Why Are There So Few Grey-A Characters in Ace Fiction?

This post is for Ace Week.

Grey-A (greysexual, greyasexual, etc.) characters are under-represented in ace fiction. I am not just saying they are under-represented in fiction in general, I am saying that, even among the fictional works which do have at least one ace character, grey-a characters are under-represented.

According to the Asexual Community Survey’s 2017-18 summary report, about 12% of aces who responded to the survey identify as ‘grey-A’. I can tell you that a lot less than 12% of canon ace characters I’ve encountered in fiction were grey-A. Granted, some of them could be interpreted as grey-A, but it’s also possible to interpret them as not-grey-A without going against canon. Whenever I’ve checked other lists of ace characters in fiction that list grey-A as a separate category from demisexual, I’ve always seen that grey-A characters are under-represented relative to asexual and demisexual characters. And there is one case where I thought that a particular character was grey-A based on how he was written, but the writer claims that he was demisexual.

I cannot know for sure why there are so few grey-A characters relative to asexual and demisexual characters since I am not a mind reader, but I think the reason is the greyness of being grey-A. With asexual and demisexual characters, it is relatively easy to contrast them with allosexual characters to show that they really are not allosexual. But grey-asexuality is too grey for sharp contrasts. It’s harder to demonstrate that a grey-A character is not ‘just’ allosexual or ‘just’ asexual. Continue reading

Why do self-identified progressives/liberals use Uber/Lyft? And am I really any different?

I only need one reason to vote against California’s 2020 Proposition 22: it requires a 7/8 majority in the California legislature to be amended unless it is overridden by another proposition (meaning another expensive campaign – the Yes on 22 campaign, at over $180 million dollars, primarily funded by a few corporations, is already the most expensive campaign for a ballot measure in California history). The original AB5 law had glaring problems, has already been amended by the legislature, and can be amended again. Any law like AB5 or Prop 22 with massively uncertain social and economic effects needs to be open to amendation by the legislature and not require a clunky voter measure to fix. For this reason alone, I urge all California voters to VOTE NO. If you support any clauses in the proposition, it is much better to pester your representatives in the legislature to pass appropriate legislation so that if it backfires and does not work out the way you hope, it can be fixed.

That said, what I really want to talk about how people who claim to be progressive, in favor of fair pay, an equal economic playing field, and rule of law, still choose to patronize Uber/Lyft/etc.

Last year, when I was in Juneau, I needed a few car rides, and I wanted to share them with other people so I could split the fare. I knew, from talking to locals, that there were very few Lyft drivers in Juneau and that they charged even higher fares than the local taxi companies. I passed on this information to other tourists in Juneau, and they still chose Lyft. At first, I could not believe it. Why would anyone choose a more expensive service with less availability? It was only when they tried to get a Lyft and failed because no driver was available that they finally listened to me, called a local taxi company, and were shocked that the local taxi company charged less, even though I had already told them that would be the case. When I asked them why they tried Lyft even after my warning, they said “because it’s convenient.”

And not all tourists heeded me even after they could not get a Lyft ride. Even when they knew they would have to wait more than an hour for a Lyft, they refused to do a price comparison with a local taxi company and preferred to wait for the Lyft rather than get a taxi which would arrive much sooner.

I finally figured out that, by ‘convenient,’ they mean it’s their habit to always choose Lyft, even when someone is telling them they will have to wait longer and pay more. They are not in the habit of dealing with any of the taxi companies in Juneau. There is some psychological benefit that is worth spending more time and money on. Continue reading

How to Get Allos to Read About Ace Issues

Content Warning: F-bombs

A few days ago, Blue Ice-Tea left this comment:

What’s needed is more resources that will give allosexuals a better understanding of asexuality and introduce them to ace 201 issues – but how do you get allosexuals to read them? Do you have any thoughts on how the book could have been made to appeal more to non-ace readers?

I gave a quick answer, but after thinking about it for a while, my answer has changed.

To get allosexuals to read about asexuality and ace 201 issues, we need to poke their pain points. We have to (non-sexually) sleep with them, know what keeps them awake at night, hit them there, and offer a salve (or at least hint at it).

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Quick Impressions of Ace by Angela Chen

I’ve been avoiding reading reviews/commentary on Ace by Angela Chen so that I could write this post with minimal influence by others.

First of all, as someone who has been reading ace blogs for more than ten years (wow, has it been that long?), none of the broad themes in this book are new to me. I did not know most of the specific stories profiled in this book, and it has some angles/nuances which are new to me, but no brand new high-level concepts.

I think, at this point in time, it would be difficult to publish a book about asexuality for a general audience without including a lot of asexuality 101. I appreciate that this book managed to include any asexuality 201, but only the most familiar (to ace bloggers) 201 material. For example, the book references the classic ace blog post “Hermeneutical Injustice in Consent and Asexuality”. That is Asexuality 201, but it’s 201 that is so thoroughly established in the ace blogging canon that it’s not news to anyone who has been around ace blogging for a while.

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I Went Into the Book for Persuasion Advice, and Came Out with the Realization that I’m a Vulnerable Target

Many people want to learn how to persuade others, but few want to admit that they themselves are vulnerable to persuasive techniques and would benefit from countering them.

“Many people” includes me. I picked up Influence by Robert B. Caldini mainly because it appeared on a recommended book list, but also because I would like to improve my ability to persuade others. So I was a bit surprised when I learned that Dr. Cialdini looks at it from the other perspective, that his main focus is learning how to defend oneself from persuasive techniques.

I can admit it freely now. All my life I’ve been a patsy. For as long as I can recall, I’ve been an easy mark for the pitches of peddlers, fund-raisers, and operators of one sort or another…With personally disquieting frequency, I have always found myself in possession of unwanted magazine subscriptions or tickets to the sanitation workers’ ball. Probably this long-standing status as sucker accounts for my interest in the study of compliance: Just what are the factors that cause one person to say yes to another person?

Dr. Cialdini covers six categories of techniques to get “compliance” from others, but they all share a single pattern. We get too much information to process everything. We need psychological shortcuts to make decisions without exceeding our brain’s capacity. The shortcuts which we are accustomed to using will steer us in the right direction most of the time. For example, one of the “compliance” techniques is “social proof” – do the same thing everyone else is doing. If we are uncertain about what we should do, most of the time, doing the same thing which similar people are doing will be much better than doing something random. Reading a #1 New York Times bestseller is almost certainly going to be a better experience than reading a randomly chosen published book. Because these shortcuts are not based on carefully evaluating all available information, they can backfire. Sometimes they backfire by accident, and sometimes someone exploits them for their own gain.

At the end of the book, Dr. Cialdini urges readers to retaliate against anyone who exploits these shortcuts in a dishonest way. He says that, as we are swamped with more and more information, we depend on these mental shortcuts more than in the past. We cannot afford to lose these shortcuts. Therefore, we much punish people who reduce the effectiveness of these mental shortcuts by fraud. For example, if a company advertises a product in a way which suggests it is popular when it is not, in fact, popular, Dr. Cialdini says that he will send a letter to the company saying that he will boycott their products forever and that they should fire their advertising agency. Continue reading