Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Problems of Planning and Organizing, Pt. 1

Sorry for the extreme dearth of postage on here. How embarrassing! Anywho, I have excuses... From the end of spring break until about a week ago I was having the HELL WEEKS which should NEVER have to be pluralized. College students only need one hell-week. But the good news is that most of my work for the semester is done (in my eyes). I have my orchestra concert tomorrow, a quartet next week and a drive to Pittsburgh next Saturday to play solo music crap. So that will be over. I have five main classes right now, and for one I've got everything done except for reworking the rough draft of an essay, another one I just have to keep reading and take an hour-long exam, one more I have to finish a short story for, one more I have to write a final essay for, and the last one is the only one I have a real final exam in on the 8th. So I've pretty much whittled away all the busy work. We're getting down to the quick of the fingernail that is the semester! And I got an internship lined up for the summer; now I just have to find a job (I'm trying to get a book store job so I can screw around and do what I like instead of stressing myself out over web design).

Phew! But leave it to say that they were indeed hell-weeks and I'm just now recuperated enough to take care of other writing stuff. I have a lot of topics lined up, but in honor of the about-to-get-out-of-central-Pennsylvania-and-go-back-to-Houston season, I thought I should give a word about all the craptastic problems with signals, planning meet-ups and building an asexual community.

First off, I had the opportunity to stop at a gift shop for a local cavern, and as expected they had hematite rings. They were uber-cheap, so I snatched one up. For those unfamiliar with the significance of this, one of the attempted-symbols to signify that you're asexual without writing ASEXUAL on your shirt is to wear a black ring on your right middle finger. People often get hematite rings for this purpose because they're cheap and not showy, but distinctive. Unfortunately my ring doesn't fit too well, and when I played my cello today I realized how bad I am with rings in general. I fidget with them all day because I'm so unused to wearing them. So instead I think I'm going to get a length of black wire and braid myself a lightweight, out-of-the-way ring like I've done before with leftover copper wire (ah, they things you'll do when you're trying to console yourself over some unworking electrical circuit. I've made a few simple robots/cars before and.... even the simplest things go wrong).

But one of the problems with this is that the black ring on middle finger as a somewhat unreliable signal. I haven't seen a lot of people wear black rings, and it's subtle, but honestly, most people don't ask someone their orientation after looking at their rings (maybe? Not for me). If hematite rings became the norm it might be better because they're so distinctive, but there really needs to be some sort of regularity to be a good symbol. I think the black wire idea might be better just because it's pretty easy to find some sort of black wire and it's certainly not hard to braid. You can have it folded so that it's adjustable. Anyways....

My point is that there's very little establishment in the asexual community. And then I thought, well, other orientations typically don't have open symbols either, so why should asexuality? But that part becomes pretty easy when you consider the usual problems with establishing asexual identity: if you're gay or bi, usually your actions and relationships will speak loud enough in the long run. But if you're ace, there are no signals. You can obviously rule out people in established sexual relationships, but from there, it's anyone's guess as to who's asexual. I'm often worried that people will mistake me for being bi or gay because I'm not involved at all right now and I have a tomboyish demeanor most of the time. People make assumptions. At first I was worried about participating in the GSA-like club at my school because I thought people would assume I was gay, but thankfully there is a good number of straight members too (and even one questioningly asexual... and at least two other asexuals lurking somewhere in the shadows!).

