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!