Unofficial Asexual Awareness Week 2012 – Part 1

Monday 22 October, 2012

This time, last year it was Officially Asexual Awareness Week. This year, The Powers That Be decided that to increase Awareness, they weren’t going to dictate a specific week to generate awareness. Instead, and this was mostly geared towards America, people should decide for themselves when would be best to have Asexual Awareness Week so that they can get more out of it.

It meant that colleges and universities in the US would be able to make the individual choice that fitted well to their own schooling schedules without causing a scheduling conflict to other US colleges/universities. It also meant anyone not attending a college would be able to group up and throw events in the name of Awareness at a time of year they felt best worked for them and the events, and that any individual person not affiliated with US colleges/universities or splinter groups could decide completely for themselves what they wished to do.

If they wanted to join in with the dates their local College/University chose, they were free to. If that didn’t work for them and they chose their own ways of raising awareness, for example: blogging, vlogging and competition give-aways, then they were well within their rights to do so.

It was ultimately so that people could make the most of their time and wouldn’t feel like they’d be missing out if a dedicated week on a global scale didn’t work for them. Personally I feel like it’s let the sense of community suffer for the sake of American convenience, when it’s usually American Culture filtering through into other cultures that makes these one solid weeks of awareness work so well.

We can’t flood the waves if we’re splashing out of sync. An all year long thing might sound like a good idea, but how far does the word and actions of a splinter group go if the message isn’t loud enough?

Anyway! Although it’s an Unofficial Week of Awareness, if anyone has yet to join in or would like to join in again, I invite you to make this week your week. I think I said an awkward sentence last time about how there was no indication of how long the actual week lasts, whether it’s Monday to Friday, or Monday to Sunday. I’m going to aim for Monday to Friday. Please join me.

I’m A Failed Journalist, and I’m Asexual.

End of Day 1.


Shake the dust off, I’m back!

Wednesday 10 October, 2012

Hello, A Failed Journalist here and I am now officially announcing my hiatus Over!

Yeah, yeah, don’t all cheer at once. I had a tedious task to do, but it’s finally done and now I can get back to business being a twenty-something Failed Journalist.

First of all, I haven’t done much with the place since I moved everything over here, so I’ll be checking to make sure it looks good everywhere and that nothing’s broken, all links and settings are polished and doing their job. I’ll be making a page about my self-inflicted LoveFilm Watch and Review Challenge, and then McFly have released a biography called “Unsaid Things”, so I’ll be writing about that, and then Asexuality Awareness Week is sort of back… and that’s just all in October!

So, yeah, Watch This Space as they say.

Thank you for reading!

-AFJ-


I Was Once A Twenty-Something Journalism Student Wordle

Friday 25 November, 2011

You know, I blogged about Asexuality a total of three times. How has that taken over a wordle representation of the whole blog?

I am confused.


Asexuality Awareness – Part 3

Friday 28 October, 2011

Today is the 5th Day of Asexuality Awareness Week. If Asexuality Awareness Week is like the Working Week, then today is also the Final Day of Asexuality Awereness Week. I believe that a week ends on a Sunday, and a new week starts on a Monday, so therefore, as far as I’m concerned, today is the 5th Day of Asexuality Awareness Week, but it isn’t the Final Day. That’d be Sunday.

And now we’ve got that trivial matter out of the way, I am free to share more pearls of wisdom with you concerning Asexuality.

So what’s on the cards today? The Portrayal of Asexuality Within Popular Culture.

I’m going to be honest here, we don’t get much representation on TV. I can think of three well known people who are said to be Asexual, and two of them are fictional.

The first is Sheldon Cooper, the super genius from The Big Bang Theory who is riddled with autistic-like behaviours and obsessive compulsive disorders. In the first two series, he was shown as not having any interest in anyone on a romantic-based relationship level. Considering the way he treats his friends, it’s sometimes hard to believe he’s maintained friendships. From what i’ve noticed, he sees things as “Scientifically Relevant”, “Relevant to his interests or well being” and “Irrelevant”. He has changed over time and now he even has a “girlfriend”, who from where I saw upto, he referred to as “a friend who was a girl”.

