Friday, February 29, 2008

Old Issues, New Coke

I once knew a rabbi who would start all her sermons like this: "So, I was driving in my car when..." To that effect, I was biking to work the other day, wondering why asexuals couldn't just eschew dating alltogether. (I know, dating again...) Then, this popped into my mind:

"You can change a product, but tamper with a beloved brand, and the public will kill you."
--Lesson from Ily's publicity class

[Above: Oh no they di-n't. Possibly the biggest marketing failure in history.

Yes, my professor would be proud. It occurred to me at this moment that dating is actually a brand, much like the Coca-Cola Classic that was almost killed by the fabled New Coke. As a people, we haven't always dated, much like we haven't always craved Starbucks Frappachinos (guilty) or sworn by Firefox (again, guilty). But somewhere in between arranged marriages and first-wave feminism, dating became one of our society's most idealized behaviors. Just like we long to cruise in a Mercedes or step out in Manolo Blahnik shoes, we love the idea of a romantic dinner at which sparks fly between near-strangers. Successful brands are ones that we have deep emotional connections to, and dating is no different. And like any good brand, dating makes a crapload of money. Thousands of businesses-- maybe even yours-- depend on dating for their livelihood.

However, dating's branding isn't impeccable. Rather than being geared at a target market, it's being foisted on all of us. This is not only annoying, but sloppy business. So everyone, their mom, and their dog is telling you to date-- so what? What if everyone told you to eat Big Macs, but you're vegan or saw
Supersize Me? Wouldn't you just laugh it off? Well, dating is very similar.

You might not be able to change the brand. But, you can always change the product.

It's possible to radically change dating, while at the same time letting people believe that their idealized notions are a possibility. This might all seem monumental, but doesn't it make you feel better to know that dating isn't the lost 11th's just a brand? That it's just like Coke? Does that make it a little less intimidating? I hope so.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Famous-ish A-s-- Bradford Cox

Has anyone heard of the band Deerhunter? I haven't. Remember when every new band had "wolf" in the name? Well, I hope this isn't about to happen with deer as well. Anyway, its frontperson, Bradford Cox, is asexual, hey hey! I was able to find quite a few articles where he mentions this. In Creative Loafing, Bradford is quoted:

Visuals like these [naked young men on album art] have led some music fans to assume Cox is gay. But he prefers to call himself asexual, saying he doesn't pursue romantic relationships with anyone, male or female. For him, growing older means learning to live alone, not settling down with a life partner and starting a family.

"Twenty-five is the age where, like, certain people would be settling down with a wife, having kids, getting a mortgage and stuff," he says. "And that's not where I'm at. It's never where I'm going to be. So I have to find my own way to be stable and ward off things like loneliness, poverty and feelings of uselessness."

Dude, I hear you on that. He seems like a very unique persona. It's too bad that most of the people who interviewed him seem to see his sexuality as just another of his unusual behaviors (ie, appearing on stage in a dress and fake blood). Hopefully that's residual frustration for having to write about yet another up-and-coming indierock band. See how I always presume the best about people? Strange...
Anyway, have some cake, Bradford...Get famous and stay asexy!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A New Look for the Old A-Team?

Just got home after a very successful meetup. Sure, just one other person came, but we had a great conversation about the creation of a San Francisco "chapter" of AVEN. Rather than just having meetups, we're hoping to do activities of a more organized nature. If all goes as planned, these will be interesting and fulfilling and exciting to people. Since I had a rocky sorority experience in college, I was initially very freaked out about the prospect of taking on yet another chapter. But, there will be no officers, no rushing of people, no improvements to our "image", no other groups competing for members. And best yet: No one can disband your sexual orientation. No one! Ever! Ha ha ha!

But I think I can now say that I'm finally excited about having a more multifaceted AVEN chapter, and we'll be able to do really wonderful things with everyone's different ideas and talents. We even have a first project to collaborate on-- pamphlet distribution. (C'mon guys, it'll be fun!) My first task towards creating this new supergroup is talking to the local folks and finding out what activities they're interested in doing. Ah, I've missed being part of a chapter...! This kind of has to work...right? Cheap beer for everyone!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Trouble in Mind

When I'm not being made to read about the myriad horrors of New Coke, I'm still getting through Gender Trouble. GT doesn't mention asexuality, although I keep coming across passages where a mention of it would be absolutely perfect. Butler might not be familiar with our little orientation, but it's the ultimate nyah-nyah-nyah to the "compulsory heterosexuality" she obviously despises. If your aim is to "make gender trouble", as Butler says hers is, then get asexuals. Seriously. No matter how traditionally gendered we appear to be, we're still kicking it where it hurts. There's always the next edition, Ms. J.B.!
I'm pretty sure GT is about feminism, although I'm also sure it contains themes I can't perceive, like hidden messages on a record playing backwards. But what I know Butler discusses is who has the right to participate in feminism, and what the feminist movement should look like. I know that for my lovers of alphabet soup, this is starting to sound familiar. Here's a quote for you: [translated into regular English, with respect]

