asexual · asexuality · black girl blogs · black women

Hyped Too Early

When I was in the 3rd grade, a girl in my class asked me if I knew that the boys talked about me on the playground. I didn’t, because I spent most of my recess jumping rope with my friends. What the boys had to say about me wasn’t important at that time. Until suddenly it was. The girl, I remember her name started with a K, told me that the boys were always talking about how big my butt was. It made her mad because one of the boys she liked was always the leader of the discussion. He liked me, which in turn meant that she had to dislike me and make it known.

I remember that day vividly. I remember the pink shirt K was wearing, I remember the gold hoop earrings she had in and I remember burning my hands with the water in the sink because I was so shocked by the knowledge that my butt was a regular thing to talk about amount my male classmates. I was shocked and embarrassed and spent the rest of the day making up excuses to stay in the bathroom. Every day after that I spent a good portion of the mornings before school trying to make sure all my shirts were long enough to hang down over me.

The same things happened in middle school and only got worse in high school. Everyone always had something to say about my body. Never about me, as a person, always about how big my butt was. There was no “Danyi you’re really good at jumping rope or writing stories” it was “Danyi your ass is fat as hell” and someone always had to try and touch it. In college I tried for a few months to just go with it, dance with whoever wanted to, let whoever grab and squeeze. Everyone around me hyped my ass up, I should too right?

It was my second year of college, the seventh year with my boyfriend and a few months before we were to break up; we had an argument and he told me that the only reason he was with me was that my ass was fat. I’ve told this story before in other articles but it’s important to tell it in this one too. When he said that to me, I remember how I literally froze in place. My mind stopped all thoughts, everything inside of me and outside came to a halt. The humiliation and embarrassment I felt then can still make me squirm today. Just thinking about it makes my stomach turn. But it happened and it affected me. After that argument, I stopped eating and let myself lose weight. So my butt would get smaller and people would stop paying attention to me. It kinda worked, my ass did get smaller but the attention didn’t stop. Those didn’t know me before say my ass is still nice, those who did say I can easily get it back. No one seems to realize though, the focus is still on my ass and not me.

When it comes to my asexuality I often wonder if these events are a contributing factor to it. I can’t help but entertain the idea that the hypersexualization of my body from such a young age plays a huge part in my being uncomfortable with sexual situations. I was eight years old when my body began being sexualized by others. Wasn’t even a decade old before I was put in the same sentences as the word sexy. Didn’t have the chance to experience my first kiss before someone was telling all the things they wanted to do to me sexually. In a sense, my sexual development was backward. The older I got though, I learned that it’s this way for most women.

I haven’t spoken to one woman yet who doesn’t have some kind of negative sexual story. A young negative sexual story at that. We all have, in some way, been hurt sexually. And it sucks. It’s confusing and it makes for an even harder time when we find ourselves wanting to be sexual in a healthy way. I’m still firmly on the nonsexual Ace side of things but I do imagine a time in my life where that could change. I do imagine a person not pressuring me in any kind of way. I imagine a lot what it would be like to have a connection with someone that doesn’t have to touch sexuality but still can if we like it to. The problem is though that I have to imagine this, it’s not real life for me. It’s not something I can actively say I’ve seen around me. It’s definitely not the way my asexuality is percieved.

In the past few months, I’ve been having a hard time with my asexuality. Which is why I haven’t written nearly as much about it as I did last year. My Aceness is vastly different from others that I’ve come across. I wrote about it, in my Ace Discourse article. I got a lot of backlash for my statement that the Discourse is for white Asexuals. Black and Brown Aces have no place there because what white Aces consider oppression is very rarely a blip on the actual oppression radar. However, my article wasn’t taken seriously by white Aces because acknowledging that you still have privilege when you’re hellbent on being oppressed is not a trick they have learned yet. They probably never will. Anyways, I say all this to point out my confusion with being Ace because I’m not sure if I can place a point of origin to my Asexuality. I don’t know when it started. On a surface level, it seems like one day I was fine with sex and with having it and then one day I wasn’t. Like a switch had been flipped in my brain. Part of me thinks it might have started that day in the bathroom when I was in the third grade. Other parts think it started when sex with my ex went from fun and great to painful and traumatizing. I’ve also spent countless hours debating with myself that I’m not actually asexual and the way I feel isn’t valid.

Even though I’m aware the last part isn’t true, I can trace why I feel that way back to a root. I know where my doubt about being truly asexual comes from. It comes from the Black community around me. It comes from the way Black girls are hyped up and sexualized from a young age until the day we die. It comes from the fact that all Black women are seen as sexual creatures first and human beings second. As much pushback as I get from white Aces, it’s nowhere near what I get from fellow Black people. I understand the initial reaction is to dismiss me, even make fun because they don’t think I’m being serious but it’s something that should be discussed. The way Black people are hesitant to accept any sexuality that isn’t heteronormative. We say we accept gays and lesbians but we really don’t, they still feel the judgment and are still shunned. They still die. So while we struggle as a community to accept even the first two letters in LGBT, it’s not hard to see that accepting things such as Trans, Bisexual, Asexual and all the other terms that fall under the umbrella of the acronym are a long way away.

