Happy Asexual Awareness Week!

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Mewitti's avatar
tumblr mnqfwrI8hb1rhbo9no1 500 by Mewitti

It's that time of year again! This week is Asexual Awareness Week, all about, well, spreading awareness of asexuality. Asexuality is a sexual orientation that's characterized by a lack of sexual attraction. It's a huge, diverse, and often confusing orientation. If you're unfamiliar with it, you can read about the basics here! faeriety also has a great journal entry about it here!

If you have any questions you'd like to ask about asexuality or sexual orientation, feel free to comment here or ask questions anonymously on my srsbzns Tumblr. I'm no expert but I'll do my best to explain things and/or point you to helpful resources. You can also read posts I've written/reblogged on the subject. I am an okay-with-sex, libido-and-boyfriend-possessing asexual, and I'm willing to answer almost any question as long as you don't ask me to divulge private info about my partners. (I'm more than willing to get TMI, but my partners might not be!)

Asexual people often grow up thinking they're 'broken', that they'll never experience true love or intimacy, or that they're missing out on the best thing life has to offer. And none of this is true! But popular media likes to insinuate that nobody can ever be truly happy without a sexual partner (just look at all the movies where the Heterosexual Kiss is portrayed as more important than safety or friendship or love or the saving of the entire world/universe) and this can be so, so damaging to people who don't know better. Without campaigns like this awareness week, it can take years and years before asexual people even realize they're allowed to be happy with their lives. That can mean years of doubt, self-hate, and unwanted 'corrective' sex that didn't have to happen.

If you're unfamiliar with asexuality, please take a few minutes to learn about it. If you are familiar, please spread the word to someone who might not be! Asexuality has become much more widely-known and accepted over the years, but the work is far from over.
© 2014 - 2021 Mewitti
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C-Puff's avatar
(late comment is late)
I asked before but here it is again;
I have such a confusion with using gender neutral pronouns. It really and honestly feels to me as I'm being dismissive, ride, and inconsiderate of a person when I have to refer to them as 'they'. It makes me feel as if I do not care enough about the person I'm speaking about to even acknowledge them properly.
That is how I feel, and it really bothers me because I feel like I'm in a "I can't win" situation.
Mewitti's avatar
Does it feel as if you are being asked to refer to them as 'it'? I think it's normal to feel uncomfortable using pronouns that are unfamiliar... and also, it's not your fault. What you're feeling is what current popular culture and media teaches everyone: they teach that it's 'normal' and 'good' for everyone to have an obvious, binary gender, so it's rude or inconsiderate if you don't automatically gender others. Of course you unconsciously think it's rude--for your whole life, you've had a thousand movies, books, TV shows, and advertisements all screaming at you, "It's horrible if you can't use 'he' or 'she'! It means there's something wrong!"

I think that's why learning to be comfortable with gender-neutral pronouns is so important, even if it's hard. The more mainstream and 'normal' they get, the less media will teach that they're rude, so future people won't have to go through the struggle you're going through. (Plus, non-binary people won't get crapped on as much.) Gender-neutral pronouns used to feel really strange for me, but it got easier the more I used them.
C-Puff's avatar
No, it doesn't really make me feel like I'm being asked to refer to a person as 'it'. It feels as if I'm lumping them together as if they're part of some group of unseen people, or that I simply don't care enough to find out or give consideration to their gender. like "Oh, they said something or other about that." Or "Oh, you know them."
It also, on another level completely, weirds me out to refer to a single person in the plural. This does not help my confusion at all ^^; There is a quote from Oscar Wilde who once said "the only people who should refer to themselves in plural are the queen, and people with tapeworms." Which is kinda hilarious... even if I understand applying it to this situation is incredibly insensitive... but again... this all just adds to my immense confusion about terminology.
I kinda wish a new pronoun could be invented for people who are asexual. Honestly, that would solve most of my problems.

