Bigoted Article: Playing the Ace Card
The Spectator published an Anti-Ace, Anti-Trans article. We share what they said and why it's important to learn what their strategy and talking points are. We need to know how to fight back, because they're playing the long-game while we're stuck in damage control.
- Yasmin Benoit's "stay mad" Tweet
- Yasmin Benoit's "Euro Pride discrimination" Tweet
- @AphobeHottakes Twitter Account
Courtney: Hello, everyone and welcome back. It is my misfortune to share with you that today, we have a horribly upsetting article, which came into our purview, which we are going to break down and share with you today. But we’re going to try to make it as fun and educational as we can. My name is Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce. And together, we are The Ace Couple. And the article in question is by The Spectator. For all of our non-UK folks, The Spectator is… not the most reputable source, so we’re not claiming that it is. It is exceptionally conservative, as you are about to see. But the article in question is called “Playing the Ace Card” by one Mr. Rod Liddle. [sarcastically] You see what he did there? Like “playing the race card.” It’s a pun! [regular tone] So I’m sure that the article that is about to follow will speak for itself. And we don’t necessarily need to question the, um… credibility of Mr. Liddle, Mr. Rod Liddle, Mr. Princess Little Piddles [laughs slightly]. But just for good measure, let’s take a look at who this fellow is. I did notice that in addition to being an associate editor for The Spectator, he has published works with titles such as “Too Beautiful For You” and also “Love Will Destroy Everything.” So I have not read these [exaggerated tone] pieces of literature, [ironic tone] but one can assume that by very nature of these published works, this fellow is definitely qualified to be speaking on the matters of love and sex.
Royce: So if we were to take a little trip down Wikipedia Lane –
Courtney: Wikipedia! That’s my cousin. Wikipedia Lane, Courtney Lane. [laughs] I know her! [laughs] This is a podcast, so you guys cannot see [laughs] the daggers that Royce is shooting me right now.
Royce: Courtney promised me a moment ago that she had a good joke.
Courtney: No, no no no. Royce has this look every time I make a bad joke. It is a look [laughs] I know very, very well, and I wish we could translate in audio form what this look is.
Royce: So Rod Liddle is an English journalist and associate editor of The Spectator with a long history of various infractions, allegations of misogyny and racism, and all of that stuff.
Royce: He has the award for being the first journalist to have a complaint against a blog post actually upheld by the Press Complaints Commission.
Courtney: Wow, what an honor!
Royce: He also wrote an article in 2011 that led to the magazine he writes for, The Spectator, getting prosecuted for breaching reporting restrictions. They ended up pleading guilty to contempt of court in the trial and had to pay €5000 for it.
Courtney: Wow! Why, that’s even more than $5000 US dollars!
Royce: But about love and sex and all of that, Liddle’s personal life involves meeting a woman; having a lengthy relationship, where they had two kids; getting married; cutting the honeymoon short to have an affair with a receptionist at his place of work, who is about 20 years younger than him; getting divorced from his previous wife; and then getting picked up about a year later on common assault charges.
Royce: Which sounds like… I don’t know exactly what the American equivalent is. I assume that’s just a domestic assault sort of charge here.
Royce: When she was 20 weeks pregnant.
Courtney: Ugh! So hold on. You said he cut the honeymoon short to have an affair.
Royce: That’s what it looks like, yes.
Courtney: That has to be, like, top five – top three worst times to have an affair. [laughs] I can think of very few situations – I mean, maybe, like, while your wife is in childbirth might take precedence over honeymoon, but other than that, [laughs] not many. So that’s going to be a yikes from me.
Courtney: So one, one little bit of levity before we dive into the content of this article. I wish to comment on the picture that they chose to go along with this. Because it is a man who almost certainly is at a gay pride parade. He is wearing rainbow boa, big gaudy Dolce & Gabbana glasses, has this full-on glitter beard going on. But he’s also wearing a purple top hat, which, since this is a podcast, I would forgive our listeners for not knowing this, but a purple top hat has been a staple of Courtney Lane’s wardrobe for many, many years now. And since this is a UK-based magazine, I assumed this was a UK-based gentleman, but there’s no way to know that for sure – I see it’s just a Getty image. But it had me wondering for half a second.
Courtney: Let me tell you a story of the first time – well, actually, the first time I ever left the country was to go to Winchester. I was teaching a workshop on Victorian hair art at a conference called Death and the Maiden, and it was at the University of Winchester. Now, I was very, very excited to be teaching this class at this conference. And I was very excited to be in Winchester and to be out of the country for the first time. And of course, I brought my purple top hat with me, because I am rarely without it when I travel. And the day before the conference started, I arrived a little early in Winchester, and I was walking down this very quaint little cobblestone kind of alleyway, and I kid you not, a man walking the opposite direction crossed paths with me and he was also wearing the exact same purple top hat that I was wearing. We did not exchange any words, this man and I. We merely grabbed the brim of our hats and tipped our hats to one another as we passed, and then continued going on our way. And it was one of the weirdest, most magnificent things that have ever just happened to me. Because again, this was my first day in Winchester. And Winchester just seems so, like, so British and posh and so much history to my American self, who had never been there yet, of course. And I was like, “Of course, on a cobblestone alley in Winchester will I cross paths with a man wearing a purple top hat. That’s never happened to me before. But if it was gonna happen, it’s gonna happen in Winchester.”
