Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Still Untouched

Remember this play? Well, I went to the production website, and e-mailed the writer asking him who was publishing Untouched. Gotta love small-scale theatre, right? He sent me a very nice reply, saying that the play wasn't published yet, but that he'd send me a PDF after he got it copyrighted. Cool!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Get your radio face on

KPFA, a public radio station in Berkeley, has a weekly program on womens' issues. They want to do a special report on sexuality, including asexuality. I think I'll be helping them out in some regard, so I'll keep you posted, and of course, provide links when they become available. It'll be fun to be back on the radio without having to explain why "Take On Me" is an oldie.

Also, we had a SF meetup tonight! In addition to myself, two other fab A-Teamers congregated at Los Jarritos. I thought this was a pretty fine meetup location: not too busy on a Sunday night, slow service, affordable and decent food, and a fun (although not overly loud) atmosphere. In fact, I asked the waiter where their retro chairs came from.
He didn't know, but did tell me to call Dolores.
We talked at length about the infamous AVEN pamphlets. Planning a 3-D project in an online world is very hard to do. We brainstormed some different options for what we could give out to LGBT centers. Perhaps some "unofficial" SF/AVEN pamphlets will be in our future...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Sexy Mustard!

I found this video on the feminism/pop culture blog (again, sound familiar?) Feministing. It's really the funniest thing I've seen all week. It's related to sexuality, but mostly I just wanted to show you something funny. And in the spirit of the Halloween season, here you go. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


It's no secret that I have a thing for London. It’s one of those stubborn past relationships that won’t let me go; I went there in Spring 2005, and have felt strangely unmoored ever since. I love Londoners’ excessive tea drinking, their propensity to say “Cheers!” as a response to everything, the bizarre crimes they commit in lieu of gun violence (when I was there, it was something like axe-murdering cannibalism). And then, there is the undying and unholy love I have for the London Tube. If looking at shirtless Abercrombie models rocks your docks, that’s cool. But I’d rather look at this:

You can click on the map for a detailed view. I know you want one!
Anyway, it’s not surprising to me that in London, asexual characters are about to tread the boards. Yes folks, there is a play about to go up with an officially (as in, not just inferred by me) asexual character. The play is called "Untouched", and you can find the details here. There are also some interesting comments from the playwright here.
And the tickets are only 5 pounds! I’m so there in spirit.
I'm going to try to get my hands on a copy...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Letting Go, Again

"Like a self-help manual that's been written in Braille, it seems the more that we touch, the more we learn about our failings."
--The Lucksmiths, "Sunlight in a Jar"

Well, it's been a slow week for asexuality in pop culture. Shocking, no? But I've been thinking, again, about this "letting go"concept. Specifically, this: Are traditional relationship structures (think one partner, a few good friends, a bunch of acquaintances, and selected family members) another thing we'll have to let go of in order to lead happy Ace lives? And furthermore, how can we let go when we don't know what to grab as an alternative? I compare the situation to people that tell me, "Hey, it's great that you're vegetarian, but I just don't know what I'd eat!"
Those people don't know that there is a whole wonderful and strange world of non-meat options. And maybe there is a comparable world of non-traditional relationship options. I just haven't found enough yet, to, well, eat.

However, many people have ideas as to what these A-friendly relationship structures could look like. (Picture me pausing at the top of the tofu aisle, with a mixture of fear and wonderment on my face.) Considering the fact that sexual people are 99% of the population, I'm going to focus on relationships that asexual people could have with sexual people. I mean, traditional relationships would be easy if we could all find fellow Aces to have them with. But, sometimes this isn't possible. So, onward to two alternatives.

The AVEN wiki (find it on top of the main AVEN page) discusses a concept called Community-Based Intimacy. Would it be too intimate for me to call it CBI? Anyway, CBI is described as
a "constantly changing network of relationships as [one's] primary means of finding emotional fulfillment..." Believe it or not, this here old sailor is also an old hand at CBI. At the time, it didn't have that name, but looking back, CBI was definitely what I was doing. But it didn't work for me. At all. And it ended up being very sad. Buy me a whiskey and I'll tell you about it sometime. It might work for other people whose emotional needs and habits are different from mine. But I'll have to scratch CBI off my shopping list.

