Sunday, November 30, 2008

Los Angeles is What's Happening (Sort of)

So, I'm leaving for LA tomorrow-- I'd be excited if I got to leave the airport hotel at any time during this sojourn, however, there is no evidence of this. So, I leave reluctantly. I'll be back and posting on Friday. Also, more exciting news in the life of Ily: My full-time job starts next Monday. So, I'll finally be posting every 3 days. I've thought for awhile that posting every other day was too much asexiness for people to handle, but hell, I had nothing else to do with my time. I leave you with Jude Law as Watson, with highly amusing commentary at Go Fug Yourself.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank You Very Much

Today is a special's Thanksgiving (at least here in America) and my Aveniversary. I think it's somewhat poetic that these two days happen to be the same this year. Three years ago, I joined AVEN, and I'm thankful that I did. After I made my intro post, I was thrilled to get welcoming responses from people all over the world, and I immedeately felt less alone in the 1% club. I've come a long way since then, from planning meetups (and not giving up on them) to writing this blog, which has almost 300 posts now. I've met some really cool asexuals in 3 states now-- 3 years ago, I hadn't (knowingly) been acquainted with any.

I like the concept of an Aveniversary because I look to any excuse to celebrate. Although your birthday is technically an anniversary, usually it takes marriage or couplehood (or lots of creativity) to get another. So, I'm thankful for emerging asexual traditions. I'm also thankful (you are sensing a theme) for my family, because I can actually talk about asexual stuff with them, without them trying to change me. They've been really supportive, like my writing, and even seem to enjoy my experimental ukulele songs. They also make it easy to be vegetarian around the holidays, which is awesome (Tofurky!). I'm very lucky to have them. I'm also lucky (and thankful!) to have friends who appreciate me for who I am, and who never, ever tell me I need to get laid. Hee, hee...You guys are great. I'm also thankful to you readers, of course. The fact that you're here encourages me to keep on with this project (especially when you leave comments). Now go enjoy your food, and happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shudder to Think

Recently, I was talking with a friend (hi!) about peer pressure and sex. She asked how I avoided the peer pressure to be sexual (or at least, that's what I think she asked). I don't think I've ever written about peer pressure directly, so I thought it would be fun to write about.

One of my best-remembered experiences with peer pressure was around seventh grade, when I had recently moved across the country. I bought Chumbawamba's Tubthumping album because everyone else was into it, even though it had no relation to any of my own musical tastes at the time. Later, this seemed so stupid to me that I vowed never to be moved by peer pressure again. I did lapse a few times, most notably when I wrote an angry letter to a teacher because the other kids asked me to. That was really a terrible idea, and, before high school even started, turned me off to peer pressure even further.

I don't think anyone "avoids" peer pressure, although that's mainly an issue of semantics. Unless you're a wolf-child, you'll have peers that will pressure you. But, I always felt a disconnect with the other kids in school. I couldn't relate to most of my peers at all-- when most of the girls were talking about things like Jonathan Taylor Thomas (remember him?), I was most interested in environmentalism and science. Whenever I went to school, I felt like a tourist visiting another culture. Finally, in high school, others began to share my interests-- my favorite part of school was working in the organic garden with about 3 other "alternative" kids.

Later on, I think having an asexual identity is precisely what helped me most to avoid the peer pressure to be sexual. If I hadn't discovered asexuality, and still identified as heterosexual, I shudder to think about the unwanted sexual contact I might have had by now, trying to prove to myself that I was "normal" (operative word being "unwanted"--scary thought!). I got new peers in terms of sexuality, which enabled me to withstand the pressure. Instead of coming from my own group, like it did when I identified as straight, the pressure now comes from "outside", making it easier to ignore.

Little did I know that peer pressure would persist into adulthood, and it would be the same as childhood peer pressure. The pressure as a kid is to be a "grown up", and apparently, this is the pressure that we'll still face, apparently until we're around 50. How many times have you heard someone's marriage announcement, and someone else invariably comments about how "grown up" we're getting? As if a marriage is some kind of timewarp that ages you beyond the rest of us! Perhaps Michael J. Fox should look into that.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Links! For You!