Now, I know that asexuals can have relationships. Some asexuals even have sex. I have said this. Sheldon being in a relationship isn’t the problem. It’s the attitude towards him being in a relationship and the rest of his character. At first, I really liked Sheldon and then, I don’t know, as the series went on, I just felt more and more like he was giving Asexuals a bit of a bad name. Or at least helping bad stereotypes.

It’s his idiosyncracies that might not be related to Autism, it’s his problems understanding people and relationships and it’s this idea that if he is and since he has been in a relationship, he’ll “get more normal”. It’s the idea that, because Sheldon is alone in his quirky little world, he’s missing out on something and this relationship with Amy, that’s the character’s name, is going to make him realise that and “fix” everything. I really like the actor who plays the character, but even he has said some things in interviews that have got to me. I just feel like all these things, together, make Asexuality seem like some sort of disorder.

Isn’t it bad enough that people think that a lack of interest in sex and relationships is an indicator of depression?

The second is Sherlock Holmes. ACD never used the word “Asexual”, to my knowledge, but he very much said that Holmes showed no interest in people in a romantic sense. He had no time for them. People were tools to get to the important thing, the crimes and the understanding of how and why crimes were done. He was pretty much an early day Criminalist with a love of Chemistry. The only people who “caught his attention” one way or another, even outside of the cases and the drug use, were John Watson, the only person who Sherlock Holmes considered close enough intellectually to him for him to be considered a friend and a colleague, and Irene Adler. The One Woman who bested him. People can see this as a romantic thing,  and it is up for interpretation. I see it this way:

In the era Sherlock Holmes is set, Women were still second class citizens. Adler was your average woman, who just happened to be a common criminal. She wasn’t a mastermind. There is cleverness in the incredibly simple, and someone so smart like Holmes was bound to overlook the simple things. He is so used to people trying to best him by raising the bar higher than he has set himself, he never anticipated someone reaching lower. So someone of average intelligence getting the upper hand was a big punch to his ego, the fact that it was a woman doubly so. So she became The Woman. The only one worth his attention.

Yes, it’s such a cliche that arch-enemies of opposite gender are just so full of hatred for each other, it’s actually pure attraction. But Sherlock Holmes? I don’t see that trope, myself.

Now there’s a modern remake of Sherlock Holmes and I have to say, I absolutely love it. And moreso, Sherlock implies right in the first episode that he holds no interest in romantic relationships. His actual words are “Girlfriends? Not really my area”, he doesn’t have a boyfriend, and he considers himself “Married to his work”. Later on he says he’s a High Functioning Sociopath, but I honestly reckon that’s a misdiagnosis, self-diagnosis, and/or a complete great wall of China to keep people away. You’d be surprised at how often people of high intellect see a pattern and develop one of their own in reaction to protect themselves. When you’re a genius who probably got mocked and ostracised by everyone, have enough understanding of people to manipulate them but have no personal experience to uphold relationships, you’re probably going to find it difficult to work with people. People who seem to direct their intelligences in different ways. (Apart from John Watson, who can just about keep-up)

And honestly, some of the facial expressions and pauses pretty much shoot the idea that he’s a “high-functioning sociopath” right out the window for me.

Now, I have been asked what the difference is between Sheldon and Sherlock for me to like one portrayal of Asexuality and not the other. The simple answer is this:

Even Sheldon’s friends try to change Sheldon, and Sheldon doesn’t seem to do himself any favours in that respect. There is a lot more focus on how weird, quirky and riddled with disorders he is, it makes me feel like they’re saying “Sheldon is asexual BECAUSE of the rest of the way he is.” Where as with Sherlock, I don’t get anything like that from those portrayals. Sherlock doesn’t abhore company, touch or even other people, he just hates idiots and stupid mistakes and people who can’t see what is obvious to him. Watson might try and help ground Sherlock, he is certainly a liason between The Rest of The World and Sherlock Holmes, but rolls with the punches. Holmes says something callous, and Watson understands WHY he’s said it. He probably won’t agree, he might try to tell Holmes it’s not acceptable behaviour, but he still treats Sherlock with respect and kindness. And most of all, when relationships become a focus within the stories, the films and the shows, I get the feeling that they’re saying “Sherlock is a genius who can’t stand idiots. He is ALSO Asexual.” They are not connected. It somehow, very subtly, seems to have a very good positive look on Asexuality, without explicitly saying so.

