After class today I stole a few minutes with 2 students to try and better answer their questions or address their comments from yesterday, with varying success in both cases.
In the 2nd case (which, yes, I’m addressing first) I was talking to the student who had a problem with the use of “asexual” as it relates to sexual orientation. I’m not sure how I feel about how it went, actually. I tried to focus on that, even though “asexual” still has other, valid meanings in different contexts that I’m trying to make clear it’s use in this specific context. She seemed to focus more on her perception that I hadn’t validated her view that “asexual” has other meanings in other contexts…. like I said, I’m still processing this particular conversation. There’s a very fine line between conversations that are going so well that people are interjecting in a way that is productive and conversations where there is miscommunication and interjecting is detrimental to being able to understand what the other person is trying to say. I think she and I may have both interjected to the detriment of the conversation. On the plus side I think this had a lot to do with being under a time constraint (the building was closing) , so I don’t think it went well necessarily but I think the conversation had a lot working against it.
The first conversation had an “o.O” moment that was a little bit funny. So, as part of my effort to help convince my classmates that, as sexologists, they may well encounter people who identify as asexual I have stressed that orientation and behavior are different, so some asexuals may have had sex or may be sexually active with themselves or with a partner but that does not exclude a person from identifying as asexual. It doesn’t necessarily help that I’m also poly and kinky and these various aspects of my relationship-styles does come up in conversation and sometimes that can be confused with my identity as ace. So while I was talking with this one particular student who had asked a question the day before that I didn’t really get the chance to address (I’m pretty sure she asked if asexuality was similar to a low desire disorder but she said that isn’t what she asked- but like I said, I was getting hit with a lot of questions faster than I could switch gears between answering them so maybe I misheard her, sure). Towards the beginning she said that she understood that I was my own primary partner and thought that had to do with being ace (I can write about this separately but she was referring to a disclosure I made in a discussion group that my current partner is someone I consider a “secondary partner”- I’m not their primary partner and they aren’t at “primary partner” level for me. Currently I am my own primary partner- I answer to myself, I am responsible for making sure my needs are met, etc- and this is all true when I have a primary partner, too but people seemed to have a hard time grasping that I could have a secondary partner without a primary partner and that was the best way I could explain it.). Anyway, the person with whom I was talking seemed to think that me being my own primary partner at the moment had to do with being ace… and then at some point she asked if what made me asexual was that I had no preference between who I had sex with…. which was a bit of a face palm moment.
One thing that’s very difficult is that I have discussion groups and classes with different people and so different people catch different snippets of information about my relationships and personal life and sometimes I think people get an unintended mix of information, from which they (not unreasonably) draw totally unanticipated conclusions.
I think I’m going to need to come up with a written statement about my sexuality and relationship styles and preferences and compare and contrast the ways that those aspects may manifest themselves in others who identify as asexual as well. There’s a lot of self-disclosure in these classes and discussion groups and it’s impossible for me to preface every statement with a clarification about how what I’m saying may or may not be true for all asexuals (or poly people or kinky people) so something new that’s written is definitely in order. …on that note I just looked at my calendar and I have 10 hours of classes tomorrow, and on Wednesday 8 hours of class, a meeting, and then maybe also plans in the evening… so maybe I’ll get around to writing something Thursday or Friday depending on homework.
Very much looking forward to the screening of (A)sexual on Saturday!! If you’re in San Fran you should absolutely be there (all the cool kids will be… just sayin’).