Aro Community, Ace Community

This is a submission to the February 2019 joint Carnival of Aros & Carnival of Aces

Like many (most?) aro aces, I found the ‘ace community’ first, and I discovered the idea of ‘aromanticism’ via the ‘ace community’.

If you want to know what I thought about being aromantic vs. being asexual in the year 2012, I have an old blog post for you. And, aside from being more certain that I am aromantic, my thoughts on this have not changed much since I wrote that post in 2012. In particular, I still think that being aromantic has a greater impact on my personal life than being asexual. Continue reading

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Burning Out as a Critic of Ace Fiction

This is for the December 2018 Carnival of Aces “Burnout”.

As some of you know, I went on a 6-12 month binge on ace fiction / ace fiction reviewing / commenting on ace fiction, and you can find those posts by checking out my ‘asexual fiction’ and ‘ace fiction’ tags (no, I am not good at keeping my tags consistent), and it culminated in me writing a bunch of posts for The Asexual Agenda’s Ace Tropes series.

I never expected to keep that all up indefinitely, in fact I am surprised that I kept that up for as long as I did. Before I did a lot of ace fiction criticism, Ace Reads reviewed a lot of ace fiction books, and I got started around the time Agent Aletha burned out. Now, I’m in a position where I can relate to parts of this post about not reviewing so many ace books anymore. I particular, I really relate to this part: “I haven’t even been reading many ace books because I’m not in the mood for romance stories and that is so much of what’s available”. Continue reading

November 2018 Carnival of Aces Round-up

November 2018 has come to an end, which means it is time to share with the world all of the submissions to November 2018 A Carnival of Aces: The Carnival of Aces. Here they are:

“Demisexual Goes Meta!” – demiandproud analyzes which of her posts get the most clicks, including the effect of Carnival of Aces. This is followed by the sequel: “This Demisexual Forgot to Be Proud”.

“A brief history of A Carnival of Aces” by Siggy is exactly what it says it is.

“I’m Not a Baby Ace Anymore” by Perfect Number is about how she became comfortable IDing as ace, and the role the Carnival of Aces played.

“Advice for Hosting the Carnival of Aces” was written by myself. Irony: after making a big fuss about not missing submissions, I (almost) forgot to put my own submission into this round-up.

“How the Carnival of Aces Helped Shape My Blogging Experience” by Blue Ice-Tea is also exactly what it says it is.

Thanks to all of the contributors!

Now, a few announcements:

1. I will continue to accept submissions for this Carnival until December 5th. These submissions will be added to this round-up post. Perhaps, if you come back to this post in a few days, you’ll find more submissions (or perhaps not).

2. The December 2018 Carnival of Aces will be hosted by Next Step: Cake. Here is the call for submissions.

3. There is still no host lined up for the January March 2019 Carnival of Aces. If you would like to host in January March 2019, you may volunteer here.

I know I have gotten a lot out of the Carnival of Aces over the years, and it has been my pleasure to host this month. May the Carnival of Aces continue for years to come!

Advice for Hosting the Carnival of Aces

This month I’m hosting the Carnival of Aces, which is my third time as a host. I’ve also submitted many blog posts to the carnival and interacted with many hosts. Thus, I think I know a few things about hosting, and have some advice to share.

1. Try to make sure you do not miss submissions. It has happened to me multiple times that I have submitted something to the carnival, and the hosts did not put in the round-up. Sometimes, when I point this out to them, they edit the round-up to put my submission back in, though this often means that not many people will read this submission since it was added after the round-up was posted. Sometimes, even after I contact the host multiple times, they still do not add the submission. This really sucks..

2. Have a draft round-up post ready at the beginning of the month, and add links to it every time you get a submission. This means that submissions are less likely to be omitted from the round-up (see #1). It also spreads out the work over the month so one does not have to write the round-up all at once at the end.