Is "unity" necessary for effective political action? Is the premature insistence on the goal of unity precisely the cause of...fragmentation among the ranks?...Does "unity" set up an exclusionary norm of solidarity at the level of identity that rules out...actions which disrupt the very borders of identity concepts, or which seek to accomplish precisely that disruption as an explicit political aim?...[My] approach to coalitional politics assumes...the shape or meaning of a coalitional assemblage [cannot] be known prior to its achievement.
-Page 21

So, if you still think your local LGBT group could stand to mix in a few more letters (if they're not, like some groups, just becoming "Pride!" or "Queers!" and eschewing letters altogether, to my delight), tell them Judith Butler sent you. And that could be just frightening enough to make them take notice.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Woo This: Riding with the Sheik

What I learned from watching The Sheik:
  1. Men in silent movies have the habit of opening their eyes unnaturally wide. I don't know why a director would let actors do this, because it's seriously freaky.
  2. It's a good thing I didn't live in 1921, as all my friends would have been fainting/swooning/killing themselves over Rudolph Valentino, and I wouldn't have understood it at all (see #1).
  3. For a movie that's undeniably campy today ("My! You have such big hands for an Arab!"), it brings up issues of sex, race, and "the exotic" that are definitely with us still.
But the big question is: Was I wooed by "the greatest lover of all time"? Whenever I watch a movie like this, I'm always sitting there going: "I dare you to woo me." For me, there's certainly nothing sexy in the idea of being "taken". To paraphrase Daniel Boyarin, it's just a way of convincing women that they want to be raped. (Yikes!) But, I'd like to think of the jovial sheik as being more innocent than that. Maybe we can ascribe his kidnapping behaviors as a cross-cultural misunderstanding. I'd like to think the best, you know? And hey, at least you'd be sure he was into you.
So yes. Being thrown onto someone's camel like a sack of potatoes, and then spirited away into the wilderness, doesn't appeal to me. However, if a dashing, ethnically ambiguous young prince wanted to (consensually!) pick me up in the desert, I don't think I'd refuse. All I ask is that he keep his eyes firmly inside his sockets.

[Above: Rudy wants to take you home. Ladies? Anybody?]
The DVD I have also contains Son of the Sheik. There's more? Ah yes. I have much to look forward to.

In other news: I was at work today, when I got an e-mail from, saying that we reached our goal! I practically fell off my chair. Yes folks, I've managed to collect exactly $385.07 towards the pamphlets. And of course, all thanks your help! It feels absolutely wonderful to have the pamphlets within reach. And soon, they'll be in people's hands!
I know what some of you are thinking: "Dang! I wanted to donate, but I didn't get the chance!" Well, there may be more visibility projects in our future (I mean, there will be more, but when and what, I know not)...and I will, as always, keep you posted.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Marx and Engels

I wanted to write about the song "Mixtapes that Lucy Made" by The Winter Club, mostly because it contains this line:

I wanted to kiss you; I don't know why, because I've never kissed a boy or girl before.

But, most of the lyrics are unintelligible to me, and are not online anywhere. So I guess I'll never know if the rest of the song is as asexy as this particular line. If you're jonesing for some British girl group action (and really, who isn't?), check out their Myspace page here.

While we're on the topic of songs, it occurred to me that I've never actually posted "Marx and Engels" here. This is unbelievable, as it is probably the most overtly asexual song currently known to humanity. Not only does it contain an asexual character (as I'd like to think), but it makes me feel a lot better about schlepping to the laundromat. Here are the lyrics:

"Marx and Engels"
by Belle and Sebastian

There's misery in all I hear and see

From the people on TV
After their tea when life begins again
They'll be happier than me
There are a thousand meals being made
on Saturday
From the view I saw today
I took a bet inside the launderette
With a girl from Wallasey.

She spoke in dialect I could not understand
But one thing she made clear
There was no coming on to her
There was no way...
There was no intellect
That she could respect
If it couldn't see
That the girl just wants to be
Left alone with Marx and Engels for a while
She's writing in the style
Of any riot girl.

What I like about Belle and Sebastian is how they make up their own strange little worlds inside their songs. "Marx and Engels", of course, is no exception. Here it is available for download on I hope it works!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Elephants, Wild in the Streets!