Now, some linkage for your hopefully-lazy Sunday evening (or Monday morning):

Glad to see someone is mocking the ridiculousness that is Cosmo, here.

Also, I found this podcast, FemmeCast, through Fatshionista, a cool LiveJournal community. It's billed as "an audio newsmagazine for Queer Fat Femmes, Fatshionistas of all sexualities and Queers of all genders". Okay, so that's pretty specific, but I thought they talked about some pretty universal relationship issues in their latest episode (ep 6), here. Even though I'm not particularly avant-garde in terms of my relationships, they're still one of my favorite things to write about here. The femmes talk about "settling", singlehood, community, and the idea of "scarcity", which I think is particularly relevant to the asexual community. There's a round-table discussion on "lesbian footwarming syndrome" (which relates to settling) in the beginning and middle of the show, and another discussion of singlehood towards the end.

The Transgender Law Center here in SF did a survey in 2006 to collect data about the employment status of transpeople in the area. You can check it out here. "Conservatively, over 35% of survey respondents are unemployed. In January 2006, the official unemployment rate for San Francisco was 4.7%." An issue we need to draw attention to. I know that it seems nearly impossible to get a job in SF...and I don't even have people asking me if I've had gender reassignment surgery. Srsly.

Does anyone have reccommendations for an asexually-related movie? (As you know, I define this very loosely.) I've been way too heavy on the books here. Also, does anyone have ideas for Things Asexuals Like? I've already done teetotaling, cats, and tweed. People seemed to like them, but I'm not sure what else to include...

Friday, November 21, 2008

More Praises, and Fears

If this blog convinces you of one thing, hopefully it will be that meetups are truly important. Maybe my endless rhapsodies over meetups will get you out to one, if you haven't been, or get you to start your own. I'm realizing that asexual discourse taking place over the internet will not be the same as discourse taking place in person. Under the cloak of anonymity that the internet provides, people can spout truly ridiculous ideas. Even though AVEN is very well-moderated, it's hard to regulate the constant anti-sexualism and asexual fear-mongering that I see. But at meetups, people aren't talking about whether asexuals are the peak of human evolution. We're talking about visibility, education, and food. (We definitely love to talk about food.) While there are many logical, moderate, and sensitive people on AVEN, when it comes to the internet, it's the sort of doomsday stuff that feeds into itself and grows, and I find that the more seasonsed members tend to get lost in the fray of people shouting "SEX IS GROSS!" and other things that aren't constructive. Complaning about sex and sexual people will not get asexuals anywhere. I don't love AVEN because some people are desperate to tell you how much they hate genitals, I love AVEN for the theoretical and helpful discussions about how to find our place in this world. And I fear that AVEN will devolve as "people like me" (sex-positive asexuals, I suppose we're called) get frustrated and leave. Just like it's hard to count on a soulmate for all your emotional needs, it's hard to count on AVEN for all your asexual needs.

Sure, you can think "Asexuals are smarter!" in your head. I'm not Catholic and I don't believe in the sin of your thoughts. But when asexuals communicate these things to one another in a public forum, they're creating a discourse and a shared experience. And what do we really want to be fostering? I guess it's too much to ask that AVEN participants keep a vision of our potential community in their minds. But when you're at a meetup, I think that vision becomes clearer. Meetups are not conducive to being prejudiced or pissed off at the world. I always leave happy (except when no one else shows up). I know that it's impossible to have a completely common vision. But if you're interested in building asexual community, I think it's necessary to think about what you want it to look like. For me, it involves getting offline and into the "real world", and I think I've made a pretty good case for the benefits of that. (Says the blogger...)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ahoy Matey!

