Tuesday, September 30, 2014


So I've been fortunate enough to receive primarily good reviews on my book. Even the ones with critical aspects respectfully deconstructed what they'd wished I'd approached more thoroughly or from a different angle, and honestly I would have been disappointed if every review was uniformly glowing. However, while I have yet to receive what I'd consider a "bad review," what I have received a lot of are personal attacks. Hundreds and hundreds of them.

Has to do with my subject matter, ya know.

They're all pretty easy to ignore and only exist on a small scale (relatively); most of them are in the form of comments on articles that I have to deliberately expose myself to if I want to see them. The comments on the New York Times article, the Salon article, and the various Facebook groups that have posted my links are overrun with guffawing, mocking, and occasionally calls for violence upon my person (usually in the form of sexual assault, which will "fix" me). Amongst all of these, I'm also seeing people snottily stating that they don't see why awareness about this is important, because nobody attacks asexuality. Nobody has a problem with it, after all. Except for the people all around you in the comments. People who live their daily lives interacting with asexual people and exposing them to said attitudes.

[Trigger/content warning for some extremely horrible attitudes, including sexual assault language and extreme vulgarity.]

The comments are the usual. I'm clearly too young to have matured into my sexual identity yet. I'm clearly too old to care about sex anymore. I'm a bitter woman who hates men. I'm a lesbian and ashamed of myself. I'm hormonally imbalanced. I have a mental illness. I am doing this for attention. It is incomprehensible why I would say anything because asexuality is just nothing. I am shoving PC agendas into their faces. I am claiming oppression. I am lying about my experience. I am begging for validation from men. I live an empty life. I was selfish to date anyone when I was a teenager if I wasn't willing to give them sex. I'm making people think it's okay to have a relationship that doesn't include sex. I'm out to make money by lying to people. I have no right to talk about this if I'm not a scientist. I should subject myself to scientific experiments, psychological inquiry, medical intervention, and as many interpersonal sexual interactions as I can to try to make myself stop being asexual, but that will only be good enough for a few months, and then I need to try it again. I shouldn't be wasting people's time on Serious Websites like YouTube with my videos that no one cares about, and there are Real Issues whose limelight I am stealing by participating in stories about this topic. I should get married anyway because that's what women are for, and I shouldn't complain about it if my husband wants to have sex because husbands do things they don't want to do all the time, like watching  FEMALES' stupid romance movies and taking out the trash.

They're the same old song, sung by people with no sense of pitch. I'm used to hearing their tone-deaf wails about how my life is paradoxically so important to them that they demand it be interfered with and so irrelevant to them that they don't want to look at it. It's the background noise of my life, so seeing this sort of thing popping up in comments on articles about me and on my YouTube isn't anything new or anything devastating.

But then there are the people who are going out of their way to mock me and harass me, and that is a bit more puzzling. I didn't have to have a book out for this to happen, of course, because it's been happening for years, but now they're linking to my book some of the time they're doing it, and that opens the doors for trolls to have a field day. It's only a matter of time until someone decides it's not enough to make a blog entry about my ridiculousness or call me names on Twitter. I kind of expect some kind of semi-organized attack on my professional life sooner or later. I know these people. They've been trying to silence me for years.

One person has created a Goodreads account specifically to add my book to their list and give it a one-star rating. No review as such--just a silly drive-by kick in the butt. It's probably someone who encountered my material somewhere else and was offended that I was talking about my experience. THIS ONE-STAR RATING WILL TOTALLY SHUT HER UP. Yep.

I got a miniature expedition of YouTube trolls who showed up on my videos yesterday and the day before just to downvote a bunch of my work and laugh at asexual people for being "SJWs" and "fucking weirdos" and "Tumblr kids" and "speshul snowflakes." A couple of them went on tirades, posting multiple comments long after I banned them from the channel (I still get the notifications), sneering about how I'm making an identity out of my psychological problems and am obviously autistic and refusing to admit it and whatnot (which is a nice little slice of both asexual erasure and mental illness/autism shaming). 'Kay.

I had one woman e-mail me repeatedly to tell me that I need to see a psychologist (specifically, a "psychodynamic psychotherapist"), because "it's not normal to not have sexual feelings," and when I told her that actually asexuality is mentioned in the "bible" the psychologists use to diagnose and it is explicitly stated to not be a disorder, she announced that the APA has been infiltrated by "loony leftists" with an agenda (which I guess is what you see if you prefer to see psychiatry as the practice of weaponizing diagnosis instead of acknowledging people's subjective, authentic experience of themselves). She then followed up with more private e-mails about how my life will be "heartache" and how the human capacity for self-delusion is monumental. Good of her to let me know that only she, not I, gets to determine what's pathological. So what's that, again? I need to go see a mental health practitioner to fix me, but if they agree with me that I'm not broken, they're not trustworthy anymore? Nice little Catch-22 there. I found out this woman makes a habit of e-mailing people all over the LGBT spectrum advocating conversion therapy and screaming at people about how "the truth" will be revealed. Nice to know I'm on her list.

