Monday, March 31, 2008

Movie Trailer, Dun Dun Dun

One of my Myspace friends alerted me to the fact that Asexuality: The Making of Movement now has a trailer up on Youtube. I watched all 8 minutes of it, and I was very surprised by what I saw. Why was so much of it made up of already-aired TV spots? Why does it ask "come on, is asexuality for real?" Why are "sexperts" included when what they're saying about asexuality is so obviously false? (An AVENite once called these people "modern day flat-Earthers", and I think that's perfectly apt.) I really didn't like how the trailer seemed to be setting up a "do we exist" exploration. That's the same thing that Montel and The View did on their shows, and I don't think it's constructive. The reason I liked the KPFA show so much is because we were already operating on the assumption that our identities were valid. And after seeing the trailer for this film, I'm hesitant about continuing to be involved with it. You can see the trailer here. What do you think? Since the film needs asexuals as subjects, it can't really be made without our consent. So what, if anything, should be we do?

(Also, I have to comment on the music, because that's just how I do. "How Soon is Now"? Are you kidding me? Please tell me that choice was because Morrissey is an asexual icon, and not because our ability to be human and loved is somehow in question.)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

No Easy Street

Hey hey! I found an overtly asexual Psychedelic Furs song! Ever noticed how you know the A-sides of records (or the first half of albums) so much better than the B-sides? Maybe it's just me, but this song had been hidden in plain sight. Not as anthemic as "Love My Way", but intriguing nonetheless. Here are the lyrics, with the pertinent sections in bold, for you busy folk:

"No Easy Street"
by The Psychedelic Furs (From Forever Now, 1982)

the police don't come
here on easy street
all the boys in their blue suits
are lying in the heat
you got no reaction
coming down my hall
you had no attraction
for anyone at all
all the dogs are out today
running in the sun
back in the litter
the morning never comes
you got no reaction
knocking on my door
you had no attraction
for anyone at all
the day goes at the factory
i should be happy look at me
it's definitely no easy street
you got no reaction
coming through my door
you had no attraction
for anyone at all
i can see you in the plastic town
that an actor sees
i can see you stuck inside of this cage with me
you'll cry like a baby
you cry like a bird
you cry like a lady
you cry like a girl
on easy street
you'll cry like a baby
you cry like a bird
you cry like a lady
you cry like a girl
on easy street

Thanks to Urban Dictionary, I found out that 9-9-9 is the equivalent of 911 in England. I still don't know what the heck it means to "cry like a bird", although we all know that Prince was also able to view this activity.

As creepy as this will sound, an internet search turned up nothing on the band's sexual proclivities. Some individuals seemed to think Richard Butler, the Furs' frontman, is gay, but I couldn't find any evidence of that (as far as you can find evidence for someone's orientation on the internet). There wasn't anything about his sexuality on Wikipedia, although the W did say that he was married at one point and had a kid. So anyway, kudos to the Furs for being ambiguous. Perhaps the band just knew an asexual person and decided to write a song about her. Stranger things have happened...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Culture of Lonliness

Last night, I saw "God Grew Tired of Us", the less ponderous documentary on the Lost Boys of Sudan. The film followed a few of these boys, now young men, who were orphaned in the Sudanese civil war. After living in refugee camps for over 10 years, they were relocated to the US, where they suddenly needed to figure out everything from how to use an alarm clock to what potato chips are. You might think this has bugger-all to do with asexuality, or even pop culture for that matter. But, I'm not so sure. Once the Boys got to America, and for the rest of the film after that, I just couldn't stop thinking back to Women Who May Never Marry. Sure, maybe a small object got lodged in my brain, messing up the usual neural paths. But, "God Grew Tired" just seemed to be giving further insight into why forming the relationships we want can be so hard. And that's fair game for me, I think.
Once the Boys were living in their American apartments, their different work schedules meant that they could go weeks without seeing each other. One of them said something like, "I'm so lonely, but that's just a part of American culture I need to get used to." I've never thought about this before, but when seen through the eyes of an outsider, our urban American culture seems absolutely demented. To wake up at dawn, go to an office to perform meaningless tasks with near-strangers, then go back to your apartment to distract yourself from the unpleasantness of having to go back and do it all again tomorrow? How many of us live like this, and how healthy is it? Is herding cattle all day with your entire family (a viable enterprise in Sudan) a vast improvement? At the risk of sounding like Belle from "Beauty and the Beast" (although, that is my favorite Disney movie), there must be something more!

