Thursday, July 31, 2008

Still Basking Over Here

The only problem with major news is that it gives me major writer's block. At this point in time, I can't possibly follow my last posting with anything more interesting, but I can at least hope to offer you something mildly intriguing. Perhaps you're still basking in the wonder of our first out TV character; I know I am. If so, bask away and check back soon; I have not forgotten you.

Now I'm going to go watch Rushmore, for whatever it's worth...

Monday, July 28, 2008

New Zealand: Advanced Society

I'm not sure how far this news has penetrated the asexosphere, but this is major, so I'll talk about it:

A New Zealand soap opera called "Shortland Street" is currently featuring an asexual character. This is huge, because the character, Gerald, actually self-identifies as asexual. He looks it up on Wikipedia and everything! It's set in one of those television hospitals where no one ever does anything remotely medical. Apparently, Gerald is currently dating his first girlfriend and finding that he isn't interested in sex. A way-cool New Zealander has compiled relevant clips of the show on Youtube here. I have to say, these videos are among the most awkward things I've ever viewed in my life. I know that asexual awakening can be difficult, but I've never actually seen it occuring outside myself, if that makes sense. I doubt anyone who's not asexual outside of New Zealand will ever see this show, but I hope that it will be enlightening to at least a few folks over there.

Granted, there are plenty of inaccuracies (you don't get "diagnosed" as asexual), although I guess everyone who comes out is faced with some people that have...strange...ideas. However, there are many statements made in the show that are correct ("Most asexuals feel there's nothing wrong with them", etc).

Also, it's interesting that Gerald is so...well...*gay*. You can't really use accurate gaydar over television, and especially not cross-culturally. But if I saw Gerald walking around in San Francisco? TOTALLY GAY. I just hope he's actually asexual; I don't want those "BUT YOU MUST BE GAY" adherents to have any more fodder for their claims.

I also find it interesting that the first representation of television asexuality is male. I just can't avoid thinking about how gender plays into representations of sexuality. Sure, you could say that there was a 50/50 chance that the character would be male. But it's hard for me to imagine this character being female. And I think I know why, for once. We've progressed somewhat in terms of sexual equality between men and women. But when it comes to sex, I think men have an autonomy that women still lack. A man can identify as asexual because his sexuality is identified by himself alone and exists internally. However, a woman's sexuality is identified through her actions and relationships with others. Women are supposed to have a sexual "utility" that men don't need to have. Queen Christina wanted to "die a bachelor" instead of "an old maid" because being a bachelor implies an element of choice that being an old maid lacks. Old maids are seen as hopeless, but "confirmed bachelors" are an intriguing challenge. I'm not saying that asexual men have it easier; we all have our own issues to contend with. I just think that bringing up ideas of inequality anywhere they exist is the first step to true equality. And because theories without action items annoy me, here's what women can do: Start using/reclaiming all male or unisex sexual/relationship descriptors that imply choice. What are some other ones we can use? Is that a strange idea? I hope it makes sense.
And, watch the Shortland Street videos! (But don't say I didn't warn you about the awkwardness.)
Your confirmed (?) bachelor,

Friday, July 25, 2008


Into every blog, a little bit of emoting about your own personal situation must fall. I try to keep it positive, as if all I do is watch movies and scheme about asexual visibility (actually, this is close to being accurate). But the biggest thing about my life right now is that I'm desperately seeking employment.

I'm convinced that aces have exactly the same issues as everyone else, just in different areas. I used to feel that my friends who were "waiting to be rescued" by men were totally off-base. But now I'm eating my hat, because I'm waiting to be a job. Every day, I hope for an act of God (ah, my knight in shining health benefits) that will spirit me away from this torturous process. Raining men? How about raining jobs? And even though I recognize that my life isn't ending, I don't know how to be less frantic about something I percieve as so important. I feel exactly the same way about my job search that some women feel about dating (and probably their job searches as well, which can't be easy): Why is this taking so long? What's wrong with me? Or what am I doing wrong? I want to give up, but I really can't. When Charlotte in Sex and the City says, "I've been dating since I was 15! Where IS he?" I can relate to that infinitely well. You know those "desperate women" who want to be "completed" by men, and you feel kind of sorry and concerned for them? I finally understand them.

Hi, my name is Ily and I'm desperate.
Hi, Ily!
I'll be shyly having crumb cake in the back. Feel free to join me.

My previous job woes can be found here, and also here, because it's fine to talk a topic to death as long as you're aware that you're doing it! (Although I can tell you that unless there's something particularly asexual about my job woes in the future, I will stop talking about them.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Traumarama? Not!

