Here goes everything

This post was written for the August 2014 Carnival of Aces.  This month’s theme is “the Unassailable Asexual.”  You too can submit!

Trigger warnings: If you have any sexual violence-related triggers, please consider skipping this post.  Frank (although not explicit) discussion of sexual violence (including corrective rape) and associated emotional fallout, victim-blaming, invalidation, manipulation of survivors and their stories for political ends, and general suckiness ahead.  There should also be a blanket trigger warning for sexual violence for almost every link in this post.  If you think this needs additional warnings, please let me know.

I discovered the Wikipedia page for asexuality in January of 2008.  By September of the same year, I had PTSD.  These two facts are not unrelated.

The story is sickeningly cliche, to be honest.  Young Queenie discovers asexuality a month and a half into her first romantic relationship.  When she comes out to her boyfriend, he tells her, “You’re not asexual; we just haven’t tried the right things yet.”  Young Queenie doesn’t have enough knowledge or self-confidence to stand her ground.  Boyfriend pushes at her boundaries, seeing how far he can overstep them before Queenie freaks out and throws him off her or, on one particularly memorable occasion, kicks him in the face, repeatedly.  Boyfriend is contrite and apologetic and promises he won’t do it again…until he does.  Rinse and repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.  Boyfriend can’t understand what he’s done wrong.  He keeps talking about how he loves her, how he loves her so much, how he loves her too much, how he can’t control himself around her because he loves her too much, how he’s just trying to help.

Queenie still finds it easier to talk about these things in third person.

Queenie doesn’t like to talk about these things much at all.

But if I don’t talk about it, who will?

Ace survivors inhabit a paradoxical space in ace communities.  On one hand, we–especially those of us who have experienced corrective rape–are the ultimate trump card.  Whenever someone’s talking about how asexuals aren’t oppressed, someone else inevitably counters, “Ah, but some aces are correctively raped!”  I don’t doubt that, within the month, someone will link to this piece to demonstrate that, yes, asexuals experience oppression and violence.  But while those of us who have experienced corrective violence are held up as proof that Bad Things Happen to Aces, those of us who have experienced CSA or sexual assault unrelated to orientation, those of us who were attacked before we identified as ace, those of us who don’t know whether our experiences of sexual violence “caused” our asexuality are pushed out of the community.  We are told, “We don’t want you here; you are making us look bad.”  We are told, “Okay, you can be here, but don’t talk about the rape thing, okay?  People might get the wrong idea.”  We are told, “You are not really asexual, your feelings are not real, you are not real.”

If you must be assailable, you should be assailable in the right way.  You should be assailable in a way that is Useful to the Community.  You should have a clear narrative.  You should have been assaulted by an allosexual person, preferably a straight one, and certainly not another person on the asexual spectrum.  You should assert that you did not lead your partner on or “play hard to get.”  You should assert that you were correctively raped because of your asexuality, not because your partner thought you were a lesbian or because he believed all Latinas to be hypersexual or because you refused to compromise sexually.  You should have identified as asexual and come out to your partner before the assault.  You should not have assented to sexual activity at an earlier time.  You should not be mentally ill, or, if you must be mentally ill, you should have PTSD from your corrective rape.  You should not have experienced prior abuse.  You should not be sex-repulsed.  You should have exited the relationship as soon as the assault occurred.

It’s bizarre that, based on my experiences navigating ace spaces as a survivor, I can formulate a list of criteria for a “proper” ace survivor, a list that is part victim-blaming and part Unassailable Asexual with dashes of self-loathing and erasure and invalidation.  It’s ridiculous that I feel the need to frame my senseless, violent experiences in such a way that they can be Useful to the Community while shoving my other experiences–the ones that don’t fit into that perfectly useful narrative–under the rug, never to be spoken of in polite company.  It’s absurd that, among the aces I’ve spoken to who have experienced sexual violence, the vast majority are not heteroromantic and a sizable portion are trans (and that’s not even touching how many ace survivors of color I have run into), and yet they are asked to declare with 100% certainty that they were attacked because of their sexual orientation alone.  How can we talk about our intersecting identities if we have so much trouble talking about just asexuality and sexual violence?  How can we speak about our experiences when intersecting identities make us targets for invalidation on countless fronts?  How can we tell our stories when we feel such intense pressure to frame them the right way, to be the right kind of assailable ace, to be Useful to the Community?