I don’t exactly blame the Black community. We could do better absolutely, but how are those who need to be more accepting supposed to be when we as a community are barely accepted. Racism runs rampant out in the open again. A Black person can be shot for holding their cell phone, for walking home at night, for literally just existing. I can see why we struggle to give acceptance when we barely get any. It doesn’t excuse inner bigotry, I’ll cuss out a Black person being disrespectful about my sexuality just as well as I will anyone else. I just might take longer to do it or give them more chances to switch up their tune before I do it.

I hate hypersexualization. Completely and totally hate it. There is no way to get my blood boiling faster these days. It’s been a part of my life since elementary school and no matter what I do to myself, no matter how I change or adapt, I cannot escape it. The feeling of being seen sexually follows me like a loyal dog, it’s turning me into a cat person. I want out of it, I want to never be looked at in a sexual way again. Because I don’t really know what it’s like to not be. That part of childhood was skipped when it was my turn and I don’t know if I’ll ever be over it.

At least for now, I’ll just keep writing about it.

-Danyi

 

 

 

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asexual · asexuality · black girl blogs

Asexuality and Fandom: When No One “Wants” An Ace Character

It’s been two months since my last article, life has gotten away from me and I’ve been working on this piece for far longer than I would have liked. But it’s here now and it’s finished. My last article gained a bit of traction, made a few people mad and I got a lot of messages from people trying to explain to me why I was wrong. None of that changed my opinion about whether or not Black and Brown Aces have a place in the Ace Discourse. We don’t, we probably never will. And that’s that.

Today’s article has been on my mind for years. I used to spend a lot of time on the internet engaging in different fandoms and trading headcanons with creative people like myself. I would spend hours writing fanfiction, crafting short stories and reblogging fan art that appealed to my ideas. It’s how, in the land of Tumblr, one makes friends. It’s also a sure fire way to make enemies. The biggest part of being in a fandom is shipping. It’s almost a requirement that if you’re in a fandom, you must have a ship. Which two characters would you pay money to watch have sex? Which two characters do you think are absolutely dying to be in bed together even if they’ve never looked at each other? And if you don’t have a ship then there’s no space for you in the fandom, you have to want two characters to be together. You have to.

Shipping is the reason fandoms ultimately become toxic. The first thing a person does when you happen to not like their ship? Insult you, whether by your intelligence, your creativity or just you in general. You don’t like my ship? An automatic fuck you. If you aren’t opposed to my ship but have your own? You must admit that my ship is the superior ship and then maybe we can be mutuals. Not friends, but I won’t shade or drag you publicly. These are unspoken but fiercely followed rules in the world of fandom. They are the blueprint, anything outside of them is rarely if ever well received. So when you’re asexual and looking for a fictional character to headcanon as Ace, you had better be ready for war.

Because I didn’t always identify as Ace, the idea of coding a fictional character as Asexual only came to me after I stumbled across paragraphs from Ace Tumblr users. I spent a lot of time reading and coming to the realization that no characters were thought of as Asexual. Not even BBC’s Sherlock, who clearly had no interest in anyone but was furiously shipped with John, could be thought of as Asexual. Fans took personal offense and spammed anyone who suggested it. As if the most degrading thing Sherlock Holmes could be, was Ace. BBC’s Sherlock is not my lane, it never appealed to me the way other variations of Holmes have. But I paid attention to the way the idea of thinking a character to be Asexual was shunned.

As someone who didn’t acknowledge their Asexuality until after my trauma, it didn’t really cross my mind just how low the representation for Ace people is. Even in the world of fandom, perhaps especially in this one. When it comes to fictional characters, fans often get obsessive and territorial. If they love a character enough, some begin to think that what their interpretation of the character is better than what the creator has made. Fans on the internet have gotten to a point where the headcanons in their minds hold more value than the actual content. Which is fine, until they start to project these feelings on to others.

When Steve Rogers met Sam Wilson in Captain America: The Winter Soldier the internet rightfully exploded. At least, Tumblr did. There was finally another person to ship Steve with. A new ship means more fanfics, more fan art and more think pieces on why this ship is meant to be. Only this time, the introduction of Sam not only brought more shippers but it also brought a lot of thinly veiled racists and exclusionist that wore the mask of an inclusionist. If you’ve read my pieces before you know I don’t like to use those words (inclusionist/exclusionist) but I’m not sure how else to describe them. When the fanfiction for Sam Wilson rolled out, I couldn’t help but notice something. All of a sudden Sam Wilson was Asexual. Almost overnight the idea of Sam being a romantic love interest for Steve (or Bucky) had been jumped over and people were declaring him Ace. Which at first was great. Until after reading fanfic upon fanfic I realized that the only reason people were making him Ace was so that he didn’t get to sleep with Steve. Bucky is almost never made Ace in any of his fanfics, same goes for Steve, same goes for Tony or Bruce or Thor. However, with Sam, you’re more likely to find fanfic about him being a weird Ace third wheel to Bucky and Steve than you are to find him in an actual relationship with either of them. Coding Sam to be Asexual was more about racist fans finding a way to keep him from touching their Golden Boy than it was about actually bringing Asexuals into fan fiction. But if you called them on it then you weren’t really Asexual and didn’t want Ace characters in the first place. It’s the same argument fans use when they “just can’t see the chemistry” between a Black woman and a white man. Same format different lettering.

