly, is the type of love you need, and it’s hard to find and keep up. This support becomes easier for people to give if they can share the burden with others.
  • Your treatment fits your psyche. You may need to try a few different types before you find one that works.
  • Your treatment goes to the roots of the problem you have. If you tackle only the symptoms of a mental health issue, it will return with a few new heads added on. Like a hydra.

My Sexuality, Today

The best part of growing up now, especially as a woman? It is alright to have whatever life you want, as long as it does more good than harm, and we grow up with parents who live like that too. Our dads read bedtime stories. Brothers and sisters share equally in household chores. All that can, can go to college, have a career. We can explore what sex we want to have and have what we want.

The sexual revolution…

…didn’t give women the freedom to have sex. It gave women the freedom of consent. I spoke to a lady who regularly travels to Africa, and the miracle she brings to girls there, when she gives sex ed, isn’t that white women have sex outside of marriage. It’s the idea that women say no to men unless they reciprocrate the sexual desire. That to have gone through puberty isn’t an open invitation for any and all to take advantage. That nothing is owed. That their body is theirs. Before and after marriage.

Sexual freedom…

…takes on another meaning when you are asexual, demisexual or not sexually active for other reasons. It is socially accepted to have sex. I’m also happy I live in a country where it is socially accepted that one can have sex with either gender, since part of not really having a sex drive during adolescence was that it was rather open-ended what sexuality I’d turn out to have if I ever did start wanting to have sex. It took away some of the angst. If you are not sexually active, though, you are invisible. I’ve rarely talked about the not-having with friends. I don’t even really know why. I’m lucky I can talk to my family. That I have, at the very least, the fundamental right to determine that I have sex, is important, in the face of that.

Sexual consent…

…was something I took for granted until I travelled outside the western world. I wasn’t in love, so I was not in a relationship. I was not in lust, so I did not have sex. It was that simple to me and to my family. It is that simple to most of my friends, I am happy to say. I hope it’s that simple for you too. Not so in other countries. There, women my age (twenty, at the time), felt the same pressure for marriage, and thus sex, that I only experienced when I thought about getting a job. Growing up, earning a living, being independent was enough pressure. I shuddered to feel the same pressure to find a partner. But then, returning to the western world with open eyes, it seems like there is that same social pressure, not to marry, but to have sex, definitely. And it startled me how hard it was for women to refuse without being ridiculed, once I started paying more attention.

Sexual attention…

…seems alien. I cycle past a giant bill-board of larger-than-life six-pack abs and all I think is, “geesh, photoshopped, much?” I look at Thor, and agree he has dreamy biceps, but not until the third time I’ve rewatched the movie, and I thorougly approve of his character. I can’t tell at all if I am attractive to people. I’m guessing not, because I’m rarely cat-called and I do not reflect the aesthetic ideal one bit. I was stared at, when I travelled, but I’m still not sure whether that was because I was white or because I was a woman. Since I’m not able to objectify anybody sexually until I know them well personally I never really understood how anybody else could. I know it’s possible, but I’m able to understand four-dimensional reality better than sexual objectification.

Body image…

…is as much an issue for me as it is for the general population. Sorry guys, the pressure to be thin and diet and hatred of yourself and seeing yourself through the eyes of a virtual onlooker… nothing really sexual about that. Just pop-culture brainwashing. That’s why eight-year-olds get as insecure about their bodies as adults do. How do I know? Been there, done that, with zero sexual drive. Been there, done that, with the sexual drive online. Been able to accept my body, without changing it a whit, with the sexual drive online too. Exactly because I started exploring myself and owning my sexual identity. Because I’ve felt the difference between leafing through a magazine and walking around an exhibit of half-naked women painted in the seventeenth century. The first was depressing. The latter was empowering.

Women’s rights…

…are so important and I came across it a lot during my search for what other women do when it comes to sex. I think it’s very important that women do not legally become like children when they marry (since 1950s) and rape is illegal even inside marriage (1980s) and sexual slavery is forbidden (since 2004, in the US). I think it’s very important that I can do with my body what I like, especially since I started wanting sex long after I would have had to marry in earlier centuries and other countries. I love that there’s more attention for the exploration of female sexual body parts, because stimulating my clitoris works, my vagina doesn’t do anything for me. Wouldn’t have known to try that, a decade or two ago. I like that there’s way more female writers who produce good sex, romance and erotica, and the female audience that demands it, since I need emotion to go with my sex, in fiction, and that just very often doesn’t happen in porn. I like that there’s more women in fiction, because reading early science fiction books where women just… don’t exist… is deeply creepy.

Feminism…

…is very important for one reason for demisexuals, specifically: genders mix much more. I am able to meet and know guys socially and professionally in ways I wouldn’t have a hundred years ago. It’s alright to be in a room together, because you’re all able to treat other people as people. Since genders mix, men and women are much more comfortable in each other’s company. Less posturing, less rules, less bullshit. Much more that you’re able to do in your life in general. This way of living, meeting and mixing as people with little regard as to whether you’re a man or a woman… that’s how the world is when you’re demisexual. People are just people. Gender is as relevant as someone’s choice of shirt, 99% of the time.

Until I know someone personally, sexual attraction doesn’t even really register, and that goes much deeper, and has much more fundamental consequences than just not wishing to have casual sex. I hope I’ve been able to show what that’s like, just a little.

God Be With Us, Asexuals

Through the bible in 3 years as queer.

The Realm of Asexual Possibility

Ace reviews of five seasons of The X-Files

DemiConsensual: Gender, Sexuality, and Feminism in the Modern World

Making sense of all things gender, sexuality, identity, and feminist in our current culture.

Asexuality New Zealand Trust

Educating New Zealanders about asexuality.

The Asexual Awareness Project

Spreading awareness of asexuality in DC, Maryland, Virginia, and beyond.

Aceing It

Just an asexual college student navigating through life and sharing the ups and downs. Occasional rants included.

God zij met ons, aseksuelen

In 40 weken door de bijbel met een aseksuele orientatie

Aut of Spoons

A Self Advocate Fights Oppression

Controlled Abandon

an apartment full of books, a heart full of dancing, a mind full of math, a life full of queerness

Almost, Almost

Queer librarian blogs mostly about books