3. Most submissions are probably going to come at the end of the month. This truth has several implications. First of all, even if one follows the advice in #2, one will probably still have to write much of the round-up post at the end of the month. Second, if it’s the middle of the month, and if one has only gotten one submission, that does not necessarily mean that the participation is going to be low – it’s possible that the procrastinators will submit 5 things on the very last day, so keep your hopes up. Finally, this means that it’s a good idea to volunteer to host only if one is confident one will have sufficient spare time / internet access / etc. to manage the round-up at the end of the month (a lack of spare time is not much of a problem in the middle of the month).

4. Respond to submissions as soon as you receive them. For example, if you look at the call for submissions in this month, you will notice that I replied to everyone who made a submission through the comments within two days. This reassures people who have sent submissions that they have been received (in my experience, hosts which have promptly send confirmations have never left my submission out of the round-up post).

5. In the call for submissions, put in something like ‘if I have not confirmed your submission by X time, please re-submit.’ There was one incident in which someone submitted something to me, and I did not receive it. I don’t know what went wrong. Fortunately, a few days later they re-submitted, and the second time I did receive it. If they hadn’t re-submitted, their piece would not have appeared in the round-up. Of course, this advice only works when paired with #4.

6. General themes are more likely to work well, but specific themes can also work very well. One thing which struck me about the December 2013 Call for Submissions was this line “I’ve purposefully chosen a broad theme.” More people are more likely to be inspired to a broad theme, so, in terms of participation rates, it is the safer choice. On the other hand, the carnival which had the highest participation rate was “The Unassailable Asexual” which is a very specific concept. It seems that specific themes work really well when they are something that inspire a strong reaction in most ace people. An example of a very specific theme which had a very low participation rate was Aspergers and Asexuality. Not only was it very specific (which I actually ignored in my submission – I expanded it to all autistic people), it was something which most people in the ace community do not have much to say about. On the other hand, not all broad themes get high turnout either (example: “Pleasure”).

Some specific themes may get a low turnout just because of bad timing – for example, I think “Compulsory Sexuality” would have gotten a lot more submissions if it came out in July 2015 instead of July 2012. Likewise, the theme for next month’s Carnival of Aces (which I know about because, uh, I had to win an epic battle over have email correspondence with Next Step: Cake to figure out who was going to host which month) would have been inappropriate for December 2012, but I think it will work well for December 2018 (and no, I’m not telling you what the theme is because that would be a spoiler).

On the other hand, potential participation is not the only consideration for hosts, and there may be reasons to choose themes which may not have the highest turnout.

7. It is possible to use temporary email addresses to protect one’s email. In the past, I used a temporary email address so I could accept email submissions without making my real email address public. I did not do that this time because I barely won my epic battle with Next Step: Cake I discovered I was going to host the November 2018 carnival at the last minute and I did not want to delay posting the call for submissions any further.

8. But seriously, hosting the Carnival of Aces is not that hard. Personally, I find writing high quality submissions to the carnival to be more of an effort than hosting the carnival. Yes, being the host of a carnival is more of a responsibility, but the time/energy requirement is not particularly high, and it’s largely a matter of putting the round-up post together correctly.

As of the time this post is being published, there is no host yet for the January 2019 Carnival of Aces. If you’re interested in hosting a Carnival of Aces, this is a good time to volunteer.

Anyone else got advice for hosts of the Carnival of Aces?

A Carnival of Aces November 2018: the Carnival of Aces; Call for Submissions

This month I am hosting A Carnival of Aces, the monthly asexuality blog festival.

So, what’s the theme for this month’s Carnival of Aces?

The Carnival of Aces.

I know that this is a Carnival of Aces thing, but what’s the theme?

The Carnival of Aces.

Wait, the Carnival of Aces itself is the theme? Seriously?

Yep.

That is so meta.

It is very meta.

A Carnival of Aces has been running, with one hiatus, since May 2011. That’s quite a bit of history, and A Carnival of Aces has evolved over that time. This seems like a good time to look back, reflect, and then look forward.

