Question of the Week: May 6th, 2014

How important is it to you that people understand asexuality fully?

In my personal life, I’m mostly concerned with making sure people understand where I am coming from. So when I explain asexuality to friends, I generally mostly talk about things relevant to me, and I tend to skim over things that are less so. For example, I tend not to frame things in terms of romantic orientation, since that is not especially helpful for understanding the way I happen to work. Sometimes I don’t bother to explain that I specifically identify as asexual (as opposed to “ambiguously queer”) at all, particularly with more clueless acquaintances.

On the other hand, when I’m actively in educator mode it’s very important to me that people understand well enough that they can be a reasonably safe space to ace people with all kinds of backgrounds. So when I’m going out and educating (as opposed to letting friends know something about me), I tend to be a lot more exhaustive.

About Sciatrix

Sciatrix is an American graduate student studying ecology, evolution and behavior. She identifies as asexual and has mostly given up trying to sort out the whole romance thing for now. She has previously blogged about asexuality at Writing From Factor X. In her free time, she trains in canine agility and knits oddly cabled hats.
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4 Responses to Question of the Week: May 6th, 2014

  1. Sara K. says:

    Generally, I do not particularly care if people understand asexuality or not. I do care if they do things which bother me, such as being asked for the zillionth time “why don’t you have a boyfriend?” But many things which bother me bother other groups too (I imagine many lesbians would not like being constantly asked “why don’t you have a boyfriend”) so it is not so much a matter of teaching people about asexuality as a matter of teaching people to be respectful towards a wide range of people.

  2. In some cases, I feel that the Kitchen Sink approach can be detrimental. It can lead to asexuality information overload, which can potentially just confuse whoever you’re talking to. Certainly, talking to friends is one of those cases, but I’ve also seen some outreach efforts get muddled and sidetracked by over-inclusiveness. We have a tendency to focus on making sure we include the 5% case that we sometimes completely miss target on explaining the 95% case clearly. In some cases, it goes off topic so badly that any reader just being introduced to the concept of asexuality would think that we’re all transgender or that we all draw up ridiculously complicated PowerPoint presentations that map out our relationships,
    Being inclusive is important. Staying on topic is important. Being clear to the audience is important. It’s often not possible to be all three in a limited space or time. It’s a balance that needs to be found in anything.
    One of the projects I’d like to do at some point (But will probably never actually find the time to do) is a series of posters/pamphlets on very specific topics relating to asexuality. They would be deliberately not inclusive, because they’d be targeting the issues and concerns of a specific audience. But there’d be 20 of them, so while one individual pamphlet might not be relevant to you, at least a couple in the package should be.
    Not everything has to be a wide reaching 100 level overview that covers everything. It’s okay to write something that is specifically talking to and about asexual cismale teenagers. It’s okay to write something that is specifically talking to and about transgender homoromantics. It’s okay to write something that is specifically talking to and about sex-repulsed Albanians who want to join a kink club in Tulsa.

  3. queenieofaces says:

    I…am writing a post on this very topic right now. >.> The short answer is, the closer you are to me, the more important it is that you understand my sexual and romantic orientations. I don’t mind being read as “ambiguously queer” (or, more recently, “a lesbian”) if I don’t know you particularly well, but if we spend a lot of time together and I’ve come out to you three times and given Asexuality 101 and you still persist in calling me “gay,” we’re going to have a problem.

  4. Carmilla DeWinter says:

    In my experience, no matter who is listening, 100% inclusiveness can never be achieved. I’m happy if people grasp the basics: not attracted to anyone as opposed to celibate or grieving or whatever. And, oh, yes: We are not, in fact, recruiting. This is the one thing you can’t stress enough when it comes to info booths on prides.

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