Being a Jamaican Ace in Catholic School, A "Right to Sex", & Other Allonormative Nonsense ft. Fara
Fara grew up as an Episcopalian child of Jamaican immigrants who identifies as Asexual and is starting to explore Aromanticism. We talk about her experience, learning about theology of the body in Catholic school, the "right to sex" debacle, and SO much more!
Follow Fara on Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, StoryGraph, and her blog.
Also check out
- Fara's video "Sex is a Right" and Other Dangerous Lies
- IUD insertion TikTok
- Cheap weddings increase men’s opposition to same-sex marriage, study finds
Courtney: Hello, everybody, and welcome back to The Ace Couple Podcast. My name is Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce. And today, we have a fabulous guest. We are so excited to speak to her today. And we have so many topics we want to get to, so there is a wealth of information here. So let’s just jump right into it. Feel free to introduce yourself to our listeners.
Fara: Hello, everyone. My name is Fara. I’m Asexual, and I make content on the internet sometimes. So I’m really excited to be here.
Courtney: We are really, really excited to have you. Now, I believe we’ve spoken just a little bit on Twitter and in emails. Do you recall the very first time we sort of chatted back and forth? Was that sort of a result of talking about sort of Christianity and Asexuality?
Fara: Yes, yes, it was. I think – I’m not sure the exact tweet that you guys had posted, but it was something related to, like, how super, like, far-right Christians, they don’t really, like – people will say, like, “Oh, but Asexuals aren’t oppressed by these same kinds of structures,” but how Christians like that also don’t really like Asexual people. And it just triggered this memory that I had from high school when we were learning something called Theology of the Body. And like, I remember it so vividly. The exact words that they said was, like, “God wants to impregnate you with his love.”
Fara: [laughing] And that’s, like, a thing that they were teaching us to basically say, like, “Oh, human is divine because you have the ability to reproduce, and this is, like, a parallel between the ideal heterosexual marriage and the ideal relationship between man and God.” And I just never forgot that because I thought that that was so disturbing.
Courtney: It’s repulsive.
Fara: And I was probably, like, 14.
Courtney: 14? Oh –
Fara: Yeah, just… very bad. [laughs]
Courtney: Oh my goodness. I can… oh, I absolutely see why that stood out in your mind so much, and at 14, too. That’s just – that’s, that’s so disturbing, and so young to hear something like that. It’s as if that ideology is just preparing you to live a heterosexual allo life –
Fara: Yeah. Very much. [laughs]
Courtney: – of marriage and monogamy. And I’d love to hear – because it sounds like you have a lot of experience living in and around people and schools that teach this sort of ideology. So I’m really excited to hear about your experience going to Catholic school and whatnot. But I have to ask right off the bat, at 14, did you already know that you were Asexual, or did you have a word for it at the time? What was sort of your own personal experience hearing that at that age?
Fara: Yeah. I mean, I remember being [laughing] very disturbed. But, like I said, I was so young, I probably was just like, “Yeah, okay, I guess that’s… Like, these adults who are teaching me in religion classes, they know best. That must really be [laughing] what God wants,” even though it seems like such a bizarre thing to say, looking back. And… I don’t know. The thing that I’m realizing now, looking back at my upbringing and, like, having gone to predominantly white Catholic schools, is that I don’t think I was really able to figure out that I was Asexual there, because abstinence was promoted, for one, but also, like, I wasn’t going to date any of those people.
[Fara and Courtney laugh]
Fara: So I, like, I was just like, “Oh, these are not the people for me.” I didn’t really have anything else to compare it to to know that, like, I was just uninterested in general. So I don’t think I knew at that age that I was Asexual. I think I probably figured that out more… Closer to college, I was using the term kind of like casually, but not really identifying that way. But then, when I was, I think, 22 years old, I think it was the summer of 2021, I read Ace by Angela Chen, and then I was like, “Ohhh. That’s… yep. Makes sense.” [laughs]
Courtney: A fabulous book.
Fara: Yes. Great book.
Courtney: I really loved reading that.
Fara: Me too.
Courtney: Oh my goodness. Oh, 14. And I wish I could be surprised. I did not go to religious schools. I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious family or anything like that. But 14 was also kind of the age that people just started teaching me that sex was to be expected. I actually had a therapist – I am not going to share this whole story, ’cause that’s a whole bag of trauma maybe for another day. But I had a therapist who I told – at 14, I had just gotten out of a breakup. I did have a boyfriend. And I was just, like, heartbroken over this breakup, and my therapist told me that, “Oh, well, you had to grow up so quickly. You’ve had to be an adult. You’ve had to take care of the adults in your life. So it’s really time that you start behaving like a teenager. It’s important for you to feel like a teenager.” And she said this in the context of a boy that I told her was making me uncomfortable because now that I was single, he was pursuing me sexually and making really sexually explicit comments.
Fara: Oh, God.
Courtney: And I was like, “Ooh, I… he’s making me so uncomfortable.” And she’s like, “Well, maybe you should explore that! I mean, you should feel like a teenager.” And I ended up in a very unsafe situation, so.
Fara: Yeah! Oh, I’m so sorry. That’s, mmm, twisted. [laughs]
Courtney: It really is.
Fara: [laughing] That person needs their license revoked, I fear.
Courtney: If only. If only. And so – yeah, and that was also sort of the same thing, at that age. When I was 14, I was like, “Well, this doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel comfortable. But this is what someone who is supposed to be a mentor figure in my life is teaching me and telling me to do. So, I guess I’ll try it. I guess I’ll explore this relationship, whatever that means.” And so… oof.
Royce: On my timeline, 14, freshman year of high school, that’s when we had the most dedicated sex ed classes that we had. Which, I understand public schools and religious schools have a very different take on sex ed.
Fara: Yeah. [laughs]
Royce: But it seemed really weird to me, at the same age, to be learning about how STIs manifest and then go straight to the metaphor of religious impregnation.
Fara: Yeah. And I think, at that time, how my school did it was we had one – like, our first year of high school, we had to take a Health / PE class. So, sometimes we would do, like, physical exercise, and then sometimes we would be in the classroom learning health. And there was, like, one unit that was sex ed – basically just STIs. And yeah, we also had freshman religion, where they were teaching us that God wants to impregnate you with his love, and if you’re not Catholic, you don’t have [laughing] a complete and perfect relationship with God.
Fara: Yeah. That was… [laughing] That was freshman year. It’s actually so wild to think about. Yeah, that’s a really good point. Like, that juxtaposition was really positioning sex to be something that is, like, feared, but also something that is, like, oh, necessarily, it’s holy, when it’s within heterosexual marriage.
Courtney: Yeah. Ugh. There’s so much to unpack here.
Courtney: But the word I have always heard used to describe, like, the marriage bed, the marital bed, is, like, “sacred”: “the sacred marriage bed.” And it’s… ugh.
Courtney: I don’t much care for that. But…
Courtney: I did not grow up religious. But you said that in this Catholic school, that they were teaching, “Catholicism is the only way to have the correct relationship with God.” But you are yourself not Catholic. So tell us a little more about that. How did you end up in a Catholic school? And what was at odds in your brain as you are learning these things?
Fara: Yes. So I’m not Catholic. I was baptized and confirmed in the Anglican Church. I’m Episcopalian. And I think that has to do with my parents being Jamaican immigrants. Like, that’s a holdover from, like, the Church of England, is the Anglican Church. So, yeah, my parents are Episcopalian; I’m Episcopalian. But I don’t know of Episcopalian schools in my area. My mom, it was just important to her that we grew up with our relationship with God and an education that included Christianity. And so we were enrolled in Catholic schools.
Fara: But yeah, I’m sure I was not super aware of it consciously when I was, like, a small child. But looking back, I could definitely see times at which I was, like, specifically excluded by teachers because I wasn’t – I was Christian, but I wasn’t Catholic, so you weren’t allowed to receive Holy Communion at church. I wasn’t confirmed with the rest of my class, which was by my own choice, because that was eighth grade, by that point. So I went and watched my friends get confirmed, and then a few of my close friends came and watched me get confirmed in my own church. But yeah, I definitely absorbed some of that messaging that, like, if you’re not Catholic, your relationship with God is somehow imperfect; Catholics are the only ones with, like, a true connection with God.
Fara: I think the sacrament of confession is another thing that was kind of like something I didn’t understand. Because I think they offer confession in my church, but to me, I was always like, if we believe that we can commune with God through prayer, why do I need to tell a priest all of my sins for him to then tell me God has forgiven me? It seemed very odd to me.
Fara: Another thing was that, like, from the time I was born, in our church, the… I don’t know if she was a pastor – like, the head – effectively, like, the head priest. She was a Black woman. She was the one who, like, I always saw in the pulpit in my church. So we always had, like, racial diversity in my church. We always had… Well, I don’t know about always, but there were queer people who attended my church. Now, currently in my church, one of the priests is a gay woman, who is married. She has, I think, a child. So yeah, she’s married to her wife, and they have a family.
Fara: But when it came to my Catholic school, it was just pure white men. [laughs] That was the only people who you would see in, like, religious leadership positions. We were told, for whatever reason – it was very strange, I think, being told that women could not hold those leadership positions in the church, but at the same time, when I went to church on Sunday, I saw them do it just as effectively as men. So, yeah, there were definitely some confusing elements to that, and some ways in which I felt alienated, because even though I was Christian, I guess I wasn’t Christian enough to them. Yeah.
Courtney: And now I have to ask – and maybe you don’t even know the answer, But you stated at around age 14, when things felt weird, you already knew that you didn’t see yourself reflected in the people around you. Do you think that helped or hindered in the long run to actually your own self-discovery?
Fara: Do you mean with respect to my sexuality?
Courtney: Yeah, was it sort of, like, it was easier because you already weren’t fitting the norm of what’s around you to be able to find this queer Identity, or was it sort of, well, this isn’t right, but I’m still looking because I haven’t found where I fit.
Fara: Yeah, I think I might have figured it out earlier if I wasn’t going to Catholic predominantly white schools, because the expectation was that we weren’t going to be dating or having sex or anything like that. And so, what I assumed – because I was told that this was the only [laughing] moral way to live and the only way to avoid Eternal damnation, I just assumed I was straight.
[Courtney and Fara laugh]
Fara: So yeah, I think having been schooled that way probably delayed my discovery of my sexuality, because the first time I went to a public secular school was college. And at that point, when I was still not really interested in dating or having sex, like, I tried to, like, talk to people romantically because everyone else was doing it, but it was just, like, not really my thing. That’s kind of when I was more like, “Oh, what’s my reason now?” [laughs] Because it’s not that, you know… Well, I think in the context of Catholic schooling, I was like, “Okay, yeah, that’s the thing that you have to do. You have to wait ’til marriage. Sounds good to me. That shouldn’t be hard.”