Of course over time, and several callout posts the fanfics got better and Sam was starting to be truly shipped. However now that he’s mainly shipped with Bucky and it’s a sexual ship, he isn’t headcanoned as a Gay Ace. He’s just Gay now. The Asexual part has disappeared. Save for those who still don’t really want him around and need him out of the way.

As someone who used to be deeply involved with fandoms and is now working to be deeply involved in the representation of Asexuals; I’ve noticed that while one may not be ostracized anymore for wanting Ace characters, you’re more likely to be told to be grateful that any characters were thought to be Ace at all. In fandom, it’s the throwaway characters, the unpopular ones, the ones deemed ugly or the ones that have the most Anti-fans that are coded to be thought of as Asexual. Because people think of Asexuals as choosing to not want sex, when that isn’t the case at all. It’s easier for hardcore fans to assign a character they don’t like to something they don’t understand rather than step out of their comfort zones and look through a different perspective.

It’s a double edged sword really. If you want the community of fandom you have to be willing to put up with a lot, you have to be willing to pick your battles wisely. It’s easier to go along with what the masses are saying than stand your ground on a detail that means a lot to you. Like the case of Jessica Rabbit. For some reason, she has become representative of Asexuality, on the internet at least. I’m pretty sure it’s because she is so overly sexualized and Aces would like to make a statement. I don’t code her as Ace so while I don’t understand, it’s not something I oppose of. However, I have seen fans on Tumblr being driven to tears on both sides. Those who want so badly for her to Asexual against those that cannot fathom the idea of a “sexy woman” not being interested in sex. I can still get on Tumblr today and watch in real time as people argue about it, about her. It’s weird. And frankly, it doesn’t really do much in terms of representation, because canon wise she most definitely is not Ace. But also, she’s married to a rabbit and as far as I know, only ever had the relationship with him. She’s not the best representation we could ask for.

Another side to the ever-growing argument is that coding a sexual character as asexual is infantizing or desexualizing them. This perspective often comes from characters that are heavily thought of as representatives of a certain orientation, such as a lesbian icon or a gay icon. There is a point to make in the fact that Asexuality is a spectrum, there are Gay Asexuals and Lesbian Asexuals. Asexuality isn’t limited to the simple definition of a person who doesn’t want to have sex. It’s as inaccurate as it is a blanket statement. There are Aces who enjoy sex, there can be asexual fictional characters who enjoy sex as well. Furthermore, even if the character doesn’t enjoy sex that doesn’t make them infantized. This concept loops back to the toxic idea that many of us have been taught since we were born. That sex is to be looked as an achievement and if you don’t engage in it then you must not be mature enough to understand it.

So the question remains, how can Aces deal with fandoms that have no Ace headcanons or only code their throwaway characters as Asexual? For now, the best thing is to create ourselves. To find each other in the fandoms and stick together when it comes to Ace representation. That’s easier said than done however, I’ve seen small groups here and there that pick a character and defend them possibly being Ace to the end. But fandom is supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to bring joy and entertainment like the original content it comes from. It’s draining to spend most of your fandom time arguing, defending and protecting a character that doesn’t even exist in real life.

It does make me interested to see how fandoms will deal when we get a successful movie, tv show or some kind of franchise that has canon Ace characters. Will their Aceness be erased and replaced with different sexualities? Will the content of the characters be ignored completely and declared not worth a fandom at all?

I guess only time will tell.

-Danyi

asexuality · black girl blogs · black women

Ace Discourse: No Place for Black/POC Aces

I have been avoiding writing this article for a while. I’ve only been identifying as Asexual for about six years now and for most of that time, I stayed away from the tags on Tumblr called “Ace Discourse”, “Inclusionist”, and “Exculsionist”. The three terms are some that I saw all the time and after witnessing a wild ride of a fight one night, they were words that I knew I needed to stay away from. I remember watching people on a text post go at each other over whether or not Asexuals belong in the LGBT community. They called each other names, dragged and read every commentator for filth and by the time someone finally got enough sense to stop replying, the argument wasn’t about whether or not Aces belonged. It had turned into a sloppy, weird mess that neither clarified nor denied where Aces belonged. It was simply now a bunch of people foaming at the mouths and others in tears over words that had been said to them on a computer screen.

At that moment in time, I found the Discourse childish. It didn’t make sense to me the lengths people were striving to reach just to prove to somebody on the internet that they are or aren’t valid. It’s still weird to me today but after a few years of quietly watching the Ace Discourse, I’m finally able to understand why it doesn’t resonate with me at all.

Ace Discourse, is for white asexuals.

It’s not for Black and Brown Aces. It can’t be. Because at the very core of Ace Discourse, the argument is (or is supposed to be) do Aces belong in the LGBT community? Do they have a right to be there? And if they don’t, does that mean the LGBT community is oppressing asexuals? Black and Brown Aces already have several other issues on their plates, joining white aces who in a fight to be declared as oppressed doesn’t seem like it would be high on our list of priorities. And it shouldn’t be. Only people who haven’t ever been truly oppressed are the ones who want it so badly.