"I like the word 'soul'. I like the word 'mate'. Beyond that, you got me."
--Big, Sex and the City

"For some women, at certain stages in their lives, the search for a soul mate-- and refusing to settle for less--provides a rationale for their current singleness. But such a justification does not help them envision or find support for the long-term single life."
--The New Single Woman

I hope this New Single Woman-themed series has been relatively any rate, Trimberger has some interesting things to say about soulmates, which is always a juicy topic. I was thinking about the concept most recently while watching the really quite bad show Valentine, which airs on the CW. In it, Aphrodite is transported to the modern-day world in which she runs a matchmaking service with various other gods. At one point, one of the characters looks into an oracle at the future of a woman who married a man who wasn't her designated soulmate. She's so miserable that she kills herself.
Yeah. Seriously.

In Valentine, Aphrodite laments internet dating, saying that she preferred the old ways, in which people would marry whoever in their village "had the fewest pox". In this picture, I doubt that being soulmates entered into it. Apparently, even the gods changed their ways based on popular opinion. And indeed, "soulmates" is a fairly modern concept-- Trimberger claimed that it really gained momentum around the time of women's liberation. One utility of the soulmate idea was that it freed women to be single under the guise of "waiting for a soulmate". The pressure to marry literally whoever was available diminished. Even self-help books coming from a totally different direction agree. In Love Will Find You: 9 Magnets to Bring You and Your Soulmate Together, Kathryn Alice writes, "I believe that we are entering the era of the soulmate. Why? Because as we progress as a society, there is no reason for people to pair up and be together other than that they are soulmates" (1).

But Trimberger isn't sure how positive our facination with soulmates really is. In a note to her text, she writes: "Robert Wuthnow writes that the loose connections in modern society lead people to seek the more intense relationship of soul mates (1998, 52-53). I go even further: Focusing on a soul mate, I believe, undermines these connections. British social theorist Mary Evans also stresses that romantic love is based on and promotes individualism (Evans 2003)". While friendship networks build valuable community, says Trimberger, the search for a soulmate diminishes it. And furthermore, may leave us with few resources for life on our own. In Kathryn Alice's book, quoted above (thanks Amazon!), she talks about a man who moved across the country to be with his soulmate. But after reading Trimberger, I wonder what happened to his community, if he had one. Sure, he gained a soulmate, but he lost his friends, family, and pastimes. He went from having a network, presumably, to relying on one person for all his emotional support. Sure, it's a good story, but how healthy is it?

Asexuality lends an interesting twist to the soulmate concept: When sex isn't necessary for you to have a satisfying relationship, why couldn't your soulmate be a friend, family member, or mentor?
Indeed, it's pretty corny to call someone your "soulmate" unless you're taking marriage vows. Like "virgin", though, "soulmate" is a fine word that is overtaken by implications: Your one chance at happiness, your other half, etc. Kinda scary! Hopefully, one of asexuality's legacies to the wider world will be to take some of the pressure off-- the pressure to date, have sex, and find your soulmate. Of course, asexuals still face many pressures that depend on the person, but I think it would be nice to at least have some options as to which pressures we undertake.

Personally, I think soulmates are like affordable apartments in San Francisco. I know they're out there, and I even know a few people who have found one. But, while I maintain some hope of finding one for myself, I remain open to other options, and try not to let the search consume my life (although it can be tempting to obsess over it). If you do find your soulmate, remember to keep maintaining all the support systems you were hopefully developing before you met them. And invite us all over for a party at your incredibly cheap apartment.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Our Icon Returns

So, this is relevant: A new film of the Sherlock Holmes story (called, according to IMDB, Sherlock Holmes) is currently in production and is set to be released a year from now. Robert Downey Jr. is playing Holmes and Jude Law is playing Watson. Without having seen any of the movie, these seem like pretty bizarre casting choices...although I suppose both Downey Jr. and Holmes had drug problems? Anyway, I don't have high hopes for the potential asexuality of this film...unless Jude Law is sick of being typecast...
Thanks to Andy's Chinese Restaurant for providing me with the People Magazine necessary to glean this information.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Objects of Desire

So, no one wants to argue for the aromantic/romantic divide? I'm surprised by that...

