Asexuality: An Insult to Personhood

When it comes to sexual orientation, I’m pretty accepting. Homosexual, bi-sexual, into only weird fantasy roleplay…sure, that’s all fine by me. However, there is one term that has come into vogue recently which I just completely don’t get.

Asexual.

In biology, the term means “lack of sexual organs”. This is the definition given by Merriam Webster, Oxford, and Dictionary.com. However, recently the term has come to take on another meaning.

Urbandictionary defines asexual as “a person who is not interest in or does not desire sexual activity”. The Wikipedia entry for “Asexuality” similarly describes the term as “the lack of sexual attraction and, in some cases, the lack of interest in and desire for sex”, and goes into detail about the emergence of asexualism.

This, I just don’t understand. I fully get that some people are not interested in sex, do not become sexually aroused, and simply do not consider themselves “sexual” people. Great.

But does that warrant a unique term? I am uninterested in sports, have no desire to play sports, and do not get any enjoyment or pleasure from athletic activity. Does that make me “a-athletic”? What about not liking to garden? “a-agricultural”? Can we really assign a term to the simple idea of not enjoying something? Do we really have to?

Perhaps the emergence of the term asexual is a direct result of our society’s huge emphasis on sexuality. No one would think it strange that I don’t enjoy sports (especially because I’m a woman, but that’s another discussion), but to not enojoy sex? There has to be something “wrong” or “different” about that. In fact, if I called myself a-athletic, people would wonder why in the world I am defining myself by my interest, or lack thereof, in sports.

Our liberal culture thinks that we are being so open and accepting by giving every approach to sexuality a new name, but really, in the case of asexuality, we are just playing into the expectations of society. We are saying that the people who don’t desire sex are different or odd in some way, that they belong in a category. We may feel that because we welcome them to our LGBTQIA clubs, we are helping them, but we are not. We are simply pushing our own understanding and approach to sexuality on to them. Not only that, but we are detracting from their personhood. Asexuals are interested in plenty of other things aside from sex. They are musicians, artists, athletes, scientists, politicians and writers. By pigeon-holing them into describing themselves simply by their lack of interest in sex, we are detracting from their true person. The pianist, the person that discovers the next scientific breakthrough, the award-winning novelist…these are the accomplishments that people want to be known for. Who really cares what they are or are not doing in their bedroom?

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As A Mother, I Run For President

It’s election time, and in the feminist world, that means…time to get mad at all the attention the media puts on the personal lives of female candidates.

I first noticed this while watching last week’s Republican Candidate Debate at Reagan National Library. My roomate and I were watching together, and the first thing she said when the camera turned to Michelle Bachmann was, “Ew. Who did her hair?? I can’t believe they let her on to T.V. like that!!” Now, my roommate is no ditz. She has some very strong, very well thought out political opinions, and she’s not afraid to share them with anyone who asks–or for that matter, doesn’t ask but says something that could possibly, maybe, slightly be construed as a political statement. She is highly intelligent and well educated. And yet, her first comment about Michelle Bachman was about her hair.

I noticed it today in tonight’s Tea Party Republican Candidate Debate. The moderators, while focusing mainly on Mitt Romney and Rick Perry (The media’s selection of “front runners” before most states primaries is another awful part of our media-centric election system, but I digress), asked Ms. Bachmann about her stance on government mandated HPV vaccine for young girls. This question they asked almost all the candidates, but to Bachmann, they introduced the question by saying, “Michelle Bachmann, you’re a mother, as a mother, how do you feel about the government requiring our young girls to get this vaccine?” (I may be paraphrasing the wording, but that was the essence of it.) Ms. Bachman took the bait and responded, “Yes. I am a mother. I have three young girls, and I don’t believe the federal government should be requiring them to inject anything into their bodies that they don’t want to”.