I wish someone had told me that being asexual doesn't mean you'll be alone (although, I can do the next best thing-- tell you). That actually, it's the fault of studio apartments, commuting, Netflix and I think that people on the margins-- be they queer folks or refugees-- are in a good position to poke around and think about new options for our culture. Maybe I'm just extremely, stubbornly communal, and this stuff doesn't bother anyone else. I was the only person I knew that preferred living in college dorms to our off-campus house. I'd say it was some sort of A thing, but there are certainly As who have little or no desire for community. All I know is that the longer I live alone, the more I miss living with a group, whether family or friends. Herding cattle is, however, optional.

Less serious post next time; Scout's honor.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Women Who May Never Marry (Parte Dos)

If they paid me the Big Bucks (oh! One day!), I would feel obligated to explain to you the unexplainable. But since I'm poor and confused, I'll just be honest:
I really don't know what to make of the last 2 chapters of Women Who.

One of these, "Making Peace With Yourself", exhorts women to stop blaming themselves for the cultural and economic factors that have made marriage basically unnecessary. Good point. Then, Wolfe launches into a sort of quiz/checklist, that's supposed to help you accept yourself as you are. As much as I'm a sucker for helping myself, it does seem a little odd to throw self-help in right at the end. Add to this the user-unfriendliness of the method (is it a quiz? Flowchart? Outline?), and it's clear that I may not be making peace with myself through these particular means.

The last chapter talks about how to construct your own community outside of heterosexual monogamy. While this is, again, a good idea, Wolfe spends way too much time heralding polygamy. While polygamy (and I think most people would prefer to know it as polyamory) may work for some, I still think that it's not the ideal solution for most of us. Then, Wolfe ends with a section on "Extended Families of Choice", which I really do think applies to all of us.

So, Women Who is uncompromisingly uneven. But, it makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only person who may never marry-- and that whether I marry or not isn't what my happiness will hinge on. Like the misguided women profiled in the book, I thought being asexual would kill my chances for ever marrying. But apparently, my orientation is the least of my problems compared to all the social forces that have made successfully marrying today almost impossible. This is pretty much the first century in history when people don't have to marry as a business contract, but are supposed to depend fully on their spouse for their every need. We've ditched extended families in favor of one true loves, and it's not working well for most of us. Could it be that we As are lucky to have an out? Or at least, an opportunity to discover this?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Women Who May Never Marry (Part One)

When I opened Women Who May Never Marry (by Leanna Wolfe, 1993), I felt much like I did when I discovered Kinsey's "X". We're shown such a limited range of colors: Single (and miserable) or married (and content), zero though six on the Kinsey scale, and so on. But when other possibilities bust open, it's like being transported to the paint section of Home Depot, full of colors you're never heard of (Moonbeam! Curry!). Suddenly, your old white walls are glaringly obvious, now that you've seen all your other options.

In this spirit, I think that everyone, male and female alike, should check out Women Who. It's certainly incomplete, and boasts the worst cover art I've ever seen. But, despite its weaknesses, I think the book is very valuable. As Wolfe tells us at least 10 times, she is a social anthropologist. As such, she discusses trends in marriage and singlehood from veritable pre-history, up into the 90's, and into the future. She gives examples as diverse as spinster suffragettes and unmarried Mayan women living in extended families. And don't think women have all the fun-- there's a long chapter on unmarried men, and much discussion of societal forces in general.

There's also about a page and a half under the heading "Women Who Don't Have Sex". Yes, I know what we're all thinking here. But, these women are either scared of AIDS, living "lonely and often sexless" lives, or "have been damaged by sex" (125). Wolfe must have heard of asexuality in some respect, as she uses the word in a discussion of polyamorous relationships (173). She might have needed to go out of her way to find asexual women to talk to, but I wished she had, as we seem extremely relevant to the topic.

[Above: Susan B. Anthony. Spinster, Badass.]

My favorite little part of the book so far is the section on Victorian-era spinsters. Louisa May Alcott is quoted as saying:

"Spinsters are a very useful, happy, independent race, never more so than now, when all progressions are open to them and honor, fame, or fortune are bravely won by any gifted members of the sisterhood" (20).