And I don't even know where to begin with this post, but thanks to someone's link to this Wikipedia article from AVEN, I was introduced to Objectum sexuality (or, object sexuality). These are people who are sexually attracted to objects. Based on most definitions of asexuality, these people might be seen as asexual. However, I don't know if they'd view themselves that way. As you might imagine, it's a very small group. The most well-known objectum sexuals are Erika La Tour Eiffel, a San Franciscan who married the Eiffel Tower, and Eija-Riitta Berliner-Mauer, a Swedish woman who married the Berlin Wall (and has a website on the topic). As you can see, both women took on the names of their beloved structures.

Although one article called objectum sexuality a "bizarre fetish", I tried to see where these objectum sexuals were coming from. When I thought about it, I realized that many of us have inanimate objects that set our hearts aflutter in some way. If you love San Francisco, for example, you'll probably have a stronger romantic reaction to the Golden Gate Bridge than you do to a randomly selected human. Look at all the people who drool over assorted cars. And "mountainsexuals" too, which I wrote about previously. As far as I'm concerned, the London Underground is what really lights my fire (I wrote about that here). While I do love scooters as well, they pale in comparison to the tube. One editorial goes further and states that "The thing is, we're all objectum sexuals, really. We might not go as far as promising to love, honour and obey the Thames barrier, but we're all still in love with things: we just lack the carefree confidence and, frankly, the balls, to admit it." (Full article here.) I can't disagree that humans love objects. But most of us, outside of a very small group, don't have sexual feelings for them. Berliner-Mauer says that she actually has sex with the Berlin Wall. Honestly, I'm curious as to how this is physically possible, although I wouldn't press the matter too far.

Objectum sexuality can be related to animism. Wikipedia says: "Animism commonly refers to a religious belief that souls or spirits exist in animals, plants, and other entities, in addition to humans. Animism may also attribute souls to natural phenomena, geographic features, and even manufactured objects. Religions which emphasize animism in this sense include Shinto, Hinduism, and pagain faiths such as folk religions and Neopaganism." On her website, Berliner-Mauer says that her love for the wall does arise from her animist views.

Interestingly, some articles state that a large number of objectum sexuals have Asperger's. Now, I'm aware that this is usually stated in a "they're just crazy" brush-off. However, if you're familiar with the autistic spectrum, it does make sense. I don't know why this is, but a common trait among people on the spectrum is a sense of a life force within inanimate objects. While I'm sure most people wouldn't refer to it as animism per se, autistic people often feel a sympathy and emotional connection towards objects that other people may not. Granted, for the vast majority, this does not lead to a sexual connection with those objects.

Aside from that one editorial in their defense (quoted/linked above), and well, this, objectum sexuality seems to be viewed as absurd. But I disagree with that. When one psychoanalyst called it a "condition", I rankled-- most asexuals have heard that one too many times. Yes, it's unusual, but objectum sexuality doesn't harm anyone, as far as I can see. No, I don't approve of every kind of sexual behavior (I could never condone sex with animals, for example). We try to create objects that are worthy of passion-- at least, I feel that as creative beings, we should. And if, by a small tweak somewhere in the brain, perhaps, some people take that passion a bit further? Is it really that surprising?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Romance Made Easy

Asexuals are constantly talking about romance. However, it has long been my bugaboo that I've never actually seen a definition of "romance" that makes sense to me. When people talk about it, they're almost certainly not talking about the same thing. But thanks to E. Kay Trimberger's The New Single Woman, I've finally found a definition that I can embrace. She writes:

