Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mixtape for Inanimate Objects

A long time ago, I made this mix in honor of a (now married) friend's statement: There is too much romance in songs. I decided to make a mix all about love songs to inanimate objects. However, it sort of rotted on the vine, since I made it way too hard for myself. Here were the rules:

1. No songs about places-- that's a mix in itself.
2. No songs about cars-- that's also a mix in itself.
3. I could include non-car vehicles, but no more than one song about each type.

I think it's pretty obvious how I only came up with 7 songs. This was the best one: Darren Hanlon's "The Kickstand Song", which is all about the enterprising person who devised the bicycle kickstand. Others were:

"Television" by Robyn Hitchcock. I think this song is about how television is creepy. But it's also an unrequited love TV.
"Speeding Motorcycle" by Yo la Tengo (originally by Daniel Johnston). Pretty obvious. This song has great lyrics: "We don't need reason and we don't need logic, 'cause we have feeling and we're damn proud of it."
"Enola Gay" by Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark. Again, kind of creepy because this song is about the plane that bombed Japan in World War II. So I'm not sure if it's really a love song. But it's just a good song, and about such a strange inanimate object that I had to include it.
"A Summer Wasting" by Belle and Sebastian, which doesn't seem quite relevant (summer and indolence are a little abstract for this mix), but having six songs was just too pathetic.
"Truck Train Tractor" by the Pastels. Getting a few objects in at once! This song doesn't make much sense lyrically, but it is, believe it or not, a pretty great song to dance around to.
"Wheelz of Steel" by Outkast. A love song to turntables.

I may have to revisit this mix and find more songs. It seemed like such a good idea at the time...

Monday, January 26, 2009


As you may know, I started posting less often (if you could call gaps of 2 days less often) because I got a full-time job. I'm working for Americorps, which is supposed to be interesting and rewarding. I don't miss being unemployed (yet), but since I developed so many hobbies during my unemployment that I now don't have time for, I don't foresee a future boredom like the past one that had me on Google searching "Edwyn Collins and asexual", "Kevin Shields and asexual", "Morrissey and asexual" indefinitely. When I didn't have a job, ideas for this blog would get me out of bed in the morning. Now, it's the fact that it's probably warmer on the other side of the house.

Yes, I still want to talk about sex and work.

I didn't like all of Against Love, but it did get me thinking about this subject. The writer of Glad to be A commented that when she's feeling down, that's when she thinks about being in a relationship, because that's what society prescribes for all our ills. I recently did some pretty grim math that yielded something like the average person only having 4 hours to themselves a day. If you spend most of your day doing things you don't like, where are you supposed to get your love? I'm finding that I can't reject sex and passively accept our worklife. I feel like you enter into a societal contract where if you want even the most basic stuff of civilization, you need to commit yourself to working, whether you enjoy what you're doing or not or wether it's contributing to our collective problems or not. I'm not motivated by money, so I can't get anything out of a job I dislike. But I don't understand why we work the way we do. Why do I work 40 hours a week while some work 80 while some don't have jobs (but want them)? Can't we divide up the labor a little better than that?

I remember reading a book called The Corrosion of Character that was about the "new flexible workplace" and how it seems cool and laid-back and ping-pongey, but it's actually damging to worker morale in lots of ways because people have no security. It's funny how at work, we have to be flexible and constantly learning new things, in fear of being obsolete. But when it comes to our relationships, we're very rigid and hesitant to change. I think our relationships could have been a lot more varied by now, but maybe because we're pushed into fake flexbibility at work and uncertainty in our professional futures (if we have professional futures), we cling to traditional dating and marriage. It's a thought. I wish my unknown future could seem like an exciting adventure, but it just doesn't.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on work, (a)sexuality, and relationships. I still plan on writing that epic article someday.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Designated Hater

The original purpose of this blog was to respond to representations of asexuals in the media. As you've noticed, these are so few and far between that I've had to branch out to other topics. But with ABC's recent coverage of AVEN's DSM (that's the big book with the psychological disorders) project, I seem to have reached critical mass, mentally speaking. I feel like I can really start to identify trends in the way that we're presented. I'm about to lump a lot of things together, however, there are exceptions. The most notable ones to me are Bitch Magazine's article "Do Not Want", the KPFA radio story, and the Guardian's article from Paul's perspective.

