Conflict

Every time I consider coming out

Start thinking about what I’d say

Something inside of me grabs hold

Of the label I don’t fit

Shelters “Girl” and hisses at me 

For trying to take it away

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Naming It

Written for the August 2016 Carnival of Aces.

This month’s topic is based around names and terms used within the ace community to describe our experiences. I can’t remember the first time I came across the word ‘Asexual’, partly because it took me so darn long to actually start identifying with it. Until then, I hadn’t even considered the fact that what I was feeling was different to most peoples’ experiences. But now it’s like a warm blanket, or a shield. Something that comforts and protects me (even if I don’t tell people. It’s a kind of internal reassurance I guess).

When it did finally click that maybe the word asexual actually fitted my experiences it was a weird moment. It took several months between my first exposure to the community on tumblr and me deciding that yes, this was me. In the process of deliberation, I ended up delving deep into the terminology used by other asexuals- learning that romantic attraction is not inherently the same as sexual attraction for instance, or that asexuality is a spectrum with so many identities under the umbrella (some of which I’m still discovering now- whether that’s because they’ve just been named or I’ve only just been exposed to it is something I’m unsure about).

And that’s another thing. Exposure.

I think that part of the reason it took me so long to start identifying as Asexual was because it seemed like some kind of made up thing. Something that seemed so obscure, and surely it was just aimed at the people like me who’d never been in a relationship, right? The awkward kids, giving us an excuse to not have a partner.

The other day I was with my aunt, both of us scrolling through social media. She reached a post of different flags and pointed out the asexual one, saying that that was her. Then she misread aromantic as aromatic and was confused, what was this? So after I’d explained that within the community there’s often a distinction made between sexual and romantic attraction- you don’t need to feel neither- and that this has a name, she looked stunned. That’s the power of names. They can work in one of two ways: you come across one that doesn’t fit your experience and are enlightened as to how your experiences differ from other peoples; or you come across a name, term or definition that you click with.

Names have the power to easily convey to others the way you feel, to differentiate between similar but different experiences, to find other people who also connect with this word. If nothing else, names give you something to type into google when you think this word might be you but you’re not quite sure yet. And I think that’s pretty cool.

Leg Hair, Don’t Care

I work in a tiny little company. Literally in someone’s garage (although it has grown massively since Christmas when I was last at work) washing and drying glasses and crockery that my boss hires out. It’s an alright job, my hours are whatever I want to work, the other people are nice and I can wear what I want, even if it does pay minimum wage.

My boss refers to me and the other people that work there as ladies a lot, when he’s greeting us or talking to us as a whole which is like ehh because it’s general rather than being direct, but it does still feel slightly wrong. And I mean, I got the job because I’m female- the guys he’d employed before me had been far worse at the job than the girls, so he decided that the next employee should be a girl- so I can’t really complain. Without that I probably still wouldn’t have a job thanks to the need experience for job, need job for experience cycle.

For the last few weeks at work I’ve been wearing jeans and it has been HOT- nearly 30 degrees most days and humid from the dishwasher- but I didn’t want to wear shorts because I haven’t shaved my legs since December and y’know, being referred to as a lady I feel like I should have the smooth legs that are expected (my family are weird about things like that so I think thats a major influence). I don’t even think about it any more but whenever I wear shorts my family comment on it…or sideeye me. I haven’t been brave enough to wear shorts in front of extended family yet, these are my parents and sister.

The other day my boss was helping out and asked why we were both wearing jeans in this weather so I made the excuse that my shorts were still packed up from being at uni (mostly true, I had one pair that was unpacked and the rest was still in my suitcase), but it got me thinking- what if I did wear shorts to work? How would people react?

When I got home I texted my friend with my problem: its so hot at work and shorts would be so nice to wear, but wearing shorts means exposing my legs and I don’t want to deal with the possible comments that may come with that. She made the point that they’re my legs and that I should be allowed to do whatever I want, as well as the fact that I’d be way more comfortable (physically if not mentally).

So yesterday I wore shorts.

My dad stared at me when he noticed my unshaven self but didn’t say anything, I think he was trying to process the fact that I was going out in public with hairy legs (the horror!). When I turned up at work I was met with a greeting of “Heeeey! The shorts are out!” from my boss and that was the point I was like who cares. They’re my legs. And I will show them as much as I want to while wearing ‘boys clothes’ and still being ‘a girl’. Screw society.