So, a couple of months ago, I bought the WhatIsAsexuality.com domain, sort of on a whim. Right now, it just redirects to AsexualityArchive, but I want to do something more with it. I’ve been thinking about it lately, and I now have a basic plan of what I might end up doing with it.
I sort of want to do something to try to bridge the online and offline worlds. I see people going to parades and meetups and handing out asexuality pamphlets, which is generally a good thing. But those pamphlets often just end up saying “For more information, visit asexuality.org”, which is a generally terrible thing to do. Not because of AVEN itself or any of the sectarian hatred that goes around (On the balance, I have a positive opinion of that place), but because the AVEN front page is an objectively awful landing page for visibility pamphlets. There’s no continuity between the pamphlet and the site. People will come from the brochure and not be sure that they’re even on the right site at first, and once they realize they are on the right site, there’s no connection to the pamphlet they were just reading. They’re just thrown into the firehose of knowledge without any guidance. This is a fairly universal thing. Web pages are web pages and pamphlets are pamphlets, and they’re never really connected.
So, important considerations for me:
- Consistent look and feel between physical media (pamphlets, posters, cards, etc.) and the website. The visitor has to know they’re in the right place.
- Complementary content between physical media and the website. The visitor has to arrive on a page that is an extension of the pamphlet. It has to be on the same subject, since that’s clearly what they’re interested in.
Another thing I’m going to aim for is having a clear audience in mind. The things that I write will be specifically for one group or another. Most of the stuff on AsexualityArchive is all over the map as far as who it’s for. Sometimes it’s for people who know next to nothing about asexuality, and then in the middle, there’s a sentence that’s for the hardcore visibility activist. I want to avoid that with this site. So, for instance, I might write a page that’s for teenagers who think they might be asexual, but aren’t quite sure. That page, the associated pamphlet, and the rest of the campaign for that page will be specifically written for them. Then, another page might be for health care providers. And so on.
I envision these pamphlets being the sort of thing that could be handed out at meetups and parades, but that could also be available at a college QRC, a school counselor’s office, or a doctor’s office. While all the content will be available for free, I’d like to have a way for people to buy packages of professionally printed pamphlets and things from the site. That way, a psychologist could get a series of pamphlets to hand out to patients, or a student could send a packet to their school’s QRC. Maybe even have it where you could request a pre-printed packet to be sent somewhere for free.
So anyway, I have a set of topics that I’m planning on working on, but I’d like to know what you’d like to see. You walk into a campus center, a doctor’s office, or a library and there’s a pamphlet about asexuality on the table in front of you. You pick it up. What is the title of that pamphlet?
(I’d also like to point out that I have no ETA on this project and make no promises that I’ll ever actually do any of this or that the end result will look anything like what I’ve proposed. But if I don’t do it, I hope someone else does. Actually, even if I do do it, I hope someone else does the same thing, anyway.)
I think I need a translation policy for my site. People keep asking about translating what I’ve written, and I’ve never gotten back to any of them…
On the one hand, more resources about asexuality in whatever language it’s being translated into, so yay!
On the other hand, another American point of view being spread around the world like a copy machine, so boo. I know there’s been a lot of talk around that lately.
I’ve seen amateur translations of things into English before, and I was never impressed with the results. It always seems slightly off and unreadable. You can tell it’s just not the same as the original.
And then, just as an author, I’m not sure if I want to be associated with something I can’t understand. What if it’s mistranslated or worse, deliberately misrepresented, and now I’m associated with ideas words that aren’t actually mine. If I want to make updates or corrections, those aren’t going to get into the translations right away, if ever.
But then, having a form of a resource like Asexuality Archive in someone’s native language seems like that would be a good thing, even if it is rough around the edges.
So… I don’t know.
Anonymous said: Can a stranger see my lack of sexual attraction? After I dated a girl and we didn't really get along she thought I was gay, even though I never even looked at a guy in any way (given, I spoke out for gay rights). A few female acquaintances of mine also think I'm gay (probably because they don't know about asexuality). I never told anyone about my asexuality, so I'm curious if sexual attraction is that obvious to sexuals. It's not like all guys look at their dates' boobs, do they?
No, strangers cannot see your lack of sexual attraction. But some people give off “vibes” and maybe for some reason you give off a “gay vibe” even though you’re not gay. That happens sometimes.