Courtney: But then when I was telling this story to other people at the conference that I was meeting, there were so many people who, like, lived there, went to school there, have lived in Britain their entire lives, and they are like, “I’ve literally never seen someone wearing a purple top hat before. You are the first person I have ever encountered wearing a purple top hat. [laughs] So only you would cross paths with someone also wearing a purple top hat.” And people were just flabbergasted. And I was like, “Well, based on the number of people I’ve crossed paths with in Winchester, I have reason to believe that lots of people wear purple top hats.” So I had half a second where I was like, “Is this the man?!” I don’t think it is likely to be the man, but that’s a very fun memory. So as with any conservative writing about Asexuality that comes out of the UK, we start with some TERFy bullshit. So literally the first half, if not more, of this article has nothing to do with Asexuality.
Royce: And it’s not a terribly long article either.
Courtney: It’s also not a terribly well-written one. But it literally starts with, like, [snobby tone] “The radical feminist publishing house Verso has begun, in its tweets, to refer to a section of the population as ‘womb-carriers.’ This conjures up for me a number of distressing images.” So people who write things like this are always going to find, like, the least popular iterations of trans-inclusive language. Because I have seen so many more examples that are just nicer to say and here than “womb-carrier.” But they’re always going to latch onto the weirdest ones and be like, [alarmist tone] “This is common! This is mainstream! Everyone’s saying this, and they want you to say this too!” But what really gets me is how these, quote, “distressing images” it conjures – this fellow has an imagination, because he paints a picture for you and and sends us down a journey of what a “womb-carrier,” in fact, is.
Courtney: The first example he gives us is a “sinisterly cheerful woman in late middle age, dispensing wombs” – dispensing wombs – “to passersby, saying, ‘Here you are, love. Have a womb.’” And people are like, “No, no, I don’t really want one, but they are oppressed by her forceful, jovial demeanor.” [laughs] So they get the womb that they don’t know what to do with, and “some end up using it as an umbrella stand” and “masking the gamey scent with a lime and ginger diffuser placed nearby,” while “others leave them out at night for the foxes.” That is so oddly specific. You cannot convince me that the moment this man read “womb-carriers,” all of those details flooded immediately to his brain. He sat [laughs] and had to think about this and write it out. And that’s only the first image that is conjured when he thinks of “womb-carrier.” And the second one almost confuses me more. The second image is “test-driving a new car” and noticing that there is a “pear-shaped plastic compartment built into the car, just behind the gear stick, where normally, there would be a circular space for a hot drink container.” So a cup-holder? Cup-holders. He’s saying in place of the cup-holders, there is a “pear-shaped plastic compartment.” And you ask the salesman what it’s for, and he “over-eagerly” replies, “It’s a womb-carrier!” Why is it pear-shaped? I can’t get over that? [laughing] What… why is it pear-shaped?
Royce: The moment you said “umbrella stand,” I thought, “I don’t think this guy has a good grasp on human anatomy.”
Courtney: I’m baffled by it. How does one use a womb to make [laughing] an umbrella stand? I don’t know. Unfortunately, I do not have a disembodied womb to experiment with.
Royce: We need to find a womb-carrier.
Courtney: We need to find a womb-carrier! You know, when my mom had that hysterectomy, I asked that surgeon so many times if we could keep it, and they kept saying, “Oh, well, eh, we have to fill out paperwork, and that’ll set back the surgery, and your mom really needs the surgery.” And I’m like, “Really? We can’t do paperwork, like, this afternoon. Like, I got a pen. I can sign some things.” [laughing] I could have used a car with a womb carrier if they did let me keep it! And for those of you who think I am joking, I am 100% not joking. I went with my mother to some of the consultations for the surgery, but the very first one I couldn’t go to. So she texted and said, “Do you have any questions that I should ask the surgeon?” And I said, “Yes. Question 1: Can I keep it? Question 2: If you let me keep it, how big of a jar do I need to keep it?” Had I had a womb-carrier, that would have been very convenient. I wouldn’t have even had to ask that question. My mom was like, “You’re so weird, but okay! And also, like, do I want to know why you want to keep it?” And I was like, “That was my first bedroom!” [laughs] Royce is giving me the face that’s like, “Okay, Courtney, [laughs] stop talking about your mom’s womb and get back to the article” – a face which I also somehow know very well. So we shall carry on. He also goes on to ponder, like, “I wonder if there is a different term we might use to refer to those people we used to call women, which is less psychologically disturbing than ‘womb-carrier’?” Which, if this guy actually cared at all, there are better examples out there. They currently exist. There are people actively using them already. But he doesn’t care. So instead, he says, “I favor ‘rib-thieves.’” So you know he’s really Christian.
