"You’re diluting the cause! Straights can call themselves “queer” if asexuals do!"

[Cross-posted from “The Comment Section" on Asexuality Archive]

Examples:

  • Every variation of gender and sexual expression (or I guess in this case, unexpression) doesn’t need to fall under our banner (shall we add an F for fetishists while we are at it?). It just dilutes things.
  • Okay, so everyone can join our queer community, except absolutely-100%-straight people? Literally EVERYONE can join our community EXCEPT straight people? Seriously….
  • And can I identify as queer even though I’m basically a straight cis-gendered sexual person?
  • I’m all for inclusion but where and when do we stop. We risk being so diluted that we can no longer have a cohesive movement.
  • Well, taking this to the next logical step, shall we include straight people in the LGBTQ community?

Why these comments are a problem:

People who use these lines don’t make any attempt to understand us.  They simply see us, all of us, as straight people who just don’t have sex.  From that perspective, it’s ridiculous to devote any attention our way.  We’re just in the way, trying to steal time from someone who deserves it.  We’re impostors, trying to claim our piece of the spotlight.

Problem is, that’s entirely wrong.  People undoubtedly made the same slippery slope arguments every other time a group looked for inclusion. “Bisexuals?  They just can’t make up their mind.  They’re straight half the time, so it would be like including straight people!  Transgender people?  That’s not even a sexual orientation!  What does that have to do with us?”  Each time, the exclusionary naysayers were proven wrong and the community got stronger through its newfound diversity.

The claim that asexuality will “dilute” anything is ridiculous.  That implies that there’s a concentrated, central organization, with a single focus, and that when we come along and knock on the door, we’ll mess that up.  There’s no such thing.  People and groups that belong to “The Cause” are wide ranging and diverse.  Some fight for equal marriage, some promote Lesbian poetry, some campaign for ENDA, some want rainbows painted in crosswalks, some just want to be left alone, some go on talk shows and discuss pronouns, and some sell t-shirts.

The addition of “Queer” to “LGBTQ” was even meant as a catch-all bucket to avoid these sorts of pointless fights.  It’s a way of saying “And the rest of you all who don’t fit into one of the other buckets, you’re welcome, too”.  It was an inclusive outreach.  You can’t use it to exclude people.

How to respond:

  • Explain that asexuality is not heterosexuality.
  • Explain your experiences as an asexual and how they might contribute to “the cause”, instead of “dilute” it.
  • Sarcastically say “Woo-hoo!  Slippery slope!  Where’s my toboggan?”

"You can be in a community, just not mine."

[Cross-posted from “The Comment Section" on Asexuality Archive]

Examples:

  • Asexual people have their own community. They have the asexual community. Just because a sexuality is abnormal, doesn’t mean it fits as LGBT.
  • We have simply said that we have enough causes on our plate right now, and don’t think that we should adopt anymore groups under our banner. That doesn’t mean they can’t start their own community, their own coalition, etc.
  • I will gladly be an ally of the ACE Community but do not believe we all need to be lumped together.

Why these comments are a problem:

What these comments are saying is “Yeah, yeah, whatever, you have your problems.  Now why don’t you go over there and talk about them so I don’t have to hear you.”  It’s essentially the same thing intolerant straight people say to them.

These people generally want to reject all asexuals.  They don’t even care that there are homoromantic asexuals and transgender asexuals and others who share so much with them.  In some cases, these people will welcome cisgender straight allies over asexuals.

Yes, there has been a lot of work put in by a lot of people to build organizations and support structures and visibility.  And yes, we’re arriving late to the party and weren’t always around to help set them up.  But it runs counter to the goals of the community to pull up the drawbridge and say “Sorry, you’re not like us, you don’t belong here.”  We’re here now, and we’ll pull our weight if we’re giving the opportunity.

Fortunately, this attitude is rare.  The vast majority of people who are a part of the LGBTQ* community recognize the similarities between their own journey and the path taken by asexuals.  There are shared struggles, shared triumphs.

How to respond:

  • Point out the hypocrisy in their comments.
  • Mention high profile LGBTQ* organizations that recognize and support asexuals.
  • Talk about parallels between your experience as an asexual and the “typical LGBT” experience.  If you are homoromantic, biromantic, or panromantic, or if you are trans, talk about how that part of your identity interacts with asexuality, and why both are important to you.

"There are no laws against it. What rights are they fighting for?"

