Asexuality Alerts: Week 3

The asexuality alert journal is a miniseries where I journal my way through the Google alerts for asexuality during Pride month. This is the fourth post, where I talk about June 16-22.

Asexuality alert nirvana

Now that we’re over half way through the month, does it feel like we’ve achieved asexuality alert nirvana yet? Once you’ve seen 100 alerts, you’ve seen them all. Or maybe it’s just me who feels that way. Perhaps the reason I’m so jaded is because I’ve been watching alerts for so long. Or perhaps the causation goes in the other direction.

But even I get taken by surprise occasionally. This week’s biggest surprise came from a personal story from the Philippines. The author identifies with two genders: asexual and gay. Thus, he is genderfluid.

The first time I read this, I was not inclined to be charitable, because this is the wild world of google alerts—charity is generally not deserved. But then I thought it must be a language issue, or a cultural issue. I looked around Filipino newspapers, and found one other example of using gender to refer to orientation, and “sexism” to refer to homophobia. I read about bakla, a pre-colonial gender identity consisting of amab people with feminine gender expression, and often exclusive attraction to men. I think there’s something going on here, and someone could devote their dissertation to understanding it. As a Filipino-American, I am dying to know more.

As you can see, in the nirvana state, I see beyond whether an article is “good” or “bad”. These are just the ebb and flow of the media ocean. What I care most about are the deeper truths uncovered.

Shifts in the environment

After that, what else can I say? Well, the world of asexuality in media still turns.

This week, I got no fewer than three alerts related to Ace Dad Advice, who is the latest hotness on TikTok. I think part of his appeal is that you can see his white-bearded face—clearly the face of a man with life experience. You know, I’m old and wizened too (not really), but I didn’t grow a beard, I just grew too old for TikTok.  Anyway, he seems cool.

Another sign of the times, I found an article on abrosexuality. Abrosexuality refers to fluidity of sexuality, in the sense of changing over time. I remember it as one of those microlabels that persistently get listed in glossaries, but is not used nearly as often as the dictionaries suggest. It’s nice that news outlets are trying to dig deeper than before, but there’s a painful lack of awareness of context (or awareness of other labels that are more common). Articles like these put me on edge—one day, a hate group will find them and raise hell.

A more welcome story was a new survey of nonbinary people, estimating 1.2 million nonbinary adults in the US—14% of whom are asexual spectrum. I’m not an expert in nonbinary surveys, but that seems like a big deal.

Missing, but not missed

At the beginning, I predicted 175 alerts this month, and so far it looks like an overestimate. That’s okay though. If I wanted, I could excuse my error by pointing out that the alerts from reddit unexpectedly stopped after I got 8 in the first week. Obviously Reddit is still going strong, but Google’s algorithm works in mysterious ways.

Another kind of story that seems to be missing, are stories of rainbow capitalism. Like, food delivery companies offering delivery bags with pride flags, allowing workers to express pride / suffer the personal risks of expressing pride. That story’s from last week, because I don’t have an example from this week. Maybe rainbow capitalism stopped? Or more likely, companies slapping flags on products stopped being newsworthy.

Another surprise is how few hostile and bad articles I’ve found. I mean, it’s probably no different from before, but the simple act of tallying them up makes it clear how uncommon they are. Most articles—the bulk of which I do not see fit to say anything about—are in fact quite positive. More and more, they do not even need to focus on educating people anymore.  Looking at the larger picture, ignoring all the attention-grabbing outliers, I think the real story here is that asexual activism has succeeded.

Statistics for June 1-22

  • Total asexuality alerts: 100
    • Asexuality mentions: 27
      • Acronyms: 20
      • Flags: 7
    • Reddit: 8
    • Complete misses: 1
    • Articles focusing on…
      • Educating readers: 13
      • Personal stories: 12
      • TV: 9
      • Movies: 1
      • Celebrities: 14
      • Books: 6
      • Memes: 3
      • Video games: 2
      • Research: 3
    • Themes…
      • Demisexuality: 2
      • India: 3
      • Rainbow capitalism: 2
      • Bad: 3
      • Hostile: 1
  • Total aromantic alerts: 11
    • Overlap with asexuality alerts: 6
    • Complete misses: 2
    • Hits: 3

About Siggy

Siggy is an ace activist based in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and has a Ph.D. in physics. He has another blog where he also talks about math, philosophy, godlessness, and social criticism. His other hobbies include board games and origami.
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5 Responses to Asexuality Alerts: Week 3

  1. aceadmiral says:

    Someone told me about the nonbinary people survey, but I couldn’t remember enough when I got home to google it, so thank you for this serendipitous save!

    • Sennkestra says:

      I am both excited to see this survey but also worried that since it’s from the same institution and data source as the bad asexuality stats press release I’m going to have to very carefully manually fact check every claim…

  2. Articles like these put me on edge—one day, a hate group will find them and raise hell.

    I’m relieved that I’m not the only one who has this reaction to articles like this one.

    • Siggy says:

      Yeah, and I mean, there’s precedent for that. This is arguably what happened when people started seeing all these microlabels on tumblr, and then for a long time every SJW parody blog would declare their identification with a long list of obscure identity labels. But the readers of the Gay Times are a whole different audience, so who even knows how they’d react.

      But as a reality check, I should note that these fears have not been realized so far as I know. There is one notable reaction, which is that a Drag Race judge included it in a series of Instagram posts, which at least one media outlet picked up.

      For another example, earlier this year a few news outlets seemed to pick up on fraysexuality (and IIRC I was more satisfied with that since they actually interviewed people who identified as fraysexual). As far as I can tell, there was no negative reaction.

  3. Sennkestra says:

    > A more welcome story was a new survey of nonbinary people, estimating 1.2 million nonbinary adults in the US—14% of whom are asexual spectrum. I’m not an expert in nonbinary surveys, but that seems like a big deal.

    So, this is actually from the same survey data and study group that released the misleading findings about “1.7% of sexual minority adults identify as asexual”, so I’m taking all their numbers with a grain of salt (because their methodology for selection was really weird here)….but if anything, the asexual number is more impressive because that’s just the number who actually took the time to write in asexual in response to an “other” box, which is likely to lead to an undercount.

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