The Bleak Future of Asexuality

Of all the prompts for this month’s Carnival of Aces theme (The Next Generation), this was the one to catch my eye:
- How might things be different for the next generation of people on the ace-spectrum? How *should* they be different?

Mostly because as of late I have been having some rather glum ruminations on what the future holds for asexuals.

Let me start this out by noting that I know I have a tendency to see the negatives in life. You could call me a pessimist or cynist, but, based on how often my negative observations are true, I sadly call myself a realist.

That warning out of the way, let us continue to my expectations for the next generation of ace-spectrum people.

My expectations? Not good. Not good at all. I honestly think the next generation of aces (and the ensuing time period for us all) may be a worse one for aces than this one.

In our current time, that this generation of aces started out in, asexuality is a very obscure thing. Visibility is an issue, and so is legitimacy. One of our primary struggles is simply getting people to know that asexuality exists. Many of our antagonists attack the very legitimacy of our sexual orientation itself, they question the very right of asexuality to exist, and for asexuals to have a unique term(s) to identify themselves by.

Meanwhile, we are told by our loved ones, our doctors, our professors, that asexuality is not a thing. That asexuality is simply a phase. That asexuality can be “cured”. That asexuality is the result of sexual repression, or trauma from sexual abuse and rape.

That all sounds like some heavy crap to deal with, but… I question whether it has not made things sometimes, in a way, easier for some of us to deal with.

If, after all, a parent thinks asexuality is just a phase, and does not take it seriously, then are they not likely to dismiss the arguments from asexuals in the first place? …that is, if they do not consider asexuality to be a real thing, and instead think a young person will inevitably change their mind, then it is quite easy to just let the whole thing go, like this:

Barnacle: “Mother dear, I am an asexual you see.

Mother: “Bullcrap. It’s just a phase. You’ll meet the right person.

Barnacle: “It’s not a phase, it’s my sexual orientation.

Mother: “Okay, fine, you’re an asexual.” thinking: ‘Yeah she’ll get over this weird crap eventually… especially when I introduce her to that stud Jimmy next week lol

That is, some of us may have escaped experiencing direct hostility and anger because we weren’t taken seriously.

Because asexuality isn’t taken seriously as an orientation, it is quite easy for people to simply ignore the whole thing when one of their family members, friends, or acquaintances is asexual. By agreeing with us or seeming accepting of our asexuality, they do not have to make any real acknowledgement that asexuality is a real thing, or a valid orientation, because there is no presence of it, no knowledge of it, than the rare person (likely the only one in their life) claiming to be asexual.

In other words, one asexual person can be dismissed mentally as a weirdo who will soon enough see the light and give up their weird ideas. There is no real impetus to change us or challenge us, in our claims, when asexuality is not a thing with any presence or growing legitimacy in the eyes of the world.
However, all that will (hopefully, if we activists are doing our job right) change for the next generation.

Asexuality will have more of a presence in the world, appearing in more media and being mentioned more in person and in various media. Even the simple presence of “asexual” on a poll as a possible orientation in non-asexual-related media will serve as markers of our legitimacy, of our realness, of our existence as something more than an ill-thought-out phase.

As such, when we say we are asexual, it will begin to mean something to your average person off the street. It will not be something to be explained, or dismissed.

And it will begin to carry concrete meanings with it, that instantly present themselves in the mind of the hearer.

They can mean such things as:

This person will not date you or have sex with you. They are not interested in you the way you are in them.

This person is going against God’s wishes (and needs to be told all about that, to get it into their poor led-astray-by-Satan head!)”

Oh, so she’s one of those slut-shamers. What a bitch.

One of those prudes

One of those homophobes that try to convert us to straightness or celibacy

etc.

Whereas now the only meaning we impart on many by saying we are asexual is:

WTF does he mean by that?

In addition, while we in this generation suffer from largely no asexual characters or mentions in the media, I predict the next generation of asexuals WILL have some asexual characters and mentions in the media.

And the characters and plotlines will largely be along the lines of the House. M.D episode on asexuality, and the media commentary will be much along the lines of the Fox News take on asexuality, with plenty of mockery and misunderstanding. (“ Like if it’s that small a portion of the population, do I have to recognize you? Like, woo recognize me because I wear sock monkey hats!” “ I don’t trustem, I don’t trust em a bit” “they have a lack of a sexual – a sort – a sexuality, so they’ll be kinda like, treated as lepers, asexual lepers, if you will”)

A lot of people, creators, will see asexuality and think “ooh, that’s neat. Gives me an idea for a storyline” and go off and make asexuality what they want, to fit into their funny or interesting (as they see it) storyline, without bothering to do research, or with cherry-picking certain things to fit their needs. Accuracy will not trump sensationalism or the needs of the story.

So asexuals will have to deal with that, as they grow up and form their identity. Asexuality as a joke, as something to be mocked, as something weird and strange and misrepresented. They will have to sort through more bullshit information, and face more hostility, more mockery, all the while having to deal with probably having internalized both the sexualnormative ideas put out by society, as well as actual anti-asexual ideas and stereotypes of what an asexual is.

The children that are being born today will also miss out on something we have all had to some extent today: the ability to set the tone, to define what asexuality is and isn’t, and to create the language.

No group or movement is ever completely a closed book, so it’s not like any innovation or influx of new ideas from someone in the future is just completely going to be rejected. But even so, we, the asexuals of today, are the ones who, for instance, decided that “an asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction”. That is the definition that was presented, and that the majority of us think is the best description.

