Ace Week 2021 Recap: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
In many ways, we believe that this year was the most successful Ace Week to date! There were many wonderful successes such as Disabled Ace Day and PanACEa, but no queer event online goes without it’s challenges. Today, we discuss some of the notable events to come out of Ace Week 2021 including the good, the bad, the weird, and the downright hateful...i.e. the Girlguiding Twitter fiasco. For those who want to opt out of the hate comments, we start talking about Girlguiding at 41:02.
- Why I’m Founding Disabled Ace Day
- Disabled Ace Day Interview Series
- The Girlguiding Tweet
- Listen to The Play Readers Podcast
- Follow The Play Readers Podcast on Twitter
- Cheesecake Truck by King Missile
- Detachable Penis by King Missile
Courtney: Hey everybody. Welcome back. I am Courtney. I’m here with Royce. Together, we are The Ace Couple. If you’ve been with us for a last [sic]– what do we have, now. Five episodes so far?– you may be asking yourself. “Courtney. Royce. When are you going to...get a real, formal introduction, and opening music, like real podcasts do? The answer is, probably never. This–
Courtney: This is what you get. Get used to it.
Courtney: But, hoo boy! Today, do we have, a...lot of ground to cover. We are just coming off of Ace Week 2021. We wanna talk all about it. A lot of things happened. A lot of good, wonderful things happened. Some weird things, some not-so-good things. And there were some outright horrible things, as well. We want to cover all of these. But, what we want to do– first and foremost– is protect everyone’s mental health. So! We’re gonna start off with the good things. The very wonderful, positive things, that spark “ace joy” in me. We will give you a very clear warning, when we’re about to head into anything. That, may be a little less friendly. Maybe if you’re involved in the...online ace Twitter community. Maybe you know, already, what I’m talking about. We will get there, and we will warn you ahead of time, so you can...peace out, if you would like to.
Courtney: First off, I...really, really want to talk about. How our first ever Disabled Ace Day went. I let you guys know last week that I was founding Disabled Ace Day. We do, very much, intend to make it an annual event. Our goal is to keep this on Wednesday, during Ace Week, so that it is super-easy to remember. You can keep track of Ace Week to...hopefully get updates on that, year to year. As much as I knew. That a Disabled Ace Day was...needed. I had absolutely. No idea what to expect. I’ve never tried to found a day before. It’s not...exactly a hobby of mine. But, I knew that this was a very important topic. That was...really vital that we address, as a community. And I had no idea what kind of response we were gonna get.
Courtney: If you’ve listened to our last couple of episodes, we’ve talked a lot about ableism, inside of the ace community, and broader LGBT communities. My own personal experience has told me that...you do not get a lot of positive. Reactions. When you talk about these complicated intersections. So, I strapped in, and buckled down, and prepared for...some...wave of hate. To hit me, during Disabled Ace Day. But, probably the most positive thing. To come off of Ace Week was the fact that, Disabled Ace Day was a success, and I did not get one. Single message. Of hate, or harassment. In my near-decade of talking about Ace issues online. That has never once happened. Never once. Have I spoken about disability and asexuality together. And not gotten hate. From someone, somewhere. So, that utterly blew my mind. Blew my expectations out of the water.
Courtney: Some of the highlights– which are still available online, still available to read on the Ace Week website– I did write an article about...what Disabled Ace Day is. Why I have founded it. Why it is necessary. In addition to that, I published...18 different interviews. From fellow disabled aces, all over the world. We had several different countries represented. We had people from different backgrounds. All sharing their own personal stories. This is something I’m...especially proud of. Because, one disabled ace person speaking out about their experience is. Not. Enough. Because, in ANY minority group, one person’s story is not. THE. Story. I thought it was really important to feature a variety of experiences. Viewpoints. People with a variety of different disabilities, that all come with their unique sets of challenges.
Courtney: I was also given the honor of...taking the reins of the Ace Week Twitter account for that day, Disabled Ace Day. I was able to be, constantly. All day long. Sharing these articles that we published. Tweeting about some of the issues of these intersections. Engaging with other people who are using...this hashtag. That was the most exciting part for me, was that...so many people actually used hashtag “DisabledAceDay.” I was able to meet, and learn about...so many more people, who I. Had not. Been privy to, before. All of these people are outstanding. I am so happy that we got to connect, as a community.
Courtney: In fact. Based on that hashtag that I started... I ran some analytics on this. I can’t claim that these are 100% perfect, to the letter. This gives you, at least, an idea of the kind of scope that we were able to accomplish in our very first Disabled Ace Day. According to the analytics I ran, we had about 15,000 “Interactions” with #DisabledAceDay. That is people using the hashtag, clicking like, retweeting, commenting on those. With the general reach, the number of people this hashtag got in front of– the estimate, at this point– is about 350,000 “Impressions.” That is...so much larger than I expected, going into this.
Courtney: Considering the fact that we got reach like that, with...zero hate that I saw, personally, as someone who was monitoring that hashtag very closely all day long. That’s really outstanding. I’m very proud of...the work we were able to do. I really hope we can take this, and run with it. Continue to grow it, every single year. Above all, I hope that we’re able to...keep this same passion, and momentum, for...discussing...disability issues within this community. And picking up able-bodied allies, here and there, as we can, to...help. Uplift us. I don’t know if I have much more to say about that, at this point. That’s a lot, and that is so great. I am...absolutely verklempt. It was fantastic.
Courtney: I did manage to get a nice little haul, of...disabled ace-created...merchandise. One thing I was doing, all day long on that Twitter account– and I mean all day long. I think I logged in, maybe, at 1 a.m. my time. I did not log out until midnight hit. And I had a total of two, one-hour naps– so I was...on it, the whole time. I was absolutely wired on adrenaline. Seeing this wonderful reception. It was a very good time, but I am still VERY tired. I don’t know if you can hear it in my voice, I did lose my voice at one point.
Courtney: One thing I was doing, was sharing a lot of...books. Writings. Blogs. Merchandise. Artwork. Professional services that you can hire, that are all...created by– and led by– disabled aces. We picked up a little haul. We saw a lot of great things, that day. Some of which we’ve started to get in. Not all of ‘em yet. But you can definitely...expect to hear more about our Disabled Ace Haul. I don’t know if we’ll do a podcast episode on it, necessarily, but you can always check us out @The_Ace_Couple on Twitter. We’ll definitely be...posting pictures, and tagging accounts, whenever we’re able to. I’m just so proud of our community. I really am. That was…the highlight of Ace Week, for me.
Courtney: The next really good, positive thing we want to talk about is PanACEa. The Asexuality Asia Conference. Where. We were actually. Invited to be. Guest speakers. We had sort of a Q&A session as The Ace Couple. Talking about asexuality, and marriage, and couplehood. Before we even got to that point... A little...accessibility note. And a huge, huge kudos, that I really want to give to them. Revolves around an accessibility note that we gave them. Via email, while they were...inviting us. If you’ve listened to our last two episodes, you know that not every ace or LGBT organization. Is super-receptive to...getting notes on added accessibility. But...I dunno, Royce. Do you wanna mention what we noticed, when we first went to their website, and how they were able to...address that quickly?
Royce: Yeah. We heard from the...PanACEa crew in mid-October. I believe it was soon after our third podcast episode, which was a nice little confirmation that...the time that we’re spending recording these is actually helping the community.
Courtney: People are listening to us!
Royce: As we started getting things ready...we were checking our calendars, trying to find a time. They invited us to speak for a one-hour panel, as “The Ace Couple.” Of course, as we’re looking around, trying to figure things out. See when the schedule is. I went to the Asexuality Asia...website. And immediately saw some red flags. There are some accessibility issues that are...very obvious. One of them is the use of images, in place of semantic content. Of actual text. If you put a bunch of text content into an image. A screen reader won’t read any of the text that is in the image. To a blind user. So, you either need to...provide. Sufficient. Alt text, on the image, so that a screen reader can pick it up. Or, not use an image in the first place. We reported this to the PanACEa team. While responding, confirming, that we could make the...event.
