Posts Tagged ‘elephant’

Be propelled by passion, not invest in outcomes.

June 13, 2008

This entry overwhelms me a little; it’s difficult to write.  This is the entry where I take on my own subtitle, where I rethink the labels entirely, and wonder who exactly will still be compelled to read when the perspective offered is not that of a potentially-asexual-lesbian, but rather… simply… mine.

Changing the presentation of a blog several entries into writing it, just as I’m growing comfortable, starting to make friends, and starting to draw readers frankly puts me a little on edge.  And helping to push me over said edge is my uncertainty that I’ll be able to properly explain why I feel compelled to do this, why – to flat out say it – I don’t particularly consider myself asexual now, after what feels like eons of agonizing over the possibilities (sexual, asexual, sexual, asexual).  It doesn’t help that Elephant, my dear and lovely Elephant, is at the center of it, and that miscommunication on my part might unfairly implicate him, might make it seem as if he talked me out of a viewpoint that was helping me feel more comfortable in myself, more secure, more like I knew where I was coming from, and less like a lone freak in the sexual mainstream.  The last thing I want to do is mislead even my most distant reader about someone so close to my heart, especially when the truth – although a bit more complicated than this – is that Elephant flat-out encouraged me to explore the possibility of asexuality, suggested that I dress myself up in whatever labels or identities felt worth trying, and understand that such exploration is healthy and normal and all that other stuff I strive to be.  (Ok, so I don’t entirely strive to be normal, but I do make an effort toward avoiding clinically abnormal, at least when the DSM definitions aren’t thoroughly pissing me off.)  He was, however, concerned – as he initially thought I was telling him I didn’t consider myself relational at all, which – given that connection and relationship are basically the most important things to me – thoroughly freaked out the both of us.  I can see it irritating asexuals to hear that this sexual friend of mine immediately connected disinterest in sex with disinterest in relationships, period, but honestly, I don’t think he intended offense.  I think, from what he wrote to me, that he simply has a very broad definition of sexuality, one that starts with the fluttery excitement of crushes, spans the spectrum all the way into cuddling, kissing, and sex, on the timeline of the individual and… if said individual doesn’t progress all the way across the continuum – (“progress” is a poorly chosen verb, as it implies that sex is somehow superior to crushing and cuddling and so forth, which – as someone who three days ago was leaning toward an “asexual” identification – I’m certainly not going to argue; cuddling all the way!)  – that’s their experience.  Let’s take a walk through Alanis Morissette’s utopia and exist sans judgment, shall we?

I know that, as asexuals, certain people will not want to have their nonsexual relational experiences framed as sexual, and I totally understand that because, more often than not, I wouldn’t either.  Still, something about the broadness of Elephant’s definition clicked for me.  I liked the lack of dichotomy involved, the total grayness so in keeping with the spectrum I see sexuality existing on, and I liked having him articulate my position on that spectrum as fluid, because I (personally) feel it to be so as well.  This was somehow different than being told I will grow out of where I’m at, that it’s “just” a phase (what isn’t, seriously?), and so forth.  It was basically him suggesting that I’m not as different as I think I am, regardless of how I identify, and that I can use whatever terms I want to describe myself, as long as I’m not using them to be self-critical.  (If he sounds bossy, he only sort of is.  He’s straight-forward and super-opinionated, but for years now, he has consistently proven himself to have no other agenda than to see me thoroughly myself and happy, and so, while I don’t always adopt his opinions, I do tend to weigh them pretty heavily.)

I’ve never considered my (potential) “asexuality” self-criticizing.  In fact, I’ve felt freed from self-criticism (and social criticism) by adopting the term.  It was a word I could offer to explain why I was not “how I was supposed to be” in sexual terms – why I didn’t have the proper desires, respond to sexual jokes in the proper fashion, or engage in the proper sexual acts.  It was an alternative to the post-traumatic pathology I had feared for years was the (only available) explanation.  It really has been a blessing to me for discover this.  And yet, I realize now that it may be time for me to adopt a different identification – if only temporarily, again – because although the term itself was not something I flagellated myself over, it was – largely – in response to such flagellations, both from myself and from others.  If I hadn’t so often received the message that there was something wrong with my method of connecting with people, with what I felt and didn’t feel, wanted and didn’t want, I don’t think I would have felt the need to seek out an identifier like “asexy.”  I don’t think I would have felt the need to explain myself.  The root of this descriptor, then – if only technically – is the criticism.  It’s the brother who tells me, (as a joke that unintentionally grazes a sore spot), that I’m a “bad lesbian” because I respond to the swimsuit calendar as an outraged feminist instead of as an aroused lesbian.  It’s the gay-straight alliance meetings that devolve into still more pressure to go to the lesbian bars my friends themselves refer to as “meatmarkets” with the implication that it is past time I jump on the sexual bandwagon.  And at this point, at least, I need – for my own sake – to refuse the outside insistence that I’m not who I’m supposed to be (and my own internalization of these messages) and just go back to being myself.  Myself, the dorky queen of crushes, the girl who aspires toward cuddling, who is slowly growing comfortable enough around the discussion of sex to find it fascinating (if not so much worth trying), and who is free from the binding expectations of others – sexual, asexual, or otherwise.  I don’t like this idea of sexuals and asexuals.  These are not nouns in my world; they are adjectives.  A sexual person, an asexual person, and sometimes the same person skating back and forth between definitions, as I have been these past oh-so-many months, as I will probably tend to continue doing in the future.  So, while I’m hoping to be able to continue writing about asexuality and sexuality, to continue exploring something that fascinates me, I’m not setting out now to do so as an asexual, a sexual, a gray-a, a demisexual, or any other such thing. 

