Archive for the ‘"Queer"’ Category

Asexuality and Anti-Capitalism

May 8, 2011

I read a blog post about asexuality and psychiatry which I found interesting. This blog post is not about that (it’s worth a read though), it’s about a comment which I read:

Asexuality is pathologized because it is anti-Capitalist. Asexuality is a lack of desire; desire is what drives the economy. In particular, sexual desire really is what drives the economy, as the vast majority of things we buy are either advertised WITH sex and/or purchased in the hopes of obtaining it. As my friend mentioned, asexuals and their former friends tend to drift apart, even if they are accepted, for reasons relating to this.

Basically, being asexual is an assault on the philosophies of the market and desire, and is in turn an attack on the inner “life of spectacle” that advanced capitalism has created. This “life of spectacle” exists in the subconscious of every member of the advanced capitalist society, and when it is threatened, the person in question feels similarly threatened. Wanting sex isn’t just a basic fact of life, it is one of the basic mechanisms by which our entire economic system works. I think people, whether they are aware of it or not, are tuned in to that fact enough to sense it being challenged.

Personally, I support that challenge wholeheartedly

I find the implication that if everyone didn’t want sex (which is slightly different from being asexual, though for obvious reasons they tend to overlap) capitalism would collapse quite ridiculous. The sex part of modern capitalism as seen in advertising could be argued to be a response to the sexual revolution – but it would be just that, a response, not particularly contingent with the plasticity of capitalism. This blog post, the latter part, which I wrote earlier might with some modifications be an indication of a world where noone desires sex (or raising children).

Though desires as such might be a central part of the capitalist system, and it would stop if there were no desires, it would stop because nobody has a desire to live and, well, dies. As such, I am not sure what asexuality as a concept would offer people. It is simply an orientation: nothing more, nothing less.

Acapitalist practices create acapitalist desires. There are many things that could serve as “escape lines”, but asexuality as such isn’t one of them. We should try to make a common, a practice, regarding what is sometimes referred to as “love, sex and companionship”. I think relationship anarchy fits into this. I believe that through the mindset of relational anarchy, we can go a long way towards a new manner of living. While capital could spread its tentacles to incorporate this as well, it has a great potential nevertheless. If creating acapitalist desires is impossible, then I dare say that the revolution is doomed from the start. I would like for it to be possible.

Asexual on the Spectrum

January 22, 2011

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


April 23, 2010

I’ve seen a few misconceptions regarding the whole asexuality thingy, which I would like to clear up, along with explaining some concepts closely related to asexuality. Some increased visibility can’t hurt, either. I guess I’ll start off with the very definition of an asexual:

someone who does not experience sexual attraction

A celibate is someone who chooses to abstain from sexual activities, like say the Pope. They try to ignore their possible sexual attraction in favour of whatever motive they pursue, being asexual is not a choice. Indeed, while most asexuals obviously are celibates, there are a few asexuals who do sex. I’d like to clarify that the Asexual Visibility and Education Network is in no way anti-sexual, though isolated asexuals are.

What’s sexual attraction, then? It’s somewhat vague. Not to say complicated… Hmm. AVEN wiki says:

Sexual attraction is a feeling that sexual people get that causes them to desire sexual contact with a specific other person.

1) You feel sexual urges.
2) You want to relieve them with person X through sexual activity Y.

This is not to be confused with a sex drive:

More commonly referred to as ‘libido’, a sex drive is a desire for sexual contact. In the context of asexuality, sex drive is an important concept because some asexuals have a sex drive but lack sexual attraction, while others have little or no sex drive. This is the main reason some asexuals masturbate and some do not, and can confuse people who either don’t fully understand the definition of asexuality, or don’t see sex drive and sexual attraction as different things.

It is of course important to differentiate between sexual attraction and romantic attraction:

Romantic attraction is a feeling that causes people to desire a romantic relationship with a specific other person. Many asexual people experience romantic attraction even though they do not feel sexual attraction. Sometimes this romantic attraction is directed towards a specific gender, giving asexuals who experience it a “romantic orientation” that is different from their sexual orientation. Other asexual people do not feel romantic attraction, and classify themselves as aromantic as well as asexual. It is speculated that aromantic but sexual people also exist.

