r/AmITheAsshole? Asexuality Edition

Today we're comin' atcha with 5 stories from r/AmITheAsshole that all somehow revolve around the topic of asexuality. We have Ace people, Straight people, Gay people, and "Allies" who have submitted themselves for our judgment via reddit.

Transcript

Courtney: Welcome to r/AmItheButthole. Where OP is clearly not the asexual ally he claims to be. What is this? A crossover episode? Hi, bet I had you all, didn't I? You thought this was the wrong podcast. Joke's on you, this is The Ace Couple.

Royce: So one of Courtney's guilty pleasures is to listen to certain subreddits on the rSlash YouTube channel when getting ready in the morning.

Courtney: I especially like r/AmItheAsshole. I really do. So, this is all. I, you know, I feel like we don't need to explain what Reddit is on a podcast. I assume most of you know about Reddit and by extension the subreddit Am I The Asshole? But a super brief primer for those of you who may not be in the know; AmItheAsshole is a forum where people present themselves for judgment. And I live. It is very good because as someone who often just hyperfixates and thinks about past scenarios and often extends maybe more grace than is deserved to other parties when there's conflict, I'm often left wondering, you know, was, was I the jerk? Was I wrong in that conversation? And that's the entire premise of this subreddit. It's very cathartic. I love when people willfully say, “Here are all of my cards, they are on the table. Please tell me, in earnest, if I was, in fact, the asshole in this situation.” And just two days ago, a certain story came to my attention because it has a lot to do with Asexuality. So that got us thinking that we could maybe get some good conversations going if we just search the word Asexual on this subreddit, and read some of the stories. So that's exactly what we're going to do. Since I already found and read this particular story, Royce, I'm gonna go ahead and read this to you and please feel free to react or interject as you have thoughts. But we're going to discuss this. And then we're just going to foray back into this subreddit and see what else we can find.

Courtney: This story is titled: “Am I the asshole for throwing my asexual brother a proper bachelor party?” So you know this is going to be good. The poster writes, “I’ll preface this by saying my brother (26m) and I (29m) are super close. And he is about to get married to his lovely girlfriend of 5 years. He has been out as asexual for two of those years and she's been supportive of that. So have I, love who you love and all that. I’m an ally. I am the best man at his wedding, or I was the best man at his wedding. His fiancée told me last night that I’m out of the wedding party now and that my brother was too uncomfortable to make that choice himself (that’s weird if you ask me, be a man and come to me yourself, but whatever). I asked her why and she said it was because I didn’t respect him. When pressing further she said it was because he’s asexual. But I have been nothing but supportive of his life choices. Nobody asked him to have sex with anybody.

Courtney: [reading] “I was in charge of his bachelor party and I threw him a fucking amazing party. There was booze and games, and all the shit you’d expect. But problem was, apparently he is rejecting the standard Bachelor party stuff. And that would’ve been fine but he never told me he wanted anything different. So around the halfway point of the party, I’d ordered a stripper to come in and give my brother a lap dance. And she came in and he was immediately really weird and tried to like, push her onto someone else. And I tried to encourage him that it was cool and not cheating or anything but he was pissed, called his fiancée, and after about ten minutes left the venue early. I tried to confront him about it outside but he told me that he’d “talk to me when he had cooled off” and he got in his car and left. But he never talked to me about it, and his fiancée did to tell me I was out of the best man slot. Should I even go to the wedding? Am I a bad brother? Am I the asshole?”

Royce: So that was a shorter story than I expected.

Courtney: What's your synopsis?

Royce: Well, I think we should walk through it kind of step-by-step. So the first red flag that I saw in this post was when OP said that his brother didn't come to him directly.

Courtney: My first red flag was the title. [laughs]

Royce: Oh the Proper Bachelor Party? I was ignoring that.

Courtney: Continue, continue.

Royce: But it was specifically the ‘be a man and come to me yourself’ because that kind of language where you have a very rigid idea of what behavioral norms are, normally goes hand-in-hand with a lack of…

Courtney: Empathy for other experiences?

Royce: …knowledge or acceptance of behavioral preferences, or differences

Courtney: Yeah, very much that. Because we sort of get glimpses of just a base layer of toxic masculinity throughout here because “be a man”... compare that also with a “proper bachelor party”, there's a lot of assumptions about what a man is and what a proper bachelor party is. But I also want to call out, just first of all, anyone who's prefacing a story with “I'm an ally,” very rarely actually is. And it seems quite dismissive in the way he presents it because “I've been supportive of his asexuality, love who you love and all that. I'm an ally” it kind of seems dismissive of what his brother’s actual specific experience is, because we know very little about the brother other than he was upset with this bachelor party.

Royce: Well, we know that he seems to be hesitant to talk to his brother, OP, about things like this and that could be indicative of a habit of dismissing his own personal beliefs.

Courtney: Yes. Yes, because “love who you love and all that,” kind of– it’s kind of giving me, “You told me this piece of information about you. I don't think it's all that important or relevant. So I'm just going to file it away and shove it off to the side because I'm an ally. I'm not going to hate you for that.”

Royce: I'm just not going to understand what it actually means.

Courtney: It doesn't mean full support or understanding.

Royce: So then the next part is he says that he threw an amazing bachelor party, all this stuff you'd expect and then says the problem was apparently my brother rejected all the standard stuff. So OP here had an idea of what a bachelor party is supposed to be, which is a very allo-normative sex-centric sort of thing and didn't think, “maybe my brother doesn't want that.”

Courtney: It's also– honestly, I'm a little surprised that the brother throwing this party is only 29? Because I kind of feel like people in their twenties have kind of started rejecting the traditional– “traditional bachelor party” and “bachelorette party” norms. Surely some people still have them, but I feel like not in the same way our parents' ideas of what a bachelor party is, or straight people in their 40s, you know.

Royce: I mean it wouldn't surprise me if he was like 29 and was in a frat five years ago.