[Cross-posted from “The Comment Section" on Asexuality Archive]

Examples:

  • It is NOT part of the LGBT community. No one is denying any rights to people who choose not to have sex.
  • If being gay is about political rights, then they don’t fit in because they are not fighting for any kinds of rights because they are not being denied any thing.
  • What right is denied to an Asexual person? Just name one, please.

Why these comments are a problem:

It implies that “fighting for rights” is the only reason people ever identify as gay or transgender or what have you.  That’s a preposterous assertion.  It’s my understanding that people tend to identify as gay because they’re gay, not because they enjoy political organization.  Beyond that, the this claim implies that once those rights are granted, there will no longer be a need for the LGBT community.  “Cancel the parade, everyone!  Say goodbye to the Castro and the Village!  Board up the gay bars! Tear down those rainbow flags!  We’ve got our rights now, so it’s all unnecessary!”

Fighting for legal rights isn’t the only reason to form a community.  Being around other people who understand how you feel so you don’t have to constantly explain yourself is one of the primary reasons.  We also are drawn to find a community because so many of us felt alone, like we were the only person who felt this way.  The larger our community is, the more visible we are, and the more visible we are, the more likely someone else will be able to grow up knowing that they’re asexual, instead of feeling lost and broken for years until they stumble across the word.

Also, despite the claim, there actually are legal issues that concern asexuality.  Discrimination is one of them.  There are people who will discriminate against anyone who is not heterosexual.  While there are laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation in many places, in some cases, those laws are written in such a way that they do not include asexuality.  For instance, RCW 49.60.040 in the State of Washington (where I live) defines “sexual orientation” as “heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, and gender expression or identity.”  Asexuality is not included.  Under the letter of the law, asexuals could legally be fired for being asexual.  There’s a report of an asexual couple who could not adopt a child because they were asexual.  Asexuals with homoromantic leanings may run into the same prohibitions against marriage that homosexual people fight against.  And if asexuals do get married, there are sometimes “consummation laws” that require sexual intercourse for a marriage to be considered “valid”, and that may not be something an asexual person is willing to do.

How to respond:

  • Inform the person that the LGBT community is about more than just “fighting for rights”, or it would disappear after those rights were obtained.
  • Explain that “fighting for rights” is not the only reason people seek community, recognition, and acceptance.
  • Discuss legal issues that have or potentially could impact you as an asexual.

"No one has a problem with it."

[Cross-posted from “The Comment Section" on Asexuality Archive]

Examples:

  • Tell me, besides being looked at strangely when you announce your asexuality, what is the big deal about it? Are you going to risk being kicked out of your home for coming out as asexual? The biggest hurdle for the asexual community to possibly have to overcome seems to be, “to finally not be thought of as slightly weird/closet gay in denial/hormonally challenged until the doctor dispels that idea.”
  • And by the way, most people don’t care one way or the other if you are asexual.
  • No one is persecuting asexuals.
  • No one has a problem with it!
  • NO ONE is denying asexuals any attention, respect, or rights.

Why these comments are a problem:

First of all, this class of comments is an attempt to trivialize who we are.  They’re saying “What you are isn’t important enough to have a problem with.  Asexuality is a nothing.  You’re a nobody.”  Attempts to sideline us are unfortunately common.

More importantly, most of the time, the people making these claims don’t bother to look at the problems that asexuals do face.  They’ll mock serious problems that some of us do face and they’ll throw out and shoot down strawman problems that we don’t even claim to face.  They simply shut us down and tune us out before we can even talk about the issues facing us.

What problems do we tend to encounter because of our asexuality?

  • Pathologizing of asexuality as a disorder.
  • A lack of societal awareness of asexuality, which frequently leads to ignorance and insults.
  • Relationship issues, particularly family relationships and romantic relationships.
  • Difficulty navigating a sex-driven world, in particular, the social expectations regarding sex.
  • Threats, coercion, sexual assault, rape (in particular “corrective” rape), and potentially even murder.

These are just some of the problems that some asexual people face.  There are countless others.  They are real.  They do happen.  Do not let anyone deny this.

How to respond:

  • Detail a number of cases where people definitely do have a problem with it.  (SwankIVY’s “Letters to an Asexual” series, Anagnori’s invalidation tree, “Ace Bingo Cards”, and the parade scene in (A)sexuality are good resources for this.)
  • Point out that there are a large number of negative or hurtful comments being posted to the article.
  • Talk about situations where people you’ve encountered have had a problem with asexuality, if you feel comfortable doing so.

