Disappointment: AVEN Forums
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.