Here are some prompts for inspiration:

– How has Carnival of Aces affected your writing?
– How has Carnival of Aces influenced the way you think about asexuality?
– How have the themes changed over time?
– What are other ways Carnival of Aces has changed over time?
– What types of themes do you think work better? What types of themes do you think work less well?
– Is it good to choose themes that (theoretically) any ace could respond to? Is it good to sometimes choose themes which focus on a specific group of aces, even if that means some aces will not be able to respond, in order to give that specific group more space?
– What ways has the Carnival of Aces ever disappointed you?
– What role does the Carnival of Aces play in the ace blogging community? In the online ace community? In the entire ace community?
– What is the experience of hosting Carnival of Aces like?
– What advice would you give prospective hosts of Carnival of Aces?
– Are there any changes you think may improve Carnival of Aces?
– What is it like to binge-read previous Carnival of Aces?

It is okay to submit something which is not a specific response to the above prompts, as long as it is about A Carnival of Aces.

You keep on switching between ‘A Carnival of Aces’, ‘The Carnival of Aces’, and ‘Carnival of Aces’. What’s up with that?

Maybe I don’t feel like being consistent.

How can we submit?

– Leave a comment here with a link
– I do not want to make my personal email public, but since I am now a contributor to the Asexual Agenda, submissions sent to the Asexual Agenda email address will reach me.
– I can host guest submissions on this blog.
– If I do not respond within 3 days, assume I did not get the submission, and re-submit.
– I will put out the round-up post on December 1st. I will continue to accept submissions until December 5th, and add them to the round-up post retroactively.

I look forward to your submissions!

UPDATE: Here is the round-up post.

My Slowly Increasing Seniority in the Ace Community

This is a submission to the July 2018 Carvnival of Aces “Then and Now”.

It’s the kind of change which can really creep up on someone, but looking back, I feel the effects of my increasing seniority in the ace community.

First, an analogy to something more concrete.

I attended a small high school. That meant there was a lot of interaction between all grade levels – freshman (first year), sophomore (second year), junior (third year), and senior (fourth year). Often different grade levels would be mixed into the same classes – for example, since there was only a single physics class offered during my junior year, it was open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and we were all in the same physics class (it was not open to freshmen because students had to request to be put into the physics, and practically none of the incoming freshmen even understood how the classes at my high school were organized, let alone consider putting in a request to be placed in that rare physics class). Though it was uncommon, there were occasionally classes which were all four years mixed together.

The fact that there was so much mixing of grade levels meant that people of different grade levels had a lot of social interaction with each other, and thus one’s grade level was socially important. Everything else being equal, the higher one’s grade level, the higher one’s social rank. It was rare that students in the higher years would pick on the students in the lower years – that was Very Uncool (and on the rare occasions when outright bullying of students in lower years happened, the school administration would land on the bullies like a ton of bricks). It was more of a frame of mind thing than anything explicitly enforced.

Mostly, freshmen were new to high school and insecure in their position relative to their peers and the school in general. Seniors had generally figured out their place in high school, understood the school very well, and they were going to leave soon anyway so they cared less about trivial social matters, and from the outside this looked a lot like that the seniors were confident and had their shit together. As a freshman, I looked up to the seniors as the Awesome Beings Who Were Really Capable. When I became a senior myself, I was far from being an Awesome Being Who Was Really Capable, but I could fake it, at least in front of freshmen. Sophomores and juniors were in between the extremes of ‘freshman’ and ‘senior’.

One of the most memorable moments of my high school years was when I was a junior, and I was dealing with a freshman just a few weeks after the beginning of the school year. I could see how vulnerable he was, and how he looked up to me as a sparkly idol of how to be a high school student. I recognized that feeling because I had felt the same way towards juniors and seniors when I was a very fresh freshman, and I also felt at that moment that I was unworthy of being his sparkly idol, that I was merely a teenager who was slightly less confused than him. And that was also the moment I realized that the juniors and seniors who had gone before me were not actually sparkly idols, but teenagers who had been slightly less confused than me. It was as if someone had ripped a veil off my face and I found myself staring into a mirror.

