Category: Coercion

Letters to an Asexual #39 (“We have a right to EXPECT sex unless otherwise disclosed!”)

This is #39 of a series in which I read correspondence between me and people who have questions, comments, or–more often–misconceptions about asexuality.

Here I share someone’s opinion on sex in relationships: namely, that they have a right to expect sex 2 to 3 times a week unless otherwise agreed. If asexual people want to negotiate otherwise, they say, that is fine, but if they do not explicitly tell their partner(s) how little sex they will be getting, this is a violation on par with not paying your bill at a restaurant or refusing to use the toilet in your shared home. Nice!

TRIGGER WARNINGS:
Acephobia/Aphobia
Invalidation
Suicide threats/emotional abuse
Panphobia
Homophobia

Asexual oppression and all that

 

Excerpt:

«“Oh yeah, asexuals are just invisible, we don’t experience real oppression/legalised discrimination/violent oppression/other things go here as well.”

Usually used contrasting us to other queer groups, in order to explain why we’re so much better off than they are.

Let’s take this apart.

First of all, invisibility is a form of oppression. We’re all clear on that, yes? This isn’t exactly a new idea. It’s not a new idea to sexual queer folk either. In a comment on this post about anti-asexual attitudes by Stephanie Silberstein, Sciatrix writes:

Well, on the other hand–isn’t constant and (to a degree) enforced invisibility a form of oppression all on its own? Oppression doesn’t have to be violent or about legal discrimination to count. Or, well, if it does, I see plenty of other complaints about Glee in particular and media in general that are suddenly invalid: desexualized and perpetually single queer characters in contrast to straight characters who get to have romantic relationships; unequal time put on relationships of queer and straight characters, stereotyping of queer people in media, Magical Gays, bisexual erasure, and so forth. If all oppression has to come down to violent or legalized discrimination… well, we’ve just drastically restricted the breadth of what it means to be an oppressed group under a privileged hegemony.



There does not exist a quota of “you must have this high a risk of experiencing violence due to your orientation” before you’re allowed to say you’re oppressed, mmkay?»


Read the whole article here.

Why We Need Mental Healthcare Without Asexual Erasure – And How to Get There

Excerpts:

«The first person I told was my therapist. Big mistake.

She immediately responded by telling me that my asexuality would go away as I got older (I was 18 at the time). She also said that she thought that my lack of interest in sex was probably “just a symptom” of my depression.

I argued and told her I didn’t think it would go away. It was true that I’d been experiencing depression since long before puberty started, but it just didn’t feel like a symptom to me – it felt like an identity.»

«One partner thought he could make me sexual, so he pressured sex when I didn’t want it, and I gave in because I grew up in a world where sex is considered an obligation in relationships.

It wasn’t until I felt validated and assured in my identity that I gained the ability to talk about my sexuality safely and openly, making my relationships healthier because I was able to communicate more honestly and (assuming a respectful partner) ensure my needs were respected. 

If my therapist had actually supported me instead of denying my own self-wisdom and understanding, I might have gained those tools much earlier in life.»


Read the whole article here.

Asexuality and Rape

Excerpts:

«That problem is how asexuals are exceptionally prone to the outskirts of the rape culture when they interact with and date sexuals. This is especially true of romantic asexuals.

Now what I mean by this is not that they are especially prone to forcible rape and the types of rape we most focus on when discussing rape, though these occur far too often and can affect asexuals just as much as sexuals.

What I mean are coercive rapes. Those where one’s autonomy and free choice is put to intense pressure and manipulation in order to force a technical consent, which is nowhere near the gold standard of mutual enthusiastic consent or informed consent. This can occur in many forms:

– Using alcohol to try and remove ability to withdraw consent
– Stating that whether one’s partner loves you or not is wholly dependent on whether or not they put out.
– Wearing down resistances to no so they accept to shut you up.
– Lying about the effects of sex without desire in order to manipulate a partner into giving sex.
– And using cultural memes towards how sex is owed to your partner to exact sex from an unresponsive and not-enjoying-it partner.

As well as many others.»

«And asexuals may just be another victim of this idea that “yes should be a default” in a committed relationship, but they are one especially prone to it. Not only are they ones for whom the default is usually no, but they are usually ignorant about the “accepted rules” most sexuals use to navigate the rape culture.»


Read the whole article here.

TRIGGER WARNINGS:
Acephobia/Aphobia
Invalidation
Harassment

Asexual Men and Rape

Excerpt:

«Part of being “a real man” is having sex with a lot of women (before eventually being ensnared by the old ball-and-chain, of course). Celibates are not “real men.” Virgins are not “real men.” The abstinent are not “real men.” Those with low sex drives are not “real men.” And, crucially, asexual men are not “real men.”

So of course asexual men endure the standard array of pathologization, criticism, mockery and disbelief when they come out as asexual: “there must be something wrong with you,” “you’re just repressed,”  “you’re just a late bloomer,” “you’re a misanthrope,” “you can’t get laid,” “you’re gay, aren’t you?”»


Read the whole article here.

Letters to an Asexual #15 (Asexual Prejudice & Discrimination)

This is #15 of a series in which I read correspondence between me and people who have questions, comments, or–more often–misconceptions about asexuality.

This one covers a question we sometimes get from a vocal minority in the queer community claiming asexual people absolutely do not have problems worth discussing because the very worst thing we ever experience is “hurt feelings” over people not acknowledging our orientation.

Here are the citations and links for everything mentioned in the video.

