On Being An Asexual Stereotype

While I waited for my tea to brew this morning I was thinking about the stereotypes surrounding asexuality, and how many apply to me. I don’t know what prompted the thought but I was interested to see exactly what stereotypes are out there and how many I fit. Doing a quick google search and looking at several different threads gave some common things that asexuals supposedly do, of which 10 are listed here, in no particular order.

Drink a lot of tea

I guess this also ties into the British stereotype, but I drink a heck of a lot of tea. A variety of types, not just black tea- there are 10 different types in my cupboard right now. That doesn’t mean that every asexual out there does the same- and many of my friends, both straight and LGBTQ+ also consume vast quantities of tea.

Love dragons

Who doesn’t love dragons? There must be a reason that dinosaurs and dragons are so popular in fiction, and I think that’s because giant lizards would be freaking cool. They’re one of the most iconic fantasy creatures along with unicorns, it seems a bit of a stretch to say that only asexual people love them. Also the ability to fly and breathe fire? Wow.

Watch Sherlock and Doctor Who

Guilty as charged. I haven’t watched Doctor Who for years so I can’t comment on why thats linked to an ace identity, but Sherlock? Do other people think we’re sociopaths and that’s why we enjoy the show? I think its far more reasonable to assume that asexuals relate to the side of the detective that shows little to no interest in relationships than the cold, logical side.

Generally nerdy

This ties in to the above stereotypes. Asexuals are seen as kids, or immature. It’s seen as a phase, something that will obviously disappear when a person grows up. I’m a nerd and proud, and it has nothing to do with my orientation.

Love pizza and cake

I think this originated from Tumblr, with a comment about how someone would prefer pizza/cake to sex. I’m a sucker for both, but so are most people I know. I guess thats how stereotypes work though, certain things stick to certain groups.

Spend a lot of time on the internet

I spend a lot of my time on the internet. This assumption is probably tied into the kind of comments that claim that peoples’ identities are fake because they found them on the internet. That they’re trying to be a special snowflake. Just because somebody found a word that describes themselves online doesn’t make it any less valid.

Psychopath

This is hurtful. Is this because sex is seen as a universal human need, and thus anyone who doesn’t feel sexual attraction is somehow less of a human? Asexuals aren’t monsters. We have feelings.

Have no emotions/are a robot

We’re not all Mr Spock. This is a conflation of sexual and romantic attraction, but it is perfectly possible to feel one without the other. Also, if a person doesn’t happen to feel romantic love it doesn’t make them a robot. There are plenty of other emotions out there. Emotions can be hard for anybody, regardless of gender or orientation. Most of my family have real problems expressing emotions, does that mean we’re all ace?

Are just a closeted gay

I don’t understand this one? Why would a closeted gay say they’re asexual? It could potentially relieve pressure from friends or family to find a partner, but other than that I don’t see much of  a benefit to claiming this label if it doesn’t fit you. It just feels like another way to claim that asexual people don’t exist to me.

Just haven’t had sex yet

And last but not least, this old chestnut. I’ve received the suggestion several times that once I find the right person I’ll change my mind. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. Also asexual people can be sexually active, its about attraction, not action.

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I fit 7/10 of these. On a quiz that would probably give me a result of Mostly Asexual.

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Travelling

I’m going to the other side of the world in 6 weeks.

I’m excited.

I’m also scared.

I’ll get to see some of my friends that I haven’t seen since July, get to explore Australia’s East coast and New Zealand, get to make some fantastic memories.

The trip’s going to be great, we’ve planned to do some really cool stuff without spending a ton of cash. We’re going to go into the Daintree Rainforest, see the Great Barrier Reef up close, climb glaciers in New Zealand. I’m so excited for it all. For my birthday I got a polaroid camera and I’m planning to take a picture (or more!) every day of the trip. I’ve no idea what I’ll do with them all when I get home, I’ll probably make a scrapbook. Even if I do nothing with them, it’ll be a cool project to work on.

The photography aspect of the trip is something I’m really looking forward to. I don’t have a great camera, just a 5 year old point-and-shoot but it can take some pretty decent photos. My phone camera’s also not half-bad. I love taking photos, I just don’t often go out and take them.

We’ve booked some of the places we’ll be staying and its a combination of budget hotels and youth hostels. The hotels are fine, the hostels are making me nervous. I’m scared of gendered situations because whether I pass or not is really hit and miss. The rooms are all mixed, so that will be less scary than entering a girls dorm but the thought of interacting with strangers…I don’t know whether to introduce myself as my birth name or not.

I’m probably going to end up using public bathrooms a lot too, seeing as we’ll be outside for most of the day. At least I’m with friends, so that until I judge which bathroom seems safest for me to use I can go with somebody into the womens to (hopefully) reduce the hostile looks. Unless I can find a gender-neutral bathroom, or a disabled one (although I hate doing that).

