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Tuesday, July 26, 2022

The Buy-Me-Lunch Answer About Being Asexual

[CN: Frank sex talk. Food and eating.]

First, imagine you don't get hungry.

Not really ever. Like you can remember six or seven times in your ENTIRE life that you've ever felt like you really needed to eat.

Note 1- There was a TikTok about being asexual that came out not too long ago. I don't have the HTML skills to embed it, but the link will take you to a loop. This framing is absolutely based on that Tiktok, so I want to acknowledge it.

Note 2- While this would normally be an article I would put in NOT Writing About Writing, since the "Buy Me Lunch" series (in which I've written about sexuality and gender) started here on Writing About Writing, I'm going to keep it here for now.

To be clear, asexuality is a spectrum. And really it's three spectrums. Libido is the drive—the desire for sexual release. It's like an itch. Sexual desire is what controls wanting to have sex with another person. It's possible to have a high libido and a low sexual desire (and vise versa). And sexual attraction involves finding someone sexually appealing. Each of these three things can be high or low completely independently of each other. 

I can't tell you what all ace people experience or how they feel about sex. It is a broad umbrella that covers a lot of ground. Most people who have typical levels of all three things never unpack and untangle their libido, sexual desire, and sexual attraction as separate from each other. It's those of us who feel like we're not experiencing the world in the "right" way who usually break down how all those things are different and have different levels. Some people have low libidos, low desire, and low attraction and kind of conform to the idea that is most thought of as "asexual." But there's a lot more variation. Some have high sexual attraction, but low sexual desire. (They really find people hot, but seldom act on it.) Some may have a low libido but high sexual desire (they aren't really into sex for release, but love having sex for other reasons). Others (like me) have high libidos, reasonable sexual desire, and a very lukewarm sexual attraction. 

If you imagine all three of these things (libido, sexual desire, and sexual attraction) as separate axes on a graph, you get a brilliant cube with a dizzying variety of expressions. The back left top corner would look VERY different than the front right bottom corner even though both these people might identify as asexual. There are people who are absolutely sex-repulsed. (I'm not.) There are people who have no libido (I do), or only experience their libido once or twice a month. There are people who have no or low sexual desire (mine is above average). There are people who experience no sexual attraction. (This is where I find I can take it or leave it.) There are people who have attraction but no libido. Libido but no desire. Desire but no attraction. Every expression you can think of.

And it's all under the umbrella of "asexual." And of course, some people identify that way and others—who have exactly the same libido, desire, and attraction—do not. 

I can only tell you what ace means to ME and why I think I'm on that spectrum. There are people like me who enjoy sex and partake in almost as much as they can get as often as they can get it. I feel attraction, but it is usually very aesthetic and appreciative until/unless there is a lot of enthusiasm coming from the person toward me. But when people talk to me about being horny or needing sex or talk about how their desire for sex is starting to short-circuit their rational thinking, I don't experience this feeling. 

I enjoy sex, and I have a LOT of it…with several partners. But my reasons for having sex are different than most people’s. The label "demisexual" comes pretty close, and I use it in a pinch, but it's not quite right.

It helps to think about wanting sex like wanting food. It's not a perfect analogy, but it's good enough to be a load-bearing metaphor. It's not that I don't eat. It's not that I don't enjoy eating. It's not that I don't think good food is delicious. It's just that I don't get hungry.

People eat for lots of reasons. And honestly, a lot of those (possibly even most of those) have nothing to do with hunger. We often eat when we "could eat" based on other factors which is more about no longer being absolutely full from the last time we ate rather than actually being hungry.

  • Because the food tastes good
  • Because we like that KIND of food
  • To try something we don't get to have very often or have never tried before
  • Because it might be a while before there's another chance to eat
  • Because someone made us food and we want to show our appreciation
  • Because a companion is hungry and we want to enjoy the time together
  • Because we want to enjoy the experience of eating with someone
  • To be connected with or bond with other people eating or the cook
  • To help us cope with negative emotions, boredom, or just to generate some good feelings
  • Because it feels good
Similarly we can feel rejected if we're not invited to a dinner party, even if we weren't hungry or are not offered a helping of something when other people are getting it. We can feel envious if someone else is getting food and we are not. We can worry about missing out on the connection, the bonding if we aren't invited to meals. We can feel left out if everyone got a piece of cake but us. 

It doesn't matter if we weren't, strictly speaking, HUNGRY. 


