Ace Survivors as Rhetorical Devices (part one): Introduction

Ace Survivors as Rhetorical Devices (part one): Introduction

This series can be read on The Asexual Agenda, Resources for Ace Survivors, and Concept Awesome.

What’s the deal with this series?

This series is about the way ace survivors are used as rhetorical devices in ace communities. I’ve already finished writing the series as of this posting–it’s 4 parts, and I’ll be posting a new part every 2 weeks until it’s complete. This first post is just an introduction to explain what the deal with this series is. In part 2 I discuss the use of ace survivors to win political arguments, in part 3 I discuss the creation of the One True Narrative of Sexual Violence Against Aces by ignoring or erasing the experiences of ace survivors who don’t fit the author’s political agenda, and in part 4 I offer suggestions for bloggers and activists who want to write/talk about ace survivors in a sensitive, non-exploitative manner.

What makes you an expert on this topic?

I’m an ace survivor who’s been writing about asexuality and sexual violence for several years. I’m also the founder of Resources for Ace Survivors, which means that I’ve probably spoken to more ace survivors than anyone else on the internet (except, perhaps, Elizabeth). I’ve also run this series past a bunch of other ace survivors and/or ace bloggers. Trust me when I say that every word of this series has been very carefully weighed and checked by multiple people. (In particular, thanks go to Elizabeth, Tristifere, Kat, Bethany, Siggy, Laura, Jo, and Smrf for being early readers and giving me invaluable feedback that helped to shape this series.  Any mistakes that remain are my own.)

What makes this different than all the other writing you’ve done on this topic?

It’s true; several of my pieces have already touched on this topic, most notably the Challenges Faced by Ace Survivors series and “Here goes everything.” The major difference between this series and previous series is that in the past I’ve been really hesitant to directly quote much of the problematic discourse I see floating around in ace communities. In this series, however, I will be directly quoting ace bloggers, deconstructing their statements, and pointing out how they are using ace survivors as rhetorical devices. I’ve been very deliberate in who I quote; I decided from the start that I would only quote bloggers who have repeatedly made the same sort of problematic statements about ace survivors, operating off the assumption that while someone might easily say something clueless about ace survivors once accidentally, if there’s a pattern to it, there is probably an underlying belief structure that needs to be addressed. While I have not personally tried to educate every blogger I quote in this series, I do know that others have tried to educate the ones I haven’t (and have not been particularly successful).

This series is not an invitation for you to harass, bully, or badmouth the bloggers I am quoting. I am using direct quotations from them as examples so that other members of the ace community can learn what pitfalls to avoid in their own writing, not in order to tear down or call out specific bloggers. If you use this series as an excuse to harass the quoted bloggers or feel good about how enlightened you are in comparison to them, you are contributing to the problem that this series is trying to combat. Don’t do that.

Why should I care?

I would hope you care because ace survivors are part of your community and deserve to be treated with compassion and respect. When you use us as rhetorical devices you alienate us, and drive us out of communities and away from resources we might otherwise find helpful.

I think there are a lot of people who use ace survivors’ experiences politically, thinking that that they are somehow helping us. I’m sure they have our best interests at heart, but don’t realize how much damage their words can do. If you care about ace survivors and want them to feel safe and supported in your communities, it’s really important that you understand how to avoid this sort of damaging discourse in your writing.

I’m an ace survivor and reading this series has made me really triggered.  Where can I get help?

Please check our “Get Help” page. Here’s information on how to find someone to talk to.

I don’t actually care about anything you have to say but maybe I’ll read things other people have written on the same topic.

Fine, here’s a recommended reading list for you:

Tristifere’s piece on the use of mentally ill aces as rhetorical devices, which is not technically about ace survivors but has a lot of overlap. I’ll be quoting this piece a lot in this series.

A revolution for the crooked souls by lemonyandbeatrice is about the ways in which the Unassailable Asexual and the Model Rape Survivor intersect.

Shutting Up: On writing, audience, and representation by Elizabeth is about the vulnerability necessary to talk about sexually violent experiences, and how self-representation can be read (and misread).

Disingenuous, “shallow” support by Elizabeth is about how passively supporting survivors isn’t enough and abuse can even come from in-group members (such as other aces).

RFAS’s recommended reading list

Up next: Using Ace Survivors to Win Political Arguments

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