Asexuality reference dropped in “The Boss” trailer

Quick transcript for anyone curious about the asexuality mention in the new trailer for “The Boss”

Starts at approximately 20 seconds in. Bell’s character is some kind of hardworking underling for McCarthy, who appears to be her obnoxious and flamboyant boss (who then gets arrested and goes bankrupt because of insider training, and then apparently crashes on Bell’s couch and decides to start over by making over Bell’s daughter’s pesudo girl-scout troop into a cuthroat business empire).

Bell: I run your operation, while being a single mom! I deserve a pay raise.

McCarthy: You have a child?

Bell: …yeah

McCarthy: Is that through intercourse?

Bell: Yes!

McCarthy: I usually get kind of an asexual vibe…

Random Dude: I never pictured her with genitals, myself.

Bell: *offended gasp*

…and that’s the end of that. Doesn’t really look like they’re going for the actual ace representation angle. (The trailer also follows it up with some ‘lol lesbians’ jokes about a minute later).

I guess we’re mainstream enough now to be used as fodder for dumb comedy?

 

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When diversity and “safe spaces” become enemies: The Alienation Problem

So in one of the last rounds of the ongoing “we need to emphasize sex-averse aces more!” vs. “we need to emphasize aces who are positive towards and/or have sex more” safe space cycle, someone said something that I think sort of got at the heart of the problem. I’m massively massively paraphrasing here, since I don’t remember the exact quote, but it went something like this:

“The problematic thing about sex-favorable discourse is that when people talk about how they as aces are neutral or even positive to sex, I can’t relate. It’s harmful because it makes me feel alienated even in my own community and it’s not a safe space for me anymore.”

Sex-favorable, sex-neutral, and sex-having aces were rightly offended – being basically told “You should stop talking because I don’t like people who aren’t like me talking in my community” was understandably upsetting.

But I think it gets at the root of this ongoing cycle. For many people, an ideal “safe space” is not only only a place where one is free from outright attack, but also a “comfortable space” where one can escape the internal feelings of alienation that come from being a minority, and instead be among likeminded people.

It reminds me a bit of a few years back, when AVEN was having a furor over whether or not to have an aromantic orientations forum (separate from the general orientations forum). At the time, one of the main arguments was that the orientations and relationships forums were dominated by romantics and it was alienating and driving out aromantics since there were no posts relevant to them. That didn’t seem right to me from my personal experience, so I actually went through and counted  -and at that time, the first several pages of threads actually had more discussions about aromanticism than they had about all romantic orientations combined!

But after thinking about it, the root problem for many aromantics wasn’t that there were too many conversations about romanticism – the problem was that there were any at all. Considering the emphasis on romance in the general population, even a single mention of how great romance was was enough to tip the balance over to “unsafe” for many aromantics.

And in recent discussions about sex-averse aces, it became clear that something similar was going on – because of the general emphasis on “sex is great!” in general culture, even one or two references to “hey aces can like sex” in ace communities is enough to tip them back to feeling alienated and unsafe again. Which is why it seems like no matter what sex-favorable/sex-neutral aces do, someone always says they’re still taking up too much space.

I think this alienation problem is one of the big challenges for creating true “safe spaces” in general ace communities – because all too often, the only way to make a space “safe” would be to silence another group, which would destroy their own safety.

In my opinion, I think at some point we need to realize that maybe truly diverse spaces cannot be completely “safe” spaces – or at least not completely comfortable spaces – so long as different groups have conflicting needs, as we have seen that they often do. Instead, I think it might be better to focus on creating more sub-specific “safe spaces” as safe havens and retreats, instead of trying to find an impossible balance to enforce on general communities.

(A/N: updated the title slightly on 12/31/15)

 

 

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Coming out, the closet and ‘conflicting’ identities

When people ask if I’m ‘out’, I usually say “yes, I’m totally out” – but that’s only half true. I do tend to be pretty vocally out about being ace, both online and in real life. I talk about it, I blog about, I literally wear it blazoned across my chest with several loudly asexual graphic tees. I wouldn’t really describe myself as at all closeted or trying to hide my sexuality – at least when it comes to being ace.