[Courtney and Fara laugh]
Fara: Like, I was all for it. I was like, [laughing] “Yes. I’m gonna wait.”
Courtney: Oh my goodness. That’s actually so funny. Because the relationship that I had gotten out of at the time I was 14 and had the therapist telling me this?
Courtney: He was a born-again Christian.
Fara: Oh, interesting.
Courtney: And that was part of the reason we ended up breaking up. But, like, we weren’t even thinking about kissing each other until we were already dating for like four or five months. And I was like, “This is great.”
Courtney: And of course, he was like, “Save sex for marriage.” So I was like, “Perfect.”
Fara: Yeah. “Say no more.”
Courtney: Like, “I don’t go to your church, but that’s fine. [laughing] This works great for me.” So, in that sense, there was a certain element of that Christian purity culture that appealed to me before I knew what my own identity and my own place in this world was.
Courtney: And of course, then I get out of that relationship and I’m distraught. And then my therapist is like, “Well, that relationship wasn’t sexual, but maybe you have the opportunity to try that now [laughing] because that’s what teenagers do.”
Fara: Ugh. Very weird.
Courtney: Very weird. Very, very wrong.
Fara: So I think, I think the expectation to wait until marriage… Like, that was just, like, the thing until I got to college, and then I was like, “Oh, I’ve entered a new context.” Like, instead of that being the expectation that I was meeting no problem, now, like, that’s something that you have to defend [laughing] with your life. It was like such a culture shock. But I definitely think the removal of that as the norm, or, like, the expectation – because we were all, like, 18, 19 – that’s when I was like, “Oh, I’m a little bit different than my peers.” [laughs]
Courtney: Yeah. I think we all have that moment at some point where it’s like, “We’re just… we’re not the same as most of the people around us.”
Fara: Yeah. [laughs]
Courtney: That’s sort of the first step for a lot of us. I think.
Courtney: I do want to ask – because, ugh, that “impregnate you with his love” is still…
Fara: No, it’s bad. [laughs]
Courtney: Ooh, it gives me shivers. But you said that there was a context of a class called, like, Theology of the Body. Tell me more about that, because I don’t know if I’ve ever heard those words strung together in that order until [laughing] I talked to you.
Fara: Yeah, I don’t know if it is like, there was a specific priest who, like, created this school of thought. But what Theology of the Body is, is I guess people trying to work out the holiest way to move forward and, like, how to reconcile sexuality with Christianity or, like, a Christian God. So I don’t know if it’s completely correct to say it’s like Christian sex ed, but that was what it seemed like, because I think it started around the time we were in middle school.
Fara: And essentially, they were telling us things – I can remember, in middle school, them telling us things like, “The reason that sex outside of marriage is a sin is because it’s a lie. You’re lying with your body by saying that you’re ready to have sex.” Which, even then, I was like, “Isn’t this kind of circular?” Because if you’re saying you’re ready to have sex and you have sex, but it’s a lie because you’re not married… [laughs] Anyway. I don’t know if I totally understood that message. But it was stuff like that, kind of discouraging us from engaging in sexual activity.
Fara: They also told us something about how humans are even more loved by God than the Angels because we have reproductive systems. We’re able to procreate, and that’s what sets us apart. I don’t know why I remember that one. [laughs] But I’m sure it was more stuff like that. Telling us why we shouldn’t engage in sex outside of marriage. They probably also had something to say about homosexuality, but I do not recall, and maybe that’s for the best. [laughs] But yeah. So that was what we were learning in middle school.
Fara: In high school: I only remember, like, maybe one unit in freshman religion being dedicated to Theology of the Body, and that’s where they said that lovely quote [laughing] about impregnation. And I can’t really recall what else they taught us with respect to Theology of the Body.
Fara: But I do know – I don’t know if it was just our freshman year or, like, throughout our high school religion classes, because you had to take a religion class each year. They had these guest speakers who would come in and talk to us about stuff like abortion, why that was wrong. And they had this one married couple who came, and they used this example – and probably a lot of people have had something similar happen in their school – they used this example of, like, chewing gum. They took out a stick of gum and they chewed it and they were like, “If you were to give this to someone else, it wouldn’t be as appealing, or have as much flavor.”
Fara: [laughing] “That’s what happens when you have multiple sexual partners. You’re less able to connect with each one of them.” Something like that. And they also did the thing with, like – they stuck a piece of tape on your arm and then they’re like, “Okay, now pass it to your neighbor. And, like, see how it’s less sticky? That’s how you’re less able to genuinely connect with people the more partners you have.” Something like that. [laughs]
Royce: Emotion is a finite resource.
Fara: Yes, exactly. [laughing] You only have so much of it to give, I guess.
Courtney: Well, truthfully, there is this incredibly capitalistic mindset behind the culture that we have of, like you said earlier, circular logic. There’s a lot of circular logic going on. Like, “Oh, sex is this very, very precious thing, but you absolutely have to have it –”
Fara: Yes. [laughs]
Courtney: “– but it has to only be in very certain contexts.” And the very certain contexts – it is used as a type of commodity. It is something that is to be saved and only given at certain moments, and there is something finite about it.
Fara: Scarcity, yeah.
Courtney: There’s scarcity. And the scarcity component of it is what’s able to uphold the status quo, patriarchy, white supremacy, capitalism, all of these Interlocking systems of oppression. There needs to be some type of hierarchy, and this is just one way that sex is weaponized in maintaining that hierarchy.
Royce: The thought that having sex outside of marriage is somehow a lie and that’s why it’s a sin seems to me to be an attempt to separate your autonomy over your own body, by saying that you can think that you actually want something, you can think that you want to do this, but you mentally can’t actually make that decision.
Fara: Yes, that’s exactly what it was. And I guess to the audience that they were targeting at that moment, which was, like… we must have been 11 years old? Okay, fair to say that maybe we don’t know exactly what we’re getting into by having sex. But that doesn’t hold up for very much longer before you’re just telling people who are capable of consenting that, “Oh, actually, no, you don’t know what you want, and you can’t possibly engage in this without being a liar, which is an affront to God.” Yeah.
Courtney: Which, it’s really interesting to hear the other metaphors that get used. Because I haven’t heard the stick of gum one, the sticky tape… It makes sense, because it’s just an iteration of the one that I’ve always heard, where, “Oh, the lock and the key. A lock that can open to any key isn’t a good lock.”
Fara: Woo! [laughs]
Courtney: “But a key that can open any lock is a master key.” And it’s like, okay.
Fara: Are we going to talk about the manosphere today? [laughs]
Courtney: Oh, I’d rather not. But if we must. [laughs]
Fara: Because that’s their favorite thing. That’s their favorite thing. And it’s like, I’ve seen something too that’s like… Something about it had to do with an outlet. I don’t even know. But all of these, like, metaphors for the same thing. And it’s like, okay, we invented those things. We invented those things with a specific purpose. Human beings [laughing] are not to be reduced to, like, sexual function. It’s so bizarre. Why… ugh. [laughing] Like, why would you say something like that?
Royce: Also, it’s really easy to pick a wide variety of locks with a very simple set of tools.
Courtney: Yes! We pick locks all the time. It’s fine.
Fara: [laughs] The metaphors are not metaphoring! Stop!
Courtney: [laughs] Oh my goodness. And actually, as little sense as it actually makes, I think you may have just filled in a little gap in the logic I’ve always heard but never understood from… specifically the religious right wing that I hear a lot, where they’ll say, like, “Oh, we are precious and we are superior because of our ability to have sex, because of our ability to reproduce.” And I’m sitting here going, like, “That’s most of the animal kingdom.” Like, all creatures reproduce some way. A lot of them reproduce sexually. That’s not exclusive to humans. But if they’re literally, in their heads, thinking humans compared to angels? [laughing] That’s news to me.
Fara: Yeah. [laughs]
Courtney: My word. Hey, the more you know. [laughs] So, after you had gotten out of Catholic school, you went on to minor in Black Women’s Studies. How did that start to shape your outlook on what your upbringing is, your own personal faith, and then also just your own place as a Black Asexual woman?
Fara: I think, even before I declared that as my minor officially, some things definitely started getting shaken up, the more I learned about race and the more I learned about America’s history and the more I learned about, like, just like how race as we know it came to be.
Fara: My very first semester, I took this English class that unpacked the construction of race and the political significance of blood. It was a really interesting class. And one of the things that we learned was that chattel slavery in the Americas as we understand it, which is a structure based on race and, like, based on your color – it was not always that way. Because the original reason that all of these Christian slaveholders had for justifying in their minds why they should be able to own another person was that, “Oh, they’re not civilized, they’re not Christian, so it’s fine to enslave these people because they’re not enlightened, they’re not in relationship with God like we are.”
Fara: But then at that point, I don’t think slavery was like a lifelong thing. It was more of an indentured servitude situation. And Africans, or people who were enslaved, started to convert. So they would have to get a bunch of new savages to save or whatever. And as that continued, I am sure they started to understand that it was unsustainable that when you give these people the option to have a claim to religion and to a relationship with a higher power, that’s not good for their bottom line. That’s not good from an economic standpoint. So things shifted so that it became an institution that was lifelong and based on the color of your skin.
Fara: And so when I learned that, that definitely, I think, complicated things in terms of my own relationship to religion. And I think I’m a lot less religious than I was when I was going to Catholic schools, but I don’t think that has changed my relationship with God. Because, I don’t know, I felt like in Catholic school, I was like, “This is a whole lot of noise. Like, all of this gold ornaments… I can just, like – me and God can just talk one-on-one and that’s good.”
Fara: So I feel like, yeah, my relationship with God and my faith is still good. But my understanding of how Christianity has been so instrumental in colonization, in slavery, in all of these different forms of oppression – as we can see continuing today in oppressing, like, queer people, trans people – it makes it hard, I think, to fully and in good conscience identify as a Christian. But it’s also a nuanced thing. Things like Negro spirituals. Christianity was a way for enslaved people to keep hope alive and continue to live and escape and rebel.
Fara: So yeah, I think it’s interesting to think about how the ancestors reclaimed Christianity, but it’s definitely something that I had to learn and make peace with and just, like, understand from a political perspective. Because I think growing up going to Catholic schools, we were really primed to see all secular groups or all other religious groups as, like, trying to have some kind of conflict with us, and like, we need to be in a position where we could defend our faith, where we could explain why our faith was superior. And that definitely all made a lot more sense once I started to learn what I now know about Christianity as a tool for oppression.
Fara: And what was the other part of the question? I think I answered maybe half of it. It was about my minor?
Courtney: Well, I suppose, you told us how that fit in with your relationship to faith. Did it play any part in your relationship to discovering your Asexuality?
