Tuesday, July 14, 2009

In Praise of Confusion

Last week, I was interviewed by a reporter from The Chronicle (howdy!) for an article about asexuality and AVEN. I was asked some good questions that made me think. One point the reporter brought up was that although there may be a definition of asexuality, it's not really that concrete or obvious, and this is confusing. I agree, it IS confusing, but I realized later that the potential confusion over who is and isn't asexual might actually be a good thing. I'm no fan of intentional vagueness, but sometimes unintentional vagueness can leave you with a rich heritage, if you don't fight it. Along these lines, the first thing I think of is Judaism. In all my studies of religion, I've found Judaism, my own religion, to be the vaguest. All the prayers seem to say the same thing: God is our God, there is one God. I always wanted more information about God, but I never got it. I think it's because of this vagueness that Judiasm developed such a long tradition of lively discussion and debate on spiritual matters.

So it is with asexuality. The asexual community is one of the only places (and I just say this to be inclusive, because I know of no other place) where people are having discussion on the nature of sexuality, and on what defines their orientation. Of course, this discussion can be tinged with angst or anxiety, but for me, it served to expand my knowledge of myself, other people, and society in general. When I identified as straight, do you think anyone ever talked about what that meant? The answer, obviously, is no. Being heterosexual was supposed to influence the trajectory of my life, but it was never defined. For someone who feels as little attraction as I do, "liking guys" wasn't clear enough. In what way was I supposed to like guys? How few guys could I like and still be straight? What actions were supposed to accompany attraction? I would never know the answers. In my teenage years, I didn't have enough experience or information to even articulate these questions, although they hung out in a shadowy way under the surface of my "default" sexuality. It's my time with the asexuality discussion that's enabled me to come up with them now.

Since we're forming an asexual culture as we go along, I can say that I think it would be a shame if we rushed to some ironclad definition of asexuality. I like that there's no asexuality police ready to kick people out of the club for doing some "non asexual" activity. I know not everyone enjoys the confusion, but at least the asexual community is a place where it's okay to be openly confused, which is not a common thing to find. No one will foist an orientation on you, which is also rare in this world. Sexuality is fluid, we say, which can be both confusing and comforting. Questions can lead to more questions, and I think that's what really changed me; I acquired a new attitude where I don't accept "the default" anymore (although this is sometimes very annoying!). I hope we can remain a group where that lively discussion goes on, long after asexuality is well-known.


Eric said...

I was delighted to discover your blog. Thanks for your dedication and honesty.

Ily said...

And thank you for reading! I'm glad you found it.

forgetmyself said...

I agree. AVEN has let a thousand flowers bloom. Its members cover a multitude of sexualities that may have nothing in common except for a general sense that sex is not as important to us as it seems to be to everyone else. I'm tempted to quote Butters from South Park: "I didn't know I was confused until all you people started telling me I was confused!" At least now we know.

Ily said...

That's a lovely way to put it :-)