But being kinky is a whole ‘nother matter. I’m usually ok with talking about it in ace spaces, and I talk about it in kinky spaces (obviously). But outside of that…..I’m pretty firmly in the closet about it.* I’m just not comfortable being open about being interested in kinky things the way I can be open about being ace.

Part of that reluctance is probably because of the practical risks  – being ace (or being seen as queer because of it) just isn’t as big a risk, at least not in the spaces I spend time. I might be seen as weird or lose some potential friendships or have to work a bit harder to get ahead, but I’m not likely to lose a job,  or be seen as untrustworthy around children.** Being out as kinky, on the other hand, does carry those risks.

But even though those are relevant concerns, I don’t think they are the biggest stumbling blocks for me. Instead, I feel like I have a certain amount of patience for working through the assumptions and stereotypes that come from being out as an unusual sexuality, and coming out as ace has already used those up.

That stress is made greater by the fact that “ace” and “kinky” are seen by many as completely conflicting stereotypes – one is supposed to be a repressed, moralistic prude, the other is supposed to be a promiscuous, hypersexual libertine***. So being out as both ace and kinky leads to a weirdly synergistic level of suspicion that I don’t get when I’m just out as one or the other – instead of just doubling the level of distrust and invasive questions, it more like triples or quadruples it.

So as a result, when I enter a new space, or a new group of people, I have to make a choice: which one am I going to be out as? And most of the time, asexuality wins – it’s simply more relevant to my everyday life and more important to my relations with other people. And I’m left to carefully make sure never to mention anything “too” kinky until I’m in a place where it’s safe to discuss it.

Luckily, there are places where this identity conflict doesn’t apply as much. For example, in ace communities, I don’t have to deal with as many consequences for being out as ace, so that frees up mental energy to be out as kinky (plus, despite all stereotypes, many ace spaces are actually super chill about the whole kink thing). And in kinky spaces, I’m less likely to be judged for kinky interests so I can instead shuffle my energy into explaining asexuality, although the juggling act is still harder in kink spaces than in ace spaces.

But sometimes I wish that I could just casually be out at both and not have to worry about all this at all.


 

*There is, of course, always fuzziness around being out vs. closeted – while I don’t openly talk about kink with most of my non-ace/non-kinky friend groups, I do still talk about kink stuff here, and I have non-ace/non-kink friends who read this blog, so there are probably people who know. But fortunately if they do, they don’t make a point of confronting me about it elsewhere, which I appreciate.

** Note that everything here is in the context of my personal city/workspace/peer group – a lot of the statements I make here really don’t apply to other spaces.

***These are of course stereotypes, and don’t accurately describe many ace/kinky people, but they do inform how people react to us.

 

 

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Networking Group for Aces on University of California Campuses

Just want to quickly signal boost the fact that we are currently creating a new University of California system-wide ace networking group!

Goals of this group include:

  • To allow leaders and members of campus ace groups to exchange advice and inspiration
  • To provide a place for support and connection for aces who don’t have any local ace connections on their own campus
  • To provide advice and resources for aces looking to start new ace groups on their own campus
  • To coordinate on state-wide awareness and education campaigns.
  • etc.

While the initial focus will probably be on outreach to UC campuses, it’s also open to CSU and community college students and may expand more in the future.

If you are an ace or questioning student or recent alum on a UC or related campus and would like to be added to the group, send an email to calacespace@gmail.com and we’ll give you more info. The group is currently set to secret, so you’ll need to be added by someone currently in the group.

Also, if you know anyone who might be interested, please help spread the word!

(For ace student group leaders at non-UC system schools, there’s also the pre-existing Ace Space Network: https://www.facebook.com/groups/147427558765310/)

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Ace Awareness Week Poster Kit

Want to make some posters to use to spread asexual awareness in your own area? Here’s a template! This minimalist poster design is intended to be easy to print on home computers, easy to edit, and still fairly stylish and catchy.

You can download the files yourself here.

