Monday, August 6, 2012

Stephen Fry Probably Doesn't Think I'm A Freak (But A Lot Of Other People Do)

Warning 1: This is not technically a rage post. But I got a bit angry, so there's some swears.
 Warning 2: I squee a bit over Stephen Fry in this, but then I also said some not nice things about people that I admire quite a bit. I was as kind as I could be, but I don't want to hear any whining about it in comments.
Warning 3: Trigger warning for short, frank discussions of non-physical sexual harassment and some sexual coercion. Again, I kept it short and sweet and with a minimal amount of detail, but if it's the kind of thing that will upset you, please proceed with caution.

Okay, so recently I learned, along with everyone else, that Stephen Fry is in a happy celibate relationship. And then I whooped really loudly and ran around the house going, "ONE OF US! ONE OF US! ONE OF US!"

I wish I was making that up. Seriously.

Truthfully, I have loved and respected Stephen Fry for a long time, and this just brings the Ace Spectrum that much higher up on the "Things that are awesome" list of the universe. And I know a lot of people are like, "He said CELIBATE, not ASEXUAL." And I know for those of us in the community, that is a serious distinction, because it implies that Stephen Fry could change his mind, and we are not going to. But I'm counting it, because, at least according to the article, he's fairly sure he's not going to either. Also, I don't think that distinction matters so much anymore. Like, when I first realized this was a THING, I thought asexuality was a group of people who did not want sex or relationships, because that's what I was. Then there were people who did not want sex but did want relationships, and I felt a bit like the freak, again. Then there were people who did not want sex, but then did actually meet one person they were attracted to, and did that still count? Then there were people who felt attraction, but not at a physical level, and what did that mean? Then there were people who had considered themselves sexuals, but due to some sexual trauma, did not feel sexually interested anymore. And every time, there was this debate about who is a real asexual? And every time, the community came back with arms wide open going; a real asexual is someone like us. Stay as long as you need. Take some cake for the road. So, while Stephen Fry does not identify as an asexual, and I do not know if, when he said, celibate he meant something closer to asexual, what I do know is that he likely does not think I am a freak for what I do (not) do in private. Which makes me feel good, solid, more rooted to the world, and a tiny bit more awesome because, lets be honest, Stephen Fry is awesome. Which is something I appreciate, because, as it turns out, most of the other people I admire do in fact think I'm pretty weird. And, again, for the sake of honesty, can I just say, it's really starting to piss me off.

David Tennant gave an interview where he said "I don't think the Doctor is neccessarily asexual, just a bit, you know, sexually unaware." Hmm, David? The Doctor is a 900 year old supergenius who spends most of his time in the company of women who are obviously in love with him. I think he's fully aware of what sex is, at least as far as any outsider could be.

Stephen Moffatt made a joke about what hard-core Dr. Who fans believe would and would not happen in the French Revolution, which is ostensibly about historical accuracy, but is actually a thinly-veilled comment about the then well-accepted fact that the Doctor is asexual, on an episode of Doctor Who Confidential - For the record, I loved "The Girl In The Fireplace." What I hated was that since that episode the TARDIS has had an invisible, "You must be able to provide THIS much sexual tension to ride this ride" sign on the outside the door.)

Stephen Moffatt again when he admitted that though the Sherlock Holmes stories are pretty clear on the fact that he is not interested, there is no real proof that he is asexual, and he would not write it that way when he didn't want to, because it would be boring. right, because another last-minute love story has never been done before, and will be a complete surprise.

Benedict Cumberbatch gave an interview where he said that it's really cool when his fans send him like, riding crops and stuff, because it means they're huge fans, but when fans approach him and say "Thank you for making asexuality look cool." it's weird, because he doesn't think Sherlock is asexual just... busy. Ben? When someone thanks you for not making them feel like a freak, it is not nice to turn to your friends and go "what a weirdo." while they're in earshot. We may be one percent of the population, but we're a big chunk of Sherlock's fanbase. There are plenty other roles that are not asexual icons, if that would make you more comfortable. Trust me, I know.

Then of course, there was that episode of House. I swear, I loved that show before the whole thing became about who was getting laid by whom. Now I'm just glad it's over.

And what is annoying about all this is that the absolute ignorance, which we have been dealing with all this time, has given way to something darker, meaner, and with teeth. Because we are not being ignored anymore, because we can't be. So instead, we're being mocked. And all the discrimination that people will tell us we don't experience is starting to come out in full force. So before it gets really ugly, while we're still pretending it's coming from a place of misunderstanding, not a place of hatred, I  just wanted to ask one thing.

What EXACTLY do sexuals think "real" asexuality is?

I am genuinely curious, and for all the inappropriate questions I have answered about my sexuality, I think I deserve a few answers myself, so please, comment. Because I cannot speak for other asexuals, but I took on this label, when I did, because I didn't have one, and everybody else thought I should. Because when I told people, "I just don't get how this is so important." I was told that one day I would grow up for real, and I would become sexually aware, and then I would understand. When I said, "I've just got better things to do." I was told it's okay to be a lesbian, this is the 21st century. When I said that I was too busy to even think about it, I was told that I really should make it a priority, or else people would think I was weird. Every time I told people there is nothing wrong with me, I'm just not interested, I was told that normal, healthy straight people did not feel that way. My sexuality was the source of family concern, and the gossip of my friends and peers. Inquiries were made, genuine inquiries, on whether I had ever been sexually assaulted, or when I thought I might grow out of this, was it because of the brain damage, or did I at least masturbate? (I really fucking hate that question. Sexuals actually ask that question expecting an honest answer. I meet my friends boyfriends. They try to get me to go on a double date with their friends. My friend says, "no, she doesn't do that." and when we explain what that means and why, without fail, eight times out of ten, "do you at least get off?") When I repeatedly expressed disinterest, or when I go so far as to say the whole process was made too much of, and was faintly disgusting, I was sexually harrassed. And I'm not even talking about the times when people would snicker and go, "Pfft, you just haven't had me yet." I'm talking about the times I'd be having what I thought was a heart-to-heart with a friend, and he would smile sweetly, put a hand on my shoulder, and say, "Why don't we just try something, and you can tell me if you like it?" The times I would be asked, by female friends, to at least give a guy a chance, any other girl would be happy for the attention. (See, Benedict. I sympathise. I don't like it when I'm mistaken for one of you either.) Or one memorable occasion, with a guy who swore he was over his crush on me, he invited me on a trip with himself and his family, and when we were short of beds, they suggested I just get in with him, we're all adults here. Apparently, he'd told them we were seeing each other because it was "just easier to explain."