I’ve been reading the Discourse for years. And have watched the goal shift from the fight to be accepted into the LGBT community to fighting for the “right” to be declared oppressed. And if we’re being honest, that’s a very white goal. Those of us who are already oppressed and just happen to be asexual as well are beyond aware of the way oppression really works. Being called “turbo virgin” on the internet is not oppression. Neither is being laughed at and called “Acey”. Being told to go outside isn’t oppression either but that’s another argument entirely.

However asexuality is such a relatively unknown sexuality that the need to find something to cling to and define us is running rampant in the community. White aces have gotten the idea that being oppressed will be the quickest way for them to gain access into the LGBT community, and they are turning the idea of oppression into a game. Who can be the most oppressed even though the only evidence they have of such oppression is the mean names they’ve been called on the internet? How can the Ace community gain access to a space that doesn’t really want us in the first place? These seem to the biggest questions for white aces who have nothing else to do but focus on the fact that they’re Asexual.

It’s different for me. And for many people like me. As a Black Woman the main focus of my asexuality and what I want my work around it to be about is the education of what asexuality truly is and the deconstruction of the hyper sexualization of Black people, especially Black Women. I hope to bring enlightenment of the different kinds of asexuality and how it being such an umbrella term can play heavily into he misinterpretation of what the orientation means. To me, the understanding of asexuality is more important than the need to placed in a community. And if the need for a community ever arises inside me, I’d prefer to build one from scratch than force my way into a space isn’t made for me.

Of course there are Asexuals who have been discriminated against because of their sexuality but discrimination is not the same as oppression. And I wish the community would learn that as quickly as possible. They aren’t the same and they won’t ever be. As a Black asexual, I will always have to be more worried about someone trying to harm me for my skin color over my sexuality. That’s a fact that won’t ever change. If I had the privilege of not being judged for my skin then maybe I would be more open to the idea of Ace Discourse. But I don’t, so the Discourse is irrelevant to me. I can’t argue on the internet for hours on end about whether my disinterest in sex is just as oppressing as a gay person being physically assaulted (yes I have seen this argument with my own eyes), when I have to worry about my own self being harmed for my brown body.

I understand asexuals want for a community of our own but I don’t understand how arguing to belong instead of building our own spaces is the best route to take. If anything, the Ace Discourse simply shows how overwhelmingly white the community is. And it shows how hugely ignore us Black and Brown Aces are.

I could argue that there has to be some sort of credit to Ace Discourse because “Aphobia” is slowly growing to be a problem. It’s still unclear if most Aphobes are just trolls that enjoy frustrating people who don’t know how to argue or if the hate for asexuality is actually truly growing. Personally I think it’s a bit of both but I think a new word needs to be used for those that truly hate Aces for being Ace. The trolls can keep “Aphobia”.

By writing this article I’ll probably be called an exclusionist and my work might not be taken as seriously anymore but that doesn’t bother me. I’m not interested in being a part of a community that’s tunnel vision focused on bragging rights of belonging. I choose to focus on Asexuals that are looking for clarity within themselves. A community would be nice, but not if it’s full of toxic beings that can only speak on the need to be somewhere else. Instead of the need to know and be happy with yourself.

I don’t know where the conversation for this begins or if it can even really be had. However I do know that Ace Discourse isn’t for me, it won’t ever be for anyone who looks like me and my time is better spent on learning about my asexuality and educating those that want to learn too. I don’t believe in Ace Discourse and I have no desire to ever start.

-Danyi

asexuality · black girl blogs · black women

Happy Valentine’s Day Aces

Once upon a time, I was in love with a guy. And in college, I attempted to plan a Valentine Day date for us. We’d been together for years before this but it’s hard to go on a legit date in high school. So I wanted to try and make the first Valentine’s Day of our college experience special. Back then, since I was in love I found myself trying to organize the things that I personally found romantic. To start, I wanted to spend a full 24 hours together, just us and the ever-growing bond between us. I had envisioned us eating breakfast together, taking a walk around City Park, getting lunch and dinner together, ending the night with a bath. In my mind, we’d stop at the bath. But I knew that in his mind the only thing he cared about was the sex at the end of the night. So I grudgingly shuffled that into my plans as well.

The only one of the plans that ended up happening was the sex. And it happened under circumstances I’d rather not give details about.

That was the only time I’ve tried to truly celebrate the holiday. Before it wasn’t a day I took seriously and after, it’s not a day I want to bring myself to revolve around. To watch my plans fall through around me, while my boyfriend made absolutely sure that the plans he wanted to happen went through no matter what; chipped a nice big groove in my shoulder. I haven’t looked at the holiday the same since really.

Now though, I’ve been asked to look at it through a different perspective. As an Asexual, Valentine’s Day is a holiday that can be stressful. The more I explore the Ace community online the more I watch my fellow Aces come to dread February 14th. And it’s not always the seemingly simple reason for not experiencing sexual attraction.

