This is a submission for May 2019 Carnival of Aces hosted by Demisexual and Proud. This month’s focus is on various issues relating to asexuality and gender. I already talked about this area in several posts:
- Beauty standards for women and how that feels as an Ace Korean-American
- Being sexy while Ace
I want to discuss the idea of “passing”.
I’m pretty confident that I pass as a sexual person, unless you know me very intimately. I’ve surprised several people by coming out as an Ace person who knew me casually. They assumed that I was just didn’t want to settle down with anyone. But my family and really close friends knew that my romantic and sexual history were a vast wasteland. They knew I wasn’t sowing my wild oats. It’s been only during the past couple of years where I’ve actively been dating and trying to establish a relationship with someone.
But what does it mean to pass as a sexual person? When I first discovered what asexuality was, I was resistant to attending meetups because I felt like I didn’t fit the stereotype of an asexual person. The stereotype of asexual person that I had in my mind was a pale skinned, clueless nerd who played video games all day in their parents’ basement with no social skills. In contrast, I’m relatively attractive, educated, have a professional job, and can socialize with people when I have to (I’m an introvert who is somehow surrounded by people all the time). I’m also a cisgender woman who presents as female in a very middle of the road, lawyer-ish way. My gender presentation does not indicate at all that I’m asexual. I later learned that Ace people come in all different kinds of flavors, but I didn’t know that back then.
Also, it’s the default to assume that someone has sexual desires and to assume that young women want to get married and have kids. Since I actually do want to get married and have children, it seems like I am perceived to have sexual desires to the outside world.
I feel like there’s a certain privilege to passing as allosexual. I also pass as straight, when I’m actually bisexual, and mentally healthy, when my history with depression will always be there haunting me. I can navigate the world with minimal harassment. I can’t totally escape the racism and sexual harassment or misogyny that exists, but I’ve come to expect it. I also know that I would get more grief if strangers can see all of my intersectionalities.
I think that asexuality is not mainstream enough yet to be accepted in workplaces like LGBT people are (and even they are still struggling in 2019). So I find the ability to pass very valuable in the workplace. I care A LOT if my employer, work colleagues, or clients know that I’m Ace. It’s something that I never discuss in the workplace.
Now that I’m a relationship where I am having regular sex with someone and enjoying it, some of my Ace friends wondered if I’m a regular sexual person now and whether I should drop the Ace label entirely because it’s just easier to live as a sexual person. I’m bothered by that line of thinking and believe that my sexual history can’t be explained unless I am asexual. How did I stay a virgin for so long unless I was Ace? It’s not for the lack of opportunities. I could’ve lost my virginity in my teen years with no problem, but I didn’t. Additionally, I don’t want to give up my identity as an Ace person for convenience or to pass even more than I am. It’ll feel like a betrayal to all the internal work that I’ve done to understand myself and help the community.
These are my initial thoughts on passing and asexuality and gender. I’m curious to know what others have to say on this topic.