Courtney: Oh… There is that, there is that. I mean, I just want to take a moment to explain, and obviously I shouldn't have to explain on a podcast like this that asexuals are not a monolith. Some people might still have fun in a traditional bachelor party setting, but from my point of view, bachelor parties are so weird. They are so weird. And honestly, I don't think I would attend a bachelor party or bachelorette party if I thought it was going to be traditional with strippers, because I would be very uncomfortable in that situation. And in fact, I really loathe when parties like this show up to, like, public places and are really kind of obnoxious in public about it. Like I've been at bars in public totally removed from these parties where a bachelorette party will come in and they bring a stripper to this public bar, and all of a sudden it's a spectacle and this is normally, like, women who are also carrying around, like, inflatable phalluses things. Like, I didn't sign up to be here. Why are you doing this in public? So I think it's just weird to assume that this is what everyone wants too, but there's kind of a consent issue here whether or not his brother is Asexual. I feel like any time something sexual comes into play, like a stripper, I feel like you need to get consent for that.

Royce: You would think so. In the next part he says, “This would have all been fine. But he never told me he wanted anything different.” And that seems like OP is only telling half the story. It sounds like there's just never a conversation. And–

Courtney: It also sounds like he didn't ask.

Royce: That's what I'm saying.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: It sounds like he just assumed, “Oh bachelor party, we're gonna do the traditional thing.” Without actually thinking of his brother as an individual person who has maybe a different set of wishes or expectations.

Courtney: It sounds like he threw the bachelor party he wanted, not the one his brother wanted.

Royce: Yeah, and then the surprise he said he felt when his brother “started acting weird” when he told the stripper to give him a lap dance, kind of contradicts the opening line of “me and my brother are super close.”

Courtney: And it also contradicts that I'm an ally.

Royce: Well, my point being, if this was a surprise, you don't know this person.

Courtney: There is a massive disconnect, absolutely. Which also makes me wonder, and this can only be speculation because this is not from the brother’s point of view, but could this be a situation where the brother has expressed disinterest in things of this nature and assumed that their brother understood it? It's possible. I don’t know, either way this needed to be a conversation. 100%. And the– the worst part is the pushing. Because you could have saved it, like, oh the stripper comes in “my brother immediately got really weird and tried to push her on to someone else.” At that point you go, “Oh, shit. Maybe I fucked up. I'm sorry.” You know, tip the stripper and say, “Sorry, we aren't going to need your services.” And let that be that and continue the party. And it probably would have been fine at that point. But he presses it and says, “I encouraged him. I told him it was cool. I told him it's not cheating.” That's just not cool. Whether or not someone's Asexual like, that is this is what we talk about when we talk about compulsory sexuality. This person does not need to be Asexual for this situation to be wrong. And when you talk about things like consent, enthusiastic consent, it's normally very centered on a woman's experience because everyone just kind of assumes, you know, men want sex all the time. Of course, a man wants a stripper at his bachelor party. But it goes– It goes both ways. It goes in every direction, every which way, like, just get consent for nonsense like this. But also “I– I've been supportive of his life choices. Nobody asked him to have sex with anybody.” Like oh, that makes it okay. Not at all.

Courtney: I actually really like this top comment as someone who has been a vegetarian for about 17 years at this point. The top comment says, “You basically ordered a steak for a vegetarian and then didn't understand why they didn't like the smell. You're not an ally, clearly. Take some time to do some reading up on that. It sounds like you threw the party you would want, not the one he would want, so that makes you a jerk brother, too.” So that, that is exactly what I said. I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees that. But a follow-up comment to that says, “It's even worse. It's like he ordered the steak and then cut off a piece and kept trying to shove it in the vegetarian's face. "Take a bite, take a bite, it's FIIIINNNNEEEEEEEE!"” And I honestly kind of like that analogy because that also happens to vegetarians. Oh my gosh, especially when I was younger, especially when I lived in South Dakota and I was very often, like, the only vegetarian a lot of people knew at the time. Absolutely people would be like holding meat in my face and be like, ooh, meat just eat it. Come on, it's good. And just don't. Just in any situation don't try to make people uncomfortable. If you realize something you're doing is making someone uncomfortable, stop. That's like don't be a jerk 101. So yeah, I don't know, there could be some Aces who read that and think that that's a reductive analogy, but I honestly really liked it. I see the comparison as someone who has been in both places. And there's actually one little update as well. Because of course, on this subreddit, the commenters can judge you're the asshole, they are the asshole, you're all the assholes, there aren't any assholes here. But you can also ask more questions if you feel like you don't have enough information to make a ruling. And someone actually asked, “What do you think asexuality is?” And the OP original poster said, “Doesn't have sex?”

Royce: I just saw that comment. It has -1,271 points.

Courtney: Ooooow. See that's, that's wild. And that, that flushes things out even more because he's like, “nobody asked him to have sex or anything.” So, in his mind, his brothers only limit could possibly be actually having sex with someone and there are no other boundaries and as long as I don't ask him to have sex with someone, I'm not disrespecting his orientation. I like there– that there are so many downvotes. The correct people saw this and made their rulings. But that's just another point of proof that this is no such thing as an ally because that is not what asexuality is. And whenever I'm presenting a brand new person with the concept of Asexuality, I don't like to focus the fact that some asexuals can and do have sex, but this is an entire podcast about asexuality so we love to get into the nuances, and yes, some asexuals can and do have sex for whatever reasons are their own, doesn't necessarily mean they're sexually attracted to anyone. So you're, you got the definition wrong even. You are not an ally. And to say your brother's been out two years, and you're supportive of that, and you don't even know the basic definition of what asexuality is, is telling. So yes, OP, you are the asshole.

Royce: One final comment I have as I was looking through all of these sub comments on OP's one comment there of trying to define Asexuality, is someone saying, “I assume you're a straight man. The way you don't find men attractive is the same way he doesn't find anyone attractive. He gets nothing out of a stripper, just discomfort and a ruined party.” And someone responded to that saying, “Asexual here, and this is the easiest way to get it through to people in my opinion.”