Then there's polyamory. It can be a thorny beast of a concept. But simply put, it is the act of having more than one primary partner. And, unlike your shady ex-boyfriend, everyone involved knows exactly what's going on. I won't admit to understanding it fully. Everyone has their final frontier in the world of sexuality; polyamory is mine. I respect people that are able to do it, but I have no idea how I could. Some see poly life as a boon to asexuals; in a relationship of three people, say, two could have sex with one another, and the Ace in the group wouldn't be pressured for sex. But how could I live in this arrangement without feeling like the perpetual third wheel, the child, or the maid? I am, after all, a jealous person. Knowing this about myself, entering into a poly relationship would be like throwing gasoline on a burning tofu kabob. And no one wants to eat charred tofu. Things that I can see working rarely enough work-- what chance would I have with something I could never see working? Okay, scratch scratch for polyamory too.

There you have it-- two ways that Aces could get down with sexual folks. If you know any more, please, toss them my way. I'd like to consider myself a good test kitchen for the topic-- a sort of barometer for what average views might be. I'm not very radical about relationships, although I recognize the need to be. Like a heck of a lot of people, I've always had a shadowy idea that marriage and kids would occur at some point, but I'm seeing now that I might have to revise this plan. Just because I write about asexuality-- still an esoteric topic by most standards-- doesn't mean I've been able to let go of the "one special partner" ideal. I haven't seen a movie about CBI or polyamory yet. And it probably shows.

So this is the asexual challenge. To somehow find out what kinds of nonsexual relationships work. And I'm talking viable options that even I could love, not ones only for the relationship daredevils among us. This would be a significant contribution to our world, for the sexual and asexual alike. Kind of like Gardenburgers. "Hey, this is pretty good...for vegetarian."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

That's My Song

There's a song that describes me perfectly. Well, there are probably a few, but this is one of them. I wish I could say that it was something sophisticated and high-brow, perhaps by a British band from the 1980s that you've never heard of. But it's not. It's "Dancing With Myself" by Billy Idol. Yeah:

On the floors of Tokyo
Or down in London town to go-go
With the record selection
And the mirror reflection
I'm a dancing with myself

When there's no one else in sight
In the crowd and lonely night
Well I wait so long
For my love vibration
And I'm dancing with myself

Oh oh oh dancing with myself
Oh oh oh dancing with myself
Well there's nothing to lose
And there's nothing to prove
I'll be dancing with myself
Oh oh, oh oh

If I looked all over the world
And there's every type of girl
But your empty eyes
Seem to pass me by
Leave me dancing with myself

So let's sink another drink
'Cause it'll give me time to think
If I had the chance
I'd ask the world to dance
And I'll be dancing with myself

Oh oh oh dancing with myself
Oh oh oh dancing with myself
Well there's nothing to lose
And there's nothing to prove
I'll be dancing with myself
Oh oh, oh oh
Oh oh, oh ohhh, oh
Oh oh, oh ohhhh
Oh oh, oh ohhhhhaaaawwww!
Much like Big Star's "September Girls" (discussed in an earlier post), I barely have anything to add to that. It's like Oscar "Quote Factory" Wilde's "To love yourself is the beginning of a lifelong romance" brought out to the dancefloor. If you can't find anyone to dance with right now, don't waste the music worrying about it. Just enjoy the opportunity for some good dancing with yourself. You know, you deserve to have as much fun without a partner as with one.
So, what's your song?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Give It Up

Even though My Gender Workbook was impossible to get through, there were a lot of neat quotes in it. Here's one of quite a few I really liked:

We've pretty much come to the end of a time when you can have a space that is "yours only"-- just for the people you want to be there. Even when we have our "women-only" festivals, there is no such thing...to a large extent it's because we have just finished with that kind of isolating. There is no hiding place. There is nowhere you can go and only be with people who are like you. It's over. Give it up.
-- Bernice Johnson Reagon, West Coast Women's Music Festival, 1981.