In short, we have this label because you, sexual people, made it perfectly clear we are not like you. We have this label because in a world so sex-obsessed, we needed a line of defense, because it wasn't so long ago that too busy, not feeling like a sexual being, not interested, don't want to wasn't fucking good enough to call yourself straight (or gay, or, for that matter, a fully functioning adult). So now we have this, and its ours, and you don't get to pretend that it's not just because you've suddenly realized it's not that you really didn't think it was possible, it's that you really don't want to have to think about it. It's like if you're homophobic and your best friend is gay and in order to get comfortable with it, you tell people, "No, it's not like he's gay, it's just that he thinks dudes give the best head." Or when you say to a friend who comes out to you, "Are you sure you're not just bi?" (And how much I hate that bi has become quasi-mainstream,  as long as it reinforces the idea that you really can choose to be attracted to whoever. I'm all for fluid sexuality, but this myth that 'everyone is a little bi' is damaging, firstly to actual bisexual people, whose sexuality is often discredited based on that, but also by those people who identify as bi because they are uncertain about an accurate description, or are afraid of how they will be treated. And also, quite frankly, to people like me. Best case scenario is they use that definition, like we sometimes do, to offer some kind of explanation when required, worst is they get to use it to beat their 'open-mindedness' over the heads of other people, whose sexuality is not as fluid. Sorry to burst the bubble, but there is just nothing on the planet that applies to everyone.)

My point is I don't get bogged down in the actual label because it feels like siding with the same people who want to tell me how we're so rare we can't even be measured. And any time there's anyone who says, in any capacity, "This is a real thing." I get really freaking excited. Because the level of denial is getting ridiculous. I don't know what I personally did to deserve the treatment I got, because it certainly wasn't that I was so irresistable everyone wanted to sleep with me. Not only that, despite our best efforts, we as a society can still be astonishingly puritanical. Sex is interesting, because it still holds a note of taboo. So with that in mind, I don't understand why asexuality is such a damn threat. But for every sexual asshole who ever said these words to me, allow me to give them back:

I don't think you really understand what you're saying, and I really hope you grow up soon, for your own sake.
To the rest of us tho:

GUYS! WE GOT STEPHEN FRY!!!!! If that bit about Alan Rickman is true, I think it`s fairly safe to implement that world takeover we`ve all been talking about in secret. Who wants to start?

*cackles evilly*


  1. Although I can understand why you would be annoyed by some of the treatment you have received for just being yourself you must be able to see why it is difficult for some people to accept?

    The average IQ in the UK is about 100 and some people I meet can't even understand how a microwave works, they can accept that it does because they have never had any experience of trying to build one or getting one to work so it doesn't challenge anything they hold to be true. But when you challenge one of these people with something that fundamentally contradicts a deep seated, primeval instinct to mate that they have always felt strongly all their life how do you think they will react?

    Its not like being gay, at least with that you could sort of reason it into being sort of like straight but something got mixed up somewhere. Being asexual is a totally alien concept.

    I'm sure you will gain more acceptance as with all things it becomes more common and we get used to it. On a serious note though I can understand from an evolutionary stand point why you are such a small portion of the population but as an asexual would you ever desire the RESULT of sex, ie children? I don't see why you wouldn't but if not asexuals as a group may well be doomed to a long period of misunderstanding while you wait for society to become even more tolerant, without the added benefit of a growing group of people who identify as asexual.

    Also that's assuming that it is something that you are born as, part of your DNA and not down to external and social pressures. (I'm not suggesting either there by the way as I have no idea)

    Anyway I found your article very interesting, stumbled across it looking into Stephen Fry's sexuality and thought I would give you my opinion as a straight person, as requested.

    1. "Something got mixed up somewhere"? What the fuck are you talking about? Homosexual men and lesbian women have it all too clear, as so many other persons, included scientifics too: they feel attracted to persons of their own gender. Nothing got "mixed up" anywhere. I think you are one of those less than 100 I.Q. persons you try so hard to distance yourself from, and have little to nothing understanding about human sexuality. So get your ignorant ass back to ignorance land.

  2. Hi, I'm a sexual person, and never before I read your post had thought asexual persons could be object of discrimination and ridicule, not really, but it makes sense in a society obssesed with it. I just wanted to point out that it bugs me those who claims that everyone is bisexual, etc., not only because I am one myself and often see how some women would do anything, included fake their sexual orientation (claiming to be bisexual) in order to attract some men attention's. And, too, because it isn't true, and even though there's a good percentage of people that identifies as bisexual, polisexual or pansexual, or have felt attracted to people of their own gender, transsexual people, etc., there's too a good percentage of persons that are exclusively homosexual and heterosexual, and it isn't just childish but stupid claim that everyone is or must be bisexual at certain extent.
    And about your comment of the give head linked with homosexual men, I really hope you're not one of those persons that think/afirm the only "real" sexual relationship or the only thing two homosexual men can/should do in a bed is anal sex (or at least oral sex).