This is another submission for the May Carnival of Aces.
Just yesterday, on two different occasions strangers came up to me just to say that I’m beautiful.
Now where did that voice come from?
The tiny subset of people who both know what I look like and know that I’m asexual is a) not sexually attracted to me and c) on the other side of the Pacific ocean, so I haven’t had to deal with people saying directly ‘it’s such a shame to have a woman as pretty as you being an ace’. So that’s not where I got the internalized awful thought from.
However, while I do not go around telling people ‘hey, I’m asexual’, I don’t hide the fact that I am boyfriend-free. Many people here (both Taiwanese and foreigners) assume when they meet me that I have a boyfriend, and will even say thing like ‘oh, you can do this with your boyfriend’ at which point I point out that I don’t have a boyfriend … which they find pretty shocking. ‘But you’re so pretty!’ Yeah, all pretty women MUST have boyfriends/husbands (can’t they at least consider that I might have a girlfriend?)
I often use the way people react to my voluntary singlehood is a proxy for how they might react to my asexuality … and since most people are taken aback by my voluntary singlehood, I generally don’t come out to them about my asexuality (I have not come out as asexual to a single person I’ve met in Taiwan).
It’s not just my day-to-day interactions with people, it’s also the media. For example, in the famous novel 笑傲江湖 (Xiào Ào Jiānghú), there is a very pretty young Buddhist nun. When she first appears, a bunch of men sigh and are surprised that such a pretty girl would be a nun. This scene definitely bothered me precisely because it touches on my sore spot of being a pretty young woman who has chosen celibacy. I’m not blaming the writer – I think the writer is accurately depicting the way many men react to this. And throughout the novel, a lot of characters expect her to stop being celibate because, well, she’s so pretty (and she also has a crush, but a lot of the expectation is because of her looks, not her feelings).
Because of the way people react to my singleness, I know in my guts that I would get the ‘but you’re too pretty to stay celibate’ reaction if I were more out about my asexuality offline. And it’s one thing which keeps me quiet about my asexuality. The flack I get for being single and celibate is enough.