I had one person write a blog entry about me scolding me for considering "not having sex" to be "an identity." After she flails for a while about how "failing to develop a part of your personality" can obviously become permanent, it's still NOT AN IDENTITY DAMMIT because what if you DO have sex and then you CHANGE? Then it's not AN IDENTITY now IS IT? Le sigh. Not having sex isn't what makes you asexual, any more than someone only becomes heterosexual through straight sex. Most people who are heterosexual do consider their orientation to be a part of their identity. We're not different. We're not a blank space. We ARE actually talking about a part of our identity, not just something we don't do. Cue all the sneering about how IF I DON'T SURF, DO I *IDENTIFY* AS A *NON-SURFER*?????? Guys, throughout my life people have been telling me how alien and weird and baffling it is to try to imagine someone who doesn't experience sexual attraction. They clearly consider it a major part of themselves. People regularly tell us they can't even get their heads around how it's possible to be asexual, and here we also have people saying there's no identity aspect to it at all, huh? Anyway, she spends the rest of the blog entry declaring that she has "no sympathy" for me and how it's painfully clear I'm lying to myself. Goodie.

Some pickup artists posted my Salon article not once but twice, including my picture:

And then ensuing discussion centered on how ugly and undesirable I am--they declared me a 3.5 on their all-important 10-point scale, discussing how hilarious it is for a woman to pretend she doesn't want sex when really my problem is that my sexual market value has taken a nosedive due to passing age 29--which, if you don't know pickup artist lingo, means that women are only attractive until they hit 30, after which they suddenly expire and fall into despair if they are still single because they've realized they no longer have any sexual power, and they're used to lording their power over poor susceptible men. My asexuality, they opine, is a face-saving gesture as I scramble to be relevant and worth anything at all, though those Smart Men in the pickup artist community know the truth--I am ugly, unsexable, worthless, and unwanted, so I pretend I don't want them first. This is a strange sort of projection, I think. Men who are on a forum to learn tricks for making women sleep with them are bleating about how I can't possibly be getting any sex offers at all, as if their penises are magic wands that can sense when a woman is "expired" and know not to hit on her. It's astounding, the lengths they go to to feel they're superior to women who don't want them in bed.

I received this beautiful message in my e-mail from a guy with a racial slur as his username:

wow, hundreds of fucking videos about your asexuality. Is that your whole life? Your whole life revolves about your untouched vag and how much of a prize it is. No one is seriously messaging you wanting to date. Maybe unless they are that desperate. Half of these so called "letters" have to be your own delusions. No ones cares about you or your dried up snatch. You look like a Woodstock reject. You're not a real author or a spokes person, just someone with no life that found a stupid title to latch onto. Get over yourself and get a real hobby. 

For the record, I don't even have ONE hundred videos, and not all of my videos are about asexuality, but when someone's out to invalidate me and shame me, I guess it doesn't really matter what the actual truth is. I do find this pretty hilarious though, because even though it's clear from my material that I am not interested in having sex and do not have any of my self-worth wrapped up in my ability to achieve sexual success, he's STILL trying to use the only weapon he knows about to demean me. LOL can't get laid, LOL nobody wants you, LOL you're a joke. Calm down, little boy. Not to mention how absurd it is to look at a person's theme channel and claim it's their "whole life" based on that. Dude. I make one new video A MONTH. But I guess if we can assume that the content we happen to personally come in contact with on YouTube is representative of one's whole life, I can conclude that racial-slur-name guy above has nothing at all in his life except sending filthy private messages to people because it makes him feel less insecure. What a life, buddy. It's amazing how much you care about making sure I believe no one cares about me.

And a writer for a political website who apparently specializes in homophobic, racist, and sexist content has profiled asexuality (with my book prominently referred to), listing some of the terms we use in the community but redefining them to sound absurd so they can mock them. Oh honey. Think about that for a second. If you have to rewrite and exaggerate what we say about ourselves before it sounds silly and you feel safe mocking it, what does that really say about you? The "article" goes on to repeatedly squawk about how funny it is that we're CREATING A MOVEMENT that's LITERALLY ABOUT NOT DOING ANYTHING, and the hundreds of comments laugh it up about how we're sad and pathetic and would actually shut up if only someone would plug our mouths with their genitalia. And my book is disgustingly referred to as "the Mein Kampf of the chronically un-aroused," which is especially horrifying considering I'm a woman of Jewish heritage.

So. That's right. This is just the stuff that's gone on in the past couple of weeks, for the record. And yes, while on the surface this is just Waaah, people are saying bad things about me on the Internet, what a lot of people don't understand is these things are NOT just said on the Internet. I've had many of them said to my face. Many asexual people have had worse, and usually the messages are coming from friends, family, and partners. These are not just insults or things that make you feel kinda bad. They are the status quo in society for a lot of people. They are the narratives people have been using forever to isolate asexual people, make them think they're broken, drive them into depression, and shame them into believing they must have unwanted sex to be worth anything or to access happiness, stability, or love. They're the messages that come both explicitly and implicitly from media, society, and individual people around us. They're the attitudes that set sex up as a compulsory activity that we owe to people we love or owe to people who want us, and they're the lessons we're pounding into everyone's heads about sex being necessary, deserved, and unavoidable no matter how we feel about it.

