Disappointment: AVEN Forums

09/07/2009

head in hands

I really didn’t want this to be my first post on asexuality.

First of all, I’m a proud asexual. Not only was I by freak of accident born a member of this minority community, but I’ve been more than happy to be brusque about it. When my other community, the queer community of which I see asexuality belonging to has had members slipping into open mockery of asexuality, I’ve been right there in the earnest and open defense and I have outed myself on a number of blogs being part of the group informing Melissa McEwan as to our existence. I have built some inroads with queer groups in San Diego and Denmark, been a regular asexual commenter at the fantastic Queer’s United.

And when just a little over 4 hours exactly 4 years ago I first signed onto AVEN finally answering that “what am I” question that had puzzled me for over 2 years before, I thought I had found a good home.

And before I move on, I’d like to say it is still a great thing. David Jay the founder has put together one of the greatest resources on the planet for young asexuals to figure themselves out and that provides in-depth visibility and outreach programs which has led to asexuality being included in this year’s SF Pride. In fact, I have zero problems with the scope, leadership, or structure of AVEN nor its role in the community as a key point in organizing the asexual community and educating others as to the reality of our existence.

No, what I have a problem with is the people. Or rather a problem with how the forum has evolved since even the last time I came back on to check out the state of the community. Sometime just in the last couple of months, a community of young queer-aligned asexuals forming community and forming connections has fallen prey to a common problem striking any group that grows into an all-encompassing category.

In short, it’s starting to get filled with a number of assholes.

I mean, I don’t want to pretend that asexuals are perfect people completely free of all the socialization of society, somehow free of the prejudices against other others that any minority and especially minority group falls prey to. But still, it can be disappointing to see the physical evidence and see the growth of what were once minority strains into a loud faction.

Anti-sexuals, men complaining about how women hate all men when they comment on sexism, queer-hating bible-thumpers. There were no reason these groups should be free of asexuals even if AVEN had been dominantly queer-aligned, feminist-conscious, mostly-other-sex-having non-judgmental, but still, why couldn’t they have waited to find us until after we had more firmly entrenched ourselves in the queer community and more fully formalized our alliance with other minority groups?

But then, really it’s the cost of growth. With the problematic relationship our society has to sexuality, how can asexuals come out of it feeling confident, especially when a non-negligible minority of asexuals do have natural negative responses to all sexuality in general (through no fault of their own). It’s easy to fall into a trap and a perception about sexuality and sexuals especially if society is insisting you join them and is interacting with the same heterosexist messaging it showers everyone with.

An asexual is open to coming away from this with a negative reaction to sex and sexuality rather than asshole advertisers and sexism at first glance and certainly I can see how it could be tempting as a young sexual to place the blame on sexuals coercive approach to sex and lack of strong conviction for the importance of consent to color judgments on sex and public sexuality in general.

I’m sympathetic, but still, it is disappointing to see so many of my fellow AVENites so not get the interconnectivity of oppression so thoroughly. It’s disappointing to see them work in concert with other forms of oppression and to have those who do so seemingly replace the community-builders as a dominant voice.

But what I’m really whining about here is what everyone feels when a former home no longer fits someone or when that baby nascent movement outgrows one into the sprawling mass of diversity every movement grows into. Radical feminists, POC, communists, and queers have complained about how the movements seemed to outgrow their revolutionary origins. I suppose I was hoping to see the AVEN forums retain that edge at least a little bit longer.

But the sad truth is that I had already left that home and the community itself has become bigger than just AVEN.

Furthermore, we have AVEN to thank for that.

So it’s really a good thing, even if I’m disappointed.

Sigh, they really do grow up so fast.

9 Responses to “Disappointment: AVEN Forums”

  1. pretzelboy said

    If you’re wanting to avoid assholes on AVEN, don’t go to the hotbox. At least that’s what I’ve done for quite some time. I find that having a good idea of what to avoid usually works pretty well most of the time.