I just noticed that this quote is from 1981, 26 years ago. Does it mean that no one really heeded these points, since they're still exactly as relevant today as they were then? Or does it just mean they're good points? I love the straightforwardness of that statement-- just let go!
However, it's not just "them" that need to let go, sometimes it's "us" as well. I was thinking aloud on AVEN-- Hmm, I really don't get it when I try to come out to people and they don't say anything, what's up with that? It's like they're totally indifferent! One wise person responded: "Not everyone's interested in your sex life!" At first I went, AHEM?!, but upon further thought, I found it was an excellent point. I've always been interested in other people's sex lives; but then again, sexuality is a big interest of mine. Not only am I fascinated by it on a theoretical level, but I like the low-level thrill provided by living vicariously. Much like you'd be interested in hearing stories about time travel, dragons, or other things that don't really apply to your life, I'm interested in hearing about sexuality. However, I needed to get over myself and realize that some people just don't care. And you know, that is probably a very good thing. People that care deeply about your sex life are probably among the same people who say, "WE NEED TO GET YOU LAID, KID!", and other things I can live without. Aaah, letting go...now doesn't that feel better?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

My Gender Workbook

A few years ago, I went to a lecture by Kate Bornstein, professional gender outlaw. If calling it a transformative experience (no pun intended) is an overstatement, then it's not a very big overstatement. Listening to Kate's stories and ideas made me feel like whatever I was, maybe it wasn't so strange and terrible after all. And if this smart, funny person standing before us was as queer as it gets, then maybe my little asexy self was going to be all right. I wish that everyone I know could have seen her speak too; I don't think it was possible to leave without harnessing a better self-image.
Pretty powerful stuff, which was why I was so psyched to check out her book My Gender Workbook.
And isn't it cute with its pink comp book cover? However, even though it isn't a hard read, and it isn't boring, somehow I found it impossible to get through. Like any good workbook, it has exercises. LOTS of exercises. Here's an example:
Name something in your life that's being done for you by another person. It could be mothering, income-providing, teaching, or housekeeping. It could be sexual fulfillment. Anything at all that someone's doing for you that you're not doing for yourself right now.
Now go spend the next month of your life learning how to do that for yourself and doing it.
Apparently, breaking down gender barriers is not a one-semester course, but a life's mission. I defy you to try to learn any of the aforementioned tasks in one month, except maybe housekeeping. I didn't want to do all the exercises, so I tried to skim past some of them. Kate was clever in that when you don't do the exercises, the rest of the book makes no sense. Suddenly I was looking at a chart of sex and gender that looked like one of those family trees from the Bible.

I think it behooves all of us to learn more about gender. Especially as asexuals, because like it or not, we are transgressing gender roles. Nice to know what it is you're transgressing, right? But maybe I just don't have time for the finer points of gender deviance. Is that terribly lazy?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pulp Fiction

"If my answers frighten you, Vincent, then you should stop asking scary questions."
--Samuel L. Jackson to John Travolta, Pulp Fiction

"You are entitled to your opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts."
--Attributed to Sen. Pat Moynihan

It's some amalgamation of these two quotes that I think of when faced with asexuality-deniers. You might know them-- the modern equivalent of the flat-earth proponents of yore, they are adamant about the fact that asexuality as a sexual orientation cannot exist. Their exhortations always come across to me as some sort of fear. Take, for example, someone's idea that the Wikipedia article
(yes, I'm addicted) on asexuality should be deleted:

"I personally don't think that it is possible for a person with normal sexual organs to be completely and totally devoid of sexual [sic] and even this article says that most of these "asexuals" admit that they masturbate, which would mean that they must have some sexual desire, so it probably isn't possible to be completely asexual. So since it is impossible to be asexual I think this bogus article should be deleted."

Ignoring the factual snafus here, why does an article on asexuality offend this person's sensibilities so much and scare them so deeply? As Jules says in Pulp Fiction, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the proverbial kitchen. If you're just going to brush off other people's sexualities, why even go there? Why even emerge from your comfortable cocoon? It's something I fail to grasp. People have always feared what they don't understand, but can that really be all of it?
Luckily, the people close to me in my life accept me for who I am. But there are countless others who try to come out as asexual and only get responses like the one above : "THAT'S NOT POSSIBLE!!" I think some of these adamants can eventually see the light. If the Wikipedia-editor quoted above is reading this, I invite him or her to read the rest of this blog and discover the fact that we are not trying to tear apart your world; just finding a way to live in it that makes sense to us.
I've heard that a major part of homophobia is a fear of the homosexual act itself. But if there is no sexual act, what's left to fear? People that won't come on to you, that won't pressure you to have sex, that won't tell you about their freaky sexual exploits? The logical part of my mind is baffled. But this is one more reason why we need more explicit representations of asexuals in our culture; why you aspiring asexy screenwriters and novelists should get writing. Going "Hey guys, you know that dude on TV, Dexter? Well, I'm like him" will never be a good way to come out.
Unless you want to find yourself tied to a chair.