How do I know these master narratives harm people? Because I get those e-mails too.

If there was, as so many assert, "nothing" to talk about here, I wouldn't get publicly mocked and treated like I'm saying something outrageous every time I talk to the media about asexuality. If there was nothing to learn and no reason to learn it, nobody would be coordinating any concerted efforts to stop me from saying it. If it was so irrelevant that it's making all my detractors fall down laughing at the idea that anyone needs to say anything, nobody would be going out of their way to silence me. If, after all, I'm just windbagging it up into the empty air over here, surely they'd be able to simply walk past and avoid listening to my message. I supposedly have no real platform and no life and no social power at all. God help us if a previously invisible group might be able to use some of my messages to connect with others like themselves, learn that they're not broken, and access tools to improve their lives. It would just be awful if we had to click past an article about it once in a while or devote two centimeters of our shelf space to a book about it in our libraries.

I think the most baffling thing for me is why so many people dump their attention all over me as a way of telling me I don't deserve any attention. I very much doubt that after all these years I'm going to get That One Message that truly convinces me that my life and my cause is a lie because some tender little troll on the Internet can't imagine asexuality is legitimate. It's okay, guys. I understand that it's easier to call someone else confused than to admit you don't understand them and can't accept people who are different from you. But while you squeeze out your little judgment turds all over the lawn and bark at cars because you don't know what they're for, I'm going to educate the people who will listen and help the people who have been hurt.

And if the price of doing that is that sometimes people will create accounts on websites for the express purpose of crapping on my book, so be it.


  1. Wow. This was a horrifying and heart-wrenching read. I am so sorry. For the record, everything I've seen of you here tells me you are a lovely person inside and out. And if you're getting this sort of push back, you must be doing something impofrtant.

    1. Thanks for offering sympathy! I don't automatically think you must be doing something important if people attack you, but I do think it's peculiar that so many of them are SO relentless and SO violent and SO full of vitriol when they contact me to tell me I'm WRONG about myself or WRONG about asexuality awareness being important. Like, somehow I think if I had a whole blog about Pokémon, or popcorn flavors, or smart phone cases, I probably wouldn't get people writing me up for having no life, being obsessed with a pointless cause, or selfishly not caring about whatever they've dubbed REAL issues. Nobody harasses someone to tell them how irrelevant they are if they don't feel like I'm somehow stepping on their toes or hurting them by existing. The question they need to ask themselves is how I'm interfering with their lives by living mine. And sometimes people answer that by screeching YOU KEEP PUTTING THINGS I DON'T CARE ABOUT IN *MY* MEDIA and take that as an offense--somehow not seeming to care that it's contradictory to their point that I'm not being harassed if all that's happening is I'm getting bad comments online. I'm pretty sure there are a lot of celebrity gossip articles and, say, how-to blogs about childcare or knitting that have no relevance to my life, and I can absolutely promise that I have never once logged onto one of them to scroll down to the comments and tell everyone that I don't personally have a use for the content.

  2. :/ I'm sorry this has happened, Julie. I saw the Salon articles (and resisted the urge to get into a million and a half arguments) and some of the crap you got sent through email, but I hadn't taken to consider the weight of all this, especially since it keeps piling up.

    I know it's not much, but I'm really thankful for the work you do. I'm not personally asexual or aromantic or from any LGTQIA+ category, *but* I learned A LOT about sexuality and human relationships and the human body in general from your visibility work. I'd never heard of asexuality until I came across your videos, but I'd also never heard about pansexuality, demisexuality, the difference between sexual attraction and romantic attraction, the ways in which people can have varying libidos, etc. And because of that, I also learned to be a lot more open minded because so many conversations made me consider stuff like the inherent problem with the gender binary.

    But I mean, I know that doesn't cancel out all the stupid shit getting thrown your way, and you already know your work is important. I just kind of hope it's a small reminder that a lot of people are really thankful for what you do, for varying reasons.

    And hopefully these idiots learn something, some day or another >_> Who knows.

    1. You're the sweetest. And actually I do get a ton of nice comments too, of course--but so many of them are privately sent, sensitively rendered in behind-the-scenes communication, coming straight from people who were positively affected by my work. The trolls and detractors mostly enjoy taking a crap on my stuff publicly, and that gives haters ammunition; if they can see someone else crapping on something, they feel like they can crap on it too and there will be an awesome little snotty echo chamber where we're all taking big dumps on the people who are doing something constructive with their lives.

      It does help when people tell me they think I'm doing good work. It doesn't drown out the jackasses, but it reminds me of one of the reasons I bother.