First of all, in most media we're really presented as "other" and outside the mainstream. There's little done to help the readers identify with us. Harvey Milk was very wise when he declared that gay people were your family, friends, and neighbors. He knew that gay people would be "othered". Milk and his compatriots took to the streets to show solidarity, but also to demonstrate how many gay people there really were. And that's another thing about the articles-- they make it seem like we're an extremely small group, when in fact, 1% of the world's population is an enormous group. There's always mention of AVEN, but little thought is given to the power and implications of this community. And asexuals actually interacting off-line? That must really be an urban legend.

To me, the most annoying feature is that there is always, always at least one hater*. What they're saying doesn't even have to make sense, but it apparently has to be included anyway. So few people know about asexuality to begin with, so where did these haters come from? I would guess that they're not very informed about asexuality, if at all. Most people spend about zero time thinking about asexuality, so how much do these "experts" really know? They seem to be operating on rumor rather than fact. I know that dissenting views make a good story. But you don't look at the wedding announcements and then see quotes from people who claim the wedding didn't actually happen. Asexuality, like I've said before, isn't an issue with two sides because it isn't an issue. The way we're treated might be an issue, but our orientation itself is not.

Since I realized this issue with the haters, I've looked for haters in media about other groups. You'll find them often in stories about the gay community. A few months ago, I saw a documentary, made by a gay man, called Small Town Gay Bar. As you might imagine, it was about the patrons of gay bars in small towns. It was obvious that the film's subjects were risking their safety, perhaps even their lives, to congregate with people who they could relate to. So when Fred Phelps appeared to talk about how much he hated gay people, it didn't serve to educate me much further. Hearing the stories of the small town gay people themselves was much more edifying than random hating. However, maybe I just say this because I already know more than I want to know about Phelps. If you had no idea what gay folks have to contend with, Phelps' vitriol might show it to you. But the thing is, Phelps is so over-the-top and ridiculous that he's obviously there to illustrate how stupid hating makes you look. The asexuality haters are cloaked in professional or "expert" terms, and so people are more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt. Whose word would you believe, a self-professed sex expert or a random asexual? Would you believe a mild-mannered lesbian or a raving bigot? Maybe we can include haters after all, if they're batshit crazy enough.

But the three stories I mentioned above (Bitch Magazine, KPFA, and the Guardian) are proof that we don't need haters to produce a quality report. Those three pieces were the best so far, in my opinion, because they were the most informative, thoughtful, and fully-formed. I know that many aces, myself included, are very hesitant to appear in media, if we don't refuse alltogether. I think part of this apprehension is because we don't want to square off against haters. To me, arguing with someone you know is wrong is the most frustrating feeling in the world. That's why I have a blog so I can always be right. (Mwhahaha.) But I really do think our media options are beginning to improve. The hating on ABC was rather light, all things considered (I know, my expectations are so low). And at least it focused on something we were actually doing rather than the mere fact of our existance. Maybe one day we'll get more in-depth reporting than the 10 people in the world who are allergic to water and are always on TLC during the daytime.

*[Sidenote: Let me define exactly where in the ABC article hating takes place. An professor who doesn't seem to have any prior information on asexuality says: "Given that I believe our sexuality is a great emotional and physical asset, it is hard for me to think asexuality is appropriate to declassify [as a dysfunction]". But what she misses is the fact that asexuality isn't classified in the first place! Hypoactive sexual desire disorder is classified. Way to ignorantly mislead people and imply that we're emotionally and physically deficient. But! Cake for Lori Brotto!]

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I Used to Love H.E.R.

You might find this hard to believe, but some hip-hop songs are really, really asexual. While hip-hop does deal a lot with sex, it's one of the most unromantic genres of music. Besides a few cases like "I Got You", hip-hop songs are usually, for lack of a better word, aromantic. Discussions of sex are usually so formulaic; hearing someone say "I want to touch your booty" (or whatever) has become the equivalent of "la la la". And then there's a song like "I Used to Love H.E.R.". Apparently, "H.E.R." stands for "Hip-hop in its essence and real". In the song, the woman mentioned is actually hip-hop. And it really touched a nerve. You'll see lovers-to-be trading rhymes from the song in the movie Brown Sugar, and you'll often hear a rapper riff off the "I'm committed" line. "I met this girl when I was 10 years old" suddenly became shorthand for this whole (pretty darn asexual) thing. Sex is used as a methaphor here, but isn't it the same for us? ("Sex is like chocolate cake/soccer/chandaliers/puppies etc) Even though I haven't had a crush on anyone for years, for some reason my favorite metaphorical explanation still seems to be: "So, say you have a crush on someone, and..." I'm not a big fan of Common in general, but I have to say, this particular song is a good one. It's long though, so here's the first verse:

