So today I had a “Research Design and Implementation” class which was fantastic and gave me lots to think about when it comes to my official academic research (which I’m not currently conducting. I’m still writing the report on the BRP).
In addition to getting lots of new ideas about research methods I also burst into tears. Crying in class is not actually that uncommon in my graduate program, but apparently I am the first person to ever cry during this class… you know me, always the trendsetter.
Anyway, we were all going around the room, each of us saying what it was that we want to research- even if we only had a vague idea. I said I wanted to write something that would help get more information and recognition of asexuality out there, particularly in the helping professions (doctors, nurses, teachers, sex educators, therapists, counselors, etc etc etc). As always lots of people had questions and I got interrupted about half a dozen times before I was accused of having avoided one of the questions that the teacher asked (which was very frustrating, I was answering the questions as quickly as I could, geesh). Anyway, eventually the questions changed from “what does the word asexual mean to you?” (from the professor) and “isn’t that the same thing as low desire?” (from a classmate) to “why is this important to you?” (from a classmate) and (basically) “why are you just trying to stir things up when you could just go with a different word, why is that word so important?” (from the professor).
I didn’t even really get through answering the professor’s question because I kept getting cut off but I started crying answering my classmates question about why this has become so important to me. Every month I hear really powerful stories from people who are gracious enough to share with me their experiences via my monthly surveys. In general the people who take my surveys have both a great sense of humor and heart breaking stories which, month after month remind me why it’s important for me to be listening to what you have to say and, more importantly, sharing it in a way that creates a meaningful ace-experience narrative. That’s kind of a lofty goal, but I’ll work on it.
I got in late tonight but my intention is to update the tumblr tomorrow, so keep an eye out for that.
Also, I’d welcome some input on the following conversation:
So, after class a classmate came over and said that she has a problem with the use of the word “asexual” unless it is used by someone who means to say that they have no sexuality at all (and I know some of you identify that way). I tried to explain that it fits the X-Sexual model for labeling sexual orientations (and orientation does not limit anything else about the person- ie behavior, libido, etc). My classmate said we “can’t just use a term that exists in other contexts and reappropriate it” or something like that. Neither of us was budging on the issue and I’ve been trying to think of a good analogy.
My first attempt at an analogy that might make sense to her, as someone who’s studying sexuality would be to imagine her in a gay bar, being shown around by someone from the gay community, and when her host points out a big hairy gay man and tells her that the word for a guy like him is “bear” that she gets a very serious look on her face and explains to her host that the man in question cannot be a “bear” because the word “bear” is already used to refer to animals who live in the forest, have claws, and eat honey (I’m pretty sure real bears eat honey but I guess I’m basing that largely on Whinny the Pooh, now that I think about it…).
In some ways I think this trivializes the term “asexual” as an orientation because, of course, bears (from the gay community) are not trying to be recognized, necessarily, by the outside community where as the asexual community would like to be recognized by people other than the asexual community. But I also think it’s similar because when words are used in practice differently than they perhaps should be, in theory, then that’s an important concept to grasp- especially if it’s relevant to your studies (and if you’re studying human sexuality then asexuality is relevant).
Oh, and regarding the class for which I read the workbook which had the “bisexuality” chapter that I excerpted in my last post: This class probably deserves it’s own post… I will just say here that, generally speaking the professor defended the workbook as something that could and should still be used when working with groups and insisted that people just needed to type up their own amendments to the sections to distribute with the workbook that would solve the problems in the book. I’m glad to report that most of the students in the class insisted that they would be ashamed to use the workbook and would need to start entirely from scratch and that the workbooks main benefit would be as a guide for ways to organize the workshop.