Being on the ace spectrum doesn't mean I don't enjoy sex. It doesn't mean I don't ever want it. It doesn't mean I can't feel rejected. It doesn't mean I can't feel insecure if it feels like no one is attracted to me or seems to want me. It certainly doesn't mean that if someone wants sex with me, I'll say no or I'll usually say no. (In fact, personally, I usually say yes.) It just means that I'm not doing it because I'm HORNY. I can kind of take or leave the actual act. I'm doing it to be with them. To bond with them. To feel connected. Maybe because I haven't had that type of sex before or very often. Because they want it, and I want to make them feel good and desirable. Because sex is fun and feels good.

It does mean I don't really make decisions trying to get laid. It means I rarely initiate sex with a partner and never pressure. (Which also means that sometimes a partner has to nudge me to do a bit more of instigation so they don't feel undesirable.) It means that I rarely, if ever, experience purely sexual attraction…for anyone. Things like trust and connection are much more important to me. I experience emotional attraction, platonic attraction, aesthetic attraction, and even sensual and physical attraction—and I am perfectly capable of leveraging one or some (or all) of those attractions into really good sex—but I rarely, if ever, experience a raw sexual attraction that translates into desire. 

I often say that I don't sleep with someone because I crave sex with them. I sleep with someone because I crave connection and intimacy with them and sex is one of MANY ways to get that—and definitely one of the most fun. 

We're all wired differently and have different histories. (Part of my ace-ness is wrapped up in hang ups over consent, enthusiasm, and performance anxiety—it means I just don't have nearly as much fun with someone I'm not connected to with a deep bond of trust. All that has much more to do with my childhood traumas than biology.) Being ace is never as simple as "I don't like sex"…although for some people, that sums it up nicely. It's a label that is really only the starting point, so folks should be more willing to get the buy-[them]-lunch answer when it comes up.

[If you would like to actually buy me lunch, feel welcome to drop a couple of bucks into the tip jar.]

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Mailbox: 20 Questions (Non Writing Questions 13 &14)

I'm going to post this 20 Questions in the usual format when it's all finished, but many of these questions required substantive answers, so I'm going to break up the roll-out over a few days to keep the length of each post reasonable. 

13- What exactly is your [my] problem?  

I can't even imagine what the context of this could possibly be. So I'll try a few things, and if you decide I haven't answered your question, write me back with just a LIIIIIIIITLE bit more context. Like…you know…an adult might.

  • My problem is that I'm an empathic person who wants everyone to have food, shelter, clothing, medical care, and equal access to a system that has way too much intergenerational wealth and nepotism to claim it is a meritocracy.
  • My problem is that I live in a culture of rising fascism. Not the boogeyman, post-WWII word that gets thrown around to mean "bad guys," but actually literally those bellwethers that are used as the measurements of fascism
  • My problem is that people in socioeconomic power are willing to pretend marginalization doesn't exist (and that mentioning it at all…ever…for any reason is the real bigotry) in order to maintain their power, all while maintaining 
  • My problem is that on a macro/social scale, the privileged in our society are enacting all the hallmarks of narcissistic abuse upon the marginalized.
  • My problem is that people think that anytime I talk about any of these things in my own space and with my own platform, some people feel entitled to tell me to shut up and only ever give them the content that makes them comfortable and happy.
  • My problem is that anthropogenic climate change is going to have catastrophic, civilization-as-we-know-it-ending consequences…probably within my lifetime. Refugees. Extinction events. Plagues. Famine. Unbelievable human loss of life. Violence. And a restructuring of global societies that will probably end our great democratic experiment—such as it ever was. It's already begun, and so far we have not even demonstrated the political will to put down a speed bump in its way.
  • My problem is that I chose and initiated a major life transition (moving in with a partner and her two kids) right before a handful of major life transitions (pregnancy, miscarriage, cancer, surgery, a partner's catastrophic breakup, recovery both physical and psychological, PTSD, and anxiety), all of which I did NOT choose but didn't have a choice about, and holy FUUUUUCK has it been a year.

Does that about cover it?

14- What’s your favorite art installation? What does it mean to you?

Though I haven't been since 2015, before that, I went to Burning Man 13 years in a row, so when you say "art installation" I picture these massive sculptures of metal or wood sitting out in the middle of The Blackrock Desert. Giant heads or massive human bodies or signs with letters twice as big as a person.

Love by Alexander Milov
The two children light up at night—it's spectacular.

Perhaps my favorite showed up in 2010. (It was also located on Treasure Island in San Francisco from 2011-2015, and now lives in The Park in Las Vegas.) It's called Bliss Dance, and even though you can see the people in the picture who kind of give you an idea of the scale, it's even more impressive in person. The triangular wields and actual anatomical center of gravity give it this effortless sense of floating motion even though it is over three and a half tons (3,100 kg) of steel rods and stainless steel mesh.

