the drive to rewrite queer history purged of sexuality (as if the dominant culture then and now hasn’t done a good enough job of it) led by s.e. smith and tumblr ace teenagers is homophobic as all hell.
Do you think that it is possible to incorporate asexuality into queer history without effectively undoing its work? What about incorporating asexuality into literary theory? What would that even look like?
i think it’s kind of difficult to give a straightforward answer to this question unless one has at least theoretically accepted their conceptual framework for what asexuality even is as well as their reductive definition of “sexual attraction” - and i haven’t and likely won’t ever.
but basically, if there is no material evidence of an asexual history, why should actually oppressed sexual and gender minorities have to sacrifice our own? and if you look at something like boston marriage and seek to magnify the possibility that a significant number of them were not sexual relationships, what is that if not employing dominant heterosexist ideology? they really can’t expect us to believe that isn’t homophobic.
queer history is a history of resistance and necessity - it exists because people needed and found each other and built little worlds together and had to fight with institutions like the police and psychiatry to protect that. there is no asexual history to speak of because it is largely a dull, individual, internal phenomenon that basically no one cares about except maybe your parents and jerkoff classmates. it’s very unlikely that the hypothetical historical asexual person was risking death or imprisonment for not having sex with their zucchini, and there have always been socially acceptable life paths that would be more or less conducive to someone with a lack of sexual attraction - compulsory sexuality has always been about patriarchy, not “acephobia” (and not something i can take seriously when it comes to men). someone with primary attraction to someone of their same gender or with the inclination to live in a differently gendered space than the one to which they were assigned have been and are fundamentally different social/material realities than asexuality now and hypothetically then. but of course the parameters of asexual identity didn’t exist until Web 1.0 and they’ve gotten increasingly broad and incoherent since then, so that’s an issue too.
Is this a fair summary of your argument?
“No, because asexuals, if such an identity is even conceptually valid, aren’t oppressed and therefore shouldn’t be undermining a form of resistance for people who are actually oppressed specifically for their sexual orientation (especially given that asexuals don’t even really need it in the first place).”
I reaaaally don’t buy the idea that asexuality is fundamentally not conceptually valid (just because it’s difficult to prove a null result does not mean that they can’t be meaningful). I mean, I’ve read many of your criticisms about the way asexual identities are constructed, and I think a lot of them make sense, but I don’t make that leap.
As for the rest, I’m agnostic on the question of asexual oppression, but if I were to take the position that it is not (or that it is some grey area in-between), I would agree with your argument.
(Regardless, I expect I’ll be waiting to write an asexual exegesis of “The Beast in the Jungle” for some time yet.)
Can I remind peeps that the way to liberate your history is not by repressing someone else’s.
As far as I am aware “tumblr ace teenagers” are not doing jack shit to erase gay history.
And I say this as someone who wants desperately to go into gender and sexuality prehistory research. As someone who wants to research this stuff for the rest of eius life.
Can we note that in large swaths of history, women could be divorced, disowned, or even killed for refusing to marry or failing to sire a heir. Can we note that in huge swaths of history consummation of marriage was a LEGAL NECESSITY. Oh, yeah, just completely ignoring that riiiite because the mean horrible asexuals are oppressing the poor innocent gays??
Asexuals deserve a history too. As do trans*folk. Who you, OP, completely ignore in your original statement.
This is just perpetuation of the homosexual superiority complex within the QUEER rights movement. No one is denying gay people their own history. But aces and trans*folk and all other members of the rainbow spectrum deserve, and should expect, their history as well.
“Can we note that in large swaths of history, women could be divorced, disowned, or even killed for refusing to marry or failing to sire a heir. Can we note that in huge swaths of history consummation of marriage was a LEGAL NECESSITY.”
Why does this have to be given a history of asexual oppression or mean that these women were asexual?
This is patriarchy and what we now call rape culture, and possibly what we would now call homophobia against lesbians. Also most women have always needed to support themselves and a good way of doing that would be through marriage (some would be loveless) and which would require (sometimes forced) consummation—again see patriarchy. The word consummation is totally creepy by the way. And I also think of slaves who had no choice over how their bodies were objectified sexually for the most part. That doesn’t necessarily equate to the women being asexual or to an asexual oppression…unless you define not wanting to have sex every single time or with a certain person or not wanting to get married or to have children as asexuality? That’s pretty broad.
The assertion that A) a woman must be asexual to be traumatized by being forced to have sex against her will or B) being forced to have sex/bear children against one’s will is less traumatic if one also enjoys consensual sex is a revolting opinion completely in line with the messages of rape culture, and it baffles me that anyone thinks it’s a good argument or has something to do with a nonexistent persecution of asexuality (especially since historically, the easiest way for a women to avoid this situation was to take up a path that required lifelong celibacy).
Why am I sick again????!?!?!??