Swankivy has noticed that “people react to my asexuality the same as they react to my vegetarianism sometimes. (Vegetarianism comes up more often because I eat with people I don’t know well more often than I talk Sex Things with people I don’t know well, but asexuality is more commonly reacted to with bullshit in my experience.)”
I only reveal my asexual identity to a few people (well, except in ace spaces), whereas I simply can’t be as careful with revealing my veg*nism (nor would I want to). The result is that, actually, I get a lot more flak for being veg*n (particularly vegan, but I also got these kinds of reactions as a semi-vegetarian) than I ever do for being asexual. This may be different if a wider range of people knew I were asexual.
I haven’t encountered all of the reactions which Swankivy has encountered, but I definitely have encountered some of them, and I have also noticed the similarity to the bullshit arguments people use justify compulsory sexuality and, for lack of a better term, compulsory carnism. I coin the phrase ‘compulsory carnism’ because there is a distinction between supporting animal abuse oneself, but being okay with others not supporting it, and feeling that everyone should support animal abuse.
Yes, I am bringing atheism into the fray, because many of these bullshit arguments are also directed at atheists. Compare this list of bullshit ‘arguments’ against asexuality compiled by Swankivy to this list of bullshit arguments against atheism compiled by Greta Christina. A lot of the ‘arguments’ in both lists are very similar, such as ‘you asexuals/atheists think you are so superior’. Do veg*ns get this type of bullshit argument. Why yes – in fact, I have gotten that specific argument far more often as a vegan than as an asexual and atheist combined.
And then there is the argument about how ‘you asexuals/atheists/veg*ns are so close-minded’, which is utterly ridiculous if you have experience being asexual/atheist/veg*n. Most asexual-spectrum people once thought they were something other than asexual-spectrum, often straight, but sometimes gay or bisexual. And we tend to continually question our orientation, as discused in the Carnival of Aces about ‘Doubt’. Likewise, most atheists did not grow up as atheist, and later changed their minds and became atheists (once again, Greta Christina addresses the question ‘Are Atheists open-minded’. There are many people who grow up as veg*n and never question it – for example, many Hindus and Jains in India, but in first world societies, very few people grow up as vegans, and most vegans transitioned as adults, and were previously non-veg*n. Yet non-veg*n people who have never been veg*n tell us that we don’t understand them, and that we are close-minded.
You know, when I first started this series, I was planning to write about how the bullshit ‘arguments’ used against asexuality and veg*nism are related to how asexuality and veg*nism both challenge the ‘right’ of ‘dominant’ people to take the meat/sex they want, and draw on the ‘sexual politics of meat’ (I’ve never read the book, but I can guess what it’s about), and tied this all to a cultural sense opposed to straight-edgeness. I still think there is something to that, but I dragged atheism into this, and the fact that such similar bullshit arguments are used against atheism, which has nothing to do with straight-edgeness or the sexual politics of meat, really throws a wrench in the work. Curse you atheists for collapsing my hypothesis!
So, my new thesis is this – when people cannot think up a rational argument to invalidate asexuality, or to challenge atheism, or to justify animal abuse, they have to resort to knee-jerk bullshit. Or simply ignore us.
In the last part of this series, I will finally evict atheism from this discussion, and discuss what implications there may be for having so many veg*ns in the asexual community.