So I think it's important that we establish specific symbols. I think the best one to perpetuate right now is the black ring thing, simply because it's fairly easy, and it's rare enough to where, even if right now there are plenty of non-asexual people wearing rings in this fashion, we have a chance to establish it as our own symbol. I would prefer it not to be hematite due to their breakability (though I think they're pretty, preeeeeetty) and greater difficulty in finding off-line (I believe in taking asexuality beyond the intarwebs!). At the moment it's helpful for the rare chance of finding an asexual buddy, and hopefully later it'll be a good way to say NOOOOO to other people's advances or ideas. Perhaps we should set up another color system to go next to or on the black to establish romantic bents? I'm heteroromantic, so I'd still like something to not totally scare everyone off. Or even better, if braided wire works out, making one of the wires a different color for romantic orientation? I'm thinking green for hetero! I CALLED IT

As for other signals and symbols, my favorite symbol (and the one I think is most subtle/mature) is the spade symbol for ace. I know a lot of people like the whole 'ace of hearts' thing, but honestly, most people think of the ace of spades, and when you think about it, the spade is almost like an inverted heart. Not saying that asexual is love inverted (?). But it's already caught on to a certain extent, and the spade symbol hasn't really been used for anything else. It's distinctive and simple, comparable to the rainbow as a symbol for homosexual (stereotype, or best symbol ever?). It become even more specific if you inscribe the AVEN triangle in it (as seen in their store, ). Speaking of AVEN triangle... that's a pretty good symbol as well; not the gradient triangle, but the half-full one. Both the spade and the triangle make very good symbols: distinct visual cue, doesn't look hokey, can evolve to be associated with asexuality. The triangle is more overt, and the spade is a nice subtle thing (considering getting an ace hoodie to have some variety with my college hoodie).

That's all for now; I'm breaking off this post and starting a new one. The next parts will talk about planning and organizing issues. Fabulous!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Asexuality: The First Internet Orientation

The nature of asexuality has made it a fairly unknown orientation throughout history. I mean, look at the things it has going against it!

1) According to most sources, only about 1% of the population is asexual.
2) It's defined by the lack of sexuality, not an openly "different" sexuality.
3) In many, if not most, historical cultures, love has been a secondary matter in marriage and sex. As such, asexuals would not have found anything unusual about not being attracted to their partners.
4) It's likely that asexuals would have taken the "just suck it up" approach to sex.
5) Like homosexuality, it would have historically been considered a problem, psychological, medical, or other (demons have stolen your sex drive, or whatever tripe medieval and puritan people would have used).

I'd say all of these are major factors today as well (with the possible exception of #3). So it's no wonder that asexuality hasn't become apparent until the last few years. Even though asexuality is gaining visibility online, it is still lacking in real-world visibility.

I think this is the biggest issue with asexuality right now. It can't continue to exist as an "Internet orientation". Even if asexuals don't particularly want to "come out" to friends and family, there should be some more effort to show up at meetups and the like. Community-building is crucial, because the more visible you make the community, the less chance you give the rest of the world to dismiss asexuality because of its nature or its beginnings.

Unfortunately, I live in a rural area for college and don't have the same large population to pull from for meetups. Thankfully I have two close asexual friends at home in Texas. However, I'll soon be starting my own personal campaign of asexual community-building in my college. Even if only 1% of the population is asexual, I have numbers on my side: in a college of 1500, with most living on-campus, about 15 should be asexual. That's more than almost any meetup I've heard of, and that's just on a small college campus. There's hope left for community building, even in rural areas. And maybe I'll take my chances and drive to Philadelphia for the Pennsylvania meetup--but a 3 1/2 hour drive might be a bit much!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

More Me and More Why

First of all, Me.

As I said, my name is Erin, and I am currently a pseudo-freshman in college. I'd explain the pseudo, but... it's complicated. Regardless, I live in an all-female dorm in a small, rural liberal arts college, studying English and Environmental Science. I am a person of many interests. I'll bring them up as I go, but suffice it to say, my hobbies and passions are legion. I have a job as a web designer, and also do freelance web design. I am a scholarship student, and therefore blandly middle-class. I'm non-religious, but I was brought up in a Methodist family and confirmed Methodist and fairly acquainted with all things Christian.

As for the asexual side of Erin, I am currently identifying as heteroromantic asexual. For the uninitiated, that means that I'm romantically attracted to the opposite sex but my sexual attraction is nil. In my case, I'm a pretty straightforward asexual. I can't remember feeling sexual attraction to anyone and I have no interest in anything involving my girl parts. I strongly identify with my female gender and am a bit of a feminist. Even so, I'm a tomboy in many regards (except for my athletic ineptness).