For the moment (at least), I’m just going to call myself me and let that be enough.  Here’s hoping some people are still along for the ride.


Asexual Authorship.

June 11, 2008

So, if there was any question that I’m the Venus of Willendork, specifically, (which for me at least, there wasn’t), I suspect the short story I’m currently working on puts it to rest.  I also suspect it’s a short story only an asexual would write, which intrigues me.  I know I’m not one to include multiple, drawn-out sex scenes in my fiction (and certainly, there’s no call for them in my non-fiction), but I feel like the asexuality of this particular story is evident in something beyond the absence of sex, something that has more to do with the lack of celibacy as a problem and the willingness to sacrifice a sex life for the sake of maintaining a nonsexual relationship.  The plot, which begins with a lesbian proposing to her gayboi roommate using a Ring Pop, – (did I mention it was dorky?) – and unfolds after the roommate accepts, strikes me as silly and fun and interesting, but it doesn’t strike me as illogical.  At the same time, a specific creative writing professor of mine, who constantly perches on my shoulder and who – in certain situations, including every time I write a spoken-word poem – I often tell to shut up and let me write my work, would insist that there’s a rather large elephant in this room that neither of the main characters seems willing to discuss.  I can just imagine the increasingly uncomfortable shift in atmosphere, as he pushes me in one of our workshops to explain why on earth these people do not care about sex.  This is the man who told me last semester, after reading another “relationship” story – (when, when, when did I start writing things so frightfully romance-oriented?  especially given that the closest I’ve ever come to reading such nonsense is the classics – Jane Eyre, Jane Austen, etc?) – that I needed to further “eroticize” the piece, a direct quote mind you.  That was the first time I flat-out rejected one of his suggestions to his face.  I may struggle at times to know what my voice is, but I know “erotic” isn’t it.

The irritating thing is that, when writing something vaguely realistic, most people expect sex.  This is probably further exaggerated by the fact that sex is the story told over and over again in the popular and mainstream genres, one of the many reasons I prefer indie music, indie movies, and basically indie everything.  Trying to convince someone that a person – asexual or otherwise – would willingly prioritize other things over sex, would “sacrifice” sex – to whatever extent – for the sake of something they find more important, feels like a losing battle to me, which just seems sad.  Given, for instance, the way I fall asleep smiling like a blasted schoolgirl after hearing from Elephant, it seems perfectly logical to me that two people like these characters would want to become each other’s legal family, even if they aren’t planning on having sex, and yet I know, folks like  my professor would insist that the characters are either bisexual, repressed/ insane, or simply poorly drawn.  Presuming they’d be willing to give up sex strikes that kind of person as presuming they would be willing to give up food, a comparison that irritates me beyond words.  I have no desire to take up sex, but speaking as someone who did attempt to give up food once (nearly seven years’ recovery from bulimia and anorexia, thank you very much), that ends with a hospital if you’re lucky and a coffin if you’re not.  So, please… explain to me how it’s the same?

I recognize that these characters are more celibate than asexual, but I love them nevertheless, just for being so thoroughly dorky (ring pop?  seriously?) – and queer.  I think starting to identify as asexual has intensifed the extent to which I identify as queer (as in, not the norm), which is interesting as people in the LGBT community seem so much more willing to adopt that term than many (straight) asexuals.   Whatever it is, I’m having fun writing stories like this one, and hopefully, they’ll mean that eventually people won’t have to scour bookshelves looking for characters who maybe, possibly, from one perspective could be interpreted as asexual.  (One of my fantasies, which will probably never come to fruition, as this is – in several ways – not the type of writing I do, is to concoct a piece of “fluff” fiction, similar to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books, in which the norm is to be gay.  I’ve been thinking lately that it would be fun to throw asexuality into the mix as well, but like I said, barring an advance from Scholastic, I’ll probably stick to the projects more suitably my style.  I just like that I’m seeing that style evolve into something noticeably queer, and that the asexuality, gray as it might be, is a part of that.)

Oh, and given that I’ve just written nearly an entire post on a lesbian who loves a gayboi, let me update you with the following news:  As far as I can tell, Elephant isn’t going anywhere; he still appears to love me, thankfully.  I heard back from him, and his response was largely focused on how my mom’s response could have been at all negative, given how liberal he knows my mom to be.  I don’t think it occurred to him that he had the option of being negative himself.  Lovely man, that “Elephant.”  So, yes.  I think I’ll rest a little easier from now on, knowing that.