I don’t want to be reduced to proof that Bad Things Happen to Aces, I don’t want to package my stories into palatable soundbites, and I certainly don’t want to have to fight for my right to stay in my own community.  Do I want to speak out and speak up, when chances are good that I’ll be reduced to a sad picture of The Oppressed Ace to be whipped out at key moments in an argument, a dirty secret that other aces want to keep under wraps, or a reblog to prove that the blogger Cares About This Issue (only to promptly forget about it and go back to saying the same ignorant things about asexuality and sexual violence)?  Writing my Challenges Faced by Ace Survivors series took months, but how much impact has it really had?  I still regularly see people who profess to being ace activists making exactly the sort of problematic statements I deconstructed, and it’s very rare that anyone who isn’t a survivor calls them out.  Sure, people are willing to say they support survivors, but only when a survivor speaks up about how isolated and unwelcome they feel, rarely when other aces are actively making survivors feel unwelcome.  Has my writing about sexual violence and asexuality changed things for the better, or have I just made myself uncomfortably vulnerable so that people can point at me and say, “No, but look, aces are oppressed!” or prove how “supportive” they are?

This is why, when I see people complaining about how nobody talks about asexuality and sexual violence, I have to laugh.  If I don’t, I’ll cry.  First of all, learn to use Google, and second of all, do you want to talk about asexuality and sexual violence?  Do you want to offer people a chance to invalidate your feelings, your identity, your experiences?  Do you want people telling you that you’re making it up for attention?  Do you want people demanding details, concrete evidence of exactly what happened, because unless you can prove to them that what you experienced was bad enough, you’re probably just oversensitive?  Do you want to be brought up only when proving a point or demonstrating social awareness, only to be discarded when you might start reflecting poorly on other aces?  Do you want to feel intense pressure to edit and reframe your sexually violent experiences so that they will be Useful to the Community?

If you don’t, I can’t exactly blame you.

If you’re one of those people complaining about how nobody talks about this and someone should talk about it, you are demanding that people highlight their vulnerabilities and open themselves up to attack from both inside and outside their communities.  Are you prepared to defend us?  How invested are you in our stories, if you can’t be bothered to go looking for them?  How interested are you in supporting ace survivors, if you aren’t making any effort to make space for us to feel safe telling our stories?  Is it just that it’s easier to ask why nobody is doing the thing than it is to consider why nobody’s doing the thing? Is it because it’s easier to complain about things that don’t affect you than it is to actually do something to support ace survivors?  If you’re angry that “nobody” is talking about and supporting ace survivors (false), are you doing anything with that anger or are you just angry to prove that you’re socially engaged?  Do you only want us to come forward so you have more trump cards or do you actually want to do something to help and support us?  Because, from where I’m standing, I see a whole lot of talk and not much else.

You want to know what it’s like being an ace survivor?  It’s isolation.  It’s silence.  It’s hesitantly raising your hand at a meet-up when someone asks whether anyone there has experienced sexual violence, and hoping that you both are and aren’t the only one.  It’s wondering whether, if you had just held your ground firmer or walked away sooner or saw the warning signs earlier or been less curious, you would have been okay.  It’s trying to disentangle your (a)sexuality from experiences of sexual violence, and realizing you can’t.  It’s guilt and shame and feeling like the assault was your fault, feeling like, if you hadn’t been asexual, this never would have happened.  It’s wondering if you really are broken, like they say you are, if your sexuality or your experiences or your PTSD or your sex-aversion or your whatever means that you really are an irredeemably damaged human being.  It’s not knowing how to respond to the virginity question.  It’s being told to “stop trying to appropriate corrective rape from lesbians.”  It’s staying in a sexually abusive relationship, because who else could possibly love someone as broken as you? It’s second-guessing yourself, wondering if what happened was really rape, whether it was really sexual assault, whether you’re really asexual, whether you’re really grey-A or just traumatized, whether you’re really demisexual or just scared of intimacy, whether you really feel the things you feel, because you’ve read that PTSD can screw up your perceptions and, who knows, maybe you’ve been misperceiving everything.  It’s wondering whether you should mention your history of sexual violence or whether you should keep quiet, because you’re a respected ace blogger and you have a niggling suspicion that everyone will hate you if they know the truth about you and won’t want you associating yourself with asexual activism anymore because, you know, people might get the wrong idea (they’ll say, apologetically).  It’s agonizing over every word, every phrase, every detail you let slip, because you have to do this right, you have to tell the right story the right way, you have to prove to them that you are worth listening to and supporting and welcoming into their community.  And it’s not just you, it’s all the other ace survivors out there because there aren’t enough of you speaking, so every time you speak it’s like you’re SCREAMING THROUGH A MEGAPHONE INTO A SILENT BALLROOM PACKED WITH PEOPLE, and you better not screw it up, because it’s not just your acceptance on the line.  It’s feeling like every time you speak about asexuality and sexual violence you’re jumping off a cliff yelling, “Here goes nothing!” and hoping that, against all odds, the rest of the ace community will be at the bottom to catch you.