Bliss Dance by Marco Cochrane

In the Black Rock desert, you can see most things from a huge distance, so to just see this sculpture getting bigger and bigger as I approached and to see it somehow becoming simultaneously more lifelike and more obviously metalwork was breathtaking on a scope that is difficult to put into words. It's one of those few pieces of non-performance art that made my heart skip a few beats and I just stood and stared for nearly an hour. I know it's about the tension between objectification and empowerment, and I could see that theme before I even read about the artist's intention, but what I really like is that up close you can see that her eyes are closed like she's just vibing with the music, and it really feels like a moment captured—one of those simple human moments of expression. 


Thursday, July 14, 2022

Bullshit Narrative 25- Liberals Are Coming for Your Guns

[This is the last of the 25 articles. Tomorrow I will do all the formatting to make each article have a link to the article before and after it and the head article have a link to all 25 parts. That's going to take a few hours, so it'll be my post for the day. This part in itallics will disappear then. Thank you for your patience with this monstrosity.]

This one.....

This one is complicated.

This one might not be total bullshit. 

At least not anymore. 

Liberals WEREN'T coming for the guns. At least not most liberals. And they weren't coming for most guns. A fair number of leftists don't want only agents of the state being armed.

The vast majority of liberals coming for anything were coming for the assault style rifles (the AR-15 and all its clones) that are trivial to convert into full auto (conversions which are so laughably "illegal" with scare quotes around them that people will put up pictures of them firing it on Youtube under their real name). 

They might have been coming for the extended clips, and the bump stocks and the background check workarounds and the laws that essentially let people walk around in Piggly Wiggly armed for war. They were coming for no waiting periods, gun show loopholes, and guns for convicted abusers. They were coming for some sensible gun laws. They were coming to get the FBI to take domestic violence more seriously when it comes to who gets to own a firearm. They were coming to try to arm-twist the nation into a conversation about how to defuse the toxic masculinity and entitlement that is causing young men to be this angry, about better mental health care as a matter of policy and change and not just a scapegoat for doing nothing, and yes, about some sensible gun regulations.

Sure some were coming for all of them. There have always been a few liberals who wanted all the guns melted down into statues memorializing murdered school children. And they've grown in number every shooting since Columbine. And if you wanted to just take your soundbites from them, you could whip up quite the persecution complex. But there were probably no more of those folks than there were folks who wanted rocket launchers to be legal. The political will just didn't exist. It was all sound and fury. And Texas sharpshooting the "other side"'s argument in bad faith to create a strawman.

By and large, however, this is a complicated conversation and people on all points of the political spectrum are DYING TO HAVE IT.  You'll notice that in this entire article, in no place—not even ONCE—have I suggested that we outlaw guns. I have only pointed out the bad arguments that are used to defend doing absolutely nothing.

There's a lot of of impassioned positions about gun control, and a lot of them have salient points, and not every argument belongs on a list of fallacies, but instead of having THOSE discussions, folks have let the NRA engage in this conversation for them. And the NRA is not debating in good faith. With a national, culture war issue, they have essentially convinced most of the GOP to follow them in sticking their fingers in their ears and saying "Lalalalala. I can't hear you."

This shouldn't be surprising, as they are essentially the propaganda wing of companies that are war profiteering and have successfully controlled the narrative about why the war should be ramped up–earning a lot more profit.

But by leaving the table with nothing but some shitty, easily debunked narratives that are either fallacies or criminally and immorally negligent of nuance.... By disrespecting those who want to stop seeing their children murdered, while right wing politicians parrot the same bumper sticker slogans, bullshit boilerplate narratives, and TERRIBAD arguments that they trot out after every mass shooting and school shooting... By answering desperate pleas over and over with an outright refusal to have a conversation or compromise.... the NRA and the intractable pro-gun folks are basically ensuring that the political will is building to do exactly what they fear the most––to come for the guns.

They reduced us to one option and then are going to try to scare everyone else with the fact that we're considering it.

Maybe, and I'm just spitballing here, try not reducing us to one option.

Because I don't really want to take all people's guns or ALL the guns (and I know a lot of other liberals don't either).

But if ZERO compromise, ZERO discussion, proposing only LOOSER regulations (while handing the NRA moral authority to stand on the front line of this national cultural conversation with its racist double standard and adamant insistence that the only POSSIBLE solution is MOAR guns), MORE dead kids, and "suck it up, buttercup" cost-of-doing-business solutions…is being held up against melting down all the guns into statues…

And that is the ONLY choice I'm being given…

… I’m picking the statues.


