So what gives this week?
As many of you know we have a new name for AS-NS. Asexual.me and yes, you can at the moment get to AS-NS by going to http://asexual.me. I really think I found the best name. I wanted something that is both distinctive from AVEN and less cryptic.
This is also the week where we have to persuade AVEN that we are worthy of being on their list of asexual sites. One thing that came up in the backroom talks was the fact that over the last year AS-NS had many a run in with AVEN, and every time they came to us with a critisism we could have told them to fuck off, but that is not what happened. We listened, and we changed things. The odd thing about AS-NS is that we have a huge number of people reading the site every day that do not contribute, and we also have people who participate but don’t want AVEN to know who they are. This makes me sad.
I have been thinking of a mission statement for asexual.me, and one thing comes to mind again and again, and that is that the key difference between AVEN and AS-NS is that AS-NS does its best not to discriminate against people based on political or social opinion. There is another way of putting that, and it is called “freedom of speech”. But what is freedom of speech really? It’s the freedom to not just say what you like, but respond how you like.
It seems to me that the rules on AVEN have come about through continuously reacting to things, and insisting that people should not say certain things, or react in certain ways. The end result though is that most people are scared to say anything that others will disagree with, and is just breeding an emperor’s new clothes situation. Where no one want’s to stand up for what they believe in anymore, and any form of debate becomes almost impossible.
When we started AS-NS none of us knew that by removing all the rules about what people can and cannot say we would end up creating such a placid and polite place to talk. Does AVEN realise just how bitter and frightening a place it is if you do have a difference of opinion?
I was looking at Ace Toronto’s mission statement, and I saw something that surprised me, because it just would not occur to me to list all the different types of people it wanted not to offend. I saw it again on AVEN, and it really blows my mind that people who claim to be wanting an equal society or group, to keep highlighting the differences between people. Why? What is the point in keeping highlighting these things? How can we attain equality, when these differences are constantly mentioned. The one thing that is never mentioned though is difference of political thought, and difference between the way that people react to things, and even the way they talk, and the type of language people use.
I really think one of the easiest ways to stop people being offended by things is not to ban words, but to ban the expression of offence. The problem is that any expression of any idea has the ability to cause someone to disagree, and isn’t that what offence really is? Strong disagreement? In a place that has rules about not generalising about groups, how can one then have a rule that: “The site must not be discriminatory towards any gender, creed, religion, nationality, ethnicity, disability and sexual and romantic identity.” Why not just “anyone”? Oh because AVEN DOES discriminate against people that its moderators disagree with, or who express opinions that it doesn’t like, or whose jokes they don’t think should be told.
Free speech does not mean that people get to say what they like without repercussions. It means that people get to say what they want, but EVERYONE gets to tell them exactly what they think about them. THIS is why AS-NS is calm, and respectful, because there is nothing stopping everyone reacting. I experienced this first hand this week when I was on AVEN, someone treated me incredibly rudely, but because I know AVEN rules, I have to do something very unnatural which is to ignore this slight, and just hit a report button that I know will be ignored, but that is the only thing I can do. I can’t even say how I feel about this on AS-NS because AVEN might block the site. It’s this sort of thing that makes people leave AVEN in droves. It’s just not natural to have to take abuse, but not be able to give it back.
Something else has come up while talking about setting up the new site, and that is: “Asexuality should not be the most interesting thing about someone, and it isn’t.” AS-NS is pretty small, and with the introduction of the new “Ask <user>” flurry it is self evident that asexual people come from all walks of life, and very different age groups, and political thought, and it’s great. I really think it is something that not just forums, but meet-ups and the like should focus on. Simply focusing on the angst, or the problems is good for no one at all. All it does is help keep the oppression olympics alive, and it just isn’t healthy to only be about support, and tea and sympathy.
I am not saying that we should not be there for one another in the bad times, but when the focus is that, then it just encourages people to be miserable in order to get noticed. I think it is a duty of the asexual community to get away from the negative, and create networks of people that share a small trait about themselves, and in a healthy person it really should be a small part of their personality.
Exploring the differences should be something that the asexual community should embrace, and asexuality shouldn’t be the only topic, nor should sexuality as a whole. There seems to be so much as a group we could do together, and while I know some see the asexual community as something that should get involved in the LGBT scene, I really think that narrows things down, after all it’s the sex that we are not interested in. Yeah we seem to be able to discuss it far easier, but there is much more to life than sex… Perhaps we should embrace everything, and figure out ways to share knowledge, and skills, help each other with projects, and even swap skills, and products with one another. Perhaps there is room for us to actually do something useful and beneficial with the time we have not having sex, or being with partners to contribute to something bigger and better than ourselves, and create something extraordinary? Maybe there is a way of turning something that is seen as a problem into something that is highly positive, and education and visibility can arise through being associated with a community that does stuff? A real turning around of the victim card, into something positive.
Now I know many of you will be thinking “like what?” at this point, and I have a few ideas but I think it’s going to take me a while to answer that question. If you have ideas or you want to be involved in starting something off that is focused on creating a community based on positivity then you can find me over on AS-NS http://as-ns.net/villa/ I’ll no doubt keep people up to date on here, so if you are not already you can subscribe to Ace Times, and get updates by email of new articles (and nothing else) by popping your email address in at the top of this page on the right.
Watch out for some new articles this week including an Audio interview with Toffington, an interview with an AVEN moderator, and the result of the request to get this and AS-NS on AVEN’s link page..
Have a great Sunday !!!!
PS, A Huge thank you to @pramana for taking a break in travel in order to edit a chunk of this.
Oh I nearly forgot. Here is the Colour by numbers pull out as promised: