This morning I've been reading various articles on the interrelatedness/apparent contradiction between asexuality and sex-positivism, which received recent attention on asexuality with swankivy's article for Good Vibrations. I came across a very nice article by a sexual feminist (and I'm not being sarcastic; I was really thrilled to see such good representation by someone outside of the community) titled "Not Social Justice from Where I'm Standing" through a link on FuckYeahAces, and it included more links to yet more articles and blogs. And that's where the 'Sexuality and Gender' thing in the title line comes in, because I came across a post titled Not Interested... Yet" that works as a kind of 101 post but which got me thinking about something I'd thought about myself in the past back when I was bothering to think about my gender identification.
And I've gotten badly off track with that narrative of what I've been reading this morning, but I did want to share the links because sex positivity as it relates to asexuality is an interesting topic, and I'm kind of unjustifiably surprised and tickled by the discovery that a lot of the backlash against asexuals is just because we're perceived as sex-negative, and that once we start couching things in those terms it's a little easier to address the issue and say directly that no, actually, many asexuals think that sex is a wonderful and many-splendored thing as long as you don't expect them to involve themselves in it personally. I know that's a simplified view of the matter and that we really won't get out of facing irrational reactions from sexual people just by saying something nice about their sexual habits, but at least at this moment it seems like a good step forward. Sex-positivity isn't what I set out to talk about, but I'm guessing since I've now blathered on about it for a while that we might as well talk about it in the comments, if any of you are so inclined, since I'm so badly off my intended topic.
Because my intended topic is inspired by this quote from the last article I listed above: "One of the things I enjoyed about my aceness was that I didn’t have to fit into a gender box, after all, I wasn’t planning on attracting anyone."
This struck a chord with me because since coming out as ace, I've been sort of wishy-washy about my own gender identification. In more recent times, I've gone back to simply telling people that I'm a (cis-gendered) woman if they ask, mostly because a.) it's the simplest route and b.) I feel like I should show solidarity with all the women out there by not jumping ship. I'm not sure how good of a reason that latter really is, and I suspect it plays heavily into outdated binary modes of gender identification, but there you have it: the reasons I ostensibly identify as a woman.
When I say "simplest," I don't mean that I identify as a woman just because it's easiest to escape marginalization by claiming a firm, traditional gender identity, though that is also a factor. I mean that I honestly don't feel very strongly identified as any gender, so why bother with complicated terms when I have all these female organs built right in? If I have no specific gender, why bother identifying as anything beyond my physical sex? I'm not completely at ease with this decision; there are times when I feel that genderqueer might be a better label, but if I don't feel strongly about my gender identification, is it really that important to nail down exactly what I am?
...Although maybe the point of identifying as genderqueer is that you don't have to nail down exactly what you are if you fit under that particular umbrella. I'm not sure; I haven't actually talked to that many (other?) genderqueer people about it.
This quote begins to address one of the questions I have about gender identification, which is this: how does sexual orientation relate to gender identity? I know there are transgender asexuals out there, which apparently negates the idea that being asexual and not wanting to attract another person in that way automatically exempts you from traditional (or non-traditional) gender identification, as these people clearly feel strongly enough about their gender to identify with something not immediately related to the physical form into which they were born. I'm curious, though, as to how many transgender asexuals are also romantic, and how many genderqueer or gender-apathetic asexuals are also aromantic - basically, whether romantic attraction or lack thereof is automatically (or at least tends to be, as I don't expect there to really be any one universal rule) a part of gender identity, or if it's completely unrelated. We could do a poll if people are interested, though in that case it might be better to do that on asexuality, and I'd want input from others so I didn't end up creating options that weren't inclusive of all the possible combinations (which could be very difficult). Dunno; guess I'll wait and see if people are interested in talking about this.
So, there you have it: two topics for discussion if you so desire. Can has comments?