Courtney: Yeah. Because, we...provide accessibility services. I’m a disabled woman. Royce does a lot. On the technology side of things, with accessibility. So we would be remiss if we didn’t mention any red flags that we noticed.
Royce: And the morning after we mention this. The...most prominent issue was already fixed.
Courtney: VERY quickly. Almost immediately. We were...really pleased by that, ’cause we have never seen. Someone. Take a note from us. And, try to fix it, so seriously, so quickly. Major, major props to them. We talked to them a bit after the fact. They were saying, “Yeah, our team, we...didn’t know about this! We had no idea.” To a certain extent, no one can really blame them. Even in engineering backgrounds in school, they don’t. Teach. Accessibility. And they SHOULD!
Courtney: But they don’t. But the fact that, as soon as they learned this, and fixed it, that was...wonderful. Really, really good to see. Major props to their whole team. Especially because, actually ON...Disabled Ace Day– we did not plan this with them. This was a happy coincidence– they did actually have a panel about...disability. And neurodivergence. In the ace community. So, seeing that important conversation happening, was very, very good and encouraging.
Courtney: At the same time. The original website– before they...took that note we gave them– there’s a certain percentage of disabled users who...wouldn’t have had access to that information, had they gone to that website. That was actually the only other panel I...managed to get to. I would’ve loved to see. More of their event. It was happening. Across several different days. Since their team was...headquartered in Asia– a lot of the team we spoke with were based in India– there was a very prominent time zone difference.
Royce: There was. It was a...10 1/2 hour time difference. We ended up. Doing the panel at, 3:30 in the morning, our time. In between a...wedding rehearsal, and actual wedding, where I was a groomsman. So, it was a very busy time.
Courtney: Extraordinarily busy time. During Ace Week. Just a couple of days after Disabled Ace Day. So we are very tired, everyone. But still glad to be here.
Courtney: Since I was...manning the Twitter account on Disabled Ace Day, I was awake. All day long. All night. Early in the morning. So I was really happy that I got to see that panel, in particular. It was wonderful.
Courtney: As far as our event went, as The Ace Couple, I thought overall it was really...really positive. I thought they had really great questions to ask us...
Royce: Yeah, I think it went pretty well. I was particularly interested when, the...two people that we spoke to, started talking. To me. More about, accessibility. How informative it was. To...learn that this was actually an issue, and then that they had taken it upon themselves to start researching...both the technical aspects, and the local laws. I’m not very familiar with laws in India. They informed me that there was very recently, a...law that included web accessibility, that was passed. All in all, I think we had a lot of good questions. Although, you almost lost us our nerd cred–
Courtney: Oh no! I did! I was about to say, “For 3:30 in the morning...
Courtney: ...I think we were pretty coherent, most of the time!” There was only one moment where I was like, ‘Wait a minute. Did I answer the question they asked me, or am I speaking in circles?’
Courtney: But...the conversation got on...ace representation. Being an Asian-based conference, they said “A lot of our representation is anime.” We love a good anime, here at The Ace Couple household...
Courtney: We watch several of them. So, of course I said, “Oh, we love anime! We love the representation we see there.” And they were like, “Oh yeah? What’s your favorite one?” And blank. My mind. Was a clean slate. Just, wiped.
Courtney: I forgot every anime I’ve ever watched in my life.
Royce: Which, to be fair. Any time. Anyone ever asks me a question with the word “favorite” in it, my mind goes blank. Because I don’t think in...favorites. I don’t have an internal list. I’m most likely to remember whatever I watched most recently, [crosstalk][15:47] but. I’m also the kind of person who...
Royce: For example, I’ve known people who can...quote. Many, many lines in a popular movie, ten years after they. Have seen it. I can’t quote a movie ten minutes after the credits roll. So...
Royce: For a lot of media, I just...observe them, in the moment. Then it’s...lost.
Courtney: That’s fair. I can relate to the ‘not having favorites.’ I really don’t like that question. I very rarely have a favorite of anything, in any category, ever.
Courtney: I have...things I like. I might even have preferences. But I’m rarely like, ‘This is my favorite food. This is my favorite drink. Favorite color.’ Even when I was a kid. I...didn’t, usually, know how to answer that question. So...I did have one anime pop into my head. I was like, “Royce, help me out. What one am I thinking of? We just watched this together, not too long ago.”
[Courtney giggling embarrassedly throughout]
Royce: But...you turned to me, and said, “What was that cute one we watched recently?”
Courtney: It WAS cute!
Royce: And I should have gotten a short recording, or a screenshot, of the confused face I made. When you asked me that question.
Courtney: “What...what was the cute one?”
Courtney: No. It was– This is not a “canon” ace character. But very, very, ace-coded. Really, as...an ace couple, watching it together, we saw the signs. We recognized it. It was a character from the anime, ‘Chuunibyou.’ Which is very cute. Maybe we’ll talk about it when we get into more ace rep down the line. [crosstalk][17:32] That was what I was looking for.
Courtney: If you were at that panel, and were curious.
Royce: Full, translated title– I believe– is...“Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions.”
Courtney: And Other Delusions. Yes. And it’s very cute. It’s the cute one!
Courtney: I, in the moment, could not think of a single other descriptor, even though...it was not that long ago that we watched it. And we loved it.
Courtney: That’s probably a good transition, to get into...the weird. The weird things that happened during Ace Week. Not necessarily bad. Some of the things that were just personal to us. We. Actually. Had. Company in our house! We had friends visit us for the first time in two years. I am very immunocompromised. We have been very strictly quarantined, since March 13th of 2020.
Royce: Said friends had visited us around this time of year, previously. It had sort of become an annual event, but we skipped the initial year during COVID. And...resumed the tradition this year, with necessary precautions.
Courtney: Yeah. After vaccines, we didn’t jump right back into life as usual, ’cause...my immune system’s probably not prepared for it. So, it was wonderful to see friends again. These friends are not...asexual, themselves, but very good allies. One of them is an avid Tumblr user.
Courtney: I’m sure that means a lot, to a lot of you, in the ace community. I, personally, did not learn about asexuality on Tumblr, but I know a lot of you out there did.
Courtney: That was a wonderful thing. It was also...the couple of days leading up to Disabled Ace Day. So, I was also a little frantic. Trying to...finish my article. Finish all of the interviews. It was a little bit of a hectic time, but...it was also just very good to have. Friends. Who are allies. Who were here with me. Who were able to...bear witness to Ace Week, as it was playing out. That’s...honestly, nothing I’d experienced before. It was very nice.
Courtney: The friend who is an avid Tumblr user, in fact. We got into a conversation with them. Saying, “There are...definitely. Two very distinct camps. In the online ace community. We have the ‘cake aces,’ and we have the ‘garlic bread’ aces.”
Courtney: Now, this was news to...one of these friends, at least. Of course, I had to explain, “The ace community has...really, really taken literally, the ‘cake is better than sex’ line.” Which, I think that’s...the very epitome of ace humor. That is very early internet, early AVEN, ace humor. I very much identify with that. Of course, not everyone has a sweet tooth. Not everyone can eat cake. There has been a whole other camp of “garlic bread” aces that have popped up, as well. We think all aces are valid. Regardless of if you’re a cake or a garlic bread ace, we love you. And accept you, here.