In cases like this, it’s usually not a “gay vibe”. Instead, what I’ve seen is a thought process generally like this:
- There are three possibilities. He is straight, gay, or bi.
- He did not want to have lots of sex with me.
- Straight guys want to have lots of sex with me.
- Therefore he is not straight.
- Bi guys also want to have lots of sex with me.
- Therefore he is not bi.
- By process of elimination, he must be gay.
Look at any dating or marriage advice sites, and you’ll find countless examples where people are asking questions like “My current boyfriend doesn’t want sex as much as my ex. Is he gay?” or “A guy I’ve known for a few years has never come on to me. Is he gay?” or “My husband couldn’t get it up last night. Is he gay?”. To some people, the only possible reason that any guy would reject their advances is that he’s actually secretly gay. Certainly, that’s one reason. But you rarely, if ever, see people consider that he could be asexual, he could be shy, he could have social anxiety, or he could just plain not be interested in the person.
Why are asexuals so into their movement? They aren’t being oppressed or prosecuted anywhere and it’s not like you really can be by having a “lack” of something.
—Excerpt from The Comment Section:
Asexuals aren’t persecuted or oppressed or discriminated against!
Ohhh… Where to begin with this…
First of all, it is exceedingly rare that someone who is asexual makes a claim of oppression or discrimination or persecution or whatever over some trivial matter. If an asexual says that they were oppressed or discriminated against or persecuted because they were asexual, listen to them. Because they probably were.
Next, in the vast majority of cases, the thing the person is commenting on never even remotely mentions oppression or persecution. The commenter is pulling oppression out of thin air to use it as an attack. It’s a strawman. Simply saying “I am asexual and I exist” is not a claim of oppression. Talking about your sexual orientation does not indicate that you think you’ve been persecuted for it. Discussing a problem you’ve encountered in your life does not mean that you’re saying that you have it worse than everyone else.
Oddly, these people seem to believe that facing oppression and persecution is a necessary condition for having a minority sexual identity. You apparently don’t get to join the club unless you, personally, experience daily oppression for who you are. And they’ll often be very specific about what qualifies. Often, being denied the right to marry comes up as the criteria. Asexuals can’t be possibly be included because no one is preventing them from being married. Right, so, what that means is that where I live, in the State of Washington, gays and lesbians also can’t be included, because we passed R74 a few years back, and the Winsdor case made the Feds recognize these marriages. And does that mean that someone would be considered queer in some other states, but not queer in Washington, at least not after December 9th, 2012? Over time, as laws change and as people become enlightened, such a definition will cover fewer and fewer people.
A number of these kinds of comments suggest that keeping quiet will let you pass and prevent oppression. Are you asexual? Just keep it to yourself and nothing will ever happen! Well hey, that’s a great idea! Let’s have everyone do that! Hey, Sally, got a homophobic boss? Well, just show up at the office party with a beard to throw him off the scent! Hey, Joe, nervous about what people might think of your religion? What’s the big deal, hide that prayer rug and no one will ever know! Hey, Phil, live in a town full of racists? That’s what thick white cake makeup is for! … Never mind that forcing someone to hide who they are out of fear is a form of oppression.
These comments usually ignore intersectionality of any kind. It’s a blanket “Asexuals are not oppressed! Asexuals have no relevant problems!”. That means that if you’re a homoromantic ace or a trans ace or an asexual person of color, congratulations! You will never experience any kind of oppression or discrimination or persecution of any kind, because your asexuality acts as an immunity idol.
It’s also just outright dismissive. What these people are saying is, “I can’t think of any problems you might face off the top of my head, and you probably don’t have my problems, so I’m just going to yell at you for implying that you might have problems.” Just because someone hasn’t heard of it happening, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
And when an asexual does try to bring up a problem that they actually have personally faced? Well then, that doesn’t matter, because someone else has it worse. You can’t talk about erasure, because there aren’t any laws against asexuality. You can’t talk about having trouble with relationships, because you can’t get fired for being asexual. You can’t talk about corrective rape, because you’ve never been killed for being asexual after walking out of a bar. What they’re saying is that your problems aren’t important enough to talk about, because there are other, bigger problems out there. Absolutely, all of those other issues are horrible, and it would be fantastic if we could find a way to solve them. However, the fact that there are other problems out there, does not completely prohibit discussion and resolution of smaller problems.