People often ask why an "asexual identity" is necessary. I always thought it was important for the purpose of finding others like ourselves. Sharing an identity makes this possible. And it was a gut feeling, too. Not identifying as asexual made me feel like I was in massive denial. Like an attraction you can't resist, I had to give in to it. I'm glad I did.
But I just realized that there's another reason why I'm glad I decided to identify as asexual. I can finally be honest about things in my life without being embarrassed. When I thought I was heterosexual, I was mortified that I'd never kissed anyone. Now, I can say with absolutely no embarrassment that I haven't kissed anyone in about 4 years (I once had a friend bemoan the fact that she hadn't made out with anyone in 2 months-- I felt pretty dern left out of that conversation). I haven't had a crush on anyone in about 4 years either (sadly, those were not the same people) and I've only been on 2 "real" dates. I've never had a boyfriend or girlfriend, etc. It's because I'm asexual, not because I'm the universe's idea of a bad joke. It isn't a personal flaw. I'm not a "bad heterosexual", I'm something else. And hopefully, being able to be open about this will help convince younger folks that, asexual or not, there's absolutely nothing wrong with their never-been-kissed selves.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Things Asexuals Like: Tweed

I never read too much into my love of tweed. I thought it was just a manifestation of the love I hold for all things Scottish. But among asexuals, I'm not alone in my fabric fascination. Apparently, we like tweed. It was suggested I search AVEN for tweed-related threads, and I found one called "Tweed, King of Wools", in which the original poster stated that "some people have been talking" about tweed as an asexual trademark. Huh?

[Above: Sherlock Holmes. Asexual icon AND obsessive wearer of tweed. Coincidence?]

Let me think about this a little more. Although I've tried, I've never been able to define my personal style. (A friend once described my fashion sense as "someone on ecstasy".) I love clothes inspired by the 1980s, Japanese "Fruits" looks (probably what inspired the ecstasy comment), and, oddly enough, the clothes worn by British schoolchildren of a bygone era-- knee socks, ties, crests, and tweed coats. Lately, I was thrilled to find a necklace consisting of a tweed bowtie on a chain. I'm also particular about the clothing I'd like to see on others. When I do find someone attractive, it's usually based on what they're wearing, and they usually have a unique look. That may sound shallow, but I find people's clothes more alluring than their bodies or facial features. Maybe it's because a great outfit involves creativity and artistic skill, while a great body involves bench presses and genes, things I'm not as interested in. And a great face is just pure luck. (Although of course, a great smile can trump everything else.)

But as to why aces as a group like tweed in particular? Maybe it has something to do with its professorial/academic connotations (you witnessed my "thing" for Cambridge), since asexuals tend to value intellegence over more physical charms. But that link is tenuous at best. For now, let's just accept tweed for the noble and asexy fabric that it is, and remember to wear yours proudly.

(Thanks to the reader who suggested the tweed idea!)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Yet Another List of Famous Aces

NNDB (is that anything like IMDB?) is a website that aims to "track the entire world" by establishing connections between various famous people. The site is comprised of biographies of these people, and their sexual orientation is often included. NNDB has a list of people presumed to be asexual. I have no idea how they got this information-- they probably just guessed, like the rest of us. Most of the people listed were definitley "married to their work". But here it is:

J. M. Barrie
9-May-1860 19-Jun-1937 Peter Pan
Jorge Luis Borges
24-Aug-1899 14-Jun-1986 The Garden of Forking Paths
Emily Brontë
30-Jul-1818 19-Dec-1848 Wrote Wuthering Heights
Paul Erdos
26-Mar-1913 20-Sep-1996 Loved only numbers
Glenn Gould
25-Sep-1932 4-Oct-1982 Canadian pianist, Bach soloist
Immanuel Kant
22-Apr-1724 12-Feb-1804 Transcendental idealist
Karl Lagerfeld
Fashion Designer
10-Sep-1938 Chanel, Lagerfeld
Ralph Nader
27-Feb-1934 Unsafe at Any Speed
Isaac Newton
4-Jan-1643 31-Mar-1727 Father of modern physics
Florence Nightingale
12-May-1820 13-Aug-1910 Established nursing as a profession
Paula Poundstone
29-Dec-1959 Abrasive, asexual comic
Sun Ra
Jazz Musician
22-May-1914 30-May-1993 Jazz musician from Saturn
Cliff Richard
14-Oct-1940 England's most famous Christian
John Ruskin
8-Feb-1819 20-Jan-1900 Greatest Victorian art critic
Erik Satie
17-May-1866 1-Jul-1925 Messe des Pauvres
Nikola Tesla
9-Jul-1856 7-Jan-1943 Invented alternating current
Samuel J. Tilden
9-Feb-1814 4-Aug-1886 Lost the stolen 1876 US election
Otto Warburg
8-Oct-1883 1-Aug-1970 Effect of oxygen on cancer
Simone Weil
3-Feb-1909 24-Aug-1943 The Iliad, or the Poem of Force
Jemima Wilkinson
29-Nov-1752 1-Jul-1819 The Universal Friend

