And usually that's because they're full of the worst side of humanity. People, semi-anonymously, feel justified in sharing unpopular viewpoints that might get them shunned or slapped in person, and they use article comments to ramble about how this completely non-political thing is a sign that Obama is a Socialist Muslim from Kenya or whatever. If you want to be thoroughly depressed, read the comments.
However, that's not why I read them. I read them precisely because people ARE saying things they often won't say to your face, and they represent the underlying thoughts of real (though ignorant) people all over the world. I like knowing what those thoughts are. It helps me learn to be a better activist.
The front page: Asexuality: The 'X' In A Sexual World
The individual articles in the series:
- Part One: What Is Asexuality?
- Part Two: Is Asexuality A Disorder?
- Part Three: Asexual Relationships, Masturbation And Romance In The Ace Community
- Part Four: Battling Asexual Discrimination, Sexual Violence And 'Corrective' Rape
- Part Five: LGBT, Asexual Communities Clash Over Ace Inclusion
- Part Six: Asexual Community Leaders Look Toward The Future
- Other asexual people delighted and surprised at the unusual depth, accuracy, and sensitive handling of the material.
- People who had heard nothing or little about asexuality before and were excited by the material or appreciated learning about it.
- Ignorant people who primarily asked questions the articles had answered, said offensive things unknowingly (and defended them when corrected), or made dismissive jokes about asexual people.
- Very scary people who targeted individuals (including me) and trolled aggressively (though it was unclear if they were actually disgustingly hateful or whether they were just trying to get a reaction).
(Slight content warning: About to discuss sexual assault.)
|Me when I was in college|
(This guy later kept contacting me, told me he'd thought we were going to have sex that night, told me he could tell I wanted it and that was why he made the move, and explained that I was "in denial," which he could tell because he had taken psychology classes in high school. My words did not matter, he patiently explained; sexual attraction is a VIBE he could SENSE coming from me, and he knew I had never had anyone in my life who could really show me what it was all about . . . until him. Yeah, I laughed a lot and blocked him from contacting me. No thank you, extremely rapey guy.)
So. Point being? My worst commenter decided to reframe what I'd said as if I'm trying to suggest that kissing is sexual assault now.
Ignoring, of course, the part where I SAID NO and the man still felt it was okay to put his tongue and mouth on my face.
Our conversation (so I don't have to paraphrase for you):
Him:Someone jumped in and defended me to this guy, explaining what the article said and demanding to know how the hell he sees consensual relations described, and he came back with this:
Kissing is now sexual assault. Consider the bar officially lowered. Hell, let charge every nervous high school kid trying to get his or her first kiss to jail for sexual assault. Awesome.
Excuse me? Someone leaning over and licking my face after I said no is assault. Pretty disgusting that you're trying to act like the real problem here is me overreacting, not him putting his tongue on a girl after she emphatically, verbally expressed that she did not want to kiss.
Him:He didn't respond to that. He just started a new thread specifically mentioning me by name and claiming that I am not attracted to men or women but only to GETTING ATTENTION. (The same person who'd defended me above said "If anyone's looking for attention here, it's you, my friend.") He continued to post on the articles about how asexuality is made up and is nothing but a disorder.
I think she's exhajerating and borderline lieing in order to make her point. How would you feel if your rejected kiss was labled as "sexually assault" by someone?
I guess I'm guilty of sexual assault. I guess my previous girlfriends and boyfriend are guilty of sexual assault. I guess my mom is guilty of sexual assault.
And I bet you are guilty of sexual assault.
Oh, okay, I'm lying and exaggerating. You are AGAIN misrepresenting what happened to me as "just a rejected kiss." Do you not understand that this is what happened (and this is what is described in the article as happening)?
1. I had a conversation with the guy during the night about my asexuality, so he knew.
2. He still tried to kiss me. I said no.
3. After I said no to the kiss, he deliberately ignored my "no" and put his mouth on my face and began licking.
4. When I left immediately, he called after me "I just want to help you!"
Does that sound like "a rejected kiss" to you? Does that sound like he is the victim and I am the aggressor? Does that sound like I'm trying to get sympathy for something that wasn't bad at all?
Especially considering that this man followed up this encounter by sending me messages about how he knew I wanted it, I think it's pretty clear I'm not making things up. But here you're sympathizing with a dude who licks people after they said "no, I don't want to kiss you." That's nasty.
"Does that sound like I'm trying to get sympathy for something that wasn't bad at all?"
Yes, it does. You are a drama queen. Get over yourself.
Better a drama queen than a rape apologist.
Why didn't you lean away?
Sounds like you are making this whole thing up. What's his name? Let's get him on the record.
REALLY? It's "why didn't you avoid unwanted touching" rather than "he shouldn't have touched you when you didn't want him to"?
REALLY? It's "you have to prove that it happened before I even consider that it might have (and disrespect you in the meantime regardless)" rather than "whether a particular incident happened is irrelevant because we live in a culture that condones this?" (While you're condoning this?)
REALLY? It's "let's badger the person who experienced unwanted LICKING ON HER FACE after she verbally asked not to be touched and try to make her feel like it was her fault" rather than "let's acknowledge that people shouldn't touch each other without permission and ESPECIALLY not touch each other when the other person already said no"?
His name was Ken Mayor and the incident happened in Gainesville Florida in the late 1990s. It's been public for years. I recorded the IM conversation we had after the fact and it is posted on my website. I also read it in a YouTube video. But you'll continue to not accept that any of this helps my case because you have already said you believe I'm a liar, so what's to stop me from making up a name and creating the entire conversation out of a desperate need for attention and a desire to be special and seem coveted?
You're nothing new to me. You're just another rape culture apologist dismissing evidence as lies.
I must say it was very peculiar seeing those comments amidst other commenters saying "I don't understand why you need awareness over this. No one is persecuting you. No one is hurting you. No one CARES if you want sex. It just isn't anyone's business. Why are you wasting everyone's time and attention talking about something soooooo useless?"
With people like that guy in the world--along with others who kept saying we need doctors to check our hormones, need to accept that we're gay, just need to find "the right person," need to stop being so afraid of sex, must be psychologically damaged or abused as children, are all actually autistic, don't deserve to be in relationships because being in a relationship means you owe your partner sex, and any number of invalidating statements claiming we "can't" be asexual if blah blah blah--yes, we need awareness over this.
Especially since anonymous comments on news articles is far from the only place I have encountered these attitudes. (Start with the guy who tried to fix me by licking me, right?) People demonstrate these attitudes to my face, and they're not significantly less hostile when they do it in person. When the semi-anonymous opinions are nearly identical to things people are willing to say to me while looking into my eyes, there's a problem. That problem is that they don't even feel they NEED to hide behind anonymous comment sections to say these things. They're completely unashamed of informing me with no qualms that I am not qualified to describe my experience and that they are now going to explain what's wrong with me.
Let's hope my book gets picked up good and soon. I'm definitely on board trying to help get to the point where these ignorant and violent attitudes will be so unpopular that people who want to hurt us usually won't risk it.