Feedback Wanted: Issues Aces Face

Back in 2016, I created two quick slides listing common ace issues for a general asexuality 101 presentation at Creating Change:

At the time, the main issues I highlighted were:

  • Rejection, Denial, or belittlement of ace identities and experiences
  • Limited research data
  • Difficulty accessing competent healthcare
  • Limited public awareness
  • Lack of community resources
  • Lack of good representation and role models
  • Lack of good models for nonsexual or nonromantic relationship
  • Sexual harassment and sexual assault
  • Pressure to be more sexual/sexually active
  • Intersectional issues (heterosexism, cissexism, racism, ableism, etc.)

Now, I’m hoping to re-use these slides to make some more general stock presentations, as well as individual handouts (which would also include additional text). But before I do that, I wanted to get feedback from other community members on how you feel about this current list:

  • Is there anything that seems to be missing?
  • Is there anything that you think could be grouped together under a broader heading?
  • Is there anything that seems oddly specific or oddly irrelevant compared to the other items?
  • Is there anything that you think would be better called something else?

I am looking to keep the total list to no more than 10-12 (fewer is better) for brevity’s sake – this is meant to be a brief overview, not a deep dive, which is when I am trying to group together similar issues when possible. The original slides came with additional verbal explanations of each item, and any handouts would have some explanatory text added, so the general “name” of each issue can be fairly vague (ex. “lack of community resources” includes things like a lack of offline groups, lack of historical documentation, lack of experienced leaders, lack of assets like money, physical spaces,  and print resources, etc.).

As an example, some feedback that I have gotten already includes a suggestion to include something about the pressure to be an “unassailable ace” and stand in for the whole community, and to consider combining pressure to be more sexually active with sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts you have to offer!

(also, if you have thoughts on specific sub-issues that you think are most important to  mention in any verbal explanations or additional explanatory text, feel free to mention those as well – I’m not quite at that stage yet but I can definitely file away any comments for future reference)

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About Sennkestra

I'm an aromantic asexual and a bit of an [a]sexuality nerd, recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in linguistics. When I'm not reading stuff on the internet I like to cook fancy food, watch anime, and make costumes and other arts and crafts projects.
This entry was posted in Asexual Activism, Awareness Outreach and Education, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Feedback Wanted: Issues Aces Face

  1. Soni says:

    Kinky aces?

  2. Coyote says:

    I’m not sure where this fits among “access to healthcare” and “sexual coercion,” but “pathologization/medicalization” is something I think warrants naming — what with all the drug and DSM controversies and such.

    • Sennkestra says:

      Ooh, that’s a really good point – I’ll probably add that into “difficulty accessing competent healthcare” for something like “pathologization / difficulty accessing competent healthcare”, since I think it’s a bit more tied into the medical complex than it is to sexual assault and sexual coercion specifically (though the former definitely can lead to the later)

      • queenieofaces says:

        Pathologization can lead to sexual coercion in therapy–if, for example, you have a therapist who insists that you need to have sex to get “better.” (Some PTSD treatments will explicitly set having sex as an end goal, so.)

  3. demiandproud says:

    Socialization with other aces? I mean, aside from awareness and info on specific issues, I think what I most want is just contact, both to have peers and, at some point, relationships… we’re a small mostly online community, so I think that’d make itself really felt in the long term.

  4. Pingback: Linkspam: January 27th, 2017 | The Asexual Agenda

  5. meg says:

    dehumanization? the idea that sexual attraction is part of what makes us human and that aces must be lacking is a big one for me.

  6. ettinacat says:

    Are you interested in aro issues too? Because lack of recognition (social and legal) of QPRs and passionate friendships is a big issue for aros.

    • Sennkestra says:

      This particular presentation is focused on asexuality, but since a big chunk of aces are also aro that’s definitely something I want to include – this is a great suggestion! I’m thinking that maybe change “lack of good models for nonromantic/nonsexual relationships” to something more expanded like “lack of models and refusal to acknowledge nonromantic/nonsexual relationships” might cover that?

  7. M Hill says:

    Finances. No one ever talks about the financial burden. For aces who remain unmarried, we will literally be paying upwards of thousands to perhaps even millions more in taxes. Averaging out to three or four times more than our married peers. And yet we don’t talk about it.

  8. Sennkestra says:

    Thanks for the suggestion! That’s definitely something I should add that doesn’t really fall neatly under the other categories (end-of-life / retirement planning is another thing that ties into finances that heavily affects single and ace people).

