So, now that I’m retired from the PT I have a bit more flexibility in my time, and I’ve been hoping to start working more seriously on updating the AVENwiki to make it a more usable resource for asexual concepts and history. For those of you familiar with it, are there any particular changes you’d like to see? Pages you’d like to see improved or added? There’s a lot of work to be done but I’d like to see what other people are interested in prioritizing.
For example, are you more interested in having things like archive pages for research or pre-AVEN communities or articles like “romantic attraction” or “demisexuality”? Are there particular topics you want better resources for? Are there pages you think horribly in need of urgent improvement? (some are definitely sorely neglected)
Feel free to reblog or message me privately if you prefer.
Just thought I’d jot down a couple thoughts on this because it’s been popping up in the tags recently.
First, I’m not going to argue against the idea that the types of discrimination targeted at LGBT people can be much more severe - it’s a simple fact that while many queer people live with the danger of being attacked or killed, that’s not usually the case for asexuals (ignoring for now cases of identity confusion and intersectionality, which are no little thing).
On the other hand, whether or not you get killed is not the end all be all of discrimination. Because while anti-LGBT discrimination may be widespread, so is pro-LGBT support and education. But that’s not the case for asexuality, at least not yet.
See, I was lucky enough to be raised in a very liberal, pretty pro-LGBT community, and to go to university in an even more queer-friendly area. I’ve lived a lot of my life in environments where being anti-gay-marriage gets you dirty looks at least and no one would dare openly discriminate against LGBT or claim that they need to be fixed or cured. So even though I’ve had periods of time where I was basically taken for queer by people who didn’t know that I was asexual I’ve never had to worry that much about the disapproval of or mistreatment by any of the people I respect and interact with a lot - there was too much of a strong social imperative against the mistreatment of LGBT people.
But on the other hand, I have no such guarantees that people will respect my asexuality in such a way. Many of the same people who are so into supporting the LGBT community see no problem with mocking asexuality, or making jokes about how we must be socially inept virgins or mentally ill sociopaths. They see no problems with telling us we can’t be real, that we should go back in the closet or go to a doctor to “fix” our problems. When we try to discuss out own experiences we get accused of being special snowflakes - or worse, we are told that our experiences are “problematic” and a promotion of homophobia and rape-culture - we are attacked simply for existing.
I have many spaces where I know I can be safe and respected as a queer-identified person. Yet I have almost none where I can feel fully safe and secure coming out as an asexual.
See, discrimination against asexuals may be less severe in terms of magnitude. But unlike homophobia (at least in many areas), anti-ace discrimination is seen as totally acceptable. Laudable, even. Too many otherwise educated and decent people see nothing wrong with dismissing and degrading asexual people. And so long as people keep dismissing anything short of being murdered in the street, that problem will persist.
(plus, if severity of discrimination were the only thing that mattered, we should be shortening the acronym to the T and not caring about the rest…yet funnily enough, that’s the exact opposite of what usually happens.)
~c.June 2002-June 2005:
June 2005 - January 2009:
January 2009 - November 2012
Interesting how the triangle seems to get skinnier and skinnier over the first couple remakes.
(Note: This was originally written as a reply to this thread on AVEN; it addresses some of my thoughts on the whole issues of Tumblr vs. AVEN and the accusations against AVEN’s “rape culture”. It certainly does not encompass all the issues involved, and there’s a lot more that can and probably should be discussed, but this is intended as at least a starting point. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should probably remind people that I am a member of the AVEN PT, although this post is merely a reflection of my own personal thoughts and not endorsed by AVEN in any way. However, in relation to that, if people have specific comments/complaints/questions/suggestions or anything else about AVEN, I would love to hear them. Also, if anyone has any questions or would like to discuss or have clarified anything I’ve written below, please let me know)
As someone heavily involved in both the AVEN and tumblr sides of things, I think there’s a lot of factors at work here.
