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On being an advocate

November 1, 2009

I’m pretty open about asexuality.  It’s easy to be, seeing as how I’m not A.  I try to find places to bring it up, knowing that I will end up answering a lot of personal questions about a community I’m not in.  I try to bring it up, despite knowing just how incredibly detailed and graphic the questions will be.  It might seem prideful, and indeed in the past I didn’t feel qualified.  Only an asexual should answer those questions, because only an asexual has that experience.

Thing is, the questions are personal, and graphic.  They are also often antagonistic, meant to convince the A that they aren’t in fact A.  People feel entitled to ask just about anything.  Can A’s orgasm?  Can male A’s get erect?  How come so many date when they don’t want sex?  Really, they’ve never felt sexually attracted to someone (this is almost always asked with a tone of disbelief)?  Haven’t they tried hormones?  What do you mean, they don’t want hormones…why wouldn’t they want sex?  What do they picture when they masturbate?  Why do some of them masturbate at all anyway?  I bet you were sexually abused as a child, and are just in denial about it.

I do understand where the questions come from.  I’ve wondered the same things, and I know A’s have wondered it about each other, because you can find the answers to all of those and more on AVEN.  Put yourself in the shoes of an asexual though.  They’ve finally figured out why they never understood what sex is all about, and now suddenly strangers in the street are asking them about their sex lives.  It’s pretty much constant.  As soon as you bring up asexuality, and speak from some level of authority on the subject, the questions follow.  And that’s exactly why I bring it up and answer the questions.

See, the difference is that the questions aren’t about me.  I don’t have to feel defensive when someone denies that it exists, because they aren’t denying my identity.  It’s less personal for me, and that makes it easier to keep arguing, keep pushing the point, and keep a clear head doing it.  I know that when someone starts questioning bisexuality there’s a strong part of me that wants to go hide under the covers.  It’s not like that for asexuality.  I can keep talking, and not be emotionally exhausted from it.  So I do.  I figure, every time I answer some questions about asexuality, that’s saving some asexual from having to do it.  I know they get those questions constantly, but maybe my being an advocate can lessen that some for them.  Because I’m not A, because I come from a more recognised orientation, it’s easier for me.

So I keep talking about it.  I make it clear that I’m not an expert, and don’t understand it all.  I make it clear that there is variability in the community, so I don’t speak for all asexuals in my answers.  But I keep talking anyway.  That’s a lot of what being an advocate is all about.  Standing up for someone else.  Taking a few punches (or in this case, rudely personal questions) so that they don’t have to.  Being educated, and being loud about it, because they shouldn’t have to fight it all alone.  It’s something I do for asexuality, and it’s something I look to do for other groups as I become more educated.

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