Courtney: Yeah, honestly, because yeah, some people just get so baffled and just cannot fathom what Asexuality is. So I– I've seen people start to use that comparison, like, think about someone you're not sexually attracted to now picture an Asexual who feels that way about everyone. And again, perhaps a little bit reductive. But when you're dealing with someone like this, who knows a queer person, who claims to be close to and supportive of a queer person who's been out for two years and doesn't even know the very basics, and is seriously pushing boundaries, you need a zippy line like that to just give them a foothold into this world and some frame of reference. As for the other questions, “Am I a bad brother?” Yeah, maybe. “Should I even go to the wedding?” That needs to be a conversation because according to this the fiancee told him, “he is out of the best man slot.” So to me, that sounds like they might still want him to be a groomsman, but just not the best man. I don't know. Maybe they're just like, “you're an attendee now, you're not even in the wedding party.” But what do they want?

Royce: You lost your decision-making abilities for the wedding.

Courtney: Yes, you don't get to make this decision. You have to have a conversation, which given the fact that you are in fact the asshole needs to come with one hell of an apology and some research. Yeah. I don't know. I've been– it seems like such an antiquated type of bachelor party to be perfectly honest. I mean you've been to a bachelor party, were there strippers there?

Royce: No.

Courtney: Would you have been comfortable if there were?

Royce: Probably not. I feel like that's a thing where if it's a big enough space, I could also just like…

Courtney: … slink into a corner.

Royce: Yeah. Just go somewhere else for a little bit.

Courtney: Yeah. Okay. Next. I picked that one, so Royce, do you– do you have a new story for us? See? I think I've mentioned this in a previous episode like months ago but I– this would be a great time to have a gavel. Just, asshole! [smacks table] We need, we need a gavel! The gavel of judgment.

Royce: Okay. This one could be interesting. [reading] “Am I the asshole for telling my friend to stop trying to place labels on me. My friend, a 22 year old male, and I, a 22 year old female, of 3 years were having a discussion. He always says he feels like he doesn’t know me, so he was asking me a ton of questions. Back when we first met, we were slightly involved with each other, but I didn’t really have many feelings for him so I wasn’t really able to be sexual with him. I feel like this is why he gets so weird about the topic now. Since then, we’ve moved past being involved and just decided to be friends, which was going well. He started asking me about my sex drive (not really a relevant topic to getting to know the core of a person in my opinion), and when I told him that I am heterosexual but I am not an overly sexual person unless it’s someone that I really feel like I love or want a relationship with, he began to persuade me that I was asexual or began to label me otherwise. I repeated again that I am not, it is normal to not be sexually attracted to every male I meet. I told him to stop, to “Stop trying to diagnose me or tell me something about myself that you think is true, because I know myself more than you do.” He got mad at me and started telling me that I always get mad whenever he asks me questions about myself, which is not true. Sexual drive really is not something that will tell you too much about a persons character. Am I the asshole for telling him to stop trying to tell me about myself?”

Courtney: That is a really interesting one, but I'm going to say not the asshole here. He seems like the asshole. So this, this is a really, really interesting one because this is where we get into the nuances of what Asexuality actually is and is not, because far too many people think that Asexuality is just having no sex drive, no libido, which is not necessarily the case. And it sounds like she's saying, “I do experience sexual attraction. I am heterosexual. I just have a lower libido.” Or it doesn't even have to be a libido. It can just be a low interest in having sex with other people.

Royce: What she described seems most familiar to me to how I've heard Demisexuality described, but I think the point here is that she doesn't see a need to dive into various labels to try to find a term for herself that fits what other people perceive.

Courtney: I can see how someone would read her description and think, “Demisexuality.” If they're familiar with what Demisexuality is. But I don't have it pulled up, you do, so correct me if there's a line I'm misremembering, but it sounds like that isn't even necessarily the case. I think it could be an easy assumption to make, but sort of the difference between Demisexuality and just not being interested in having sex with people also boils down to attraction. Whereas Demisexuality, I usually think of it as you don't really have the capacity to be sexually attracted to someone until you've developed a close emotional bonds with them. But it's perfectly normal for an allosexual person to just not want to engage in sexual activity with someone until they develop those relationships. That doesn't mean you’re Demisexual. Because she could still be saying, you know, “I am sexually attracted to men usually, that doesn't mean I want to sleep with all the men I'm attracted to.” So there's– there are sort of three different things. There's an actual libido and sex drive, there is your sexual attraction or lack thereof, and then there's your desire to actually participate in sexual activity. And those are three totally separate things, or they can be. And I think that contributes a lot to demisexual erasure, because a lot of demisexual people, especially demisexual women, will kind of be told, “That's not really a sexual attraction, that's just how women are. That's how everybody is.” And they’re missing that key factor of they do not actually experience that attraction whatsoever. It's about the attraction, not the interest or desire.

Royce: And the lines here that stood out to me– And I do want to be clear like, I'm not trying to say this is this person's orientation because this is a very quick Reddit post with a couple of brief sentences.

Courtney: From the other point of view no less. Yeah.

Royce: No, this is– this is her posting.

Courtney: Oh, yeah. Scratch that. Forget I said anything.

Royce: And the point that she's coming from is, “Stop trying to tell me who I am.”

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: Right. Like, “I have this identity here right now that I know and I'm comfortable with it…”

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: … “and this is how I explain it.” But the things that stood out to me – as being I guess a little bit different than the conversations that I have personally had with allosexuals – were, “I am not an overly sexual person unless it's someone that I really feel like I love or want a relationship with.” And also, “it is not normal for me to be sexually attracted to every male I meet.”

