An Update

I have not updated this blog in almost a year now, and for that I apologize. I both work and go to school full-time, and my duties have been increased in the last year. In addition I have had a variety of health problems to deal with.

All of that, however, does not explain the lack of updates on this blog. After all, I managed to squeeze in several posts during the school year in previous times, and during times when I had even more hours at work.

There are a variety of contributing factors. I’ve changed so much as a person from when I started this blog, that the goals and focuses set out in it seem nearly alien to me. I’ve grown alienated from the asexual community and asexuality in general (more on that, I swear).

This blog was written somewhat with a social justice perspective in mind, and in general, I found social justice to be a laudable movement when I began the blog. Didn’t agree with everything, mind you, but I thought people could work within it. I have since changed my mind. The bizarre and outright harmful actions and rhetoric of so many in the social justice sphere have made me long to be disassociated with it. There are so many reasons and examples I could go into, but to what end?

I do not think all social justice activists are bad people, some are wonderful people who are very insightful and open-minded. The movement though, as a whole seems to be coming to rely on close-mindedness, on an insistence of righteousness, on painting those who disagree or think otherwise as “evil oppressors”.

I still consider myself a LGBT activist, an anti-racism activist, etc etc. I just do not want to be considered part of the amalgamated movement that calls itself “social justice” with an emphasis on “intersectionality” (which has, as far as I’ve seen, lead to many people who are not from X group speaking over and for those of X group, which is ironically something the social justice idea is supposed to be against…but which, when you expect everyone in the movement to be an expert and caller-outer on every subject, is an inevitable result).

It’s also the reason I’ve become more alienated from the asexual community. I was never much into AVEN, for various reasons, but I greatly enjoyed communicating with other asexuals on Tumblr. In the past year I have lost the desire or interest to use the asexual tags or talk about asexual things there. A great deal of the discussion on tumblr is by asexuals who are also members of the social justice community.

The other day (on something entirely unrelated to asexuality) I was called out as a misogynist for using the word trans* (which I have used to describe myself for a very long time). It just really hit home on why I cannot feel comfortable communicating about asexuality or other subjects there that fall under the social justice sphere. People speak often of the circular firing squad in social justice, and to some extent, leftist circles. I have no desire to submit myself to infighting and bullying, or to be associated with it. For every social justice activist who is unbelievably thoughtful and insightful, genuinely interested in progress, there seems to be 100 who are in it for the bullying potential and inner drama. For every person concerned with real progress, there are even more who just want to attack people for not knowing the “right” words to describe themselves.

Having lost my primary means of contact with other aces, I am now perpetually out of the loop. I have ace friends of course, but my friends are all the type to recognize they are asexual, and then move on. They would not consider themselves activists and do not talk about asexuality a lot. It is not a main interest to them. There’s nothing wrong or unusual about that.

The lack of contact and activism has revealed some interesting things to me however. I have noticed that, as my communication with other aces have declined, so have my doubts about my own asexuality increased. All of the internalized issues and worries that I have have set in on me with a renewed force. I have found myself slipping into my old pastime of desperately searching within myself for any signs of attraction to members of the opposite or same sex. I have found myself trying to find some evidence that I could be gay or straight or bi/pansexual. But it is not there; I have never been sexually attracted to or interested in anyone, ever.

What this reveals to me is how important the asexual community’s existence is to asexuals. Nowhere can we casually see other asexuals. I do not run into another person who is asexual in the coffeeshop, or the bookstore, or class. Without seeking it, there is nothing to affirm the existence of my sexual orientation, and so many things that erase it.

Without the ace community and the affirmation and positivity is provides, I have once again begun to feel like I am not a whole or complete person, like I am a subhuman because I lack the supposedly universal and necessary human traits of sexuality and desire.

Asexual communities are important. Asexual visibility is important. These things have been reaffirmed for me, and yet I still feel alienated from writing here.

I have to wonder if this blog, and the kind of content it holds, is the best way for me to go about increasing asexual visibility. I have pondered if it would be better for me to switch from blogging about what has been largely political or social justice asexual concerns, and instead just switching my focus to creating more original fictional content for asexuals. That would, after all, provide us with more visibility and with affirming reading materials. It would be a way to reach out to those who lack a physical community and are not a part of the online community. It would be something that could be affirming for asexual people regardless of their political beliefs or interest in activism.

