[personal profile] teaoli
Recently, there have been several posts at sf_drama denigrating so-called demisexuals. There have also been posts that rip apart asexuals and/or "tumblr assexuals", but I specifically want to focus on the anti-demisexual posts because of a comment I read in one of them. And because of several comments I read in another of them.



I'm going to preface this post with "I have no love for the term "demisexual" myself, even though it is a label I might have identified with if I'd learnt about it in any other way than the one I did. I just hate the way it's being talked about in [livejournal.com profile] sf_drama. While I can agree the labeL can be problematic, I can't agree that the experiences the term is supposed to envelop fits "the norm" or that no one faces problems for having those experiences. (I know this because I faces problems because of it, even if it was down to me being surrounded by asshats from my early teens to my late twenties.)

It's the judge-y erasure of the experiences of attraction, not the label, that prompted me to make this post. That, and the willful refusal to understand that what some people who identify as deminsual are describing their way of experiencing attraction has fuck all to do with "choice".


Unfortunately, the first comment I wanted to address has been deleted. In the comment, the poster expressed SHAME at having — at the behest of his or her therapist following a sexual assault — identified as demisexual.

Let me repeat that in all caps: AT THE BEHEST OF HIS OR HER THERAPIST IN THE AFTERMATH OF A SEXUAL ASSAULT THIS PERSON IDENTIFIED AS DEMISEXUAL AND FELT SHAMED OVER SAID IDENTITY BECAUSE OF WHAT HAD BEEN POSTED AT sf_d. Shamed!

The comment stood out to me for two reasons: first, there was only one response to it (I was too cowardly to respond to it myself, and I regret that more than I can say). Although that particular response did express a modicum of support to the commenter, it felt short of mitigating the shaming the rest of the whole damned posted had apparently imposed.

Secondly, the comment stood out because it was clearly not a case of some "special snowflake, looking for attention for being what 90% of people 'wanted' to be".

Here was a person showing that the identity hadn't been a "choice" and that the label hadn't been something they'd sought for themselves. And yet, comments all around it continued on the "so you don't want to have sex with people you don't know? what the fuck makes you special?" vein.

It pisses me off that the people saying these things don't seem to realise that they are doing exactly what they accuse the so-called demisexuals of doing: shaming others.

Only related in that it also addresses the existence of demisexuals, I also didn't respond to a comment saying something like "since no homosexual or bisexual demisexuals have come forward, blah blah blah the slut-shaming assholes don't exist."

Well, for myself, I happen to reject the label "bisexual" much as I reject the label "demisexual", albeit for different reasons. But if I were to explain my unique experience of sexual attraction, I'm willing to bet that members of both of those groups would claim I fit their profiles. Hell, my experience of gender-identity would probably place me in another camp whose label I reject: gender-queer.

But I reject all of these labels for different reasons which I'm don't feel to go into here. Because the reasons are complicated and irrelevant to this particular post. That isn't to say I wouldn't welcome a label that accurately defined the me I believe myself to be; I totally would, but I don't think it exists.

And that's part of why I hate seeing what these people who supposedly stand up social justice are doing to all people who identify as demisexual.

They are telling them that they don't exist. That the identification is shameful, and in at least one comment, equivalent to being an "ASSHOLE".

But about 90% of the comments are treating the feelings and experiences of the self-professed/diagnosed(whatever that means on an individual basis)/what-have-you demisexuals as exactly the same as the obviously slut-shaming "tumblr demis".

The level of dismissal and hatred really turns my stomach.

But it's the ignorance that saddens me. It's the absolute refusal to see/read/hear that for some of these people, the way they experience (or don't experience) sexual attraction has nothing to do with a choice about who they will have sex with. It's solely about their personal experience with sexual attraction. (In my own experience, sexual attraction is something separate to sex drive, but I'm not going to get into that here.)

I sickens me that only one person in that whole comm ever acknowledged to me that everyone's experiences are different and that there is danger in expecting a "norm", and yet no one did that for the survivor whose therapist called them a demisexual and who felt fucking shamed after reading all the horrible things sf-d had to say about demisexuals.

What the fuck? Why did this person walk away shamed? Why did so many people — me included — allow them to continue to be shamed, their circumstances going unacknowledged?

What the fuck is wrong with the members of sf_d that they think they can judge others whose experiences they have no fucking clue about, or whose experiences they ignore for the sake of spouting their set-in-stone opinions?