The third person I know of that’s said to be is Lady Gaga. I have no opinions what so ever on her portrayal of an Asexual to the public eye. If she is asexual, then she seems at least to be a sex-positive one. The problem I have, to be honest, is… she’s a very big attention seeker and she says a lot of stuff in interviews that seem to be said just for shock value. Here is this provocatively dressed singer, sings about relationships with people… saying she’s asexual. It doesn’t add up, but maybe that’s a good thing. Stops some stereotypes or pre-conceived ideas in their tracks. But she reminds me of this friend I once had who was a compulsive liar. He always wanted attention and he would come out with the thing that would give him the most attention at that time. For a while, he was openly gay. Asexuality is something that is gaining in visibility. I wouldn’t say it’s an “In-thing”, but more and more people are becoming aware of it and though they might not know anyone, they recognise that it is something that a lot of people are and know that it’s sometimes considered a “controversial issue”, due to people being disbelieving about it.

So being a famous singer who thrives on getting attention for being “out of the oridnary”, what could make you seem more out of the ordinary? Why, being part of a minority that is just gaining awareness. It’s passed the “Whaaaaat is that?” phase, it’s moved onto the “We’ve heard about it, but we don’t believe it” stage and it’s just the perfect time for someone to voice their asexuality without too much of a backlash. If you’re a famous person anyway. There’s always good lawyers on their side…

And if she isn’t really asexual, I think we as a minority sexuality could face a very big backlash. We are, comparitively, in the stages homosexuality was in the 70s and 80s.

And that’s all I have to say for today. I welcome discussion on this entry and anything I’ve said, but I can’t actually reply to comments individually, so please keep checking back for responses on future updates.


Asexuality Awareness – Part 2

Tuesday 25 October, 2011

Today is Day Two of Asexual Awareness Week. I’m not quite sure how I’ve gone from barely acknowledging my connection to Asexuality to blogging about it twice in one week, but here we are. I’ll deal with it as I go along.

The main problem I have with acknowledging asexuality, is down to my own feelings about, well, everything that other people need to be told about. I’ve spent most of my life out of the loop, barely having friends outside of school and no two worlds colliding. Similarly is “The Internet” and “People In My Life”. Not even most of my “Internet Friends” know about this blog, or indeed ~The Whole Asexuality Thing~. If I had something visible or physical to share, like an actual boyfriend or whatever, then I can see the point.

But what’s the point in announcing that, actually, I’m not having sex? Why is that something to shout about?

Well, Asexual Awareness is a pretty good reason. And here we are.

It’s just like everything else in people’s lives. Unless people say “Oh no, i’m exactly like that too,” people might think there’s something wrong with them. People might be made to feel bad about themselves for being different in this way, have no reason to explain, feel alone and try to fix themselves. Or worse, keep putting themselves into situations that aren’t good or healthy for them. This isn’t just a case of a phobia or commitment issues, this is a lack of something that a lot of people find important in relationships. Knowledge leads to understanding and the power to make informed decisions on whether people want to try for a relationship they otherwise wouldn’t want to be in, or to say “No, actually, nothing is wrong with me. I am fine the way I am. You can’t make feel bad about this. We can either come to a compromise we’ll both be happy with, or we’ll have to end it.”

That is why Asexuality Awareness is important.

Yes, there are supposedly just 1% of the population of us. Yes, we are probably very few and far between. But that’s no excuse for other people to ask us “Why aren’t you normal?” and demand some sort of compromise that, personally for me, wouldn’t be a true compromise. It is, sadly, a deal breaker for a lot of people. Being an asexual myself (THERE! I Said it *proud of self*), I can’t understand how that works. I thought it was bad enough when people state that they can’t imagine being in a relationship with someone disabled, but I can at least understand that to some degree. I live with a disability, it is a very demanding thing that never goes away. It is very imposing on other people’s lives and causes a lot of stress and worry.

