Thursday, January 31, 2008

In Governator Voice: "I'll Be Back!"

It's always hard to break disappointing news. But the truth is, AVEN's not going to SF Pride this year. Or, more accurately, I'M not bringing AVEN to SF Pride this year. True, I was psyched like a hyperactive kid in a ball pit, but it was just not going to work. Here are some reasons why:
  • It would have been much more expensive than my original projection. We'd have to rent the "booth structure" as well as the space, and booth structures do not come cheap.
  • It would have been ludicrous to attempt to do this by myself, but I wasn't confident that I could find enough willing and able people to assist me.
  • I have some health issues that are making it hard for me to commit to such a huge project right now. Don't worry; I'm on the mend, but it would probably be best for me to take it easier for a while (I say easier because I never "take it easy", but one does one's best).
Seeing as I've never even been to SF Pride, I'll scope it out this year. Also, I'm taking a class on publicity this semester. Okay, it's publicity of the music business, but PR is PR. I think this will really help me with not only my music biz work, but my AVEN work as well. Basically, my ability to pull of things like AVEN booths will only increase in the coming years. Until then...pamphlets!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Asexual Paranoia

This actually happened:

Friend: So, Ily, there's something I've been meaning to ask you...
Ily: (Thinking: Oh crap, he's going to ask me about my sexuality, isn't he? And it's going to be so awkward and I won't be able to explain it well! Jesus!)
Friend: ...What kind of donut is this?

And no, I didn't know what kind of donut it was.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I Got Dressed for This?

Today's monthly meetup was at Zante's Indian (and Pizza); I thought people would be raring to go on such a culinary adventure. In actuality, no one came! Our friend from KPFA made a brief cameo appearance, and I felt awfully bad that she didn't have a group to talk with. Our local e-mail list now has a very respectable 31 people, and not one of them was able to make it out. So I ate Indian pizza by myself (Ever eaten something that tastes pretty good, but you feel like you have to eat it quickly before you overthink what it really is? Indian pizza is like that). Then I wandered through Big Lots (where I could easily blow my paycheck-- luckily they closed early) in a food coma. At Zante, I ordered a beer and didn't even get carded; I guess the hard realities of meetup-organizing age a person.
So why didn't anyone show? Was it the rainy weather? (Although, this is 2008 and we have things like umbrellas now.) Was it just bad luck? Was it my bad, did I not remind people enough or soon enough? Were people scared of Indian pizza and/or Bernal Heights? Were people put off by the last-minute prospect of a radio presence? Was everyone terribly hungover, or had the flu, or had to take their cats to the vet?
After talking to the fellow asexual event-planner from Portland, along with my own Checkovian sense of general despair, I'm starting to think that maybe there's nothing I can do. Maybe it's just that not enough asexuals want to meet each other. Not everyone thinks the way I do and wants what I want; I acknowledge that. But if this is incorrect, what am I doing wrong?

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Times of Harvey Milk

We must destroy the myths once and for all...we must continue to speak out, and most importantly, most importantly, every gay person must come out.
As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family, you must tell your relatives, you must tell your friends if indeed they are your friends, you must tell your neighbors, you must tell the people you work with, you must tell the people in the stores you shop in.
And once they realize that we are indeed their children and we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and for all.
And once you do, you will feel so much better.
--Harvey Milk

[Above: Harvey Milk helms San Francisco's 1978 Gay Freedom Parade]

Watching this film about Harvey Milk's life and death made me think-- most asexuals can pass indefinitely as overly picky, late-blooming heterosexuals. But should we? I won't wax on about how influential or inspirational Milk was; that's been done. But I'll pay my respects with something I'd like to think he might appreciate: A lists of ways to come out in the 21st century. Sitting the folks down for a chat is not only a little passe, but gut-wrenchingly difficult for most of us. So here are some more interesting and/or easier methods...
  • Start an A-themed blog or website (hey, worked for me!).
  • Circulate a link to AVEN.
  • Use Facebook or Myspace.
  • Make or buy a wristband, button, t-shirt, etc., and wait for someone to ask about it.
  • Go on national TV, get interviewed for a magazine, go on a radio show, etc. Many have!
  • Get an A-themed tattoo (I know of at least one person who has).
  • Start a conversation about an A or maybe-A icon.
  • Make your friends see the film Withnail and I, or any other film with an asexual theme, and use it as a springboard for discussion.
  • Tell an asexual joke (I don't know any, but that doesn't stop you from inventing some).
  • Write notes. Use "yes" "no" "maybe" boxes if that makes you comfortable.
  • Valentine's Day swag is already in stores. What better gift then a big box of sweets with a card from "your favorite asexual"?
I'm sure there are many more original and post-modern ways to come out, but that's all I can think of right now. Feel free to add to the list. And when you come out, don't forget: all of us, the one percent and all our friends, are behind you every step of the way.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Aimless Love