Royce: Why, of course. He’s been on a couple of television programs, including The New Fundamentalists and The Trouble With Atheism.
Courtney: Ahh, of course. So yeah. But he says, “I suppose if we call them ‘rib-thieves,’ feminists wouldn’t like it too much,” and “the young would fail to understand the allusion” – as if there aren’t young people in the UK who are being exposed to Christianity. I imagine that’s probably one of the arguments they make: [affected crotchety older voice] “people aren’t being taught faith anymore.” That’s a familiar song and dance.
Royce: I wasn’t taught faith and I still knew the rib thing.
Courtney: Doesn’t everybody know the rib thing?
Royce: I thought it was pretty common. But common knowledge across countries varies so drastically that I wasn’t going to say anything.
Courtney: I mean, that’s true, but in the Western world, Christianity is so ever-present that it’s kind of the default. Even if you’re not Christian, you probably know a thing or two about Christianity, in ways that you don’t inherently know about other religions. So that is definitely Christian privilege at play. But, like, yeah, the rib thing. Also, like, “rib thieves,” plural, is what really gets me. Because even if you were to take the Adam and Eve story, where Eve was sculpted from the rib of Adam – first of all, that wasn’t [affected tone] thievery; that was bequeathed. [regular tone] And also, as far as I know, that’s the only time that that happened – if we were to take it as fact and give it the benefit of the doubt. Why plural? I think only once has that ever happened. Although I really genuinely would not be surprised if there was a sect of Christianity somewhere that actually taught that all men are actually down a rib because women exist. I have heard wilder iterations, personally. But then he goes, like, “Eh, well, probably shouldn’t call them ‘rib-thieves,’ ’cause of those reasons. Probably shouldn’t call them ‘bleeders,’ ’cause that sounds unpleasant and pejorative. But how about ‘persons possessing many more shoes than they actually need’?”
Royce: I have known some straight men with a lot of shoes.
Courtney: And I know a lot of gay men with way more shoes than I have ever owned at one period of time. But then, my favorite part is that he ends that paragraph with, like, “I shall think further on the matter and let you know,” as if he is the one who is destined to solve this problem, because the only option we have right now is “womb-carrier.”
Royce: Which… how to spot a disingenuous position: you took all that time to list so many bad options and didn’t attempt to come up with anything good.
Courtney: Yeah. And then for a reason I still fail to understand why it is even in this article – because again, it’s called “Playing the Ace Card.” And although it makes no logical sense, I understand why someone with his views is going to start with the “womb-carrier” thing, because this sort of rhetoric is trying so desperately to couple Asexuality with transness, even though they do not necessarily have anything to do with one another. There are many allosexual trans people. There are some Asexual trans people. Not everyone who is Asexual is trans, nor vice versa. But these people are exceptionally bigoted against trans people, as perhaps you may have gathered, and what their end-all-be-all arguments always end up boiling down to – if you push them hard enough, if they talk long enough, if you follow them long enough, you’ll start to see that it boils down to sexual function. And we shouldn’t be, you know, “transing the kids” [continuing ironically] because they’re going to be mutilated! They won’t be able to have regular normal healthy sex lives!
Courtney: [regular tone] So it’s really, really convenient for them to draw the parallel of Asexuality. And they’ll say, “Oh, well, isn’t it convenient that we are just now starting to hear about Asexuality, and they’re starting to push this as a thing that’s okay, at the same time that they’re mutilating our children? And all these poor kids are taking hormones and having surgeries!” and of course just wildly false versions of what is actually happening, and use it as a “this is a scary thing. It’s a life-altering thing.” So they do try to couple Asexuality and being trans in a way that suits their extremely warped narrative. So at least on a “I know your game” level, I see why he did that.
Courtney: I don’t see why he then goes on to be like, “Let’s talk about the progress flag. You know that good old-fashioned rainbow flag they used to have? Well, they changed it. They added shit to it.” Because he literally jumps to, “Oh, you know how nomenclature is changing so rapidly, we can’t say certain words anymore. Well, these flags are also changing. You may have noticed that it’s been altered to include a yellow triangle with a purple circle representing” – in quotes –“‘intersex’ people.” And he says, “At first, when I heard about this derogation, I thought it meant people who are very fond of sex – i.e. ‘into sex.’ But no, it refers to those born with” – quote – “troubling genitalia which is neither fish nor fowl.” Eww. What the fuck, Rob Liddle? Was it Rob or Rod?
Royce: It was Rod.
Courtney: Oh, it was Rod. That’s right. Because I almost wanted to call him “Little, Rod,” like “Little, comma, Rod,” and I thought that was a fun way to say his name, a little backwards. But then I realized that some people are going to take that in a phallic way, and I don’t want to imply that having, well, a “little rod” is a bad thing. So then I was like, “Mmm, better not.”