To all my fellow aces who have experienced sexual violence, I wish I had more to offer you than words on a screen.  I wish I could give you hotlines and therapists and crisis centers and domestic abuse shelters and ob/gyns who know how to deal with aces.  I wish I could give you friends, family, partners, communities that will listen and love you and accept you for who you are.  I wish I could give you safe spaces that understand how to respectfully accommodate all your identities and experiences.  I wish I could protect you from all the invalidation, erasure, and plain awfulness in the world.

Unfortunately, I am just one rather diminutive, very tired person with limited energy and perpetual anxiety.

So I’m asking the wider ace community to do something.  Do something.  If you want to make angry tweets about how no one’s talking about this, go for it, but then do something.  Read an ace survivor’s narrative.  Read the #for supporters tag on resourcesforacesurvivors​.  Read more about sexual violence in general.  Read any of the numerous pieces on asexuality and sexual violence I have linked above.  Read, and learn, and then figure out what you can do, because you can do something.  I know you can do something to make ace survivors feel welcome and safe in your communities.  I know you can do something to educate and call out those who invalidate ace survivors’ identities and experiences.  I know you can do something to give survivor-competent ace advice.  I know you can remember that ace survivors exist and are part of our communities beyond the times when you need us to win an argument.  I believe in you.  I’m going to make the leap, because I know that you can catch me.

So.

Here goes nothing.

About queenieofaces

QueenieOfAces is a graduate student in the U.S. studying Japanese religion. She is a queer asexual. She also blogs over at Concept Awesome and runs Resources for Ace Survivors. She is never quite sure what to write in these introduction things, but this one time she accidentally got a short story on asexuality published in an erotica magazine.
This entry was posted in asexual politics, Intersectionality, personal experience and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Here goes everything

  1. luvtheheaven says:

    Amazing post, Queenie. You said so much that is amazing in here.

    By the way, tiny thing… When you wrote “those of us who have experienced CSA or sexual assault unrelated to orientation”… I couldn’t help but um, wonder what CSA meant. I’m not familiar with the term. I could guess at what it means, and I have a good guess in my head, and in context I totally understand your post, but even when I tried to Google it I couldn’t find a definitive clear place with an answer. Just FYI.

  2. luvtheheaven says:

    Also, I just want to add… I don’t know what I can do exactly to help. I know your post here calls for us non-survivors* to change our actions, and I want to, but it seems tricky to know what the best way I can help is.

    I *have* been trying to spread awareness about abusive relationships of all kinds for the past few years, as I am invested in the situation for my own reasons. I also know a lot about sexual assault and rape now, a lot more than the average person, despite having never met anyone in person who has confided these kinds of things in me, other than someone in an ace meet-up group who I don’t know very well yet. *I feel “lucky” that the only abuse I’ve ever suffered in my life was psychological/emotional/verbal abuse from my mother (with a tiny hint of the physical, but never anything even remotely sexual, and never from anyone other than my mother) and that I escaped the abusive situation with my self-esteem in-tact.

    My (and my brother’s) experiences with this one type of psychological abuse help me to be more sympathetic to sexual assault survivors, I realize, as I am constantly amazed by just how much I have in common with people who suffer all kinds of abuse. I can’t relate to so many of the details, that is certainly true and I acknowledge that, but… but the fact that I can relate to *any of it* makes me want to help, perhaps in a way that people who “can’t relate at all” just don’t feel.

    I feel caught in a crossroads between yes, being a child abuse survivor, while no, I’m not a survivor of any sexual abuse/assault and I’m just looking in from the outside and wanting to help, but never knowing what exactly to do.

    All I know for sure is that I’m trying in my ace visibility efforts to be as inclusive and welcoming a place as possible for everyone, including survivors of any kind. All of the horrible things people say about/to ace survivors breaks my heart and makes me SO angry at the same time. I am immensely grateful to people like you making it abundantly obvious how wrong they are before I ever had the opportunity to give someone dangerously ignorant and hurtful “advice” and I’d hope that I would *always* have been kinder, more understanding than that, and hopefully not at all dismissive and invalidating in those ways. I think I’ll never know, though. I probably did use the fact that I myself had never been raped as “proof” of my own asexuality being real when I was first coming into the community without realizing that such a statement is one of the most insidious kinds of hurtful erasure and invalidation.