It’s not that there aren’t things I want to write about here. There are so many things I’ve planned on writing about, and never did. Part of that is the social justice thing. So many of my posts here are so much longer than they should be, because so many words are wasted writing disclaimers and the like, when if I could rely on people reading my writing in good faith then I wouldn’t have to waste so much time and effort repeating myself and accounting for every little possible misreading or intent a person could assign to what I say. That is exhausting, and also means that I cannot casually write for this blog. It has to be a big undertaking, with lots of empty time and mental energy, so that I do not forget to word everything ever so carefully.

I apologize for this meandering and disjointed post, but I thought I had some obligation to my readers and subscribers to let them know what was going on with this blog, and with my own mind. It is not a dead blog, but I have not yet decided if it is worthwhile to write for it any longer. I still consider myself an asexual, and an asexual activist, and an asexual writer, and I don’t see that ever changing. But what I write about, and how I spread visibility and do my part for asexuality, may have to change.

I am incredibly grateful to you who have read my writing and thoughts and who have supported it, or challenged it.

About Barnacle Strumpet

Out, out, brief candle!
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10 Responses to An Update

  1. acetheist says:

    Why is intersectionality in scare quotes? I’m confused. You seem to have a different understanding of the definition than I do.

  2. Kperfetto says:

    I’m only a casual participant in the SJ blog world (I found your site on Feministe, by the way), but I’ve pretty much extricated myself from for a lot of the same reasons. The identity policing, particularly in queer or queer-friendly spaces is a huge part of it. I enjoy your blog, though, and I hope you keep blogging in some capacity.

    • Oooh I’ve read yours from there quite a few times (and always liked what I saw; I hope I bothered to comment and say so some times, but knowing me…I have a bad tendency to read and run). I’m sorry to hear you’ve been going through similar things. It’s always bothered me, how there’s so much negativity and tearing people down (rather than building them up) in the SJ world, and it’s just gotten to be too much. If I ever do blog again, it will probably be about books or something less loaded. Thank you for the well wishes :)

  3. Pingback: Linkspam: March 14th, 2014 | The Asexual Agenda

  4. Siggy says:

    Thank you for this. I often wonder to myself, what’s next for internet social justice? I fear a lot of people may be burning out.

    • Thank you (and everyone at Agenda) for linking this post over there.

      Hmm, I don’t know what’s next. I can’t imagine anything but more of the same.
      I don’t think I’d call what I’m going through burn out–that implies I’m too weary/burned out to write anymore, and that’s not really the case. I’m just tired of the bullying, not tired of talking about social justice. It’s not even so much about fear either. It’s recognizing the opportunity cost, I guess. With so little free time I’m loathe to sacrifice it, not to writing or discussing asexuality, but instead to dealing with bullshit accusations of being -ist -ist -ist.

      Maybe burn out is the word for it. But I think a lot of is just people seeing a movement that has so much hatred and negativity in it, oneupmanship and bullying, full of so many contradictions, that they can no longer feeling any belonging or common ground with it. In the end I could no longer be certain that i was on the side of angels. I started to genuinely worry that I might be helping to uphold/perpetuate a force for bad.

  5. swankivy says:

    Despite the fact that I don’t think people should have to “be nice” if they’re outraged about something, I do agree with you that many people in SJ circles could stand to be nicer to those they seek to correct–especially if they have a long history of Doing Things Right, so to speak. I consider myself to be very up on stuff in these circles and then still every once in a while I get a private message or a reblog where someone’s attempt to call me out chooses phrases like “WTF??? Are you saying XYZ? You’d BETTER not be saying XYZ because [insert stuff I already knew and wasn't saying at all].” And it’s like . . . seriously, you could definitely check for understanding with me without acting like you’re gleefully holding a thousand-pound weight over my head just hoping, praying you’ll be able to drop it and crow about it. I try to be cool about it but yes, there are people whose primary contribution to activism seems to be alienating other people who are on their side. I’m not going to go into detail about it but this is part of the reason I didn’t even write my book on asexuality until this year; I pitched the idea years ago and was immediately smacked down by about eight people who told me I shouldn’t do it because I didn’t have the right to speak for them and would definitely fuck it all up because of what privileges I live with. (When I actually went about writing the dang thing, I checked for understanding with slightly over one hundred people in the ace community to make sure I was not screwing it up, but the idea that I might do something like that and therefore deserve the benefit of the doubt did not seem to have occurred to those people who discouraged me in the beginning.)

