Monday, October 26, 2009

Whither Goeth the 70,000?

I was working on my little visibility posters, and I decided to make one that would state the asexual population of the Bay Area as a whole. I didn't realize that this large-ish region, helmed by the cities of San Franciso, San Jose and Oakland, actually consists of 7 million people, or, a low estimate of 70,000 asexuals. You might remember my musings about a hypothetical "asexual city". But what I realized is that you already live there, albeit on a technicality. Even if you live in an isolated town of 1,000 people, you still have enough asexuals for a soccer team. Rather than traveling elsewhere, a (relatively) easier proposition might be to uncover the hidden asexuals in your midst.

If you'll allow me to make a mind-reading attempt, you might be thinking, "But where are they?!" when faced with a number like 70,000 asexuals in one metro area. And I don't know. I think of what I might have had to do to find the other 13 asexuals at my college of 1400 people. And I have a feeling that no matter how much I shouted from the rooftops, the majority of the 13 would remain silent. I would make an idle speculation that a lot of asexuals know something about asexuality, but don't relate it to themselves. It's like the way that friends will tell a fat person "oh, you're not fat" because they see fat as being negative, not a neutral descriptor, and not something they'd want to associate with their friend. Likewise, I thought that maybe I wasn't asexual, since asexuals die alone and I wasn't planning on doing so. How I got over that hurdle of denial, I, again, don't know.

What I do know is that "feeling like the only one" doesn't always seem like a worthy focus of my efforts when there are people going through much more terrible things every day. But I think it's a start. Feeling like part of a group may not accomplish anything in and of itself, but it's a first step. If you're wary of the concept, I understand-- I have a strange and abiding fear of cults. Groupthink isn't good. But being a part of something (while maintaining your individuality) seems to be a feeling that undergirds all positive social change. And it's a feeling that I find is largely absent from this country. So I try to make it happen for asexuals, since we're always told to "work with what you have" and I have asexuality. Maybe it could lead to something bigger than asexuality alone, at least I hope so.

I remember watching a documentary called Before Stonewall that was about, as you can imagine, gay life in America before the Stonewall riots. Before the Kinsey reports came out, homosexuality was thought to be a rare thing. So, when Kinsey shared how many gay people there really were (and asexuals, but no one seemed to care), it was really empowering for the gay population. Even if it was just to know that out of every 10 people you passed on the street, one was gay like you. So yes, we need a more accurate study of our numbers. But even 1% is not as small a number as it seems to be. So where is the 70,000? I look forward to your thoughts...

[Edited for errant zeroes...]


Angel said...

I also thought about this problem...that even if you'd talked to asexual people in a group of sexuals or try to gather them out of the sexual won't happen just like that because first of all an asexual (who's still not quit denial) won't give their cover up in front of everybodyelse since they'd fear it may be something bad,something which isn't good to be..there's just this fear of otherness or rejection, I guess.
But to tell the truth, I don't have anything to add,...I really don't know how this wall of silence can be broken.
I remember their was a recent mexican biology study which even claimed that 3-5% (of which population?...I can't remember) are asexual..which is pretty high..
Anyway, I don't know....I think you need some powerful media boost for asexuality to gain recognition/acceptance, most people believe and search for identity and views in the big media sources like TV and Newspapers.

Ily said...

Yeah, at the risk of sounding sinister you do have to get 'em alone. "The wall of silence"...I think that's an accurate way to put it.

Angel said...

That makes have to get people alone...Take my comment more like a hypothesis then. I guess it still applies to some degree or another...everyone is part of an over 90% sexual society and you'll always be thinking if it's possible, about the consequences etc....

Anonymous said...

What an enjoyable writing! Very thought-provoking for me! Percentages of asexuals in the central California coast where I live would certainly make for interesting discussions- that is for sure- and forming a future utopia will most likely fade away!
If the island in upper San Francisco Bay became mostly or all asexual I would be one of the first residents!