It is a strange phenomenon in our world that sex is considered to be a prerequisite for a successful relationship, or even one of the things which define a relationship. There is a view that two people who don’t have sex with each other can never be anything more than friends. Even when asexuals get married and so on. One could turn it around and wonder if people who do have sex with each other can’t be anything more than just friends with benefits. I can add that some asexuals do have sex in their relationships.

Like there are different sexual orientations, there are also different romantic orientations. Here are some of the most common (and isn’t exclusively refered to asexuals):

Panromantic (attracted to all genders)

How many asexuals are there out there? According to this study, a very, very rough percentage would be 1% of humanity. There are factors like how the questions are phrased, the general knowledge of the concept of sexual attraction and so on which could cast doubt on the accuracy of this study, but for the moment one could treat it as a very approximate number.

Seeing as asexuality as a concept is quite new, not an incredibly large amount of research has been conducted surrounding it. There is some, however. Here is a list of current studies related to asexuality.

I think those are the rough basics. To clear up some confusion about what an asexual is and isn’t, this blog has a nice little flowchart:

International Women’s Day

March 8, 2010

I am not a Monday person. As I ate breakfast today, I heard on the radio that it was International Women’s Day today. I asked myself if this would be a good subject for a blog post. “I’m too fatigued on Mondays, fuggedabatit” was the reply. As the radio program kept on, it mentions this day marks the 100th year since the first international women’s conference, which was held in Copenhagen. I finally gave in, and told myself “Oh, all right, I’ll [expletive removed] do it”.

While the pendulum indeed swings the other way sometimes (as in, men are the center of discrimination instead) it cannot be denied that as far as gender-based discrimination goes, a very vast majority has been targetted at women throughout history. There seems to be a wide-spread misconception that women’s rights activism suddenly started in the 1970’s; it has had a rich history.

The day appears to have had a more distinct role in Russia. After all, the day was started by socialists, even though Karl Marx himself perhaps wasn’t the most avid supporter of women’s rights, saying that a woman’s place was at home. In 1913, women in Russia observed the day for the first time. In St. Petersburg, they demonstrated, demanding the right to vote. In 1917, the big year when the revolution in Russia begun, the mass demonstration by women on this day is considered by quite a few historians to have been the spark that lit the gunpowder keg. Alexandra Kollontai, a Bolshevik, persuaded Lenin to make it an official holiday in the USSR. In 1965, it became a non-labor day. Alexandra Kollontai is also famous for having been the Soviet ambassador to Norway, making her the first female ambassador in history. Incidentally, Khertek Anchimaa-Toka was the Chairman of Tannu Tuva (a small country in Siberia which was independant from 1921 to 1944 [which I happen to have a peculiar interest in]) from 1940-1944, making her the first elected female head of state in the world. International Women’s Day in the Soviet Union eventually became more, hmm, lame, becoming more an apolitical event in which motherhood, spring and so on were focused upon. But there’s no questioning that today, in the Russian Federation, it is a bigger holiday than in other countries.
The woman. The myth. The legend.

Now, through combined efforts of women rights activists, we have come much closer to gender equality. We still have a long way to go; even though the laws in many places around the world have been modified, the domination of men in positions of power are still strong, with lines of graying men. Breaking this norm will be hard, and perhaps we’re taking a step backwards in many areas, but I think that if we’re passionate and conscious, as well as unwilling to bend to old paradigms, we can take a huge step on the way towards real progress.

Also, don’t forget to celebrate International Men’s Day, the lesser known day, on November 19th. 😉

Before I forget: I saw the following comic today:

Guys' Night

I know that the author and most people reading it find it amusing, and I do find it a bit amusing too, but I cannot see the joke as far as the comic applies to me. 😛

“No Touching” Review

February 28, 2010

If you want a generally better review, check out this blog post.

The description on the back of the book says:

Abandoned by her parents on the streets of China at the age of three, Tiffany has been adopted into a white family in San Francisco. Not only does she struggle with being the only Chinese person in a family that doesn’t entirely appreciate her, she has been dumped by all of her previous boyfriends due to her lack of interest in bed (sex is a chore to her). Being asexual with a sense of inadequacy, she strives to find that perfect someone who understands her. Perhaps she will be lucky enough to find an asexual guy who thinks just like her. Or will she have to resort to creating an imaginary boyfriend? With gripping honesty and gentle humor, this story takes us to China where Tiffany experiences her culture and rediscovers her childhood memories.