The ace community is not organized on lines anywhere nearly as clear-cut as high school. We do not divide ourselves into ‘people who have identified as ace for less than a year’ ‘people who have identified as as for two years’ ‘people who have identified as ace for seven years’ etc. At ace meetings, I won’t say ‘hey, are you a fourth-year ace?’ However, I feel that the ace community also has a dynamic where one’s seniority within the ace community – i.e. how long one has considered oneself to be a member of the ace community – affects how we relate to each other.

Once upon a time, I was a baby ace. I was insecure and vulnerable in my ace identity. All of my interaction with the ace community was strictly passive. I think there were both advantages and disadvantages to not having active interactions with the ace community at that time. A lot of that passive interaction was reading blogs (and if you’re curious what blogs those were, this post gives you a good idea). Back then, the options for interacting with the ace community were much more limited than they are now (it was basically AVEN with a few very, very small groups on the side), but the main reason I kept my distance was a lack of confidence.

Then, I had my moment of sophomore arrogance. I had settled just enough into my ace identity that I felt I could stand up for myself – which meant that I went to the other extreme for a little bit, and thought I could SHOW THEM ALL with my ace brilliance, like a sophomore drunk on the power that comes with being a returning student instead of an incoming student (except the transfers – since I wasn’t a transfer, I won’t speak to that). I briefly had the ambition of not just starting an ace blog, but starting THE BEST ACE BLOG EVARRRRRRR!!!!! Fortunately, this moment of sophomore arrogrance passed quickly, because that would have been a recipe for burnout. It did push me to finally start this blog, which I deliberately made a low-key endeavour, even if that meant it would not turn into the best ace blog ever, so that I could keep it running for the long haul (and also, this has always been more of a ‘I want to write about this now’ blog than an ace blog, which is a large part of why I don’t burn out).

In the beginning, this blog was very obscure, and I was fine with that. It was only once I started participating in the Carnival of Aces – this very carnival I am submitting this post to – that this became noticed by the ace blogging community at large (yes, I know a few of you found this blog before that, and I appreciate you).

In the process of participating in the ace blogging community, I learned a LOT about asexuality as well as various other topics, and as I learned more, and became a little better known, I became even more confident, not strictly in my own personal identity, but also with my standing as a community member.

After I moved back to the United States, I also started participating in the ace community offline. By now, I’ve been going to local ace meetups for years.

There are two curious things I notice at this point in time.

To the extent I have status/rank/prestige in the ace blogging community, I believe it has more to do with the fact that I’ve been at this a long time than the quality of my posts. If you were to compare, say, my 5 best ace blog posts, and compare them to the 5 best ace blog posts of quite a few other ace bloggers past and present, my posts would look less impressive. But the quality of my posts is high enough to interest enough people, and I have been going at this for more than half a decade, and I don’t burn out (well, I sometimes get tired of writing about asexuality for a while, but then I write about something else, and then I get back to writing about asexuality) and I think that counts for a lot. All a high school freshman has to do to become a senior is pass the required classes and spend three years in high school.

The other curious thing is that, at offline meetups, I am often in the top fifth when it comes to people who have identified as ace the longest. I described in this post a bit of how I have become more secure as an ace over time. I feel that one of the disadvantages of that is that I am forgetting a bit of what it is like to be a ‘baby ace’ and I that I sometimes fail to show them enough consideration. There have been a few times in the past year when I have interacted with someone who has only recently been identifying as ace, and when I look back at those interactions in hindsight, I wish I had acted with a bit more sensitivity. This is a relatively new concern for me, and one I only became aware of once I started perceiving myself as someone who has been in the ace community longer than most members (though of course there are still many who have been participating in the ace community longer than I have).