Details:

  1. Includes templates for Word and for InDesign
  2. Fonts used include Futura, Helvetica (light), and Anime Ace. Some of these may not be available on your computer, so you may end up having to download them or substitute similar fonts.
  3. I’ve included sample text on the first image, but you can swap out any text of your choice.
  4. The InDesign file also include a few bonus variant designs with slight differences.

I will also happily input text myself and send you a formatted pdf if you have any trouble editing them yourself.

Here’s an example of one I made for my own local group:

AAW_Poster_Ace Space_Page_1

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Help Wanted: The Ace Press Kit Project!

About the Ace Press Kit Project

As part of gearing up for Asexual Awareness Week, I’ve been starting to assemble a rudimentary press kit for my local ace group, Asexuality SF. As a corollary to that, I also want to create a more general Asexual Awareness Week press kit that any ace org can use – but I need your help!

A press kit is basically a collection of materials to use when promoting your organization to the media, including press releases, high quality images, fact sheets, sample quotes and testimonials, contact information, and more. Making such content easily available to media increases the chances that they’ll be interested in featuring you, and also increases the accuracy of resulting media article by making reliable information more easily accessible.

While the main goal of this project is to create a press kit to be pushed out during Asexual Awareness Week, the press kit will remain available online after the fact for use with day-to-day media requests.

The full contents of the press kit will also be made available to other interested ace organizations if they would like to use them to develop their own custom-branded press packs, which I’d be happy to help with.

In addition to the basic briefs that I’m already putting together, a  good press kit includes a variety of quality images, testimonial that articles can quote, and contact information for individuals available for further interview. And this is where I need your help! I’m currently looking for volunteers who can submit ace-related stories, quotes, and images for use in the press kit, as well as individuals who would be willing to be listed as contacts for possible future interviews.

See below for more information about what exactly we need. If you have questions, or think you would like to submit something, please send an email to asexualitysf@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

In additional, I could also use some volunteers to help edit all briefings as they are completed, so if you might be interested in helping out with that, just drop me a line.

Thanks!

What We Need

1. Images

We all know what happens when we leave the media to find their own images for asexuality articles -we get a lot of plastic sexless mannequins, chastity belts, and mysterious spoons.

Instead, why not make it easier for media by picking out some images for them?

You are welcome to submit any sorts of images you want to the library, but images that are in high demand include images of ace pride celebrations and pictures with ace flags. Of course, feel free to go beyond just the obvious ace imagery, and submit pictures of other fun things like cakes or miscellaneous ace colored items. Images relating to aromanticism, grey-asexuality and demisexuality specifically would also be helpful!

Guidelines for images:

  • Images should be high resolution and publication quality – preferably around 300ppi and at least 4″x4″. As cute as that blurry cell phone pic of your cat might be, it’s not really suitable for publication.
  • Images should be your own work
  • Images submissions should include a brief, 1 sentence caption for each image.
  • Images should be at least vaguely related to asexuality (including ace community memes like cake or tea), or have ace people in them.
  • If submitting an image featuring someone other than yourself, please make sure you have their permission before submitting. (the one exception is for pictures from public events like pride parades, in which case you do not need special permission).
  • Both photographs and illustrations are acceptable. Get creative!
  • By submitting images to the library, you are giving permission for your images to be used publicly by anyone who downloads them, and will not have any control over their use. Though you can request images be removed from the library at any time, we will not be able to control anyone who downloaded them previously. So please think carefully about what you share!

2. Testimonials.

While a picture may be worth a thousand words, sometimes all you need is a few dozen. We are also looking for volunteers willing to share a little bit about what it’s like being ace, and why awareness is so important. Concise soundbites are the ideal for putting together media stories, so shorter 1-3 sentence responses are the easiest to work with. If you tend to be a bit long-winded, though, no worries! Just submit as much as you want, and we’ll help piece it out into workable bits.