I Used to Love H.E.R.
by Common

I met this girl, when I was ten years old
And what I loved most she had so much soul
She was old school, when I was just a shorty
Never knew throughout my life she would be there for me
Ont he regular, not a church girl she was secular
Not about the money, no studs was mic checkin her
But I respected her, she hit me in the heart
A few new york niggaz, had did her in the park
But she was there for me, and I was there for her
Pull out a chair for her, turn on the air for her
And just cool out, cool out and listen to her
Sittin on a bone, wishin that I could do her
Eventually if it was meant to be, then it would be
Because we related, physically and mentally
And she was fun then, I'd be geeked when shed come around
Slim was fresh yo, when she was underground
Original, pure untampered and down sister
Boy I tell ya, I miss her

I still remember (and this was years ago) sitting around with two friends. I mostly listened to hip-hop at the time, and another friend mostly listened to hard rock-type stuff. The third friend complained, "Why are all songs about love? It's SO ANNOYING!" or something along those lines. And we both replied, "You're listening to the wrong music!" If you're tired of birds suddenly appreaing every time so-and-so is near, luckily, you do have other options.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Help, I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!

Oh no—we’re messing with the definitions of words again.

This time, I want to figure out what it means to “fall in love”.

I know what love is because I feel it. But I’m not sure what it means to “fall in love”. Furthermore, I’m not sure why it’s so important to us. Why isn’t regular love enough? Isn’t falling hard on the knees? I was prompted to write this post when I realized that some people's life goals were to "fall in love", and that wasn't something I understood. Maybe by asking what “falling in love” means, I’m like those asexuals who ask what sexual attraction is. To them, I’d say that even after describing it, it’s still hard to understand unless you’ve experienced it. You know it when you feel it. However, even so, I think they both remain important questions.

I think I have fallen in love, but not in the way most people would assume. Like I’ve mentioned before, the moment I realized there was more music than just what was on the radio was definitely the day I truly fell in love with music, as opposed to just liking it a whole lot. Part of my brain (probably the same part that thinks I'm cupid) believes that with the right mixtape (or okay, fine, iTunes playlist), I could make anyone love me instantly. For me, falling in love is music. But I didn’t come here to figure out what I think—I came to get the majority report, which, besides the idea that falling in love is desirable, is not as detailed as I'd like.

An internet search on the topic turned up this Wikipedia article and little else:

"'Falling in love' is a mainly Western term used to describe the process of moving from a feeling of neutrality towards someone to one of love."

Yeah. Way to use the original word in its definition. Wikipedia also says "According to Alberoni, falling in love is a rapid process of destructuration-reorganization called the nascent state. In the nascent state, the individual becomes capable of merging with another person and creating a new collectivity with a very high degree of social solidarity. Hence the definition: falling in love is the nascent state of a collective movement formed of two people only." And I hear Trimberger saying something like, "What's the point of a movement of two people? Isn't that a little anti-social?" It's pretty interesting that falling in love is a largely Western concept. It's also interesting that the most individualistic societies (see my imaginary comment from Trimberger) put the most emphasis on falling in love, romantic love, soulmates, and the like. But that's not enough to justify our falling-in-love it?

I could develop theories, one of which relates to an epic article I’m working on about sex/romance and work. Falling in love apparently is like a drug. It's an escape from our everyday, boring feelings. Maybe we crave it because our current lives are so routine and mundane. But there’s plenty of well-documented things you can do to add excitement to your life, including having crazy random sex with lots of people or riding in Mini-Cooper convertibles on strangely warm winter days (damn you, desk overlooking the road). Most of us do want experiences that lift us up, but why are some so much better-marketed than others? I feel like saying “it’s a cultural meme” is too easy, but it seems to indeed be a cultural meme. Say it enough and people start wanting it, whether it’ll help us lead better lives or not.

But I’m still not getting what I came for—a definition of what “falling in love” really means. Maybe it's not the definition itself I'm looking for, but words that will help me understand why it is so important. At any rate, if I say "falling in love" one more time, you will start to get annoyed with me.