I've been around... hmm... how does one describe it? ....People of alternative lifestyles? I guess? I've been around people who are gay, transexual, asexual etc since I was 6 years old thanks to my parents' social circle... but this whole pronoun thing is a new one on me. Which is also why I struggle. My problem is completely and utterly with the language use, it has little to nothing to do with a person's identity or their lifestyle.

Or perhaps, as you say, it is merely because I am unfamiliar with using them. This is entirely possible, and most likely a large part of where my awkwardness comes from. A small part of me has a slight annoyance towards gender neutral pronouns as well, as I know people in my life currently who are extremely pushy about these pronouns and behave as if they are the very first people to ever classify themselves as asexual. Not only does this make me feel doubly awkward about the pronoun, but it also annoys me when they constantly correct people on it. Perhaps it's more a case of not being what they say, but HOW they say it.
I dunno.... it's all very confusing for me. And it frustrates me because, in truth, just from upbringing I am completely unimpressed by people's sexual orientation, whatever it may be. It does not shock or move me. Because it's ALL ordinary and normal.

So to be hung up on language and technicalities frustrates me. I feel like my feelings and acceptance means absolutely nothing if I don't get a pronoun right.

I am raaaaaaaambliiiiiiiing~ Sorryyy ;____; thanks for taking the time to reply to my silliness.
Llama Emoji-10 (Shy) [V1] 
Marrrow's avatar
So pardon me for interjecting, but as both a real life non-binary person and an ace person, maybe I can provide some clarification. (Buckle up, there's a lot to unpack here and I'm not good at being brief, haha)

First things first, but you seem to have gotten some things backwards. Asexuality is a sexual identity and pronouns represent a gender identity, and these are two very different things. Now, I'm not saying that no ace folks advocate singular-they/gender-neutral pronouns more generally or that ace folks don't use them (case in point: me, haha); but asexual folks are not generally the community calling for more gender-inclusive language, as a monolith. That is to say: ace folks don't need their own pronoun and pronouns don't have anything to do with an asexual identity on its own.

But the problem with singular-they as a pronoun is that English doesn't actually have any other singular gender-neutral pronoun--that is, any other singular gender-neutral pronoun that doesn't also indicate non-humanness. But even so, folks use it all the time without thinking about it, and you can find it in Shakespeare and Austen and all kinds of other writers' works; and non-binary folks have actually proposed a number of different gender-neutral pronouns to try to avoid the conclusion of singular-they! But the problem here is that people then reject those because they aren't ""real"" and that they're "confusing". So people will complain whether you use singular-they or any other gender-neutral pronoun, and no one should be denied their identity because other people are grammar prescriptivists.

But you have all kinds of reasons for not liking singular-they as a pronoun--which are valid. You are entitled to your feelings. But I am here to tell you that your feelings about the words others use to identify themselves are ultimately irrelevant, because this isn't about you. I mean, consider this:

Group X experiences a problem and develops a simple (albeit imperfect) method for addressing it. You, as someone who was never affected by the initial problem, dislike this solution because it is inconvenient to you; but you don't even have to deal with it that frequently, all things considered. But still, you dislike the solution because it is less convenient than you would like, so you just reject it entirely. You--the person who has never experienced the problem.

That is making the struggles of others about you and your convenience, which is stunningly selfish, especially for someone who professes such closeness with and empathy for the queer community. Because the fact of the matter is, is that when you refuse to respect a person's pronouns, that is also a refusal to respect them.

That being said, I am also here to tell you that, no, your ""acceptance"" isn't worth anything if you aren't actually supportive of queer identities. It's so easy to passively sit and claim "acceptance", but it is much harder to change the way you think or how you use language to support marginalized groups. "Acceptance" is important, in that it is the baseline for human decency. It is the lowest possible bar, and it is shameful to me that there are folks who even still struggle with that; in a just world, it would be the default position.

