I was introduced to the concept of hermeneutical injustice a couple days ago and it’s been blowing my mind. I’ve been struggling for a while to reconcile consent and asexuality, specifically in the context where asexuality isn’t known. If asexuality isn’t an option, how can someone’s consent be truly free?
In the last two posts I’ve outlined two of the major ways in which ace survivors are used as rhetorical devices--by using them to win political arguments and by creating a monolithic narrative of The Way Sexual Violence Happens to Aces. If you’ve read this far, you might be worrying about whether you’ve done either of these things in your own writing. You might be wondering how to avoid using aces as rhetorical devices while still writing forceful, argumentative pieces. This part is for you.
Ace Survivors as Rhetorical Devices (part three): The One True Narrative of Sexual Violence Against Aces
In this post I’m going to discuss the way bloggers construct The One True Narrative of The Way Sexual Violence Happens to Aces. This can take several forms. First, the author may assume that all ace survivors fit into a particular narrative of sexual violence (usually corrective rape by an allosexual romantic partner). Second, the author may acknowledge that sexual violence against aces may happen in multiple ways, but may highlight one way as more important or “real” than the rest.
Can you replace ace survivors in your arguments with an Oppressed Lamp—i.e. is your argument drawing on something specific about the experiences and feelings of ace survivors or is it using ace survivors as short-hand for “oppressed, beaten, helpless things you should pity”? If you’re using “ace survivors” to mean “super oppressed aces you should feel really bad for,” you’re probably using ace survivors as rhetorical devices.
It's important not to speak over survivors. Sometimes people speak of "protecting" ace survivors but then don't listen to what we actually have to say. We are the experts, and we have been the ones to create nearly all resources currently available for other survivors. If you want to help us, then it is a good idea to link to things we've already written. But sharing links to our posts can also be inappropriate or dangerous, exposing us only to further harm. It's important to take care with what you share and where you share it. If you can remember these three rules, you should be able to figure out whether linking to a post made by a survivor is appropriate—and if not, please just ask permission!
This series is about the way ace survivors are used as rhetorical devices in ace communities. 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.
A resource for those who: Need to come out to their therapists about asexuality, but aren’t up for fielding 101 questions Want their doctors to understand asexuality to avoid misdiagnosis, bad assumptions, or awkward questions Simply want to do activism to promote better understanding of asexuality and competent treatment of [...]
I discovered the Wikipedia page for asexuality in January of 2008. By September of the same year, I had PTSD. These two facts are not unrelated. The story is sickeningly cliche, to be honest. Young Queenie discovers asexuality a month and a half into her first romantic relationship. When she comes out to her boyfriend, he tells her, “You’re not asexual; we just haven’t tried the right things yet.” Young Queenie doesn’t have enough knowledge or self-confidence to stand her ground. Boyfriend pushes at her boundaries, seeing how far he can overstep them before Queenie freaks out and throws him off her or…
Ah, yes. Facebook Activism. Because sharing something on Facebook for others to automatically click "like" without even reading is clearly the most effective way to promote real engagement with anti-violence work, and genuine support to survivors. The idea that a brand is all that's needed to get others to care, rather than something that is just there for others to adopt in order to look like they care, is so incredibly vile to me. Why? Because it's exactly the sort of thing that makes it easier for abusers to gaslight their victims.
This series focuses on awful things people say to asexual spectrum survivors, sometimes out of spite, sometimes out of concern, and sometimes out of ignorance. Each section has a quote (or collection of related quotes) followed by a "translation" of the quote (or a distillation of the essence of the argument, if you will) and then commentary on why this is an awful thing to say.