There’s a reason I like learning about foreign language communities: by looking at communities which have been mostly isolated from us, we discover how much of our community framework is contingent. In Japanese communities, aromantic and romantic asexuals are separate ideas. Russian speakers came up with something so radically different, that it describes a mostly non-overlapping set of people (full story coming soon!).
There’s a reason I like learning about asexual community history: I get to learn about how different things used to be. Once upon a time, “asexual” did not mean “a person who does not experience sexual attraction”. Once upon a time, people thought of that as a good definition for visibility, but not the most accurate definition. Once upon a time, people had the concepts behind romantic orientations and gray-As, but didn’t establish them into identity labels. You can bet that the standard attraction classifications are constantly shifting as well.
The shocking thing is that asexual history is so short. We have a little over a decade in history. Since I joined AVEN in 2009, I myself have seen the rise and fall of Rabger’s model (which you new kids may not even know about), and of the “sexual privilege” model. I’ve witnessed the establishment of “ace”, “squish”, of gray/demi identities, and many nonstandard romantic identities. How many of you plan to live at least a decade longer? What new things will happen in that time?
There’s a reason I’m fascinated with the cultural differences between the AVEN and Tumblr communities: now that we have two major communities which are slightly isolated, we will see how they drift apart. Tumblr and AVEN have different sorts of pressures on them. AVEN is trying to be a community for the masses, helping everyone with all their insecurities by talking out their ultra-private feelings. Tumblr is an open community, seen by more allosexual people than any asexual community prior to it. But it’s not just any allo people, it’s predominantly queer and feminist people who aren’t afraid to speak their minds. It’s basically no surprise that “allosexual” is a Tumblr term, and never used on AVEN–and that’s just the beginning of the differences.
Tumblr only gained a foothold a few years ago, and has already caused some incredible changes. Do you think those changes are going to stop now?
When the next major community appears, it will be another game-changer. Maybe an effective personals website will appear, and we’ll spend all our time complaining about ace relationship practices for the next decade. Maybe there will appear a community which interacts more with the straight world. Maybe a new identity label will become important–they’ll talk about how we had the concept as early as the 2010s, but we didn’t put a word to it. Maybe in the future we’ll recognize the folly of something about our present ways–or maybe just the new kids will say so, while us old people grumble about how they just don’t understand.
There is no particular moral to this tale, or, that is to say, I wish you to derive your own morals. The moral I derive is that nothing is constant, and that rigid frameworks are likely to fade in time.