By that little thing, by all of us either accepting or rejecting, by promoting that idea, have set in motion what someone, 15 years from now, will look at to determine whether they are asexual or not.

The asexuals of the future will have to deal with our legacy, while we were free of any legacy.

About Barnacle Strumpet

Out, out, brief candle!
This entry was posted in Asexuality, GSRM, Human Sexuality, LGBT, Queer Issues and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Bleak Future of Asexuality

  1. Amy Pond says:

    Wow. Yeah, I don’t think this is a thing that many people in the community think about: that in between the stages of recognition, and of acceptance, is an in-between period in which a thing is recognised as a *thing*, but not a *legitimate* thing, society-wise, if you get what I mean. So people know it exists, but reject it. I think we’ll get that as a phase.

    There’s another thing, too, which you sort of mention here, and that is the fact that once a thing has some level of recognition, you start to get sterotypes. And generally, the first sterotypes you get are bad, inaccurate sterotypes. Asexuality will probably go through the same thing – as long as no one knows what it is they will have no real expectations, but once there is a popular conception of asexuality there will be this *box* that we are all supposed to fit in, whether we do or not. Kind of like how there’s this pop culture stereotype of the effeminate, fashionable gay man: yes, there are some people who maybe fit the stereotype, but not everyone does, and even the people who do have so much more depth than what the stereotype affords them. Stereotypes are always restrictive.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if it takes ~30 years or so for asexuality to really get somewhere positive, honestly – enough time for the current generation of asexual people to forge the way and fight for definitions and recognition, and then a generation after to strengthen it, and then finally after that, only then will you start to get young people growing up who just think asexuality is a normal everyday thing.

  2. Pingback: April 2013 Carnival of Aces ‘The Next Generation’: Round-Up | The Notes Which Do Not Fit

  3. jimhabegger says:

    Actually, I don’t buy into the whole orientation thing. People have varying degrees of various kinds of attractions to various kinds of people. People draw lines between people and stick labels on everybody, and substitute the labels for the people. I think that’s all just crazy.

    If I understand what you mean by “asexuality,” I would just call it a sign of good health. It means you somehow escaped being overstimulated by the media. I envy you.

  4. jimhabegger says:

    Baha’u’llah calls it “chastity.”

    “And if he met the fairest and most comely of women, he would not feel his heart seduced by the least shadow of desire for her beauty. Such an one, indeed, is the creation of spotless chastity.”
    (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 118)

    I haven’t read anything by any other asexuals yet, and I realize I could be misunderstanding, and oversimplifying. From what I’ve read so far it looks to me like you’re saying that you aren’t easily aroused sexually by anyone, and maybe you think you never could be sexually aroused nearly as much as most other people can. Whatever it means, if it means that you’re less sexually responsive somehow than most other people, then to me it’s a possible sign that you’re more healthy, sexually speaking, than most other people.

    • My problem with using terms like chastity or sexual purity towards asexuals is…. it implies a morality. While chaste behavior may be more moral by some people’s standards, In the case of asexuals, lack of sexual desire and attraction is completely effortless, and is simply inherent. Therefore, to me, it shouldn’t be seen as a case of good morals, or of an asexual being superior to a non-asexual…

      The way I think of it is… a man who has a horrible temper should be commended for controlling his temper and not having outbursts. A man who has a calm temper really is not doing anything great by not having outburts; it’s not in his nature to have outbursts.

      When you have to make an effort at something, it means more when you achieve it. Do you get what I mean? :)

    • jimhabegger says:

      Yes, I get that. Anyway, for whatever it’s worth, your asexuality is something I aspire to!

  5. jimhabegger says:

    I just read “Was I Fired Because of My Asexuality?” and I’m grieving.

    The way I see you describing your feelings looks very healthy to me, and admirable, and even appealing. I can see how in today’s world a person can lose her job for it, but I’ve seen people lose their jobs because of their honesty and integrity. It’s an upside-down world.

    • It is sad that people get fired over such simple things; I wish people would put in more of an effort to get along these days.

      I do have a job I love now though, so I don’t feel so bad about what happened to me.

  6. ceejaedevine says:

    I am so happy to see so many people speaking up about this. I’ve written a couple of short stories and have wondered what the response would be, so have not done anything with them. I am in a weird gray place where I am attracted to guys, but I don’t want to have sex. I’ve spent my nights dreaming of platonic relationships, never believing I’d find one. I’m following Aven @asexuality on Twitter and now have hope for the possibility of a relationship when I had pretty much come to terms that I was going to have to spend the rest of my life alone. The emotions that keep coming up, finding out that there are actually other people who are like me, are overwhelming.

    • I am really happy you found out about asexuality :) I think most of us asexuals have had similar experiences, where we thought we were alone in the world, oddities. It’s not really a pleasant experience. It is amazing to find the ace community and to find that one isn’t alone.

      if you have any questions or anything about asexuality or the community I’d be more than happy to help.

      And if you’ve written stories or posts about asexuality, definitely don’t be shy about promoting them in the ace community; we’re always hungry for more fiction and analysis regarding asexuality.

      • ceejaedevine says:

        Thanks! I am following Aven on Twitter and checking the #Aven hashtag for others to follow and I’m following a couple of ace blogs now…just joined on Google+. BTW: read a couple of your other posts and they’re awesome!

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