When they say that about asexuals and Asexuality, on the other hand, I can’t understand it at all. The less said about this train of thought, the better, actually…

So, how did I hear about Asexuality myself? Seeing as there’s a very big lack of Asexuals represented within the media…

Well, one night, I was talking in a group chat with a friend and his group of friends. They used to over share a lot of information, but after a while, it was something I learnt to get used to and ignore. A question was thrown my way in an attempt to rile me up and I replied that I was in no way interested, at all, and would probably never will be. And that I really thought my time was better spent doing better, more important things that I actually had an interest in.

It was intended to be insulting as well as a truthful statement, and one person asked “Does that mean you’re asexual?”

And to be honest, I didn’t answer because it was the first time i’d heard of it, as something I could be that would explain… it, all, everything, Something. Also, I thought replying either way would bring on an a new round of “make fun of the outsider”. Before that, I’d named it “nonsexual” or as a joke, “the name of the celebrity I fancied”-sexual, even though I didn’t see him as a potential partner in that respect either. The easily embarrassed and shy cards always came in good use for when I was otherwise unable or unwilling to answer questions.

And then since then, I’ve dabbled and lurked around asexual-related circles, became frustrated at media portrayal, shared woes secretly with other asexuals, told three people… inferred and implied to a lot of other people…

And wrote this blog.

I hope my efforts are enlightening to someone. I can’t state that everything I say will be applicable to all Asexuals. It won’t be. There’s a lot of variety, like I said yesterday. I am not Queen Representative of Asexuality, or a pioneer. I’m just… me.


Asexuality Awareness

Monday 24 October, 2011

Today marked the start of Asexuality Awareness Week.

This is my first proper blog post ever about the subject, in fact it’s the first time I’m publicly acknowledging asexuality personally, so I’m a bit nervous about this. Please bare with me.

So, Asexuality. Also called Non-sexuality and on one memorable occasion, “Anti-sexuality”. I think maybe all three of these can be accurate, but not interchangably so and definitely not exclusively so. That’s one thing about Asexuality, it’s all a bit varied. And it’s not to be confused with the scientific term that means a biological ability to procreate by itself. Thank you, Anonymous Friend in 2009 who asked me “What? Like Godzilla?”

No. Not like Godzilla. Nor like the more common comparison, an Amoeba.

In simple terms, it basically means “I have no desire or natural inclination to have sex with you or anyone else.” It should be that simple, but then people get involved.

In not-so-simple terms, the default line is still there but people vary and what it can mean is “I have no natural inclination to see you in a sexual way, but I will have sex with you for your sake anyway because making you happy would make me happy.” and/or “I have a mild natural inclination to see you in a sexual way and desire you as such, but not all that often. The feeling comes and goes, really.”

Lots of people take offence to this and I honestly don’t understand why. Would a woman be offended if a man said “Sorry, you are very good looking and lovely, but actually I’m gay”? No. She’d probably be embarrassed.

If someone has acknowledged being asexual for a while, they have probably heard it all. “You haven’t met the right person yet”, “Well clearly they mustn’t have done it right”, “Maybe you’re gay?”, “You’re just immature and you need to grow up”, “Could it be depression or a hormonal imbalance?” and even worse, “Well, you have all of these other issues, maybe this is another one of them.”

Actually, no, even worse is the people who insist that if an Asexual has never had sex, then how do they know they don’t like it.

Let me tell you something. I’m 100% sure that I don’t want to jump off a cliff and free-fall to the ground, and I don’t need to do exactly that to know so. Just because Adrenaline Junkies think that it would be a good idea doesn’t mean we should all have an interest in jumping off cliffs and free-falling to the ground. Not everyone has the interest, not everyone is built for it, and the same goes for sex.

I don’t understand why people don’t understand this. I’m actually pretty lucky that I don’t get much said to me in this regard. That’s because when I’m not too busy being on bed-rest and going back and forth to the hospital, when I do have some sort of social life, I play the shy and quite easily embarrassed card.
iI am actually quite easily embarrassed, but I’m more along the lines of Social Anxiety than shyness. There’s a difference. This is also related to my On-line Dating post. All in all, it’s nobody elses business. If I have something I’d like to share, I will share it.