Unfortunately, I think one of the biggest reasons that AVEN has such a big reputation for “rape culture” on tumblr is that once the idea started, it’s something that can never be disproved or amended to everyone’s satisfaction. All too often, I see people warning others away from AVEN because it’s a transphobic heterosexist rape culture-y cesspool - only to admit that they’ve never actually been on AVEN. Or they went on it once four years ago. Or they heard from someone who heard from someone. It’s like it’s just become and accepted fact on Tumblr that AVEN is the scum of the earth and no one ever seems to question that.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t problematic stuff on AVEN - there definitely is. Just like there’s problematic stuff on Tumblr, or in real life, or anywhere that people with differing opinions gather. However, I think that the amount of stuff does tend to get exaggerated - people keep citing the same one or two threads (out of hundred), or dredging up posts from several years previously, as reason to forever discount the entire site. And there’s also a lot of vague “I saw transphobic stuff” but without any links or citations or details it’s hard to know what exactly they are referring to, which makes it impossible to verify - and also impossible to fix if we can’t figure out what was so wrong in the first place.
However, aside from the few actually really bad statements that continually get dredged up, I think a lot of the accusations just result from idealogical differences.
As discussed before, differing issues on “compromise” and whether unenthusiastic consent is valid are certainly one of the major points. In fact, several accusations of rape culture do trace back to instances where asexuals have discussed compromising about sex because they think it would help their relationship. And I think what happens is that there are some people on tumblr who would never want to have sex for that reason, but forget that not everyone feels the same - they know that they would never consent to sex in a relationship without coercion, so they assume that anyone who is consenting (or considering consenting) to sex in such a situation must therefore also be coerced, and have troubling imaging a case where it would not be coercion.
Of course, that is not always the case - I for one am an ace who would definitely be willing to consent to sex in order to get/maintain a relationship, or because a partner wanted it, or many other reasons that I know others would not - and for me, it would be completely consensual and not coerced. However, it can be hard to completely understand another persons motivations, and so it may be hard to really get that for some people, it is not coercion or rape. And that’s an issue that goes both way. For example, it can be extremely difficult for some to understand why intense persuasion (enough to be coercion) would be considered rape. I admit to this myself - as someone who is not really vulnerable to emotional pressure at all, it can be hard for me to understand why people don’t “just say no” - even if I can somewhat understand it on a theoretical level, it just clashes with my own experience so much that it’s hard to completely wrap my head around it.
I think another thing that plays a large part in the tumblr/AVEN conflict is the difference in the way that problematic statements on the two platforms are dealt with. On tumblr,the general response to anything deemed “problematic” is to “call it out” - a response which can be anything from politely reasoned responses to just hurling insults. Whether beneficial or not, this kind of response is very visible, instant and self gratifying. It gives people a satisfaction that “rape culture” (or whatever else the issue is) has been properly objected to.
AVEN, on the other hand, has moderation that is relatively invisible. Warns and nudges are not public, so there isn’t as much of a visceral sense of “punishment” for the alleged wrongdoers. And so since the evidence of responses to “rape culture” may be largely invisible, people may often assume that it isn’t there at all (which is not true).
Related to this is another thing that seems to anger certain parts of the tumblr crowd, which is when they are reprimanded for “calling out” problematic statements the way they are used to doing on tumblr. The problem with that style of call out is not the calling out itself, but when call-outs become personal attacks on other users. One of the goals of AVEN is to try and make it as safe as is feasible for all members - not just the ones who agree with you. However, many people who are used to the tumblr style of unmoderated, community response don’t completely understand why their call-outs have been, in return called out. They just see it as a defense of “rape culture” rather than a defense of the person’s right to not be harrassed, regardless of opinion.
However, I do think that there is a good reason for things to be this way on AVEN. Although the tumblr call-out culture can be rather satisfying, it can also be incredibly harmful. There are a lot of people who are less familiar with asexuality (or other subjects) who get harassed for accidentally saying something ignorant because they didn’t know better, or who get insulted and abused because they didn’t happen to “toe-the party line”. The end result is that people who are confused or don’t know much are often too intimidated to try and figure out what they ever did wrong.
(There’s an excellent article about the problems of tumblr call-out culture here)
And all too often on tumblr, disagreements with statements escalate into attacks on the person: i.e. “so-and-so said they think sex is a reasonable expectation in a relationship, they’re a terrible heterosexist rape-culture apologist asexual-hater who should never be allowed to enter any asexual community ever again”; there’s also a lot of call-out culture that comes way to close to just being bullying and aggression.
Of course, there are pitfalls to the AVEN system too: the invisibility of it means that it’s not always clear when things have been addressed, and being civil to everyone even if you completely disagree with everything they say can be stifling. So, for some people, the AVEN style just isn’t what suits them - just as the Tumblr culture just doesn’t work for a lot of people. I don’t think that necessarily means that one system is better than the other, but I do think that it does contribute to why many people on each site distrust the other.