Fara: Yeah. So, I took that class, and then the next semester I took my first Women’s Studies class, and I learned that my school offered a Black Women’s Studies minor. And I ended up taking that because from that class alone, I realized I had no political education. I didn’t really know that much about history, and I wanted to understand. Because I think, like, towards the end of my high school career, I was starting to learn about things like feminism, things like racial inequity, that were just, like, completely foreign topics to me at school, because I was going to mostly white Catholic schools. So I wanted to learn more about that. I’m really glad that I went ahead with that minor. It really opened up a lot of doors for me and definitely changed the way I thought about everything.
Fara: As it relates to my Asexuality, I think a big part of doing that minor – at least a foundational part – was understanding stereotypes and how stereotypes have been used to oppress different racial groups. And being a Back woman, I think it’s hard, because there is the hypersexualization – so, like, the Jezebel image – and there’s also the desexualization that comes with the Mammy stereotype, and sometimes they’ll use the word Asexual to describe that figure.
Fara: So it feels like, is there ever really a way to present yourself as a Black woman where you’re not accused or seen as playing to a stereotype? Because people see me as a Black woman. I have curves. There are very few situations where I will not be read as hypersexual just for the body that I’m in. But at the same time, when there exists a stereotype, a negative stereotype, that portrays Black women as desexualized and you don’t really know if you want to be seen as sexual? Yeah, that complicated things for me. Because I was like, “Okay, is this me?” – and, like, internalizing a stereotype about people who look like me – “Or is this really what I want?” It was definitely… It’s been hard to pull those things apart, and I think I’m still working on that.
Courtney: It’s a journey. It’s a process. I mean, we all have who we are on the inside, but we’re also… We live in a society, we grow up in the cultures we do, and these things seep into us. And there’s a lot of unpacking to do, whether that be internalized, like, cisheteropatriarchy. There are so many people I know who just thought they were straight for so long because that was the only option that they knew of. So, it’s a lifelong process, honestly.
Fara: Yeah. [laughs] Yeah, for sure.
Courtney: And I think understanding race is so important not only for BIPOC queer folks, but also just all queer folks in general, I think. I think even the white queer folks need to learn racial history. Because –
Fara: Oh, especially them. [laughs]
Courtney: Especially them, first of all. [laughs] First of all. But there are so many historical… just biases that stem from racism that a lot of people just have no idea about because we aren’t taught these things in school. It is something that – especially if you are not a racialized person – you have to go out of your way to find this education, and you have to want it, and it will be uncomfortable. But even things like fatphobia has racist roots. Even a lot of early homophobia against women, lesbophobia, came from, you know, this racist theory of, “Well, maybe lesbians have genitals that are more similar to Black women,” because, you know, Black women were already this other in the very racist sort of attempt at being scientific type of racism. And so many things stem from that that we are still dealing with today. We’re still dealing with fatphobia, but most people don’t know the deeply racist origins of that. And that can really, really complicate things for Asexuals, also, because what body types are sexualized, what body types are desexualized, and what body types are both simultaneously, somehow –
Courtney: – with that same good old-fashioned circular logic we were talking about.
Fara: Exactly. And another thing similar to what you were mentioning is that the roots of gynecology are extremely racist. Like, the experimentation on enslaved Black women against their will is how we got gynecology as we know it today. And I’m almost certain there has been [laughing] little to no advancement in that field since. Because why is getting a pap smear – why is it like that? Someone needs to… [laughing] It needs to be someone’s life work to improve upon the experience of going to the OBGYN. Not mine, but someone’s life work.
Courtney: Truthfully, truthfully.
Fara: We deserve better!
Courtney: I am one of those fully-grown adult women who has had this procedure in her life who did not know what it was like, what they were actually doing to insert an IUD, until I joined TikTok [laughing] and I found a horrible video of the literal piercing of the cervix. And they never told you that.
Courtney: Yup. Oh my goodness! I am sorry, I’m about to scar you for life! [laughs]
Fara: [laughing] Oh my gosh, is this what my sisters are going through?
Courtney: Oh my goodness. So, oof, first of all, so I got my IUD for, like, really painful just like period symptoms: irregular periods, painful, heavy bleeding, that kind of thing. They’re like, “Let’s put an IUD in there. That’ll cool things down a little bit.” And it… did. But when I got my IUD put in the first time, I went into false labor? I started having labor contractions.
Courtney: And they were like, “Yeah, that can happen sometimes.” I was like… [stammers]
Fara: And they didn’t say anything before?
Courtney: No. And I was in so much pain.
Fara: Oh no.
Courtney: It was ridiculous. But first of all, like, I just assumed it was going to be like a pap smear, which isn’t pleasant, ever, and it’s more painful for some than others. But I was like, “You know, I’ve had this before, I can handle that.” And it was not the same thing. And they were like, “Oh, you’ll just feel like a little bit of pressure.” Turns out the tool they use, they literally pierce through the cervix and pull it down to straighten out the uterus before they insert an IUD.
Fara: Oh no.
Courtney: And they don’t tell you that. They don’t tell you that. And I didn’t know this until I joined TikTok and I found a video of them demonstrating it on a medical model, and I was like, “Oooh! That’s not okay.” Because they don’t give you any pain medication or local anesthesia, and that’s – again, that’s just the brutal savagery that is gynecology [laughs] –
Fara: It’s, like, the Dark Ages out here.
Courtney: – because of the racist origins.
Fara: Yeah. That’s bad. Whew.
Courtney: It’s awful. For our listeners who are brave and/or horrified, I will try to put a link in the show notes to a video of that thing. Because it’s not pleasant, but I kind of wish I knew that that’s what they were doing before they did that to me.
Fara: Right. Whatever happened to informed consent?
Courtney: Oh, there is no such thing.
Fara: Good. [laughs] Good! Love – great country we have here.
Courtney: Well, you know, women… I mean, this might be painful, sure, but eventually you’re going to give birth to a child, if you haven’t already, and that’s going to be worse. So it’s just training you for that, really.
Fara: Yeah. [laughs] Just getting you accustomed to what’s inevitable. Ugh.
Courtney: Yeah. So, I’m sorry I had to be the bearer of this news to you. [laughs]
Fara: [laughs] I will repress this immediately, so no worries. [laughs]
Courtney: [laughs] That is advised, yes. So while we’re sort of just talking about deep systemic issues in history, I would love to talk about the “right to sex” debacle.
Fara: Oh yes. This lovely discourse. At that – when – that was October, too, I think that happened. She tweeted that the day after my birthday. So rude of her to do that. [laughs]
Courtney: Oh my goodness. I started seeing these tweets the day it was happening. And we were chiming in on it. We thought about doing an entire podcast episode about it. But it was also just about Ace Week time and we were like, “No.”
Fara: Oh, was it?
Courtney: “We’ll make some tweets –”
Courtney: “– and then we’ll call it a day. Maybe we’ll circle back to this.” But –
Fara: Okay, I’m curious, because I know you responded directly to Alexandra Hunt, who was the person who posted those tweets. I know I saw her responding to some people. Did she ever respond directly to any of your concerns?
Courtney: She did not respond directly to us, no.
Courtney: We made a couple of comments on a couple of her different threads, and we did a couple of quote-retweets and did not hear from her there. And I may have just missed something, but as far as I know, she did not respond to any other Aces –
Courtney: – who were sort of bringing their own perspective. Because after we started, you know, discoursing on the Ace side of Twitter, more people started chiming in, rightly so. But yeah, this was Alexandra M. Hunt. It was in October, and this thing – it’s not new, it wasn’t a surprise to me, because it seems like every couple of years in a very, very big way, people have this moral panic about people not having enough sex or not having enough babies, and that just keeps coming up over and over again. But this was… I don’t think she is serving as a politician, but I think she was running at the time.
Fara: Yes, she was a Congressional candidate, I think for Philadelphia. But yeah, I made a whole YouTube video about this situation, and it took me two months [laughs] because I was just trying really hard to make sure I made it clear all the different ways she was wrong for what she said. And I did look to see, like, has she amended her statements? And I know she said she regrets using the phrase “right to sex.” But I don’t recall ever seeing her interact with any people who were bringing up the Asexual lens.
Fara: So, yeah. It looks like more what she regretted was just using that phrasing. Because when you say “right to sex,” like, that has legal implications, [laughing] which I talked about a little bit in my video. But, yeah, it’s… I don’t know. I feel like that kind of logic, as a lot of people have been pointing out, is so deeply rooted in rape culture, which obviously we’ve all been… basically just like it’s in the air that we breathe. We’re just surrounded by it constantly. So I feel like that really brought me back to different parts of my life when I was younger where I was met with some kind of argument that basically said something to that effect – that, like, sex is an inevitability, and men need sex, and if they don’t have sex, who knows what’s going to happen? [laughs]
Fara: Danger! [laughs]
Courtney: Yes! [laughs]
Fara: Like, I’m remembering – I feel like I don’t know when “friendzone” was, like, coined as a term but there were conversations in my high school happening about that. And I remember I wrote this paper – we had to do these papers for this program that I was in where we would, like, stand up and read our papers about just like whatever topics we felt called to write about. And I wrote one about how someone at my school said he was friendzoned, and I was like, “How can you say you have a right to another person?” So, clearly, I’ve been [laughing] upset about this issue for a long time. And yeah. It was really unfortunate to see someone who is ostensibly on the left making arguments like that, because of all the people to be advocating for and all the issues to be taking up, young cishet men and lack of sex? That’s what’s important right now? That was bizarre to me.
Courtney: Well, and the other side of that means that, like, something will be fixed. It will be better if they have this sex that they’re missing. And –
Fara: Is that the case? I don’t know. [laughs] But yeah, because some of the reasons she gave for kind of like taking up this banner of, like, “Young men need to be having more sex” is that young men have historically been so privileged by our society, so the fact that even they are struggling to, like, have sex means something’s really wrong. And it’s like, okay, but you could have also been talking about the loneliness that more marginalized people are experiencing. Arguably, that would have been the better use of your time. I was just confused all around. Because, like, this person said that they’re a feminist. This person is, like, a progressive. I think she said that she is herself a sex worker. So I was just… yeah, I was at a loss. It seemed wrong in so many different ways.
Courtney: Yeah. Well, the thing is, too, there were some stats that were being incorrectly presented in this conversation, which just statistically is a problem. But even after the fact when she says, “Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have said ‘we need to work toward a right to sex.’ Maybe those words were wrong,” that sort of ignores the problem that the underlying concept behind her thoughts here is flawed and desperately needs an Ace perspective.
Fara: Yes! Yeah.
Courtney: Because the incorrect statistics, if I was recalling, she was saying that a third of men under 30 have not had sex. And I thought –
Courtney: “That sounds, like, a little bit high?” Like, I’m not judging anyone for being, you know, quote, “30-year old virgins,” because that’s a whole different issue. Like, virgin-shaming is an issue. But the chart she was sharing was people self-reporting whether or not they’ve had sex with in the last year.