    I consider you to be a good activist even if all you ever do is talk to yourself. You’ve contributed already. I also like your writings. I hope to see more of them.

    • “Despite the fact that I don’t think people should have to “be nice” if they’re outraged about something, I do agree with you that many people in SJ circles could stand to be nicer to those they seek to correct–especially if they have a long history of Doing Things Right, so to speak.”

      I do think there should be a basic level of politeness or consideration expected of people. People already tend to make exceptions for people that were angry, because we understand what it’s like to lose our temper and say things we regret. But there is a whole attitude out there that there should be no regret, that anything said out of anger is totally justified and acceptable.

      I’ve been on the receiving end of too much outrage that was suddenly nullified once the outraged realized I wasn’t a “white male cishet”. Their belated “Oh well of course you can say that/feel that way” doesn’t make the insults or nastiness any less shocking, intimidating, or even potentially traumatic.

      When people who are members of marginalized groups are being intimidated out of sharing their experiences, ideas, or opinions, is, I think, where the luxury of expressing uncontrolled outrage ends. Because then the outrage is serving to silence marginalized people, and may actually be furthering oppression. So I think there’s a really good case to be made against the idea that we should all be able to “vent” as much as we want to at people.

      “I consider myself to be very up on stuff in these circles and then still every once in a while I get a private message or a reblog where someone’s attempt to call me out chooses phrases like “WTF??? Are you saying XYZ? You’d BETTER not be saying XYZ because [insert stuff I already knew and wasn't saying at all].” And it’s like . . . seriously, you could definitely check for understanding with me without acting like you’re gleefully holding a thousand-pound weight over my head just hoping, praying you’ll be able to drop it and crow about it. “

      You know, you always seem to deal with criticism (and downright haters) so well that it never even occurred to me that it could bother you as well; I assumed the same thing about other ace bloggers as well, and then I had to revise that assumption as well, because I saw so many of the people I admired and had marveled at their ability to deal with the problems of the social justice activist sphere, talking about this post and their own experiences with the misuse of social justice principles, and it was really surprising. It does make me want to reconsider blogging again; I was going to bow out on the basis that I was just unsuited for it, but I don’t suppose anyone really is especially suited to deal with that bullshit.

      Everyone makes it look so effortless, and maybe I’m even guilty of that myself. I’d certainly never talked about it before.

      ” I try to be cool about it but yes, there are people whose primary contribution to activism seems to be alienating other people who are on their side. I’m not going to go into detail about it but this is part of the reason I didn’t even write my book on asexuality until this year; I pitched the idea years ago and was immediately smacked down by about eight people who told me I shouldn’t do it because I didn’t have the right to speak for them and would definitely fuck it all up because of what privileges I live with. (When I actually went about writing the dang thing, I checked for understanding with slightly over one hundred people in the ace community to make sure I was not screwing it up, but the idea that I might do something like that and therefore deserve the benefit of the doubt did not seem to have occurred to those people who discouraged me in the beginning.)”

      That’s really terrifying to me, because I’ve really been looking forward to your book! This is the kind of stuff I find so demoralizing and alienating; if you held off forever we could be missing out on a really helpful text. If your book wasn’t being published, who knows how many years before a good, informative book on asexuality would come out? I don’t even like to think about the possibility. I want something to sit on my bookshelf, on the subject of asexuality.

      “I consider you to be a good activist even if all you ever do is talk to yourself. You’ve contributed already. I also like your writings. I hope to see more of them.”

      Thank you; that means a lot coming from someone I look up to so much. I do plan to write more now, though I’ll probably be moving blogs.

      I’m sorry about responding so late too.

  6. Pingback: Justice, anger, and the demand for perfection: why tumblr’s blogging culture isn’t making safe spaces | The Asexual Agenda

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