Royce: But here is another case – going along with Rod’s perceptions of trans identities is an immediate fixation on genitalia.
Courtney: Yeah. And that’s that’s the last mention of intersex people, is “troubling genitalia.” What the hell is troubling about it, Rod? If you’re going to put that in your article, if you’re going to put this nonsense in your article, I want you to describe for me exactly what you think is troubling. What is the issue here, in your own words? What a dick! And so he goes on to continue explaining the progress flag, that there’s also new “diagonal lines, one black and one brown, to represent people who are not white” – and he says, “All of them, presumably,” which means: time to put on the tinfoil hat. He says, [exaggerated tone] “What about the great medieval Islamic scholar from Syria who advised that all homosexuals should be executed because homosexuality is a crime worse than any other? That means that he is also represented on the flag!” Which, like, okay. [laughs] It’s like he goes out of his way to find the most homophobic not-white person he can possibly think of, as if that’s a “gotcha.” And if that isn’t just another form of tokenism to progress your really warped viewpoints. Also, I’ll read this whole sentence because it kind of just breaks down how this guy writes, which is almost, like, intentionally pretentious.
Royce: It’s very pompous, yes.
Courtney: Pompous! Yes. So, after being like, “Well, it would be very problematic if we include all of the, you know, people who are bigoted against homosexuals and also happened to be not white. But if we’re including them, like, [sucks teeth] I don’t know, I see some issues. Why doesn’t anyone else see the issues that I am seeing?” He goes on to say, “I do wonder if people of color were properly consulted before being co-opted into a common cause with people whom some might – wholly wrongly and through some grave misapprehension – consider to be a convocation of querulous, chippy pervs.” Can you use the word “perv” after “querulous chippy”? [laughing] Like, one of these words doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of your sentence.
Royce: I believe we gave a disclaimer before you started reading that this wasn’t a particularly well-written article.
Courtney: No! If you’re going to be this egregiously pompous, at least keep it consistent. Is that too much to ask, Rod? Which is also… What an odd sentence. What a really, really odd sentence. Because he says, “Oh, well, were people of color consulted before they were put on this flag? Because some people might consider the queer people represented on this flag to be perveted.” But he adds a little aside, like, “No, but they think wrongly.” So are you with us or against us? It’s like he wants just that little shred of plausible deniability. Like, “Well, I said they’d be wrong. I said lots of people would think that they’re perverted, but I also had a little asterisk, like, [high pitch] meh.” Which seems very odd to me, because didn’t I also read about this fellow that he said some, like, really horribly bigoted thing against, like, just gay sex in general?
Royce: So during a point in time where there was a parliamentary debate on the use of certain psychoactive substances that included poppers, or amyl nitrate. Poppers are common enough in the gay community that they have a pretty strong correlation. And so, part of the debate around this would be, if criminalization of poppers happened, it would be disproportionately criminalizing gay people.
Courtney: Mmm, yeah, ’cause –
Royce: Or the activities of gay people.
Courtney: It’s a muscle relaxant.
Royce: Yes, that’s true.
Royce: And Rod’s addition to this conversation was basically, “If you have to use a muscle relaxer to have sex, maybe that’s God’s way of telling you what you’re doing is unnatural or perverse.”
Courtney: Ah, see there’s that “perverse.” So he’s adding just a sprinkle of plausible deniability in this, where he’s like, “I didn’t say it. Other people are saying it.” But no, my good sir. You have said this before. So at this point, after complaining about “womb-carriers” and going off on a tangent about what springs to life in your mind when you hear that word, then going down the rabbit hole of talking about the progress flag, now we come to Asexuality. He says, “Still – as yet – unrepresented on that flag are the ‘aces.’ I had not heard of them at all until this week.” So he’s definitely the one who should be writing this article. “I just heard about this thing this week and I am qualified to write about it.”
Courtney: He explains that [snooty tone] “This is a hip new term for asexual people, those who are not about to have sexual intercourse with anybody whatsoever.” Bad definition. Incorrect, as we all know. He goes on to kind of describe a better definition in a couple sentences, but that’s how he introduces it. Not great. But also, it is not a hip new term. “Ace” as an abbreviation for Asexual: that’s been around awhile. Good chunk of time. More than a decade, if not two. [snooty tone] “Or as Stonewall (still trousering vast amounts of your money, by the way, to disseminate its specious rubbish) put it.” Well, that’s definitely something I’ve heard, that the right wing likes to claim – that Stonewall’s taking taxpayer money. And boy, they really like to lay into Stonewall, which we definitely talked a bit about in our Ace Week recap episode way back when, because there was a lot of Stonewall-attacking during that time. But as Stonewall put it, “‘Ace’ is an umbrella term used specifically to describe a lack of, varying, or occasional experiences of sexual attraction. This encompasses Asexual people as well as those who identify as Demisexual, Grey-Ace, and other Aspec identities.” Which, like, yeah, there’s a much better definition, put right here in the article. It’s almost like he willfully ignored what it actually means to make his own screwed-up definition to present first. But then he goes on – and Royce, tell me if you’ve heard this one, because I have literally never seen or heard anyone say this, but he goes on to say, “Incidentally, ‘grey-ace,’ sometimes shortened to ‘grace.’”