We can start there though, in society it seems the goal of Valentine’s Day has shifted from showing love to doing romantic things in the hopes of gaining sex. It doesn’t matter anymore if you spend the day with someone you love, the bigger question asked is if you spent the night having sex. And if you didn’t, it’s either because you’re single and lonely or you’re bitter and that attitude is stopping someone from wanting to be in your bed. There is no in between. At least not according to the internet.

When you’re asexual and don’t have the same feelings about sex as the majority around you, it can often be misconstrued as there being something wrong with you as a person. Which is very rarely the case at all. Even the Aces that fall in the grey area of asexuality and are okay with some sexual acts can still feel the intense pressure of Valentine’s Day. They’ll often encounter those with the mindset that if they’re willing to do some things on other days they should be willing to do all things on this special day. Which is both manipulative and abusive. But seems to be happening more and more.

On a completely different end, the last few Valentine’s Days in the online Ace community have been nothing but a day of trolls trying to bring down Asexuals in any way possible. Normally, I ignore trolls. I have a tough skin, mostly because of the fact that I’m Black and there’s nothing a troll who only cares about my Aceness can say to me that a racist hasn’t already said in a much worse way. However, I have decided to start an Asexual Advice Column and cannot simply ignore trolls anymore. Just because they don’t matter or bother me doesn’t mean that they don’t bother my fellow Aces. And I want to stand strong with Aces in all corners that I can.

The last few years I’ve watched as asexuality is mocked specifically on Valentine’s Day. If Aces are using the day to celebrate Queer Platonic Relationships, then they’re trolled for having a “special” label for their friends. If Aces are celebrating their individual relationships that mean something to them, they’re accused of faking being Asexual. After all, Aces cannot have any connection with another person. Or else we aren’t actually asexual, according to the exclusionists that roam the internet doing all they can to tear Aces down.

All of this is bullshit.

The more I study and observe Ace Discourse and those that participate in it, the more I realize that the social constructs in the world can easily be dismantled. However, the fear of not being different enough is constantly outweighing the cis peoples’ moral compass. That’s the problem with heterosexual and cisgendered people, they’re afraid that soon they’re going not going to be the norm. And to them, that’s devastating. It also means the spotlight will be on someone else. The last thing heterosexuals want is the spotlight on someone else.

Part of me wishes that I could gather my fellow Aces around and drill into their minds that holidays shouldn’t have the kind of power over society that they do. Especially not one that has been turned into a game of who’s sharing body fluids and who isn’t. However, the other part of me realizes that this will always be a fight and a struggle and I’m probably wasting my breath just bringing the subject up. As a society, we’re too deep into some constructs to ever reverse them, and I think the battle of Valentine’s Day is one that won’t be going anywhere any time soon.

Thanks for reading guys, details about my Asexual Advice Column will be coming soon 🙂

-Danyi

asexuality · black girl blogs · black women

Love, Dating, and Asexuality

I have never been on a date.

In my 25 years of life, not once has another person planned out a night in detail where we would spend time together alone. Not once. Even though I was in a relationship for 6 years. It was a hard relationship with lots of abuse and manipulation but one thing I’ll always remember about it was that he never took me on a date. Whether it was because we were still young and he didn’t know how to properly plan one, or because he just didn’t think I was worth it. I don’t know and I’ll never ask him. But we never went on one. I haven’t been in a relationship since him but there have been other people that I’ve connected with. I never went on dates with those people either. It just wasn’t something people wanted to do with me.

When I started identifying as Asexual, the idea of dating was pushed to the deepest darkest part of my mind and left there. I didn’t want to date anyone. I wasn’t really interested in being “in love” and I most certainly didn’t want romance from anyone. I still don’t want those things, but back then I used the label of asexuality to justify my way of thinking. That’s not what Asexuality is, and I soon learned this but I still hid behind it. It was easier that way.

Online I see many asexuals who do want to date and have romance and find love. And that interests me, in more ways than one. I don’t have those wants and desires anymore but I’ve always found the idea of human connection on a romantic and sexual level fascinating. We’re told that humans crave companionship and while I don’t really believe that, I see it being proven true more and more every day. I watch my fellow Aces as they struggle with dating and connecting with others, I watch as they recount the endless stories of how relationships ended before they could even get started. Once asexuality was brought to the discussion, many of my fellow Aces have similar stories of how they were turned away or shunned. It hurts them and in turn, makes me feel some kind of way. I’ve always found it strange the way society pushes sex and all acts of it down our throats. The way we’re conditioned to believe that sex is the most important reason for wanting to have a relationship with someone. People get into relationships for sex; sure they’re also looking for love and a life long partner but sex is usually the center of all relationships. If the sexual chemistry isn’t there, then the relationship falls apart. Or at least that’s what we’ve been trained to believe all our lives.