I'm sure they wouldn't all agree with this, but I think that poets probably understand asexual love better than most. My little quote at the top of the page, "Of course, there's always something to fall in love with" is from a response to this question on a long-ago Myspace survey: "Did you fall in love this year?" For me, the question was ridiculous and the answer was "Well, duh!" While my major loves remain few and monolithic, I definitely have more fleeting loves on a semi-regular basis. This is why I write, and as an amateur poet, I find a passion for life's overlooked details essential to the process. But like LeVar Burton, don't take my word for it. Here's the poem that inspired these thoughts, "Aimless Love" by Billy Collins. Collins was America's Poet Laureate from 2001-2003, and even though his poems can veer over that pivotal one-page length, they are usually very easy to read. Sometimes, even funny! So check out this one from his collection Nine Horses:

Aimless Love

This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor's window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door--
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor--
just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Back to Bagdhad

Portland was great, and, except for one culinary terror, full of many culinary delights. It was wonderful to see some of my friends who I hadn't seen for almost two years. And even though only one other person came to the AVEN meetup, I enjoyed hanging out with her and ranting together about how hard it is to organize things.
I also bought Judith Butler's Gender Trouble at Powell's Books. You might have to pray for me...
Stay tuned tomorrow for a post I've been looking forward to!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Portland Calling

Portland seems a lot like San Francisco; multiple public transportation lines all going to the same place, defeating the purpose of having more than one. So at least I won't be too homesick when I'm there this week. I'll be seeing two good friends and even some Portland AVENites! And yes, I am planning on going to Voodoo Donuts...
I'll be back with posts after MLK Day! (Fun fact-- his birthday is actually today.)

Monday, January 14, 2008


Superbad is a recent movie involving 3 high school guys attempting to obtain booze for a party and hook up with some girls. However, not everything goes as planned and misadventures ensue. In the end, it's revealed that friendship actually means more to these guys than sex. I can get down with that, but there were a few points in the movie that were throw-popcorn-at-the-screen maddening for me. Here is a selection:

Seth: I honestly see now why Orson Welles ate his fat ass to death.
Evan: Well, you'll have sex in college. Everyone does.

Seth: Yes, but the point is to be good at sex by the time you get to college. You don't want girls to think you suck [edited for the wee ones].

I think at this point, I yelled something like, "I hate that idea!" I've written here about the pressure that young folks face to gain sexual experience. Poor young folks. And even though Superbad is just a silly comedy, it shows how pervasive the idea is. It's so ingrained and so potentially harmful, it makes me want to throw my hands up like some lost Fiddler on the Roof character. Oy.
This next scene is just...sketchy.

Evan: So I should buy Becca alcohol?
Seth: Yeah, that'll be pimp. That way you know she'll be drunk. You know when you hear girls saying, "I was so shitfaced last night, I shouldn't have fucked that guy." We could be that mistake!

It's not really on-topic, but I was totally shocked that the movie was making this out to be funny. Trying to get people drunk so that they're too smashed to say no to you; People actually do this. And it's not just teenagers, either. It's all fun and games until someone gets molested, people. I wanted to like the movie, I really did, seeing as it's a stealth paean to platonic love and all. But some aspects of it just sketched me out a little too much...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Free to be Unsexy

It was such a lovely day that I vowed not to turn on the computer until the sun started going down and it got too cold to be outside. Luckily it's winter, and this happens at about 3:30. So here I am, back with some quotes from everyone's favorite 1977 article about asexuality, Asexual and Autoerotic Women: Two Invisible Groups (Johnson). Johnson's article focuses on women, but she makes an interesting footnote about men:

The oppression of asexual men in contemporary American society is illustrated by Perry Deane Young's remark in Ms. magazine (March, 1975) that Vietnam served as an escape hatch for some men from "back home...where men and women were expected to move in couples." "Any sort of eccentricity (in sexual or other behavior) was tolerated in Vietnam so long as one behaved properly in combat. This allowed for those loners who wanted nothing to do with any kind of sex involving another person." (p. 116)

It's great that Johnson accepts the reality of asexual men without question. I would love to see a study someday of the different issues that male and female asexuals face. Even though men can take advantage of the "lone warrior" archetype, they also have the pressure of machismo to contend with. And even though women are seen as pursuing sex less aggressively, they're also seen as sexual objects who must be validated by men. It's enough to make anyone want to escape, but Vietnam? That's pretty intense. The next quote is about women, but applies to men as well:

The modern woman's liberty to expose her legs and most of her body does not signify women's sexual liberation, but only her obsessive desire to please men. Women are "free" to start wearing padded bras at the age of nine and to spend forty-eight million dollars annually in eye make-up alone...Women are not free not to be sexy. (Stannard, 1971, p. 192)

It's easy to find that quote a little...precious. I mean, exposing our legs is fairly old news by now. But, it seems like the pressure to be sexy has only increased since 1971. Through Figleaf, I discovered Nair Pretty, a hair removal product aimed directly at young girls. Its website states:

So you're at an age when the childhood fuzz is becoming thicker and coarser hair. It's time to give some serious thought to removing it. If you've never dealt with hair removal before, it's natural to feel a little bit nervous. But you'll soon see, getting smooth, silky skin with Nair® depilatories is simple – and a fun way to treat yourself right!

Call me old-fashioned, but that utterly horrifies me. Even girls barely entering puberty aren't free not be sexy. (And being sexy isn't easy-- ever tried to shave, wax, or otherwise deforest your nether-regions? INGROWN HAIRS FOR THE OUCH!) When I realized I was asexual, I also realized that I didn't have to be sexy. Yay, what freedom! Kind of. Because as a 23-year-old woman in this culture, how many other options do I have? We'll always find different things sexy (and asexy). But being sexy should be about rocking your own style, not pandering to the lowest common denominator or the demands of the beauty industry. I know, that's starry-eyed idealism. But in a more A-friendly world, couldn't you start to see it?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Spirit of '77

I got The Sexually Opressed in the mail this week. It's definitely spooky-looking, as Rosie would like to show you:
The article about asexual women was easy to read. Like most articles about asexuality, it was only 11 pages. These were the general points made:
  1. Asexual women (and autoerotic women) exist.
  2. There's nothing wrong with them.
  3. Be yourself.
I can't blame you for saying "DUH", but Ms. Johnson was definitely ahead of her time. (She also uses some unorthodox research methods, like 5 years of reading womens' magazines.) Even though Johnson's conclusions were obvious, finding these older studies has been powerful for me. Reading this article reminded me of the scene in Punch-Drunk Love where Adam Sandler's character says something like:

"I have a love in my life, and it makes me more powerful than you can imagine."

Well, I have a 30-year-old article in my life, and it has finally given me ancestors of experience. Knowing that people like me were previously identified, albeit briefly, feels like I've gotten a message of encouragement. And that gives me strength.

Next, I'm reading the articles from gay and lesbian 1977, the gay community was in a similar position to the asexual community today. Reading about a lesbian who thought she was "the only woman in the world who loved women" would be almost unheard of today. However, this is a feeling that many contemporary asexuals go through daily. I'm going to leave it at that for now. But stay tuned for intriguing quotes from The Sexually Opressed, coming at you this weekend.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sorry to Embarrass You

I can't believe I didn't talk about this song sooner! Maybe one of the reasons is because it doesn't seem to exist online anywhere. Therefore, here is a Yousendit link to the song. You have 7 days to download it, so don't wait too long! I don't even trust the internet to give me the right lyrics, so I actually transcribed them myself. That's just how great this song is; it deserves no less than hand-transcribed lyrics. Here they are-- check them out while your file's downloading:

Sorry to Embarrass You
By Razorcuts (1986)

Across the space that separates
Your social world from mine
We built a threadbare bridge of words
It didn't stand the test of time.
Now we're here,
I don't know why.
I'd rather talk some more
Than look into your eyes.
Just waiting for the bell to ring
So we can live our separate lives.

Sorry to embarrass you,
I thought you might feel the same.
Sorry to embarrass you

I watch the patterns on the water,
Reflections of the city lights.
And somehow both ends of this bridge
Look very far away tonight.

Sorry to embarrass you,
I thought you might feel the same.
Sorry to embarrass you

I can hear your voice
In every word that I say,
Every word I say.
I can hear your voice
In every word that I say,
Every word I say.