Royce: Yeah, I’ve literally never encountered that spoken or written before this article. I’ve heard of Graysexual instead of Gray-Asexual, because the double vowel is sort of awkward.
Courtney: Yes. I’ve seen and heard Graysexual a lot, like, a lot a lot. I have never just seen “grace.” And the interesting thing here too – because he spells “grey-ace” the… I don’t know. I suppose there’s sort of a British and – a UK versus US spelling of the word “gray.” I think I end up using the UK version more than the US version, though, but I kind of use them interchangeably. That’s one of those weird words where both spellings are right, but he uses the grey, G-R-E-Y,” Ace, but then he shortens “grace” to just, like, the word “grace,” like, “Amazing Grace,” like the thing that you find in Elden Ring, instead of bonfires.
Royce: So take that UK! The American spelling with an “A” is better.
Courtney: [laughs] That was not the argument I was trying to make. But it does look a little odd. So, yeah, if there’s anyone out there that actually does say “grace,” please let us know where you are from, where you first saw it, if you even remember or know, and, like, how long you’ve been using it. Because if that’s a thing, then… I mean, maybe Rod Liddle did enough research that he found a pocket of the Ace community [laughing] that we haven’t encountered yet. But that seems so odd. But that “‘grace’ refers to people who usually don’t want to have sexual intercourse but then suddenly are afflicted by a rare urge to do so,” to which he says, “A little like me if I have stared too long at the magnificent portrait of General Franco, which hangs in our hall.”
Royce: That’s a fetish I haven’t heard of before.
Courtney: The, um, “I get very rarely sexually aroused, but it happens when I look at a portrait of the Spanish dictator.” Like, he’s referring to Francisco Franco, right? He has to be. So we’re talking, like, military dictator, tried to establish a monarchy with him as the king, in Spain. Definitely tried to, like, negotiate and team up with Hitler during that whole World War II thing that happened. And definitely said some antisemitic shit. Was not successful in teaming up with Hitler, but I’d say anyone willing to entertain the notion… not a dude you want to admit to getting [laughing] aroused by looking at a painting of him. Nobody asked you for this information, Rod Liddle. You did – [laughing] What baffles me is he did not have to write that sentence. No one made him write that sentence. [laughs] Like, “When I have stared too long at what is probably a print of a portrait of a fascist, or at least fasc-ish, dictator,” in his own words, “suddenly afflicted by a rare urge.” Wow.
Courtney: So then, here we go. He’s already mentioned Stonewall. He’s mentioned some TERFy shit. He’s mentioning Aces. So it was really only a matter of time before he says, “One of the UK’s most prominent aces is a Black womb-carrier called Yasmin Benoit, who attended the recent Pride march and tweeted that we must all ‘stay mad because we’re not going away.’ OK, Yaz, got you.” Mm-hm-hm. I definitely know the tweet in question. We follow Yasmin. We have as long as we’ve had a Twitter account, which admittedly has not been that long. But she did tweet a photo of herself at a parade holding the Asexual pride flag. She’s in black and purple, and the entire tweet is “Yes I’m asexual. Yes I marched in the #PrideInLondon parade. Yes I did it dressed like this. Yes aces are part of the LGBTQIA+ community! Stay mad because we’re not going anywhere. Rainbow flag emoji. Purple heart emoji. Spade emoji. #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike.”
Courtney: And that tweet went kind of viral. Now, I mean Yasmin being a prominent activist and model, she has a fair few followers. And I don’t really feel like I’m even a good judge of what constitutes viral anymore, because so many more things are going viral than they used to that it kind of seems like the bar has been heightened for what counts as viral, but I don’t think there’s like an agreed-upon “this is where something becomes viral.” [laughs] So, to just put in perspective for you – and you can tell us, is this viral or not? – it got 41.4-thousand likes, 3,573 retweets, 190 quote tweets, as of the time that we are recording this. So that’s a lot of attention. It’s more than her average tweets get. I remember when, like, 40,000 likes was like, “Whoa, that’s wild! Nothing ever gets that much attention!” And now I see, like, 80 tweets a day that are doing more than that. So that’s why I have a skewed reference for what viral even means anymore. But anything that gets that level of attention is sure to find the wrong side of Twitter. And boy oh boy, did Yasmin get a lot of hatred levied at her as a result of that tweet. And as a very visible Black woman, it happens to her pretty frequently. This was also right around the same period of time where she tweeted that at the Mayor of London’s Pride reception, she was told that she is a “repressed weirdo who needs to go and shag somebody because asexuality isn’t a real orientation and I shouldn’t be ace at a queer event standing up against hate crimes by someone who founded Euro Pride,” which she was booked to speak at, by the way. So that’s not great. Definitely a lot of Ace people very upset to hear that news.