Nor do I deny the attraction of romance, but let's expand our conceptions of it. I like what Barbara Lazear Ascher writes in Isn't It Romantic? Finding the Magic in Everyday Life. "Romance is structured yearning," she writes. "In the romantic moment, we gather and focus that yearning in order to connect with something outside ourselves, believing against all odds that such connection is possible." But Ascher has an expansive notion of romantic connection. "The romantic quest can be embarked upon solo," she writes. "It doesn't call for a significant other, great beauty, pulsating sexuality, a new dress, or complex planning. Its only requirements are the courage of an available heart and freedom of imagination." Ascher gives a wonderful description of the romance involved in bird-watching. (258)

Okay, that was long, but I think it was worth it. I don't know who Barbara Ascher is, but she's said exactly what I'd thought about romance but somehow couldn't put the words together to say. Most of this blog probably preaches to the choir, but I do have at least one controversial opinion: My great dislike of the romantic/aromantic distinction that many aces seem hellbent on figuring out. Especially when you use a definition like Ascher's, the distinction makes even less sense. I worry that when people usually discuss aromanticism, they're talking about romance in a very limited sense. Maybe you're not interested in romantic relationships, but if bird-watching sets your soul afire, are you really aromantic? Maybe I just take things too literally, but shouldn't personal labels be somewhat literal? The label "aromantic", I think, just privileges certain kinds of romance over others.

I think part of my perspective comes from writing poetry. When you write a poem, you have to develop some romantic feelings for whatever you're writing about, whether it's a human relationship or a train station. While Donald Hall's eulogies to Jane Kenyon are supremely romantic, so are David McFadden's odes to Canada. If you have a great passion for something non-human, I wouldn't sell it short. How else would we invent anything, discover anything? I remember reading an astronomy book that quoted a scientist that couldn't get to sleep because he was so thrilled that a comet was passing. Romance is, truly, wherever you find it. I'm not trying to replace "all people are sexual" (shudder) with "all people are romantic". But I do believe that redefining these sorts of concepts is "the asexual way". Rather than just responding to our culture's ideals of traditional "romance", we need to go beyond them.

Next time: An expanded idea of romance taken to the extreme? I try to understand a sexuality even rarer than ours.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Rasputin was the first thing I thought of"

My attempt at London-style meetup reports continues!
So, if you weren't lucky enough to be among the four at our meetup today, here's what happened:

We met at Crossroads at 1, where we had some tasty food and drinks and introduced ourselves. I think four people is a nice number to be non-intimidating, yet keep a good conversation going. Also, our mascot (a giant microbe toy) worked to help identify the group. That was a good idea...
Then, it was a lovely day, so we adjourned to the outdoor garden for a rousing game of Apples to Apples. We pondered deep questions: What could be pathetic and asexy at the same time? (An injured puppy, perhaps?) After that, we took a stroll down the Embarcadero. We looked at interesting boat names: "Understanding God" was deemed to be one of the most interesting. At around 4, we parted ways, confident that a good time was had.

If you missed out this time, join us in January...

Friday, November 7, 2008

The New Single Woman

I've been procrastinating on this post, a book review, because I just have way too damn much to say about the book. I'll probably have to do a short series (please don't be afraid). I recently found the book in question, The New Single Woman (E. Kay Trimberger), while browsing in a Goodwill. I thought it might be good to blog about, so I bought it. Although the title somehow makes it seem like it's from the '60s and is extremely cheesy, it's actually from 2005 and is a fairly serious sociological survey (although it is an easy read). It's not a perfect book-- for example, it bothered me how people's races were only mentioned if they weren't Caucasian. I also have the annoying habit of getting bored when these kinds of books include too many personal interviews. However, it's rare to find a book that not only critiques aspects of society, but actually tells you what you can do to improve your own life (Trimberger focuses on a list of circumstances that she feels women need for a fulfilling single life). Even though the focus is on women over 35, Single Woman probably validates my life more than anything else I've read in recent memory. It's also probably the most ace-friendly book I've ever read. Trimberger emphasizes "destigmatizing celibacy", "redefining romance", and separating intimacy from sex; things that have long been of concern to the asexual community.

