Originally posted on Tumblr but reposted here for archiving. Please note that my views may have changed since this was first posted.
It’s always a mistake to read the comments on articles – I’ve heard that even the Guardian comment section is a minefield. Still, I decided that for once I would go and look at them anyway on this article.
It’s like reading mini-essays (the people who read the NY Times are apparently rather eloquent), but they all say near enough the same thing as you’d expect. I was going to just click off the site and find something better to do when a comment caught my eye and basically just made me really angry.
The bottom line of this comment was ‘no that’s just how women are they don’t feel sexual attraction society just expects them to’. They also suggested that women are becoming more liberated and now are only just realising that they don’t have the reflected (ie men have it so we’re expected to) sexuality they thought they had.
No. Just…no. I won’t go into the ridiculous hypocrisy that comes with saying women are becoming less oppressed/more equal with men and at the same time suggest that no woman is sexual because this, alas, isn’t my feminist blog but my asexuality blog. I will, however, talk about this kind of thinking.
I don’t know the gender of the person who wrote this comment. It’s possible that they are female-identified and simply don’t realise that the majority of the world doesn’t feel the same way as them, in which case I feel super sorry for them that even when reading an article about asexuality, their identity hasn’t yet clicked for them.
However, they could also be male-identified and ignorant of women, or simply not aware of how sexuality works (see the people who say demisexuality is ‘just how all people are’ too). Either way, the fact that it got the three likes on a site with a readership that seems to use relatively logical patterns of thought is worrying. For people who are certain of their asexuality, or people like me who outright refuse to believe in the gender binary and sexism, things like this are just rather irritating, but for people who don’t have access to feminism and who are doubting their asexuality, this kind of thing can be dangerous. If this is the first way they come across the term asexuality and start reading the comments and find that, no, women are meant to feel this way… that’s not going to help them whatsoever. It’s not going to help them feel less broken, because they’re still getting sex shoved in their faces by the media and being expected to appreciate it. Their friends are probably still talking about men and/or women in ways they don’t understand. It’s only going to complicate things for them. But as a community, what can we really do about this kind of comment? We can point out that men are asexual, of course, although those men are probably even more ‘broken’ to these folks, and are simply effeminate or confused. We could try and point to our sexual female friend, but of course she’s just still in the grip of heteronormativity and sexism.
The only way to properly get rid of this sort of thinking (in my view) is to spread the asexual community’s use of reductionism on attraction and sex to the wider population. To do that, however, we’ll probably have to separate it from ourselves (because what would those sex-haters know about sex that we don’t?), but that means lying about ourselves online and working our way into communities and generally making a big kerfuffle that we probably don’t have the man power for.