Guess I’ll just have to leave hungry for now.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Look Both Ways

Bisexuals and asexuals have a lot in common. So I was psyched to read Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics. A more accurate subtitle might have been Bisexual Women and Feminism, since that's what the book is about. Its author, Jennifer Baumgardner, takes much inspiration from her days as an intern at Ms. magazine, and interviews many prominent feminists to discover bisexuality's place in the feminist movement. Look Both Ways gives about one sentence to bisexual men, which isn't too cool. Baumgardner knows that bisexuality hasn't been very well documented. She also did a ton of research for this book. So I'm not sure why she didn't include any men's experiences, since her reach is otherwise pretty broad.

Look Both Ways spends a little too much time trying to convince us that bisexuality is legitimate. If we didn't already think so, what are the chances that we would read this book? Anyway, I could definitely appreciate Baumgardner's love of pop culture, which is found throughout the book. There's an entire chapter on bisexual musician Ani DiFranco, which was, sadly, mostly lost on me as I wasn't very familiar with Ani to begin with. Baumgardner talks about how important it is for us to have positive bisexual role models in the media. She says that "the positive force of pop culture is misunderstood" (111) and that when Ellen DeGeneres came out, it made coming out easier for her as well. The funny thing is, we do have asexuals who are fairly well-known, such as Paula Poundstone and Edward Gorey. But unlike Ellen, whose sexuality was front and center for awhile, the asexuality of these other celebs has been gleaned from statements that they may have made once, as sidenotes, and that's it. We probably do have an Ellen-level asexual celebrity right now, we just don't know who it is.

We everyday folk can afford to be bolder than famous people can. Ellen may have encouraged everyday lesbians and bisexual women to come out. But it's us, the everyday asexuals, who are going to have to encourage our celebrities.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Trouble With Movies

Lately, I haven't written about as many movies as I'd like to. I've seen some good, bad, and bizarre movies, but none that really had anything to do with asexuality. And even that is very broad in my mind-- movies that relates somehow to an asexual experience, movies that talk about relationships in an uncommon way, and movies with possibly-ace characters are all relevant. While some movies about gay characters (The Celluloid Closet, Maurice) seem relevant, most don't. Even though the characters may be queer, the relationships portrayed are conventional. However, a film like Amelie, which is about straight people, seems oddly asexual, probably because Amelie's ways of going about relationships are so unusual.

And then you have the issue of an asexual film versus one that's just chaste or family-friendly. It would take a lot for me to call any movie with a G or PG rating asexual. Many people talk about asexual themes in WALL-E, but the movie is rated G and is about robots. How much sexual content could that film contain, under any circumstances? However, a movie like Withnail and I, which could contain overtly sexual content but does not, can be called wildly asexual.

I think it's the same reason why it can be harder to know you're ace than to know you're gay or straight. Noticing something that doesn't exist (in this case, your sex drive) isn't always easy. In the case of films, I'm looking for asexy content, and I still have a hard time finding it. I seem to write about a lot more books, because it seems like they can be more "out there" than movies and cover more obscure topics. I also never thought I'd say this, but it's easier for me to read a book (where I can read a page at a time whenever I have a minute) than to watch a movie these days. But, I still have a crazy love of movies, and the more plotless the better. It's sort of annoying to look for asexual themes in every movie I see, but I just can't help myself.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Asexual Perspectives

I can’t believe I missed my perfectly-wrought every 3 days schedule…I’m moving to a new house (new people! Strange animals! Frightening!) and got caught up in the preparations. Anyway, I’ll make up for it with a lengthy post!

As you may know, the new AVEN homepage with new content is LIVE! I feel honored to be included in the revamped “Asexual Perspectives” section. I’ve written about myself before, but I never really told the whole story of my asexual “journey”, so to speak. I wanted to convey my initial negativity but also be encouraging to newbies. And if you have any ideas for the title, please share…I called it “Life After Asexuality” but that doesn’t make much sense. Anyway, here’s my story, which is going to mess up the RSS feed, but oh well, I just wanted to share:

This was my introduction to asexuality: I was 20 and in the fall of my junior year of college. I was standing in my room with a small group of my sorority sisters. The girls were talking about which boys they currently had crushes on, and I remarked that I didn’t have a crush on anyone. One of my good friends mentioned casually, “Maybe you’re asexual.”

“NO I’M NOT!” I replied with horrified vehemence.

When I came out to her as asexual more than a year later, she was quite accepting.