Bullshit rating: Actually becoming somewhat plausible.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Coming Soon (Personal and Meta Update)

I want to talk about what's coming up for July. There may be more, but these are the things I definitely want to hit. Most of these articles are well past the initial planning phase, some are half written and one just needs a final revision, so I'm pretty confident we can get them going in the next couple of weeks, and bring in July at a slightly better than June. 

I've let my patrons know most of the details, but suffice things are going a LOT better while still being a little bumpy. Compared to a month ago, I'm doing great, and two months ago, I'm doing spectacularly. 

So things have been getting better every month. I know know that I probably should have put my blog on hiatus for the month Still, in June we had a possible covid exposure turn into "Yes the whole house has Covid" for a week (and ruined a vacation to boot), we've had a dozen special circumstances, the boys are out of school (and now are in camps which take a lot of chauffeuring), and this post didn't go up yesterday (or even Monday) because we are currently trying to juggle one car. 

But in the next couple of weeks you can expect

  • The Final Installment of 25 Bullshit Narratives We Hear After Every School Shooting (Plus I'm going to need a day for all the formatting of that article to make every article have a link to the next part, previous part, and first part—which will need a link to every one of the 25 arguments. I know that one took a full month, and I appreciate everyone's patience. Sadly it's likely going to remain relevant for a long, long time.
  • An article about what being asexual means to me
  • An article about non-monogamy
  • An article in defense of half assery in writing
  • And a couple of mailbox questions

Monday, June 27, 2022

Bullshit Argument 24- "American Lives" or "Won't Someone Think of the Children?"

You could probably get someone to throw a punch by pointing out the hypocrisy needed to pretend they literally are incapable of understanding a statement like "black lives matter" while holding onto a position like "America first" but of those two, only one of them is exclusionary, xenophobic, nationalistic, rooted in white supremacy, and trying to prioritize a group that is generally already at the top of the socio/economic hierarchy,  so it's not a perfect comparison—mostly just a way to point out "Oh so you actually DO get the concept."

For as long as I've been alive, "the children" have been used to weaponize every homophobic, transphobic, body-autonomy-crushing agenda the GOP sees fit to try and use as a wedge to fire up their Christian base right around an election. "American lives" has been used since early fall in 2001 to be the rallying cry to legitimize oppression, surveillance, torture, and an erosion of all the rights codified in amendments that aren't the second. 

And don't even get me started on how those "American lives" are ACTUALLY treated when things like veterans issues or homelessness are the topics on the table.

Not that I particularly want these arguments trotted out on the regular, given what they almost always defend, but gun advocates need to understand that if they do nothing while school shootings happen several times a year, they don't get to use these points anymore. They're going to start getting that same laugh that Trump got during the debates when he said that no one respects women more than he does. If they don't do something it becomes brazenly, unavoidably obvious that they do not actually care about human lives, American lives, or children's' lives.

I mean I hope that people start behaving in a way that takes into consideration things like "the children" who are being killed because they care about children who are being killed and not because they're worried that their breathtaking hypocrisy is going to get them eaten by irony demons or lose them political points, but it's worth pointing out.

Bullshit Rating- Perfect bullshit. 10/10. Would hypocrite again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Bullshit Argument 23- The Slippery Slope

You know you're in bad argument territory when the argument people are non-ironically advancing has the same name as the fallacy that its poor thinking is named after. Like when people say: "We can't do that because it's a slippery slope," LITERALLY invoking the name of a logical fallacy to make their argument, you absolutely know that what you're about to hear is not going to be a good argument.

You want to know how I already know folks have a water's edge somewhere about what kinds of weapons civilians should have access to? Because they're not reading this from their armed M1 Abrams or their fully functional Apache attack helicopter. Because they might own a whole panic room full of assault style rifles, and maybe even a few M203 grenade launchers, but they probably don't have an M141 shoulder-mounted anti-structure weapon (or if they do, they know they could go to prison for having it—and not for a couple of days). They don't have a bunker buster they can launch from an A-10 Warthog. They likely don't have the howitzers that the Continental Army used against the British during the American Revolutionary War either. Or an Ironside ship with functional 24-pounder cannons.

Because we already HAVE a line in the sand. And we have always HAD a line in the sand. 