Why, why, WHY must female candidates be viewed in light of their roles as mothers? WHY did none of the other candidates, all of whom are parents, get asked about their perspectives “as a father”? And why must female candidates feel compelled to play into these assigned roles? Why couldn’t Ms. Bachmann have responded, “Yes, I am a mother, but my view of government mandated vaccinations goes beyond my own personal household. I don’t believe that the federal government should require my daughters or any one else’s daughters to inject…” This would have concisely pointed out to the public that she viewed herself as more than just a mother.

In fact, I feel that this is where Sarah Palin started going down hill last presidential election. When she presented herself as a “loving mother of 5” and the all american “hockey mom”, she lost credibility as a politician. People felt that if the only thing she had to boast about was her family (including a pregnant-out-of-wedlock daughter and a down-syndrome baby that was being cared for more by her daughter than herself), then she really must not have all that much to bring to the table. Then of course came the Katie Couric interview and the Tina Fey parodies, and the woman never had a chance.

This is not about me endorsing or rejecting either of the two women above. I actually feel that both of them are way too conservative for me. I refuse to vote for anyone who is pro-choice. But that’s not the point here. These women are not being treated as politicians, they’re being treated as women. America likes to think that it is this wonderfully progressive society (certainly those on the extreme right would say so), but we are ages and ages behind where we should be. I mean seriously, is it really that hard for the elections to be about the issues? Is that REALLY too much to ask?

Judging Sexuality

This morning, I may or may not have left a vibrating toy in the shower, which my uber conservative, religious roomate may or may not have seen when she showered after me.

By may or may not, I mean definitely happened.

I’m sitting here, holed up in my room, trying to avoid the room mate for a few days and see if she forgets about it.

But why do I feel the need to do that? Why is there any shame in sexuality? Having a vibrator doesn’t necessarily mean I am sexually active, and even if it did…why should she care? I’m clearly not bringing home random guys to our apartment? This has no effect on her whatsoever…except that she had to stare at a bright blue male organ the whole time she was in the shower.

When I realized what had happened, my body tensed up and got incredibly nervous. I couldn’t move, couldn’t think, couldn’t do anything but lie on my bed and worry about what she would think of me?

And what WOULD she think of me? Would this mean I’m slutty? Would the fact that I have a vibrator mean that I know the pleasure of sexual orgasm, which would in turn mean that I have experienced it with a partner before? Which in turn would mean I’m not as religious as she is, which in turn would mean that she now has reason to doubt how kosher the food that I cook is?

Are those fair assumptions to make? No, but people make them anyway. Do I know for sure that she will make them? No, not at all.

But I have clearly made assumptions about her. I assumed she would judge me for owning a vibrator. And this puts me at just as much fault as I am putting her at.

Angry Feminist

A few weeks ago, I became an angry feminist. I despise angry feminists. They just bother me. As do bleeding heart liberals and Tea-Party conservatives.

To be clear, I don’t have a problem with their political viewpoints. I think that everyone is entitle to his or her own beliefs, and even entitled to share them with others. What I don’t like is when someone feels that their viewpoint is the ONLY valid viewpoint. I also don’t like when people approach issues from an emotional perspective rather than an intellectual one. (I am currently reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, in which he posits that the emotional decisions we make are actually our bodies making sub-conscious logical decisions. I’ll get back to you on that.)

However, I did exactly both of those things recently. I was driving, and the car in front of me was sporting an anti gay marriage bumper sticker. Full disclosure–even though I think everyone is entitled to their own viewpoints, I think the anti gay marriage viewpoint is pretty faulty. In general, it tends to come from a religious perspective, and religion has no place in the American government.

As I was sitting behind this car, staring at the sticker, I literally felt my blood start to boil. I became increasingly agitated, to the point that I changed lanes solely so that I wouldn’t have to look at the sticker. I was angry at that driver for putting that bumper sticker on his car. I didn’t value his freedom of expression. I wasn’t evaluating his viewpoint from a rational, intellectual perspective…I just drove away so that I wouldn’t get any more emotionally upset than I already was.

I just hope that I am able to contain my anger next time i have a conversation about this with someone. Because frankly, angry feminists are just annoying.