Sex is cool, for the most part. I never really liked it even before my assault, but I understand why people enjoy it so much. It’s not something I think I’ll ever really be into again and because of this, my perspective on sex and the way it controls romantic relationships is different from most people. In a sense, I’ve removed myself from the equation that makes up the possibility of having sex with someone else. I tell people I’ve turned that part of my brain off and though that’s not quite accurate (Let alone even possible?) it’s the best way I can describe it. And I had to come up with a way to describe it because when you tell someone that you aren’t into sex, they take that as permission to start asking invasive and personal questions. I learned to shut down those questions by letting people know the way I view sex and the way they view sex is very different. It’s important to most of the people I talk to, so important that they can’t fathom the idea of having a relationship without it. These days, I can’t fathom the idea of having a relationship where sex is so important our connection hinges on it. Perspective is obviously a very important tool to have.

In previous articles, I’ve talked a lot about the hyper-sexualization of Black women and the kind of trauma it can have on us. It’s something that I’d really like to dismantle in our society but with the way sex, in general, is such a big part of our beings as humans, the only thing I can really do is study hypersexualization and combat it as much as others are willing to listen. For me, hypersexualization plays a very big part in Black dating. No matter the sexual orientations of the people in the relationships. When two Black People get together one of the first things that people bring up, to their faces or behind their backs depends on the situation, is what their sex life must be like. In high school, I had only been with my boyfriend for a week or so before other girls were coming up to me asking what sex with him was like. My younger cousins just got her first boyfriend last fall, the first thing her friends and people older than her were asking? What was the sex like? She’s only sixteen, and it nearly made me irate that she was being asked that. But then I remembered, I was sixteen when people started asking me.

Nearly everything Black people do gets sexualized, little girls running around in diapers are called fast and boy toddlers that play with girl toddlers are asked frequently if the little girl is their girlfriend. As if everyone wouldn’t lose their minds if the toddlers started kissing and acting as if they were in an actual relationship. However, as we get older it gets worse and more obvious. Black girls are never given the chance to be little, we are preyed upon and ignored when we bring it up. Black preteen and teenage boys are forced into sexual situations that many aren’t ready for and learn to take pride in mistreating girls and women because their older brothers, uncles, and daddies praise them for it. As adults, Black women with any kind of shape are viewed through a sexual lens and a sexual lens only, they can be the smartest person in the room and will still only be asked for their number. When a Black woman doesn’t have a shape she gets ridiculed and mocked for it, I’ve watched many petite Black women nearly lose themselves trying to mold their body to a shape it wasn’t meant to be. So that they can get the same attention other Black women are receiving, even when these women speak out about not wanting it. On the other side, Black men face their own hyper-sexualization. If they’re tall and big then it’s assumed they’re aggressive in bed and only want rough sex. If they’re short then they’re ridiculed for being “small like females” and if they’re fat then they have to be absolutely perfect in every other way. Same goes for fat Black women. Everything we do and everything about the way we are is scrutinized and looped back around in some way to sex.   

On the internet, there are hundreds of running “jokes” that set impossible standards for relationships. If you don’t do this, this and this then you aren’t dating material and deserved to be laughed at for not having these high set standards. The other day on Twitter I watched as women shared tips and secret ways of spying on their boyfriends to make sure they aren’t cheating. And I watched as men listed out things women must do for them to even consider giving them a second glance. It’s a constant war in the dating world it seems, to prove which partner is more right than the other. People say they’re in relationships with each other for love when they’re really in some sort of weird competition that the only prize is the praise of strangers on the internet.

So when you have all this to unpack and add Asexuality on top of that, it gets really complicated in almost record time. I haven’t yet tried to date someone, since coming out as Ace but I have had others try to date me. Even when they swore they weren’t and we were just friends, they all had in their minds that if they waited me out long enough I’d eventually “date normally”, which yes someone actually said to me. I don’t let people get even slightly close anymore but a few of my Ace friends have been trying to make next level connections with people. And the stories they come back to with me are always along the same lines. People hear the word asexual and think that it means the person won’t ever have sex with them and won’t ever be attracted to them. That’s not true at all. There are quite a few Aces that still have sex and whatever reason they have for it is valid. There are Aces who are only comfortable with some sexual things and they too are valid. Then there are the Aces who are only interested in a romantic relationship with no sex and the Aces that are against sex in all forms. All of them are valid in their ways of approaching relationships, sex, and connections. But just because they’re valid doesn’t make dating or searching for love any easier, especially when you’re judged before things even get started.

A common retort to this problem is that Ace people can just date each other or themselves. Which is hurtful to some, because anyone who wants love should be able to try and achieve it. To have your feelings dismissed and ignored, or to be told: “go date your own kind” can have long-lasting effects on a person. I’m not arguing that everyone has to date Aces because there is such a thing as having a preference but I am arguing that Asexual Representation needs to become more common and information about Asexuals needs to be readily available. It’s not. I learned about Asexuality through word of mouth, Tumblr and the one or two websites I could find that wasn’t mocking it. Asexuality is a spectrum, like all sexualities. There are Aces who don’t want anything to do with sex (me for now), there are Aces who only want romance and no sex. I’ve met Aces who are only okay with kissing and nothing else, Aces who like the way people look and nothing else and I have even come across a few Aces who want nothing to do with anyone or anything. Each Ace is different and should be judged by the kind of person they are, not just based off solely on the fact they are asexual

I don’t believe in romantic love, it’s a personal choice. I know this about myself and approach others and react to others accordingly. Everyone isn’t like me though and a lot of the time respect and communication gets lost in the chaos of uncertainty. Dating and love have become such a game that the art of it is often lost. Two people connecting on a level that they can’t find with anyone else is a great thing. There’s nothing wrong with love being a game when it’s played together with respect. But it makes me sad when I hear the rumbling and musing of my fellow Aces as they talk about how they aren’t even allowed to play the game in first place.