And a then there’s just a couple other miscellaneous things that I see popping up sometimes. One is that I think part of the issue is that AVEN has a much longer “memory” for old posts and such - post on AVEN stay accessible, and people will keep seeing them. Tumblr, on the other hand, moves at such a rapid pace that anything offensive disappears from memory and attention within a couple hours, and so no one cares - or even notices - if nothing is done. As such, things that would pass unnoticed on tumblr are zeroed in on on AVEN.
The other difference, I think, is that people may simply have higher expectations of AVEN. On tumblr, because it is an open, unmoderated community, offensive statements or statements that are disagreed with can be dismissed as just “haters” or “trolls” or stupid heterosexists/transhaters/bigots - but basically, things can often be blamed on “outsiders”. On the other hand, on AVEN, a primarily asexual community, it’s harder to dismiss things, and there’s also a pressure to be the “unassailable asexual”, to be an enlightened group of individuals free from all prejudice. And while I think it’s good for people to have high expectations, I think that they forget that being part of a minority doesn’t automatically make a person completely prejudice-free and completely understanding of the situations and etiquette of other minorities. The people on AVEN are people the same as elsewhere, and there may be people who have different views, or who may be ignorant of a lot of things - just like the rest of the universe. I think that needs to accepted, and it’s a reason to try and educate people, but give them chances to learn instead of demonizing them or exiling them forever.
tl;dr: I don’t think that AVEN is particularly rape culture-y, but I do think that differences in ideology and attittudes between AVEN and tumblr can escalate conflicts, and that a lot of misunderstandings and assumptions have caused AVENs supposed reputation for rape culture to be greatly and unfairly exaggerated there.
I originally made this post back in April, but since the subject of asexuals and consent (esp. in reference to rape culture) has been coming up again recently, I thought it might be a nice time to bring it back. I’ll hopefully write up a more detailed explanation of why I have such a problem with enthusiastic consent sometime soon.
When talking about people who don’t want sex but consent to it, it’s important to differentiate between:
A. People who do not want sex: they may not care for it, but they do not have any desire not to have sex
B. People who do not want sex: it’s not just that they don’t have desire for it, but that they also have a desire not to to .
In the case of A - such as an asexual person who does not experience sexual attraction but isn’t averse to sex, it is perfectly possible to legitimately give consent, and it’s not “unhealthy”
The problem is if someone who falls under B is guilted or coerced into having sex despite actively wanting not to (and by the way, if it’s coerced, it’ not consensual), which would basically be rape.
Unfortunately, since A and B both sound the same (“people who do not want sex”), it can be unclear which situation a person is referring to, which leads to a lot of confusions and never-ending arguments. So, it’s important to establish what kind of situations one is referring to.
As far as my personal thoughts on enthusiastic consent: I don’t like it’s implication that I cannot decide for myself what I do or do not want to do, and what my own boundaries are. I am perfectly capable of deciding when I want to engage in sexual activity, and if I choose to engage in sexual activity even without attraction being present, that is my own choice and it’s really none of your business.
Anyone interested in meeting up at LA Pride this weekend? I was going to go up and watch the parade on Sunday, and I’d love to meet up with some other aces!
We could meet at the Academy of Couture Art - It’s very recognizable, and close to the parade. We could meet in the courtyard, by the triangle/fountain. We could meet there at say, 10:00 or 10:30. The parade starts at 11, I think, so that would give us time to go find a spot to watch from.
I can also message people my cell number if that helps.
Also, another note - it’ll probably be almost impossible to park there, so I’d recommend taking public transit (even though it kinda sucks here) or allowing a lot of extra time to look for parking and walk if you have to park far away.
Also, if you want to go to the PRIDE festival you have to buy a pass - you can get one online(probably the best way), and I think you can buy on site too. Watching the parade itself is completely free though!
if you have any questions, feel free to message me!
Signal Boost! if you have any suggestions, please pass them along! And help spread the word!
So I have a final presentation in my queer/disability studies class, and I’m writing it on asexuality! So if you know of any articles about asexuality, or ESPECIALLY articles related to *BOTH* asexuality *AND* disability (or personal experiences! Feel free to message or email me at rah55m[at]gmail[dot]com if you’re uncomfortable posting it here) or even just asexuality, please send me links! Or tell me stories! Help me do an AWESOME presentation!!! (Pretty please!)
[Details after break]