I did a double-take as I read this-- I'd never expected to see "spinster" and "happy" in the same sentence. But apparently, spinsters in Alcott's day could achieve much more than married women were able to. If you were a woman devoted to a cause, it could behoove you to remain single. Susan B. Anthony, one of the premier spinsters mentioned, had this to say about womens' suffrage, although it could just as well apply to being an uncompromisingly unmarried woman today:

"Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about a reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences."
(Found on

Next time, Women Who teaches you "how to be happy". Fo reals. Apparently, it's that easy.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Could it be? Could we have our own silly stereotype? Thanks to a recent article in The London Paper, in which a pair of A newlyweds played Scrabble with friends on their wedding night, the idea might be going around that we harbor an unholy love for Scrabble. And really, I couldn't be happier. I can't wait for the day when we have to start disproving our stereotypes, since that would mean people are actually aware of our existence. I can't say I like Scrabble...I'll play it to be social, but it takes forever and I usually get pummeled anyway. But the point is, it doesn't matter what I like, because this is a stereotype! I guess our collective good looks and rapier wits haven't caught on yet...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Love is a Milk Truck

Ah, the Milk Truck Ending, a demented relation of the Deus Ex Machina. My high school English teacher coined this term, "Milk Truck Ending". Apparently, a kid had written a story in which, right at the end and completely at random, a milk truck ran over all the characters. Nothing's more frustrating than a story with real potential and a milk truck ending. This is what happened with Any Place I Hang My Hat, a 2004 novel by Susan Isaacs. I guess I knew it was chick lit, but a few things led me to perhaps think otherwise. First, the chick in question is on a (feisty and snarky) search for her family roots, not necessarily romance. There was also the heftiness of the book (pushing 400 pages) and the stellar reviews from the Washington Post, Seattle Times, et al. But men are, apparently, the new milk trucks.

Ensconced (far from happily) on MUNI, I reached page 370 out of 379. (Spoilers ahead.) Our heroine was just so close to ending the book single and learning to be happy about it. I said to myself, "if she ends up with a man in these last 9 pages, I will throw up." Well, she didn't only end up with a man, she was engaged to be married, all within those few last pages. (Okay, it was someone she knew, but still...) I didn't throw up, because I'm not able to will myself to actually do so. But I did feel very disappointed. Our chick had endured way too much to be handed such a played-out ending.

We all know that marriage isn't the end to anyone's story, unless you have an unfortunate accident on the dance floor. We know there are other options, but we never see them. I have no problem with people in stories getting married, but marriage is always presented as the only real option. And this is probably why I'm so unclear on what the other options are. I demand to see more options in my pop culture! And if these chicks end up with men, I want (nay, demand!) to see them really choosing between different men. Why is the first man we see almost always the one our heroine ends up with? Is it the cause of brevity, or just another insinuation that any guy is better than none at all? You can probably guess which one I think it is, and brevity probably isn't the reason that 50% of marriages are ending in divorce. That may sound depressing, but our idea of compulsory marriage is depressing indeed. That's why we need to get rid of it ASAP.

Thank goodness Women Who May Never Marry is next on my list...after I define about 20 terms that I can't seem to finish Gender Trouble without knowing, that is...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Worth the Wait!

Our show on KPFA aired today! It's available online here, and the uber-catchy rap song is right at the beginning, after the Women's Magazine theme. Check it out, yo! It was fantastic to be on a "serious" show where we didn't have to argue our existence constantly, and I think that really yielded a great show. My shameless self-promotion organ was confused by the fact that "my blog" was mentioned 2 times, but not its name. But if you're already know that. Anyway, listen, and let me know what you think!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Could I Be Asexual?

Well, I finished my article! Or at least, this is the first draft, now in darker purple for your reading ease. I'm going to try to submit it to some of those sex-information websites for teens. Feedback would be much appreciated-- anything from language/grammar to overall content is fair game! (Except for the formatting-- that is, as always, in God's hands.)

In a society where we're pre-conditioned to be heterosexual, it's a healthy and normal thing to question your sexuality. But that doesn't mean it's not scary or confusing, especially when your orientation might be one that's lesser-known, like asexual. Asexuals are people that aren't attracted to either sex, and studies have shown that they're at least one percent of the population. Asexuality is just as valid an orientation as being gay, straight, or bi, but can be a little harder to figure out. The simplest advice I can offer? Remember that there are no absolutes when it comes to sexuality, and don't rush to label yourself just because you feel pressured to do so. Now, here are some common questions:

  1. I've never had a crush on anyone. Could I be gay, or am I asexual?

Maybe you’re not just the kind of person who gets crushes; perhaps you’re too practical for all that sighing and giggling. Think not about whether you have a “crush”, but whether you’ve ever been attracted to someone. If this has never happened and you’re, say, 13, I honestly wouldn’t worry about it too much. Your inclinations could still change a lot in the next few years. But if you’re 18 or 19 and have not experienced attraction, you may want to consider that you could be asexual…or very, very, picky.

  1. My friends are always saying that this or that girl is hot, but I just don't understand what they're talking about. What's up with that?