If their arguments made sense, it so many hadn't continued to use words like "want" and "choice" and if someone had said to this person that, "hey, don't feel shamed; what you're describing is different to what the slut-shamers are decribing" rather than just "I'm sorry you had to go through", I would never have made this post.

But it happened that way, and I don't feel up to expressing all this there.

1) because there is a whole lot more background I think I'd need to add to make this argument successful
2) because I don't thin it would fucking matter. I've really become disillusioned with the majority of the members of that comm. they don't seem to really want to further social justice; they want, instead, to aggrandise themselves by saying "look at me! I'm standing up for the oppressed ones" even if that means stepping on people who, while not oppressed, are at least not believed and erased*


*and that brings me to another problem I've noticed with that comm. but I'll save that one for another day


Some final notes:

I'm not White or male, not quite cis-gendered, not quite straight, and, yep, sexual attraction goes hand-in-hand with emotional attachments for me, though I'll never call myself "demisexual".

Aloso, they might not want it after everything I've written above, but I still need to give [livejournal.com profile] belly_savalas huge thanks for reminding me about the non-existence of a "norm" — because that helped me work out why, while rejecting all these labels, I still hate what I see happening at [livejournal.com profile] sf_drama.


For those who can't deal with my teal deer, read [livejournal.com profile] pennfana's comment, which says clearly and succinctly what I made a mess of trying to say.

Date: 2012-07-05 06:41 am (UTC)
kerravonsen: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kerravonsen
I would expect that a comm set up to ensure the snarking of idiocy, provide for the lulz of the many, promote drama, and secure the blessings of wankiness for ourselves and our posterity is going to be full of fail. Because the purpose of the group itself is to be full of contempt for others. They are an utterly lost cause.

Date: 2012-07-05 01:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] teaoli.livejournal.com
If the current comm members still acted as if the place were those things in the comm info, I wouldn't have made this post. They don't, however.

By and large, the members present themselves as proponents of social justice. There are occasional calls for going back to the "lulz and the non-ragey stupids", but mostly what's posted there these days isn't about people behaving stupidly, but about people practicing hurtful behaviours.

Kind of like they themselves are doing in the posts I was complaining about. And the hypocrisy makes me angry and nauseated.

Date: 2012-07-05 10:07 pm (UTC)
kerravonsen: Peri, rolling her eyes: "rolls eyes" (eyeroll)
From: [personal profile] kerravonsen
I guess what I was getting at was that the comm seemed ripe for this kind of thing because they were already setting themselves up as smug self-crongratulatory critics and mockers - perhaps it was the word "wank" that set off my alarm bells, because of all the horrible things I've heard about fandom_wank.

I hardly think that complaining about demisexuals is "social justice". If they were actually interested in social justice, they'd talk about the real injustices of the world, like women's inequality, and the oppression of the poor by the rich, and, like, things that actually matter. If they aren't talking about real issues, then they're just self-congratulatory wankers themselves.

Thing is, their complaints fall into the "moral guardians of everyone but themselves" class; thing is, one cannot be the moral guardians of them, only of us. But such groups are never ever into self-examination; nobody in such a group would ever say "I did something bad, and I'm sorry." No, it's always "THEY did something BAD and they should be ASHAMED." And then it gets into an OUTRAGE cycle.

Date: 2012-07-05 11:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] teaoli.livejournal.com
guess what I was getting at was that the comm seemed ripe for this kind of thing because they were already setting themselves up as smug self-crongratulatory critics and mockers

That's a good point, and it's one I overlooked, more's the pity. I suppose I thought, because I was introduced to the comm at a time when they really seemed to have changed from wanking about nothing to really looking at societal problems, I expected more.

Even when I first started seeing the anti-demisexual posts, I thought people were really trying to learn what it meant. I assumed the first nasty comments in response to what I thought were perfectly reasonable, non-slut-shaming explanations were down to the respondents truly having mis-read what had been said.

I can't make those assumptions any longer. Not after reading the sole response to that sexual assault survivor. I responder probably thought they were being compassionate, but in their own way, they were as judgemental and cold as the others.

Worst of all, I saw that, and I didn't step in or speak up.

If they were actually interested in social justice, they'd talk about the real injustices of the world...

To give them their due, they do also discuss "the real injustices"; it's just that they seem to think denigrating people who identify as demisexual is about exposing an injustice: that is to say, many of the comments illustrate that many of the comm members believe that anyone calling herself a demisexual (and the people they point at are overwhelmingly female) is a self-absorbed "asshole" who is co-opting not only the oppression of "real minorities", but also stealing the language we minorities use to discuss our own oppressions.