[Courtney laughing frequently throughout]
Courtney: I definitely did have a conversation of [dramatically] “Now, listen! Here are the two kinds of asexuals. You must know. If you are to foray into our side of the internet!” You know, Ace 101 things. Off of Tumblr– seeing memes like this, almost makes me wonder if I should set up a Tumblr. I’ve never had a Tumblr. That is borderline blasphemy, in the ace community. But, I’m also a little bit older than the majority of the ace community? So, we’ll see– I was being shown great memes off of Tumblr all week. From my friend, who is an ally, who is right here, in person! What a weird. State of affairs.
[Courtney laughing frequently throughout]
Courtney: She looks over at me at one point, and she said, “I know just enough about ace culture...to know that this meme is very good. But, what’s up with Denmark?” And I went, “OH NO! You’re not supposed to know about that. That’s just for the aces!” So, this meme is great. It’s like, “Welcome to the ace spectrum, where we got [sic] the garlic bread enthusiasts. We’ve got the low-libido aces...” “Wait, you guys are actually horny? I thought it was a joke!” And it goes down the line of all the different aces. It’s very good. We’ve got a kombucha girl meme in here. We’ve got a parkour in here. Then we have... Royce, is there a word for the meme...of the conspiracy theorist guy, with the...red yarn all over the walls?
Royce: The Pepe Silvia meme? Yeah, it’s from a character from ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.’
Courtney: Okay. Yeah. I haven’t seen ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,’ but I know the meme...very well. It’s got that meme, and it says, “Those planning to invade Denmark,” followed by “Danish Aces.” [darkly, dramatically] You have become the very thing you swore to destroy!
Courtney: So, if we have any allo listeners out there. Who are not privy to our ways...
Royce: Please erase your most recent memory.
Courtney: Are we gonna leave it at that?
Courtney: You don’t need to know!
Courtney: Those who know, know!
Courtney: One other very...weird, and wonderful, thing that came out of...having company. That weekend, during Ace Week. Was, we managed to discover a couple of...surprise ace anthems. We’ve got a couple of new bops, and I am ever-so delighted. Royce, how would you explain...King Missile?
Royce: I don’t know that mere words will do the concept justice.
Courtney: You’re right with that. They are quite ridiculous.
Courtney: We had discussions of cake throughout the weekend, as is custom on Ace Week. And when friends are on vacation. There came a time. Where the phone came out, the songs came on. And we heard. The most. Deliciously. Possibly inadvertently, asexual song...
Courtney: ...I may have ever heard in my life. It is called, “Cheesecake Truck.” Because of course it is.
Royce: Now, we haven’t. Dove into...all of King Missile’s discography, yet– [crosstalk][24:09]
Courtney: But we plan to.
Royce: – it seems that, by “song,” what we’re really meaning here is...kind of bizarre, spoken word poetry, to music.
Courtney: Brilliant poetry, really. Next level poetry. This song in particular...
Courtney: Is...a guy speaking– there’s no singing to be found– talking about how...he really likes cheesecake. So, he thought he’d get a job driving a cheesecake truck. Because, he figures, he could take some of the leftover cheesecakes home at the end of the day. But then he ends up eating more than 10 cheesecakes on the very first day, without actually delivering any.
Royce: So he takes all of the remaining cheesecakes in the truck. Hides the truck. Somewhere where it would be difficult to be found. Then skips town.
[Courtney laughing frequently throughout]
Courtney: There’s a line, at the end, that’s like, “I really miss everybody. But I can’t say I have any regrets, ’cause it was very delicious cheesecake.” And if that’s not the acest thing I’ve ever heard! It’s very good. So our friend was a little bit baffled...upon hearing how. Enthused we were, about this song in particular. So he mentions, “Maybe you’d like ‘Detachable Penis.’” We said, “Come again? ...Detachable Penis, you say.” Yes. There is a song by the same group, King Missile. Called, “Detachable Penis.” Where again. Just a guy, talking. About how he has a detachable penis, and sometimes he loses it. But he really likes having a detachable penis, because he can leave it at home, if he thinks it’s going to cause him trouble...
[Courtney laughing throughout]
Courtney: In fact, it almost reminded me of the aforementioned meme. That said, “We have high-libido aces, who say, ‘I don’t wanna be horny anymore. I wanna be happy!”’ I, myself, do not have a penis. But I can imagine, if you were a high libido asexual... I can theoretically see how, having a detachable penis that you could just take off when it’s causing you problems...I could see that being a positive attribute.
Courtney: So, King Missile. We’re obsessed. Can’t wait to listen to more. Also obsessed with these friends. They’re very, very good. If you happen to be a bit of a theater nerd– I know I am. Royce is not– if you really love theater, and are interested in plays. Maybe, historical plays. Plays that don’t get produced as often as they should, or could. Definitely check them out. They actually, together, have a podcast called “The Play Readers,” where they talk about all of those things. We love them. I think you will, too.
Courtney: I’ve got two other...weird little side notes about Ace Week. That I wanna pop in, before we get into...the heavy stuff. Some of these are MOSTLY good, but...they’re just a little bit wrong. It was positive to see, in my case, more people trying to amplify Ace Week. But I actually saw some instances of allies mentioning...the absolute, wrong dates for Ace Week. Like they put Ace Week in their calendar...two years ago...and never looked up any more ace content again. Because, I was seeing...allies start to say, “It’s October 18th. Happy Ace Week!” and “This is what that means...” Meanwhile, that was very, very early for this year.
Courtney: I actually did find...there are published lists of...queer events. That are on websites. And a strong majority of them do not get updated every year. So, if there is ever any slight variation in the day– like there is for Ace Week– they get very outdated, very quickly. The most recently-updated, on any of these lists that I found. That are...big dumps of queer events. Were pulling from 2019 Ace Week. So, that was a bit unfortunate. That’s something that, maybe we as the ace community should be aware of, going forward into next year. I absolutely want allies to be amplifying us, and our events. But I also want them to know the right events. So, maybe next Week– a little note to ourselves– we can start advertising Ace Day, like, a month in advance. Making sure that everybody knows. The actual Ace Week website, to get the real dates, and the real information. So that people aren’t citing old. Resources.
Courtney: For that matter, I saw a lot of allies– even. Aces. For that matter– continuing to use. “Asexual Awareness Week.” Now, this isn’t an egregious sin or anything. Once upon a time– ten years ago, when this week and this awareness was new– it was. Asexual Awareness Week. They have since rebranded. It is now “Ace Week.” There’s a very good reason for this. The term “Ace” is...getting a little more...identifiable, outside of our community. Which is good. We want to push that. By the very nature of the fact that “awareness”...does not. Equal. “Acceptance”. We’ve still got a long way to go.
Courtney: It seems like we’ve kinda been trapped on this treadmill of...Ace 101– “We exist. We’re valid.”– for. WAY too long. We’ve got bigger issues that we...need to be moving on, and tackling. Really fighting for that acceptance...and equality. I would really, really urge our fellow aces to...identify this rebrand. And to...let all of your allies know. The allies who, maybe, heard of Ace Week a couple of years ago, for the first time. Gave themselves a reminder, but still don’t regularly engage in the community. I guess, for that matter, that’s one really glaring reason why. A good ally NEEDS to be. Continuously engaging with the community. It is way too easy to slip up. If you heard something. Long ago. And didn’t keep up on what’s new.
Courtney: Which, I guess, can get into our...last little...not-great thing. I’d consider it bad, but we aren’t at the ugly, difficult-to-stomach things yet. The theme of Ace Week, this year, was “Beyond Awareness.” I absolutely agree with that...decision, to make that the theme. I understand why they did that. While I did see SOME people. Actually getting active, here and there. By and large, on the whole, I did not see a lot of...boots-on-the-ground activism. As it were. I still saw...the same old talking points, that I’ve been seeing. For the last ten years, especially the last five years.
Courtney: I’m not perfect at this either...
Courtney: ...I mean. I founded Disabled Ace Day, which– for the very first year– was a lot of just getting the word out, and getting the visibility there. So I will fully own...that that is not. The most active. Most “Beyond Awareness” thing I could’ve been doing. I am on no such thing as a high horse, here.
