In Part 1 I focused on alcohol, and Part 2 I focused on tea. In this final part, I am going to focus on where (USA) asexual culture fits into this.
I feel that, to the extent that there is a (USA) asexual culture, abstaining from alcohol for whatever reason is fine, without being hostile to those who choose to drink alcohol. I think this is how it should be.
Ily noticed way back in 2008 that a disproportionate number of aces are teetotalers, and based on my anecdotal observations, it’s still that way now. I halfway fit into that since a) I was a teetotaling ace who knew she was ace for years and b) ever since I’ve returned to the United States (almost a year ago), I have had exactly one alcoholic drink. I don’t know why so many online aces are teetotalers, though I can speculate.
In the same series of posts (“Things Asexuals Like”), Ily also noted that a lot of people who identify as asexual also identify as introverts, and that asexuals like tea.
About a month ago, I hosted an ace meetup called “Tea and Cookies”. I offered both caffeinated and caffeine-free tea just in case there was someone who abstains from caffeine (everyone who showed up was fine with the caffeine tea). Someone at the meetup commented that drinking tea seemed very appropriate for asexuals, since it goes well with introversion.
Okay, I’m the person who had the brilliant idea of having an ace meetup centered around tea, and then actually made it happen, so I wasn’t in a position to argue against the asexual-tea connection.
I did respond that I am not an introvert. I know that introverts feel ‘drained’ after having to socialize with a lot of people, particularly strangers, for an extended period of time, but I don’t relate to the experience (also, I don’t identify as an extrovert – the last time I took any kind of Myers-Briggs test, the results said that I was 1% more extroverted than introverted, which was its way of saying that my personality doesn’t have a place on the introvert-extrovert spectrum).
On top of that, the tea culture which imprinted itself on me is Taiwanese tea culture, and in a Taiwanese context, associating tea drinking with asexuality doesn’t make much sense since “everybody” in the upper or middle class drinks tea and a lot of people who aren’t also drink tea. Heck, in certain contexts in Taiwan, ‘teahouse’ has been used as a euphemism for ‘brothel’, and ‘serving tea’ has been used as a euphemism for … I think you can figure it out.
When I was offering that caffeine-free tea at the meetup, I was really offering it to my past self. At the time I started identifying with asexuality I was still avoiding caffeine, and encountering memes which suggested that drinking (caffeinated) tea and being asexual went together … it wasn’t a big deal, but it did make me feel a teensy bit alienated from asexual culture.
Even though I am now a tea-drinker myself – and even though I organized that meetup – I still feel uncomfortable with tea becoming part of a stereotype of how asexuals are. I am totally cool with a group of asexuals who all like tea getting together to drink tea – especially the tea is good and I am invited. What I don’t want it to become is ‘oh, you’re asexual, of course you like tea.’
I was more comfortable in ace spaces as the asexual who drank a little alcohol than as the asexual who never drank (caffeinated) tea. I understand the urge to establish an asexual culture around something we do rather than something we do not do, but as Siggy has said, negative may be better than the alternative.
I’ve never felt at odds with respect to the idea that aces like tea. I’m half-Asian, everyone in my family drinks tea. I have boxes of it in front of me. I’ve felt more at odds with the tee-totaling association, particularly given that I started drinking because I was queer. That said, the drinking culture among queer university groups can be quite excessive, and I can’t complain about tee-totaling.
Well, I probably react more strongly to the tea-drinking bit than most people would because most people aren’t taught at a young age to avoid caffeine the way I was.