Courtney: The stats were up the last year, people self-reporting have not had as much sex. And like, how did you get – where did those numbers come from?
Fara: Right. How did you get to “never had sex”? Yeah. And she also made a claim about – she said something like, “Even more young men are having less sex than they’d like.” In all my research, I could not find where she got the data for that assertion. But, yeah, I think when I went back to look through her Twitter page to, like, say, “This is what she’s talking about now,” I saw that there had been, like, that new Twitter feature where readers can add some important information.
Fara: That was tacked onto the bottom of that tweet.
Courtney: Oh good!
Fara: It said, like, “The original tweet claims that 28% of young men between these age groups haven’t had sex. It’s actually just within the last year.” So. And is it a problem [laughing] if young men aren’t having sex once in a year? I don’t know.
Courtney: Yeah, yeah.
Fara: Just like you said, an Ace perspective is needed, because the implication that that is somehow wrong, that whatever sexual activity or lack thereof young men are reporting is wrong or a problem to be fixed, is very harmful, especially when we know that the norms surrounding masculinity already stigmatize men who do not want to have sex. Oh, it was bad.
Courtney: It really is. And the issue is, there were a few systemic societal issues that could have been a valid point, like, hidden within these multiple threads that she was making. Like, in my eyes, there is a valid issue of the culture of toxic masculinity, which we know is an issue for Asexual men, for Aromantic men, for… you know, this is an issue too, and I think we should talk about that, especially when that same culture says, you know, men shouldn’t have close intimate friendships, they shouldn’t be, you know, emotionally vulnerable with their blood family members, and that a, theoretically, a wife, a life partner, a spouse should be the only meaningful relationship in a man’s life. That’s an issue, and that can cause mass issues of loneliness, and we should address that. But the issue is the negative ramifications of patriarchy on men, not that men need to have more sex! Because sex also does not always equal emotional intimacy, either.
Fara: Exactly. And, I don’t know. The logic that it’s actually the physical act of sex that would decrease violence from men or that would decrease the levels of loneliness that they’re reporting is bizarre to me. Because, I don’t know, it seems like… why can’t they just pleasure themselves if that’s the truth? But it’s not. [laughs]
Courtney: Yeah! Well, the violence, too, is a weird thing, because there’s the religious talking point and then the secularized talking point that’s still saying the same thing. The religious talking point here is normally, like, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” but I very much remember – and I thought this was the silliest thing for this critique to come up with, because it was, like, during the GameStop crash with the shorting of the stocks on Reddit –
Fara: Yeah. I remember that. [laughs]
Courtney: – where there were people saying, like, “This is just dangerous bored young men. Like, young men who are bored and not having enough sex are dangerous.”
Fara: Oh! They were saying that because of GameStop stocks?
Courtney: Yes. [laughs]
Fara: Oh gosh. [laughs]
Courtney: Which is, again, that’s the sex and the capitalism. They really go together. I mean, in the Ace community, we often talk about, you know, there are parallels between sex and food, because you have the appetites, you have the hungers, you have the preferences. So that’s why we get the cake metaphor. And this is normal. Humans have been doing this for longer than the Ace community has been doing it. So those parallels exist. But then there’s the parallels between capitalism and sex. You know, sex sells. And they start using these words, like, “Oh we’re in a ‘sex recession,’” when people are reporting people having less sex. So we have those parallels as well.
Courtney: But really, people are moralizing all of these things in the same way that has roots in very Protestant language, whether or not the religion is still present. Because we moralized food intake: you know, “If you’re fat, you should just be more disciplined. You should go to the gym more often.” And “No pain, no gain.” But then you also start moralizing sex. You know, “If you have more sex, you’ll be a more productive member of society. And if you’re a productive member of society, then your life has worth.” So there’s this weird moralization that has all of these different parallels.
Fara: And that’s talked about in Ace, too: how, I guess, in our current, like, sex-positive culture, there’s been a reversal of the way that that moralization works. So like, now, especially if you’re a woman, the more sex you have, the better you are, the less repressed you are, like, the more empowered of a woman you are – which I’m sure other Ace women have also had the experience of having to really unpack that. That’s something that I really want to research more – like, the impact that that has had on young women – because it can’t have been good. Like, there was a time when I was a teenager where it was like, it really seemed like the way to be a feminist was to just have a ton of casual sex. Like, that was the way to reach empowerment. And, yeah. Which, in some ways, I’m like, “If I wasn’t raised going to Catholic schools, would I have had to learn in a less comfortable way about my sexuality?” I shudder to think.
Courtney: Yeah, that’s something I’ve thought about a lot over the years. Because there’s definitely this branch of sex-positive feminism that does still ascribe some level of morality to how much sex you’re having; what type of sex you’re having; how many partners you have; sometimes, even, to a certain extent, like, how vanilla you are not.
Fara: Yes. Yes.
Courtney: Like, there are all these different ways. And it’s weird because, as Aces, we’re always sort of afraid of being attacked for, like, being the repressed, you know, upholder of purity culture. So I think a lot of Aces, when they talk, they have to say, “No, no, I am sex-positive. I’m sex-positive.” And I keep coming back to that phrase. Because most women I know who are not Ace who have used “sex-positive feminism” and have taken on that label of a “sex-positive feminist,” most of them use it in a way that does not serve me, as an Ace woman. But so many different things have been pulled in and attached to it, like, “Oh, proper sex education is part of being sex-positive.” It’s like, well, yeah, I’m all for that! But if saying, you know, experimenting sexually all the time with lots of different people is inherently good, and not just another valid way to be, I don’t think that works for me.
Courtney: So I started – I’m still workshopping my evolved thoughts on this. But I’ve started paralleling it with body positivity. Because there was also this big spike in “Love your body, no matter what it is. Your body is inherently always good. You should always love your body.” There are some people who say, “That is not ever going to work for me.” And some people don’t even necessarily desire to love their body. Some people just want neutrality. So there’s sort of a group of people saying, “I just want body neutrality. I just want my body to exist and be okay existing. I don’t have to love it. I don’t have to hate it. It just is.” And so I’ve started thinking, like, what about sex neutrality?
Fara: That’s definitely where I fall, at least.
Courtney: So that’s sort of how my brain has been going.
Fara: I’m definitely firmly sex-neutral. Like, it exists. I’m gonna have to be okay with that. But it’s not good or bad. And I think – that’s so interesting with the body neutrality, too. Because let me know if you’ve ever had this experience; I’m not sure if it’s an Asexual thing or if it’s, like, a neurodivergent thing, maybe. But it was specifically, I think, the summer when I was reading Ace and I was coming to the realization that I’m Asexual. I was just, I remember thinking, “I wish I didn’t have a body.”
Fara: “I wish I was just, like, a floating ball of light with consciousness. [laughing] That would make things so much easier.”
Royce: I have heard that articulated by other people before.
Fara: Okay, awesome. [laughs]
Courtney: I definitely know some people like that. And the weirdest thing is, there’s the people who just would prefer to not exist with a body because they have some sort of, like… I don’t know, and pick your poison. Is it just convenience? Is it just, there’s something about having a body that you don’t enjoy, whatever that may be? But then there’s this very weird branch of people, who tend to be wealthy white men – not exclusively, but predominantly – who are just very, like, transhumanist, and they’re like, “I want this so that I can live forever.”
Courtney: “I just want to upload my brain to the cloud.”
Fara: I see. [laughs]
Courtney: And there are some very interesting ideologies in that brand of transhumanism that I do not agree with. But I have 100% found people online, who are transhumanists, who say, like, “I can’t wait until the day when we can just be technology and exist in perpetuity” –
Courtney: – who are also somehow transphobic.
Fara: [sarcastically] Great.
Courtney: Because they use the TERF talking points of, like, “Your sex is in every cell of your body, and you are either male or female and there’s no in between, and there’s no difference in gender versus sex.” And it’s like, how’s that gonna work when you upload your brain to the cloud?
Fara: [laughing] Every single data structure in your consciousness module has your sex? Okay, that’s… hmm.
Royce: “This is a male hard drive.”
Royce: “You can tell by the red band around it.”
Fara: Yes. [laughing] “There’s a boolean value in every file. There’s only two possibilities!” That’s wild, for you to be so futuristic in thought that you’re ready to be uploaded to the cloud, but still, you are just weighed down by the gender binary. That’s… [laughing] I don’t know what to say.
Courtney: Yeah, it’s very interesting. It’s very interesting. And the reason [laughing] why I see so many white men, especially, gravitating towards this transhumanist mindset is because the only thing they see in it is, “Well, this is an extension of my life. I can continue to live. I can continue to have power over my life. I can continue to have power in the state where I am.” Whereas a more marginalized person might be like, “Okay, but who’s going to have access to that technology?”
Fara: Right. And also, that sounds tiresome.
Courtney: And we still live in capitalism.
Courtney: So, are they going to start, you know, charging you to access your memories?
Fara: Oh. Oh, they would absolutely do that, because they already charge you to give you, like, the same amount of cloud storage for your files. Now imagine… “Hey, if you want your consciousness to stay uploaded for another 10 years, you’re gonna have to shell out the big bucks.”
Courtney: Yeah. When we still live under capitalism and we still live under white supremacy, like, there’s still going to be power structures in place if we don’t dismantle those first!
Fara: For the record, I would like to be a floating ball of light with consciousness just so I don’t have to, like, feed myself.
Fara: Not because I want to live forever. That sounds exhausting. [laughs]
Royce: Sometimes vague concepts can cause two completely different communities to overlap in weird ways.
Fara: Yes. [laughs]
Royce: Because what you’re saying by, “Oh, it would be neat to not have a body,” is you’re avoiding something, whether it’s having to eat or having to sleep, or all of the social anxieties –
Courtney: Having to die. [laughs]
Royce: – all of the social anxieties that come from being perceived –
Royce: – in your current form by the people around you. But having to die is another one that comes from a very different place.
Courtney: It does come from a different place. So we took leaps and bounds to get here.
Fara: Yeah. [laughs]
Courtney: But we started by talking about body neutrality to get here. And I like the idea of just letting things be neutral because it’s almost as if – the way things are so polarized right now, it’s like something has to be very good or very bad. And it’s like, why can’t they just be? And to take it back, for a moment, to the Alexandra Hunt issue, she was not walking things back for a while. She was doubling down, saying, “Yes, ‘right to sex’ is good,” and just –
Fara: A few times.
Courtney: – thread after thread, a few times.
Fara: Yes, yes.