Courtney: Yes. I mean, she very well could not be asexual, she could not be demisexuals, and it doesn't really matter because this is where people get really hung up on definitions and really want to put people into a box. And I'm immediately skeptical of the motivations whenever people try to force that on someone else but it's especially suspicious in this situation where she's saying, “we were involved at one point and aren't any longer.” Maybe this is just me being too cynical. Maybe this is me knowing one, too many men like this in my life. Where does it at all give you the impression that maybe he's trying to find a reason why she isn't involved with him anymore? Or why she doesn't have that sexual attraction to him? It seems like he might be a little insecure and hoping there's like a, “Oh, well, she couldn't be sexually attracted to me because she wouldn't be sexually attracted to anybody and that would make it okay.”

Royce: That's absolutely what it sounds like.

Courtney: It does read that way. Because there are also just so many different reasons why this could be uncomfortable for someone too. And I'm not saying this is her case at all because it probably isn't. But what if she is questioning her sexuality? And maybe, she's not sure yet. Or maybe she's not comfortable with it yet, or just doesn't want to be out, or doesn't want to be out to him. There are a number of reasons where this could be a queer person and you are trying to force them to come out? Don't force people to come out. Every possible scenario or reading of this makes this guy the asshole because nothing about that is okay. Yeah. What's– what's your thoughts on just trying to force labels onto people, because you famously don't like to be forced into playing the gender game or the pronoun game.

Royce: I think I agree with everything you said thus far. It's just generally not something you do. If someone is actually curious and wants to have a speculative conversation, then you can start talking through it. And that's when you can try to find the common points between how you're using language and words and describing your personal experience and correlate that to what's being presented in communities. But–

Courtney: But there also has to be consent to have that conversation in the first place. Because you and I, we have had so many conversations with people in the queer community who are questioning whether or not they might be somewhere on the Asexuality Spectrum. But every time we've had those conversations, it's been that person approaching us and saying, “Can we have this conversation? Will you talk it out with me? Because here you are, two out and proud asexual people. So I want to learn a little more about what you understand the definition to be, what you think about my situation.” And just what that finding the appropriate label process looks like for each individual person, but you can't force anyone to have that conversation.

Royce: One of the other things that stood out to me in this post that I thought would be interesting to discuss is that a person here is writing about themselves, and I could see people in certain communities reading their words and interpreting them in a certain way that does not match to OP's identifying term. And so that goes back into, specifically I think in the ageism episode, we were just talking how sometimes if people use different identifiers that don't match the definitions for the communities that they interact with they receive public backlash.

Courtney: Yes. Yes, and sometimes that's from people who are in that community too. Because if for example a demisexual person was reading this and they're saying, “Well that kind of sounds like my experience and I'm demisexual…” I have seen other external conversations where someone's like, “This is the definition of demisexuality. I am demisexual, and therefore you are also demisexual.” And that's also just very uncomfortable because if this person feels this way, but says, you know, “I'm straight.” You can't make them assimilate with the community.

Courtney: It really all just comes down to respecting how people view themselves and present themselves publicly. It kind of even reminds me of some contention I've seen. I've kind of seen this both in some asexual circles, but I've also seen it a lot in bisexual circles, where there could be an ace or a bi person who kind of sees their position as a privilege and saying, you know, “I don't have to present as queer. I can kind of more or less present straight and I see that as a privilege.” And there are people in the community who get upset when they see people say things like that, because where one person might say this is a privilege and has benefited me, someone else might say that is erasure of Asexuality, and/or Bisexuality. And erasure is not a privilege, that's a different form of oppression. Both things can be true because we have to remember that everyone has vastly different experiences and you need to just learn to meet people where they are, I think, is the key takeaway.

Courtney: Here's an interesting one. Pretty short, but this is a: “Would I be the asshole if…?” The community consensus overall says that this person is not the asshole. But, a quick skim through the comments and it looks a little bit divided, there are a variety of answers here. This poster says, “To start off, I'm gay. I've only comeout to a few friends and do not want to come out to my bigoted family. However, because of this, my family is constantly bugging me about finding a girlfriend, if I find girls hot, and constantly teasing me thinking I like all of my friends. It's honestly starting to annoy me, and I've told them to stop, but they never do. I don't want to just pretend I'm interested in certain people and pretend to be straight. So, I had the idea of just coming out as an asexual aromantic, so they would stop bugging me. Now, to be clear, I fully support both aromantic and asexual people and I am aware that they have many struggles that are equally as bad as other LGBTQ+ groups. It just happens that my family is not against asexual or aromantic people. So coming out as aromantic or asexual would not make them as angry as coming out as gay. I'm still waiting to be financially stable before coming out. So, would I be the asshole? If I came out as aromantic and asexual, I care about everyone in the LGBT community, and would not want to hurt them.”

Royce: I'm confused as to how OP is so confident that his family would not be against them coming out as aromantic or asexual. And/or.

Courtney: That is a very, very interesting point. Because in fact, one of the top comments here, the top comment doesn't give a rulingm it just says, “Usually people who are homophobic, do not believe asexual and or aromantic people even exist. So, this is more likely to backfire than anything.” And yeah, that is interesting because – it's not impossible – because this could be, you know, kind of a religious purity thing, like being gay is a sin. But even if they're like, falsely misconstruing asexual as being like a celibacy kind of a thing, like, there are some circles where that actually is a positive even for people who are bigoted. But I do want to know if that's just an assumption. I want to know if they have any evidence that this would not upset them at all. Because there are also people who are asexual, who for justifiable reasons are afraid to come out as that to their families. So I could see this being a really jarring thing to read if you're one of those people in that situation. And I can't really say if this is truly minimizing the ace and aro experience or not, because they could be correct and it could be that their family is inextricably cool about this. But the fact that they're like, “I hate how everyone's bugging me saying I like all of these girls, and I don't want to pretend to be straight but they're sort of forcing this compulsory heterosexuality on me,” that that actually is an issue that a lot of ace and aro people face.

Royce: It's hard for me to think of an actual like asshole/not the asshole score, because that doesn't really seem to be kind of the point of this. I'm just more confused. Because–

Courtney: I kind of want more information.

