Asexuality should be recognised, not ignored

It was hard finding a place to feel safe and accepted when society said I didn’t fit what was considered normal and the queer community said I wasn’t queer enough. Then I discovered Asexuality Awareness Week.

From Julie Nguyen at the Daily Cougar.

The article was published in the week following Asexual Awareness Week (AAW), and there’s an interesting argument that AAW is self-serving and doesn’t do much to promote awareness of asexuality.

The quote above gives some idea as to why that is. I know many asexual people that aren’t “out”. There are more still that have been selective in who they are open to about their sexuality. The reality is that asexuality remains taboo: both among the “normal” community (if that isn’t too unkind or dismissive a term) and among the “queer” community. Many asexuals feel marginalised and achieve solace only with like-minded people.

So it’s a Catch-22 situation. The only way we know to achieve greater understanding is to reach out to the wider world and convince them that asexuality is just fine. However, society can be unkind and the climate can be quite toxic for people that do want to speak out. The leading political parties ignored my communications, which suggests that even those that seek to represent us have no desire to acknowledge or support us.

I’m asking myself: “where do we go next?” And the answers don’t come easily.

Forgiveness and the missing link

By |September 12th, 2014|Recent news|0 Comments

I have entered into conversations before on the topic of forgiveness. It has been thrust into our consciousnesses again, since some members of Reeva Steenkamp’s family have expressed their forgiveness of Oscar Pistorius. It is not my intention to comment any further on this case here (the BBC News website has its own dedicated section to the incident, subsequent trial and wider issues). Presumably, I am not the only one interested in this act of forgiveness, as the BBC has done one of their “iWonder” pieces, and you can see their overview of forgiveness and its origins in religion here.

To simplify greatly (and, perhaps, naively) the message of that page, is that the origins of forgiveness is the realisation that no one is perfect and we should forgive others’ mistakes in the knowledge that we have committed and will commit plenty of our own.

This simplification does not always hold, clearly. Some refuse to forgive, and there are doubtless many instances where homicide is not forgiven. But, like in the above case, some forgive and are willing to invite the perpetrators into their own home. That’s a stark difference.

What the iWonder article does not explore is why we forgive. The suggestion is that we blindly forgive to appease the deities to which we serve. In some cases, that may be true. Section 7 of that article suggests how these practices have moved into the secular world, as symbolic forgiveness may be a remedy for dealing with seismic events in our lives.

Furthermore, the article does not discuss what forgiveness is. Wikipedia offers an explanation of what it isn’t:

Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), pardoning (granted by a representative of society, such as a judge), forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from consciousness), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship). Wikipedia

What is the trigger that decides whether we can forgive or not? For some, it’s their faith. For others, it’s an apology. For me, I have to be able to understand.

I think most would regard me as a tolerant and patient person. I say that not to sound boastful, but to communicate the need to be willing to listen to an explanation or to mull over the causes of bad things that have happened to me. The reasons don’t have to be good ones. People make mistakes and bad choices, and I fully appreciate that.

So did those members of Steenkamp’s family forgive on the basis of understanding? In some ways, I hope so. There would be something powerful in accepting the remorse and explanation from Pistorius, as well as the judgement of the trial proceedings. I would hope that doing so would help to bring some closure to them.

Do I forgive Pistorius? Well, that is a discussion for another day!

Early experiences of being asexual

I thought I’d share some of my recent experiences of being an “out” asexual. This covers a period of between one and two years.

I won’t say that the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive; rather, it hasn’t been negative. But that was very much in line with expectations. I didn’t want a mardi gras in my honour or to be commended by the town mayor; it’s just not that major. However, it did feel like a major thing at the time. It was the culmination of a process of realising that how I felt was broadly in line with the definitions of this thing called “asexuality”.

The biggest problem with telling people is that it’s not mainstream. In general, it’s not that well understood among the wider population. As a thing, it’s quite young, but what’s worse is that it’s hard to understand. For many asexuals, understanding sexuality is difficult; in a society where sexuality is not only the norm but, to some extent, a form of currency*, understanding what it is like to have that element removed must be almost impossible.

Since that time, I’ve been trying to meet other asexual people (albeit online) through specialist asexual social and “dating” websites. I’ve met some really lovely people through those sites — both in the UK and much, much further afield — and, who knows, perhaps one day I will meet some of them face-to-face. That prospect excites me. I still haven’t knowingly met another asexual in the flesh.

It leads to the question of dating and romantic relationships. I’ve given it a lot of thought, but there do not seem to be many answers, so perhaps I’m wasting my time. However, never say never.

* When I say sexuality is a form of currency, I don’t actually mean prostitution. Heard of the phrase “sex sells”? Then you must know what I mean. So many adverts — and products themselves — are presented on the premise that it is in some way associated with sex.