Courtney: But between those two tweets, the bigots got a hold of it and started doing what bigots do best. You started getting a lot of people who were vehemently claiming that they weren’t mad, but they seemed kind of mad. “No one is mad that you’re asexual. It’s like building a movement around not liking cheese. The difference is there’s actually people who don’t like cheese. Asexuals are what we call liars.” So then you get this situation that happens – once a tweet gets big enough and it finds itself in the wrong part of Twitter, away from your followers and towards your haters – then you start getting those people communicating with one another. So you get to see the real back-and-forth. So not only did we have those two interactions, but we have “I don’t think they’re all lying. But the ones wearing hooker outfits definitely are though,” referring to what Yasmin is wearing – who again, need I remind you, is an Asexual lingerie model. So she is very comfortable in lingerie. That is her profession. And that doesn’t make her any less Asexual than anyone else. So, you get this sort of two versions of people: the people who are attacking all Asexuals and then the people who are attacking the prominent Black Ace activist in particular.
Courtney: It’s also not lost on me that, in this article, he is simultaneously saying, “Oh, how dare you include Black and Brown people in the progress flag without their consent! But also, let me just go ahead and attack this Black activist,” who is the only activist named by name, by the way, which Rob Little – Rod, Rod Liddle. Why do I keep doing that? Since we all know he’s listening to this, every single second of it. So I’m speaking directly to you, Mr. Rod Liddle: Yasmin Benoit is, in fact, an Asexual woman. You are allowed to call her a Black woman. Because I see here, you are confused. You called her a Black “womb-carrier,” but when someone is a woman, you are, in fact, allowed to call them a woman. Since you seem to be very confused about the ever-evolving nomenclature, I do want to clear that up for you.
Courtney: And so you then get all the people who are like, “Asexuals aren’t oppressed. Asexuals aren’t oppressed.” I probably saw two dozen people saying Asexuals are not oppressed – as people are actively in the comments and the quote retweets talking about all the ways that we should be oppressed or oppressing us themselves. Then you get the TERFs talking, who either outright say that Asexuality isn’t real, or you get the ones who seem to think they are more compassionate because they’ll say, “Asexuals who are sex-repulsed – honestly, they’re fine and valid, but they need to recognize that they’re not LGB.” They always intentionally, willfully, leave off the T. And that’s how you know. And honestly, I mean, use your imaginations. If you’ve seen this on Twitter, you know how the discourse can get. We would be here all night if I hunted down every single one of these bigoted comments and read them to you. But there was a storm of them during this particular period of time, so I can only imagine that this was what tuned Mr. Rod Liddle onto Asexuality – as, as he claimed, he only heard about for the very first time this week. Although, if you are really just, like, chomping at the bit to see what other kind of Twitter shenanigans these bigots get up to, you can definitely go follow accounts such as… @AphobeHottakes is a good one. They post a lot of screenshots of comments, quote retweets, things that are just found in and around Twitter. And, oh, man, did they have their work cut out for them every time something of Yasmin’s goes viral and finds the wrong side of Twitter, believe you me.
Courtney: So I mean, carrying on, Rod Liddle goes on to talk about how, “Oh, Stonewall advises people to ‘call out ace-erasure and acephobia where you see it and educate others along the way.’” And he – quite sarcastically, I assume – says, “Have you been doing that? Have you noticed instances of ‘ace-erasure’ and become suitably incandescent with fury? Have you rung the police? I’m betting you haven’t. Shame on you.” Only to immediately follow it up with, “Here’s the point. There is no such thing as acephobia, or ace-erasure. You cannot call it out because it never happens. They are complete and utter fictions. The supposed hate these people claim to be directed against them simply doesn’t exist: there is none. Nobody, anywhere, discriminates against people because they haven’t had sex for a while or don’t fancy it at all ever. Nobody. No firm, no media organization, no comedian, no politician, no individual, has got it in for people who don’t have sex very often. People who do not have sex very often probably comprise about 50 per cent of the population, but virtually none of those people would be so deranged as to define themselves in such a manner.”
Courtney: Huh. Woof. That’s not even the end of that paragraph, but I do want to break for just a brief moment to comment on the “deranged” comment. Because this is something we see so often, where he is calling all Asexual people “crazy,” “insane.” He’s also using it in a very ableist way, because you can tell in the way he’s using it, he doesn’t have any compassion for people that he deems “insane.” So this is very much being used as an insult, and that should not ever be done. But when you take things in a mental-health direction that is simultaneously an insult, this very, very weird thing happens, where Ace people – who are constantly pathologized and constantly told, like, “Oh, you’re crazy, you’re deranged, something’s wrong with you, something’s wrong in the head” – like, these are things that we hear frequently as Ace people. And we know that the people levying these words at us are using them in an insulting way. So, what happens when people get insulted? You want to shy away from the insulting thing they called you. So if someone says, “Oh, you’re not Asexual, you’re just crazy,” you’re going to want to say, “I’m not crazy!” But the systemic ableist undertone of this is that you are allowing them to use mental illness and disability as an insult, when it should not be used as an insult in the first place because that further stigmatizes people with those mental health issues. And that’s just something I want everyone to sit with and think about a little bit. Because as we’ve talked about many atime, there are people who are asexual and have a variety of disabilities. So this could be very easily further stigmatizing to those people also.