    • queenieofaces says:

      I’m a bit confused, as I offered multiple links giving concrete suggestions, as well as a final paragraph outlining a bunch of things you can do. Just in case you didn’t click the links: http://queenieofaces.tumblr.com/post/88330913133/please-give-survivor-competent-ace-advice and http://queenieofaces.tumblr.com/post/77543660520/because-i-just-had-this-conversation-with-sciatrix

      If that’s not concrete enough, here are some things that need doing:
      – Calling out people who are actively being hostile to ace survivors (or are just ignorantly making spaces hostile to ace survivors). Comments can range from “Aces don’t experience rape!” to “If you’re traumatized, you’re not really asexual!” I am only one person who cannot be everywhere on the internet calling out everyone all the time.
      – Direct people toward resources on asexuality and sexual violence, ESPECIALLY aces who have experienced sexual violence. Again, one person, cannot be everywhere on the internet.
      – Any time someone is using ace survivors to win an argument that isn’t about asexuality and sexual violence, question why they’re doing that, ESPECIALLY if they otherwise seem to have zero interest in supporting the survivors they’re using as ammunition.
      That’s three things; plus the lists above, that should be more than enough to get you started.

      • luvtheheaven says:

        Thanks, that clarifies things a bit. I had planned to go back and click through more of the links later, and I think I may have already seen the ‘how to give survivor-competent ace advice!” thing before, but I’ll look again and make sure and I think I understand now where I should begin. I think I’ve already been trying to do a lot of those things, but it feels like I’m still not doing enough, I guess. So I’ll keep my eyes extra peeled and try my best to follow all of that advice. Thanks, Queenie. I’ll do my best to play my part in this fight to help ace survivors and stop the hostile comments (whether they’re “only” ignorant/naive in their hostility or not).

    • acetheist says:

      After seeing this comment, I debated with myself a little bit over whether to reply. I came down on the side of deciding to let you know.

      On a post about the experiences of rape survivors and the silencing within the ace community, you’ve made a comment about yourself, how you feel, and how you don’t know what to do, which comes off as an implicit request for someone to give you reassurance and/or a tidy list of clear, specific tasks that can be immediately accomplished. Regardless of how much of that was your intention, that’s how the comment can be read.

      I presume that listening to, supporting, and providing space for sexual violence survivors is similar to being an ally for any other kind of group in that it involves, at its bare bones, “Listen to what these people are saying, educate yourself on the matter, and when someone says something you recognize as part of the problem, take out the trash yourself so that they don’t have to.” It’s ultimately about taking some of the load off their shoulders and giving them less work to do — or at least, that’s the part I tend to focus on.

      Compare this with if, say, someone came to a post about prejudice against asexuality and said, “Wow, this is awful, I feel bad for what y’all have to deal with, I really do, but I don’t know how to help.” Maybe you’d respond differently, but I’d be inclined to say, “Learn what the common mistakes are, and then when you see someone make the mistakes, make them fix it.” It’s a broad suggestion, but purposefully so, because it’s about responding to future situations. And if that isn’t enough for them to go on, and if they can’t figure the specifics out for themselves, then I begin to wonder what their true priorities are.

      Point being, you’re the one who has to figure out how to apply this in your daily life, and how “don’t say the harmful things, and call out other people who do” will play out in practice for your particular context. And as much as it hurts to find out that the community we’re so grateful for is rife with its own forms of wretchedness, you also must be mindful that talking about how bad you feel about it — to the author of this post, no less — doesn’t really help anyone, and if anything, it asks Queenie to perform more of the emotional labor and catering to others that she was just talking about in this post.

      I hope that you take this reply in the way that I’m intending it, as advice based on my current understanding of allyship. If I’ve said anything out of line myself, then I’m prepared to take responsibility.

      • luvtheheaven says:

        Thank you for pointing out how I was contributing to the problem of silencing ace survivors. I want to help survivors, not silence them, but you are totally right and I am really sorry.

        I agree with Aqua and I thought it was obvious by now that I admire and appreciate all that Queenie does, including the courage she shows when she shares these things about herself, even though it’s incredibly difficult for her.

