Reflections on Writing About Asexuality

I haven’t written a post for the Carnival of Aces in a long time, but this month’s theme is ‘writing about asexuality,’ and I guess I do quite a bit of that, so I’ll give it a shot again. I have actually been thinking quite a bit about this topic recently, so it’s kind of fitting that that theme should come up now.

I’ve been writing about asexuality for over three years now. The funny thing is, it’s been getting harder the longer I’ve been doing it. Seems kind of counter-intuitive really – you’d think it’d get easier. I think it has a lot to do with the sorts of things I’ve written about (and wanted to write about) as I’ve developed more as an asexual writer.

Early on, when I was only just new to asexuality myself, I found it really easy to write posts on being ace. I wrote a lot more about my own person experiences, my own coming-to-terms with being asexual and what it means. I wrote as I discovered, and it was something that felt very organic and natural and easy. I wrote about finding out asexuality existed, about feminism and asexuality, about how we define significant others, about finding myself in a relationship, about labels. Some of those posts included more hypothetical elements, but most of them were grounded in personal experience and feelings. I’ve never found it very hard to put myself out there and talk about myself, even about very personal things like my (non) sex life.

Nowadays, I find it much harder to write about the things I really want to write about. I guess I’ve run out of the sort of figuring-thing-out-as-you-go posts that many ace people start out writing, the ones that I found very easy to put out there. The sort of things I’m interested in now I’ve found a lot more complicated to write about, and more concerned with the big picture rather than my own experiences. Over the past two years (and especially since joining The Asexual Agenda as a contributor), I’ve found my posts becoming more like self-contained essays (like this one on compulsory sexuality) rather than personal ramblings or shorter posts – probably part of the reason why I never picked up on tumblr or other micro-blogging much. They’re the sort of posts that need proper thinking out, as opposed to the stream-of-consciousness style writing I used to be able to do.

On the one hand, the sorts of things I want to write about now are things not often discussed in the community, or things that are discussed, but that I want to challenge and propose new frameworks for. They’re the philosophical questions I have, or the sorts of questioning of terminology and perception that makes me feel like I’m stumbling blindly in the dark trying to articulate what I want to say. They’re the asexuality-301 themes, where we take a step back and start to question everything we’ve learned again in order to understand it more intricately.

For instance, I’ve long been wanting to write a post about our definitions of asexuality, and the conflicting ideas of using attraction vs. desire to describe it. But those are hard concepts to theorise around if you haven’t even experienced them, and even harder ones to try to write about around when your gut feeling is telling you that attraction isn’t cutting it any more, but not why. Or in trying to describe the weird reductionism that goes on in both the asexual and allosexual communities when it comes to talking about what sexual attraction really is. Or how to articulate that I think we might sometimes have to sacrifice being inclusive for getting people to actually understand what asexuality is about in the first place – without sounding like I’m writing off people’s right for representation and identities they define for themselves.

Another thing I’ve been wanting to write about, but have found really hard, is the whole range of issues around asexual relationships, and how they play out in real life rather than the hypothetical zone of ‘my ideal relationship would be…’ There is so little writing about experiences of asexual people in relationships, and I have to say, I can understand why. As someone who’s been in a relationship for over two years now – one which has had its ups and down like every other relationship – the idea of writing in detail about my relationship with my partner has become more and more unsettling. I really want to contribute to starting a proper dialogue about aces in relationships. But to write about the issues in my own relationship, the pitfalls as well as the highs, the conflicts that arise – that stuff is intensely personal. I don’t particularly want our business to be out there for everyone else to read and analyse and judge.

Yeah, I sometimes wish I had resources I could reach out to when things aren’t going perfectly. But while I might be happy putting myself out there for all to see, I don’t feel quite the same way when it comes to the relationship my partner and I share. And I know my partner has even more misgivings than I do, something I understand now better than ever. Being ace and actually in a relationship (even with another ace) is complex – far more complex than any hypothetical AVEN thread on ‘what would you ideal partner be like?’ and ‘what sensual things would you want in your relationship?’ will ever be. It’s not something you want to just pour out on a page for everyone to scrutinise. This post, for instance, which doesn’t even have that much personal content, took months to write.

So I guess that’s where I’m at now – at that stage where writing about asexuality is feeling like a much more complex task. It involves more thinking about where my personal lines are drawn, of how much of my personal life and my partner’s life I want to share. And on the other hand, a lot more thinking and rethinking ans thinking-in-circles until I finally get my head around how to write something that goes against the grain a bit more. None of this is going to stop me writing altogether – but it’s a much slower task than it used to be, so I’m glad there are other writers willing to make up for that.

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8 thoughts on “Reflections on Writing About Asexuality

  1. I’m lucky in that my partner doesn’t mind my writing about our relationship, even the stuff about sex. I’m actually going to be posting something about it very soon based on a conversation from PrismaticEntanglement’s blog. But I understand the desire for more dialogue in that area, because there certainly wasn’t much when I first entered our relationship. It CAN be super hard to write about that stuff, especially the not so happy parts, but I also think it’s something we need more of.

    1. I look forward to it! My partner is definitely more hesitant to write about us than I am, but I have also been getting increasingly cautious/unsure of how far I want to go. One day we might end up writing that big shared series of posts we’ve had floating around in our heads for ages, but it hasn’t happened so far, and there’s no point forcing it.

  2. I think the directions you’re wanting to write in (questioning definitions, models, etc.) are needed, and even if it takes you a while to crunch through them, I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

    It’s funny – you seem to have gone in the opposite direction from me, post-type-wise. I started out with big models and analogies that I wanted to explain, and now have more of the shorter, less thought-out, more just thoughts kind of posts to write. I’d also like to talk about relationships and they go in the specifics, but you’re right, it’s hard. Everyone seems to want to read it, but nobody wants to write it.

    1. Hi Grey Wanders! It’s definitely a quandary, wanting to read but not write about relationships in all their aspects… but really, I can’t begrudge anyone for not wanting to anymore.

      Are you still blogging? I really loved finding your posts on your partner (s) and family and all that, and check back pretty regularly to see if you’ve posted anything. I’d love to know how things are going for you. Maybe we can swap stories sometime.

      1. I am still blogging, but you have already discovered this. I’m surprised you kept checking (but flattered). Swapping stories sounds great. I can be found at greywanders at gmail dot com.

  3. I feel you on writing about asexuality getting SO much harder over time as you get more and more comfortable with being asexual. I think that’s because most of the things that have come to the forefront of my mind are the vulnerable ones, but I’ve gotten so much more sensitized about throwing them out to the community. Plus I have an offline space where I can vent about this shit now, and feeling out those ideas there can be so much less threatening than talking about it on the Internet.

    1. Yeah, actually my partner being ace means I have someone to vent and rant to as well, now that you mention it. I suppose it does mean I’m also not so quick to churn out a post whenever something pisses me off or gets me thinking. That said, I wouldn’t give that up!

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