That's where it breaks down for me. Because the people who claim to speak in the name of justice are trying to silence people experiencing something which the silencers, if their responses to the demisexuals' claims and explanations are anything to go by, they don't wholly understand. And after seeing commenters repeatedly misconstrue the language used in the demis' explanations, I've begun to see it as willful misunderstanding.

So, I want to say, "Look! Did you see what you did there? You claim to hate demis because you think they are trying to shove themselves under the LGBTQ umbrella, and you think they are doing so in a bid for attention. And yet, when you argue against their existence and ascribe motives to them and their supposed 'agenda', you're doing exactly what mainstream society has done to LGBTQ people for ages. The demis might not be oppressed, but you're sure doing a good job of showing prejudice against them. Who the hell made you the arbiters of ALL THE POSSIBLE SEXUALITIES?"

Date: 2012-07-06 12:56 am (UTC)
kerravonsen: Cally in the dark: all alone in the night (alone in the night)
From: [personal profile] kerravonsen
You claim to hate demis because you think they are trying to shove themselves under the LGBTQ umbrella, and you think they are doing so in a bid for attention.

Ah. So that's why the hostility. I was completely baffled as to why anybody should give a damn about demisexuals - I'd never HEARD of the term before this post, so I looked it up on Wikipedia, and the description there didn't seem terribly controversial; no more so than asexual - only to the degree in which someone might put up a hand and say "excuse me, not everybody is 100% vanilla heterosexual, and yes, I do exist."

And maybe it's a matter of terminology: I know someone who identifies as "biromantic asexual" which, as best I can understand it, means that she is happy to have a romantic relationship with either gender, but she isn't necessarily wanting to get into the other person's pants. Which I guess some people could interpret as being demisexual, but that's not how she identifies herself; she considers herself to be bi.

Date: 2012-07-06 01:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] teaoli.livejournal.com
It's definitely a matter of terminology, but it's not just limited to the ambiguity. The person you know probably wouldn't be considered demisexual by other calling themselves demisexual because, as I understand it, demis do experience sexual attraction once they've achieved some degree of emotional attachment to someone. It's just that prior to that, they don't feel any sexual attraction to others.

Others using the same description you cited have stated that they don't feel sexual attraction or sexual desire, even if they form a romantic attachment to a partner.

As an aside, before the demisexual posts, there were anti-asexual posts. (Actually, in one of the more recent anti-demi posts, a commenter disparaged the "good aces" who'd participated in the discussion, even though some of them had agreed with the commenter on other issues.)

Both of the attitudes seemed to have their origins in a sub-set of both groups that posted horrible things at Tumblr. Those aces and demis really did engage in slut-shaming from what I've gathered. And they really did call to be seen under the LBGTQ umbrella. I haven't proper insight into the latter to form my own opinion, but the former is disgusting.

But just because a couple of groups using a couple of labels are horrible doesn't mean that everyone using those labels are horrible.

Date: 2012-07-05 04:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pennfana.livejournal.com
The absolute and utter FAIL that you describe reminds me a little of a post at Womanist Musings last Tuesday that particularly infuriated me, for many of the same reasons. (Admittedly, the writer makes some good points about most of the things she discusses in the post, but her words about demisexuals were unnecessarily insulting.) I'm not demisexual either, but—as someone who tends to only feel consistent sexual attraction to people with whom I have some kind of emotional attachment—it does bother me that anyone should be shamed for the way that they experience attraction of any kind. Sneering at people for being "vanilla" or saying "Shut up, your pain doesn't matter because you're claiming to be what most people want to be" or any of that other nonsense shouldn't have a place in a community like the one you've described in which most people claim to be trying to advance social justice.

This kind of shaming is, in its own way, as harmful as any other. It may not manifest itself in the same ways, and the potential for actual physical harm may not be the same, but in the end, the result is still a hurting human being—especially when they might have had some reason to expect that the people who decided to mock and invalidate their experiences might actually have been sympathetic instead.

Date: 2012-07-05 04:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] teaoli.livejournal.com
Gosh, Penn. You said all so clearly! You absolutely expressed the heart of why this bothered me so much when you wrote:

This kind of shaming is, in its own way, as harmful as any other. It may not manifest itself in the same ways, and the potential for actual physical harm may not be the same, but in the end, the result is still a hurting human being—especially when they might have had some reason to expect that the people who decided to mock and invalidate their experiences might actually have been sympathetic instead.

Thank you so much for that. I'm going to edit the post to direct people to your comment.

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November 2012

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