aceadmiral said this in a response to an ask, and I wanted to reply but there was no SPACE. So I’m reblogging.
I notice there have been several low-libido people or repressed people or Other Untrue Ace Stereotype people chiming in saying that they can understand because they know what society tells people who don’t have sex, too. And they can, to a point, but the main harmful message of “you are not a human being, you are broken and wrong,” is not being received, which is what makes me so frustrated by their accounts.
About the repressed people saying “oh, I know how society treats asexuals because I was pretending to be asexual to hide from my real sexuality”—it’s bigger than that, because the biggest things about being asexual for me are the things society tells us about what we can and can’t have—long term relationships, emotional intimacy, real connections. And the things that society tells me I’m not—fully human, fully capable of connecting to other people, able to be a real and fully functioning adult.
And if you know you’re not REALLY asexual, that you can throw it off any time you want as long as you accept your REAL orientation, that… doesn’t get at the heart of what it’s really like to listen to those things that our culture is telling to people who are actually asexual, because you know that you’re not. It’s much easier to shrug off “sexuality is a fundamental part of being adult” when you know that you experience sexual desire for people, even if you think you can’t handle that yet—because you know that they’re not really talking about you. Those of us who are actually asexual don’t have the option of doing that, because they are talking about us.
Pretending temporarily to be asexual because you can’t deal with being gay or bisexual or whatever is not the same thing as being asexual, knowing that you’re asexual, and internalizing all the negative shit society says about actual asexual people.
And the other thing is that I don’t get flak for being asexual for only as long as I pretend it’s a phase, a temporary state, that I’m existing in a state of potential attraction and unformed sexuality. When I’m not claiming my sexuality as a real thing, people don’t care about it. It’s only when I say “look, this is me, and I don’t anticipate changing, I’m not going to structure my life around the possibility that a person will magically suddenly make me totally attracted to them” that people start getting angry and looking for ways to devalue my identity. It’s only okay to be asexual as long as you’re quiet about it and as long as you accept that it’s only a phase. Once you say “no, this is actually part of my adult self, and I don’t see it changing” society starts coming down hard on you.
So no. People who say “I was asexual and people didn’t make a fuss about it”—were you out as asexual? Did you publicly say “this is me and I do not see that changing?” Did you ever talk about it, or did you just try as hard as you could not to draw attention? Did you ever try taking up space?
If you didn’t?
You don’t know how society treats asexuals. Stop fucking claiming that you do.
I want to be careful of stepping on people’s toes, because I honestly believe the asexual label should be available to anyone who needs it, but seriously guys. If you know you’re not and you’re pretending, or if you come to the conclusion later that actually you weren’t asexual, you need to think long and hard about what you’re doing if you try and say you understand our experience in the same breath as accusing us of appropriating yours.
If you need to seek shelter with us, please, do. You are welcome here. People already say we’re just liars or just repressed, so those are already battles I have to fight, and I will gladly cover for you in them. But you know as well as I do that sexuality is not a choice (hence why you tried so hard and failed to get away from your own), and to insinuate you know what our lives are like because you hid out behind us is disrespectful to us and to yourself. Especially if you’re one of the people who actually used the asexual label. Way to repay kindness.
Yeah, all this commentary.
I mean—look, I’m glad if you found asexuality to be a safe transitional identity. But for some of us, for many of us, asexuality is not a stop on our way to Gaytown (or Straightsville, for that matter). For many of us, asexuality is actually the place where the questioning ends and the comfortable identification starts. If you do find a space to breathe in an asexual label, that’s awesome and I’m glad, but could you please leave it the way you found it when you’re done? I’m not even asking you to pay the respect forward, just to not piss all over asexuals when you’re done. It’s sad that I’ve seen so many people that choose to do this—“I identified as asexual and it was a phase, therefore all asexual people are lying/repressed/hiding from themselves”, but I’ve seen it a fair amount, and it makes me flinch every time.
(If you’re going “asexuality isn’t REAL, all asexuals are really just gay people in the process of coming out/straight people pretending to be cool” in response to this, I invite you to consider this in terms of bisexuality. Because that’s another identity that’s sometimes transitional but sometimes not, and I see I swear word-for-word the same invalidating stuff applied to asexuals from that perspective as I do from people who are aiming to say that bisexuality isn’t real and that people who identify as bisexual are just gay and afraid or straight and appropriating. In my experience, in fact, a lot of anti-asexual hate is biphobia with the numbers filed off and “prude” replaced for “slut.”)