-Danyi   

asexuality · black girl blogs · black women

Let Black Queers Be

I don’t consider myself queer.

For a long time, I thought the word “Queer” was only something that white people could be. No one in my family, that I was aware of, was queer. None of my friends were talking about being queer. It wasn’t being said on the tv. It wasn’t being sung in songs. Whenever my aunts talked about someone being queer it was always a white person. I’m not white, so back then, I thought I couldn’t be whatever this mysterious queer thing was. I didn’t think I could ever label myself a queer being.

Many of my friends do though; they consider me the queerest of the bunch. Even though my older sister is a lesbian and one of my closest friends is trans. To the people around me, I’m queerer than they are because I’m asexual. A word that many people haven’t ever heard of and can’t begin to define. Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction and/or desire. That’s the simplest and easiest definition that can be given. I’m not attracted to people, sexually. I’m not attracted romantically either but that’s a different story, different article. I’ve had sex before, a bunch of times with several people so I’m by no means a virgin or inexperienced. I can still look at a celebrity and automatically think “I want to fuck them”. I understand the general idea of why sex is enjoyable to people. But it’s not to me and it hasn’t ever really been. A few of the times I had sex I enjoyed it, but I rarely saw myself actively seeking it out. Those celebrities I’d like to fuck are more enjoyable in theory because whenever I imagine a scenario of it actually happening I end up shutting down. I wasn’t able to properly express this when I was younger, when my boyfriend demanded sex from me daily or when girls weren’t taking the hint that I just wanted to be friends. Now though, I have the tools and the language to get my point across. I use this to my advantage at all times possible.

I don’t like to be touched. It’s a trauma thing and something that grew and crossed over with my Asexuality. When one is in a relationship, you realize it involves A LOT of touching. I’m not with it so I removed myself from the equation of sexual/romantic relationships. Other people, however, haven’t removed me and still expect me to be interested in them when they show interest in me. Nevermind what I want, all that matter is what they want. They don’t consider the idea that I’m not interested in anyone at all. As a Black woman with the face and body I have, I must just be curving niggas when I decline their advances. My ass cannot be this fat and there’s no man or woman claiming it. I haven’t had sex in five years so I must be “crazy” because only a mentally unstable person wouldn’t want to engage in that universally loved thing. I have been preached at, screamed at, lectured and given looks full of pity. And all the while, I simply sat back and observed what I saw happening around me and the things happening around Black Queers. It all comes down to one thing for me, personally: Black Queers are constantly being policed and it needs to stop.

My perspective on sex comes from a different angle, one that most haven’t thought of before. And that somehow makes me both broken and queerer than the people out here having sex. Which is strange to me. I’m broken because I lack sexual attraction but I’m queer because of that as well? I often lost track of time trying to figure out if when someone called me queer were they really calling me broken in a nice way. What’s even stranger though, is the idea that something or someone must be invalidated in order for one thing to make sense. While my friends around me have been calling me queer for a while, once I got on the internet, I was told with a hard resounding “No” that I’m not queer and it’s disrespectful for me to even think of myself that way. Because I’m not interested in sex, and honestly that’s fine with me. What isn’t fine, however, is the way that Black people are constantly policed by queer white people because we don’t fit in the definition they deemed would define “Queer”. If you’re not X, Y, Z then you’re not queer and can’t be apart of the LBGT community. As if all sexuality isn’t a spectrum and ever-changing, but that seems to only apply when discussing white queerness. The only people who told me that I can’t be queer because I’m Asexual, have all been white. It’s very noticeable on the internet that if you’re not thin, white and pretty by European standards then your experiences, words, and perspective as a queer person aren’t taken seriously. Queer white people aren’t interested in hearing how being LGBT interests differently when it comes to Black people because they aren’t able to wrap their minds around any suffering that doesn’t directly affect them. They refuse to. And in that refusal, Black queer people can end up drawing the short end of the stick.

In the Black community, sexuality is a sensitive subject. It’s not talked about. If it’s not a man and a woman having sex then suddenly it’s problem, or it’s mocked. Queerness isn’t a joke, it’s an important part of many young Black peoples lives. As a community, it seems we’re fighting amongst ourselves for the idea that we are all Black despite what happens in the privacy of our bedrooms. It’s the old heads versus the youngings and I don’t really understand it. Especially because there are definitely Black queers that are 50 years and above. Any time Black men are near each other and show affection, they’re called gay. Black women are hypersexualized by the masses (men and women alike) and expected to like it. Black children are groomed to be homophobic. Our instant reaction to something that makes us uncomfortable is to crack a joke, to put down whatever the thing is. Instead of talking about why it makes us uncomfortable in the first place. The safe space for Black Queers in the Black community is very small. That’s gotta change before we lose even more Black Queers than we already have. The problem isn’t the Black community as a whole, the problem is we’ve been conditioned for literal centuries to think and react to differences in a white way. We react in the only way we know how. However, every once in a while I see something that lets me know we’re headed in a better direction. A progressive direction that we as Black people should and need to define ourselves. I’d never met another Black asexual until I started posting about being Ace on Twitter. I found other Black individuals like me and they’ve put me on to even more Black Aces than I could have ever imagined. We’re out here, we exist.    

