Question of the Week: February 6th, 2018.

What are some examples of acephobia you have experienced, and how do you wish you had handled them in hindsight?

I don’t actually have any good examples personally, but I’m really curious what other people have to share.  

I have dealt with small examples like people assuming my partner and I are sexual.  Sometimes I’ll say ‘yeah it’s really not like that’ if it’s someone that I think should know better, but there is always that moment of feeling awkward and unsure about how to respond.

Do you have any examples of things you have dealt with well or wish you had dealt with better?

About astarlia

Astarlia is proud of herself for only having volunteered for..... okay if you have to stop and count it's probably too many things isn't it? She is passionate about nerd culture, disability and mental health, alternative relationships, sexuality, and young adult fiction.
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25 Responses to Question of the Week: February 6th, 2018.

  1. agigabyte says:

    I’ve not yet really experienced this, despite being really out about it. Perhaps it’s a combination of still being young enough that I’m not assailed with questions of romance yet, and being an introvert with a relatively small number of friends. Really, though, I can’t tell for certain.

  2. alatmclock says:

    Most of the acephobia I’ve encountered surrounds people not believing it exists in the first place and trying to tell me how to feel. That I “haven’t found the right one”, or I just “haven’t had a good lay”. And the classic dismissal plant/robot jokes. Some end up thinking I’m a completely sexless being, so in a way I’m still in the closet, because I love talking and hearing about sex and don’t want that taken away from me once I say I’m (a gay) ace. Another memorable instance is trying to explain to my mother what asexuality is, the spectrum of attraction, for hours on end, on multiple occasions, and at the end of the day, still she tries to gauge what my “type” of guy is and hook me up with someone.

    In hindsight, I’m a bit more upset about this loss of autonomy than when I got exposed to these instances in real time, but also glad I didn’t act out in rage about it or anything like that. It’s just not worth it. I gotta be me, whether straight people gotta know about it or not. My LGBT friends accept me and that’s what matters.

  3. Rivers says:

    Since I’m not out to a lot of people, I don’t have a lot of experiences with this. Mostly general misconceptions. I’ve had people assume that I must be “psychotic” or “heartless and not capable of emotion” after expressing that I wasn’t interested in dating or marriage (I’m aroace so that’s just part of how I experience my orientation, and it’s a way I can express myself without completely outing myself).

    My friends who I am out to have changed their behavior around me due to what they perceive to be my boundaries. They don’t feel like they can trust me completely when it comes to talking about relationship stuff and assume I must automatically hate all their romantic/sexual relationships. I also have a friend who doesn’t really have boundaries put up ones with just me after I came out to her.

    I also can’t openly talk about my QPR or be out about it with pretty much everyone but my QPP (even when we get asked questions). This has led to a couple of awkward situations when we’ve been out and about and had to lie about it. I also would like to openly talk about my relationship with people I am out to, but I know all of them would take it the wrong way.

  4. I’ve experienced some pretty intense acephobia, unfortunately, with lots of different people. My (generally abusive) father has yelled at me that I must be cr*ppled, he also called me a “r*tarded, stunted f*eak” several times and gave me a lecture about how even plants strive for procreation. I’m not even out to him, this is all just because I’m not currently in a relationship (even though I want one) and I’m a virgin! I haven’t told him I’m ace and I don’t want to. He told me that the fact I’m 19 and still not in a relationship is serious cause for concern and there must be something wrong with me, either mentally or physically. There was a point where I seriously thought that he might throw me out of home if he found out I’m asexual.

    Another experience I had was when I came out to a friend of mine and this lead to a two-hour long debate about my sexuality. He was saying I’m not ace, I’ve just convinced myself, perhaps I was sexually abused as I child and I don’t remember it. He also said I’m a biological mistake and that if I don’t have a sexual instinct that means I’m less than human. Then he told me I’m going to die alone and a bunch of other things I don’t remember. The worst part is that my best friend, his girlfriend, actually agreed with him. This conversation made me the most suicidal I’ve ever been, it was so horrible. Throughout our friendship he kept gaslighting me by claiming that he remembers me saying something about being sexually attracted to someone when I’d said no such thing. He kept harrassing me about my sexuality and pressuring me into having sex with someone. It was terrible.