Royce: Right, and I don't know if you found any more in the comments. But it's like they're talking about basically masquerading as another identity, but it's in a very small pocket, it's not public. It's just with their family who most likely doesn't even understand it anyway, and if you're in a toxic situation, with toxic family members, I mean, do what you've got to do, but the whole thing just doesn't seem like a good idea.

Courtney: It's odd. And the thing is, this is why I want a little more details because, don't get me wrong, safety comes first. Like, if you are in an unsafe situation, do what you need to do to stay safe. And they say, “I'm trying to become financially stable before coming out.” So this sounds to me that they are still very much relying on their family to live, and you know, strategically staying in the closet is a thing that I would advise until you are in a safe situation. But this isn't staying in the closet. This is adopting a different marginalized identity in the hopes that this is easier than staying in the closet or embracing your true self. So it's a bit odd. It's a bit odd. It also– it reminds me of the, “What does the A stand for?” argument. Because the script has been flipped a little bit recently because, you know, 10, 20 years ago people are like, “Oh, there's more than just LGBT, there's also Q and I and A. And what do all these other letters stand for?” So many people just blanketly thought the A stood for ally for a long time. Still to this day there are lots of people who are either straight or even other members of the queer community, who still think the A is for ally. But we know better than most that the, A is Asexual, Aromantic, Agender. They are very much queer identities.

Courtney: But when I've seen people recently, like last two years say, online try to advocate for “the A does not stand for allies. The A stands for these other identities.” I've started to see queer people kind of push back on that and get angry. When people try to point out that, you know, this is Asexuality erasure, this is Agender erasure, because we're just brushing over the actual queer identity and saying it's an ally. There are people who genuinely get upset these days saying a lot of young or questioning LGBT people will adopt the label of ally, so that they can still be included in the community before they actually come out; and it is wrong of you to say that the A doesn't stand for ally, because now you are discriminating against all of the LGBT people that are still in the closet but still want to associate with the acronym. And I always think that's a weird argument.

Royce: That doesn't make any sense to me.

Courtney: It does not make any sense to me, but I've seen people get really aggressive about that especially over the last year, on Twitter, on social media.

Royce: I think by the definition of the term ally, you can't be an ally of the group and a member of the group at the same time.

Courtney: Yes, exactly.

Royce: Those are contradicting statements.

Courtney: And then everyone, like when this argument is happening, someone always brings up GSA, like the Gay Straight Alliance. And, you know, my high school had a GSA. But that is a different acronym. It is the Gay Straight Alliance, like straight ally-ance… is– is accounted for in that particular setting. So yeah, I always thought that was a weird argument because Q can mean queer but it can also mean questioning. And most people I know who are questioning and don't have a formal label yet will just say “I'm questioning” and most people don't try to challenge that. So, not to say that there aren't people out there who have claimed to be an ally before coming out as something or another, but I'm sorry, the A is not for ally. The A does not stand for closeted, queer people.

Royce: And if you are an ally of any organization, you would just say that you're a BLM ally, for example.

Courtney: Yes. Being– being an ally to the Black community does not mean you are in the Black community. So yeah, I don't– I don't know. I guess that's only tangentially related because that didn't help me get to my point for what my takeaway is for whether or not this person would be the asshole for doing it. I don't think they'd be an asshole, but I think they'd be a little weird.

Royce: I don't see any, like, public community harm coming from this. I don't think it's going to work in the way that they imagined it would and it seems like an odd choice.

Courtney: Well, yes, and so here's the thing too. I like that you said public community harm because this is someone who's like, “I am gay. I intend on coming out as gay when I can as an interim I'm thinking of doing this.” If it is just private and for the sake of the family, I really do not think this is going to hurt anyone, especially when they're saying, you know, “My family is bigoted. My family is homophobic.” Like, this is probably not going to push the needle forward for this one insular family, but it's also not going to damage people externally. And I think we can often get, like, lose sight of who the real enemies are. Because I don't think this person is an enemy to aromantic or asexual people. Do I think it might be a little weird? Yes, but I don't think they'll cause harm, although the comments are a little all over the place.

Royce: There's one that I liked that just said, “My dad used to do this to me until I started doing it back to him in front of our family members…

[Courtney laughs]

Royce: … asking him what girls he found hot.”

Courtney: “What girls do you like?” That’s funny. Well, so there is actually a response here from someone who does think that they would be the asshole and says, “Aromantic asexual here.” So as someone with that identity reading this, they did not like it. They say, “So, essentially what you want to do is lie about your sexuality for no other reason than you think it might make your family stop bugging you. That in and of itself wouldn't necessarily make you the asshole in my opinion. But considering your family has been assholish enough to make fun of you for being gay, they aren't gonna stop if you say you're suddenly aro-ace, no matter how supportive of them they claim to be. If you were to make that claim even considering this, you would be the asshole. Trust me when I say I've experienced a truly staggering and disgusting amount of dismissal of my orientation from family, friends, teachers - all of whom had never been discriminatory like they were before (in my presence, anyway). PS - also remember that what you really want to be able to do, which is be able to freely express your orientation without fear of criticism, wouldn't happen regardless of whether you said you were aro-ace or not.”

Courtney: I don't disagree with the things this person is saying, but I don't know if I'd take that extra step and agree that you would be the asshole. Because everything this person’s saying is correct. They're boiling it down into “you're just doing this because you want your family to stop bugging you,” which is the case, the person has admitted that; they also mentioned, “your family might not be as supportive as they claim to be,” that also might be true; and yeah, as an aroace person, of course this person has faced a lot of discrimination and dismissal, because a lot of ace and aro people do. But does that still make the person the asshole for considering it? Eh… Again it doesn’t really do additional harm. If this person were to do this, it's not minimizing this aroace’s experience over here, because their experience is still their own. So yeah, I think I'm just going to say weird, but not necessarily an asshole.

Royce: Yeah. I kind of agree with that. I don't say, I don't think that they're completely not the asshole either. I think they're in an in-between state. It is hard for me to fault someone for lying to people that are hostile to them though.

