Monday, June 29, 2009

The Women

Before the parade yesterday, a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle spent quite a bit of time talking to members of our group. I wondered if we would appear in his article, and we did. You can read the whole thing here. These are the AVEN-related passages:

"I'm a guy at work, but 80 percent of my free time I'm female," Rose said. "Gays and lesbians are fighting for the same things, but they're a little bit ahead of us."

Perhaps even further behind in recognition were a nearby group of women from the San Francisco-based Asexual Visibility and Education Network, who were making their first appearance in a Gay Pride Parade in America.

Wearing T-shirts that said "asexuals party hardest," they said the Internet has brought together people who are not engaged in sexual activity - showing them that they can focus on what they want, not what other people tell them they should want.

"It's queerer than queer in some ways," said Karli June, a 26-year-old Stanford graduate student. "Asexuality gets pathologized, medicalized and infantilized."

My first thought upon reading this was "A GROUP OF WOMEN?" It's funny because at the BBQ on Saturday night, a group of people were talking about how it was good that AVEN's founder is a young man, because that breaks sterotypes about what kind of people want and don't want sex. The difficult thing about analyzing media portrayals of asexuality is that when people have never heard the term before (as if often the case), every word counts. For a different population, being called "a group of women" might have been a minor gaffe. And it probably still is, but it's very possible that someone could come away from that article thinking that asexuals are only women. Calling us a group of people who "don't engage in sexual activity" is also incorrect, although I guess it's more informative than "a group of people with a cake fetish".

At any rate, I'm glad that no value judgements were made-- "Asexuals in a pride parade, how UTTERLY BIZARRE!" Yes, I have very low expectations, guilty! It is indeed true that we're far behind other queer groups in terms of recognition, and I'm glad that we were included in a discussion of other people's struggle for validity.


Isaac said...

If it's written in SF, what could we expect to be written if asexuals marched in Madrid or BCN?

Ily said...

Well, I don't think it was all that bad...the information wasn't accurate, but it wasn't negative, either. SF might be more liberal than Madrid (just a guess, from what you're saying), but that doesn't mean people know anything more about asexuality. In fact, because people are so open to different forms of sexuality (as long as you're having some kind of sex), people in SF might be even less receptive to us than elsewhere. I'm not an "all press is good press" person, but the argument could be made that any visibility is a good thing.

I'm not sure how views differ across Europe, but apparently the Germans have had sucess marching in their pride parade...

(And I will often find myself missing Spain and the delicious gummy candy you have there...)

Isaac said...

You reported no bad face to you in the march, while a queer-identified bisexual reported bad faces to his sign last year. It seems to be that Madrid parade is too merchantilized, and I've read in news that in a few town (maybe including the cosmopolite BCN) there were two different marchs.

I fear the press. Even if the audience of the march were liberal enough to accept asexuals, I still fear the press. When journalists don't know what they are writing about, they usually write completely inaccurate things as facts.

Even if en SF, for being open to any sexuality, asexuality is harder to accept, I imagine that in Spain some people would say that asexuals' place is marching with the bishops and fundamentalist Catholic pro-life pro-abstinence organizations. I've read comments in this tone in Spanish liberal fora devoted to wide-understood sexuality.

Ily said...

Our main parade is way too commercial as well. To offest this, people here also do other marches-- there's the Trans March and the Dyke March which are less commercial, more how like the main pride parade used to be. It's funny because you have small community groups (like us) marching next to huge corporations. It's very odd.

I wouldn't say I fear the press, but I tend to be very wary. That's one reason why I'm so invested in creating our own content. At least as far as pride goes, though, it's kind of hard to sensationalize asexuals when there's people running around naked and stuff.

Ha, I can't imagine us marching with bishops :-)

Queers United said...

unfortunately at this point visibility is so critical we can't be too picky, but you can always politely correct the editor.

pretzelboy said...

I recall seeing reading that article and thinking "a group of women"!? Granted, if you look at the picture, the women do considerably outnumber the men, but it's still not remotely accurate.