This post is for the April 2015 Carnival of Aces, themed “Asexual Culture.” It’s unpolished but, given I’m half-an-hour from surgery, voila and please pardon the lack of links.
This post focuses on the negatives that emerge from, in my view, false positivity within ace culture. (Not a phenomenon unique to ace culture, certainly, but one I’ve found very prominent and pervasive and relevant.)
I didn’t want to write about in-jokes or asexual history or AVEN vs Tumblr vs meetups, or the ace unconference, or even on this subject at all. But, as I was reading others’ entries, I realized:
In my experience, the primary constant across differing ace cultures is a self-congratulatory belief in ace inclusivity, which obscures the elision and marginalizing rampant in our communities.
Worded more accessibly: We think we’re so great and already include everyone, so we don’t notice all the people we’re leaving out or hurting, or all the work to be done.
Ace culture: “We’re so great and open to everyone just by virtue of being ace :)”
*sorting hat blogs, rigid definitions that ignore context, strict asexual vs spectrum separation*
*trans and non-binary issues are background noise. So so SO many aces are trans/nb and take initiative to talk about it, but there’s never any orchestrated discussion or analysis on a community level, certainly not initiated by cis people; instead it’s assumed there’s minimal/no need for it, because cis folks new to the community will learn by osmosis? and trans/nb aces aren’t very vulnerable to these newbies because there are so many of us? there is minimal addressing transphobia, cissexism, nbphobia because meh, good intentions. When, y’know, actually, trans/nb aces are dealing with a lot and I for one am exhausted with highlighting isms and being either completely ignored or argued with. (The annual Ace Unconference; some of the Asexual Agenda’s Questions of the Week…often people and orgs I respect deeply, which makes it all the harder. There’s no room to say “hey that was actually _____.” Not without committing to a huge horrible draining ‘conversation.’*
“asexual doesn’t mean angenital!” without even knowing that word, much less acknowledging it as an identity folks could hold or a desirable physical state, rather than just an insult (one painted as asexual-specific, rathe than part of a running narrative mocking the gender/sex life/genitals of disabled people, fat people, desexualized people of color…) (definition: angenital, iding with not having any genitals)
*assumption that ace spaces are/should be safe for disabled folks, which is just another obstacle to recognizing the rampant ableism; for race and racism I think as well, right*
All this “we’re welcoming!” and no critical restructuring or outreach or making sure the discourse isn’t alienating/actively hurtful. And survivors of course, and people with sexual disorders….
And when I critique “hey, don’t use survivors as props, the ace community does shit by survivors” I get the argument “no one’s denying the ace community is awful to survivors” instead of “oh you’re right this very post is hurting survivors by using them as props and statistics without acknowledging this dynamic or linking ti resources/dialogue.”
And when I point out “hey this post about heteroromantic aces’ access to ‘queer’ fails to talk about cis versus trans/nb at all,” I get “well that was obvious / distracting from the point.”
It’s not just ace culture, it’s any place that says it’s there for my identity, because right now it feels like every single one fails horribly and subtly the second I introduce another identity. Being able to recognize this, the surface-level intersecting and deep failure to address pervasive shit, is new and really important in my process. Especially as all these little subsurface things have been grating and hurting more and more.
I guess this post is to say, hey ace culture, there’s a fuckton more work to do and I don’t see you acknowledging it; can you see past the surface inclusion?