“I’m sorry, you can’t deal with the leaky pipe that’s flooding your basement, because there’s a coal ash spill in North Carolina.”
“I’m sorry, you can’t change your flat tire, because there’s a civil war in Syria.”
“I’m sorry, you can’t deal with that pebble in your shoe, because the inevitable heat death of the universe will eventually extinguish all possibility of life.”
That kind of thinking is ridiculous. We’re not a one problem at a time kind of species. There are enough of us to work on multiple problems at once, and it’s even possible for the same person to be working on more than one problem at the same time. You have a right to talk about problems that you face, whatever they are, however big or small, simply because you face them, and you don’t have to go before some kind of Grand Unified Problem Importance Committee to justify it.
—And another excerpt from The Comment Section:
Why do you need a community about not having sex?
From there, they try to minimize or erase any issues that we might face as being absurd, often making a remark like “I don’t knit sweaters, should I start a group for people who don’t knit sweaters?” (Or something equally silly.) This is an attempt to make us look petty and unreasonable for wanting to talk about ourselves and the issues we face with other people facing similar issues. They often try to say that not having sex or not being interested in sex isn’t a big deal, that it won’t impact how you live your life or interact with others. They completely miss how pervasive sex and sexuality are in everyday life, and therefore completely miss how living outside that bubble can affect virtually everything, from trying to find love to watching TV, from interacting with friends and coworkers to going to the doctor.
And underlying all of it is the bizarre misconception that it is fundamentally impossible for people to find a community with others based on something they don’t do. Apparently, they’ve never heard of vegans, atheists, or people who are straight edge.
Looks like I need to add another page to the Comment Section to cover “No One Will Take Us Seriously” concern trolls.
Awesome. Just had an idea for a title of a brochure and twenty minutes later that grew into a general plan of how I’m going to structure WhatIsAsexuality.com and what I’m going to put on it.
And now I get to let the idea sit idle for another month while life gets in the way.
Lately, I’ve seen a lot of discussion about deficiencies in 101 level visibility/education work that’s created about asexuality. It’s a great conversation to have.
Now there needs to be action behind it.
Build the 101 materials you want there to be. Create the shareable images with the message you want. Construct the pamphlets that have the information you feel is important, so they can be handed out at parades and meetings. Throw together the website that you want to link to when you’re explaining asexuality.
You can make it happen. You don’t have to ask for permission. You just have to do it.
I know it can be done, because I’ve done it. I wasn’t happy with the state of things, I just started writing. Now I have that website I want to link to when I’m talking about asexuality. Other people want to link to it, too, sometimes.
You’ve got a little over two months until this year’s Asexual Awareness Week. That’s a great time to show off vis/ed projects. If you get started now, you have plenty of time to get something awesome put together.
A few tips:
- You’re never going to make everyone happy. Don’t feel like you’ve failed if someone decides to nitpick a three word phrase in a thirty thousand word project.
- Throw out the kitchen sink. There’s a tendency to do what I call the “kitchen sink” approach to visibility work. This is where, no matter how much space is available, people feel like they have to talk about EVERYTHING. If it’s not relevant, don’t mention it. Omission is not necessarily erasure.
- Tumblr sucks. So does every other blogging platform. And forums, too. Blogs and forums and things like that are terrible places to store your visibility projects. They’re great places to promote them, just don’t base your projects there. If you put something on Tumblr, in most cases, it will vanish within two days. If you put it on a blog, it will have a date or a posting order that will make it look stale. What you write today is just as important as what you wrote two years ago, so you need a structure that supports that.
- Consider your audience. Different people need to know different things and you need to use different language to explain it. If you fill up your pamphlet with social justice jargon, your followers might approve, but you’re going to confuse your parents. If your parents are the intended audience, find a different way to say it.
- Remember search engines. Write in such a way that someone using a search engine will find your site. Consider that they are probably not going to come in the front door and read what you’ve written chronologically. They’re going to land somewhere in the middle and bounce around randomly.
- Make it happen. Just go and do it. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. They’re not going to. If they were, they would have done it already. It’s all you. Good luck.