Around 3 years ago, the Tumblr asexuality tag exploded when “FatherAngel,” a catholic priest, began posting his opinions and beliefs about asexuals into the tag. He responded to a question about whether or not asexuals should be allowed to marry by saying asexuals were broken and “wrong.” He was convinced that asexuals have a disorder and that they should not be allowed to enter into an asexual marriage because “people change.”
He said that asexuals would eventually begin to want sex and would end up coercing their partner into having sex. As someone who was reading his original post, it seemed like he was saying that people who claimed to be asexual were just trying to trick their partners so that they could force themselves on them later on.
Of course, the asexuals on Tumblr fought back. They began sending FatherAngel angry asks, wanting him to retract what he said. The fight between FatherAngel, his loyal following, and Tumblr’s asexual community blew up. Both groups said many things that shouldn’t have been said and the fall out was ugly.
At the time, I ran an asexuality blog and made sure to tell any newly-identified asexuals to stay out of the asexuality tag. I made it my job to find things that helped build asexual pride in them and hide away all the hate. Eventually, I was forced to block FatherAngel myself. The things he was saying about asexuality made me sick to my stomach and definitely triggered me.
I no longer have a Tumblr because I disagree with some of Yahoo’s views (Yahoo bought Tumblr in May 2013), but I find myself thinking about FatherAngel a lot- especially the last few days.
Recently, Dr. Ruth, a sexologist and advice columnist, posted on Twitter:
Studies say 1% of pop. is asexual. To me that’s 1% too much but sexuality is a spectrum so good that it’s so low and not 10%
— Dr. Ruth Westheimer (@AskDrRuth) August 18, 2015
Once again, asexuals fought back. Of course they did. You can’t belittle someone’s sexuality on a public platform and expect to get away with it. And this wasn’t the first time Dr. Ruth publicly disagreed with Asexuality. In 2011, she told a woman who was questioning whether or not she as asexual that the reason her husband didn’t arouse her was that they just weren’t compatible. She “challenged” the woman to spend time to thinking about sex every day to stimulate arousal. She even accused the woman of not having complete orgasms. Here is a blog with more information.
I once heard somewhere, “It’s okay to not have an opinion if you don’t have enough information,” and I think this is particularly true in these types of cases.
Both FatherAngel and Dr. Ruth have a public forum with a large following. Instead of admitting that they didn’t have enough information to comment, they stood happily and declared their ignorance of asexuality.
So asexuals have to fight for their right to not be declared broken by public ignorance.
But I always have to ask myself, “Is this really helping?” If you search FatherAngel’s tumblr for “asexuality” you can clearly see that he has never stopped responding to “angry asexuals.” (I must admit that he has heavily edited his responses to the original questions and they are far less condescending now. However, this only makes the asexual community’s responses seem blown out of proportion.) He has never stopped posting his opinion that he is right and we are broken. His more recent posts say things along the lines of “the Catholic church has no stance on asexuality,” but that doesn’t mean we have won. He continues to feed our anger either way.
And can we really expect any different for Dr. Ruth? Will she just take this extra publicity and run with it? Is she actually learning anything? Will she try to claim, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” In fact, in this Time Out NY article posted on 20 Aug 2015, Dr. Ruth says she has never been stumped. But obviously she has.
I admit, that I sometimes become tired of this fight. Don’t get me wrong- I think it’s important and that we should never stop trying to educate others, but sometimes I am concerned that the amount of correct information going out into the world is so small compared to the amount of ignorance that comes out every day.
When we fight against the people with large audiences, how can I be sure we aren’t just fueling their fire? Sure, what we are saying is true, but that doesn’t stop them from rolling their eyes and telling us shove off. We can try our best to remain calm and explain what they got wrong, but we have no way of knowing if we are being seen among those who are just spewing hate right back.
How can we use those who call us broken to build asexuality up without having them burn us down in the process? There has to be a way to shine a light on the arguments that arise from the situation. We need to make sure that we, as a community, stop ourselves from blindly name-calling and tossing out threats. If we stoop down and just scream back, then aren’t we part of the same problem? Aren’t we just going making the initiator roll their eyes and scream about the “PC Police?”
But when we are faced with those who would rather condescend to us than listen to what we have to say how do we keep ourselves from losing focus? Sometimes I feel like I can’t look past the dehumanization being thrown at us. At that point, educating those types of people can begin to feel like a strain.
What do you think? How do you deal with the fire?