Here's the original page.
A few days after reading this, I was in Shoe Pavillion with my family. There was some sort of Karl Lagerfeld fragrance on sale, and I proudly held it up and said, "Look! He's asexual!" It was nice to be able to do that.

[Below: Sun Ra. Even if we are both asexual, that doesn't mean I understand him in the least. I saw a video about him in a class once, and...whoa...]

Space is the place!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Maurice: Your Fangirl is Here

Maurice is a 1987 film about two young men, Maurice and Clive (played by James Wilby and Hugh Grant, respectively), who fall in love with each other at Cambridge in 1909. The directions their lives take after this is charted in typically sweeping Merchant-Ivory fashion.

I always find myself relating strongly to tales of forbidden gay love. Asexuality may have never been a jailing (or hell, hanging!) offense, but the flak some of us get from friends, family, lovers and even strangers can make solitary confinement seem welcome on bad days. Just look at this dialogue from the movie, in which Maurice sees a doctor, desperately seeking a cure for his homosexuality (occurs around 1:15):

Doctor: What put all this into your head?
Maurice: You've never guessed? I'm like Lord Risley [old school chum; convicted homosexual]. I'm an unspeakable, of the Oscar Wilde sort.

Dr: Rubbish. Rubbish.

M: Dr. Barry, I can't have explained...

Dr: Now listen to me, Maurice. Never let that evil hallucination, that temptation from the devil, occur to you again. Now, who put that lie into your head? You, whom I see and know to be a decent fellow.

M: Dr. Barry, I want--

Dr: No sir, I'll not discuss! The worst thing I could do for you is to discuss!
M: It's not rubbish to me.

Dr: Rubbish!

M: I've been like this ever since I can remember, without knowing why. Am I diseased? If I am, I want to be cured.
Dr: Find yourself a pretty young woman. She'll soon cure you. It's unspeakable.

With some slight tweaks, this could, sadly, be an asexual experience. It sounds so melodramatic, but it's really happened to some of us. True, there are some deeply sad things about Maurice, but it doesn't quite make it onto my "Most Depressing Movies of All Time" list, in which fellow M&I flick The Remains of the Day earns my #3 spot. I think part of what made me sad was the fact that if I, too, had a huge country estate where I could just ride horses and "preside" all day, I could handle a little forbidden love. Sigh. And come to mention it, that is what Maurice will make you do. Sigh. A lot.

Interestingly, I've never found Hugh Grant to be very attractive. He's seemed a little...jowly lately. But 21 years ago? He was freakin' adorable! I couldn't find a picture that adequately captured him, but here he is brooding a little, which I always find appealing:

I think I just have a crush on this whole movie. M&I excels at creating atmospheres, and in Maurice, they've created an atmosphere that is my particular fantasy: Discussing arcane topics in old stone buildings with exceedingly erudite and witty men wearing tweed. (I totally love Lord Risley too, in one of the first scenes. He kind of reminds me of a gay, sober Withnail.) Sigh, sigh, SIGH!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

History: Asexual Rebellion

[Above: Talulah Gosh, 1987]

So, while trying to find some conclusive evidence pertaining to the sexuality of (Orange Juice frontman) Edwyn Collins (sure, he's been called asexual in reviews, but those are rumors! I need more!) I found this:

What is never considered by such rockists is the inherently political nature of C86. The deliberate return to the state of innocence by C86 bands was a revolt against the traditional rock mentality. Calling your band BMX Bandits or releasing a single called My Best Friend was to stick two fingers up at rock orthodoxy. The asexual appearance of, for example, Talulah Gosh’s two female members was to negate the received opinion of women in pop as sex objects far more powerfully than Helen Reddy singing I Am Woman or Gloria Gaynor singing I Will Survive. C86 produced women who not only didn’t believe in rock’s gender hierarchy, they didn’t need it.

From Fire Escape Talking.