I do not think seniority was nearly as big of a deal in the ace community ten years ago since back then there was hardly anybody who had been participating in the ace community more than a few years, if even that long. As the ace community continues to go one, I expect there will be more diversity in terms of how long someone has been in the community, and I expect the seniority dynamics will become more complex.

Identity? What’s That?

This is a submission to the January 2018 Carnival of Aces.

If one is going to distinguish between ‘labels’ and ‘identity’ rather than conflate them, then I have this to say – I find labels a heck of a lot more useful than ‘identity’. Whatever that is.

Yes, I know, I sometimes speak of myself as ‘identifying as asexual’ or something along those lines. When I say that, I mean ‘self-label as asexual’.

Labels are communication tools. They are imperfect, but they also work, at least sometimes. When I ‘identify as’ something, or rather ‘self-label’ as something, I’m trying to communicate a message of some kind.

Alternatively, labels can also be useful as analytical tools, such as trying to understand other people’s behavior. I have found putting some people in the ‘allosexual’ category and some people in the ‘asexual’ category very useful.

Independent of an intention to communicate something, or to interpret other people’s behavior, I’m not sure I identify as anything beyond ‘I am what I am’.

Recently, I’ve come to think that this might be a reflection of my own personality.

I’ve recently taken a couple of online gender tests, such as this one. On both tests I got similar results – I am ‘undifferentiated’ and have low levels of both masculinity and femininity (if I had high levels of both masculinity and femininity I would be ‘androgynous’). I suspect these tests may not be compatible with my personality because of the way they are set up. For example, in the test I linked, one has the options of agreeing/disagreeing on a scale of five (with the center being neither agreeing nor disagreeing). Guess what? On most of the ‘questions’ I picked the center option. For example, one question asks whether I’m ‘likeable’? Ummm, how would I know that? That’s something other people know about me, not necessarily something I know about myself. I answered ‘neither agree or disagree’ but if there had been an option ‘wtf is this question?’ I would have selected that instead.

On the other hand, maybe these gender tests are spot on in measuring me. Maybe I have a more pronounced tendency toward not defining myself than most people. Maybe that even extends to my gender. Yes, I identify as ‘female’, but why? It is just because everyone tells me I’m female, and I don’t have a problem with that because my ‘true’ gender is undifferentiated, and I’m so used to it that it jars me whenever someone marks me as male. Or do I have some innate sense of femaleness that would exist independently of other people’s evaluations? I don’t know, and honestly, I don’t care much because either way it would not make much difference in my life.

When I share travel photos with other people, one of the most common questions I get are ‘why aren’t there any pictures of you?’ (I rarely take photos of myself while travelling, and when I do, it’s sometimes just to please my family). Though I don’t say this aloud (or at least I don’t phrase it this way), my thoughts are ‘if you want to see me, I’m right here, but this waterfall isn’t here, so look at my photo.’

Waterfall on Delate Creek in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Central Washington

Some people say they take selfies because they want to ‘prove’ they were in a place. I’m generally uninterested in proving that I was in a particular place (though on the rare occasion I take photos of myself while travelling, it tends to be in places like the USA/Canada border, so maybe I do have a small ‘I was here’ impulse). For me, travel is about experiencing a place, not experiencing ~myself~ in a place. It’s about the waterfall, not me.

Anyway, how does this relate to asexuality?

Asexuality is relevant to me primarily in how it affects how I relate people, whether in direct interaction, or indirect interactions such as reading a book written by another person. When I’m in a cabin at least 10 miles away from the nearest human being, and I have no means of communicating with another human being (let’s say that remote cabin has no cell phone service and I didn’t bring any books with me) asexuality is not relevant to me. It’s still part of who I am, but in the absence of other people, I feel no need to differentiate my (a)sexuality from the general amorphous mass of ‘I am what I am’.

So, yeah. I am what I am. Which happens to be ace.