Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Asexual Awareness Week: Discrimination

In this part of Asexual Awareness Week, I'm looking at discrimination, sometimes called acephobia, which impacts the asexual spectrum.


Acephobia is especially damaging when it comes from a therapist. It is not a therapist's job to define or change anyone's identity. Their job is to help you understand yourself and solve problems. If they're not doing that, fire them. If they discriminate against you, fire them and file a complaint. Also watch out for internalized acephobia. Here are some affirmations for asexuals in dating.

Check out the Acephobia Tumblr.

Acespec people have to fight for their place in the queer community. Many gays, lesbians, transfolk, etc. do not feel asexuality, aromance, and the rest of the asexual spectrum have any place in the QUILTBAG. (It's filed under A.) But consider how much of the crap that gays get is the same as crap that aces get:
* Relative: "When are you going to get married and have babies?"
* Landlord: "You people can't live together, you're not married."
* Friend: "Aren't you afraid of dying alone?"
* Doctor: "You should have your hormones checked."
* Stranger: "It's just a phase."
BINGO! >_<

One example is asexual exclusionism. Queer people often pick on each other, unfortunately, and try to promote their identity at the expense of someone else's -- in this case, barring ace/aro people from queerspace. I don't know about you, but seeing someone else ejected or picked on does not make me think that's a "safe space."

Another is infantilization. When people say that asexuality, aromance, etc. is "just a phase" they deny the maturity and self-awareness of the victim. Funny how people don't say that about heterosexuality ... despite the fact that babies don't start out sexual, and many seniors lose interest in sex, which makes human sexuality in general actually phased.

Erasure poses a challenge, because it's hard to know and respect something that is rarely if ever shown. This is especially troubling in media, which routinely changes asexual, graysexual, or demisexual characters to conventional (usually heterosexual) sexuality and aromantic, grayromantic, or demiromantic characters to conventional (usually heteroroantic) romance. This outrages acefolk. Many of the less-common orientations aren't even on the radar. I write a wide range of sex/romance dynamics that I've never seen anyone else writing. Why not? Sometimes it's deliberate: people don't feel it's "real" or important or interesting. Other times, they'd like to widen representation, but refrain because they've seen someone get dogpiled for writing it the "wrong" way. Allow me to point out how rare it is for anyone to get anything right the first time. This includes acefolk writing about their own experiences, too. If we don't encourage people to portray the asexuality spectrum, then the erasure will continue indefinitely. It's also hard to get things right in the absence of good, accurate, and easy-to-find information.

You know how society always threatens people with "you're going to die alone" if they don't meet its sexual demands? Then it works really hard to make that happen, which is evil. In most places it's legal for landlords to refuse rental to unmarried couples. Unmarried people also face challenges when attempting to buy property. Many places ban unrelated people from living together, which also impacts intentional community, a lifestyle very attractive to many ace/aro folks who want company but not necessarily a lifepartner. And most acespec people don't want to marry when it presupposes fucking. However, this offers a great way to make people shut the fuck up about this topic: "You're right, I worry that I might have trouble renting or buying a home if I find a platonic partner, due to discrimination against unmarried people. You can help by ..." and then unload your list of activism requests for fixing the discrimination. Most people will not revisit a topic that leads directly to a conversation they don't want to have. There's even a nonzero chance that someone might look it up and realize you have a point.

Microaggressions are small acts of cruelty or indifference that make people feel unsafe, unwelcome, or otherwise unhappy. Those bingo lines above are verbal examples. Crowding against someone is a physical example. It is exhausting to get pecked at all the time, which leads some acespec people to hide their true feelings, which leads to Prolonged Adaptation Stress Syndrome. It is exhausting and miserable to fake your whole life.

A more severe form is corrective rape. This hate crime affects everyone whose sex/romance drive differs from what some rapist or harasser thinks it should be. It's particularly alarming for asexuals, to whom sex tends to be unappealing in general. A different nuance of disgust affects demifolks who cannot connect intimately with strangers, and only feel desire (of whatever kind) for people they already know and like.

Here are some other problems affecting acespec people and the asexual spectrum.
Tags: activism, community, gender studies, holiday, life lessons, reading, safety, writing
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