Do the activism that suits you

I occasionally get media inquiries, because we’re a prominent asexual blog and we look like a place for journalists to start.  I do not feel comfortable being featured in a news story!  Neither do most of my cobloggers.  We’re shy people I guess.  In my case, I particularly don’t want to talk about how I’m actually gray-A rather than asexual, and I don’t want to talk about how I actually like sex.  Gray/demis can totally do visibility, but I don’t personally want to do it with mainstream news sources.

Think about that for a moment.  Talking to journalists is practically the canonical form of asexual activism, but I, an asexual activist, do not feel comfortable doing it.

I find other ways to be an activist, including: 1) running workshops for LGBT conferences (but I intend to stop doing this) 2) helping organize a community survey, and 3) running this blog.

If you feel uncomfortable doing asexual activism, always remember that activism is laudable but not obligatory.  But also remember that activism is more than just educating mainstream audiences.  There are plenty of alternate forms of activism.  And I don’t mean that in the “everyone can be special and feel good about themselves” sort of way; these alternative forms of activism really do us some good.  Let’s examine some of these alternate forms of activism:

  1. Targeting the LGBT community.  While I don’t feel comfortable talking to mainstream news sources, the demands of talking to the LGBT community are entirely different.  My experience is a little bit messy around the edges, and doesn’t perfectly fit into a box or a narrative.  LGBT audiences get that!  Many of them feel the same way!  If you identify with the LGBT community, you can make workshops, send some e-mails, or just talk to people.  Later when other asexuals enter the same space, they won’t have to do so much work educating people.

  2. Targeting other specific communities.  Asexual activism targeting the LGBT community has been very successful, and you may be able to replicate this success in a community that you’re part of.  If you’re part of a feminist community, a poly community, a kink community, these groups have different expectations of your narrative than do the mainstream.  If you’re a part of fanfic or fandom communities, that gives you lots of opportunities to write or talk about asexual characters.  If you’re part of a religious community… Well I don’t know, I’m not part of any of these communities.  The point is, you know your community, you know what you can do, if there is anything you can do.  If you do something within a specific community, this is just as worthwhile as doing something for the mainstream media.

  3. Making Art.  If you’re an artist or storyteller, I don’t really need to tell you how effective and important art is.  But let me express my deep appreciation.  Artists, you are all lovely.  The person who designed the banner for this blog–lovely.  The people who create Ignition Zero, Shades of A, and other works of fiction–fantastic.  This tiny dinosaur–perfect.  I am just absurdly pleased by this asexual song someone made.  Even if you just make some imagery of asexual icons or symbols, you are the best. Really, you are.

    I am not much of an artist, but I took a terrible photo of the asexual flag once and I’m pleased to see it reappear all over the place.  This sort of thing even appears in news stories, replacing all those sad cookie stock images.

  4. Grunt work.  When I did analysis of the AAW community census, let’s call it what it really was: grunt work.  I typed equations in Excel.  I wrote a document describing the results.  I hardly even know anything about surveys or survey analysis, I just have some moderate knowledge of Excel.  But hey, it was valuable!  And it didn’t require that I talk about myself or disclose any private information or anything.

    There are lots of other things that are really helpful that are just grunt work.  Become a moderator.  Talk to the AVEN PT, and join one of those teams that responds to AVEN’s e-mail.  Work on improving the AVENwiki.  Create a tumblr that does nothing but repost stuff on the asexual tag, minus the trolls.  Organize a local meetup.  Create a directory of asexual groups (already done, but you get the idea).  Apply for an internship at AAW.  Everyone wants to do the most glamorous activism–talking to the public, educating people–but if you feel uncomfortable doing that, there are plenty of unglamorous things that are extremely helpful.

  5. Building this community.  I talked about targeting specific communities, but what about targeting the ace community itself?  The community is really important.

    Building community is mostly what I do now.  This blog nominally conveys the opinions of its writers but its secret goal is actually to gather people together and stimulate blogging.  (Not really a secret, it’s on our about page.)  Blogging suits me because I’m loquacious, and narcissistic opinionated, and have topic ideas coming out my ears.  I think this blog inspires many people to do activism, but even if it didn’t, we just plain enjoy this space.  If all you do is incrementally improve the lives of asexuals by providing them a community, that’s activism.