        I will try to learn from my mistakes.

      • queenieofaces says:

        Thanks for this comment, and, yes, this is a pretty good understanding of what allyship should consist of. I have–for more than a year!–been writing incredibly specific (and often emotionally draining) lists of the sort of challenges that ace survivors face and what non-survivors can do to help, and yet I frequently have people saying that they just don’t know what to DO about all this and it’s so TERRIBLE but HOW can they possibly help? Which makes me wonder whether they failed to read my posts or whether my bulletpointed lists of exactly what they can do failed to penetrate. And then they go on about how nobody’s talking about this and SOMEONE should be doing SOMETHING, and I feel like I’m just yelling into the void. (Surprising no one, this post is pretty much being ignored on tumblr.)

        I am only one very anxious person with limited energy and emotional reserves, and I would like to expend that energy on things that improve the lives of those who have virtually no other support (like the three ace spectrum survivors who have left messages in my inbox in the last 24 hours) rather than copy-pasting/rephrasing things I just said. So, yes, if you have the ability to figure out things you can do on your own–or…read the long lists I’ve written of things you can do–I would really appreciate you doing so.

      • This was a great comment and can be applied to many other situations as well. Sometimes when a problem seems very pervasive, or deeply-entrenched, it can seem impossible to do anything to change it and I think people sometimes get stuck at the “flail” stage of response. Thinking of small practical things you can do is often a good way to get around this reaction, and then build from there. For instance, if you think, “I should reach out to survivors I know to let them know I support them,” but then you realize you don’t know many survivors, that tells you one of the areas you should make changes in.

        I feel that informing yourself of survivors’ perspectives and issues, and cultivating a mental habit of examining what you think you know about situations that you see and take part in, are among the most important things you can do because in doing them you make it more likely that you’ll see when there’s an issue, even it hasn’t been brought up specifically before, and that you’ll be able to respond appropriately to it. Social justice work often involves intense (and often difficult) self-examination, especially if you don’t yourself share a particular experience that is being addressed, and I think for most people is a lifelong process of learning and doing better.

        I also liked acetheist’s point about examining your own context and what does and does not apply there. Not every item on a list may be relevant to your particular circumstances, or the communities that you take part in have other issues that may not have been emphasized in a given list (in particular, people who don’t actively participate on Tumblr may not be fully aware of the whole discussion surrounding Tumblr advice blogs that’s been going on). By cultivating your own thoughtfulness and awareness you can more effectively identify what *you* can best be doing.

  3. Aqua says:

    I’m so sorry you went through all of that! 😦 It was really brave of you to be so honest about your experiences, in the face of all the silencing that most asexual survivors of sexual violence face!

    I can relate to a lot of what you’ve said, and have faced abuse for both my asexuality (or rather, others’ denial of it) and sex-repulsion. I explained some of it in my Carnival of Aces entry, and am working on a continuation of that post that talks more about sexual coercion and harassment. When I think about it, I’ve felt silenced, worrying that what I experienced doesn’t count as sexual violence (or is less legitimate), because what I experienced never was rape, and power over me never was the perpetrator’s intention. It was still unwanted sexual contact of some sort, and my boundaries were so frequently violated, but I’ve felt like my experiences are less valid, and for me to speak about them does disservice to ‘real’ sexual violence survivors.

    • queenieofaces says:

      I have literally gotten two other messages in the last forty-eight hours from people who don’t think that their experiences were “bad enough” for them to feel like they could talk about them–despite the fact that one of them involved stalking and rape threats. I really don’t want there to be some sort of “trauma bar” that people have to clear in order for their experiences with rape culture, sexual coercion, compulsory sexuality, etc. to be “bad enough” to talk about. The thing is, when people start talking about these sort of things, it can make it easier for other people who have had the same or similar experiences to talk about those experiences. One person talking about how their identifying as ace has led to sexual harassment can make it easier for another person to talk about their experiences with corrective rape can make it easier for a completely different person to talk about their experiences with sexual coercion. I don’t just want those of us who fit into the “ideal” sexual violence narrative to speak–I want EVERYONE who has experienced sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual coercion, and rape culture in its myriad forms to feel like they can talk about their experiences. And, yes, a person who has experienced sexual violence may have a different experience than a person who has “only” experienced sexual harassment, and their unique challenges and hurtles absolutely need to be acknowledged, but I don’t think playing Oppression Olympics helps anyone in this situation.