Courtney: But...I was really excited for this theme! And I was...kind of disappointed that I didn’t see a lot of widespread community follow-through on that. Of course, there were some one-offs. The first...one that comes to mind. If you follow...Marshall– I believe he goes by “Gentle Giant Ace”–...on Twitter. I saw that he, in particular, got involved with his. Local...legislation. And got Ace Week formally recognized. Oh, I wanna say he’s in Pennsylvania. I’m sorry if I messed that up. I didn’t reference this before we started talking. Ace Week definitely did put out, months ago, “Here’s how to get Ace Week recognized by your local government, in every state in the U.S.” ‘Cause every state’s gonna be a little different. Of course, I’m not familiar with getting things recognized. Like this. Outside of the U.S. Because I’ve only ever lived in the U.S., myself. So, there were...some ace activists, who are definitely...doing that work, on the local level.
Courtney: So. Much. “Awareness.” So many people still saying, “It’s Asexual Awareness Week.” Not really privy to the reasons behind...the rebrand. Still very much...fighting to break out. Outside of the ace community. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I often feel like I’m preaching to the choir. I know a lot of people also are. There’s nothing wrong with the type of activism that reaches out to your own members. Especially the newer members. The younger members. The people who are just starting to get involved in the community. There is nothing wrong with telling those people that they are valid. But we have serious, serious work to do. To...extend our reach outside of fellow aces. And get– not only the awareness– the acceptance. That we need.
Courtney: “But Courtney!” says the allos, who don’t know anything about ace culture. “What. Are you talking about...acceptance? What. Aren’t. You accepted with? What discriminations could aces possibly face?” Well, I’mma tell you. We’re gonna get into that. We’re gonna get into, what I would like to call, “The Ugly...”
Courtney: ...of Ace Week. PLEASE don’t forget all of the very good things that did happen, in lieu of this. But, if you are ace yourself, and you don’t wanna hear this? Now’s the time to go.
Courtney: I wanna slap a big ol’ content warning for...acephobia. For...transphobia. For...online harassment. General bigotry... I can’t believe I’m saying this – allegations of “grooming” children... We’re gettin’ into a lot here. If you aren’t in a place for it, [dramatically] you have my leave to go! Please. If you are. An ally. If you are. An allo, and you are listening to this. Please, please. Stay with me here. Because, I get this all the time, and I’m sure other aces do. Where, allos don’t really “get it.” They’re like, “What could you possibly get discriminated against?” “Don’t you just not wanna have sex? Don’t you just have a low sex drive? What could people possibly take issue, with that?” That line of thinking is wrong, on many accounts. We’re gonna use real life examples of what we aces saw, during Ace Week, to...tell you exactly the kind of. Nonsense, we get.
Courtney: I guess I’ll make a little clarification. Perhaps a bit of an addendum. Earlier on, I said I didn’t see any...disability-related hatred, during...Disabled Ace Day. That is true. I did not. However, a lot of...prejudice against aces. Uses the same kind of language that people use against people with disabilities. I am definitely going to be...using words here, when I’m making direct quotes, that are also very ableist in nature. These were directed– not specifically at disabled aces, but– aces in general. That is not to say there was no...discrimination at all. Goodness knows, there was. And we’re gonna get into that.
Courtney: Lemme make a quick note about...general ace hate. Aphobia, or acephobia, are the two most common words that you’ll hear used. Especially if you aren’t really in the community, just know that you might see them used interchangeably. The most obvious parallel to that, is homophobia. So, homophobia. Acephobia. Or, aphobia. Increasingly more popular is actually “acemisia.” I hope I’m saying that right? I don’t know how else I’d say it. That’s one of those words I’ve only ever seen written, and never heard spoken aloud. I’m seeing it increasingly more often.
Royce: I actually hadn’t seen it until I read your notes for this episode. Although, as a general rule, I don’t involve...myself. With the broader online community very often. Or, I should...supplement that, and remove the word “online.”
Royce: I don’t associate myself with the broader community very often.
Courtney: Royce associates with Courtney. And Courtney associates with everybody else.
Royce: I mean, we also have a couple of snakes upstairs that I associate with. And a few other animals [crosstalk][37:32] in the house...
Courtney: And the opossum, the [crosstalk][37:35] rat dog, the [crosstalk][37:36] 30 or 40...highly acrobatic mice...
Royce: ...the various things going on in our backyard…
Courtney: You’re plenty busy as it is. [crosstalk][37:48] You don’t need humans with all that going on.
Royce: Beyond the property bounds.
Courtney: Yes. [dramatically] Royce is truly regent of this castle.
Courtney: [Transylvanian accent, dramatically] Second only to I, who am the queen!
Courtney: But...yeah. The suffix “-misia” just means “hate.” You might even say that it’s, literally, a little more accurate of a word. I’m sure. Any LGBT ally has heard, [mocking] “It’s not homoPHOBIA. I’m not SCARED of gay people.” [annoyed] Yeah yeah, we know. We’re past that. We’re using that to mean, “prejudice.” So it literally means ace...hatred. Ace prejudice. There is a push to replace the word “phobia” with “misia.” Because of the fact that there’s...a bit of...a hidden, ableist context to that as well. Phobias are. Legitimate. Issues, that some people grapple with. So, we don’t always like to use the word phobia for something that is not literally a “phobia.” Add that one to the pocket dictionary, please!
Courtney: Know that it exists, and be aware of what it means, when you run into it. For the purposes of the broader conversation, I tend to...personally use “aphobia” if I’m speaking to the community. Because that’s what most people in the community know. And I tend to use “acephobia” if I’m. Speaking more outside of the community, because of the fact that...a lot of allos and allies can still recognize “ace” as being shorthand for “asexual.” Certainly not all of ’em, but a growing amount.
Royce: And the distinction between...asexual, and aromantic, and agender, when just shortening to “a”...is lost on some.
Courtney: There are so many things “a” could mean, yes. So, I–
Royce: It could just mean that someone has. A. Phobia!
Courtney: I don’t think that could mean that at all!
Courtney: There’s no space in that word!
Royce: I meant that it could be interpreted as such.
Courtney: Yeah, I’ve definitely had some real jerks in my life be like... When I’m saying, “Yeah. I’m asexual.”And they’re like, “You’re. Uh. Sexual?” And then they raise the eyebrow. It’s like [crosstalk][40:05] [sarcastically] I haven’t heard that one before.
Royce: A sexual deviant?
Courtney: A. Sexual...
Royce: I can’t remember the rest of that BoJack...scene.
Courtney: What’s another word... Oh, that was a ‘BoJack Horseman’ scene?
Royce: Yeah! When [40:18] Todd is talking to him.
Courtney: Oh my goodness!
Royce: You know. THE. Best. Represented asexual in media?
Courtney: We cannot get into talking about Todd this episode, ‘cause we will be here all night. But someday!
Courtney: We’ll talk about the joys of Todd. I had completely forgotten that that was even in BoJack Horseman. I think the first time I heard that, was...at minimum, 10 years ago. Where someone in my real life was like, “You’re, uhh, sexual? You’re, a...sexual?” and giving me the eyes. It’s like…[frustrated] Get. Out. Any allos out there, watchin’ the BoJack Horseman.
Courtney: Way more real than you probably even thought it was.
Courtney: There were many. Large. Tweets, and op-eds. That gained...an unfortunate amount of traction, that...contributed to a lot. Of. Ace. Phobia. The one I want to talk about, right now. Today– because this has MORE than enough content. To fill up the rest of our episode, and then some– is “Girlguiding.” Which, as an American, I had to Google.