That said, the definitions Trimberger uses aren't that clear-cut. She uses "celibate" a lot, which could encompass both sexual and asexual people who aren't currently engaged in a sexual relationship. "Asexual" is used twice, although it doesn't seem to refer to the orientation. However, I have no idea what Trimberger actually does mean by "asexuality" in those references, as it obviously doesn't mean celibacy, either. Example: "Until very recently, neither feminists or sexual libertarians viewed celibacy as part of the sexual spectrum, leaving it to mean only intentional, moral, or religious asexuality (21)."

Trimberger also talks about "sensual celibacy", in which people get their kicks from non-sexual activities (flamenco dancing is an example). At any rate, Trimberger finds a variety of single women that are satisfied with their sex lives, whether they're very sexual or celibate. Oh, by the way, this is apparently what you need for the single life: "...a home, meaningful work that is not one's whole life, a satisfactory sex life or a level of comfort with celibacy, a connection to the next generation, a network of friends and/or extended family, and a community... (87)". Well, I won't inundate you with too many quotes from a book you haven't read. I'm going to go off now and lament the state of the San Francisco rental market; check back Sunday to see how our meetup went.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

People Can Be Pretty Dumb

With my socialistic leanings, I'm used to losing when it comes to politics. I'm aware that most of America is much more conservative than myself. However, I am still shocked and extremely saddened to lean that Prop 8 will, barring some kind of absentee-voter deus ex machina, pass. Although the No on 8 campaign is keeping mum until every vote is tallied, I figure that if The Bilerico Project is admitting that we lost, then we lost. After 8 years of Bush, I'm no stranger to disappointment with my fellow Americans. But I didn't think I'd feel this way about my fellow Californians. I thought we were just a bunch of inocuous hippies and showbiz types! Live and let live, eh? Well, apparently not. In situations like these, I think of:

What use are these people's wits,
who let themselves be led
by speechmakers, in crowds,
without considering
how many fools and thieves
they are among, and how few
choose the good?

--Heraclitus, Fragment 111, 500 BC

People also voted down affordable housing and clean energy in San Francisco. What use, indeed.

I wonder where the gay rights movement is going to go from here. Should they keep focusing so strongly on marriage, or branch out for awhile? I think that working to bring trans rights up to speed would be ideal at this point. What do you all think?

Something joyfully asexual coming at you next time.

Midnight Election Confessions

As you probably know by now, Obama won. Kick some ass, sir. Everyone's talking about Obama, so I'll talk about something that almost everyone is talking about, instead (at least here in California). I like to be different like that. While Obama's win was surprisingly (and mercifully) fast, we're still waiting for the results to come on for Prop 8. As of now-- a bit past midnight-- 63% of precincts are reporting, with 52% voting "yes" (to ban same sex-marriage) and 48% voting "no". WTF, amiright? Gay marriage bans already passed in Florida and Arizona...can't someone throw us one state here?

One thing I love about San Francisco is that people of all sexualities can and do really get behind something like defeating Prop 8 (even though 23% of San Franciscans voted yes-- who ARE these people?). No, I'm not a particularly marriage-minded individual, but it's just like...I see the gay rights movement as a really cool older brother or sister who I think can do anything. I'm impressed with it. I want to see it succeed, and I want to be like it someday. Whatever anyone thinks, I believe the fact is that we do connect. Their loss is my loss.
But hopefully it doesn't come to that.

I can't sit here refreshing the CNN website all night...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cupid's Footsoldiers

I wrote about the book Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and then I saw the movie, which is in theaters now. One of my problems with the book was that it seemed too unrealistic, and this was actually improved upon in the movie, at least to my own eyes and ears. But what I really wanted to talk about was the phenomenon of queer characters acting as "cupid" figures for straight characters. In Nick and Norah, Nick plays in a "queercore" band in which he is the only straight member. In the book, the gay band members are fairly sexual and seem to have their own romantic agendas (however, there's a drag queen character that does seem to have a "cupid-style" role). In the movie, the gay characters' only purpose seems to be to bring Nick and Norah together. In a scene not appearing in the book, the gay guys give Norah a pep talk in their band's van and make her put on a push-up bra. While most of the secondary characters in the book have had their roles reduced in the film, the gay characters seemed to change most fundamentally. Instead of being rowdy kids in a rock band, they became Queer Eye-esque, in fact, one (rowdy) teenage boy in the theater yelled, "Are they going to give [Norah] a new wardrobe now?" Obviously, there are all sorts of fears, prejudices, and curiosities about homosexuality tied up in this sort of portrayal. I won't write a dissertation here...