But this isn't a just world, and so it's necessary to do more than just passively declare that you're okay with queer folks existing. There's a difference between saying and doing, and in binarist systems of gender, it is important to support those who are marginalized under such a system--and one small way to do that is to get in the habit of using singular-they as a default. It's a small way to undermine the idea that (a) there are only two genders and that (b) a person's gender is always obvious, based on arbitrary external elements. (Sometimes a person's gender presentation matches up with their gender identity which matches up with the gender they were assigned at birth; but it's important to acknowledge that that is not always the case.) So even if you don't like singular-they, it is important to ask folks' pronouns and default to it in the absence of that information; because even if the occasional cis person gets offended, remember that (a) their gender identity is the norm, so it is constantly reaffirmed and acknowledged by every facet of society (i.e., they'll be fine) and that (b) using gender-neutral language helps make spaces even a little bit more inclusive for folks whose genders are not readily legible or often respected.

And at least to me, that is so, so important.

It is also important to remember that the practices and language of a given community are not static: communities and the people in them are dynamic, engaged in constant growth and change; so even if you knew a lot of queer folks growing up, the rules you learned then may well not apply anymore. (For instance, at least here in the US, "transsexual" is outmoded as a catch-all term, although it was once preferred; we now use "transgender" or just "trans" as the umbrella for the gender variant community. Similarly, trans folks were originally categorized as a subset of gay and lesbian folks when a queer identity was first being understood as an identity around the turn of the century. And so on.) So just because the idea of singular-they and gender-neutral pronouns is new to you despite all of your "queer friend cred," that doesn't mean that it's any less valid; because even as a queer person, I am constantly learning new things about different queer identities and the language surrounding them.

(Keep in mind, of course, that this isn't about messing up folks' pronouns on occasion--it can take time to get in the habit of using specific pronouns for specific people--; this is about refusing to call them by the right pronouns. Also keep in mind that I am not explicitly saying that you refuse to call people by the pronouns they've asked you to call them by. I readily admit that I don't know anything about you besides what you've presented here; but in my experience, folks who tend to write these kinds of things about pronouns don't tend to respect them. But that's great if that's not the case with you! That's excellent if you do your best to call folks by their correct pronouns. And if that's the case, then I hope this was informative, anyhow, because there are definitely some flaws in your reasoning.)
Marrrow's avatar
Except I'm going to amend this to correct my usage of "queer" here. I prefer "queer" for its political designations, as opposed to the relatively apolitical "LGBT+"; but I know a lot of folks don't like having "queer" assigned to them, considering that it is still a slur. So I feel like I should apologize for being so careless with my language and forgetting that, because that's a pretty glaring error, especially for how careful I was in writing this.

(Also, wow I wish dA had a better comment editing system, haha)
KelticStar's avatar
TwinVampire's avatar
I actually thought I was bisexual for a long time before reading up more on what sexual and romantic identities really are. For the longest time I thought asexually meant that you never want to have sex and/or are repulsed by it so I felt very confused by me labeling me as asexual.

(I might be wrong here about something so if anyone finds something off, do tell me, I'm no expert in sexual or romantic identities.)

Then I started to browse tumblr and I learned that sexual identities meant "to feel sexually attracted to" and Asexuality meant "to not be sexually attracted to anyone" and not, to hate sex, not having it or never feel horny. So I kind of felt at home with Asexuality but I might actually be Autochorissexual, better explained here:hunterinabrowncoat.tumblr.com/…, but learning about Asexuality and that there are others like me is a great feeling :D
Mewitti's avatar
Hey, I can relate! The first time I stumbled on asexuality was when a favorite author of mine, Swankivy, wrote about it. But Swankivy has no libido so I assumed, like you did, that you can't be asexual if you have a libido or are okay with sex. (It wasn't Swankivy spreading incorrect things, just me jumping to conclusions.) I was so, so sad because it seemed so RIGHT but I didn't seem to have the right credentials to actually fit. It was only years later that I took the time to learn more and realize I had assumed wrong. 

