Policing Asexual Definitions

One thing I really dislike is label policing.  Claiming that one specific definition of an identity is the correct one, and objecting to anybody else who fails to fit it using that label.  Many communities have these sorts of “correct definition” disputes.  But disagreements over the “correct” usage of asexual, aromantic, and sexual and romantic attraction (etc.) seems to crop up in the ace community very often.

As far as I’m concerned, any person is entitled to use whatever label they feel describes them.   This results in many overlapping and conflicting “definitions” of terms, as everybody uses language to talk about their own particular experiences.  And I see no problem in this.  Identity isn’t straight-forward, and there are a lot of gray areas.  Rigid definitions can never include everybody.  And so a certain amount of flexibility is needed in our terminology, if we wish for all aces to have the words to talk about their own asexuality.

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The “Unassailable Asexual” in Activism

This is written for the August 2014 carnival of aces, on the theme of the unassailable asexual

I am a long way from being an unassailable asexual.  I’m a rape survivor, had major mental health difficulties, have a libido, am kinky, trans*, genderqueer and non-monogamous.  I’ve never quite worked out whether being aromantic or romantic makes you unassailable – but I’m pretty sure my confused wtfromantic orientation doesn’t cut it, and nor does my complicated attitude towards sex.

At times this has caused me to doubt the realness of my asexuality – and lead to others questioning the genuineness of my identity.  It has meant that I’ve kept quiet about some of the less orthodox parts of my identities and experiences – both because I want to be taken seriously, and don’t want people to assume all asexuals are as weird as I am.

So it perhaps comes as no surprise that I dislike the notion of the “unassailable asexual” and find it particularly frustrating when asexual activism focuses on this single picture of asexuality.  In fact one of the reasons I started this blog was because I was fed up of the conventional limited narratives of gender and sexuality – people are far more diverse than the neat one-dimensional boxes that lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, straight, trans*, cis, genderqueer, woman, man, and intersex (etc) typically divide us into.

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