(FYI: C86 is just another term for what's now known as "twee" or "indiepop" music. It got its name from a compilation cassette given away by the British music mag NME. Orange Juice wasn't on the C86 tape, but it operated in the same genre as the bands that were. Wikipedia also explains. And it also says that Collins has a wife and kid...but that doesn't really prove anything. Further, some C86-influenced bands you've probably heard of--Fire Escape cites Belle & Sebastian, the Cardigans and the Shins-- have even gone mainstream in recent years.)

I just realized that in the chronology of my life, my discovery of indiepop paired up almost perfectly with my realization that I was ace. Coincidence?

Sure, C86 music was never on MTV, but we do have something that could be called a history in pop culture. You just have to look for it, and, okay...infer a little.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Greatest Meetups!

So, we had a meetup yesterday. This was the free beer n' frisbee in Golden Gate Park. 5 people came! Including 2 new folks! The new folks told us they were glad they came, and that was a relief to me, as I always wonder how much people are getting out of the meetups. Maybe it comes from being a Girl Scout-- we always had to "evaluate" the outcome of every single project we did. Or all those self-evaluations we did in school ("What would Muhammad Ali say?" was always my guideline there). Anyway, I really need to stop worrying about the state of the meetups so much. It seems like their planning takes a lot more time than it really does, because of all my rumination about how I could improve them.
I've never been good at delayed gratification or activities with unclear outcomes (which is why looking for a job is especially godawful to my mind).

Yours to look forward to: Unspeakably cute British boys and the mixtape that electrified undersexed kids everywhere!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Things Asexuals Like: Cats

Back by popular demand!
Grace the Spot observes that lesbians like pets. I'll assert that asexuals like cats in particular. Cats do what they damn well please, and really don't care what you have to say about it. We admire this.
Ah, cats mean never having to say you're sorry.
How many cats are too many?
I'd say one cat per room of house is a good way to think about it.
How could you not like this little guy:

I call him Thomas Becket (famous ace?!) because he's so cute you just want to kill him.
My favorite cat-related blogs:
Itty Bitty Kitty Committee
I Can Has Cheezburger?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Feminine Mystique

"For the woman who lives according to the feminine mystique, there is no road to achievement, or status, or identity, except the sexual one: the achievement of sexual conquest, status as a desireable sex object, identity as a sexually sucessful wife and mother." (266)

Yes, I read The Feminine Mystique (1963), proving that you don't have to be sexual to be a masochist. You've probably heard of it-- it discusses why women are unhappy and trapped being "just housewives", and revived an interest in feminism during the second half of the 20th century. It's not a hard read, but at 395 pages, it's a cause in itself. The big question is: Still relevant?

Kind of. The author, Betty Friedan, definitely presents some ideas that are no longer accurate. She also goes to great lengths to convince us that feminists aren't man-hating spinsters (or, God forbid, lesbians!). But the lady, I fear, doth protest too much. Mystique won't seem revolutionary anymore, but it's interesting nonetheless. It made me realize how women are still much more sexualized than men. And of course, being asexual, I might notice this more than other people.

I still remember, many years ago, going to an amusement park with a (female) friend. She tried to buy a pretzel from a cart. The cart was technically closed, but the pretzel guy gave her a free one anyway. She told me, "Being a girl is great because we get free stuff!" My reaction at the time was, "But I never get free stuff!" (And ain't I a woman?) Reading Mystique brought this up in my mind. Because it still seems, even now, like men can transcend gender-- be human beings first and men second-- in a way that women (or any group that isn't part of the hegemony) can't. Why can't any friendly person get a free pretzel?

Why do people hold on so tightly to gender, even when it's harmful? What good have gender roles done for you lately?

Friedan argues that women need to seek identity outside the role of "woman" and to place their value beyond sex appeal. It's odd but understandable; I literally had no idea how much our culture values sex appeal until I realized I didn't need to have any. When I realized that I wasn't a part of the sexual marketplace, I could feel my worth to my culture plummeting. Most people never leave sexuality, so they don't see this. It's a strange privilege, you might say, to be able to do so.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Back That Ase Up

So, I know I've talked about this before, probably at some length. But it bears repeating. The fact that the word "gay" pisses off homophobes, who would prefer that such people be known as "homosexuals" proves that unscientific,"friendly" nicknames send an orientation on its way. Here's a new exposure of possible asexual shorthand:

Pros: It's simple, sounds good to say aloud, is intuitive.
Cons: It's hard to write, because you have to capitalize it to differentiate it from "a", and that's a little strange. It's also impossible to clearly pluralize in writing.
Pros: It's slang for "cool/great", it's catchy, it already comes with a symbol.
Cons: It's not intuitive, it sounds silly (although, this could just be my lack of familiarity with using it).
Pros: It's more intuitive than "ace". I found out about this one from Emma, and I think it's very clever and the best of both worlds. It has a precedent in "bi" and "trans".
Cons: Again, written language. Ase is fine, but pluralize it and it looks uncomfortably like "asses". This could also relate to my unfamiliarity with the term. I mean, people don't look at the word "duck" and feel offended by the possibility of substituting an "f".