But, if you look at presumably asexual characters, they never play this role, even though I would sort of expect them to. It would be hard for me to imagine any of them, even the always-perky Gerald, bringing two sexual people together in a romantic way. You could come up with theories as to why this is, but I haven't found an explanation that makes sense to me yet. For example, you could say it's because homosexuality is somehow scarier or more threatening to people than asexuality. However, in Shortland Street, Hunter is very threatened by Gerald. And people who are unaccapting of any sexuality tend to be motivated by their own fears. Perhaps there just aren't enough asexual characters to say, although goodness knows I try.

What's strange is that I saw myself as a "cupid" figure, even before I identified as asexual with certainty. I remember having an acquaintance who, infamously, had never been kissed*. However, after knowing me a short time, she did manage to kiss someone. At the time, I was wondering why everyone was having all these experiences that I wasn't-- while I didn't want to have the actual experiences, I wanted to be "like everyone else". So I reflected on this, and came to the conclusion that I must somehow be causing the romantic exploits of others. Perhaps I had some sort of...powers. This seemed to be the only fitting explanation as to why these experiences eluded me. No, it wasn't just a fact that as people got older, most tended to gain sexual experience. Nope, I can (unconsciously!) control what happens to other people. I know that's probably not the case, but still...I can't find much evidence that that's definitely not the case. Okay, we're traveling a little too far into the bizarre recesses of my mind now. I suppose I was just wondering if "asexual as cupid figure" would be our pop-culture future. I can only guess that it probably won't be. As we all know, our culture doesn't always see us as we may see ourselves...and our questionable magic powers. Bullseye!

*The passive language with which most sexual/romantic rites of passage are discussed merit further exploration.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Virgin in a Black Leather Jacket

While in NYC, I saw something that I've never seen before-- the New York-centric portions of the Sunday New York Times. I found this article, called "Big Smirk on Campus", about a college that was considering starting a club for virgins. Yeah. Club for virgins.

As you may know, I'm not crazy about the word "virgin". Even if we tried, I doubt we could ever divorce it from its strong connotations of religiosity and morality. Even though (I would like to think) I possess these things, they have nothing to do with my lack of sexual experience. I'm sure the same is true for many sexual people of a certain age who haven't had sex as well. In my ideal world, virginity would not be so important that it would necessitate its own label. Even so, it bothered me that this article didn't take the proposed virginity club seriously, even though the school paper's editor called it “the biggest story we broke all semester,”. But what bothered me much more than that was the implication (at least, in my reading) that a guy with a leather jacket and a cigarette, obvious signifiers of "cool" for the author, couldn't possibly be a virgin. He couldn't even be virgin-friendly. It begs the questions: How are the college-aged virgins styling themselves these days? Sweater sets? White robes? Well, there's always that asexual guy from Shortland Street who rocked the "Extra Virgin" t-shirt. ("It's not what you think it is!" Smirk! Wink!)

Anyway, the idea that virgins are somehow identifiable isn't unique. I can't find it anymore, but OkCupid once had a "Virgin Game" where you were shown pictures of different users and had to guess who was a virgin. For the record, I tried it and got a fairly low score. Maybe if there was a different word for "virgin", one that had less baggage, the idea that people could somehow "tell" would be less scary. (Right up there with actually being one.) Last night, thinking of this topic, I tried to spot out virgins on the train I was riding. As you might expect, it was an impossible task. Virgins are among us, and they look just like you and me! The horror!