Question of the Week: December 8th, 2015.

How have you dealt with gatekeeping in the asexual community? Or, how have you avoided being a gatekeeper? 

Gatekeeping is often on my mind and yet I still haven’t found a satisfactory way to respond when I am confronted by it. I usually close the website, take a deep centering breath, and just go on with my day. There’s something so exhausting about beginning a dialogue and opening up myself to being wounded by what was written. If I find myself in a pattern of avoidance I might confront the problem by writing a related post, but always in my own time. I linger on feelings, which eventually form into words and ideas. Sometimes those simmer for weeks. It doesn’t look much like the “active” activism many of us value, but it feels a lot more honest.

I attempt to avoid gatekeeping by thinking of asexuality as one, self-identification, framing identity as what is useful or meaningful to a person before everything else and two, through a queer theory lens that sees identity itself as in flux, shifting, unstable, and perpetually becoming (drawing on Kath Browne and Catherine Nash here). I’ve found it’s a lot easier to keep space open when I think that way.

What are your tips and tricks? What’s been working for you?

About Talia

Talia is an asexual, nonbinary, vegan-feminist that drinks a lot of coffee and stays up very late playing Blizzard video games and writing fiction. They are working on a PhD in Environmental Studies where they think a lot about oppression as intersectional and impacting identities differentially. Talia has a particular fondness for asexuality, fandom, and Critical Animal Studies. Their personal blog is
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3 Responses to Question of the Week: December 8th, 2015.

  1. In the past week I’ve had several fellow asexual people tell me I’m “not really asexual,” “not technically asexual,” or flat-out “not asexual.” I’m not really sure how to deal with it other than to continue the conversation and try to inform them of all the problems that arise when asexual communities act like “lack of sexual attraction” is the only valid definition of asexual.

    I think what keeps me going is the knowledge that someone I know saw (A)sexual because he thought he might be asexual and decided that he must be broken/weird because he didn’t fit the “lack of sexual attraction” definition of asexual, but when he learned that there are more definitions of asexual than that one, he stopped feeling broken. Much of my drive to keep talking about prescriptivism in asexual communities is because of him and how I know there are definitely other people like him, who don’t fit the definition of asexual that is on AVEN’s pages but still find “asexual” to be the best word they’ve got for their sexuality.

    • (My comment makes it sound like watching (A)sexual helped my friend learn about asexual pluralism. I meant to write that he saw the documentary years before learning about there being multiple possible valid definitions of asexual. He continued feeling broken due to the presentation of “lack of sexual attraction” as the only valid definition of asexual, and learning about asexual pluralism made him feel not-broken.)

  2. demiandproud says:

    When I started a blog, I chose to focus on my own experiences, to present an a voice discovering asexuality as a life saver in a certain way. And because stories are an invitation to identify with someone, rather than any sort of rule or delineation.

    And… If gatekeepers are too strict, I’m on the outside looking in. I’m demisexual, on the asexual spectrum, and still feel sexual attraction given a certain set of circumstances.

    I’d argue for inclusion precisely because people like me are gonna identify far more closely with asexuality and get far more tools out of it to get comfortable with their own experience than in a regular discussion on sexuality.

    Different types of attraction. The fact that it’s ok for attraction to be absent. How to deal with low libidos or crushes and relationships where sexual feelings on your end are absent… these things are so, so important to talk about. To know. Please don’t exclude anyone because they’re grey rather than black. That’s what I’d ask of other gatekeepers.

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