I don’t consider myself queer, but there are hundreds of thousands of Black people who are queer and deserve to be so in peace.  

-Danyi

asexuality · black girl blogs · black women

Represent Me, But Do It Right

I have a lot of dreams. A lot of them. I want to be a writer, traveling the world and writing scripts that are turned into films. I want to be a director, bringing a group of people together to create stunning images that people will run to see. I want to show run my own television show, have something on the air that marginalized people will look forward to seeing. I want to write several books that will range from fiction and fantasy to poetry and essays. I want to one day soon, write a story that’s turned into a movie, a tv show, a book, something that others will be able to get their hands on. And I want that story to center around a black asexual woman.

Representation is a hotly debated and long withstanding argument in nearly every part of the world. Everyone wants representation, and everyone deserves it. Yet the most represented person in media today is still the white male, followed closely by the white woman. Marginalized people still have to wrap characters in their imagination and stretch their minds to relate to them. And we can do it without so much as batting an eye. Personally, however, I’ve been working to stop myself from doing that. My mind shouldn’t have to work overtime to relate to a character just because I’ve never seen someone like myself on a screen or in a book before. It’s time to start creating characters that mirror my image. So that’s what I plan to do.

In an ever growing and changing world, the idea of representation seems simple enough. Someone wants to tell their story, their experiences, their perspective on things. So they should be allowed to do so, right? That’s hardly ever what happens.

I’ve seen one asexual character on screen. Todd on BoJack Horseman is asexual. He’s stated so himself and the identity explored for a bit, Todd even gets himself a date with another Ace person. At the moment, it’s nice and reassuring to see someone on a screen say they’re asexual. And to see them be accepted. But Todd is still a white male, still, the most represented being on the planet. His asexuality is nice but it’s blanketed by his white and male privileges. He further assures the idea that asexuals are thin white people. More times than I care to count, I’ve told someone I’m asexual and the first thing out of their mouth is “that’s white people shit” or some variation of it. Todd being openly asexual on one of the most popular new animated series is fantastic but it’s not really a step forward nor does it open a door to asexual representation being as diverse as should be. Because it’s been over a year since Todd came out as asexual, and he’s still the only character to do it. I’ve heard that there was a character on Shadowhunters that was Ace but I’m unsure if anything ever came of that. I understand why Todd is the one to be allowed to say out loud he’s asexual. He’s white and a male and they can literally say anything they like and get away with it. Making Todd an asexual was a safe way to give the audience a taste of something most of them had not heard of before. It’s safe, but it’s also boring. Representation of something new, something that most haven’t ever heard of, shouldn’t be reduced to comedy only. We shouldn’t have to make awkward jokes about asexuals in the hopes that others laugh their way into understanding us.

There’s an idea that sits in the back of my head. A story about a black girl making the transition from high school to college and dealing with her discovery of the word asexual, there’d be drama, adventures, awkward conversations, and illuminating education. I have another idea for a WOC that comes to find her asexuality through trial and error, finds love and happiness but never loses her asexual identity. I want to make a movie about a black boy that struggles find his place in poverty and struggles even harder to understand why he feels no sexual attractions towards anyone. I roll the idea in my head of two Aces learning to love each other at their own pace and away from the judgmental eyes of society almost every day. I dream of the movie/show where a superhero has zero interest in love and instead works to save from the world without romance. I have ideas for days about the way asexuals can be represented differently but as a whole. The identity has such a wide spectrum and such diverse people fall under the umbrella of asexuality, there’s no real reason that the only representation we have at the moment is a white guy.

The point of representation is to give people a feeling of acceptance. We all want to see ourselves in what we consume, it’s that small bit of reassurance that we aren’t alone in the world. When I was first discovering asexuality, I would have given anything to be able to find a movie where the main character was Ace. Even if the movie had of sucked, I would have loved it for the Ace character. Visually, being able to see someone not be interested in sex would have been world changing for me. The part of me that kept insisting something was wrong with me may have been silenced so much earlier had I seen asexuality represented in a positive, affirming and sincere way. Too often asexuals are made out to be childish and cringe-worthy simply because of our disinterest in sex. I’m not sure when it was decided but apparently, if you don’t want to have someone in your space sexually it makes you a child. It means you haven’t reached an imaginary checkpoint that all “adults” must hit. And even if you have hit that checkpoint, many times over, if you didn’t enjoy it you’re not only childish but broken as well.

The spectrum for asexuality is pretty big, there are so many different kinds of Aces that representing everyone can be a bit of a challenge. However, we won’t know until we try. I’m going to make movies about asexuals, I’m going to write books about them and I’m going to try to have every project I create to give some type of representation. We deserve it. So I’m going to give it to us.

-Danyi