    Although, I would like to note that the thing about single people paying that much more in taxes isn’t necessarily true – while marriage is a tax benefit for some couples, for other couples it actually means that they will have to pay more in taxes compared to equivalent unmarried or single people; and the difference is definitely more like 10% rather than 300%.

    (You’re probably thinking of the overall financial burden of being single as opposed to married, which can be substantial – but things like healthcare, housing, and retirement costs tend to make a bigger impact on that difference than tax savings. In addition, some of those resource-sharing benefits are available outside marriage as well for those who choose to pursue nontraditional relationships or lifestyles, though some are easier than others (for an example, a single person can easily access housing-sharing benefits by getting roommates, but sharing health insurance plans is unlikely without marriage or at least a committed “significant other” type relationship and a generous state/provider, and shared social security benefits are basically impossible without being married).

    I actually have a post on the tax thing specifically scheduled for tomorrow morning, so this is an especially timely comment :)

  9. G says:

    (alllll the tws) Corrective therapy. I was put through it. Most aces I know who’ve brought up asexuality or aromanticism to their therapists were told it was a mental illness they needed to treat/medicate, or else the therapist acknowledged that they saw it as an orientation but that it was unhealthy and could be fixed/they could be turned into a different, acceptable orientation (most often, as is the case with most conversion therapists, straight (and allosexual, ofc, i use straight as heteroromantic+heterosexual, but am clarifying just in case) but other times, to allosexual gay or allosexual bi, since they are ‘recognized’ as real orientations. This is similar to cases where bi people encounter therapists who do not believe in bisexuality and may not try to convert them to straight but to gay, since they feel they are just repressing themselves, and since they do not show exclusive attraction the opposite binary gender, they must be taught to ‘accept’ a sexuality they don’t identify with through invasive methods, gaslighting and corrective therapy techniques. The same sometimes happens to aro/ace people, since therapists may acknowledge the patient is queer/not straight, but not recognize aromanticism/asexuality, and therefore believe they must be changed into a DIFFERENT alloromantic+allosexual queer orientation they believe does exist, since they must be repressing themselves . ‘Changing your orientation’ sometimes does not equal ‘changing it to straight’ and since i’ve heard those stories too, they’re definitely worth mentioning. ). I have experienced it both being treated as a mental illness in itself, and an orientation that needed to be ‘fixed’- 1 by a psychologist i came out to, 2 by one i didn’t who gathered when i did not mention any love/sex insterests, regardless of their gender. i was able to escape one, but the other was an experience with conversion therapy, viscous and cruel, something i am still mentally scarred from.

    the only good ace therapist experience i know is ‘they didn’t shut me down straight away, but i had to spend all my time and mental energy explaining things, terms and experiences for them.’ There needs to be laws that protect aces from conversion therapy, abuse from mental health/health professionals, and information that’s readily available for all to know. Hell, one of my therapists was advertised as ‘gay friendly’, and i cannot even begin to tell you how she purposely, viscously and violently re-traumatized me ON PURPOSE when I came out by re-creating what my abusers had said and done. I also know of someone who was refused care for her depression/access to antidepressants until she took medicine to ‘cure’ her asexuality, too. i’ve heard of a bi aro who’s was threatened with forced institutionalization because her aromanticism was misread as a schizoid disorder trait. In all my time in the online ace communities, I ran into a 40 yr old ace woman who received electro shock therapy 3 times for being asexual. These are real things that need to be talked about and addressed. I’m terrified of accessing mental health care now, and i desperately need it, especially since all the online ace/aro abuse that’s rampant online (Esp. on tumblr) has definitely harmed my mental health. There’s more things, obviously, but here are some important systemic ones. Also, THANK YOU for doing this. It’s so important and i don’t have the mental health capacity to do so right now. Thank you.

    (Also, would you like help translating it to other languages? I know people in the spanish speaking ace communities that would maybe like to help. I also know there’s english speakers in the japanese ace communities, maybe we could reach out to them too. Or it could just be a ‘take inspiration for this and make your own relevant to your own country’ thing, but I def think it’s needed, and it needs to circulate in lgbtq+ rights orgs so it can in turn circulate amongst teachers, health professionals, workers and p much everyone) (ty again! you’re doing a much needed job)
    (i know i will appear as anonymous but i’m still uncomfortable posting this, esp. explaining further- would it be okay to email you further suggestions? do you have a contact email? i think i will post this just because it’s SO important to me that these stories are heard so more people don’t have to go through them. Because, unfortunately, i know of a lot :/ that’s why i wanted to get in contact)

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