I was sitting on MUNI today, and since it was too crowded to even open a book, I started thinking about what to write about next in this blog. Besides Gender Trouble, I'm reading What Color is Your Parachute? and there's nothing even remotely (a)sexual in there. I started musing, "Well, I don't care how many people identify as long as everyone knows it's an option." Whenever I meet people who knew about asexuality as young as their teenage years, I'm always surprised and impressed. I didn't know about it until I was 20. To that, I almost thought, "better late than never", although 20 isn't late at all. Some folks don't hear about asexuality until they're 30, 40, 50, older than that, or never. And it isn't these peoples' fault; they simply weren't aware of the information. And isn't that unacceptable? It's like voting for a candidate not because you think they're best, but because you didn't know there were others. There's just something undemocratic about it.
Anyway, I'm still thinking about some way to do SF Pride...not like the pamphlets are done yet, but would only cost $55 to march in the actual parade. And I think I could get a bunch of people to participate, if only for the novelty factor. I'd have to go to "parade contingent" training (and get a second person to do it too). We also couldn't use elephants without alerting the city. Well, we have until April to decide...

Friday, February 15, 2008

But damnit, it's MY opiate!

It's February 15th, and you know what that means: Go buy discounted candy!

Our radio interview went really well, and I can't wait for the show to come out (no pun intended).
Also rocking the KPFA mic was the always-awesome Karli, currently a PhD student (candidate?) at Stanford. She's writing a great blog all about the L-Word. Its goal is similar to this blog, but with a much tighter focus. Even if you've never seen the show (and if that's true, start catching up on the DVDs!), you'll find some interesting things to think about. Read it here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

'Gender Trouble' Killed the Radio Star

Back in the fall, I wrote about KPFA doing a piece on asexuality. Well, lo and behold, I (and some other cool folks) are being interviewed for it tomorrow. It should air sometime in March, and I'll definitely keep you posted. I'm looking forward to it-- I haven't been on the radio since DJ Pineapple dedicated this one to all her homies in prison...but that's a story for another day.

Meanwhile, I started reading Gender Trouble. This book is so hard to read, it makes everything else I do seem easy in comparison. I definitely appreciated that during my test in Music Biz Publicity tonight-- easy, easy! Thanks to Judith Butler (the author), my life is going to be a walk in the park on a Sunday; all I have to do is muddle through Gender Trouble. At least, this is what I would like to think. But, amid all the words that I should probably be looking up, there are some really cool ideas that can definitely be applied to asexuality. Here's one idea that stood out from my reading today:

"...representation is extended only to what can be acknowledged as a subject." (4)

I think you all know my stance on "visibility" by now (go forth and be visible!) but it's nice to know that Judith Butler agrees with me.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Not That Into Him Either

I've never read such a short book with such a long title: Be Honest- You're Not That Into Him Either: Raise Your Standards and Start Reaching for the Love You Deserve. For our convenience, it will henceforth be abbreviated as NTIHE. The book, by Ian Kerner, Ph.D, is a rebuttal to (and bandwagon-jumper on) He's Just Not That Into You. NTIHE is better. In fact, NTIHE is probably the best dating book I've read. It's also the most vague; this is probably not a coincidence. While Just Not That Into You is for women who need to be smacked upside the head with a common-sense paddle, NTIHE is for those of a more analytical nature (or who already have migraines).

The main thesis of NTIHE is this: "Be honest with yourself, and don't 'settle'." Kerner provides many interesting ideas to chew on, my favorite being "women fall for men that they're not even that into." Believe it or not, I didn't realize that I have actually done this until sitting down to write this post. Oops. Anyway, even though NTIHE provides a thorough explanation on the mechanics of sexual attachment and connection, there wasn't much for me to asexily take issue with. The only clearly offensive statement (and at just one, that's probably a record for a book in this genre) was "women are built for sex". However, this is something most women, not just A-s, could greet with an "". Also annoying was the completely extraneous conclusion, written by Kerner's wife. It begins: "Don't hate me because I'm married." Lady, it didn't occur to me until you mentioned it.
In general, Kerner likes to get all scientific on us, referring to studies on monogamy in voles and describing neurotransmitters. While it's interesting, (mostly) true, and inoffensive, it doesn't give you much to actually go and do. And the "go and do" part is the whole point of an "advice" book such as this. Indeed, NTIHE provides no easy answers. But we didn't need a book to tell us that those don't exist, do we?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Captain Obvious Goes Out!

