Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Here, have a pet peeve.

I was browsing Facebook when I stumbled across a post by someone who claimed that asexuals don't experience discrimination and shouldn't be counted as part of the LGBT+ community. 

Their argument: Single people can't get fired from their job or evicted from their homes for being single, so asexuals shouldn't complain about discrimination. 

So. I have several problems with this logic. 

One: it assumes asexuals are all single. 

Here's the thing, though. Aces often participate in platonic, romantic, or sexual relationships with other people. Those other people may be of the same or of different gender(s) than they are. So an asexual male dating another male is in a homoromantic relationship and would be read as gay, leaving him open to this kind of workplace and housing discrimination.

On a similar note, a single lesbian is just as likely to get fired from her job just for being a lesbian regardless of whether she is in a relationship with another woman. If she's out, she's not necessarily protected. Similarly, if an ace is out, their boss or landlord might be able to legally boot them just because they fall under the umbrella of "queer."

Two: Once you apply this logic to other types of identities, it breaks down. 

A male bisexual in a relationship with a woman would still be open to this kind of discrimination if he were out. 

A trans person who is single would still be open to this kind of discrimination if out.

An intersex person, even one who looks for all intents and purposes like someone distinctly male or female, could still fall prey to this kind of prejudice if they were out.

A trans person who doesn't live as their preferred gender but is still out as trans could risk this kind of discrimination, if they were known to be trans.

A single gay man could still be denied housing because of his sexual orientation. 

A pansexual person could be denied custody of her children based on her sexual orientation if she was out, even if she is divorced. And single. 

Even assuming our hypothetical ace is a white, male, cisgendered (gender matches birth sex), heteroromantic (forms romantic bonds with women) single dude, asexuality is still a non-heteronormative identity. He's still fucking queer, and there are still people who use queer as a slur. 

So why would any of this be any different for an asexual person? 

Three: asexuals experience other kinds of prejudice unique to asexuality. 

While the medical community has largely moved beyond trying to "cure" gay, lesbian, pansexual, and bisexual people (leaving that for religion, I guess), they haven't quite caught up to seeing asexual, intersex, and trans people this way. 

To many doctors, asexuality will be explained as depression, a low sex drive, or evidence the ace was molested as a child. Even though the narratives of "gays are broken/deviant" and "lesbians must have been raped" are now outmoded, that narrative is dying a long, hard, stubborn death when it comes to aces. This can be tricky for the out ace trying to receive quality, compassionate healthcare. 

Asexual people may also be more vulnerable to "corrective" rape; i.e., rape that happens when someone decides they can "cure" them of being asexual via sex. This is a thing that the rest of the LGBT+ letters can also experience. So why someone would post that aces don't also experience that form of discrimination -- frankly, a hate crime -- is beyond me. 

Four: Asexual people still have to come out. 

The argument was predicated on the assumption that single asexuals are assumed to be straight and therefore don't experience discrimination. 

If they're assumed to be straight, this logically leads to the conclusion that if they ever clarify they aren't straight, that will open them up to the kind of discrimination faced by the rest of the "community" (a term that is sounding more and more sardonic the more I use it). So the entire premise of the poster's argument is flawed. 

He's basically saying, "Stay in the closet, and you'll be fine."

I mean, what the fuck does he think gay people do? Does he think all gay people walk around wearing rainbow shirts emblazoned with the word "GAY" so that people can identify them as targets for discrimination? No. There are gay guys who are taken for straight all the damn time. 

The very idea of passing means that you have something to hide, which means that if you stop hiding the thing then you aren't safe. Telling aces that they'll be fine as long as people keep assuming they're single straight people is demeaning. And rude as hell. 

Why this pisses me off

A while back, I wrote a review for the book Clariel, whose main character is an aromantic asexual. Since this isn't a thing that's often talked about period (much less in YA lit) I can understand why some people might be confused or make assumptions. It's not something they've been exposed to. There aren't many asexual characters in media and the real-life recorded population is around 1%. That's still 70 million people, but most people probably haven't met an asexual in person.

But this asshole was a gay dude posting his comment on an LGBT-positive meme. It bothers me on a deep level that people who claim to want equality can be so blinkered about another group that is allegedly part of their "community." There was some other stuff about how asexuals should be booted out of the acronym period, but I won't even get into that. 

It just bothers me that this anonymous internet person, sheltered by the knowledge that he'd never have to meet other posters in person, went out of his way to play Oppression Olympics on a meme that was supposed to be positive. Not toxic. 

2 comments:

  1. So ingrained into many cultures is the notion of, for lack of a better term, "targeted arousal" that some people I guess are willing to tolerate people being sexually attracted to anything and everything, so long as they are attracted to SOMETHING. But if you are not, or otherwise infrequently turned on by a specific person or type of person/group of people, you aren't seen as part of a diversity, but rather as someone who has pieces missing. I can't say if that's what the poster on the message board felt, but I think a lot of otherwise understanding people may be making that mistake.

    Plus, sadly, any visible or known minority is subject too and often the victim of discrimination. That's how our society is, tragically.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, society sucks. I guess I was just surprised/disappointed to see that attitude coming from someone who presumably experienced discrimination themselves, and who also chose to voice those negative thoughts in perhaps the least appropriate place possible. :/

      The idea of people thinking someone has "pieces missing" sums it up pretty well.

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