    There are lots of special interest facebook groups, and you can try making one if you see a niche that needs filling (or you can do it on Tumblr or whatever).  And of course, you can participate in an existing community, offering support to people who need it, or advancing important discussions.

Can you think of any other forms of activism?

About Siggy

Siggy is a physics grad student in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and makes amateur attempts at asexual activism. His interests include godlessness, scientific skepticism, and math. While not working or blogging, he plays video and board games with his boyfriend, and folds colored squares.
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8 Responses to Do the activism that suits you

  1. Sciatrix says:

    One thing I don’t think you mentioned under building this community is offline organizing. In most cities, there isn’t any kind of way for aces to find each other and interact offline. That’s a big problem, since people who are in the same geographical area can often offer more tangible support than people who are widely scattered. It’s also an issue for people who feel more comfortable interacting with others off the internet, and people who would rather date other aces but who find long-distance relationships unfeasible. And offline community is especially lacking for people who aren’t associated with universities anymore, since a lot of offline ace groups are organized through campus LGBTQA groups.

    This kind of activism really doesn’t take too much work, either. Pick a defined place and repeating time and show up to it at regular intervals. Set out some kind of visible marker–I use a scarf in ace flag colors–so people can find you quickly. If you do that and you advertise well enough–maybe you make an AVEN thread and bump it regularly, maybe you have a Meetup account so that your group shows up when people google “asexuality + YourCity”, maybe you put up posters–if you do that, you’d be surprised at how quickly people will start turning up.

    Writing this, it occurs to me that a barrier to setting up groups like Meetup is that there’s an administrator fee to run and organize a meetup. On the site, organizers can run up to three groups at a time once they have a membership. I’m already paying for Aces in Austin as it is, and I’d be happy to use the other two groups I have available to me for other people who are interested in starting offline spaces. I wonder if there’s any interest in that?

    • Carmilla DeWinter says:

      Hmm. Experience is in Germany, that if someone doesn’t volunteer to do the actual organizing of meetups (and keeps doing it despite only half the people showing up who said they’d come), they won’t happen.
      That said, I’m glad I don’t have to do it for my corner of Germany. I’m busy enough with points 1 through 3, heh.

      • Sciatrix says:

        Yeah, that’s my point about picking a routine day and time. You do have to show up routinely at that day and time, which is usually enough to make sure a meetup happens in my experience. 🙂 Aside from that, though, I find that there isn’t that much work associated with organizing regular meetups.

        Weirdly enough, I find that instead of only half the people turning up who said they’d come, we often get twice as many. Partly that’s because regulars often don’t bother RSVPing, and partly it’s last-minute things. As long as someone besides me shows up, though, I’m usually pretty happy.

  2. Mxtrmeike13 says:

    I really appreciate this post. I’ve been blogging for a little over three years now, and I’ve been feeling increasingly guilty about the fact that most of my activism doesn’t involve asexuality. I do a little bit here and there self-advocating, such as when I notice something is so blatantly sexual and/or bashes asexuals. But generally speaking I’ve put my ace/demi identity to the wayside. Hence why I appreciated this post–it’s great to know there are other things I can do that actually helps the community out. =]

  3. Andrew says:

    Another important sort of visibility work is for students to write terms papers about asexuality, when the subject fits with the assignment. This is a way for instructors to learn about asexuality, and talking about their paper with other students can be a way to broach the topic. Of course, I think that this approach works best if it’s a well-written and well-researched paper. Improving the quality of such papers is one of the goals that I had for my website. Also, Asexuality studies tumblr has a very good post on this topic.

    Sometime that I would like to see is more stuff available that pertains to the history of asexuality, and this is an area where crowd sourcing could prove to be very valuable, but we would need to set up a better system so that anyone who is interested and has a few hours to kill can hop in and get something done. Some potential projects that I have in mind are things like transcribing podcasts and youtube videos, and storing these along with relevant metadata like url where it was found, date, who was involved, etc. I admit that part of my interest in this is that, as a researcher, this would help to fill in a major gap in my current data. I also think that it would be helpful for people wanting to find information on these various places, given that search algorithms like text.

  4. Pingback: Thoughtfully Advocating for Inclusion | The Asexual Agenda

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