Courtney: But she said, “Well, you know, a lot of people are angry with me.” She uploaded a document from WorldSexualHealth.net. And of course, as soon as she did, she is like, “Well, this is all I’m saying, is this is what we need. So if you agree with this, then you must agree with me.” And I read it, and the very first line that jumped out at me where I was like “It’s still not better” was: “This declaration of sexual rights reaffirms that sexuality is a central aspect of being human throughout life.” And I was like, first of all you’re equating sexuality with humanity which is a problem.
Courtney: And it’s not going to be a central aspect for a certain population of people, and that is okay.
Courtney: You can let those people exist without that being a central focus of their life. So I kept seeing flaw after flaw after flaw. And –
Courtney: It was interesting, too, because I actually told her – and I wish I would have gotten a response to this, because since she was actively running, at the time, in Pennsylvania, Marshall Blount is on the Pennsylvania Council for LGBT Affairs, and he is a Black Asexual man. And I was saying, like, “This is in your state! You can consult him and people like him to develop your ideas and talking points and keep them inclusive before letting them loose in the world.” But…
Courtney: Didn’t get a response to that, unfortunately. But… So, yeah, it was sort of the couple of nuggets of good things that were almost there. Because then there was also the talking about sex work and trying to –
Fara: Mhm. Decriminalization.
Courtney: Decriminalization. Which is like, I’m good! Like, that’s good! I’m in favor of that, yes. But it was also ignoring the fact that there’s still a big safety issue here for sex workers. If you’re telling men they have a “right to sex,” I would say, “No, the sex worker has a right to refuse business to anybody who is uncomfortable or unsafe.”
Fara: Exactly. Yes.
Courtney: So that’s a very different mindset also. But it also just sort of ignores the fact that there are studies present that say that a large percentage of men who do business with sex workers do it from a place of trying to feel like a man and reclaim their masculinity, and that can come from a place of power and patriarchy and also just toxic masculinity. How much of this is performative or feeling like it’s necessary to reaffirm this gender you’ve been given and you’re told “this is how you’re supposed to be” –
Courtney: – versus what is actually the intrinsic desire, right now, for sexual activity? And that wasn’t explored at all!
Fara: No. Yeah, she was really just capitulating to pre-existing norms set by patriarchy by saying, like, “Oh, the problem: men aren’t having sex. The solution: give men more sex.” And United Sex Workers was one of the accounts that I saw who responded to her and pointed out, like, “You’re not talking at all about what this would actually look like in practice for sex workers. Because if you have a right to something, you can – legally, you can sue for damages if your rights are violated.” So yeah, she should not have used that wording, but she also should not have made that argument in the first place. And I’m glad so many people told her so. Because hopefully, at some point, she can redevelop her stance on this.
Courtney: Yeah, it was, truthfully… It was also very interesting when this came out, because I had very recently finished reading Sherronda J. Brown’s book –
Courtney: – Refusing Compulsory Sexuality, which was a phenomenal book and I recommend it to everyone. Yeah, same!
Courtney: We both got our copies right here. It’s such a good book.
Courtney: And so, I mean, Sherronda had an entire chapter dedicated to this exact sort of panic over lack of sex. And it was also just a few months after – a couple of months after Royce and I had done our four-part series on, you know, religious right-wing discrimination against Asexuality. And something we saw again and again and again when we were seeing not only these Acephobic talking points but these transphobic, homophobic talking points from all of these sort of Evangelical organizations was the word “productive,” over and over. “The relationship between a man and a woman is productive.” And… ugh. First of all, that’s reproductive as in childbearing, but it’s also the word “productive” has capitalist undertones, and…
Fara: That is soul-crushing.
Courtney: It is!
Fara: That’s the reason to engage in [laughing] interpersonal relationships: to produce. Ugh.
Courtney: To produce. It’s very bleak. [laughs]
Fara: Yeah. [laughs]
Courtney: Incredibly bleak.
Fara:Yeah. I was really happy with the comments on the video I made about that situation. Most people were very receptive to it, and I did have some fellow Asexuals in the comments who were like, “Wow, I’ve never heard anyone bring the Asexual lens to this.”
Fara: I did get a few weirdos in the comments, of course.
Courtney: [disappointed] Mmm.
Fara: But, I don’t know, I was just laughing. I was like, [laughs] “I backed my arguments up with research. You’re just telling me I will never know the anguish of being a man.” [laughs]
Courtney: Which is interesting. Because I acknowledge that men are also hurt in the society that they have built, and there are real issues that should be addressed. But there are certain conversations that can get a little too men’s rights-y a little too quickly.
Courtney: And one thing – I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but we’ve seen it a fair bit, and we’ve had some interesting thoughts on it. Because while it is true that by self-reporting and surveys right now, a majority of the Ace population on these surveys are women or nonbinary folks, men are the minority, just statistically on these self-reporting things. And I do think that as there are more men being represented, there will be more men identifying as Asexual – when they’re told that this is okay. So I do think we need male Ace representation for that reason.
Courtney: But I’ve started to see this talking point of men who are Aces being a minority getting on lists of other minorities for, like, talking for events or trying to get panels or content on YouTube put out. I’ll see people put out lists and be like, “I would especially like to talk to Black Aces, men Aces, Indigenous Aces.” And my issue with that – I want to say this delicately, because I don’t want to imply at all that men do not have their own often different and distinct issues in Asexuality that are important and need to be discussed. But even as the minority, just numerically speaking, I’ve found that men who are Asexual have this – especially if they’re white – this ability to have their voices amplified in ways that women or nonbinary Aces still don’t have that same amplifying power. So it’s like, well, you are fewer in number. I sometimes cringe when I see just men as a category on the same list as Black Aces, Indigenous Aces, disabled Aces.
Fara: Yeah. Yeah. That is strange for sure. Because with that context, it seems to be implying marginalization apart from just the Asexuality. Mmm. Yeah. [laughing] I don’t know if I like that. And, like I mentioned, there is social stigma for men who say no to sex, but there is also a different kind of stigma when women or people of other genders refuse sex as well. So it’s tricky, but yeah, exactly like you’ve said, there are a lot of conversations where you can be starting out trying to talk about something that’s not related to men specifically, and it can get derailed so hard with people saying “What about the men?” And I think that’s a problem that hopefully we can address more efficiently in the future, because we cannot keep getting sidetracked when we’re talking about justice for people of marginalized genders. It’s too urgent. Ugh.
Courtney: I also found – and I thought this was interesting, because it came out, I think, probably in November, so probably a couple weeks after the whole “right to sex” conversation was coming up. I found an article that sort of reconfirmed my thoughts on the scarcity of sex, where… This quote I pulled out was: “Overall, results showed that men and sexually conservative individuals reported more conservative attitudes towards sexual relationships if they were led to believe that traditional monogamous relationships were threatened.” So I thought that that was very, very interesting.
Courtney: And I’ll put the article in the show notes for anybody who wants to read the whole thing. I’ll also try to scrounge up some things about all the “right to sex” discourse, so you can all catch up if you weren’t there.
Courtney: But I just found that to be so interesting, because there was that scarcity – that if people feel that scarcity, they will double down and get more conservative. And the threatening, because we always say, you know, as queer people, we’re not a threat to you, we are just existing. But there are conservative individuals who are saying, like, “Well, that means if there are more queer people, there are fewer heterosexual monogamous marriages, and that is a threat to society, and that is a threat to me.”
Fara: Yeah. I think there’s a lot of money in this manufactured threat. This is a very popular grift. And I think, like, the Andrew Tates of the world –
Fara: – have really figured out that [laughing] that’s the recipe for success. Because yeah, if you are willing to just confirm already existing biases about men in ways that paint them as the victim instead of a group with already more social power, that’s what they’re going to believe, and they’re going to behave in ways that are more conservative, just because you’ve told them what’s easiest to accept. Which is that, “Oh, no, actually, the way that you know masculinity and femininity, that is correct. You don’t have to change your worldview at all. It’s actually just everybody else who’s wrong and everyone else who wants you to give something up.” Ugh.
Fara: It’s so tiring.
Courtney: It is! I mean, the same article also said that these same conservative individuals think that widespread promiscuity, you know, the sort of sex-positive feminism we were talking about before where you know people are having more sex. They see that as cheapening the value of sexual relationships. “Well, if everybody’s having sexual relationships, then my sexual relationship isn’t special!” [laughing] Which is so weird, because how often do we as Aces hear, like, “Oh, Asexuality isn’t real. You just want to feel special.” And it’s like, “We’re the ones who want to feel special? You’re the ones telling everyone that your very sacred and holy heterosexual monogamous marriage is the very special one.”
Fara: Very true. Yeah. That’s so weird, to believe that, like, sex that’s happening and you don’t even know about it is somehow cheapening your own relationship. That sounds like something you need to work on. [laughs]
Courtney: [laughs] Yeah, I would say so. So, now I would like to take a little time as well – because you mentioned your parents being Jamaican immigrants.
Courtney: So aside from your actual schooling, what was it like growing up in that culture? What was that like for you?
Fara: I have always been proud to be of Jamaican heritage. I think it’s interesting that we’ve been talking about capitalism – although I’m always on my anti-capitalist rampages, you know? [laughs]
Fara: But I feel like –
Courtney: Tear it all down!
Fara: Yes. There’s this stereotype about Jamaicans that they, like, have a ton of jobs. My mom probably had, like, four jobs while she was doing undergrad. And, I don’t know. I think it’s funny but there’s also probably some insidious colonial thing there that explains why. But yeah, so there’s that [laughing] stereotype about Jamaicans that I think has made me maybe very anxious about my output, my performance. Like, I was a straight-A student and I basically just absorbed this message that I always had to be productive or successful. I don’t know.
Fara: But more relevant to Asexuality, I think Jamaica has this hypersexualized but also hyper-religious culture that can be very confusing to navigate. Because it’s like, [laughs] if you’re doing something that is seen as, like, promiscuous at all, like… Something I mentioned, I’m fuller-figured. So if I was wearing any clothes that were, like, even slightly low-cut, like, that’s a problem – you know, you need to tighten up. But at the same time, when you’re at the Fete, if you’re – like, the music, the Soca, the dance hall is all so sexual. And if you’re not dancing in a way that is, like, satisfactorily enticing sexually, you’ll be shamed. That’s less from, like, the older generation of more from your peers. But it’s been very confusing to navigate.
Fara: I think I’m striking my balance. At the age of 24, maybe I’ve got it down. But I think it really was confusing because I was already primed to not really explore sexually. And I think that had to do with my heritage but also with the, like, religious element.
Fara: And yeah, I think I’ve had to navigate stereotypes about Jamaicans that are really sexual, but also, there’s a stereotype about Jamaica that is that it is a really homophobic nation, and that’s something I like to push back against. I think there’s a really unfortunate history of homophobic and queerphobic violence, just like in a lot of places that have been colonized, unfortunately. But I think the reality that people have to realize about places like that, where these really horrible things happen to queer people just because they are queer, is that those places also have queer people living there, trying to survive, and who are, like, creating communities for other queer people. And I like to try and focus on that.