Seeing as I’ll be gone for almost exactly two months I’m half considering coming out to my family before I go or just after I’ve gone, to let them process it before they have to see me again. I’m also thinking about asking my friends to use my new name on our trip- asking them a few weeks beforehand so they can get used to it before having to use it in person (they all know I’m questioning my gender and are accepting of it).

I’m going to the other side of the world in 6 weeks.

I’m excited.

I’m also scared.

 

Looking Around The Table

The holiday season is a time for family get-togethers. Christmas day I spent with my mum’s side of the family, Boxing day with my dad’s side, and last Saturday with family friends. They’ve been friends with my parents since they were at school and I’ve grown up with their son as a ‘cousin’, so they feel like family. At all of these gatherings I found myself looking around the table and doing  a mental count of family members I’m likely to lose if I were to tell them I’m not a girl.

There were certain moments that stuck out for both good and bad reasons on all evenings.

Christmas Day

On Christmas Day I wore a t-shirt with a button-up over it. The t-shirt was patterned heavily and disguised my binder pretty well. After our meal, I was in the kitchen getting a drink with my cousin when she turned to me and asked quietly “Are you wearing a binder?”. I took a long drink, steadied myself. “Why?” I asked back. “Just wondering” she replied, “so, why do you wear it? Do you just want to look more androgynous?” I told her that I don’t know, but it makes me feel comfortable and I’m figuring stuff out. That I feel like I’m old because other people know when they’re a kid and I didn’t. That I feel like I’m faking my gender for attention. There was a pause.

“I don’t think you’re faking”

I hugged her.

“You do whatever makes you feel comfortable. And if you ever want to use a different name, just say. I don’t care, you’re still the same person”

*****

My dad commented on the size of my boots, and asked if they were men’s. When I said yes he laughed, joked that “She wears men’s shoes as well as men’s clothes”.

I couldn’t help but think that if I was a boy wearing dresses he’d be far less accepting.

*****

My uncle said that it was funny, you could see the divide in the room with the presents. All the women got toiletries, all the men got alcohol and chocolate. I gestured to my pile and nudged him. “I’ve got both” I said. “Not many bath things in there though” he replied. He was right, the majority of my gifts weren’t pink or girly at all. That made me happy.

I’m pretty sure that my cousin and her mum would be fine with me. My sister too. My grandparents and dad…not so much. My other aunt I’m unsure on.

Boxing Day

We played the game where you have a post-it note on your forehead and have to guess the person after dinner (I can’t remember its name). Because there were so many of us (I think there were 16 people) it was hard to remember the questions you’d asked when it got back around to you. There were several instances of people forgetting the answers to the questions and thinking that their person was the opposite sex, which led to comments “not unless she’s just come out of hospital” and “not the last I heard”. It made me uncomfortable, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t meant in an offensive way.

*****

My dad asked my great-aunt about her uncle and why he’s so different to the rest of us in terms of the way he speaks and how cultured he is. She was telling us his story and said that he told her years ago “I’m not gay, you know”.

“Not that it matters at all. A person’s a person and it doesn’t matter who you love as long as you’re happy”. I love her so much.

This side of the family I found hard to predict, although I’m 90% sure they’d all be completely accepting (but would probably make jokes because that’s the kind of banter that occurs when we all get together).

Saturday

I haven’t had a job in almost a month now so I’ve been spending a lot of time working on my Etsy. When my aunt asked what kind of things I make and I showed her, she pointed at the trans flag and made a comment along the lines of “You’ll do well if you can get into that market. It’s a big thing in America” which made my skin crawl. I don’t think she meant it to be hurtful, but to me it just sounded like she was calling it a trend. She was telling me about how she watches I Am Jazz and that it makes her so happy that such a young child is able to transition and be happy…but then she came out with

“You can’t tell she was born male. She has a friend though that started to transition when they were older so you can tell that he was”

Yikes. Again, its coming from a place of ignorance, not hate.

My cousin’s friend has only had girlfriends but is bisexual, so the family were saying how its him looking for attention. My cousin stood up for him and said that he believes him which the adults sneered at slightly. Then I said that I’ve never had any relationship and asked what that makes me. They then conceded that history doesn’t mean anything (though I was internally laughing because my history totally represents my orientation).

Looking around this table I saw no split (other than my dad). They’re all accepting of people in conversation so I hope that would hold up to real situations. I get the impression that they wouldn’t be openly judgemental at least.

 

Overall my Christmas was pretty good and I had a lovely time seeing family that I don’t often see throughout the year. I don’t know how accurate my read of my family is, but I like to think that I’d keep the majority of them if I decide to come out.