    I’ve been through “less bad” acephobia, like people telling me I’m too young to know, how can I know I don’t want sex if I haven’t had it, my therapist suggested I identify this way because of my mental issues, stuff like that.

    • Rivers says:

      That’s awful. I really hope you are out of that friendship, if it can be called that from all the stuff he said. You deserve so much better than that.

  5. Max says:

    The worst acephobia I have experienced was coming out to my sister, a Catholic nun… We spent hours “debating” whether or not I was telling the truth or just misinterpreting normal feelings. It’s strange, I thought someone who had taken a vow of celibacy would be relieved that I didn’t want to have sex? In the end though she didn’t accept me, and she sees my asexuality as a naive phase that I will eventually grow out of. I suspect my family feels the same way, though they’re too polite to say so to my face.

    On a brighter note, I don’t experience much if any acephobia among my friends and peer group. I’m very lucky to live in a relatively LGBT+ friendly bubble. Sure there’s misinformation floating around, and sometimes people say hurtful things, but they’re open to learning and apologize for their mistakes. My friends have my back, and I’m so thankful for that.

    • Rivers says:

      It’s tough when the family you grow up with is not with you on such a big thing. Friends can make a world of difference with their support.

  6. Cracticus says:

    The worst acephobia I’ve seen has been online. Offline I’ve only really experienced invalidation. Coming out to my mum wasn’t great. That resulted in a 15 minute conversation of her trying to explain my orientation away and me trying to refute her arguments. I was not prepared for that. It was my first bad coming out experience, made extra difficult since at the time I still didn’t have a completely solid grasp of my identity. That conversation ended with her advising me not to tell anyone. The only other not-so-great coming out experience I had was when my partner’s mum questioned me on whether I was confusing my Christian upbringing with asexuality. I found that to be a bit patronising. Otherwise, I’m out (or at least willing to be out) to most of my friends. They’re all pretty accepting. It probably helps that a lot of them are queer and are somewhat familiar with this sort of stuff.

  7. patience says:

    This isn’t acephobia (more like erasure, I guess) as such, but I have a friend who used to say something like “Nobody knows what that is, you know that, right?”, when I would mention asexuality. And even if it was mostly true it kinda hurt because it felt like she was saying that it wasn’t relevant or important to me just because nobody else knew of it. In end I just asked her to stop saying that and it have helped in what I can see.
    That same friend talks a lot of sex and I’m considering if it would be okay for me to ask her to tone it down a bit. I’m pretty okay with sex in general, but when she talks about it as the most important part of a relation, it just rubs me the wrong way.

    • Rivers says:

      Sometimes people who are really into sex have a harder time processing the ace identity. You could probably ask her to have a little bit more perspective on relationships when she talks about them in general because sex isn’t the most important thing for everyone.

      And if this friend really is your friend, you could probably have further conversations in the future about how being ace is important to you and break down some of the underlying perceptions she seems to have.

      • patience says:

        In my experience she doesn’t always react too well to “critique” , but I guess I should just do it if I get a chance. It might give her more perspective and, as you point out, I should be able to talk with her about the things that matter to me.

        • Rivers says:

          That is really hard. If you want to test the waters a bit first, you could try asking her if she agrees with that latter statement, that you should be able to talk to her about the things that matter to you. I can’t judge other people’s relationships with each other, but if she won’t let you do that, then there might be some toxic aspects to that friendship, especially if that line of thinking bleeds into multiple aspects of the relationship. Sorry if that didn’t make sense.

          • patience says:

            No it makes perfect sense. It isn’t quite as serious as I might have made it seem. The rest of our relationship is fine, but I guess I’m just a bit sad/chagrined that we aren’t on the same wavelenght on this matter.

        • Rivers says:

          Yeah, it’s an important part of who you are. Best of luck to you in the future.