Courtney: UK-based… For all my fellow Americans, it seems like their version of the Girl Scouts? I was a Girl Scout for many years. So...that’s my parallel. It’s definitely a charity. If it’s not overtly religious, it least seems to have kind of religious undertones. Which the Girl Scouts also did, in all fairness.
Courtney: The Girlguiding Twitter account made a post, which seemed...very nice. Very supportive. Not very in-your-face at all. I will read it, verbatim, for you. “This week is #AceWeek - a time to raise awareness and understanding of the asexual community. So here’s a shout-out to all of our asexual volunteers and members - thank you for everything you do in Girlguiding.” And there’s a picture of a little...rainbow, in ace flag colors. Seems pretty nice and nondescript, no? Well, apparently not. If you go to this tweet right now. The comments are locked, you cannot comment. You can still retweet, or quote retweet it, but you cannot comment on it. Because there are– no joke– hundreds of comments. I scrolled through every. Damn. One of them. And there was not a SINGLE. Positive one. Not an exaggeration. They were. All. Hatred.
Courtney: When I say that there are hundreds of comments of hatred. I am not. Talking. About. Anonymous accounts with...cartoon avatars, that have five or ten Twitter followers. There were. Big. Names, on here. There were MPs. There were celebrities. I saw dozens of...blue checkmark accounts. There were best-selling authors chiming in. I even saw a trans woman adding to the hatred. And, not that anyone was claiming that he is...the picture. Of virtue. Or an expected ally, by any means. But, to give you an idea of the kind of reach that this was getting. Piers Morgan chimed in. And said, “For fuck’s sake. What fresh virtue-signaling hell is this?????” With five question marks. These are the kind of accounts. We are not talking about. Bots. Or very small accounts. This is...hundreds of comments. A wall of hatred. From a lot of very prominent people, in fact.
Courtney: We’ll get into reading some of these actual comments, because some of these, you are gonna need to hear to believe. The really, really weird thing...
Courtney: ...is this...juxtaposition. Because...people will simultaneously diminish the ace experience. By claiming that we aren’t discriminated against. We aren’t “really” queer. We don’t belong in the LGBT community. At the same time. They will use. Exactly. The same language. That is used to target...trans women. That are used to target– not as much recently– any level of homosexuality, 30 years ago. They use exactly the same rhetoric. Towards asexuality, today. A lotta people don’t see it. So this may come as a surprise to you, if you are not in this community already. Asexuality is simultaneously “not a real sexuality,” but also, “utterly inappropriate for children!” Somehow it is both. At exactly the same time.
Courtney: At first, you start to see– over and over– the people who are just...playing the role of Enraged Parent, online. Who are saying, “This is why I withdrew my daughter from the Guides!” Or, “Really glad my girls are grown up, and aren’t in your organization anymore!” Then you see the word “inappropriate.” Over and over and over again. Inappropriate. Unnecessary. Troubling. “Adult sexuality, of ANY hue, should have no place in the context of working with children. You have badly lost your way.” Then, comments like, “Holy shit. This is BEYOND inappropriate!” And, “Not appropriate! Children in your care come to Guides to enjoy the outdoors. Foisting your own issues onto them is not acceptable!”
Courtney: First of all, if we have any...U.K. aces out there, listening to this, who were a member of the Guides. Please tweet at me, and tell me if you actually did enjoy the outdoors.
Courtney: I actually have several friends in the U.K. It came to my attention...within the last year. That some of them did not know of the joys, and the hells, of...Girl Scout cookies. The capitalist monstrosity that is...teaching girls to go door-to-door to sell them. I don’t think they’re allowed to go door-to-door anymore. We did go door-to-door, when I was in the Girl Scouts. Back in the day. I don’t think they’re allowed to do that anymore.
Courtney: I don’t remember actually going camping, outdoors, in the woods– even once– when I was in the Girl Scouts. We met up at either...a local church, or a local library. And just...had meetings after school. Sometimes did crafts. Sometimes tried to...mentor even younger children. Very little actual outdoors work goin’ on. Maybe the U.K. does it better than us. Who can say?
Courtney: You have your comments that say “Ridiculous nonsense,” and “This is one of the many reasons I pulled my girls out.” Then you see the “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” You see people say, “What does this have to do with your core mission?” That got me thinking, ‘What IS their core mission?’ So I had to actually go to their website. And, the sheer irony... Their first. Three...in their six...core themes. I think, fit very well into ace awareness. Or, awareness of any LGBT identity. Their very first theme is, “Know myself.” Followed by, “Be well.” And then, “Express myself.” Knowing yourself. And expressing yourself. Definitely fits in with...awareness of variety of identities. First of all.
Courtney: People, over an’ over an’ over again, kept saying, “These are 10 to 14 year old girls!” I don’t know about all of you listening out there, but I definitely– by the time I was age 14? I DEFINITELY– knew I was not...allo. I didn’t necessarily have all of the right terminology. But I definitely knew I wasn’t like all of my other girl friends, who are startin’ to have “those talks.”
Royce: A common refrain in the comments is that, “The age of consent is–” ...whatever it is in the U.K., probably 18? I think that’s right– and the idea that asexuality is intertwined with the actual act of having sex, and not experiencing sexual attraction. Not even to incorporate a romanticism, which would surface...much, much earlier. I can remember. People. Liking each other, in elementary school. I can remember. People. Expressing that they had sexual attraction, either towards people in the same grade, or...towards the attractive young teacher, in middle school.
Courtney: I think I was 5 the first time a boy, my age, sexually assaulted me!
Courtney: I’m sorry. We put the content warnings out there. But...to think that kids have never, ever, ever been exposed to– even, the very CONCEPT– of a sexuality. Or an...even vaguer attraction. Is...ludicrous. It’s so disingenuous, ’cause I do not believe that all of these people commenting, genuinely think that they had NO such thing as ANY...orientational awareness. Under the age of– and, actually, I think you said 18? I think the U.K. is the same as most of the U.S., which is– 16, being the age of consent. That’s neither here nor there. Children definitely know things about themselves earlier than that.
Royce: That brings up a good point. You mentioned orientation. Once you read through enough comments, you see that...this is all just ignorance. Because, many comments are...mentioning. The idea of chastity, in place of asexuality.
Courtney: One of my favorites. Along those lines. And remember, this was just a “Happy Ace Week! Happy Ace Awareness!” They cited volunteers first. Which, I imagine, all of their volunteers are adults. Probably like, I assumed, the U.S. version of a Scout leader. Was who they were talking about. Someone literally said, “Or you could just let girls be girls.” Which, if you really dig in...to that. It gets really...gross and concerning, really fast. If they’re saying, “We are promoting ace awareness. It is okay to not have sexual attraction. To have little, to no, sexual attraction. That is okay.” And to have someone respond with, [deep, creepy voice] “...or you could just let girls be girls.” ...eww?
Courtney: Right? Doesn’t that insinuate that a girl, being a girl, must inherently have some level of sexual attraction? Eventually, even if they aren’t claiming as a kid, but eventually? It’s also way too much of a parallel to the old, “Oh, boys will be boys!” line. Which is...FREQUENTLY used...to justify. Sexual assault.
Courtney: Some of them get kind of funny. ’Cause, someone goes, “Oh, purple-haired Gen-Z-er in charge of social media, yet again?” Oh, how right, they were! If only they knew what the color purple meant, to the ace community. Why yes, thank you.
Courtney: From this, often purple-haired, Millennial. I support the purple haired Gen-Z-ers!
Courtney: A lot of ableism, along the lines of, ‘Have you gone mad? Are you crazy? You’re insane.’ The, very British, ‘Have you taken leave of your senses?’ Which, yes. All of those are ableist. Some of those are things we throw around, as a generic insult. I, personally, have been trying very hard to take “crazy” out of my vocabulary...for the last year or two. That’s a hard one. “Crazy” is so ingrained as a catch-all for, ‘It is wild. It is wrong. It is weird. It is high-energy.’ Crazy is such a catch-all word. But, at the end of the day, it is ableist. So, I’m trying to take that one out. Forgive me if I slip up here and there!