I'm so glad that you were able to learn more and find a label that works for you. :heart:
TwinVampire's avatar
Assumption can be such a dangerous and poisonous thing, I should look up more stuff instead of making assumptions. At least I finally know I am Autochorissexual and either Heteroromantic or Biromantic. One down, one to go!

Wouldn't think I needed a label but it actually helps you to know what you like :D
Thanks for being glad for me and I'm glad you found your own label that fit too :heart:
Strontium-Chloride's avatar
Aaha, some shameless self promotion but today in my webcomic - for Asexuality Awareness week - we find out our protagonist is aro/ace, and also that almost every other character in the story is too! Woo! Admittedly, it's not a huge plot point in the story since when everyone is asexual, there's no point of contention, but I want to focus on how a character who is asexual and aromantic can be loving, considerate and empathetic.
You can read it here!
Sparkleunidog's avatar
My partner is Asexual, and I'm a Lesbian (yes we're both girls) - I've been with her for nearly 6 years now, and have never had sex with her and only kissed her lips twice. I hug her and tell her i love her, and how pretty she is everyday. In a way, we have our own "intimacy" that satisfies the both of us without my partner having to feel she needs to force herself sexually for my sake - I'd never force her to do anything, and if she's happy with how things are, then so am I.

We've had so many people say our relationship isn't real, and all because to them it's because we've not once had sex. It's a shame that so many are simple minded like that, or think they know what their talking about when they clearly don't.

What I have with my girl is special - and I wouldn't change it for anyone. And someday, everyone else will understand that too.
AdotSean's avatar
Great post! Making people aware of this is so, SO important. =)
songwithnosoul's avatar
Thank you very much for this informative post, and for the link.
MoonliteDelight's avatar
I thought it was also aromantic awareness week as well? I know it doesn't get as much recognition, but it'd still be nice to see something about it...
Mewitti's avatar
I'm going to be posting about aromantic visibility on my blog from Nov. 10th to 17th since, as Madam Mayhem said, people are trying to turn that week into aromantic awareness week so it'll be separate from asexual awareness week. I feel like it's unfair to allosexual aromantic people when aromantic awareness gets lumped into asexual awareness week, and I think it'll help aromantic-specific topics get more exclusive attention without being buried under all the asexuality stuff. 
MoonliteDelight's avatar
Oh, okay. Sorry, I got a bit confused because I saw something on tumblr saying they were both on the same week, and it messed me up a bit ;v;
Sorry for bothering you
Mewitti's avatar
It's not a problem at all!! I believe people HAVE put asexuality and aromantic awareness together in the past, so you probably read correctly.
MadamMayh3m's avatar
I believe Aromantic Awareness Week is from the 10th of November to the 17th.
MoonliteDelight's avatar
oh okay, sorry! Got confused from something I saw one tumblr
Grawr360's avatar
Thank you for the post about awareness week. I always did feel broken till about 6 months ago when I found myself on a sexual orientation website and realized I wasn't. I sometimes still feel broken, but I now know that it's not really true. Thanks for the websites you posted too, they are really helpful for someone who is still a bit confused about everything. :)
Cuine's avatar
ooohhhh you're asex! O: me too, and a aromantic one...I didn't even know about this week.. until now xD I learned of approximately the asexual term a year ago, the truth I had never really interested in finding the reason for my lack of attraction to anyone haha until someone here on dA published a comic and I was like 'that's so me!' xD
Flowerbush's avatar
:oops: Wait, so there's a whole week about orientation awareness? Just a little odd for me, that's all.

But hey, at least it doesn't hurt to know that other people feel this way! :lol:
Shilakamea's avatar
More a week to remind people that sexual is not the default. I assume that once people accept that it is possible to be asexual and not "you havent met the right person yet." or other comments we hear all the time it will go down to a day or hopefully not even necessary. How long this takes depends on how many people we can get this information out to.
Most people dont even know this exists.
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