Courtney: Exactly. Exactly. So that's why it's like I wish I knew a little more about the situation because if truly 100%, without a doubt, this person comes out as Aroace and their family just stops bugging them and their quality of life increases exponentially until they become financially stable and can come out as their true self… Then no harm done really, honestly. But there's a lot of reason to believe that that won't necessarily be the case.

Royce: And that when they do eventually come out as a homosexual that their family will be like, “Oh, you're coming out again.”

Courtney: Yeah, there's that. You don't know how they're gonna react to that. I don't know if this is a hostile enough situation that once you're financially stable, you're like cutting them all off. That could be. Hard to say. Weird one, weird one.

Royce: [reading] “Am I the asshole for not telling my cousin she isn't asexual?”

Courtney: She isn't?

Royce: There’s a double negative, “Am I the asshole for not telling my cousin she isn’t asexual?”

Courtney: Yeah. Okay, uh-huh. Got it.

Royce: OP is a 23 year old female. Her cousin is 24, also female. This says, “My cousin came out to me as biromantic asexual when she was 18. A few months later she came out to all her friends and as a group we started talking about things related to our sexuality. My cousin would say things that sounded like sexual attraction towards a person. I would just ignore it because I'm not Ace myself so maybe I was confusing what she was saying for sexual attraction. A year later I started questioning my sexuality and did some research, I stumbled into asexuality for a bit. My Cousin was still openly talking about sex related things with me and I didn't think she was asexual, she would detail things often about how she found someone sexually appealing. I don't think she realized this was sexual attraction. I sent her some articles and videos about being asexual as hints. I didn't tell her straight up that I thought she wasn't aseuxal because I wasn't ace so I didn't think it was my place to judge whether she’s ace or not and I could be wrong. Her friends also suspected she wasn't ace and told me I should tell her but as I said, I did not. Two years ago, a new friend of my cousin pointed out to her that she probably wasn't ace. My cousin reevaluated her sexuality and came out as Pansexual a few months later. Fast forward to now and my cousin finds out I had suspected she wasn't ace all those years ago. One of her friends told her that basically the whole group knew and was dropping her hints to go back into a questioning stage. She's pissed that we didn't tell her. Her friends blame me because I'm her family and the one she told first so I should have been the one to tell her. And she blames all of us but agrees that I should have told her so I'm the biggest Asshole of them all. My friends say I'm not the asshole so I would like a third non-biased opinion.”

Courtney: Okay, this is interesting because I almost feel like there's a miscommunication and where the anger is coming from, this is so speculation and armchair psychoanalyzing of me, but is she mad that the cousin/friends didn't tell her that she wasn't asexual? Or is she mad that she found out that they were all talking behind her back and being like, “Yeah. She's– she's not what she says she is.”

Royce: That's a good point.

Courtney: That's a good point because she could be mad about this but I think it's weird to be mad about like, “Well, why didn't you tell me I wasn't asexual. If you just told me, I wasn't asexual, I would have believed you and it would have been great and I would have, you know, come out as something different.” Because most people don't take kindly to people being like, “You're not what you're saying you are.” But it does sound like this cousin was talking to multiple friends, it sounds like everyone was talking behind her back and it kind of sounds a little gossipy about, like, “Yeah, she says she's asexual but we don't think she's asexual.” To the point where the cousin says her friends “came to me and asked me to tell her.” It's got– it's kind of weird, isn't it?

Royce: Mm-hmm.

Courtney: On the surface if we're taking absolutely everything they're saying is fact with no additional facets, no, you're not the asshole for the reason you're asking. Because I think it's the more asshole-ish move to question someone's sexuality. We mentioned that in a previous story. Like just accept people for what they say they are. And it's okay if they change over time. Yeah, because the line is “one of her friends told her that basically the whole group knew and was dropping her hints to go back into a questioning stage. She's pissed we didn't tell her.” Is she pissed you didn't say you're not asexual, or is she pissed that you guys were all talking about her behind her back? Because those are two very different answers I think. I think you might be a smidgen of an asshole for doing that because yeah, if the whole group is like, “She's not asexual, someone's gotta tell her. Let's just drop a bunch of subtle hints so she gets it.” That’s–

Royce: They were apparently subtle enough that they didn't work.

Courtney: That's kind of manipulative, isn't it? At least gossipy, at least gossipy.

Royce: It was important for them enough to try to drop hints, but not important enough to actually–

Courtney: …have a conversation.

Royce: …say something directly.

Courtney: Yes. So let's end with one that's kind of a lot. Because if you don't want this one that's kind of a lot, you can just leave and end right here, and you just got four Asexual Am I The Assholes. But, let's end with this fifth one, because there's– there is much to unpack here. I suppose proceed with caution. The title is, “Am I the asshole for staying with my exhibitionist husband when I’m asexual?” [reading] “Probably should include a trigger warning for sexual acts and marital rape. My husband and I have been together for almost four years, married for about a year and a half. I always thought I might be asexual (my parents used to think I might have been sexually abused as a really young child because of how sex repulsed I've always been). I didn't know for sure until I got married. Because I grew up in a Christian family, we never really explored that until after we said, "I do," and it was a little late to find out the extent of my asexuality once we were officially married and I was having a hard time getting into sex, wanting sex, or feeling like I was being raped because I wanted to keep my husband happy, but I didn't like to have sex. In a lot of ways, I do think I've experienced marital rape. In small ways, like the fact that I used to say no a lot, and he'd proceed with, "Please, just let me." I took it because I thought that's what I was supposed to do. My husband is not a mean man. He's very very broken, not good socially, and I have to take responsibility for not being good at communicating with him what I like and don't like. I think that's partially because I have really bad anxiety and I go into shock when things I would rather not happen are happening to me.”