Possible Prompts:

  • Why is ace awareness so important?
  • What parts of the ace community do you think need more representation?
  • What parts of the ace experience do you think need to be talked about more?
  • When did you first discover asexuality, and how did it feel?
  • What was it like before you knew that ace was an option?
  • How did you first realize that you might be asexual?
  • Have you ever come out as ace? How did people react?
  • What’s it like being ace in LGBT spaces?
  • What kind of challenges do you face in day to day life because of your asexuality?
  • As an ace person, what do you most need from ace allies?
  • Anything else you want to talk about!

When submitting a response, please also include a little bit of biographical information that we can share, such as perhaps first name, city, age, gender, and any membership or leadership roles you have in ace orgs, etc. Of course, feel free to leave any of these blank or use a nickname, pseudonym, or just “anonymous” if you’d rather not be identified.

3. Referrals

Of course, while soundbites are great, most good reporters may want to go a little deeper. That’s why we’d like to have some individuals who are willing to share their contact information with reporters who might be looking for people to contact. For this part of the project, we ask that you only sign up if you are comfortable sharing your actual name, as this is what we most need when it comes to media requests. For those who are uncomfortable sharing too much information, consider helping out with testimonials above.

While the list will not be publicly posted, it will be shared with any journalist or other ace org who requests it, so please do not share any information you would not be comfortable with strangers knowing. Please be safe.

If you’d like to be included as a referral, please just send us as much of the following information as you can:

  • Name
  • General geographic area
  • Age
  • Any ace organizational affiliations you’d like to share (ex: leader of X city ace meetups, member of AVEN, blogs at awesomeblog, etc.)
  • Gender identity + Preferred pronouns
  • Identity (biromantic grey-A, etc.)
  • Preferred contact information (email and/or phone #)
  • A brief 2-3 sentance bio of whatever might make you an interesting ace interview.

As a reminder, if you have questions, or think you would like to submit something, please send an email to asexualitysf@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

Thanks again everyone!

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Tips for Prospective Ace Pride Marchers

I was talking with redbeardace recently about advice for ace groups who want to participate in pride parades, and thought of several bits of advice, which I’m reposting here in no particular order for anyone else who might find them useful (And someday, hopefully, I’ll draft this into an actual more organized guide). Feel free to add your own advice or questions in the comments below!

  • Start planning early: registration often starts up to 6 months before the actual event – keep an eye on the parade website and get on the mailing list if they have one. See if they have odd rules that you need to know (for ex: my event bans all mylar balloons)
  • Large parades usually have a registration fee – so you may need to fundraise and/or find a generous donor in the group to cover that. Fees often go up closer to the event, which is more incentive to get registered early
  • Think about handouts – it can be good to handout things like fliers or stickers with a link to more info to raise awareness, but these require time to design and print ( 2-3 weeks lead time is best to be safe), and cost money to print as well (can be 200-300 if you want things like stickers and want enough to give out – I think we gave out around ~3000 stickers at SF pride this year, and we could have given out even more). I personally like stickers because they are cheaper than things like buttons or wristbands, but people are more likely to take them than paper fliers (and you can stick them on things for free advertising!)
  • Think about a banner – having a large, easy to hold sign with your group name makes you much more memorable. It helps to have a visible reference to a website or anything where people can find more info
  • Remember to be prepared for lots of walking and time in the sun – bring sunscreen, water, and snacks. One thing that has been super useful is having a small cart or wagon or other wheeled item to carry extras of these (and if there’s space you can also hold extra fliers, purses, sweaters, etc.).
  • Go with a walking group, at least for your first year – floats or other vehicles are more expensive to get permits for and require more training
  • Have reliable volunteers available beforehand – this probably differs between parades, but SF at least requires several volunteers from each group to attend prior safety training
  • Be prepared for pictures – people will take lots of pics and videos of you. This is not a good event for people who are at risk if work/family finds out about their aceness, unless maybe if you wear a fancy disguising costume or something.
  • Be catchy – people love jokes like “asexual pirates aren’t interested in your booty”, so if awareness is your goal, things like that can be helpful (if you are just going for a fun time, though, don’t worry about)
  • walking in a straight line gets boring. Consider bringing things like flags or signs that you can wave around or dance with, or otherwise have some fun with.
  • Be prepared for lots of sitting and waiting. Big parades have more people than fit on the route, so you can spend up to several hours just waiting in line before you march. Consider something light like a pack of cards, or some word games or other ideas to keep people entertained.
  • Plan an escape: this varies from pride to pride, but at some big, beer-sponsored events like SF, the parade dead-ends at a festival jam-packed with drunken crowds…which you may not want to deal with. So having a pre-established place to meet up and hang out after the parade, preferably a walkable or easily public-transitable distance from the event, is great.
  • Coordinate with watchers – you will probably have some people who are not up for walking long distances, or who want to watch the whole parade, so maybe make plans to 1. let them know when to expect you so they can cheer and 2. make plans to somehow meetup afterwards (see above)
  • Know that being in the parade, means you don’t get to watch the parade: just whoever is right in front of you, or maybe the people behind you if you stay for the end after finishing.
  • If you have a group that isn’t sure about marching, a potential first step is to just have one year where you all go watch the parade together – you can get a sense for what the atmosphere is like, get idea from other groups in the parade, etc.
  • Also, check out what all the prides are in your area – in some large metro areas, there will be a “main” pride in the biggest city, but nearby cities may have their own smaller prides – these are usually cheaper, calmer, less corporate, less drunken, etc. These can be a less intimidating first place to march.
  • Oh, and one last tip – have a spiel practiced and ready. You will be asked over and over “what’s asexuality?” “why are you here?”, possibly even by people on camera. It’s less exhausting if you have a practiced few phrases you can recite without even thinking too hard.

