Just Existing Is Not Enough

This morning I read a well-meant blanket condemnation against people entering relationships with other people to whom they’re not romantically or sexually attracted. The author had probably heard of asexuality and would acknowledge its existence if asked, but had not really processed that asexuality is more than a word to be trotted out when one is trying to be inclusive.

A particular mainstream feminist blog or two has gotten better about acknowledging that asexuality exists, but persists in making sweeping statements about human sexuality that exclude the experiences of asexuals. If asked, the authors of these posts would probably say (and have said) something like “Of course I wasn’t talking about asexuality there. Didn’t you see the disclaimer? I mentioned you guys and everything!”

Don’t think I’m ungrateful for the disclaimers. I like when people remember that asexuals exist. But it’s not enough. It’s clearly not enough for people to acknowledge the existence of asexuals when, with their next breath, they say things that show they don’t really consider asexuals in their thoughts and opinions– that, in fact, when they opine about humanity as a mass, they’re not including asexuals as part of that humanity. How many of us have had the experience of listening to a lecture, or reading a blog post, and raising our hands at the end and saying, “Great ideas, but you talked about them like they’re universal, and they don’t really apply to asexuals”?

Disgruntled people love to call asexuals special snowflakes, but the truth is, I want everyone to realize that asexuality isn’t special: it’s simply another variation of one facet of the complicated mess of human sexuality. I want people to realize that we are as normal as everyone else, and then include us in their mental conceptions of human sexuality, right alongside everyone else. I want people to realize that, though we don’t experience sexual attraction, we are not that different from them.

I don’t want things exhaustively footnoted with the assurance that asexuality is the exception of the rule, though it’s gratifying when people at least remember our existence. I want them to make a new rule that includes asexuality.

About Aydan

Aydan is an aromantic asexual biology grad student in the US. She blogs at Confessions of an Ist about asexuality, Christianity, environmentalism, and feminism.
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9 Responses to Just Existing Is Not Enough

  1. This is why I can’t bring myself to read any published (as in, not online blogs) gender studies or queer theory books. I’m always certain that if they acknowledge asexuality (which is unlikely), they will still do this and it will make everything they are saying seem ridiculous.

    Also this seems to have a really harsh erasing effect for grey-asexuals? Asexuality as an exception only works if the line between asexuality and not-asexuality is clear and distinct; as if everyone still just delegates us to an “x” in the corner.

  2. Siggy says:

    I strongly agree! When people have to make an exception for asexuality, I see this as a sign that their view of sexuality has very limited applicability. It’s not just about asexuals, or gray-As, it’s about a whole spectrum, including people who do not identify as ace at all.

    Asexuality sometimes gets reactions like “That’s so crazy, I could never live like that” and sometimes it gets reactions like “Why is that something you even need to talk about?” And for some reason the people giving these reactions seem unaware of each other. Non-asexual people just need to talk to each other, and they’d realize there’s a lot more sexual variation than they think.

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