  8. DasTenna says:

    The only situation I encountered was the first reaction of my step-mother when I came out to her. She was caught by surprise, never heard about asexuality AND leans to radical feminism. Thus, she felt obligated to aggressively remind me of the hard work feminists did to make sure that women could have the right to own their own desires and sexuality -___- The more we talked about the topic, the more she understood and later apologized. I guess that she wouldn´t have accused me of “betraying the achievements of feminisms work”, if she had known what asexuality meant earlier.

    • Rivers says:

      That can be the worst. Someone who is supposed to be understanding and otherwise progressive just invalidates you like that. I’m glad that you were able to hash it out in the end, and she apologized. Hopefully, she’ll do better in the future.

      This reminds me of a different-but-similar encounter I had at work the other day. I had my more liberal-leaning boss (who I’m not out to) tell me that I should just use gay instead of queer because all her gay friends preferred gay and using queer was “painfully politically correct”. This is of course wrong on so many levels (I was very mad), but as a closeted queer employee I wasn’t really in a position to argue with her.

      Best of luck with conversations with your step-mother in the future.

      • DasTenna says:

        Thanks. She already informed herself later about the topic because she realized that she over-reacted and that I was not “supporting patriarchy” but simply explaining how I felt.

        That´s a tricky situation you´d been there. But wouldn´t there have been a possibility to explain without referring to yourself? :/ Difficult it is, indeed, since there´s hierarchy involved …

        • Rivers says:

          That’s nice that she went and did her own research. Hopefully that will help her to not jump to conclusions and think things out more in the future.

          As for my situation, the context of the conversation would have made it very awkward if I pressed on too much, and when I did try to push back a little, it was not taken very well. I did try to anchor myself a bit, but her fundamental understanding of the “issue” would be grounds for a broader conversation that I didn’t have time to get into. Maybe another day, but I don’t want to rock the boat too much since my workplace is safer than my homelife.

  9. luvtheheaven says:

    I’ve been trying more and more to avoid the -phobia words. Acephobia never really caught into my vocabulary as natural and I’d rather keep using other words – hurtful ace erasure, invalidation, hate, etc. I wouldn’t say I had internalized acephobia but rather I had internalized “anti-ace sentiments” before I accepted myself, before I stopped “Trying to be allosexual”.

    To me, calling these things phobia invokes the wrong connotation AND makes it harder for people who do have actual mental illness phobias, it ends up being ableist too.

    It took me a while to get here, and I’m not sure what my reaction was when Coyote blogged about this a year and a half ago at the end of 2016:

    But I think I’ve evolved into not even loving the more established -phobia suffix words, but I don’t necessarily love the alternatives either.

    I’ve been hanging out on ace twitter a lot more in the past year and over there people have all rallied behind “misia” instead. I don’t use it myself, but it’s extremely common to talk about acemisia and aromisia:

    -misia being a suffix that means hate.

    Adjective form is -misic

    And so yeah, idk….

    I like to mainly say “hurtful to aces”, “anti-ace”, even ace hate depending on the context, myself, but idk.

  10. luvtheheaven says:

    As for what I’ve experienced, I’d say it’s more subtle stuff when it comes to offline stuff, a lack of feeling understood or respected for why it’s important to me, and it’s complicated?

    I’ve mainly only experienced the problems online, where it definitely happens. I outlined some of the worst of it in my blog post about reactions to some of my fanfiction:

    And idk. On tumblr there was that time an anon contacted me JUST to say: “I’m absolutely for ace people being out and accepted, but you have to realise that splitting up your attraction four ways (aesthetic, sexual, sensual, romantic) and expecting to make this denotation the norm is extremely harmful to gay people, who already suffer from internalised homophobia and compulsory heterosexuality, without being exposed to the idea that maybe they’re not gay! They’re just homosexual bisensual biaesthetic or some shit. ”

    I mean there’s lots of stuff around, stuff you just run into, stuff directed at you if you’re vocal about asexuality, etc…

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