Siggy’s Breakdown of asexual queerness (orientation and gender identity):
http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/2010…

My appearance at Creating Change (where I was invited to discuss asexuality at an LGBT conference):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3VnHa…

My interview in the Gay Voices section of the Huffington Post:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06…

The numbered list backups:

1. JOB AND HOUSING DENIAL:

* The study documenting asexual discrimination: “Intergroup Bias toward ‘Group X’: Evidence of prejudice, dehumanization, avoidance, and discrimination against asexuals”
http://gpi.sagepub.com/content/15/6/725

* An anecdotal account of possibly being fired for asexuality:
http://thecupcakeace.wordpress.com/20…

* A follow-up to this story by the same person:
http://thecupcakeace.wordpress.com/20…

2. ADOPTION DENIAL:

* Discussed in Olivier Cormier-Otaño’s lecture, wherein he mentioned asexual couples getting denied adoption because “If you’re asexual, you’re not fit to be married.”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-cI61…

3. CONSUMMATION LAWS:

* These may change, but as of the creation of this video, the states requiring consummation for a marriage to be legal are here:
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Which_state…

* For laws regarding consummation as it refers to a couple that includes one immigrant, please see this document:
http://www.state.gov/documents/organi…

4. ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW:

* In New York, SONDA, the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, mentions asexuality as one of the sexual orientations that cannot be discriminated against legally.
http://www.ag.ny.gov/civil-rights/son…

* In Vermont, asexuality is included in a “protected category” list under “sexual orientation”:
http://hrc.vermont.gov/

* The proposed legislation in Texas that names asexuality as a protected class is reported on in a news article here:
http://news.yahoo.com/could-texas-cit…

* The law paper by Elizabeth Emens, accepted by Standford Law Review, which thoroughly examines how asexual people live in a prejudicial environment and how that works out legally, is entitled “Compulsory Sexuality.”
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf…

5. “CORRECTIVE” RAPE:

* Huffington Post discussed “corrective” rape and how it’s hurting the asexual community here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06…

Here is a Tumblr thread where another user and I discuss rape threats:
http://swankivy.tumblr.com/post/50603…

* You can see some of the rape threats I have received here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncoHJo…

* And you can read about my experience with a man forcing himself on me after I told him I wasn’t interested here:
http://juliesondradecker.blogspot.jp/…

6. POOR REPRESENTATION IN MEDIA:

* Godiva’s is a Canadian show that is canceled. It featured an asexual heteroromantic man, Martin. He was “fixed” with testosterone supplements.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godiva%27s

* Huge is an American show that is canceled. It had an asexual aromantic woman, Poppy, in a minor role. She mentioned her asexuality once during a discussion with a fellow camp counselor and it was never mentioned again.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huge_%28…

* Shortland Street is a New Zealand show that is still going on as of this writing. It featured an asexual biromantic man, Gerald. His asexuality is examined deeply throughout the series.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shortlan…

Episodes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgju7Q…

The bad House episode is called “Better Half”:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Better_H…

7. MISDIAGNOSIS WITH A MENTAL DISORDER:

* DSM definition of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder:
http://www.behavenet.com/node/21614

8. DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE:

* The Trevor Project: http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

* Materials created by AAW for the Trevor Project’s volunteers:
http://asexualawarenessweek.com/trevo…

“And Now I’m Just Different, but There’s Nothing Actually Wrong With Me”: Asexual Marginalization and Resistance

Excerpts:

«In response to a direct question about whether they had ever felt stigmatized or marginalized as a result of their asexual identity, more than one half of the interviewees answered “yes,” more than one quarter answered “maybe” or “in some ways yes, in some ways no,” and around 20% answered “no.” In addition, all the interviewees described at least one negative experience attributable to compulsory sexuality. Here I offer a typology of these negative impacts of compulsory sexuality: pathologization, isolation, unwanted sex and relationship conflict, and the denial of epistemic authority. It is important to emphasize that what follows should not be taken as direct evidence of marginalization, stigma, or discrimination but as the interviewees’ interpretations of and narratives about particular life experiences

«In response to a question about their relationship history, almost two thirds of interviewees reported that social norms about sexuality and relationality and the invisibility of asexuality had negatively affected their interpersonal relationships. Ten interviewees (all female) described engaging in consensual but unwanted sex as a result of social pressure and pressure from a partner.6 Explaining why she had engaged in what she considered consensual but unwanted sex, Marcie, 19, said, “there’s not a lot of visibility for asexuality so when you’re young and you don’t really know that that’s a genuine orientation that you can embrace…you have all of society telling you, ‘You should want to be doing these things….’ So, it tended to get a little sexual but I was always trying to avoid that.” Christine, 21, described the following experience:

The guy I lost my virginity to, I had been in a relationship with him for about a year and I guess I just felt like, well, you know, I need to do this…And everybody was like, ‘Oh, you were raped and that’s awful.’ And like yeah, I guess. I should have said no. I could have said no, but I didn’t. I thought that this is what everybody did in their free time, and so I was trying to be like everybody else.

It is important to note that, according to a substantial body of research, a significant percentage of both women and men report engaging in consensual but unwanted sex for some of the same reasons as those given by the interviewees in this study (e.g., Gavey, 2005; Impett & Peplau, 2002; Muehlenhard & Cook, 1988).7 Thus it is possible that the system of compulsory sexuality negatively affects asexually identified and non–asexually identified people in some of the same ways


Read the whole article here.