You have a few options: Either your friends have different tastes in girls than you do, you’re not into girls at all, or you’re not into girls or guys. If we’re just talking about probabilities here, being asexual is probably the least likely option—but, it is still an option. I know that many asexual people have had the same experience as you. But whether or not the label fits is something only you can decide.

  1. I had sex with my boyfriend, but I just found it boring. Is there something wrong with me?

Everyone tells us how exciting sex is, but what no one seems to mention is how hard it can be to find a partner you’re really compatible with. The most likely answer is that you’re not as into your boyfriend as you thought you were. Sex is so hyped-up that it can be natural to feel a little disappointed if the experience isn’t what you hoped it would be. Sex can get more interesting as we get older and more aware of our bodies. But, if you think your relationship would be terrific without the sex, maybe asexuality is something for you to explore further.

  1. How can I know if I'm asexual or just have issues?

If you’re depressed, have low self-esteem, were abused, or have survived any number of difficulties, you may be wondering if these are the reasons you’re not interested in sex, or if you’re actually asexual. Well, that’s a good question to be asking. Depression or abuse doesn’t cause asexuality, but asexuals are just as likely to deal with these things as anyone else is. If you’re dealing with issues like this, you already know that you have many things to figure out. Know that many asexuals are depressed because they feel isolated, or worry that they will never have relationships or family. Remember that you are not alone, and that asexuals can achieve anything they want to—it just may take a little longer.

Get support: The Asexuality Visibility and Education Network is the largest and busiest asexual forum online. It’s a great place to tell your story, and no matter where your mind is at, you’re sure to find like-minded people. These free-spirited theorists are on a mission to compile all known information about asexuality—a great place to find information!

Suggestions for a third "resource" would be especially welcome, since good things supposedly come in threes. And yes, I'm aware that in the end, my answer to question #4 sounds like the opener to "Little People, Big World"...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Draw In the Reins

I finally got ahold of the Cats on Fire EP, Draw In the Reins. Cats on Fire are yet another indiepop band from Scandinavia (Finland this time). Imagine my surprise and delight when I opened the CD packaging and found these lyrics to the title song:

I know exactly what it is
I know exactly why it burns
And I'm fairly sure
That they all should put their clothes back on
Yeah, put them right back on

'Cause now there's no way to decide
What's on my mind

[Chorus:] There's so much talk about it, it's everywhere
And these poor eyes of mine
They get no rest
And suddenly, all of my friends are at it
Who thought they had these skills?
I look at them and blush

Let's not go over this again
Why would you rub it when it already hurts?
And I'm fairly sure
It would be best if you restrained yourselves
Draw in the reins, my friends

I lose the ability to decide
What's on my mind


I turn around, but I think I hear
Yeah, at least to these ears
These doves are pecking away at each other

And I could roll away my eyes
But I'd still hear these awful sounds

Ever encountered something that was so obvious, you just didn't know what to say about it? But it's interesting; the speaker of the song is definitely way more against sex than I am. I can certainly speak to the experience of suddenly everyone you know being interested in dating/sex/hot people. It's as if on Monday, no one cared, and on Tuesday, sex was all-important. It shocked the heterosexuality right out of me!
(And do check out Cats on Fire's Myspace page, in the link above. "Draw In the Reins" is sadly not on there, but "Higher Grounds" is the absolute jam.)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Am I Blue?

If I ruled the world, I wouldn't let anyone declare their sexual orientation until they were at least 18. But I don't rule the world (except if Ilytopia counts), and in the one we live in, our orientation is already chosen for us-- heterosexual. Bah.
Paging through a Seventeen magazine the other day, I came across an article called "Could I Be Gay?" I couldn't find the article on Seventeen's web site, but I did find the statistic (from PFLAG) that between 1990 and 2000, the age at which most gay and lesbian people come out dropped from 22 to 13. I guess the reason I find this shocking is because I couldn't have possibly known what my sexuality really was at 13. But this might have been because I wasn't yet aware my sexuality existed-- not because I wasn't capable of knowing.
I decided I would try to write a similar article about asexuality. This seems hard to do, because when you're a young teenager, you could really be a late bloomer instead of asexual. But it just seems awfully sad that all the gay kids can figure it out in their teens while we A-s would have to wait until our 20's, when any puberty-related sexual awakenings have safely passed.
The Seventeen article is written as 4 questions and answers (how very Passover) from teenage girls. Here's the comparable ones I could come up with for asexuality (based on what people on AVEN say):
  1. I've never had a crush on a boy. Could I be gay, or am I asexual?
  2. My friends are always saying that this or that girl is hot, but I just don't understand what they're talking about. What's up with that?
  3. I had sex with my boyfriend, but I just found it boring. Is there something wrong with me?
  4. How can I know if I'm asexual or just have issues?
Here's what my intro would be:

In a society where we're pre-conditioned to be heterosexual, it's healthy and normal to question your sexuality. But that doesn't mean it's not scary or confusing, especially when your orientation might be one that's lesser-known, like asexual. Asexuals are people that aren't attracted to either sex, and studies have shown that they're at least one percent of the population. Asexuality is just as valid an orientation as being gay, straight, or bi, but can be a little harder to figure out. The biggest advice I can offer? Remember that there's no black and white when it comes to sexuality, and don't rush to label yourself just because you feel you have to. Now, here are some common questions:

And on to the questions and answers. Yeah, I know it's pretty simplistic (and you could certainly argue that my definition is incorrect), but I didn't want to confuse already-confused people too much. What questions would you have want answered as a teenager? Or if you're a teenager now, what kinds of questions are you asking?

And I have to say, Am I Blue is my all-time favorite short story (the subject is a teenage boy trying to figure out if he's gay), and I was able to find it online in it's entirety here.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

My machinations are moving ahead...

Ah, there's nothing like the smell of printing presses in the morning!
AVEN pamphlets went to press yesterday. The proof is supposed to be done by Monday. We're gonna get 500 of these suckers. Don't even front like you're not excited...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Yo! Aces Rap!

Since my TV broke, I've been listening with great care to old albums. One of these was the awesome "Isn't Anything" by My Bloody Valentine (1988). I realized the last song was called "I Can See It (But I Can't Feel It)", which sounded like an experience many of us A-s can relate to. As usual, although I enjoyed the music, I could barely understand one word of the lyrics. And after searching online, this is apparently their entirety:

Don't know when
I will leave you again
Grab a reason
And I'm dragging you down
Come just to make you happy
Shot in the head I can see
I can see it
But I can't feel it

Wow...that's pretty sad. But, this is the first time that a song I've posted is actually on Youtube, so you can hear/see the song over here [WARNING: There is much slow-motion head-bobbing]. After happily securing a video, I searched for "Kevin Shields [MBV's leader] and asexual" on Google, and found this great quote from an album review at EconoCulture:

So I’m assuming that the song entitled "Kevin Is Gay," refers to Mr. Shields. (Although, quite frankly, I always envisioned Kevin Shields as being asexual, perhaps occasionally taking a break from recording to have "relations" with a vintage tape reel before setting it ablaze in a fit of shame and self-loathing.)

The writer also assured me that MBV lyrics are supposed to be indecipherable. Now that's a relief.

In other musical news, tomorrow I'll be participating in the recording of what might be the world's first explicitly asexual rap song. Ooh yeah baby! If there's a way for you to hear it, you'd best believe I'll let you know.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Rolling With Role Models

"Remember, lovers never lose."
--David Bowie

Ages ago (or at least it feels that way), I was going somewhere with friends. We were riding in a car piloted by a mysterious frat boy. He was playing David Bowie on the stereo, and explained to us that Bowie was the person who allowed him to become comfortable with the fact that he was gay. I don't remember the exact words he used, but it was clear that he considered Bowie to be his gay role model. At the time, I hadn't yet realized I was asexual, but that concept stuck with me nonetheless.

As I think about it now, it seems like role models are integral. When we deviate from "the norm" in some way, we are often afraid to be ourselves, as we're not sure how to do so with grace and honesty. You can reinvent the wheel, sure, but it's pretty painful. I realized, not too long ago, that I'd never fully accept my non-standard sexuality unless I had asexual role models. So I've been on a mission to find some for myself. And it's really hard. Here's the list I have so far, and notice that only one of these people is definitely asexual:

  • My grandmother's cousin. She must be about 80, and she's been living with the same woman for as long as anyone can remember. As far as I can see, totally old school Boston Marriage.
  • One of my mother's best friends. She's in her 60's. Since she's never married, I guess you could call her a "spinster", but I never would, as she's totally awesome.
  • Certain AVENites that I won't name for risk of embarrassing them.
  • Harvey Milk. Sure, gay as can be, but he lived in a time when homosexuality was in a similar situation to asexuality today. He knew he might be killed for expressing his views, but even that didn't stop him.
  • Kate Bornstein. Uncompromisingly queer, she educates people on the transgender movement-- a term she apparently coined. What she does for trans people, I'd like to do for asexuals.
So, that's who I came up with. Does anyone else have role models they'd like to share? (Note: Although I guess you can have a fictional character as a role model, I really don't think they work well, as their creators solve all their problems for them. They don't really have to deal with the same problems we do, especially if they have superpowers. And yes, I think Sherlock Holmes' intellect is in that category :-)