If you need inspiration, you can also check out the footage of several awesome marching groups from this summer below :)

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Asexual Groups in Fiction

Thinking about putting together a post on how asexual meetup/”support” groups are portrayed in media (mostly television and film, but I’d consider including other media if I knew of any).

So far the only examples I know of are:

  1. The asexual group in Shortland Street (New Zealand soap opera)
  2. The asexual support group in The Olivia Experiment (small independent film in the US)
  3. The asexual group in Divorce (Dutch television show)

Does anyone know of any other examples I should look at?

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Help us make a Comprehensive Asexual Academic Publications Masterlist!

So I mentioned this on tumblr earlier today, but I wanted to put out a more formal announcement: help us crowdsource a comprehensive record of academic publications about asexuality!

Asexual Explorations already has a pretty good introductory bibliography that makes for a good starting point, but it’s not updated very frequently, so it can be missing a lot of newer works. Asexual Explorations is also a curated list that makes a point of focusing on works that are good starting points for reading and studying – which is incredibly useful for new researchers, but not he same as what I had in mind.

Specifically, I want to create a masterlist that serves almost like a historical archive, with records of  all published works dealing with asexuality – even the really really bad ones that no one should ever read or cite. This would be an abbreviated bibliography, with no abstracts or summaries, at least to begin with (though that could be a possible future expansion).

Of course, it’s hard to catch all these papers by myself, which is where I could use your help – I’ve set up google doc template for entering any known papers, so if you can add even a few papers that you know of, it’s be a great help! The first step is simply to get the basic information for each paper, which is where outside help is the most necessary. Once the initial list is more complete, further potential expansions could include adding abstracts, adding summaries, adding reviews, adding tags, etc – but none of that can happen until we have the first step done.

So, with that done…..

Add to the masterlist here! (first tab is instructions, second tab is for entries)

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Carnival of Aces July 2015 Wrap-up: Asexual History

It’s a bit late, but here it is!

Last month’s Carnival of Aces was on the topic of Asexual History, and we received some great submissions. A big thanks to everyone who submitted! If I missed an entry or got any names wrong, feel free to leave a note in the comments.

The next Carnival of Aces for August is being hosted by writer-ace, and the theme is “Ideals

Also, as a reminder, we are always looking for more volunteers to host the carnival – there’s no one lined up yet after August, so now is a great time to volunteer. See the masterpost for details.

Without further ado, here’s all out wonderful submissions:

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