But we’re not there yet. That spring, I studied abroad for a semester in London. I had a lot of time of time alone with my thoughts. After my internship in the evenings, I would walk along the Thames and come to important realizations about my life (sigh…). But not every realization was entirely welcome. This is what I wrote in my journal in April of 2005:

“I wanted to figure out my views on sex because it’s everywhere and everyone’s always talking about it. So I thought. And theoretically, sex sounds all well and good. But in actuality, it doesn’t appeal to me at all. I’ve always thought so, but I used to think it was just because I was too young. Well, I’m not too young anymore. And the idea of sex just doesn’t excite me like it seems to for other people. So could I be asexual, or what? There’s an asexuality LJ comm. [a sort of online group]…and those people all seem lonely and frustrated. If you’re gay, at least most people will understand that. But no one will understand if you’re not interested in sex. I’m not even sure I understand it. I never thought I’d be one of those people that ‘question their sexuality’, but here I am and I’m pretty confused. Maybe I’m making too much of this whole thing. But these are my thoughts & opinions—doesn’t that mean anything?”

When I got back from London, I got some bad news about something that had happened at school. What followed was an extremely depressing summer. When I first realized I was asexual, it seemed like even more bad news. I wanted so badly to be “normal”, although I had no idea why being “normal” was so essential in the first place. While I never wanted to have kids (when the girls in my middle school class were discussing how many children they’d like to have, I declared that I wanted iguanas), I always pictured myself getting married someday, or at least having a boyfriend. I wasn’t sure if asexuality was compatible with those visions. But looking back, asexuality was the least of my problems. I think I blamed a lot on it, because it was the “exotic” new development in my life. Maybe it took my mind off my other problems, ones that I was tired of dealing with. Since the culture at large seemed to view a lack of sexual desire as a problem, it wasn’t hard for me to think of it as a problem, too. Unfortunately, what I see now as my “real problems” at that time were things our culture couldn’t care less about. Always a bit impressionable, I soldiered on.

In the fall of 2005, I joined AVEN. I still remember my intro post—it was about how I’d rather listen to music than hook up with people. Immediately, I got welcomes and traditional AVEN cake from people all over the world. It felt wonderful to know I wasn’t alone, and that my fellow asexuals were such a friendly and diverse group. I wouldn’t meet any AVENites for quite awhile, but just knowing AVEN was there was comforting. I still celebrate my AVENiversary every year on November 27th.

It was a year later, November of 2006, that I made it to my first AVEN meetup. I had moved from the rural town where I’d gone to college, and was living in San Francisco, an hour’s drive from the town where I’d attended high school. I met three AVENites at a Berkeley karaoke bar, sang “Bizarre Love Triangle”, and for some reason agreed to helm the future San Francisco meetups. I started to embrace the idea that I could lead and organize things, and acknowledge community as one of the most important parts of my life. When I was told that I was “good at finding community” by a near-stranger, it didn’t sound like the way I saw myself. Oddly enough, I hadn’t detected a pattern in my twelve years of Girl Scouts and subsequent loyalty to my sorority sisters. It was the loss of community that crushed me after I returned from London. With AVEN meets, I tried to get it back. Even if the turnout wasn’t good, talking with asexuals in the flesh always left me exhilarated.

In the summer of 2007, I started another asexual-themed enterprise: My blog, Asexy Beast. I began it as a way to comment on portrayals of asexuality in the media. Needless to say, I’ve had to branch out a lot, but I’ve somehow managed to write almost 300 entries, with no sign of stopping anytime soon. Who said that if you weren’t interested in sex, that you didn’t have anything to talk about, again? I’d like to think I proved them wrong. Recently, in December of 2008, I wrote an entry about how it isn’t obvious to everyone that asexuality is a sexual orientation, like being straight, gay, or bi. I wrote:

“When I first discovered the magical world of asexuality, I didn't want to be it either. But various involvements-- in AVEN, this blog, and meetups, made me more comfortable identifying as asexual. Now, I can't imagine being anything else. The advantages to being asexual-- honesty with yourself, an accepting community, lack of pressure to be sexy-- are not as obvious as the perceived disadvantages. When I first discovered asexuality, the disadvantages hit me hard, as they might for many others. It was only later that I began to see the advantages. I think the advantages to our orientation is something we need to be more upfront and vocal about. Of course, we're not superior to anyone else, but we do have much to offer.”