For your intellectual kicks, here's a picture of what people used to think the earth looked like. All I have to say is that that is one big-arse castle.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Love My Way

If I was DJing an 80s asexual rollerdisco party, I would definitely bump this song from 1982: "Love My Way" by the Psychedelic Furs. Because really, aren't we all just looking for love our way?

There's an army
On the dancefloor
It's a fashion
With a gun my love
In a room
Without a door
A kiss is not enough

Love my way
It's a new road
I follow where
My mind goes

They'd put us
On a railroad
They'd dearly
Make us pay
For laughing
In their faces
& making it our way
There's emptiness
Behind their eyes
There's dust
In all their hearts
They just want to
Steal us all
And take us all apart

But not in
Love my way
It's a new road
I follow where
My mind goes

So swallow
All your tears my love
And put on
your new face
You can never win or lose
If you don't
Run the race
yeah, yeah, yeah

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ninotchka! (Happy Coming-Out Day!)

"She has sex, but no particular gender."
Marlene Dietrich on Greta Garbo

Sometimes I'll be watching a film or TV show that doesn't have much to do with anything in particular, but suddenly I'll come across a line or a situation that makes me laugh out loud with recognition. Such was the case when I was watching Ninotchka yesterday, a film from 1939 starring, yes, Greta again. She plays the title character, a very stony and serious Soviet envoy sent to Paris on some official business; while there, she meets Count Leon, a freewheeling party boy who, strangely, seems to be American. Anyway, they first meet when Ninotchka is stranded on a traffic island, with a map. She asks Leon for directions. And here's the part that made me laugh. I can't possibly do it justice with a transcription, but here you go. Just imagine Garbo being as stern as humanly possible, and then some:

Ninotchka: I'm interested only in the shortest distance between two points. Must you flirt?
Leon: I don't have to, but I find it natural.
Ninotchka: Suppress it.
Leon: I'll try.

Of course, the two of them fall madly in love. I know that in old movies, this tends to happen rather quickly. However, the speed and complete lack of reality with which Ninotchka and Leon fall in love is absolutely mind-boggling, completely surpassing any other old movie I've seen. I blame my modern sensibilities, but I was a wee bit worried for them.
Even so, it's a terrific movie; go and rent it this weekend. Garbo is just amazing. In an industry (film), that has always tried to promote the most manly men and womanly women, Garbo's sexual ambiguity makes her that much more intriguing to watch. I've also retrieved another quote from Wikipedia, of course:

Garbo's biographer Barry Paris notes that she was "technically bisexual, predominantly lesbian, and increasingly asexual as the years went by." It has been indicated that Garbo struggled greatly with her sexuality, only becoming involved with other women in affairs that she could control.

Well now, how about that! We may not be able to claim her for the A-Team, but struggling greatly with your sexuality earns anyone a few free boxes of Crackerjack. And being one of the best actors I've ever watched earns Garbo a few more spaces on my Netflix queue.

And, total non-sequitor: It's National Coming Out Day!
Kind of like National Talk Like a Pirate Day, except you get to come out to people.
"Yarr, matey, I'm asexual! But why is the rum gone?"
You've got a few more hours to come out (as whatever you'd like), so get crackin'!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Do you like alphabet soup?

Another good question asked by the documentarians:
Do you want asexuals to be part of the LGBT community?
When people ask me this, I usually answer with a joke:
Well, there isn't enough room on the [SF LGBT Center] sign.
Since the addition of "T" into "LGBT" still seems controversial, gunning for asexual inclusion is almost a moot point right now. However, I'd love to be included, if they'd have us.
Apparently, some people are already throwing "A" into the mix. According to Wikipedia's article on "LGBT":

Many variants exist. The most commonly used involve adding a
Q for queer or questioning (some variants, in fact, use two Qs to represent both of these groups), an A for asexual or allies (and sometimes 'S' for straight ally), a T for two spirit, an I for intersex, or a P for pansexual or polyamorous. Some even add an O for omnisexual or other.