Courtney: I want you to think about your differences between when someone calls you “crazy” versus when you see a TERF call Asexual people, you know, “a mutilated trans person,” for example. Because you don’t really see even cisgender Aces say, “I’m not Trans!” in a very like, defensive, awful way, because we don’t see trans as an insult. The people saying that, the TERFs, they definitely do, or they can, see that as a bad thing and negative. Most people in our Ace queer community know that that’s very much not the case. So if someone calls them “trans,” they aren’t going to be so defensive and backpedal, like, “Ugh, that’s a bad thing. That is an insult. I am not trans. I don’t want you to think that I’m trans. I’m merely Asexual.” So, think about that comparison. Next time someone pathologizes you and uses a mental illness as an insult, think about the difference in how you would respond. And it can be really hard to decouple those feelings, because we know that these people using these words like “deranged,” “insane,” – we know that they mean it as an insult, so we want to distance ourselves from the insult. But really, really just think about what that means to you and why you personally view that as an insult that is to be distanced from.
Courtney: You know, that kind of reminds me – very short tangent story just about, like, “what do you consider an insult?” I don’t remember if I’ve shared this before on a podcast episode, but it’ll probably come up again. When I was in Middle School, there was a group of, like, football-playing jock guys who would, like, ridicule me for being a lesbian. And I don’t know where they got that, because I did not even think at the time that I had the capacity to even be romantically or queerplatonically attracted to a woman. I know better by this point, but I was like, “I like boys!” back then. But I also had gay friends. My mother and grandmother, whom I grew up with, they all had gay friends. I did not think that these people mocking me for being a lesbian was, like, an insult. So I just, like, took it, because in my mind I was like, “Well, that’s not a bad thing.” They meant it to be a bad thing, but I was like, “There’s nothing wrong with that.” And I also had the thought in the back of my mind like, “I would rather they be bullying me for being a lesbian than someone who actually is a lesbian and just isn’t out or actually has some concerns about this.” So I was like, “This is a perfect arrangement! Doesn’t bother me, and someone else who it might hurt more isn’t getting it.” So yeah, I was just like… In hindsight, I think I was bullied. I think I was bullied a lot during school, but I was like, almost un-bully-able because I was like, “Ha ha ha! Doesn’t bother me! Joke’s on you!” But that’s just one example of that. So, I don’t know. Next time someone tries to pathologize your Asexuality, channel seventh-grade Courtney [laughs] and let it roll off of you.
Courtney: But let’s finish off this remarkably awful paragraph. He continues with, “People who do not have sex very often are not put in prison for this behavior or prevented from marrying. There is no debate about what hospital wards they are allowed into nor arguments over their suitability to compete against womb- carriers in exciting sporting events.” Had to bring it back to trans women one more time. Didn’t you just – just had to get that extra dig in there. Because again, this is what they do. And I know some of you listening have not seen this firsthand, and this is why I think it’s so important. Because one could look at this article and say, “This is just an extremist right-wing conservative take and we should pay it no mind.” But this is where it starts, right? Like, we’ve seen this bubbling under the surface for years now, and it is gaining more and more traction. And I think back during the Girlguiding fiasco during Ace Week 2021, I think that was a lot of people’s first encounter with, like, “whoa, where is all of this coming from?” Not only just, like, one-off bigots, but, like, a coordinated bigoted attack by hundreds of accounts. And ever since then, it’s just been an increase. It has just been an increase. We see this all over the place now.
Courtney: And now, yeah, it’s a very conservative right-wing publication, but it is being published. This is published in a magazine. It’s only going to go up from here. So I’m not saying, like, “Follow these publications.” I’m not saying – definitely don’t subscribe to them. Definitely don’t follow them. Don’t give them that. I’m not saying you need to watch these publications like a hawk. We’ll probably do that for you, it turns out. But we need to know their tactics. If we know what they’re doing, what their strategy, what their game is, then we can keep tabs on it as it evolves, and that’s how we can try to actually organize together to push through it. Because this is far from over. It seems to only be getting worse – not only in the UK. In the US as well. I’ve seen an uptick from Canadian accounts recently as well. It is spreading – I’m sure to even more places than I have observed.
