Was I Fired Because of My Asexuality?

[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.

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About Lasciel

Out, out, brief candle!
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8 Responses to Was I Fired Because of My Asexuality?

  1. Shawn Landis says:

    No, you were not. What occurred here is an instance of someone making the work environment hostile. Unfortunately, the best solution was just to tell her you didn’t want to hear stories about her boyfriend’s genitalia before this started. You also should have told the manager.

    • Sciatrix says:

      Wow, this comment is seriously inappropriate. I won’t go into detail further because this is Lasciel’s blog and I don’t want to start a fight here, but I am sitting here jaw-dropping at the fact that you feel that this is the correct time to tell someone they handled a situation wrong. Wow. Just… wow.

    • Lasciel says:

      I don’t think anyone can really say “Yes, you were” or “No, you weren’t.” There were a lot of factors at play in this, and any one on their own may not have been enough to lead to my downfall.

      I should have handled it differently. But the way to do it wouldn’t be telling her to stop, or complaining to my boss… it would be by smiling sweetly and apologizing for my attitude, and then choking down the graphic sexual tales and befriending Christie.

      There is “the way the world *should* work” and :”the way the world actually works”, and the way the world should work is that my boss should have worked to make me comfortable and work with my issues. The way the world actually works is that bosses and long-time employees want co-workers who will be friendly and engage them frequently to make a long day of dull labor less tedious. They want someone they don’t have to watch their words or stories’ content around. They don’t want to have to change things and adapt the workplace to a person with a disability.

      I think it’s obvious my boss wasn’t playing by the rules of the way the world should work.if I had did as you suggested, I would likely have been fired as well. After all, I *DID* tell my manager–and I was fired.The result was she didn’t believe me, before she even talked to Christie or the other employees. Do you honestly think if I told Christie to shut up with the sex talk, she would feel she had less to complain about in regards to my attitude?

      I’m not trying to badger you here or anything. But when you’re the only person with a job in your family, and there are bills to pay, you can’t rely on what’s morally (and even legally) right, and rely on the way the world *should* work. You have to live with reality, and live with the rules of the way the world actually is, or your family suffers for it.

  2. Sciatrix says:

    I am so, so sorry that this happened to you. And–you know, it sounds more like ableism at work than anything else, but I can definitely see what you mean about your asexuality contributing to a hostile environment in this case, especially when combined with social issues. I’m lucky in my current job, which has coworkers who don’t talk much about their SOs or care about my love life, but I can see how asexuality can function to make a bad situation worse in a lot of ways.

    • Lasciel says:

      Thanks… it was extremely unpleasant, but by writing this post and being able to calmly examine the factors at play, I feel like I’ve finally moved on from it. And it isn’t a total loss. I know from it that I need to seek a career where the importance of socially interacting with co-workers, bosses, and customers/clients is minimal. [Which is why I’m aiming for vet school :)]

      I would agree that ableism was probably the main factor/catalyst in all this. She [my boss] did not know that I actually had a mental illness, so I can’t say that she was deliberately discriminatory to me because of my actual mental illness… but her treatment of me, attributing any negative or troublesome behavior [in this case supposedly lying] as a sign/result of a mental problem is pretty grossly ableist. And firing someone for a behavior you believe to be a result of the mental illness you *think* they have… oy. Smells ableist to me.

      This incident also started me thinking about how hard it must be for all socially phobic people to work or seek work. To be put into or have to seek highly social jobs, as a social phobic person, and just how many jobs, even if they aren’t socially-interacting jobs, require impressing an interviewer on your sociability and getting along with co-workers. Restaurants, other than hostessing/waitressing, would have been one of the workplaces I would have considered easier for a socially phobic person to work in. I had really underestimated the amount, and importance, of socializing in work that does not directly serve customers. [Prior to it, I had mostly done odd jobs and worked in an office where socializing wasn’t necessary]

  3. Shawn Landis says:

    Sciatrix,

    I know you don’t care for me, but I have my own anxiety issues. I’ve had to learn how to deal with similar issues the hard way. I know that it’s easier just to walk away from someone like that than deal with the problem. The problem is that handling things that way causes the problem to get worse. The information was intended to help should she encounter such a case in the future. You don’t need to point out that I have no tact. I already know that.

    Lasciel —

    This actually is a clear-cut case of sexual harassment. If you wanted to, you could also file a wrongful termination lawsuit. Neither course of action is easy for someone who has anxiety issues.
    As for your co-worker, there’s someone I’ve known for years I think she should meet up with. Her sex-obsessed shallowness will line up nicely with hsi.

  4. Pingback: “Was I Fired Because of My Asexuality?” Revisited | Asexual Cupcake

  5. dick. says:

    Thanks for finally talking about >Was I Fired Because of My Asexuality?
    | Asexual Cupcake <Loved it!

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