And also:

At its fullest, then, it is some permutation of
LGBTTTIQQA, though this is extremely rare.

I say, don't stop at transfolks or asexuals. I say, include everyone! It sounds facetious, but I'm completely serious. It's power in numbers, people! Sure, LGBTTTIPQQA (gotta add a 'P' in there for those pansexuals) is harder to cross-stitch. But to those who would say that such a community would never be possible, I give you an example that you're probably already quite familiar with: The United States. We're composed of 50 states and assorted territories, filled with millions of people who are as different from each other as can be. But despite (or because of) our crazy-large diversity, we've managed to stumble along together for quite some time now. We even manage to share some values, like freedom, hard work, and deep-fried Oreos.
Why are people so thrown by a few extra letters? I can imagine a
LGBTTTIPQQA community getting together under the premise of equal rights for all people, understanding, and acceptance.
That would be a beautiful-- albeit unpronounceable-- thing.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Goals, Check 'Em!

You know, it wasn't very logical of me to think, "Hey, we're not getting very many people at events, so let's have more events!" Sometimes, the logical-to-a-fault side of my brain wants to hit the other side with a tennis racket.
So I think my goal will be: Get 10 people at a meetup.
Something about that makes me cringe a little; maybe it's the idea of referring to people as numbers. "Hey you, asexual #7, get over here!" But even though I'm terrible at names (AND faces, God does have a sense of humor), I don't think 10 people is really enough to start de-humanizing them.
And if we get four more, we can have a football team! But we'd have to play offense and defense. Which would probably make me die. Maybe we'll just have a picnic.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

This Woman's Work

I'm sorry that I traumatized you the other day with visions of Burt Bacharach's sex life. It won't happen again. To make it up to you, here's a great quote, in honor of this whole ENDA situation:

"...the moral center of a movement is not defined by how well and how long we fight for our own rights. Important as that is, it's also enlightened self-interest: We all want our own rights. The moral center of a movement is defined by how well and how long we fight for those who are not us, for those more easily left behind."
--Riki Wilchins, from "Gender Rights Are Human Rights"

This comes from an essay in the book Genderqueer: Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary. It's a collection of essays from various people, and so it gets rather spotty at times, but in general it's pretty interesting, and I recommend it. What's so great about the gender binary anyway? (And I really do challenge anyone to answer this...especially from a female perspective. There's another essay in the aforementioned book claiming that being a woman in a patriarchal society is to be inherently genderqueer. That might be pushing it a little, but as things are, women don't seem to have anything to gain from the gender binary.) What else is this ENDA thing showing me, other than the fact that some people have strange ideas about discrimination? We need some transgender politicians, obviously.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Sound of Silence

Classes with massive amounts of reading; I feel too old for this. I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about John Hammond this week, but I've only gotten through about 5 pages of Exotica. However, in those 5, I did find a relevant quote from someone I never thought I'd be writing about: Burt Bacharach. He says:

"I could never make love to music because I'm not into the woman, I'm into, wait, what did that saxophone play in the sixth bar? Oh man, Jesus, that was not good!"

Wow Burt, I think that would totally be me. But I ask the question: Without music, how would you know when to start having sex? Aren't the suddenly-appearing, velvety tones of Barry White usually the best indicator of what's to come? I wouldn't know what's going on without the soundtrack. But for flying by his own internal compass, Burt is apparently an adventurous guy.

So, my goals...they still don't exist yet. Should I try to get us a steady meeting place? Aim for a certain number of participants? Start up office hours?
I need to remember to start small.
These are as much community goals as personal ones, so suggestions would actually be appreciated. Anyone?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Girls on Film

Today was my big film interview, and I got to talk about lots of things that I've written about on this blog! Like Sherlock Holmes, Dexter, Withnail & I, and Sex & the City. The film-makers seemed interested in the pop culture angle too, which was really cool. They also asked me some hard questions, like this one:
"So, what are your goals for this community in the next year?"
I was glad they asked that, because it made me realize that, hey...I have no clearly articulated goals for this project. As a good, longtime Girl Scout, I can't believe I neglected to do this. In fact, I think the ghost of Juliette Lowe is going, "Girl, what were you thinking?"
Juliette, I have no idea. I should get on those goals, ASAP.
As Thoreau said, "In the end, we only hit what we aim at."