Double Rainbow: Erasure and Asexuality
I may be a person with a lot to say (or so I hope) and I certainly enjoy the opportunity to give voice to my thoughts and convictions, but I do not want this blog series to just be a soapbox. I would like this blog to be a space for dialogue and the synthesis of ideas, and so far I have gotten great feedback from what seems to be a diverse array of perspectives and experiences. With the goal of fostering ongoing discussion, my post for the end of this week aims to be simultaneously more introspective and more open.
In my previous post, I remarked that an examination of cultural representations of queer autistic sexuality will inevitably end up as a discussion about lack and absence, because so few representations exist. This is still true of autistic sexuality in general. While some fictional representations of sexually interested and active autists exist—films like Adam and Mozart and the Whale come to mind—prevailing tropes dictate that most autistic characters are desexualized. This reflects and reinforces the presumption that autistic people are too "childlike" or socially stunted to comprehend the idea of sexuality, let alone to actually have sex. The result of prevailing cultural attitudes is that autistic people are perceived as inherently non-sexual. Not as asexual—the mainstream paradigm erases the experiences of asexual autists right along with those of other queer people on the spectrum.
I am not asexual and I know very little about asexual politics. I think that's important to note, and to keep in mind as I write, lest I begin to ventriloquize and presume to speak for a group whose experiences I do not share. Until recently, were I asked to comment on the subject I might have written something like "Popular representations overwhelmingly present autistic people as asexual." And I would have been incorrect. What popular culture tends to do is to deny that autistic people possess the agency and self-awareness to think about and establish sexual identities. Ableism combines with the general erasure of asexuality, and the assumption that a lack of interest in sex equates to naïveté, to produce the idea that asexual-identified autists must be asexual because they are autistic. They are asexual not because they are self-aware individuals who happen to express a particular sexuality, but because somehow their autism renders them too naïve, "innocent," or socially inept for sex. They are not asexual because that's what they happen to be, they are non-sexual because they have no choice.
This assumption robs asexual autists of all romantic dispositions of agency and recognition. The problem of asexual erasure will probably come up again at some point as I continue writing this series, so:
What do you think? What issues regarding asexual politics might I miss and yet ought to address? No one should feel pressured or obligated to reply or out themselves—I know comment threads are not safe spaces. But I welcome your thoughts and input as I move forward with Double Rainbow.
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