Hey. Hi. Hello.
About me... yeah.
I'm twenty, an English Education major, and I have gotten a noodle stuck up the back of my nose on more than one occasion. My pronouns are ze/hir, and I identify as genderqueer, asexual, and ???romantic. A few things I enjoy are Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Doctor Who, Pokémon, musical theater, the music of Amanda Palmer, Homestuck, writing, and going on adventures. I'm also not actually married. If you don't know why I needed to explicitly say that, don't worry about it. Drop me an ask if you ever want to talk!
Okay. So I’m going to have my criminal background check done today. And this is making me anxious. Not because of the background check itself. I’ve done that before and it’s kind of stressful because the people there kind of grab your hands and roll your fingers over the scanner and it’s very jarring to have strangers touch you like that. But that’s not really it. It’s all the little stuff. Like having to sit there and wait. And having to ask who to make the check out to. And what if my granddad just forgets to come get me and I miss my appointment and this is the last day to get it done so I can be cleared in time for my field placements in spring and I have to drop/switch two classes and I’m behind schedule and I don’t graduate on time.
As I was thinking about acephobica, negative stereotypes of asexuals, and common forms of gaslighting and invalidation that asexual people get, it occurred to me that a lot of the denials, “explanations” and so on are closely related to each other. In particular, there are three big widespread themes about asexuality I found that people tend to invoke when denying it:
Asexuality is a disorder, abnormality or defect.
Asexuality is a pretense, not sincere or real.
Asexuality is a choice made as a an ideological or political statement.
Each of the branches on the chart above is an “explanation” used to delegitimize people’s claims that they are asexual, or on the asexual spectrum. People say phrases to the effect of, “You’re not asexual, you’re actually __________,” or “You only feel that way because of __________.”
I suspect there are two closely related reasons why people try to invalidate asexuality so much. First, it’s because the arguer wants to control the asexual person and silence them or keep them “in line.” Secondly, it is to protect the arguer’s own self-esteem by allowing them to discredit someone else, look down on someone else as inferior, and avoid admitting one’s own mistakes. Neither of these motives is usually a conscious, deliberate train of thought when a person tries to invalidate another’s identity, and people will readily come up with more noble or “logical” reasons why they are so opposed to asexuality’s existence, but on a subconscious level these feelings are usually there.
The chart above does not include every acephobic stereotype and form of invalidation or gaslighting that asexual people encounter. It is only meant to outline the broad, recurring themes I’ve noticed, and how they interact with each other. I may do a more extensive version of the chart later.
You may also note some crossover between acephobia, ableism, ageism, and misogyny here. That is not a coincidence, because many of the acephobic ideas used to delegitimize asexuality are ableist, ageist or misogynistic as well. This causes serious identity problems and self-doubt for asexual people who are not able-bodied, neurotypical cisgender adult men - the so-called “unassailable ace” archetype. There is also considerable intersectionality between asexuality and race and LGBT issues, though I couldn’t think of many ways to represent those groups on the chart.