We already draw the line somewhere and say "Okay, there's no need for any citizen to own this weaponry. We want ordinance like this to be in the hands of carefully vetted people who use it only when absolutely appropriate (and not without some measure of oversight)." And for 240+ years, we've managed to have conversation about where that line should be, so acting like bump stocks simply MUST be legal or all liberals are coming for all guns is the worst kind of fallacy imaginable.

Not every conversation is intended to erode gun rights with the end goal of total banishment. I'm sure SOME liberals will keep going, but like most of the history of this country, most will lack the political momentum once there is an equilibrium.  One the compromise doesn't involve accepting dead children on the 6 o'clock a few times a year, there won't be momentum. Unless of course there can't BE a compromise….then the momentum becomes a buildup and the backlash a flood.

Sometimes we just need to talk about the fact that the line in the sand seems to be a little misplaced.


Bullshit rating: You didn't slip in the bullshit. You just pretended to so people wouldn't think you didn't notice it.


Monday, June 20, 2022

Bullshit Narrative 22- The Government Should Be Afraid of Its People

"Oh no! They have a rifle!"
The United States military is not afraid of your AR-15s. 

They have tanks and jets and body armor and artillery and drones that make firing a hellfire at a human considerably easier than beating the first level of Pole Position and they also have shit you haven't even heard of yet. And oh yeah, they have the most sophisticated air domination in the history of Earth that can effortlessly deploy weapons of mass destruction we haven't even seen. They are, in general, slowed down primarily by the political will of the folks back home––an issue they wouldn't be dealing with in any such scenario.

The only thing these little guns are going to do is maybe give a militia a few days standoff against the ATF or FBI because those organizations actually WILL go out of their way to avoid the optics of dead kids' bodies in the background on the six o'clock news. (Something the NRA could stand to learn.)

Okay, wait. I've seen that meme too. With the Viet Cong saying "Cool story bro" or whatever it is to tell you that yes indeedie a bunch of peoples with automatic rifles can totally defeat the US military.

So let me head the bullshit off at the pass.

1- Vietnam was half a century ago. Warfare has changed. Get over yourself.

2- The Viet Cong was not a militia with what would today be civilian grade weaponry. It was a MASSIVE political organization with its own army (and if you're enjoying irony today, no small amount of US-made weapons). I would need a FLOW CHART to explain fully the cavalcade of mistakes made in Vietnam that led to the loss. Suffice to say that the United States Military would never make those kinds of errors in the ONE place on Earth it has sufficient resources and deployment ability. Any political movement sufficiently large to play an analogue to the Viet Cong in the US could much more effectively work in non-violent ways. 

Unless there's a colonizer of the US that could directly intervene who I'm not aware of.

The counter-insurgency conflicts we are involved in today are similar. Your average soldier doing patrols might be concerned about an IED, but the government of the United States (very obviously) is not.

I am not saying that there is no scenario in which the citizenry of a nation with the most powerful military that has ever existed on the face of the Earth decides it's time to take up arms in a guerrilla war against its own government, but if even if that does happen, the U.S. government wouldn't be afraid of our small arms. They wouldn't be afraid of us at all unless we were (very) well supplied by another world power and our conflict was essentially a proxy war. The same could be said about any country with gun control and no monthly massacres, of course.

Even a marine rifleman who IS essentially carrying almost everything a civilian could acquire in our country is better trained by orders of magnitude, deployed with such weaponry ONLY in very specific theaters, monitored and kept in check by a sophisticated chain of command designed to prevent exactly the sort of things this series of articles is about.

There are situations where guns would be useful (if obviously escalating and violent and prone to accidents and mistakes). There are places where this argument touches something real. If there is some version of the brownshirts in the US—a proxy group given broad authority to enact domestic terrorism. If the police are abusing their authority in a potentially lethal way, they might hesitate if they know their target is armed. (A weirdly telling data point given how many police officers shoot and cite their fear for their lives when a target is NOT actually armed.) If people start disappearing in the night. If white supremacists start trying to take matters into their own hands. This is why there's the old phrase comes from: "If you go far enough left, you get your guns back" (and the reason I'm not against guns so much as the absurd arguments that civilians need semi-automatic long rifles or it's tyranny). But there are just an awful lot of ways to not trust, and even resist your government without taking up arms against it.

The idea of being The Wolverines is fun for a couple of hours while eating some popcorn, but that Hitler quote about disarming a nation is mostly not what people think it's about, and there's only been one uprising in the United States that even gave the government pause (dude named Bacon), and even back then, it was a whole shit load more than some armed civilians.


Bullshit Rating: This shit is from a bull/wolverine hybrid. You were so concerned with whether you could, you didn't stop to think about whether you should!