Courtney: Then I started seeing these hashtags pop up. Hashtag “ComeOutOfStonewall.” I thought...this is, different. Let’s look this up. Again, I’m an American, and I was very absorbed in Ace Week during the time this was happening. I wasn’t taking a look at. Much other, outside news. From what I’ve been able to glean, from...searching that hashtag, and looking around... It seems, quite recently, there was a major protest. Led by the...hate group, “The LGB Alliance.” Emphasis on the lack of “T.” Or anything thereafter. This is something I actually know of. Only because, I do have some British friends. I just learned about them– maybe about a year ago. Perhaps slightly less– talking to some of my friends. This is an organization that, as an American, until I was exposed. To other people, who are right there. I was not familiar with them. They are...what we would like to call, “TERFs.” Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists.
Royce: This was a bit of a surprise to me, too. For the rest of the world, who is not keyed into the U.K. The U.K. has a really. Weird. Surprising. Prominent. TERF issue.
Courtney: A HUGE TERF issue! I’m not saying that. The U.S. doesn’t have. TERFs. All over the place. We certainly do. But, after being exposed to this in the U.K., I’ve come to believe that they are...heavily organized, over there. We have the...one-off TERF, here and there. We have small clusters of TERFs. Over there. They have...organizations, and a targeted hate group. It is...much. More prominent of an issue. People who are prominent parts of these organizations are getting...interviewed...for pieces on the BBC...all the time. I’m seeing them quoted in The Daily Mail. They, actually, are. Getting platformed. All the time. Because they are heavily organized.
Courtney: I am confident that that heavy organization is playing a huge part in the acephobia that we’re seeing here, as well. ’Cause so many of these comments are really similar. You see the same words, over and over again. You start to hear the “Leave the kids alone!” Leave the kids alone from what? You think the kids...are on Twitter? The 10...to 14 year olds, that they’re saying? Maybe the 13 and 14 year olds are. But, I went to the Girlguiding website and they have younger age brackets than 10, also. The kids aren’t getting. Harassed. To learn about asexuality. So I don’t know where that came from.
Courtney: Over and over again. “Leave the kids alone. Stop jamming this down their throats. Let kids be kids.” And then, “What the fuck? Just focus on giving girls great experiences and life skills. And stop obsessing about people’s sex lives. You’re insane!” Things like, “This is just gross!” Gross? What on Earth. Was gross. About that post?
Courtney: Back to the point about people calling out age of consent. I did find one other, really good, quote here. It’s very much of two minds, and I can’t quite make out what their point is. “Girlguides are age 10 to 14. The age of consent for sexual activity, in the U.K. is 16. NONE of them should be having sex. And it WOULDN’T mean that they are all asexual.” Are you saying...that they should. Have a sexual orientation, and be sexually attracted to people, but shouldn’t have sex?
Royce: This is just a variant on the...movement against accurate information, that we’re sometimes seeing in the U.S.?
Courtney: Oh, absolutely. And the same thing we’ve seen, to...target homosexuality...since, Stonewall!
Courtney: If we’re being real, this is the...Same rhetoric, over and over again. It’s, maybe, a little less socially acceptable to say these things directly against– let’s say– a cis gay man? I feel like, if people started piling on a celebration of cis homosexuality like this. There would be at least some people...countering them in the comments. Pretty quickly. But this was able to spiral. Like I said, hundreds of comments. With not a single. Positive. One. Before they shut the comments off.
Courtney: ALL queer identities...get this same hatred. For some reason, allos are absolutely baffled– whether they’re queer or not– when I say, that...the asexual community does get legitimate prejudice. They just can’t...wrap their heads around the fact that we get– sometimes verbatim– exactly what they are getting. I can only imagine, reading through these comments, that these are the same kind of people who preach abstinence-only sex education. I’m sure they’re the ones who are saying, “No. Sex. No. Thinking about sex. No. Desiring sex.” And yet...they’re also making comments, saying “You shouldn’t be forcing our kids to be asexual.” It’s almost like they WANT...their children to have a sex drive, and sexual attraction. But they DON’T want them to act on it. It’s this weird...pseudo-religious penance...
Courtney: ...that you’re dooming the children to. It’s very weird, the duality of this.
Courtney: Then you get all of these people, talking about...how horrible asexuals are. How we shouldn’t talk about them. But then you see the people who are like, “First of all, young girls shouldn’t even be thinking about being asexual or not. Second of all, being asexual is not an oppressed group. They may have lumped themselves in with the alphabet soup, but it’s moronic. It’s just people who don’t want to have sex.” Yeah. We get that all the time. We get people...
Courtney: ...who, first of all, clearly don’t understand what it means to be asexual. They also pile on the hatred, while also saying we’re not getting the hatred. At the same time!
Courtney: Then, of course, you have the one-off comment that’s like, “Aren’t all children asexual.?”
[Courtney gasps dramatically, then laughs]
Royce: You spoke on this a little bit earlier. That, one...common misconception, stems from. The difference between action and orientation. I was trying to think of an example of this, as we were preparing for this podcast. Oftentimes, the easiest thing to do, is to...use the largest minority group. The most visible minority group, in place of asexuality. I started to think, ‘How would you describe...the life of, a long-closeted gay man, for example?’ If you were to say, that there was a young boy. Who took a while before they were attracted to other people. And then, dated women. And got married to a woman. And then had a child. And then realized that they were...actually homosexual. Got a divorce. And married a man. Would you say that their life path was...first being asexual? Then being heterosexual? Then being homosexual? No [crosstalk][1:00:33], they were always homosexual.
Royce: It just...took them a while to. Realize that. In the face of all of these societal pressures that they had.
Courtney: You could use exactly the same...analogy. For people who try to discredit asexual people who do decide to have sex...for whatever reason they want. It doesn’t even matter, so I’m not even gonna name them! But if someone who is asexual has sex. You can’t say, “Ha! Gotcha! You’re not asexual, ’cause you had sex!” Nobody. Could ever POSSIBLY say. That there has never once. Been a gay man. Who has slept with a woman. Nobody would claim that. Well...I say that, but there’re some...REAL weirdos out there!
[Royce and Courtney both laugh]
Courtney: This comment really, really gets me. Someone says, “Why? The word ‘No,’ or words ‘Not interested, thank you,’ have worked ever-so well, for decades! Guess you’ve been indoctrinated by Stonewall and Mermaids, who are being discredited with every heartbeat!”
Courtney: Are you really saying that, every time someone has said “No,” they have not ever once had a sexual advance...forced upon them? ’Cause I know!
Royce: [pained] I don’t get the “Mermaids” comment.
Courtney: Let me fill you in on the Mermaids comment. It could be of two [sic] things. If I had to guess, based on the context of this, I’m assuming. They’re attacking. Trans folks. There are some...trans charities...that use “mermaid.” Either in their name, or in their iconography. Because, anecdotally, there are a lot of trans kids who. As children. Are really, really interested in, and obsessed with mermaids. A lot of people, after having grown up into adulthood as a trans person. Or their supportive parents, who have watched them grow. A lot of them have started to theorize, “This is a thing that happens...all the time. I wonder if it’s because this is a beautiful, mythical creature, who...does. Not. Have. Any. Human. Genitalia. So people who have some level of...body dysmorphia [sic], from a young age. When...fantasy and whimsy is still very much...present. It would make sense that people sorta latch on to...the mermaid...image. I assume that’s...this commenter’s frame of reference.
Courtney: I have– more rarely, but occasionally– seen mermaids used. To convey some matters of asexuality. I’ve seen some really heavy mythology and folklore people. Speculate that…[breathily] the sexual allure of mermaids. Is so, heavily present. Because...you can’t. “Get with them,” sexually.
