Asexual on the Spectrum

I’ve not written much about asexuality and asperger’s syndrome on this blog. I did write about asexuality in April and aspieness in June, but it’s been quiet on both fronts otherwise. That’s a shame, as much of my intention with starting this blog was to cast more light on these. Now that a blog carnival about being an asexual on the spectrum has been announced, it is an excellent opportunity for me to bring it up again.

(If you’ve never heard of asexuality prior to reading this post, the first blog post I linked to could be a good place to start. Less so with the second one.)

The risk of misconceptions is difficult at this point. Let me stress that my sexual orientation is something in and of itself, and not simply something that “comes with the syndrome” like some sort of “buy one, get one free” deal. It is a sexual orientation in its own right.

It is interesting with the whole “coming out” thing. With my diagnosis of asperger’s syndrome, noone I knew in real life doubted even a second that I had it. As a test, I talked about asexuality in an oral presentation once, and I detected much disbelief, though noone said it outright. When I several months later talked about asperger’s syndrome, it’s seems noone doubted, and I seem to have garnered much sympathetic light. I wonder why asexuality would get so much more ambivalence, when it is when all comes around pretty simple? I think much has to do with the fact that it is nearly unheard of. It only strengthens my convinction of making “asexuality” with its proper definition common parlance.

The most egregious example of this I encountered was once when my mother and I discussed what my project work for my last year could be about. My mother suggested I do something about asperger’s syndrome. I put forth the idea that asexuality could be interesting to write about. My mother told me that it was not a good idea and it could be interpreted wrong by others. I just straight couldn’t believe what I heard. She just suggested I write about asperger’s syndrome, for heaven’s sake!

I just… urgh. When I first came out to my mother about asexuality, she implied that it just was an idea I had because I thought I could never meet another person. Hugely insulting to me, of course. What is jarring me the most was that she told me when I was younger that it was completely OK for me to be homosexual. It felt an immense breach of trust to me. I don’t consider myself an aromantic, anyway. I think she’s come to accept the concept of asexuality, fortunately, though I’m not sure.

I hope this was fleshy enough for a blog post.
- Henny

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10 Responses to “Asexual on the Spectrum”

  1. Stephanie Silberstein Says:

    It’s interesting, I had the opposite reaction to a degree. My family did not believe I had Aspergers until I was diagnosed, although my friends did. As for the asexuality, the only thing they have ever said is that they wish they knew how to support me. After that they have more or less ignored it. Once in a while they will ask if I have met anyone yet.

    Anyway, kudos to you for writing this blog. I enjoyed reading it. I especially like your statement that your orientation and your diagnosis are two separate things. It irks me that my official report states “She says that she is ‘asexual’” as if it’s something I made up because of Aspergers.

  2. Spectral Amoebas: Round-Up Post « Writing From Factor X Says:

    [...] Procrastination Embodied talks about constantly being disbelieved in Asexual on the Spectrum. [...]

  3. Andrea S. Says:

    It used to be that straight people avoided writing or talking about or demonstrating interest in issues related to GLBT people because, if they did, others would assume that the author him/her/hirself was GLBT. (Talking about the 80s and 90s here, when I was in my teens and 20s) And it was actually an accurate assumption most of the time because it used to be primarily (not exclusively, but mostly) GLBT people who spoke out on GLBT issues in a positive way: during my college years I had not yet come out even to myself as bi so was basically a straight identified person, but when I spoke out in defense of GLBT against homophobia (which was more open and blatant then), people did often assume that I must surely be lesbian myself. As if it wasn’t possible to be straight and supportive, or even interested in GLBT issues as a human rights issue.

    I suspect a similar dynamic is at play where your mother is afraid of what could happen to you if more people recognized you as an asexual person. So she may have meant well in trying to express motherly concern. But I wish she could have been more supportive of your desire to explore this topic further: it seems only natural that a person would want to learn more about something they relate to, and *especially* if there isn’t already that much being written about it. This is the kind of intellectual (and passionate) drive that can lead to groundbreaking works that raise insights that otherwise would continue to be overlooked by everyone else (especially by those who don’t share personal insight with the topic). And sometimes a person has to accept certain risks along the way, such as whatever reactions other people might have about the idea of your selected topic.

  4. Andrea S. Says:

    In thinking more about this … for some reason my mind came back to this moment in my own life:

    I’ve been deaf all my life, something that I was raised to be comfortable with by my hearing parents. I’ve also had attention deficit disorder all my life, or at least I’m pretty sure, except I wasn’t actually diagnosed with it until age 26 (though based on symptoms going back to early childhood). My parents have kind of struggled to accept this diagnosis, in part because they assumed that surely I would have been diagnosed at a much younger age (a common misconception…except that ADD is often overlooked in girls, and also commonly overlooked when it is the distracted/daydreaming type rather than the hyperactive type, especially in the 70s and 80s when I was growing up). I think they’ve come to accept it better now, though I think they still don’t fully understand it.

    Anyway. I was once filling out an application for an opportunity to participate in a cross-disability leadership program and was describing my disabilities as, I’m Deaf, I have ADD. I figured, this is an organization that stands up for disability rights, full participation, etc. But both my mother and another person who is a friend/colleague/mentor discouraged me from mentioning my ADD: they both thought that it would send the “wrong impression” of me as someone who wouldn’t be able to fulfill my responsibilities.

    This moment somehow instinctively feels like it is “connected” to what your mother said to you in some way, though I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe because these were both moments of invalidation, even though they both came from a place of good intent.

  5. oh wow it's nothing Says:

    How do you know that you are asexual? Have you even finished puberty?

  6. Soul Threads Says:

    wow, I can only say that coming across this blog has been incredibly eye-opening. I know people who have Asperger’s like me but they are not asexual, as far as I know…Do you not wonder if this combination is somewhat related? I really don’t talk about these things at my aspie group meetings. Kinda of awkward.

    • procrastinationembodied Says:

      I’m glad you commented! It’s fairly clear there’s a significant correlation between divergent sexual orientation and behaviour, and Asperger’s syndrome. I’ve read a fairly good book about this, but it’s in Swedish; I’d say it’s likely there’s a similar one in the English language, though.

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