I don't think enough people read this blog to enable me to coin a phrase, so I think I'm just going to use all of these interchangeably. Choose which one you like best, use it, and maybe our answer will occur organically. If you're interested (I was), Wikipedia tells us where the term "gay" came from. The fact that we don't really need a secret language might make this process a little more...forced...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Things Asexual People Like: Alan Rickman

On AVEN, I've been privy to a few threads about which celebrities people find most attractive. I'm always impressed by the diversity and quirkiness of people's choices. Ases don't seem to be into Brad Pitt types, but we seem to have a major thing going for Alan Rickman. I guess everyone likes Alan Rickman, but there are a few reasons why he might appeal so much to asexuals.
First of all, he has a reserved demeanor and seems like an easy-going, respectful guy. Rickman has complained about being perpetually cast as a villian, and it's easier to imagine him covertly murdering someone than passionately ripping their clothes off. We like this quality. Rickman seems to be indifferent as to whether he gets the girl or not, and this just makes him more alluring to people of all sexualities. (Not to mention, he seems to be aging extremly well.) He's a serious "Ac-TOR" (we always appreciate people who get by on their talents rather than sex appeal) and you probably have no overwhelming desire to see him naked (although I was able to find what could be the one existing picture of Rickman shirtless). Furthermore, his co-star Emma Thompson has commented on his lack of interest in women. Rickman himself has even made remarks about his lack of sexual "voracity". It seems like his first love is the stage, and as a former student of theater, I can understand that. And of course, we like him because we think he may be one of us. If it's true, then Alan, sing out! Your cake is waiting in the vestibule.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Typically Twisted

I'm betting lots of you have already seen this, but if you haven't, it's worth mentioning: Psychology Today, a magazine that can be found on newsstands near you, has an article which involves asexuality. The article, called "Typically Twisted", talks about "taboos" that are actually normal. And the introduction also gives some interesting insight about "normality". Surprise, it's boring! Check it out.
I don't like how "asexual" is in quotes like this, as if its existence is negotiable (unlike taboos and normality)-- that's one of my pet peeves. You don't see ninja zombies from Mars in air quotes. A shout to AVEN would have been nice too, but hopefully it will earn us some curious Googlers. Overall though, a very good message. Sweet!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Is it a Date or Just Coffee?

A while ago, I said I'd check out Mo Brownsey's book "Is it a Date or Just Coffee: The Gay Girl's Guide to Dating, Sex, and Romance" (2002). I thought that since asexuals have a particularly hard time defining "dating", that this book might be useful. Indeed, Margaret Cho says on the back cover that this book is "perfect for all girls-- gay, straight, bi, and in-between." Well, not so much. This book annoyed me on so many levels:

1) Brownsey's insistence on calling bi women "gay girls". (Do bi women call themselves gay?)
2) Non-intuitive (at least to me) organization of the book.
3) The fact that the book reads more like an autobiography than an advice volume.
4) The fact that Brownsey seems to have no respect for anyone who doesn't place sex as a priority. ("SEX= LOVERS, NO SEX = FRIENDS", she repeats-- caps are hers. Yuck! I always think queer people will be more open-minded, but they can be stuck inside the same rigid dichotomies as [many] straight people.)
5) The fact that this book doesn't provide any information that a sensible friend couldn't tell you. And your friend could tell you this without the cutesiness that many authors think passes for "accessibility". In general, the book tried way too hard to be funny, which always makes me wince... I don't understand its great reviews at all.

Sigh...I guess I'll have to keep looking for ase-friendly dating advice...

Edit: I feel like I'm being so harsh here, but the truth is, I've never read a book about dating, love/sex or relationships that wasn't written for the most simplistic possible audience. I'm not assuming that authors necessarily share the views of their books, as they're writing for a genre that, unfortunately, has been very narrow in its scope. I've never seen a book about dating that challenged the status quo. Which doesn't make any sense, as revolutionaries need love, too.