Fara: But I definitely have noticed that, in general, my relatives, my family outside of my immediate family, are not really caught up to where we might be in America in terms of, like, queer acceptance. So that’s been hard. Like, I don’t know if I’ll ever be out to my extended family. But… I don’t know. I’m still really happy to be Jamaican. I’ve been, like, bragging about that since elementary school. No one is as cool as me.
[Fara and Courtney laugh]
Courtney: That’s awesome. Yeah, I – honestly with any place that has been colonized, just like you said, with queerphobia and violence, that is often true. It’s also wrong of people to think that there isn’t a community, still, in those places, and that there aren’t people who are fighting back.
Fara: Yeah, exactly.
Courtney: I think that’s very important to remember.
Fara: And I think it’s important to highlight that so that we’re not in too desperate of a mindset that we can’t continue to fight and educate to amend that.
Courtney: Absolutely. Oh my gosh. This is taking half a step back and being very, very silly and frivolous. But I was just thinking back to the… how the “right to sex” and the “people aren’t having enough sex” and “we aren’t having enough babies.” I just remembered this anime that we actually just watched where that was like a major plot point.
Courtney: [laughing] Royce, do you want to share that? It was a very silly little show.
Fara: I’m an anime fan, so I’m excited to hear about this.
Royce: Oh yeah. So this is a short 12-episode anime that’s – I almost called it a romantic comedy, but anti-romance is kind of the entire point.
[Fara and Courtney laugh]
Royce: It’s just a comedy. But it’s called Romantic Killer, and –
Fara: Oh, is that on Netflix?
Royce: Yes, it is.
Fara: I think I might have seen ads for that.
Royce: It is on Netflix. It is dubbed, as well as subbed. But the premise of the show is that there are these sort of otherworldly magical beings that have an interest in Earth’s population continuing. And one of them – they call themselves “wizards.” They come down to Earth because the population is declining and they want to try to stop that from happening, and target this one high school girl, who they deem has very little chance at romance, because, in her words, the only things she’s interested in are video games, chocolate, and her cat.
Fara: Oh, good for her. [laughs] Icon.
Royce: But they use their magic to confiscate the things that she enjoys, those three things I just mentioned, and then basically put her into a bunch of real-life situations that would be straight out of, like, a dating sim. And she is a gamer. She’s very familiar with all of these dating sim trends and is, like, predicting them as they’re happening –
Royce: – and takes it as a personal challenge to defy this magical being and stay single.
Fara: She… Oh, this sounds excellent. [laughs]
Courtney: It was pretty good. But literally, the first episode, I was just screaming, because she sits down to play her video game, and she sees these terms and conditions that are like, “Due to the declining birth rate…”
Courtney: And I was like, “What now? Excuse me?”
Fara: [laughing] That could be us in not 10 years, I fear.
Fara: That could be where we’re headed. [laughs]
Courtney: Yeah. Look out for those little wizards. But yeah, all the little tropes from dating sims were also really funny, because we like playing silly little dating sims, because it’s more fun than real-life romance culture, I think. [laughs]
Fara: Yeah. [laughs]
Courtney: So, you get all these tropes, and she recognizes them. So she’s, like, running down the street, late for school, and she’s like, “Oh no, I’m late for school. I know where this is going.”
[Courtney and Fara laugh]
Courtney: “I’m gonna run into my next suitor.” [laughs]
Fara: Oh, I love that.
Courtney: Yeah. I found a lot of really good little nuggets in Anime or Manga that just sort of push back against the culture of romance and sexuality. And I appreciate it.
Courtney: I appreciate it very much.
Royce: It was funny, you mentioned just a stereotype of the 30-year-old virgin earlier, and I remember that there’s something deep down on our list of media to check out at some point that comes from a bit of social folklore where if you turn 30 as a virgin, you become a wizard, you develop magical powers.
[Fara and Courtney laugh]
Royce: And that’s the premise of this Manga. It’s called Cherry Magic! –
Fara: That’s amazing. [laughs]
Royce: – 30 Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?!
Fara: Um, wow. I was so glad I have that to look forward to. [laughs]
Courtney: Okay, yeah, we might need to bump that up on our list because that sounds excellent. [laughs]
Courtney: Well, I guess, I mean, now that we’re just talking about media things, do you have favorites for Ace or Aro media?
Fara: You know, I haven’t found a lot. I’m trying to even remember. I, like, mostly have characters that I will headcanon as Asexual. I love to say, if there’s ever like a super hot charismatic character, you are Ace in mind. [laughs]
Courtney: That’s the Ace one.
[Fara and Courtney laugh]
Fara: Nobody knows they’re Ace. [laughs] Ace media. There’s this one song I really like by Tierra Whack. I think it’s called “Wasteland.” Let me find it. Because I was trying to make an Aro playlist, because I’m realizing I’m probably somewhere on the Aromantic Spectrum as well. But literally, that’s the only song I have on there. It’s so hard to find music that is not about sex or, like, romantic relationships. Yeah, it’s called “Wasteland” by Tierra Whack. And if you’re Aromantic, go and listen to that song, it’s all about Tierra Whack saying, “No, you cannot take me on a date.” [laughs]
Fara: I like that song. But like, shows and movies? I don’t know. Maybe Marvel’s Eternals. I know a lot of people, me included, saw Makkari and Druig as Asexual. But in terms of, like, things that are actually in the text, I don’t know if I have any, and that’s sad. [laughs]
Courtney: There definitely needs to be more, for sure.
Fara: Yeah! We need more. But I saw that you’ve recently done, like, an episode about a South Asian women in STEM who’s Asexual, something that had like that kind of representation. So maybe that’s what I need to watch next.
Courtney: Oh yeah! That was, um…
Royce: The Imperfects.
Courtney: The Imperfects. That was an odd show.
Courtney: People developing superpowers. It was really good. I’m sad that Netflix canceled it, because I think it could have been fabulous with a little more time.
Fara: Yeah, they always do this. I will never forgive Santa Clarita Diet. They ended on so many cliffhangers. Netflix, mmm. They also just canceled Dead End: Paranormal Theme Park. I don’t know if you guys have seen that. That was so good. They canceled after two seasons. Something needs to be done.
Courtney: It really does! I feel like most of the shows that get canceled – the article saying it’s been canceled is the first I’ve ever even heard of it. [laughing] Like, where is the advertising?
Fara: That’s the thing. Like, unless it’s Stranger Things, you’re never gonna know that the show is out until it’s been, like, two weeks and they’re canceling it.
Courtney: Yeah, absolutely. Oh my goodness. Yeah, and with Stranger Things, there was absolutely a character who, for a period of time, I was like, “Is that character Ace?” And everyone was like, “Clearly, that character is gay.” And I was like, “He still could be Ace.”
Fara: Yeah, you can be both. I’ve only seen season 1 of that show, but I read that they were spending, like, millions of dollars on each episode.
Fara: So I wonder, does that have something to do with the rate at which they’re cutting everything else?
Courtney: Staggering amounts of money.
Courtney: And in my opinion, it’s going on too long.
Courtney: I feel like they played out all the good plot points already.
Fara: I can see that.
Courtney: Yeah, I kind of would have preferred if they stuck to the original plan of every season being a new story and a new creepy scenario, because that was the original intent.
Fara: Oh! It was going to be like an anthology? Or was it going to be the same characters?
Courtney: Yeah, it was gonna kind of be like American Horror Story –
Courtney: – where, like, every season is just new. And I think that would have maybe been better, but the first one was so successful, they’re like, “Well, let’s just keep this story going.”
Courtney: Oh goodness. So, let’s see, we talked a little bit about Marilyn Monroe. I want to hear from you about Marilyn Monroe.
Fara: Yes. I listened to the… was it the “Seven-Year Itch” episode? I listened to that a few times. And I just remember – I think what you read was part of Marilyn Monroe’s diaries when she said some things that were really… like, it was giving Asexual. Like, she didn’t enjoy kissing. Like, men would accuse her of being a lesbian. She didn’t really see why people were so enamored with her or, like, classified her as a sex symbol. And that is something, like, I was like, “Woah. I really relate to that.” Because I could remember – Like, I developed early. I could remember times when I was, like, probably 14, like in high school, if I wore glasses, one of my classmates said I look like a sexy librarian. And I was like, “Whoa!”
Fara: “I’m a child!” Like, they were also a child.
Fara: But I was like, “Whoa, where did you get ‘sexy’ from? Because what can I do to stop that?” And like, I don’t know, my classmates always made comments to me about, like… They were always like, “Oh, if you wanted to be dating and having sex, like, you could.” And I was like, “Okay, but I don’t, so we’re safe.” And I feel like, growing up, like, being shaped the way I am – and there’s so much objectification and there’s so much of a narrative that is applied to you almost automatically just based on the way your body happens to look.
Courtney: Oh yeah.
Fara: And I feel like I’ve related a lot to what you discussed in the episode about Marilyn Monroe. And I had never really had an interest. Like, I understood that she was this, like, huge cultural figure, but I never really knew much about her. But understanding, like, all the objectification and, like, exploitation that she suffered… And just kind of like a lot of that comes with the territory of being a woman, especially in the public eye or in Hollywood, unfortunately.
Fara: But specifically her writings about, like, that disconnect in her mind between, like, how people perceived her and how she actually felt about sex and romance. It’s so interesting to me. And I want to read more of what she wrote. Because with Blonde coming out – I think that was, like, last year – the things I read about not only the movie, but the book. I don’t know if you know about this, but the author of the book – which came out in, like, 2000 – said some really egregious things, in my opinion, about Marilyn Monroe, saying, like, “She was complicit in her own fate –”
Fara: “– because she put on this, like, dumb blond act, and maybe if she had let everyone know that she was actually smart and well-read, they would have treated her better” – as if that’s ever worked for any woman ever. [laughs]
Courtney: Right! Right!
Fara: This notion that there’s something you could have done differently to be treated better. And she wrote 750 pages about that, about this woman that she seems just, like, completely uninterested in empathizing with. That’s really unfortunate to me.
Courtney: It really is. And the thing is, too, it’s tragic all around. I mean, her life was tragic, but also just the image that the public still to this day has in their mind when they think of Marilyn Monroe is tragic. Because I’ve never been huge on pop culture. And I’ve gotten a little bit better at learning some things. Some actors have names that I know now, and I have seen a few movies [laughing] over the last 10 years. But growing up, I was like, “Actors, I don’t care. Movies, I don’t care. Famous people, doesn’t matter to me. Models, meh.” And so growing up, everyone knows the name “Marilyn Monroe.” Everyone’s seen the famous, you know, white dress blowing up over the subway station photo. Like, those are probably one of the most iconic pop culture images, like, of that century.