Courtney: [reading] “So, recently, my husband came out and told me he'd been performing sexual acts on a chatterbox account for money. He said he started the account in September and hadn't done it again since November. Of course, this was the same night he told me he had quit his job without any notice because he was tired of dealing with assholes at work. To my husband's credit, he's been working the night shift for seven months now. It's very difficult for us to see each other if he doesn't go to bed and get up at a decent time. Some days we will see each other for ten minutes total. I didn't want him to have this job, but it seemed like he wasn't interested in looking for a different one. So, he walked out of his job, then told me about the chatterbox account. I've told him before how sorry I feel that we are so different sexually. I've told him that I wondered if I would be able to stay with him and let him explore other things sexually if it would make him happy, but he said he didn't need that and wouldn't want to do that. I know, it sounds really stupid that I even brought this up as an option. But, I try very hard to be a wife that lets him make his own decisions and doesn't clutch to traditional marriage ideals so much that I can't be reasonable if he wants to do something I'm not immediately comfortable with. I really do feel bad that I can't be what he needs sexually, and if I was to just suck it up and have sex when he wanted it, he wouldn't like that either. He knows I don't enjoy it.

Courtney: [reading] I told him last night when he broke the news to me that what he did was cheating. He said he didn't want to ask my permission because he knew I'd say no. I told him that was a pretty clear red flag that he shouldn't have done it. He disagreed with me that what he did was cheating. However, he made money off of masturbation, using toys, and who knows what else, received messages and solicitations from strangers off the internet, and used the excuse of, "I never want to be with anyone else but you, it was just for the money and [not] sexual release."

My aunt, who is the only other person that knows about this, suggested that I leave him. This, of course, isn't the only thing wrong with our relationship. We have a lot of problems right now, but I told her I couldn't imagine my life without him in it. It sucks, but he's my greatest friend. My only friend. Despite how this post may appear, he really is a creative, talented, kind individual with some really deep-seated issues. Am I the asshole for wanting to stay with him even thought its miserable for me and possibly selfish for me to want to keep him to myself even though he isn't getting what he needs sexually? Thanks in advance. TLDR; My husband has been performing sex acts for strangers on the internet without my knowledge or consent, and I can't help but feel it's because I'm asexual, and I should just let him go.”

Royce: You're right. That was a lot.

Courtney: It was a lot.

Royce: What are your first impressions on that? Because I'm not sure where to start.

Courtney: It's a lot. I think the biggest asshole of all is society and compulsory sexuality. Because immediately she says she has always felt sex repulsed. She always thought she might be asexual. Even her parents knew she was so sex repulsed that they claimed to think that she may have been sexually abused as a young child, which yeah, you shouldn't assume that all sex repulsed people have been abused, but she also says this is a very Christian family. They seem quite sheltered. They seem to have a very narrow view of what relationships and marriages look like. So from that point of view, she's sex repulsed enough that her family knows it. But she did not feel like she had the grace to explore herself and what she likes, what she doesn't like, what her identity is, before getting married. And she feels like sex is an obligatory part of marriage. You– you can feel that all over her writing.

Courtney: I mean, she… she says that she used to say no, but she also has sort of said, like, “I do want to stay with you and I– we can have more sex if that's what makes you happy.” It seems like her husband wasn't jazzed about that answer. But you can tell this is someone who has just deep-seated societal pressure to be a certain kind of wife. So, society is the biggest asshole. I am very, very sad that she has been put in this situation from the start. And this is why it's so important that Asexuality, as an orientation, is visible and people learn about it so that they know that it's an option. It's important for marriages like ours, where we are both asexual, it's important for people to see that, that that is an option. But there also are mixed orientation marriages that work. There are asexual people who marry allosexuals who don't necessarily have all these issues because they know how to communicate, they know how to place boundaries, perhaps, there's some negotiation involved. Whatever works for each individual couple. And [sighs] there's so much here. There is so much here.

Royce: There's also just a lot that isn't specifically spoken to because there are two statements here, one where she says her husband is, quote, “very, very broken.”

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: and another that says, “he has deep-seated issues.” And without hearing her talk about what those are it's hard for me to say, like, is this actually just a deeply abusive relationship that you're trapped in, and that's why you should leave, and it has nothing to do with the sexuality. Or is there– are you seeing – possibly from a very christian, religious standpoint – seeing your husband be deviant and that's the issue?

Courtney: That's what I was wondering. Because there's so much here that it could be going in a number of directions because… is she just really judgmental? I mean, I will not excuse the fact that she does say that she has experienced marital rape in the sense that she has said “No” and he's proceeded with, “Please, just let me.” There's– there's a level of coercion that she is speaking to.

Royce: Right.

Courtney: And that is not okay. But also the way she talks. She says, you know, even the title, “Is staying with my exhibitionist husband…” Just– doesn't the word exhibitionist coming from someone who isn't okay with what he's doing sound a little bit loaded? Or a little bit…

Royce: I wasn't sure how to read that from the title alone. I think it fits. I don't think it's inaccurate, but it's a term I guess that I don't hear applied to people who work cams.

Courtney: Hmm. Yeah. So here's– here's the thing. There seems to be a massive communication breakdown, probably on both sides. And there is so much room for things to be so much messier than what we're reading. So, I don't think I can give a definitive ruling. The internet has ruled that everyone sucks here. That is the most common consensus, is saying that he sucks and she sucks. And I will at least say that they both suck at communication. I don't know if I have enough details to rule whether or not they both suck in the sense that they're both assholes.

Royce: Yeah, it's hard to say without more information. I'm seeing hints of this being some more clear hints than others that this is a toxic relationship.

Courtney: Yeah.

Royce: And if they've been together for four years, married for a year and a half, dating for two and a half before that. I think it's probably best to split and try to find someone else, is my thought.

