Saturday, May 17, 2008

Want to Fail at Passing?

"These responses reflect the way that, in order to pass as politically sucessful, social movements often feel compelled to adopt the language and goals of the state, a phenomenon that is particularly disturbing in an era when the state incresaingly defines "fixing" individual behavior or putting people in prison as the only solutions to social problems."
--Marked by me as "let's not do this", Priya Kandaswamy, Nobody Passes pg. 94

I'm also reading a book called Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity. It's all about one of my favorite topics, "passing". Passing is basically the ability to be regarded as another, usually more privileged group than the one you belong to. The book is fascinating, almost exhilarating stuff, but it begs the question: As asexuals, how can we NOT pass? We can come out to everyone in shouting distance, but how do we stay out? Aces are in the strange position of being forced to pass. By people I don't know, I'm assumed to be straight, unless I have a book about queer sexuality open (which I often do), and then I'm percieved as gay. The fact that asexuals can so easily pass as straight, with all the social privelege that comes with that, is a huge conundrum of A life. Without any defining characteristics to go on, how am I supposed to find others like me? No wonder hooking up as an asexual is so hard.

In the 1970s, gay men used the bandana code to find others who shared their sexual proclivities. (No, you can't remember them all-- just the ones that apply to you. But did anyone really go out sporting Kewpie dolls or mosquito netting?) This was before bars could call themselves "gay bars". And with the dearth of A-bars, how many people would actually register any bandana code we could invent? Would my purple bandana, intent on flagging fellow As, draw people trying to pierce me instead?

There are asexual shirts, such as the ones available for sale on AVEN, and I know people have also made their own. There were the wristbands, which I think two people have. There was discussion on AVEN of wearing a black hemitite ring on the right middle finger, and it seems like a group of people actually went ahead and ordered these rings. But, how to differentiate ourselves from all the other people wearing hemitite rings? I know at least two people have gotten asexual tattoos. Apparently, lesbians used to identify themselves with nautical star tattoos (although these days everyone and their mom has one). That's pretty intense, even for me. What could help is some day when we all wear the same thing. But AVEN only has 14,000 members, which isn't really enough because we're not geographically concentrated.

I guess the short answer is, I don't know. Do you? I hope someone does.

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