"Asexuals aren’t persecuted or oppressed or discriminated against!"

[Cross-posted from “The Comment Section" on Asexuality Archive]

Examples:

  • People will continue being Special Snowflakes and claim to be an oppressed minority because it’s better than just being different, and continue to offend actual oppressed minorities.
  • Even if asexual is a sexual orientation, those who have it are not legally oppressed in any way.
  • and last time I checked asexuality is not actively being persecuted by society
  • There are no laws barring asexual people from marriage nor are churches blaming asexuals for hurricanes, shootings, etc.
  • Unless you go around wearing a sign saying you’re asexual, society doesn’t know and doesn’t care so you couldn’t possibly be discriminated against in any intentional way.
  • I see what you are saying, but nobody has ever killed someone for being asexual.

Why these comments are a problem:

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.

How to respond:

  • Detail the issues you’ve encountered, if you feel comfortable doing so.  First hand accounts can be very powerful.
  • Explain that your problems may not be the same problems as others, but that does not somehow make them less worthy of discussion.
  • Explain that something that may seem trivial to someone else is actually very important to you.
  • If you have encountered the exact scenario that they’re claiming “Never Happens To Asexuals”, call them on it.  Tell them exactly what happened to you.
  • First hand accounts or verifiable claims are better than hazy third person hearsay or gut feelings.  “This happened to me” or “Here’s a news story about this” are better than “I heard someone on AVEN once say” or “People on Tumblr think this”.
  • Avoid claims of oppression or “Having it worse”, even if you are oppressed or really do have it worse.  Nobody gets a medal in the Oppression Olympics.  Simply tell your story and let others hear what you have to say.
  • Remember that these claims are often made by trolls who’ll never concede.  You’re not in it to convince them.  You’re in it to show everyone else that what they’re saying is wrong.

"Aren’t there more important things to talk about?"

[Cross-posted from “The Comment Section" on Asexuality Archive]

Examples:

  • Why do people have to “join” or “celebrate” any type of sexuality?  Just live your lives….aren’t there more important issues to be concerned with?
  • May I offer two solutions, if indeed the asexuals find themselves “harrassed” by us?  Mount Athos is one, and a Carmelite convent, another.  Let us work, in the meantime, on far more important rights.
  • Maybe if people stopped trying to shove it down other people’s throats with parades, rallies, blogs, bumper stickers, etc., we could all focus on more important things than who wants to have sex with whom. Or, in this case who doesn’t want to have sex with whom.

Why these comments are a problem:

People who say things like this are trying to make themselves the one true arbiter of what is worthy of discussion.  If you’re going to be allowed to talk about anything, you have to run it past them first.  If there’s something More Important™ to talk about, you don’t get to bring up what you want to talk about.  And because asexuality isn’t important to them, we have to shut up and go home.  This is simply another silencing tactic, designed to shut us down.

In many cases, these commenters will point to something More Important™ that needs to be discussed.  They make it seem like there’s a limited number of words that can be used, and that if you’re not talking about something More Important™, then you’re wasting those words.  They also make it seem like only one thing can be discussed at one time, and that everyone in the world must only discuss that one thing until it is resolved.  These claims are, of course, ridiculous.

By talking about asexuality, you are not making an implicit claim that it is the Most Important™ thing in the world.  You’re not restricting yourself and others to only ever talk about asexuality to the exclusion of anything else ever again.  You are simply saying that it is worth talking about, because it is worth talking about.

How to respond:

  • Talk about why talking about asexuality is important to you.
  • Remind them that the number of words is not finite.  Talking about one issue does not prevent another issue from being discussed or being considered important.
  • Remind them that just because something is not important to one person, that does not mean cannot possibly be important to anybody else.
  • Avoid comparisons or claims that say that asexuality is More Important™ than something else.

Hmmm…  Those posts from The Comment Section don’t really reblog well if someone just does the excerpt type reblog.  They change from a rebuttal of nonsense to just the nonsense itself.

Oh well, at least they all have the link back to the original at the top, for specifically this reason.

"It’s the result of evolution and overpopulation!"

