So here’s the facts:
52% of AVENites polled said that we should change the definition of asexuality to ‘does not experience sexual attraction and/or has no desire for partnered sex’.
In another poll, 47% of AVENites said the definition should be ’does not experience sexual attraction and/or has no desire for partnered sex’, while 49% preferred the old definition.
In a third poll, there was a 50/50 split between those who don’t mind and those who disagree with changing the definition to ‘the lack of an inherent inclination to engage in sexual relations’.
The third thread is particularly interesting- ‘rewording the definition of asexuality to increase clarity.’ It’s a wonderful euphemism- minor policy change, got to consider the PR angle…
More at the link.
SlightlyMetaphysical, who is the author of this piece, and I were discussing this yesterday: if this definition change does happen on AVEN, what does that mean for visibility efforts off-site? This is a definition that both of us think is potentially alienating for a lot of the community, and both of us have serious concerns about seeing it become more common (as opposed to the current definition). For one thing, it alienates definitions of asexuality from definitions of other sexual orientations, and for another thing it is less clear to me than the current most common definition.
If it was simply a matter of AVEN’s forums, I’d say to hell with it, but AVEN does continue to do a lot of visibility and outsourcing work. SlightlyMetaphysical suggests another static resource containing community organization information but not a forum, possibly something along the lines of what the excellent Asexuality Archive has produced, if this definition change goes through for AVEN’s static material and visibility work as well as its forums. Honestly, I don’t have the resources to do that right now—I’m posting this largely because he doesn’t have a tumblr account. I do share a lot of his worries about this definition change if it spreads beyond AVEN’s forums.
Before this is blown way out of proportion, consider that it’s only 60 something votes. Getting 30 people to go along with a bad idea isn’t all that difficult. Doesn’t mean that anyone on AVEN is actually going to go along with it. I think they routinely get more votes than that in moderator elections for the “Just For Fun” forum. I doubt they’re going to change their decade-old definition because of 30 votes in a poll. Perhaps someone should dust off the website of the Official Non-Libidoist Society and remind everyone why that definition failed ten years ago and why it’ll fail again.
If you are concerned, contact members of the Project Team, Outreach Teams, etc. and bring up your concerns. Lay out exactly why you think it’s unhealthy and encourage them to speak out about it. Some of them hang out on Tumblr, too, so they may have already seen this.
As for the need to grow beyond AVEN: Definitely. AVEN is not asexuality. AVEN does not own asexuality. And the easiest way to do that is to simply do it. Don’t wait for permission, don’t plan your strategy for months, just do it. Do what you can and keep at it. Find a hole and fill it.
I started Asexuality Archive because I was tired of my blog posts getting lost and buried after a week.
I wrote a book on asexuality because no one else had.
And don’t be afraid to fail. (cf. forums.asexualityarchive.com…)
I think there are several areas where there are glaring holes. Someone out there can (and should) step into the void.
- A forum for “200 level” discussion of asexuality. Someplace where we all can talk about awareness, talk about outreach, talk about issues that face asexuals, etc., without having to wade through a thousand “Am I Asexual?” posts every day. Sometimes I want to talk to a kind of “Elder Council” of asexuality: People who know what’s going on or who are respected voices in the community or who know how to get things done.
- Something like an asexuality-themed “Go Ask Alice” site. People could anonymously ask questions about asexuality or problems facing asexuals, and then the answers are categorized and stored for the future. There are already several people here running asexual advice Tumblrs, a site like this would be a natural outgrowth of something like that.
- Books. More books! A post yesterday said that there are currently four books on asexuality in the works. That means that when those are published, the number of books on asexuality that have been published will be… well, four. Four is not nearly enough. And all four of them will be non-fiction. Where’s the ace fiction? How come there isn’t a young adult coming of age tale about some teen’s struggles and ultimate discovery that they’re asexual? Where’s the adult drama about the man who loves his wife but watches his marriage fall apart because he’s just isn’t into sex? Where’s the story about the happy, healthy, socially-well-adjusted person who just happens to be asexual, not that that has any bearing on the plotline? I constantly hear people complaining that there aren’t any asexual characters out there. Well, YOU can change that. (I know some of you like writing fanfic. I’d like to point out that the hottest book series around right now is actually a Twilight fanfic. Maybe the next hot series will be about some openly asexual super-detective that solves crimes with his magic screwdriver.)
Okay then. Let’s change the world.
This is a really good point and an awesome answer! And, I think, is what SlightlyMetaphysical was trying to say—not so much “oh no, AVEN is doing a shitty thing” but “okay, lets consider ways to broaden things outside of AVEN some more so this doesn’t happen again. Because it will.”
I, myself… continue to be overwhelmed with work stuff and a little burned out, and I need not to take leadership of projects for a while until I trust that I won’t be overwhelmed anytime soon. (This being the fall I start graduate school, I’m not banking on that being too soon.) However, if someone else does have the energy to do these things, I would love to pitch in and help build things. Especially the Go Ask Alice! extension site, if more answerers are needed for an initiative like that. 101 and answers to direct questions are something I enjoy and I like to think I’m not bad at them. The problem is getting the initial traffic of questions to answer at all.
I honestly think the best 200-level community for discussion yet created has been the blogosphere. On the other hand, I suck at blogosphere right now, and it can be really intimidating for some people to try to get their work noticed—without someone who is willing to do community organizing and linking (not me for a little bit), the blogosphere ends up being so disjointed that conversations don’t happen and people stop writing. (I am a firm believer that conversations stimulate good blog posts and that far less writing happens in a void.)
Failing that, a forum would be awesome! The trouble with forums is that to get a forum really going, you need a critical mass of posters, and that is going to be hard to sustain on a 200-level discussion. Forums are hard to kick-start (as we found out with the asexualityarchive one) and you need a good body of conversation to lure new people into a community. Apositive actually attempted to create this niche and failed hardcore simply because there wasn’t enough discussion happening to build a community.
So to me, the main problem that the first two of these ideas (not speaking to the third because it’s completely outside of my realm of expertise) have in getting off the ground is advertising. One of the things that makes successful initiatives I’ve seen successful in the first place is advertising them everywhere and anywhere so that as many interested people as possible know they’re an option. AAW as an organization is really good at this. The Carnivals of Aces that have been successful (i.e., the ones before the last several months when I stopped promoting them) did a pretty decent job of this. For people to be able to create communities or access resources, they have to be able to find them, and there needs to be some critical initial mass of people using that resource.