Courtney: The thing is– So, and here's– here's the thing. It might be too late at this point, but I don't think it necessarily had to get to this point. Because she simultaneously says, “I said no early on, and he would say, ‘please just let me,’ and I do feel like that was a form of marital rape.” And she also says that she has bad anxiety, and doesn't communicate well her boundaries. But then she also, also says that now he knows that she doesn't enjoy it. And that she has told him that she wonders if she'll be able to stay and let him explore other things sexually if it would make him happy. But he said he doesn't need or want that. So, both sound like they're a reaction from two different people. One is coercive, one is “I want to respect your boundaries and if you're not cool with this, I don't want to have sex just for the sake of having sex.” So I'm wondering if between point A and point B some level of boundary was set and finally communicated. But the fact that she says I do think I've experienced marital rape and is now still trying to make it work… I think a lot of this maybe, maybe – this is so speculative and kind of muddy – but if early on they were really, really open, laid all the cards out on the table, set boundaries, communicated likes and dislikes, and had that sort of negotiating phase that a lot of mixed orientation marriages often need, then maybe she would not have been put in that situation. But at this point, like, there's trauma here. And once there's trauma here, it's not just “Communicate better right now. And if you communicate, everything will be better.” Because now there's trauma to unpack.

Royce: There's also like near the end. She says that her husband is her only friend.

Courtney: And I, and I don't like that. Never let that be the case. Because that's another one where I don't know, is this– is this very abusive and she has been isolated. Because even– even on Am I The Asshole, here's where it gets really muddy. Because we need more details. You want to read it for exactly what they say and what they present, she is asking for advice and judgment, but at the same time it's like this could be a lot more abusive than we’re taking at face value. So, I mean, never listen to internet strangers. Seeking therapy and additional help is always, always much better advised. But I just found this one most interesting because the first and biggest asshole here is compulsory sexuality. Because I do not think anyone should be put in a place where they feel like sex is an obligatory part of marriage and they're not able to explore that part of themselves until they're married. Because if this is a very religious situation also, is she reluctant to leave because they come from the type of religion that frowns upon divorce? Which can also trap people in abusive situations from having that added religious hang up. So, it's muddy and it's messy. But the reason why, if we are not looking at the potential abuse, if we're not looking at, you know, who is and is not the asshole, I want to know your thoughts on, purely, is camming for money without telling your spouse cheating?

Royce: Probably? But it's also sort of undefined behavior. Because when you say cheating you're saying you violated the established rules. And the thing is, is that we have some standard monogamous relationship rules that everyone just kind of understands because of society. Not everyone agrees on them completely. But there are some assumptions you can make going into a relationship. And if you have a conversation about what the established rules are for your relationship, you can set those as you see fit. But having some sort of physical or emotional intimacy with another person is a known thing that I think most people have a very firm grasp on. And masturbating on camera is still a relatively new phenomenon for the human experience that not a lot of people do.

Courtney: That's a good point. Hasn't been happening all that long in the grand scheme of human history.

Royce: Right? So, I think that whether or not that is cheating, depends on what the individual person, the other person in the relationship, has in their head for their own rules.

Courtney: Mm- hmm.

Royce: Because I mean the answer to that question is really that this needed to be discussed. And the fact that husband knew that this was going to be wrong and did it with– without, like, having this conversation first is the issue. Because if they had never had that conversation it would also be unreasonable for him to expect that it wasn't cheating, because that's just it's not a standard practice, it's not something that you see happening in relationships all the time. But there could absolutely be situations where there would be a– two people in a relationship and someone came to the other one was like, “Hey, I just cam’d and made like a thousand dollars.” They'd be like, “Great!”

Courtney: [laughs] Well, that's why I was so curious about having this conversation because sex work is work. It needs to be decriminal– decriminalized something awful. People are not morally inferior for doing sex work. And I mean, people who do sex work and are in relationships, do not see that sex work as cheating in their relationship because it's not in that situation.

Royce: I mean, people who have established that they have an open relationship also have sex with other people and don't consider that cheating in their relationship, because they've– they've articulated the rules.

Courtney: Yes, they have set the boundaries and had that conversation. And it is interesting here too because she's saying, “I'm– I try very hard to let him make his own decisions and I tried to be a wife that doesn't clutch to traditional marriage ideals.” But I wonder how hard she actually thought about this as a sex work kind of situation. Is this one where she found out it happened and just immediately felt uncomfortable and deemed it bad, deemed it cheating and did not actually try to think about it outside of traditional ideals? Because from a conservative Christian upbringing, like yeah, that it was probably really jarring to find that out.

Royce: Well, she's says in her TLDR that she can't help but feel that the reason he cam’d was because she was asexual.

Courtney: Which I wish she didn't have to feel that way. I can see why she does. I mean I think there is a really common level of insecurity that asexual people have when they date or marry allosexual people.

Royce: The reason I mentioned that was because you asked how she perceived that act.

Courtney: Mm-hmm.

Royce: And what I was saying was it seems like she was seeing that as a sexual act for her husband, which it may have been. Although he claimed it was for the money.

Courtney: Yes.

Royce: Which also could be both.

Courtney: Also it could be both. It also kind of makes me wonder, you know, does she work? Because she said he did this when he left his job. So did they actually need the money or was he, you know, saving up to buy a new boat? An extra toy? I don't know. That's not specified.

Royce: It seems like she kind of has to work because otherwise, I don't know how they could only see each other for like 10 minutes out of the day when he was working a night shift.

Courtney: That's true. Yeah, she did say there was a very small window so that would make sense. Yeah, I think– I think my ruling is society is the asshole, everyone sucks at communicating. And yeah, therapy. Therapy is the answer. Because we on the internet cannot decide how abusive this relationship is or is not. But private therapy sessions can help the OP unpack that. And I would definitely say if there actually is mutual desire to make this marriage work, then that also sounds like a couple therapy kind of a situation at this point.

Courtney: It's a whole lot. And since it was a doozy that is definitely going to be all for today. That really didn't even scratch the surface of all of the posts that reference Asexuality on this subreddit, so if you are interested in more of this or other Asexuality-related subreddits in the future, tweet at us @The_Ace_Couple and let us know. And until then, we will see you guys all next time. Goodbye.