      • Siggy says:

        I also relate to the feeling that my experiences with sexual assault weren’t “bad enough”, specifically because I didn’t experience trauma. I feel like I shouldn’t talk, because it minimizes other people’s experiences. Or maybe I should, because I’d be breaking the stereotypical narrative. Or maybe I shouldn’t, because I don’t feel the need for social support or healing. Or maybe I should, because someone needs to, and maybe I’d have an easier time of it? Or maybe I shouldn’t, because even without trauma it’s really not pleasant to talk about. etc. etc.

        Even though I’m not sure I consider myself a “survivor”, the entire paragraph “You want to know what it’s like being an ace survivor?” is pretty spot on. The sheer amount of doubting is a major component of what makes the experience unpleasant.

        • queenieofaces says:

          If you want some more arguments to put on the side of the shoulds: I would really appreciate not being “THE asexuality and sexual violence” person anymore, because that is a lot to carry around; you’re breaking the stereotypical narrative; there are other aces who have experienced sexual violence but haven’t experienced trauma and they often feel like they “did sexual violence wrong” or that maybe they were SECRETLY traumatized (and that’s why they’re ace); most of the aces talking about asexuality and sexual violence right now are women and non-binary people (often those who are DFAB or perceived as women); and I could go on, but you get the idea. (Not to pressure you into anything–I certainly wouldn’t want anyone to feel obligated to talk about difficult things, especially as there are a whole lot of things I’m not willing to talk about in a public forum. But if you’re looking for another perspective, there’s one for you.)

          I can understand the minimization worry, but I think there’s a difference between “I had this experience and luckily walked away without trauma” and “I had this experience and walked away without trauma and so if you had this experience and walked away with trauma you are doing it WRONG or are LYING.” The latter I side-eye massively.

  4. aceinlace says:

    I don’t have much of signfiicance to say about this, so I would usually just roll on and not say anything, but I feel that I should contribute some acknowledgement and appreciation of this very good post covering this issue that was probably very difficult to write about.

    I will indeed try to heed your call to do something to make a more welcoming space for ace survivors and to combat the heaps of misinformation, without speaking over or for survivors.

    This sort of thing you describe is just completely ridiculous. I’ve never liked the tumblr ace-advice blogs (really people need a variety of voices and viewpoints, rather than just a single blog-runner’s, which will always have a bias or blindspot) but I had no idea they were so bad.

    Thank you for writing this.

  5. Jo says:

    I know I have said this before, but thank you for sharing, Queenie. You’ve prompted me to perhaps write about experiences of my own that I have never spoken about, and you’re making a very important contribution to the discussion around asexuality. *hugs*

    • queenieofaces says:

      *hugs*! I think the best thing that has come out of this is the number of people who have come out of the woodwork to write about their experiences (or even just to drop by resourcesforacesurvivors and ask to talk to someone). While it sucks that the problem is so prevalent, the fact that people are starting to feel comfortable enough to talk about it seems like a step in the right direction.

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  7. Sara K. says:

    This is a powerful piece of writing. Thank you for writing it.

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  10. Ettina says:

    I just want to say that a lot of this resonates with me. I was a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and when I first began to realize I was asexual, and even now, I’ve done a lot of wondering and second-guessing about my asexuality. And yes, I am sex-repulsed, as well. I really suspect my sex-repulsion is due to PTSD, even if my asexuality isn’t, because whenever I try to imagine a sex scene, it always seems to turn into a rape scene. It’s like I simply can’t conceive of sex that isn’t rape, even though I know intellectually that it exists.

    Anyway, back onto asexuality & trauma – my take on it is the following. First, I’ve met plenty of heterosexual sexual abuse survivors, who are absolutely terrified of sex and have all the same triggers I have, and yet, unlike me, they still desire sex. Even though many of them *wish* they were asexual, they’re not, and their sexuality keeps forcing them head-on into issues I can happily ignore. If asexuality was a way of coping with rape or sexual abuse, why aren’t more survivors asexual?

    Second, if it is related to my abuse, who cares? I have a right to say no, regardless of my reasons. I know people with phobias who live perfectly happy lives in an environment where they are able to easily avoid whatever they’re phobic of. Sure, if they got over their rat phobia, they might discover that rats are actually wonderful affectionate pets, but if they’re happy now without rats in their lives, what’s the big deal? And just because trauma caused a trait doesn’t mean it has to cause misery. I mean, if a child was deafened by physical abuse, they could still grow up culturally Deaf and find happiness in the Deaf community.

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