[TW for ableism/disablism]
Was I fired because of my asexuality?
Now when I ask that, I don’t mean my boss went “Oh she’s asexual. Can’t have any of those people around!” But thinking about it, I don’t think I would have been fired if it hadn’t been for my asexuality. The reason I was fired may have stemmed from a facet of my asexuality. Or maybe the real issue is that most workplaces are generally not welcoming environments to people with mental disorders.
I was hired to do beverages at a restaurant. I made the sodas, the ice creams, shakes, and slushies. I also worked counter. I caught on to things quickly and did things well. I worked hard (not like some miracle worker, but I was no slacker) I even chose not to take my breaks, because I didn’t smoke and would have nothing to do on a break but sit, and why risk breaking my good working rhythm?
I thought things were going great. The girl training (we’ll call her Christie) was nice to me, I was doing okay, etc.
But I guess I wasn’t. I not only have social phobia, but I’m also a sex-positive repulsed asexual. Sex is a great thing for those who enjoy it, and I don’t have a big problem with talking about it, but I dislike hearing detailed accounts of someone’s sex life.
I had thought that as long as I worked hard, that would be enough. I didn’t really chit-chat much with my co-workers, since I figured that would be frowned on (plus, social phobia). So when Christie chose to go into long, detailed descriptions of her boyfriends’ genitalia and her sex life with him, I chose to go over and clean the ice cream machines, or sweep the floors. It wasn’t something I wanted to hear about.
I am actually worse at interacting with people now than I was then. Then, I had begun to be able to converse with some of my co-workers after getting used to them and the workplace. Still, I was honestly shocked when I went to collect my paycheck at the end of the week, and heard from my boss something like
“I’m glad to see your attitude problem is going away”.
And I know what I should have done. I should have just nodded. But I was taken off guard.
“Wait, what attitude problem?”
It turned out that Christie had told the boss that I had a bad attitude.
Of course, I opened my big mouth.
“So not wanting to hear about how big her boyfriend’s penis is, is a bad attitude?”
My boss flipped. She insisted I was lying, and dragged me from her office into the kitchen by my arm, and made me ask the cooks if they had heard Christie say that. Christie of course, denied saying it. She then pulled me back to the office and told me again that I was a liar, that I had an attitude problem, that I had mental problems, that there was “something wrong with me” and that I needed help. I was, of course, fired.
End of the story: Luckily, my mom answered the phone when I called. She drove the 35 miles to pick me up. I was given my paycheck, and banned from the restaurant premises. I walked over to the public library, crying, and waited for my mom.
Now, what does asexuality have to do with all that? My asexuality was not the reason I was fired. You could say, that my boss sounds judgmental and unfair and probably would have fired me eventually anyway. But as frustrated and painful as the memory is to me, my boss wasn’t that bad a lady. She took the word of a long-time employee, Christie, who chatted her up and was friendly and on her good side, over an employee she didn’t know, who was quiet, and hadn’t worked there very long. A lot of bosses would have done the same thing. Also, she gave me my paychecks. A lot of employers can be very, very petty about withholding paychecks when they’re angry at an employee. She didn’t try to stiff me out of my check.
I think if I had been able to hit it off with Christie, I wouldn’t have had a problem. The cooks were decent people, and Christie had seemed like she was nice and friendly. I had assumed she was two-faced after I was fired, but in hindsight, maybe she felt like I was being judgmental and looking down on her when I didn’t join in on the sex talk and ribaldry.
What factors were at work here? Was this a result of a sexualnormative society, a sex-negative society, my social phobia, or something else?
Either way, the idea that asexuals do not encounter problems in the workplace because of their orientation is bunk. It is necessary to get along with at least some of your co-workers as well as your boss. You can be fired if you don’t. Not just like I was—they probably put “attitude problems” or something for reasons I was fired. And not just in minimum wage jobs. In fact, that leads me to what reminded me of this.
I was reading The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison, and a female clerk was fired for no reason other than that her coworkers did not like her. Specifically, she was told “numerous staff members have complained to your supervisor regarding your uncooperative and/or unreceptive attitude towards them.”
Sex, marriage, dating, and relationships are important to many people and are a large area of interest to them. They will talk about them. If you are asexual, and are unable to relate to this aspect of your co-workers’ interest, or converse with them about these things, it is a wedge in bonding with them. And you may be perceived as judgmental, or prudish, or no fun, or what not.
There are other work-place problems asexuality can lead to, but I’ve rambled enough today.