Courtney: So, like, I knew of Marilyn Monroe, but in my mind, I knew she was a sex symbol. That’s all I knew her as, was, she was this pop culture sex symbol. And in my mind, I was like, “Why should I care about a sex symbol? I don’t. Like, I’m not attracted to her. I don’t see why other people are attracted to her. I don’t want people to be attracted to me.” But I also had a very Marilyn Monroe-esque figure at one point. I remember getting measured for a dress at one point, when I was pretty young – like, I was still a child, basically – where someone was like, “Oh, those are Marilyn Monroe’s measurements. Those are the measurements of a perfect figure.” And I was like –
Fara: Oh. [laughs]
Courtney: And I was like, “I don’t want to be associated with Marilyn Monroe, actually, for reasons.” But now as an adult – and I’ve actually learned, like, this was a human, this was a woman, and you read these excerpts of her writing, where, like you said, I have related so heavily to some of the things that she’s said. And it’s like, this was a human. This wasn’t a sex symbol.
Courtney: This was a woman who –
Fara: That term in itself.
Fara: I never thought about how reductive that is to literally reduce a person to a symbol.
Courtney: Yeah! Like, this was a woman, and she had thoughts and feelings and complexities, like all women do. And I think… vast disservice to the sex symbols everywhere –
Fara: Yeah! [laughs]
Courtney: – that that’s all we know them as.
Fara: Right. Because it’s not… Obviously, like you mentioned, that image of her with the dress, we know Marilyn Monroe as a movie star. Just like if you’ve ever watched, like, television or or heard anyone refer to pop culture, you know those images. But we don’t – it’s not, like, popularized the same way the things that she liked to read or, like, the things that she wrote or the things she actually said herself.
Fara: And I’ve also recently learned about some advocation that she did for racial justice, maybe. I haven’t looked too deeply into that. But if there’s anything that we should remember about a person, why shouldn’t it be their thoughts and their work and also positive contributions that they’ve made to society? Instead of, just like, this person, while they were alive, I need you to know: they were really sexy.
Fara: That’s just bizarre to me. [laughs]
Courtney: Well, and the fastest way to get me to care about someone or something that I didn’t previously care about is to show me where the injustice was done. Like, if you tell me this person’s a pop culture sex icon, I’m like, “I don’t care,” but if you’re like, “There was an injustice done to this person –”
Fara: Yes. Yes.
Courtney: “– in life and in death,” I’m like –
Fara: “Tell me more.”
Courtney: “Let me at ’em. Let me at ’em. I must learn.” [laughs]
Fara: Yes, who do I have to fight?
[Fara and Courtney laugh]
Courtney: So, yeah. I also have been learning more and more about Marilyn Monroe over time, and yeah, maybe maybe we’ll do a future episode that’s just like the Marilyn Monroe episode, because we dipped into it a bit when we talked about the seven-year itch, but there’s so much there. So much.
Fara: For sure. Yeah, I don’t know. I would love to see more, like, Marilyn Monroe reading lists. Because I’ve seen a lot of pictures of her holding books, but I don’t know if they’re, like, the most popular images. I don’t know. I would just like to see more about the person that she was. And I think you might have talked about this on that episode too, but I’ve also noticed that whenever people will say there’s a chance Marilyn Monroe was Asexual, a lot of people will respond really angrily –
Fara: – and say, like –
Courtney: “Absolutely not!”
Fara: “You have no right to suggest that! Like, how dare you!” And it’s like, whoa, okay! What’s the problem?
Courtney: And really, that happens with any historical figure that has any, any level of plausible deniability, even though there are a lot of historical figures that, with an Ace lens applied to it, you say, like, “There’s a very good possibility that this person could have been.” And even if you just present the possibility that this person could have been, people get, oh, very, very upset about it. Very upset.
Fara: And I would love for those people to unpack that. Like, what do you see as insulting about a person maybe having been Asexual?
Fara: Or, what does that take away from your perception of this person? Maybe it makes it harder [laughing] for you to sexualize them to the degree that you have in good faith. I don’t know. I don’t know.
Courtney: Yeah. That absolutely makes sense for figures like Marilyn Monroe, for sure. There are definitely some figures who are sort of held up as gay icons – and I’ve seen this applied to men and women, so it’s not exclusive to gender by any means, but – where someone will be like, “Oh, this person from history is very clearly a lesbian” or “This person from history: very clearly a gay man.” And especially if it was pre-Stonewall, I’ll hear people say, like, “Oh, well, they were just a pre-Stonewall gay, so they couldn’t have been out. So, even though we don’t have evidence that they’re gay, the time period that they lived in basically speaks for itself. If they weren’t straight, then that’s the only other alternative.” And oh, I find so, so many flaws with that.
Royce: I mean, it gets more egregious than that sometimes. Both Tim Gunn and Edward Gorey have said that they were Asexual on camera in interviews.
Courtney: Edward Gorey is maybe the only historical figure that I will now actively fight people if they say that he was not Asexual. Because I started being like, “Well, I don’t care about historical figures. You know, I’m content in my sexuality. I am an adult. I’ve never cared much for representation for any of my various identities. So like, why do I need it for this? But, you know, Edward Gorey means some things to the Ace community because some people see him as Ace, so I’ll respect that.”
Courtney: But now the more I learn, the more evidence I gather, and the more people fight me and say, “No, he was a gay man,” and even if I say, “Well, what if he was homoromantic but still Asexual?” They’re like, “No! Can’t possibly be, ‘cause he’s our gay icon!”
Fara: [laughs] Yeah.
Courtney: It’s like, I’m sorry but I’m now going to have to fight you. I may or may not have months’ worth of incredibly lengthy back-to-back emails –
Courtney: – with a biographer of Edward Gorey’s whom I met, I kid you not, at a cocktail party in a cemetery that was attended by the ashes of Edward Gorey and his cats, and I was dressed as Edward Gorey’s The Gilded Bat in black pointe shoes and big black bat wings and a black turban, and it was a weird night. But I met him, and we hit it off, and we had some mutual friends, so.
Courtney: Then I read his book. And it was mostly very good, except for the fact that he repeatedly kept coming back to, “But Edward Gorey was probably gay” over and over and over. And I was like, “You know, we’re friends.”
Courtney: “We’re on good terms. Let’s just open up this line of communication and see where it goes.” And it just kept going. So, now, I’m very fight-y about Edward Gorey. He was Asexual, [laughing] and I will hear nothing else.
Fara: Yes, good.
Courtney: [laughing] We’ll do an episode on Edward Gorey in the future.
Fara: I would love to listen. [laughs]
Courtney: Now, I also – ’cause you dropped this in here, and I want to get to this before I forget – you mentioned starting to explore Aromanticism, and I’d love to hear what that journey is like, as someone who also, as of just the last couple years, is like “maybe Aro spectrum?” for myself. [laughs]
Fara: [laughs] Yeah.
Courtney: So I’m always fascinated with people who find Asexuality first and then start exploring Aromanticism after.
Fara: Yeah. I think I’m a very… I experience a lot of aesthetic attraction. I find beauty in so many different things, so many different people. But as I mentioned earlier, I did experiment a little bit with dating and, like, talking to people in a romantic context in college, and it just, like, made me so nervous. Like, in my mind, I can’t think of a non-Aro reason why I should be talking to someone who I’m attracted to and is attracted to me and they ask me on a date and I have a panic attack. Like, it’s not adding up. [laughs] And I’ve had situations like that happen many times in my life where it’s like, maybe I get a crush on someone, and then I find out it’s reciprocated. And then immediately, I’m like, “Oh, we gotta shut this down.”
[Fara and Courtney laugh]
Fara: “This can go no further.”
[Fara and Courtney laugh]
Fara: And I literally had, like, a mutual friend, who I thought was very nice, ask me out. And I was like, “Okay.” I had to get in the group chat. I was like, “How do I let this person down easy?” And I think that’s where a lot of my neuroses with my identity come in. Like, I don’t want to hurt people, but it really does come down to me not being interested in having that kind of relationship with you or not being attracted to you in that specific context. [laughing] And I would never want to say that to another person! Like, “Oh, I’m not attracted to you.” So, I feel like a lot of my journey has been adding vocabulary to my toolkit for how to let people down easily.
Fara: And most of the crushes that I do get are, like, celebrity crushes, or I’ll get crushes on people who I don’t see a clear path to how we could actually date in real life. Or when I have a crush on someone who I know and who could possibly reciprocate it and we could have some kind of romantic relationship, as soon as it’s reciprocated, I’m like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa.”
Fara: “We gotta turn this around.” So I feel like there’s something Aro there. And, I don’t know, maybe I’ll date one day, but I’m 24 and I’m still not really keen on anything. Like, I don’t even know if I would enjoy kissing. So, I’m just taking life as it comes at this point.
Fara: But it has been interesting to, I guess, kind of like come to terms with the fact that, like, I can find people really physically attractive and still not really be interested in dating them, even though I already know I would not really be interested in having sex with them.
Fara: So I don’t know if it changes too much, just means that I have to [laughing] figure out how to let people down. I remember this one time at a movie theater – like, I was literally – it was while I was talking to my friends about, like, “I maybe think I’m Asexual. I don’t know about, like, the romantic side of things, maybe Biromantic. I don’t know.” This woman came up to me a movie theater. And I don’t know what we were even talking about, but at one point, she was telling me, like, she had a husband and a boyfriend. And I was like, “Oh, good for you.” And she’s like, “Do you like girls?” And I was like, “I don’t really know if I like anyone.” [laughs] And that was, like, the first time I had said that and I was like, it’s tough. It’s hard out here being so attractive and also not knowing [laughing] if you want that kind of relationship with anyone. The plight! The plight of the sexy Asexual.
Courtney: It really is a problem, though.
Fara: And it needs to be discussed. [laughs]
Courtney: With your, like, needing to learn how to let people down, I wish I was taught that it is okay to turn people down for no particular reason. Because it was always kind of instilled in me – especially because I was so hyper-aware of the fact that, like, “Oh, you have Marilyn Monroe proportions. You have that perfect hourglass” when I was a teenager.
Fara: Yeah. Bad.
Courtney: Which was, in hindsight, all of the comments I got about my body as a teenager are just –
Fara: So creepy.
Courtney: They get worse as time goes on. The older I get and the more I look back at it, I’m like, the least okay – the less okay it gets. It’s quite bad. But I was always like, “Well, I don’t want people to just think that I think that I’m, like, out of their league or that they’re not attractive enough for me.” So I, like, needed a reason if I was going to turn someone down who asked me out, and I never really had one. ’Cause most of the people who ended up, you know, asking me out I didn’t know anything about. It wasn’t like these were good friends of mine that I already liked asking me out. It was mostly just random people. So I was like, “Well, I guess I can agree to date you as a means of getting to know you.” But it really was a problem.