Courtney: They don’t have...human sex organs. So, they may be gorgeous, and have a human form, but you can’t sleep with them. That’s...a deep, sociology cut. I guess. For how some...history folks have taken mermaids to be. A bit of an ace icon. But that’s a lot more obscure than...I’ve seen it, in trans circles.
Courtney: So, then there’s all the really fun ones that say there...IS no asexual community. That doesn’t exist. There’s this one, that says, “There is no ‘asexual community.’ There are just people who temporarily or permanently have no interest in sex.” First of all, that’s wrong. And also, [jokingly] you can think that...until we invade Denmark. Then you will know...
Courtney: ...what. The ace community. Really is! And our true powers!
Courtney: Then you get the REALLY weird comments. Where you wish you had a little more. They said a few more words, or you could get a little peek inside their head. Because then you have this one, that says, “Do you have any CLUE about WHO? The people ARE? In the ‘Ace Community,’ or what you are signposting children towards?” Please, fill me in!
Courtney: Tell me more! Who ARE the people in the ace community? What ARE we signposting the children toward?
Courtney: Desserts. And garlic bread.
Royce: And dual citizenship.
Courtney: Is it really dual citizenship, if we...overthrow an entire country, in order to establish our own...?
Royce: As long as they maintain citizenship in their birth country, yes. Technically.
Courtney: Alright. I’m on board with that! Why not? We are in favor of dual citizenship. As an ace community, that has been decided. By us. Here today, on The Ace Couple!
Courtney: Then you get the really. Deeply. Sinister comments. Where...your brain had to do many jumps to get here, but LOTS of them did. This first comment...says, “Completely inappropriate. Young girls should be able to enjoy themselves without adults filling their heads with all this nonsense! It sounds like grooming to me.” I don’t know what. They think. Asexual “grooming” is. But you see the word “grooming” over, and over, and over again. You see “grooming,” and you see “pedophiles.”
Royce: My guess is that. This is one of those age-old, bigoted statements that the homosexual community is very familiar with. Where...any form of non-heteronormativity. Is immediately. Obscene. It’s immediately. Deviance. It’s not just that a person is gay, because...the speaker doesn’t believe that that is “a thing.” It’s that they’re...a pedophile. Or it’s...a case of bestiality. Or something in that manner.
Courtney: And we see that...evolve here. People start to say, “What next? Age Play Week? Furry Week? Literally all children should be ace, you fucking pedos. Next up, Incel Week!”
Royce: Honestly? The artwork that would be posted during Furry Week, would probably be...pretty good.
Courtney: I think that’s just called Halloween, for children. Aww, the U.K. doesn’t really have Halloween. Poor you!
Courtney: [jokingly] I don’t know if you’re aware of this, U.K.– I know you are– children dress up as animals, all the time!
Courtney: This time of year... Especially the last...five years? Just wearing an animal onesie. Has been a huge trend. In Halloween costumes.
Royce: The Furry Agenda at work?
Courtney: The Furry Agenda!
Courtney: [dramatically] We cannot have it! Too. Much. Cuteness. I wish I had a gavel. We should get a gavel, too.
Royce: A squeaky one, or a hard one?
Courtney: A real one! I wanna…
[Courtney makes gavel-striking sounds with her mouth. Knocking sound is also heard.]
Courtney: Ya know what I’m talkin’ about? I wanna be able to bang. The gavel. Make decisions. Here, live, on the podcast. We’ll...put it in a note. We’ll get to that later. If anyone wants to contribute to our gavel fund, [poshly] we have a Ko-fi account...
Courtney: So, then we get into the...gender. Comments. This goes back to what you were saying, Royce. Where people really lump...anything that isn’t cis-het-allo-normativity into one box. And call it bad. And call it Satan’s work.
Royce: Well, it’s...worth calling out here. Before we started to prepare for this, I was not aware of...this new TERF movement, that was “LGB.” Where they acknowledge. Homosexuality. And bisexuality. But they completely discount any sort of gender. Identity. Whatsoever. Lumped in with that, they also discount...asexuality, aromanticism, intersex...really, anything that doesn’t fit into those first three characteristics.
Courtney: It’s true. They really put it all in the same camp. So, anytime someone asks me, “What possible hate can you get, as an asexual?” It’s like, “Anything you can imagine any other member of the queer community gets.” Honestly. It is. All the same, for some of these people. Going back to the “What’s next, Furry Week?” I just found some MORE. That are like, “What next, are you going to give the girls a badge for knitting gimp masks?” How did we get from asexuality to knitting gimp masks?!
Royce: [teasing] Gimp masks do. Sell. For more, individually. Than Girl Scout cookies!
[Courtney gasps dramatically]
Courtney: The U.K...I have. A business...proposition...for you.
Courtney: No. Do you know how much bank those Girl Scout cookies get? And it is child labor. We see NONE of those proceeds.
Royce: That is in quantity, though, not in quality. A good gimp mask should last for a long time!
Courtney: And you know this, from all of the gimp masks that you have purchased?
Royce: I’m just saying, that either sewing, or leatherworking, is a more valuable skill. Than. Cookie-selling.
Courtney: It’s true. Those girls, would. Always. Have a job. At their local Renaissance Faire. “What next, a badge in kink, and slut-shaming?” Is that one badge for, “Get you a girl who can do both”? Or are those two, distinct badges?
[Courtney laughing throughout]
Royce: I didn’t understand that comment. Why would a kink-friendly community also slut-shame?
Courtney: We are teaching versatility here!
Courtney: Life skills! No. It’s ludicrous. The whole lot of this is...nonsense.
Courtney: You do start getting people into talking about gender, which...has nothing, inherently, to do with asexuality. Sexuality and gender...are. Two. Separate. Things. The way you express those things, might...intertwine. And have something to do with one another. But...gender’s a very...sociological concept, and it’s a very...abstract one. It means different things to different people. Saying you’re asexual. Full stop. With no other clarification, says nothing at all about one’s gender.
Courtney: Seeing these comments was actually really, really interesting for me. I. Was...interviewed on a podcast, with a sex coach. Several years back, at this point. I think it was actually released during Ace Week. Now that I’m thinking of it. We talked about asexuality. She was very supportive. She earnestly wanted to learn. I very much appreciated that. But there was one question that was asked. That was, “I heard that asexuality doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with gender. Is that true? What can you tell me more about that?” I was very...confused, that that was even a question. It never once crossed my mind, that people would. Lump those. Two, distinct characteristics. Directly in with one another.
Courtney: At the time, it was just me being interviewed. You weren’t there. But, we were obviously married. We talked about our relationship, some. So I was at least able to say, “All asexuals have their own...individual, gender identity. I am a cis woman. Whereas my spouse...is agender. We’re both still asexual, but we have different gender identities.” I think that was a really good way of explaining that, because it wasn’t from one perspective. The fact that that even came up as a question really surprised me. But these comments really, really show that some people just...throw it all in one box.
Royce: I am... A. Gender. One of them, maybe.
Courtney: Which gender are you?
Courtney: Please. Tell us!
Courtney: You start to see the questions that. Begin with sexuality. And say, “Your sexuality, or lack of it, should be private. There is absolutely no need for anyone else, to be told about it, or interested in it. As long as the person involved is deemed safe to look after children. Bringing creepy gender issues into this, is not what Guiding was designed for.” So there we have a “gender issue” spotting. We have, “Wholly inappropriate, and NOT what parents are assuming their girls are being taught. Clearly captured by the gender idealogues. You are a disgrace. And if you had any regards for the girls in your care, you’d take yourself out of Stonewall, fast. I sincerely hope parents start to sue you!”