But back to Asexuality.

There are, of course, some asexual people who do have sex. They’re usually considered Grey-As or Demisexuals. Usually there needs to be a bigger investment involved for these people to have sex**. This doesn’t negate the whole existence of Asexuality. Nor does it impose on heterosexuality or homosexuality. This is just comparable to cutting your hair! Some women are more comfortable with longer hair, some women are more comfortable with shorter hair, some women go with a degree in between and some women make a conscious effort to grow out their hair as long as possible before making another conscious effort to getting it all cut off.

I’m not in anyway trying to trivialise the issues of Asexuality, by the way, i’m just trying to convey how sometimes a sexuality is just about feeling right about yourself and how sometimes, feelings can change.

There are people who are Asexual and Aromantic. This is where they have no interest in having sex, or romantic relationships at all. Might it change? Well, I believe anyone’s sexuality can change. I believe there might be That One Exception for everyone***. It’s not just for TV Tropes or Fanfiction, it’s for real people too!

Then there are Biromantics and Homoromantics. This isn’t just an Asexual-only thing, but many people who are sexual and are homoromantic or biromantic, just lump their sexuality into the simple “Bisexual” or “Gay” categories, with a subheading of “Mostly interested in…”

And then there are people who are of some sexuality but are aromantic. These are all degrees of asexuality. Like I said, should be simple, but then people get involved.

According to surveys, only 1% of the population are Asexual. This is a very small amount of us. There’s barely anyone in popular culture to represent us, and when there are, there are usually other aspects of their personalities that seem to “excuse” their Asexuality.

It’s just not very fair. We do have varied personalities like “normal” people, most of us crave relationships to some degree, and a lot of us end up feeling very alone when everyone else leaves us to go off and be loved and sexed up couples with their “other halves”.

And whenever “we” complain, we seem to be given two typical responses.
1) Suck it up and deal with it, because this is how normal people are and you can’t expect everyone else to join you on your Asexual Raft
2) Go and try a relationship. If the “lack of sex thing” becomes a problem, then it’s your problem and you need to see someone about it. Because Everyone has sex and the Asexual is just too frigid.

It all reeks of how homosexuality was treated years ago. This old fashioned attitude that therapy is required, that it’s not normal, that it even goes against religion and what’s expected of us. I’d like to think that in twenty years time, people will be just as disgusted with this behaviour as they.

Really, we’re people too. We just don’t want to have sex.

Cuddles are usually welcomed though.

And that’s my contribution to Asexual Awareness Week.

(How did I do?)

** – I’ve had some comments and whilst I’ve made some changes to this post to impove the wording of some things I meant to say but didn’t say quite well enough, I think one of the commenters made something clearer than I ever could. So to avoid actually stealing this person’s explanation and using it to sound enlightened, I’ll link here to the comment. It explains and expands on what I meant by Usually there needs to be a bigger investment involved for these people to have sex

*** – In response to another comment, I’d just like to take a minute to explain that i’ve worded myself terribly here and said pretty much the opposite of what I meant. And I understand why it’s come across that way. What I meant, really, is that Some People Might have an exception, along the lines of Fluid Sexuality, and if, say an Aromantic Asexual, did find someone that was their exception, then that doesn’t negate their life long sexuality. It in no way means that other people were right and that the person just needed to wait for “The Right One To Come Along” or that they’ve been in denial all this time about the sexuality they were saying they were. It also doesn’t mean that, if they do apply a new definition to themselves, that they are automatically compatible with this so called Exception.

What I meant, is that a person might find themselves feeling a different way about someone, just one single someone, and that what they feel might be within a different part of the sexuality scale. They might still be Aromantic, they might still be Asexual with a different Romantic inclination. It doesn’t mean it’ll stick, it doesn’t mean what they feel is exactly the same as what other people feel when they feel similar things.

I’m sorry that I can’t articulate what I mean very well when it comes to this issue, but that really is the thing about Asexuality. It’s very varied and complex and complicated and even the simplest things can cause people to get tongue tied and seemingly talk in contradictions.