Well, I promised I would post about dating. And here's a confession: I've realized that I wouldn't mind dating, as long as I was dating people who already know what my orientation is, and have a similar one themselves. AVEN is full of posts like, "HOLY CRAP! How do I tell my wife I'm asexual?!?!?!" Many people take for granted that their partners know where their orientations lie, but that's not always true for us. This is why, although dating people who know and share your sexuality might seem like a "duh" statement, it really isn't. And it's obviously no more or less than any gay or straight person would expect.
For a long time, I was under the impression that asexuals couldn't participate in the bizarre social rituals that have long mystified the rest of the world. But that's bollocks, and I'm going to prove to myself (and the rest of us) that it is, indeed, bollocks. I'm attempting to do this by posting a personal ad on Craigslist. Don't laugh-- while I know many people view CL as the final frontier of online dating, at least it lists people by gender and not orientation. So while my asexuality might be obscure, at least being a woman isn't (Although, I am aware that statement could be argued). Anyway, I am chronicling my CL adventures here if you'd like to check them out. The short version is that I heard from some nice, interesting, and/or cool people. I didn't get any psychotic responses, believe it or not. I don't know if any of these people would actually want to date me (or if I'd want to date them), which is complicated by the fact that I'm still not sure what asexual dating is. At any rate, I stated in the ad that I didn't know this, and maybe one day I'll figure it out.
I want to believe that A-s can do whatever we want to do, even if it takes a little longer.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Stop: It's Pamphlet Time!

AVEN pamphlets are here in cyberspace, and will soon be here in the real world as well. You can see the color version here and the grayscale version here. They're free for anyone to print. Sadly, my cat seems to have mauled my home printer to death, so I'm buckling down and trying to get some copies professionally printed for San Francisco. Then, the plan is to give them out to anywhere and anyone where informational resources congregate.
There are at least 72,000 A-s in the Bay Area alone, and I'm willing to venture a guess that 90% of them have no idea that there's anyone else like them out there. Maybe if one of them sees a pamphlet that says, "NOT EVERYONE IS INTERESTED IN SEX" on the front, they will see that they're not alone (And when they tell friends and family about asexuality, they'll have some literature to show!).
If you find this prospect exciting (and that opener makes me feel like I'm about to ask you to wire money to a bank account in Somalia), you can really help it come together by donating money here. I need $400 to professionally print the pamphlets so they're all nice and shiny and awesome. The Lord may provide, but s/he hasn't been seen on our ChipIn page yet, so it's really up to us for now. As far as I know, this will be the first ever printing of asexual informational literature. So get in on history and show the pamphlets love. And by love, I mean money. :-)

Well, that was awkward. I hate asking people for money. But around here, we try to own the awkward. So, come back soon for a post about dating...

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Better make today's post before my computer virus comes out of the computer and eats my face!
In equally exciting news, there's a new asexual-themed website called A-Positive. The forums are geared towards an advanced discussion of how asexuality intersects with other facets of sexuality and relationships. I'll admit that many of the threads are a little too advanced for my simple faculties, but then again, there aren't that many of them yet. Head over there and make more!
My favorite part of A-Positive is the "Knowledge Base", which is in the process of compiling all the existing information about asexuality. Having every A-themed resource available in one place is definitely possible, and it would be very useful to have.
I've already learned a few things from A-Positive. For example, I didn't know that there was a 1980 article called Theories of Sexual Orientation by one Michael Storms, in which he includes asexuality in his model of orientation. Here's what he came up with:

Then one of the forum posters changed it to this, which I think I prefer:

Mmm, pretty! (And if the inventor of the prettier Storms Model is reading, please let me know, and I will credit you.) And it makes good sense, doesn't it? Either way, it's always nice to have further proof of your own existence.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Clay Aiken, Asexy Man?

I don't know what attracts so many people to Clay Aiken. But apparently, he might not know what attracts people to him either. Not only has Clay Aiken been bearing a startling resemblance to Donald Trump lately, but rumors are circulating that he may be asexual. An article from ABC News is here:
Celibate Star Too Tired or Just Asexual?
It ain't perfect, but it actually posits that some "real" asexuals exist, which is progress.
To Clay, I say: Make it official! Come to the A-side; as always, we have cake!
And another thing: While researching this post, I discovered that Clay Aiken fans are called "Claymates". Also, Clay's fan club has an official lip balm with Clay's face on the package. No matter how silly that is, I fully support the existence of an asexual heart-throb, even if the reason why he throbs hearts is still unclear to me.
I also tried to find a photo of Clay that didn't look ridiculous in some way. I failed. Unpop your collar, boy, and then we can have cake.
Friends: Who, besides Trump, is Clay looking like lately? It's somebody, but I can't put a finger on who it is, and it's driving me crazy!