Courtney: I start to see, horrible...comments about, “Oh, are you going to let your biologically male trans women, start to shower naked with all of your young girls?”
Courtney: ...don’t know how we got here! But, sir, YOU are the one who took us here.
Courtney: The original post. Had nothing to do with that. And you do start to see, a lot of these people commenting are prominent...[pained] LGB...Alliance. Supporters. Very unfortunate. People just really, ‘Stonewall, Stonewall, Stonewall. Shameful, that you have fallen for this garbage! Stonewall points matter more than girls? Not a good look!’ Here’s how deep they start to take it. Again, this is a comment. “Asexuality. We support you, if you exist.”
Courtney: “Here’s a clue. Children who have been medicalized, and effectively sterilized– Nazis, anyone?– probably won’t have any interest in sex in their futures, because they will have been neutered. Leave them alone. #sexmatters #wheresthesafeguarding #comeoutofstonewall” Courtney note. Don’t look up any of those hashtags. It’s not worth it.
Courtney: Do they really think, that the Asexual Agenda, is...sterilizing children, like the Nazis did? So disingenuous!
Royce: Considering the Gay Agenda is trying to turn everyone gay, or the Trans Agenda is trying to turn everyone trans. That is probably. Given their misguided idea of what asexuality actually is. IS what they see this movement as.
Courtney: There are overt comments that are like, “Where are your materials to help the girls and the young women, who FEEL like they’re asexual, because of this warped culture we’re in?” You’re advocating, helping...girls...to not feel asexual, if they think they’re asexual. And yet, saying “We support you, if you’re asexual” is wrong? It’s nonsense. And there’s obviously no...reasoning, with these people. We’ll share a couple more highlights. We won’t psychoanalyze too hard, because...this is just. Pure prejudice. There is no way to...rationalize. Prejudice, in this sense. Not when it’s...piled on. With hundreds of comments, from the same. Like-minded...Organizers? Haters?
Royce: Bigots gonna bigot.
Courtney: Bigots gonna bigot! “So glad my daughters are older now. Never thought Girlguiding would be a grooming ground for the sexualization of little girls. Disgusting!” “Who wrote this tweet? Were they high on meth?” Oh...meth. That’s. Funny.
Royce: They’re not from South Dakota.
[Courtney laughing frequently throughout]
Courtney: They’re not. But I. Am! Which, I guess makes me an authority to speak on meth. Oh... A couple of years ago– this was after I moved out of South Dakota, but still keepin’ up on South Dakota news– the entire state of South Dakota decided to put out a PSA campaign. That was supposed to be against. The use of methamphetamines. However...their slogan was, “Meth. We’re on it!” So deliciously horrible!
Courtney: So yeah. “Who wrote this tweet? Were they high on meth? Was it a directive from Stonewall, or Gendered Intelligence? Does a dry Friday night count as asexual? Why should young girls be indoctrinated with this imbecilic bollocks? #sexmatters #sexnotgender” I do like the phrase, “imbecilic buttocks.” [crosstalk][1:18:00] Bollocks. Ball. Locks.
Courtney: That’s hard for my American mouth to say. Imbecilic bollocks!
Courtney: No. [singsongy] A “dry” Friday night does not count as being asexual.
Royce: The word “bollocks” pulls all of the venom out of the message, for me. I’m not even mad about it anymore.
Courtney: Yeah. Do Brits know how soft their insults sound, to Americans? I feel like...
Royce: ...they need to take some lessons from the Irish an’ the Scots?
Courtney: They really do! They really do.
Courtney: Then we get the, “One– Not being able to form and sustain a deep, meaningful, sexual relationship is NOT something to celebrate. And two– This is completely inappropriate for the. Fucking. Girlguides.” I think this person is implying that...they DO want the children, to form. Deep, meaningful, sexual relationships. Y’know, after they’re out of the Girlguides. Above the age of 14. Once ya hit 15, you’re good! It’s...so, so weird. The fact that people...use sexual relationships, to be the be-all, end-all, of...connection? And meaning? Is just so, so foreign to me. Because everyone...the allos. The cis-hets. They all lump in...sexual and romantic attraction. As exactly the same thing. And aesthetic attraction, usually, on top of that. As exactly the same thing. They cannot fathom that a relationship will be...meaningful, or sustainable. If one of those is missing.
Courtney: Ope! We’ve got yet another...message of grooming. But also, a wonderful. Very unamerican insult. That also kind of takes me out of it right at the end. So this is quite a beautiful. “Nope. Nope. Nope. This entirely inappropriate and groomy. Are you trying to tick woke boxes and get hipster points, or are you just completely stupid? My money is on the latter. You absolute plonkers!”
[Courtney laughing frequently throughout]
Courtney: I also really like this one. “Adults, leave your fucking sexuality at home!” Honey, I leave my sexuality at home every day. That’s kinda the point. Except, I don’t really leave the house much anymore since quarantine. Maybe I left my sexuality outside. “No one else wants or should be a participant in your sexual kinks, or lack thereof. Surely not little girls!” We can’t have kinks, but we can’t NOT have kinks? What is this kink-ception hellscape? What do you want from us?!
Courtney: “What is an asexual community? Why would people with a low sex drive feel the need to build a special community? Who gets discriminated against for having a low sex drive?” Well, I think these comments have...shown ya that answer. “For fuck’s sakes! Girlguiding is entrenched in gender ideology. I knew it was inclusive of trans women and girls, and refuses to allow parents information on whether someone identifies within their Girlguide group, risking safeguarding. But sexualizing Girlguides? Seriously?” This is clearly someone who is angry that they let trans girls in, which...is exactly what they should be doing.
Courtney: Then we’ll leave off with this. One last. Comment here. “They call this diversity and inclusion, but this is grooming! To explain asexuality, you have to explain sexual practices, and the absence of the urge. You risk giving your children an asexual identity, themselves!”
Courtney: “Massive safeguarding fail!” It’s the same, homophobic panic. That we’ve seen for decades. I don’t know what more to tell ya. In that same thread. This organization– just supporting the ace community– has been called inappropriate. Asexuals have been compared to pedophiles. To groomers. It’s... You know what it is? It’s imbecilic bollocks!
Courtney: To prove my point, that this is so much more of a targeted effort, in the U.K. than the U.S. I decided to try to take my...theory. And I went to the. Official Twitter account for the Girl Scouts, in the U.S. I tried to see if they’ve said...anything. About ANY queer community. Any pride post. Whatsoever. I did actually find two of them. Back in June for PRIDE Month, they had a “Happy PRIDE Month” pose [sic], kind of a vague thing. They also had a Girl Scout who had done...some kind of project. About inclusivity of LGBT communities, and they were promoting that. Showed the girl, and what this project was. Between those two posts. There is only one. Negative comment. Only one! And it was VERY mellow. Very, very mellow, compared to anything we’re seeing on this. I can’t remember, off the top of my head, what it was. But there were no insults. It was clearly just...one mildly incensed. Man on Twitter. Nothing really to take note about. Nothing to talk about on a podcast for.
Courtney: We really need to be aware of these. We need to...be on the lookout, and look out for one another, and protect our own mental health. And we need to let...the allies we have, know. Exactly what kind of discrimination we get. Exactly the sort of targeted...attacks, like this, that are happening. I have. Certain people in my life, who are as well-meaning as can be. I know if they were seeing this, they would be speaking up about it. But a LOT of allies are not. Seeing this.
Courtney: If you’ve made it this far, I hope...
Courtney: I hope it was interesting, I hope you learned something, maybe. Maybe our commentary was a little entertaining. We’re gonna try to have a bit of a lighter topic, next week. Just so we can...decompress a little bit. Huge thank you, to everyone who made Ace Week a great success. And...self-care wishes, to every single one of you who had to see that Girlguiding fiasco first-hand, for yourself. We will talk at you guys next time.