Courtney: Then, like, the thing with the kissing. Like, I do not like kissing, and that’s why, when I dated a born-again Christian who didn’t want to kiss me for many, many months, I was like, “That is okay.” But after that breakup and after the immediate trauma of hearing the thing from my therapist – oof, I’m gonna need to tell that whole story one of these days, but that’s going to be that’s going to – whew, that’s going to be a whole –
Fara: A whole episode, perhaps.
Courtney: A whole thing. After that, then I was – for just, like, half a second – single again. I was very rarely single because of all the people asking me out and my rule that I just had to give them a chance because I don’t have a reason not to.
Fara: [laughs] Jeez.
Courtney: I never had sex dreams. Never in my life have I had a sex dream. And I know that even some Asexuals do have sex dreams, so that’s not exclusively an Ace thing, but that’s an Ace Courtney thing. But I did have one, like, dating dream? Or, I guess I just held hands with a boy in my dream. And he was someone I had never spoken to before. And I was freshly out of another relationship, and I just had a dream where I was walking down the hallway at school holding hands with this boy, whom – I knew his name, I didn’t have any classes with him, I didn’t ever have a conversation with him. And I just, like, randomly decided to tell him one day that I had a dream about him. Like, “This was so weird! Wasn’t this so random? I just, like, had a dream about you.” And he was like, “That’s really, really cool. Do you want to come over to my place and hang out?”
Courtney: And I was like, “Sure.” And all he wanted to do was make out. We didn’t even have a conversation. He’s like, “All right, let’s make out now.” And I was like –
Fara: I will never understand. [laughs]
Courtney: “Oh no.” And now in hindsight, like, a couple of years later, I woke up randomly in the middle of the night and I was like, “Oh no, he probably thought that was a sex dream! It wasn’t!” [laughs]
Fara: Yeah. [laughing] I feel like there’s never a way to say you had a dream about someone that they won’t take it that way.
Courtney: Apparently. And I am so oblivious to that world that I won’t have that realization for years to come. [laughs]
Fara: Yeah. [laughs]
Courtney: Silly. But, yeah, the Aromanticism side of it is very interesting and something I’m trying to reconcile for myself. Because I’ve very rarely been single. I never really knew how to tell people “No” when they asked me out. My best advice, based on practical experience, is: get married. It’s really easy to turn people down when you’re married.
Courtney: ‘Cause then you can just say, “I’m married.”
[Fara and Courtney laugh]
Fara: I feel like that would be… Yeah. That’s a good strategy. [laughs]
Courtney: Not exactly beginner level advice. [laughs]
Fara: Right. [laughs] That’s for the pros only. [laughs]
Royce: I mean, you just have to have a convincing-enough-looking ring, and –
Courtney: I did do that once, actually.
Fara: That’s true.
Courtney: I did do that once before –
Royce: A good poker face.
Fara: Yeah. Oh – yeah, you can always tell people you have a boyfriend. Then they’ll leave you alone.
Courtney: But yeah, the fact that I did genuinely do that once – like, I got a fake engagement ring just so people would –
Courtney: – stop asking me out? It’s like, well if they see the ring and just don’t ask me out, then I don’t have to answer at all, and I’ve still upheld my rule of giving everyone a chance, it’s just less people presenting themselves to me for me to attempt to give them a chance, whatever that means. [laughs]
Fara: It’s so –
Courtney: I just love romance. But –
Courtney: – the thing about that is – which makes it hard for me to claim Aromanticism sometimes, because I know that amatonormativity is an issue, and there are actual laws in place that do incentivize people to get married, and there is discrimination against single people in our current political system. And I want to rebel against that system, even though I currently benefit from it. So I would like – in my eyes, I’m like, “I’m not a good person to speak about Aromanticism most of the time, because I’d rather, you know, someone who is sort of embodying that and not playing into the same system.” And I know how flawed that is for myself. Like, if anyone else was saying that to me, if anyone else was like, “I don’t feel Aro enough,” I’d be like, “Screw that! You are Aro enough.”
Courtney: But you know, we have different standards for ourself, and we have personal hang-ups that can be difficult to get rid of. And I mean, professionally speaking, I am a historian and I study a lot of romance culture in the terms of, like, giving your loved one a lock of hair and the romantic connotations of that. And so I’ve always sort of been this, like, hopeless romantic in my life, and so it’s really hard to be like, “I’m Aromantic, but I’m a hopeless romantic.”
Courtney: But then there are Aces out here who are like, “I’m Asexual and I love sex.” And I’m like, “Yeah, you’re super heckin’ valid.” So I’m like, why can’t I apply that to my own Aromanticism, you know? So it’s weird. [laughs]
Fara: And I feel similarly. Because I also love – like, when it comes to my friends, I love, I love hugging my friends, I love holding hands, cuddling. I’m, like, the master forehead kisser.
Fara: Oh, I love, like… There’s – I guess it can be very easily misconstrued, but, like, the notion of the erotic decoupled from, like, a purely sexual context: I love that. Like, that intimacy and that kind of romance that can exist in platonic relationships. That’s my jam. But like, when it’s taken seriously and it, like, means something very – like, I’m a big flirt, but as soon as I feel like someone’s taking it a little bit too seriously, there’s a switch that flips. [laughs]
Fara: So it’s… I’m trying to figure out how to reconcile that for me. Like, how can I love romance and flirtation so much, but like, when it comes to me… I don’t know. I’m a bit cautious. [laughs]
Courtney: I hear you there. I really do. Although, aside from the flirting bit, what I do have to ask, because flirting’s something that I have never understood: what does flirting mean to you?
Fara: You know, I go back and forth on this too. Because sometimes I’ve been told that I’m flirting and I didn’t know that. I feel like maybe the allo definition of flirting is just what I think of as banter. [laughs]
Courtney: Oh! [laughs]
Fara: And maybe [laughing] that’s where we’ve landed. Because, yeah, I don’t know if I’ve ever really made a distinction in my mind between flirting and just, like, being [lauging] a good conversationalist. And also, I don’t know, maybe the only difference between flirting and banter is whether the other person is attracted to you.
Fara: I’m not sure. [laughs]
Royce: I was about to say, depending on who you ask, flirting could be anything from, like, a really explicit intimate conversation to acknowledging someone’s presence.
Fara: Yes. Yeah. Like, [laughs] if I smiled at that person, we didn’t say a word to each other, the next day, I hear I’m flirting. [laughing] Oh, okay, interesting.
Courtney: Hmm. Fascinating. Flirting is a weird world.
Courtney: It’s a weird one for me. Because I… yeah. I would buy that flirting depends on whether or not the other person is attracted to you –
Courtney: – and whether or not they perceive it as flirting. Either they perceive it as they are attracted to you, or they are so unattracted to you that they are uncomfortable with the idea that you might be flirting, when really, you’re also just being friendly. Because then you start getting people who, you know, have different modes of communication or maybe are neurodivergent, and you’ll have, you know, the neurotypical sort of ableism of, like, “Oh, that person’s really cringey.” And then there’s almost, like, a fear that they might be flirting with you, which, mmm, it’s all icky.
Fara: It is. [laughs]
Courtney: I say we just take away all of the societal expectations because –
Fara: Oh, yes.
Courtney: – they all suck. [laughs]
Fara: Mhm. Too much pressure.
Courtney: Too much pressure!
Fara: We need to do it all over again. [laughs]
Courtney: Well, before we wrap up, is there anything else that you want to make sure that we get to or talk about or touch on?
Fara: I think that’s really everything. I’m glad we were able to cover so much ground. [laughs]
Courtney: We did! We did cover a lot of ground. And please tell the people where they can find you.
Fara: You can find me on Twitter. I’m on Twitter an inadvisable amount.
[Fara and Courtney laugh]
Fara: That’s really the place you can find me if you want to find me. I’m also on YouTube. Please go subscribe to my YouTube channel. There’s more content coming. And I just this year started a blog where I’m going to be writing some more. I put, like, a written version of the script for my video about the “right to sex” stuff there, and I’m also putting photography and stuff on that blog, and I’m releasing a blog post about my favorite music of 2022. So, I’m excited about what that blog is going to look like for my creativity. And if I send you guys all of these links, will you be able to, like, put them in the episode description or something so people can…
Courtney: Oh, yeah. We’ll put everything in the show notes so that people will be able to find you.
Courtney: We’ll tweet ’em all out and all that. ’Cause I’m very excited to see your other content, because we did watch the “right to sex” episode and it was fabulously done, so –
Fara: Thank you!
Courtney: We’re very excited to see what else is to come from you!
Fara: Thank you so much. But yeah, that’s where you can find me. I’m trying to think, is there anywhere else? Also, Storygraph. For people who like to read, I really recommend Storygraph over Goodreads, especially. You can import all your Goodreads history to Storygraph. It’s Black-owned. And I just really like – they give you all these stats about your reading history. So they’ll tell you, like, what genres you tend to read the most, like, how much fiction versus nonfiction you’ve read. And I’ve been using Storygraph and Libby a lot for reading. And at least at my library, they have Ace and they have Refusing Compulsory Sexuality, so you can go read those for free. [laughs] And, yeah, I can give you my Storygraph link, too, if people want to follow, because you can keep up with what your friends are reading. I think that’s so fun.
Courtney: That’s so cool. I have not even heard of Storygraph, but in all fairness, I’ve also not been a big Goodreads-er either. [laughs]
Fara: Yes. I don’t think I ever had a Goodreads. So when I found Storygraph, like, that was my first thing, and I was like, “Oh, thank goodness, a place where I can keep track of all of this.” I really like it. And they just had an update, so they have dark mode now. It looks spectacular.
Courtney: Awesome. Well, I’m gonna have to check that out. Because I don’t necessarily always share exactly what I’m reading, because I read, like, hundreds of books a year, so I only give the best of the best usually, but I do like seeing what other people are reading, because I’m always adding to my ever-expanding list.
Courtney: Well, Fara, this was a fabulous conversation. I’m so glad we got to have you on and talk about this.
Fara: Me too.
Courtney: And to our listeners, what’s going to be our big takeaway from the episode?
Fara: Dismantle capitalism. Manufactured scarcity is bad.
[Fara and Courtney laugh]
Courtney: So, listeners, you heard it all here. Make sure to check out all of Fara’s links. Make sure to follow them on Twitter and Storygraph and all those other wonderful things, YouTube. Like, comment, and subscribe –
Fara: Yes, yes! [laughs]
Courtney: – is the thing you’re supposed to do on the YouTube.
Fara: You got it exactly right.
Courtney: And, remember: dismantle capitalism. Buh-bye! [laughs]
Fara: Bye! [laughs]