Courtney: So let’s end this last little paragraph here. He leaves it as, “In short, a tiny handful of lunatics” – there we go again – “have constructed a new victimhood and confected a hatred supposedly directed at it. This imaginary hatred is vital because it serves to define them, even though it doesn’t remotely exist. It is the logical progression from all of those hunkered down under that rainbow flag, determined to be defined and victimized by what they do with their genitals.” And again, bringing it back to “what they do with their genitals.” In Asexual discourse, we are so quick to jump in and correct people who say, like, “Oh, people aren’t oppressing you because you don’t have sex.” We’re gonna jump in so often and say, like, “Actually, that’s not the definition of Asexuality. It’s about the attraction, not the action. It’s about whether or not you’re sexually attracted to people, not whether or not you do or enjoy or have had sex.” Which is technically correct. But I think this is just another plot point to show that they don’t care. They do not care. While we are busy branding what Asexuality is in the way we talk about Asexuality online, which is increasingly going towards the “attraction, not action” sort of phrasing, they’re building their own brand of what Asexuality is. And we need to be cognizant of that. Because too often, we think, “Oh, there’s an individual person here who doesn’t understand what Asexuality is. Let me teach them what it actually is, in a tweet or two.”
Royce: and bigotry is often an intentional misunderstanding, not ignorance. It may be built upon ignorance, but there’s a certain point where it’s willful, not unintentional.
Courtney: It is. And that’s the thing that I don’t think we discuss enough, is that there is willful, intentional, organized bigotry being hurled at Aces right now. And a big part of their strategy is to boil it down to genitals, because that is exactly what they do with trans people. And if they can do both simultaneously, and put out this narrative that is impossible to decouple Asexuality from transness, that further strengthens their mission. And that’s just something we need to be more aware of as we go forward. Because he has read the Stonewall definition of Asexuality. He put it right in his article. He does not give a fuck. He does not give a fuck. Nor, would I say, most people using this logic in these definitions – they don’t care.
Courtney: So, where do we go from here? I don’t know. I cannot solve all of the world’s problems. I’ve been a bit at a loss for it myself over the last couple of years. But I think broadening the conversation past defining what Asexuality is and isn’t, I think, is a good start. Because now is the time where we really do need to be organizing. Mostly because they are. The TERFs are organizing. The conservatives are organizing. They have a mission, a plan. They have their own branding that they are going to try to drill into the mind of anybody who they might be able to pull over to their side. And Asexuality is a super, super easy one to get people. Because if you’ve never heard of Asexuality before, it’s very easy for them to swoop in and be like, “Oh, you don’t know anything about this. You’re uneducated. Well let me tell you, it’s bogus! All of it! And, while we’re at it, this is part of the trans agenda, too!” And then we get into the, you know, Ace bigotry to TERF-dom pipeline, which… I guess this is a start – this is a start to talking about that. But we’ll continue to talk about that in upcoming episodes, because it really needs to be addressed. Because, let me tell you, from what I can see, from where I’m sitting, their side is winning. They are organizing and branding better than we are. And that kills me to say, but they are gaining ground at a rate that seems to be faster than we are gaining ground.
Royce: I think a lot of that – not just with this issue, but also with a lot of other issues that we’ve seen worldwide, with a lot of legislation that’s been passed recently in America and in other places – is that extremist groups have been very focused and very driven for a long time, and progressive groups are often fragmented and have a lot of internal fighting.
Royce: And this is an example of widespread information warfare, and you have to work together if you’re going to succeed at that.
Courtney: They are playing the long game. We are playing damage control. That’s not going to cut it. It’s not going to cut it. And yeah, I mean, this episode was kind of a downer. I warned you it was gonna be. There were some parts we could at least try to poke fun at a little bit within the article. But I do really believe that we need to find some way to organize better than what we have been doing. I think we need to buckle down and focus on a long-game strategy as opposed to this fractured damage control. And honestly, for as short as this article was, I thought we were going to get through it, like, super quick, super breezy, and then have more time during this episode to talk about addressing his last couple paragraphs where he was saying, “Nobody is being discriminated against for being asexual.” Because goodness knows, we have receipts. We have so many examples of people being discriminated against for asexuality, which we can still address in upcoming episodes. We have plenty to talk about in that regard. But that’s another issue of, like, they don’t care. You can provide them the evidence. You can show them and tell them and give them statistics. They don’t care. They don’t care. If they can convince people that we are not oppressed, that makes it so much easier to oppress us. They don’t want us to be seen as an oppressed group of people, because then some people might actually have empathy for the oppression that we do get, and they can’t have that. They have to lure people into hating us, and by extension also trans folks. But why stop there? It’s gonna be an endless vicious cycle where they will just keep coming for the next marginalized group.
Courtney: So, whewf. That was a lot. Kind of a bit of a bummer. I think we are going to end it there. And if you made it this long through all of this horrible nonsense, then clearly, you must like listening to the sound of our voices. So, please, do the things that you need to do for whatever platform it is you are listening to. That means giving us a like and a follow or a subscribe and a rating and… comment, heck, if you’re on YouTube. Why not? We would be ever so grateful if you do the things. And we will talk to you all next week.