    • cerberustheasexual said

      Thanks for the advice. Yeah, I was just slightly disheartened that there seemed to be more that needed to be avoided with even more inflammatory titles since the last time I went on, but others pointed out that the makeup of the site tends to be cyclical and it’s not like this problem isn’t endemic to nearly every internet community everywhere.

      But anyways, thanks.

  2. I’m not sure I know what you’re talking about here. I don’t get the impression AVEN is necessarily anti-sexual. I do think it has attracted personalities you may not feel comfortable with, but any message board with enough members will do that.

    • cerberustheasexual said

      That was actually the conclusion I came to in the post, that with growth comes well growth and the new personalities may not be people with similarly liberal attitudes towards other minority groups. I do believe it is something that happens to every group ever. Diversity is a good thing, it’s a sign of growth, but that diversity will also include people one thinks suck.

      I don’t think AVEN in necessarily anti-sexual, but it does seem like anti-sexual contingents, as well as sexist and homophobic contingents seem perceptively larger than a couple of months ago. This is of course a natural out-growth of growth.

      EDITED TO ADD: And the strongest negative response is really into the growth of the anti-women trolls and other hostile conservative voices on the forum. Any movement that grew was going to eventually include conservatives and men who would otherwise feel their masculinity threatened by admitting their sexuality to be other, it’s just depressing to wade through a toxic mess of willfully ignorant slop when one is feeling like they are “coming home”. On the other hand, it more fully illustrated the concept of “safe space” to me and why people would seek to carve such exclusionary communities out of the day-to-day mess.

      • cerberustheasexual said

        Thinking about it more, I think part of the problem is that the online community is entering the troll phase, but it is taking place in a different way than I had expected. I was expecting a troll phase to involve sexuals mocking us for being faggy virgins, but it seems to mostly be insecure men reacting negatively to how many self-identified women are on the threads.

        I suppose that should say something very positive about the “regular” community.

  3. Cerebus, am I implying from your statements that all conservatives hate gay and trans people? That’s a dangerous statement and a bigoted attitude.

    • cerberustheasexual said

      Of course not. Not all conservatives hate gay and trans people or even women and minorities, but social conservatism (at least in the US) tends to be dominated by less than stellar treatment or viewpoint towards minority groups and certainly feels more comfortable ignoring their complaints for (I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt) the betterment of society as a whole.

      It is fair to say that as an imperfect trend or by population that does with socially conservative views versus socially liberal views are more likely to be hostile to minority groups, that those raised in socially conservative districts or homes are more likely to be hostile to minority groups than those raised more liberally or in more diverse neighborhoods, and that socially conservative leaders are more likely to rant against minority groups than socially liberal leaders.

      These are of course trends, they are not perfect population division. A conservative man could love minority groups, but love money more and a socially liberal man can fall just as prey to societal sexism than a conservative one.

  4. disjointed said

    Firstly i am very happy you have found what is your way in life even though i know it would not have been without trials and tribulations

    i have to say though that your opinion of Aven differs greatly from mine having been there for over a year. Sure there are some antisexuals percentage wise there was always going to be…they have a right to an opinion too but enlarge the practice of hating sexuals is frowned upon within aven as it is as biggotted as sexuals hating Asexuals.

    I have to say your impression of Aven is not reflective of many who use it and would ask when you get a momment..to pop back in…have a second look and
    I’m sure you will see it differently

    Agreed also ..Hotbox..controversy will always stir up emotions so possibly not the one section if you hate controversy. By the way I use the same name in Aven. Hope to see you there soon as your always welcome

  5. jason_b_nevada said

    Hey everyone, this may be described as a bit of an odd thought but I am wanting to know if there are any high quality discussion boards around for chatting about recent events. I’m sick of the persons that submit in the commentary on papers, I’m hoping for some thing more sensible and polite. Anybody know good quality locations which concentrate on them?

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