If I had to describe No Touching in two words, it would be “Idiot Plot“. The plot hangs together because everybody acts like idiots. Now, I’m not saying that this particular trope in and of itself is bad, but it sure is inconvenient like hell in a book like this.

I’m not entirely sure about the “mentioning of sex/mentioning of food” ratio in the book, but I would say that they are quite close to each other. Tiffany is absolutely obsessed with cherry pies, and goes to restaurants, dinners, cafés etc. on countless occasions throughout the book. It is to the point that my mental image is of someone who is *cough* slightly overweight. In fact, I flipped a page open at random, and surprisingly enough found a mention of food:

“Want a cookie?”
“Sure, looks delicious,” I say, reaching for one. This is actually fun. I haven’t spoken Chinese for a long time. Now I get to practice on a real person instead of classmates in Chinese school. The cookie is crunchy and mildly sweet with sesame. “This is very good.”
“You’ve never had it? Take more,” she says, handing me the bag again.
“Thanks,” I say, thinking I have probably missed out on all the authentic Chinese food and snacks growing up in a white family. I thank the old lady for her generosity. She radiates joy and ease, giving me a sense of familiar warmth as if I’m her grandchild. Perhaps this is the familial connection I’ve been missing.
“You’re just like my granddaughter. She doesn’t eat Chinese cookies, only American chips and French fries. So unhealthy and fattening. They cause sore throat,” she says, shaking her head. “She doesn’t even drink soup, doesn’t know what is valuable. Soup is most important.”

(Crazy soup lady!) As is hinted, Tiffany takes her Chinese origins seriously. Very seriously. Her family, as hinted, also takes her origins seriously and Tiffany is painted as treated inferior to her sister. One might ask why her parents adopted her in the first place. The author also appears to have realized this disrepancy, and therefore made a half-baked explanation that her parents thought they were “infertile”. Yeah. So they adopted her (not a proper biological spawn) and later discovered that oh, they really aren’t infertile after all. Tiffany also has gone to “Chinese school” (so that she may speak Chinese later in the book), but also mentions being disappointed about having no Chinese friends. Ain’t that odd.

Tiffany also happens to be utterly deranged. She has a love affair with her pillow, who she has named Aurelius. Makes out with it/him a lot, to the point where it’s starting to crack by the seams. To quote the book: “I put the pillow aside tonight. I’ve been seeing Aurelius way too much lately”. Tiffany’s a real loser, to be honest. She says that she is dumped by her boyfriends as quick as they hear she’s asexual, but I figure they probably think “oh, there’s a perfect excuse to dump that crazy chick”. Probably not the best image of the asexual. Also, at one point she lies to her date Michael about this Aurelius winning at the lotteries, and thus dumping her. She then has a lot of guilt about betraying her pillow, and promptly sleeps without it. Michael’s actually a pretty decent chap, though he had the misfortune of encountering Tiffany.

I haven’t mentioned the big elephant in the room (she also has an elephant obsession, I can add): her roommate Aaron. Aaron’s homosexual, but doesn’t have a whole lot of luck with relationships either. What really frustrates me about the character is the part when Aaron pretends to be Michael to Tiffany’s parents (no, I’m not kidding). What follows is Aaron making out with Tiffany in front of her sister to give the impression that they’re in love. And Aaron when “discovers” that he’s actually bisexual. I’m no expert regarding fluid sexuality, but I don’t think it works that way. *SPOILERS AHOY* Tiffany has sex with Aaron, who then becomes a monk.*/SPOLERS AHOY* What nonsense.

Tiffany’s sister, Carrie, seems to be some sort of warped image of a sexual. She has an undying contempt for Tiffany, for no adequately explained reason. Their father decides to send them both to China, in a vain hope of getting them to be friends. And, it actually works. Carrie has sex with this Chinese dude, too. (Told ya it’s an idiot plot.) Carrie actually says “You probably think I’m a spoiled bitch, and I am, but I have a heart too, sometimes.” Carrie declares that she intends to marry rich, and her mother wants her too as well. (This is so damn silly…)

I am utterly disappointed. I expected a decent book which would give sexuals a better perspective on asexuality, what I got was a very sloppily written book which probably is more likely to give the impression of asexuals being psycho freaks. The book wasn’t entirely crap, but it failed to deliver, and screwed up along the way a lot as well.

Hmm… I think I shall follow the example of the review I linked to in the beginning, and give it one shiny star. Though I might add that I thought it was so unintentionally hilarious, it was worth the money.