I really believe that the asexual community has gifts to offer, not only to its members, but to the larger world as well. Those gifts are something that I want to explore, and to share. Who should care about asexuality? Everyone who’s ever felt pressured to kiss someone they weren’t attracted to, suffer through a boring blind date, or have sex because everyone else was doing it. Everyone who ever wondered if there was something more than the dating-marriage track, and why we have so few meaningful relationship options. Asexuals are tired of our culture’s constant pressure to be sexual and sexy. We envision a world where people are free to explore their sexuality in their own way and in their own time, whether their libido is at zero or hyperdrive. Why would anyone disagree with that idea of freedom?

Questioning one’s sexuality is rarely met with delight, but it ended up being a positive force in my life. I wanted to admit to my initial fears, how I turned them around, and in the end, “be upfront” about the advantages of our orientation. Once, after a meetup, I remember sitting around late into the night talking with two other AVENites about asexual relationships. Well, they were talking, and I was mostly just listening. It occurred to me at that moment that I was in the midst of the beginning of a movement. It was so exciting, I thought, that I was there and a part of it. And the thing is, anyone that is asking the same questions that we are can be a part of it, too. Anyone who wants to expand the possibilities of how we love and relate. What we’re talking about as asexuals has never really been talked about before. I don’t know what we’ll find. But in that excitement, that feeling of being on the edge of a discovery, maybe it’s worth the not knowing.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

"It Was Dinosaurs Vs. Mammoths!" (Meetup Glory)

Report of January '09 Meetup, 1pm at Crossroads Cafe:
10 people were there: Ily, Cdrdash, Sensual_Fox, NeitherSparky, Jim, Emily, Carolyn, Zerick, AVENguy, and Coleslaw.
Yeah, you heard that right: 10 people. The largest meetup in California history! Congratulations, everyone! I consider this a very special day. A relatively long time ago, I made my goal as the SF meetup leader to get 10 people at a meetup. For over two years, our record was six people, and most meetups had no more than two or three of us. So I wasn't sure when, if ever, this goal would be achieved. But, at the risk of getting all St. Crispin's Day on you, this is that day. I hope everyone realizes we've achieved a great thing, and just by showing up, at that.
Also, props to the Lononders for setting the example.
Now, on to the actual meetup: We pushed Apples to Apples to its limits and discovered that Thomas conducting an armed robbery is indeed asexy. We talked about the 2009 Pride Parade and there was interest in helping folks from far and wide get here to march with us. We also named our mascot "Zeep", which seems very fitting for a giant algae.
No sitting on your laurels, now...hope to see everyone in March!
Photos are on this thread (page 3).

Thursday, January 1, 2009

In a Relationship

"I've been in a relationship with myself for 49 years, and that's the one I need to work on."
--Samantha, Sex and the City: The Movie

Well, I hope your New Year's was more fun than mine-- I have a massive cold, so I lay on my couch inertly watching Sex and the City: The Movie. At least I knew I'd recover when I was able to get up to write that quote down.

Anyway, we all know that I hate the term "Just Friends" (as if friends are irrelevant compared to romantic partners! Hmmph!). But I never thought I'd reach this day, as well: The term "in a relationship" bothers me. I never really thought about it until the beginning of this week, when someone asked me "are you in a relationship" and I said "no". It's an odd question, really, because we're all in relationships. Even hermits (why am I always using hermits as examples? Sorry, hermits) are in relationships with the little forest creatures. The philosopher Schopenhauer's most significant relationships were with poodles. If you have a strong feeling towards something, it's pretty safe to say that you have a relationship with it.

"But Ily" you say, "Everyone knows that 'in a relationship' means 'a romantic relationship'". Well, of course, I know that too. But why aren't people saying what they mean? Why not "are you dating anyone?", "are you in a romantic relationship?", or "do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend?". I suppose that "relationship" is a more general term for boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, or partner. But why, from the phrase "in a relationship", do we assume it ends there?

"In a relationship" belongs to a group of what I call "coded phrases". I find them fascinating. I'll explain them best through another example: "What do you do?" To answer that question literally, you'd say something like "breathing" or catalogue everything you really do. But we all know that question means "What is your job?" I believe these sort of questions reflect values that we may not really want to have (but that our culture may encourage). When we say "What do you do?" and assume that means "What is your job?", we're assuming that your job is the most important thing you do. And we may or may not really believe this. It's the same with "Are you in a relationship?". By not stating the sort of relationship, and yet assuming that it's a romantic one, we're privledging those sorts of relationships over others. Whether that's the way we really feel or not.