[Cross-posted from “The Comment Section" on Asexuality Archive]

Examples:

  • What we see is a divergence of sexual proclivity suggestive of evolution
  • Asexuals are probably not less human. They are less animal. Which must mean they are MORE human. They may be more highly evolved.
  • I’ve always thought that humans would become asexual as we evolved in the next 1,000 or so years.
  • Asexualitly might just be a more advanced state of being.
  • I find myself wondering if this could be a biological reaction to overpopulation.

Why these comments are a problem:

Because they’re pseudoscience junk that makes me weep for the state of science education.

Let me take a step back here…  I don’t want to claim that there is no evolutionary basis whatsoever for asexuality.  There very well might be.  I mean, every living thing is the product of evolutionary selection.  (Although that does not mean that every trait of every living thing is necessarily selected for and optimized by evolution.)  My problem is that the comments I’m describing here don’t actually involve anything remotely approaching science or evolutionary biology.

There are two frequent strains of this nonsense.  In the first strain, the claim is made that asexuals are “more highly evolved” than everyone else.  In the second strain, the claim is made that asexuality is the result of some evolutionary defense against overpopulation.  Let’s dive in, shall we?

The phrase “more highly evolved” is a tip off that something ain’t right.  There’s no hierarchy of evolution levels, where something is more or less evolved.  Evolution doesn’t really care about rankings or supremacy.  It’s about the right adaptations for the environment.  So, while humans might be awesome with our upright walking and opposable thumbs and all that good stuff, we really really suck at surviving off a fumarole at the bottom of the ocean.  Does that make thermophilic giant tube worms more highly evolved than us?  It strikes me that the thinking that asexuality is “more highly evolved” probably comes from a combination of science fiction stories about emotionless aliens and a “sex is bad” brand of religious dogma, and not from, you know, actual scientists.

The overpopulation thing is also ridiculous.  It relies on two false premises:  That the planet is overpopulated and that evolution is instant.  While there are certainly concerns about long-term sustainability, the Earth is not overpopulated at this time.  People generally have enough space to live and enough food to eat.  If overpopulation were the cause of asexuality, you would expect to see high rates of asexuality in areas that are crowded or have recurring famines (Which, BTW, are often the result of greed or wars, not of an actual lack of food), and virtually no asexuality in areas where living area and food are plentiful.  Given the number of asexuals present in places like North America and Europe, I think that claim can be safely refuted.  There’s no widespread shortage of resources for asexuality to be a response to.  Of course, even if the world were over-populated, it would have only reached that point very recently, like within the last generation.  Evolution doesn’t work that fast.  It takes generations for traits to become prominent or get weeded out.  Evolution probably wouldn’t lead to asexuality, it would be more likely to simply favor smaller people who require less food and are less likely to starve to death.  More than likely, though, overpopulation would simply lead to a mass-extinction event that evolution simply won’t have time to account for in any way.

How to respond:

  • Explain that asexuality is not somehow “more evolved”.
  • Explain that asexuality is not the result of overpopulation.
  • Point them at a science textbook.

theasexualityblog:

With overpopulation being as big an issue as it is currently, could it be possible that humanity would evolve to exclude sexual urges?

It may not be so bad if this were the case. Accidental pregnancy would become virtually non-existent, as individuals would most likely engage in intercourse for…

Addressed here and here.

tl;dr:  No.

"Why do you need a community about not having sex?"

[Cross-posted from “The Comment Section" on Asexuality Archive]

Examples:

  • this asexual stuff annoys me. how can you be a “community” of people who DONT do something. its a bit ridiculous. i dont do indoor wall climbing. im looking to join a club of non indoor wall climbers. its silly
  • If someone chooses not to have sex, that is their prerogative, but are they really a “group”? 
  • I don’t get why this is a thing. Some people aren’t interested in the weather, either.

Why these comments are a problem:

People who question the need for an asexual community invariably try to reduce asexuality to “Not Having Sex”, so they’re flat out wrong to begin with.  Keep in mind that these people cannot be classified as uninformed about asexuality.  In order to click to post a comment, they had to scroll past an article on the subject.  An article that almost certainly stated how asexuality is different than “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.

How to respond:

  • Remind the commenter that asexuality is not equivalent to “Not Having Sex”.  Directly quote from the article if possible.
  • Talk about why you need a community.  Talk about how it’s helpful to discuss how you feel with others who feel the same way.  Talk about how alienating it is to feel broken and alone because of the way you experience sex and sexuality differently from other people.