Sorry to embarrass you,
I thought you might feel the same.
Sorry to embarrass you

Sad that Razorcuts only ever released two albums, isn't it? I think the whole song is kind of like a great pop haiku, but I especially adore the line, "I'd rather talk some more than look into your eyes". It's obviously a song about two people with very different lifestyles and ideas for a relationship. Whether it's sexual/asexual or just a guy who was too twee and introspective for his girlfriend, I relate.
Question: Why do you write about so many of those dern indiepop songs? Dontcha know it's the devil's music? Yarr!
Answer: Believe it or not, this kind of music began in (roughly) 1981 as an alternative to UK punk. As such, it's always been very ironic and cynical about traditional love and romance, which I appreciate. Although indiepop songs are almost always about love, they usually explores love's darker side in a funny or strange way. The fact that most indiepop bands are able to package such a message in a candy-coated shell is just, to me, part of its genius.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Pride in the Name of Love

My latest project: Attempting to get an AVEN booth for the 2008 SF Prideapalooza. The celebration isn't until June, but I think it would behoove us to get an early start. I just hope we don't hit any walls because we're not an "official" incorporated non-profit. Wouldn't it be unfair to exclude groups because of that? Anyway, I'll keep you all updated on our progress. I'm a be proud if it kills me!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Before Sunrise

Ah, folks. We need a more light-hearted topic around here, don't we? Especially because I'm looking out my window and the weather resembles the documentary on Hurricane Katrina I'm watching. Before I start my first film review of the year (woot!), let me remind you-- there are no stupid questions, only stupid people. Now, a question sometimes asked by asexuals is, "how does sex happen?" I don't mean in the "how are babies made?" sense, because if you don't know that, you're probably too young to be on the 'net reading blogs. What I mean is the "how do people go from having a conversation in the back of a streetcar to ripping each other's clothes off?" Before Sunrise (1995) helped me to answer this question. Although the movie doesn't really contain (explicit) sex, it might very well illuminate to you how sex happens-- with many, many, meaningful and lingering glances. The film, in which two strangers start talking on a train, and then don't stop talking until sunrise, feels so intimate that you might have the urge to leave the characters alone for a while. You may know that it has a sequel, Before Sunset. I saw Before Sunset first, a few years ago, and I think I preferred it-- it was just a little more complex and interesting due to the time that had passed between the characters. Sure, they're a little pretentious, but unlike Richard Linklater's other, even more pretentious films, at least they're very human.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Talking about talking

I hope you didn't pass out from the emo-tude of my last post. Into every blog, a few asymmetrical bangs must fall. Ain't that the truth. But it really brings up a topic that I don't like to think about due to its hyper-meta nature: Talking about talking. When you have an "exotic" sexual or gender identity, all sorts of people want, demand, or imply explanations. I have a zest for educating people, but I sometimes forget to tailor my answers for my audience-- and for my own comfort level. I should probably say different things based on who I'm speaking to: Family, friends, readers, acquaintances, radio show hosts, talking animals. At this point in our cultural lives, we're pretty used to talking about sex. But talking about sexuality (similar words with a big, big difference) is still relatively unknown territory. If you're straight, you don't talk about that. And if you're not, you probably do want to talk about it-- but I for one have had a confusing time figuring out how best to do so. Our parents are probably straight, and based on statistics alone, the vast majority of our friends are probably straight as well. This is obviously not something we're taught in school. And growing up, I certainly didn't have any queer role models to suggest what to say. So I figure this out as I go along. Everyone else does, too. I might have issues when it comes to off-the-page illuminating conversation. But 10 years from now, it'll be easier, I promise.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2008 could be amazing

I just have to say: It's pushing 4:oo am. Ever thought I wasn't fully committed to this blog?

Well, my medicine clearly says "no alcohol" on it...but how could I resist a few glasses of champagne? I mean, it's New Year's Eve! Maybe this is the reason why I found myself, at 3:00 am in a pizza shop in the Tenderloin with two friends, sobbing my eyes out. We started out talking about a mutual acquaintance who I felt had rejected me when I said I didn't want to date him. And suddenly, I was being asked the usual questions: "So do you EVER want to have sex?" "Do you masturbate?" "You can understand why this is hard for us to get, right?" "Are you in therapy?" One friend said, "How can you be asexual when I'm afraid to have sex too?" Pardon me if I misunderstand, but that seems sort of like asking, "how can you be brunette when I'm blonde?"
Oddly enough, the situation reminded me of the time I'd seen "Edward Scissorhands" and started crying uncontrollably. Sure, the movie was quite sad, but it acted as a catalyst for my sadness about a host of other things. It was the most I'd cried in years, and I guess those few glasses of champagne had the same effect. All my confusion and frustration about being a 1% in the land of 99%s just poured out. As bad as I feel for dampening our evening, hopefully it was a catharsis that I needed. Maybe I can emerge stronger on the other side. This is what I'm listening to as I write this:

"I've been a student all my life
And this is what I've learned about girls:
They're not too hard to find
But they make you feel worse.
At the age of 24, I can't stand anymore..."
--Unidentified song from the "Grimsby Fishmarket 4, Norrkoeping 0" compilation.

Here's to next year feeling better than we ever felt before.