Second of all, Why.

At this point, asexuality is so unrecognized by the public that I think there's still more to be said. The more personal literature that is out there about asexuality, the more presence the asexual community has, and the greater likelihood there is for us to become accepted as another part of the sexuality spectrum. There are still too many psychologists and therapists out there that look at asexuality as a condition and not an orientation. By personalizing it and showing how this is a valid experience, asexuals can show the rest of the world how we should be accepted by the world at large. The asexual movement is still very new, and perhaps collecting this information here online will be a step towards publishing it and making it known in the real world.

On a more personal level, I live in a small community. I will admit that I am currently finding it hard to find my social 'group' without the help of drinking or partying--neither of which I'm really in to. I don't have issues making friends so much as finding a way to relate with them in a communal way that doesn't involve us making idiots out of ourselves. Over the course of the past year, this situation has led me to think more closely about relationships and friendships in a way that I hadn't been able to during most of high school. My musings often wandered back to sexuality, and how it played such a greater part in other peoples' lives, but not so much in mine. I eventually came to accept that I was, indeed, asexual, as the idea lodged itself more and more in my head. I found myself often pushing myself away from relationships where I might end up in a sexual situation. So I'm now resolved to move more freely socially, reminding myself that I should never worry about the issue of sexuality unless it became immediate. I feel that I should chronicle how different social life is when you're dealing with differences of sexuality, especially lesser-known sexualities like asexuality. There has to be an alternate way to interact with other people beyond the context of parties, sex and booze: this is my search for that.

Beyond my personal experience, I want to document asexuality as I see it in the world and as I stumble upon it in my studies and random readings. Where does sexuality stop and asexuality begin? Is asexuality really such a new concept, or does it have more historical and current context? I'm not repulsed by the idea of sex, and I tend to take both academic and personal looks at it. Asexuality should be examined both in relation to other sexualities and the culture that is being formed around it.

And so, we'll take a look at asexuality and all the fun things to do with it! Wheeee!

The Asexualist

My name is Erin, and this is my blog.

So I've come to use the label "asexual" recently--and I went through the rites of passage for all Internet-dwelling asexuals: joined AVEN (, read all the little essays and explanations, and started up a new blog.

Most blogs I've started have withered and died from a simple lack of focus or lack of input. That is not to say that I never have anything to talk about. Oh, I have oodles. But I feel narcissistic talking about myself outside of my deviantART journal. So I thought--hold on; surely there's still something to be said on the subject of asexuality. That can be the focus here. Even though on AVEN it's a very well-discussed subject, there's not a ton of organized talk about it. Therefore, consider this post as tossing my hat in the ring. Let us prove to the statisticians that we're not all uneducated, closeted weirdoes!

I wished to imitate my favorite asexual blogger down at Asexy Beast ( and choose a specific topic to commentate (in her case, asexuality in pop culture), but recently I realized the folly of this. I am alllll about doing a million things at once: I draw, paint, write, play cello, piano, and guitar, sing, do martial arts, and my God, I could just exhaust myself listing crap. So this will be a more general blog about asexuality, from a personal perspective.

One of my biggest issues in asexuality is when it is dismissed by the argument that, if there's nothing happening, what's the big fuss about? But the whole thing is, just because sex is not happening doesn't mean that nothing is happening. Asexuals face lifestyle differences in many ways that aren't immediately apparent. And it's not just the issue of being propositioned by your drunk friend that one time, and then trying to keep their attention span long enough to explain why exactly you'll not be having sex with them anytime soon. We live in a society that's both sexual and repressed at the same time, and asexuals are caught right in the middle of it all.

So join me in my fantastical quest through the world of asexuality. Will I survive? Will you survive? Will we cast the one ring into the fires of Mt. Doom? ...We'll see.