Saturday, December 27, 2008

The desexualization of people with disabilities

The following is a reprint of a post I made on back in January. When I made this I was still angry about something that had happened to me a few months earlier so, while the issues are still relevant, I don't feel as intensely about some of this as I did at the time.

After [a fellow forum member] suggested that this topic might make an interesting thread I started thinking about starting one. However, I've put it off for a while because this is a very personal thing for me and in order to really explain what it's like I'm going to have to say things about myself that are very difficult to express. If some of this sounds melodramatic it's certainly not intended to be, but please bear with me because this is one of those things that I can not discuss from a purely intellectual point of view. I'm doing this because I want to help people understand what it's like on this side of the situation.

A few years ago when I was taking a Sociology class I came across a section that discussed sexuality and disabilities. This section mentioned that people who have disabilities are often treated as if they are asexual even though they usually aren't. This was the first time I had ever seen the term "asexual" used in reference to a human being and it wasn't until years later that I started to identify with asexuality myself. As an asexual I don't really understand the importance of sexuality to other people but I do understand the emotional impact of being marginalized so I can relate to how others feel about being desexualized.

Someone who is sexual can probably explain what sex is about much better than I can but, as it has been explained to me, sex is often a unique emotional experience. I've seen several instances where asexuals have said that "sex is just one way of expressing love," and for us it seems that way but for most people it really is much more than that. Some of the emotions involved in sex are not felt in any other type of situation. We may not experience things that way ourselves but other people do and that's why it's so important to them.

It probably seems strange that I get annoyed when people treat me as asexual as a result of my disability since I actually am asexual. But it does bother me very much because it's not really about sex, it's about being marginalized and treated as less human than the rest of the world. I've been marginalized my entire life by my family, friends, teachers and society in general. People don't usually know I'm disabled at first because it's not obvious but when I tell them about it they invariably start treating me differently. It happens both in real life and online. I know people don't try to do it or even realize that they are doing it, but I notice it. And it's very frustrating.

The wounds from this treatment can run very deep. Shortly after I was born my parents realized that I had Cystic Fibrosis and it was emotionally devastating for my mother. She had already lost two children from it and couldn't handle going through it a third time, as a result we never really bonded. My father was emotionally distant anyway so I don't know how it affected him. Most of my siblings were a lot older than me and had other things on their minds, the ones closest to me in age were both boys and we just fought most of the time. Because of this lack of close bonds in childhood I have problems forming healthy relationships now. During my life several people have told me they loved me but I honestly didn't ever believe them.

Unfortunately, going through things like this often turns those who experience it into real assholes (I have my moments). There's a certain intensity that develops inside of us that can cause a lot of problems. I'm usually a nice guy, whether I like the person I'm talking to or not, but sometimes the frustration boils to the surface and the only thing that runs through my mind is, "Hulk smash!" I have more than my share of regret for things I've said and done in the heat of the moment and I spent a long time trying to change myself, with very little success. Sometimes the only effective way to stop myself from unleashing my anger on others is to just turn around and walk away from the situation entirely.

I am learning how to temper the anger and other over-the-top emotions that come up because I don't like being an asshole. These days I usually recognize when what I'm feeling isn't really rational and stop myself from acting on it. I still slip up from time to time though. However, I'm also starting to embrace my intensity because it's the only thing that has kept me alive all these years. It's the reason I get out of bed in the morning and go out and face a world that would just as soon pat me on the head and send me back home with a coloring book. It's what allows me to swallow a handful of pills and push a needle through my skin to inject myself with insulin every time I eat. It has also helped me to get through things when people around me caved under the pressure, the very people who looked down on me before.

The moral of the story is: we may not be normal but we are not lesser beings. We may not be able to do everything that ordinary people can but the fire that burns inside of us allows us to do things that ordinary people can't. And we deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and loved as equals.

Also . . . I can kill you with my brain.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

A.I. - Artificial Intelligence (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)STARRING:
Haley Joel Osment
Frances O'Connor
Sam Robards
Jake Thomas
Jude Law
William Hurt

In a future where global warming has sunk many coastal cities and childbirth is strictly, controlled realistic looking robots known as mecha make up a sizable portion of Earth's population. A team of scientists decides to create a child-sized mecha that can experience love, and David is born. After problems occur between David and his adoptive family he is abandoned in the woods to fend for himself. Unfortunately, the imprinting in David's brain is permanent and he is driven by a desire for love from his adoptive mother. Believing that the blue fairy from the fairy tale Pinocchio is real he seeks her out so he can become a real and receive the love he desires.

Being a sci-fi fan I was hoping this movie would be much better than it is. The special effects are cool and the scenery is beautiful but the story falls flat.

MY RATING: 5/10.

IMDb page

Friday, October 31, 2008

Small Spaces

A few minutes ago I was watching our cat, Inky, staring at the space between the doors on my closet and started thinking about places too small for me to fit. It would be cool to be the size of a gnat and be able to fly between my closet doors.

Imagine looking at the reflection of the woven fiberglass back of one door in the mirror front of the other as you pass through that tiny space. Or flying through one of the holes in my laundry basket and examining the seam in the edge of the plastic. How about flying inside one of my shoes and studying the weave of the fabric lining.

Of course, at that point I would probably start wishing I were small enough to fly through the fabric and look at the thread . . .

Posted with LifeCast

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I downloaded a blogging app to my iPhone and I'm just testing it out to see how versatile it is. I can't do italics or bold text so that may be a problem. I also can't do hyperlinks. I may be able to do those things by using HTML but I don't have the commands memorized. Anyway, this is what it looks like.

Posted with LifeCast

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cat People (1942)

Cat People / The Curse of the Cat PeopleSTARRING:
Simone Simon
Kent Smith
Tom Conway
Jane Randolph
Jack Holt

A New York fashion designer falls in love with and marries a typical guy. But she is afraid to get passionate with him because she believes she suffers from an ancient curse that will turn her into a panther any time she feels any intense emotion.

I have seen this film twice and really like it. The 1982 remake, which has a somewhat different plot and a new character, a brother, played by Malcolm McDowell is not nearly as good.

This film has no sex in for two reasons: the era in which it was made and the story itself. The main character's fear of passion keeps her from even kissing her husband and they sleep in separate rooms. As his desires go unsatisfied, the husband's eyes start to wander. Then we get to find out if the curse is real or not.


IMDb page

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

Lars and the Real GirlSTARRING:
Ryan Gosling
Emily Mortimer
Paul Schneider
Kelli Garner
Patricia Clarkson

An eccentric recluse purchases a Real Doll, a life-size doll designed as a sex toy, and treats it like a real person.

I expected this movie to be about a kinky sexual relationship but I was pleasantly surprised by the story. Lars doesn't have sex with the doll and instead has a very sweet and loving relationship with her. At first his family resists the idea of treating the doll like a real person but on the advice of the local psychiatrist they start to play along and then encourage the entire town to as well. It is in turns amusing and sad. Ultimately, the doll becomes his way of coming out of his shell and expressing his feelings about life and loneliness.

MY RATING: 9/10.

IMDb page

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Crying Game (1992)

The Crying GameSTARRING:
Forest Whitaker
Stephen Rea
Jaye Davidson
Miranda Richardson
Breffni McKenna

A British soldier gets kidnapped by the IRA, who hold him for ransom hoping to exchange him for one of their own. He befriends one of his captors who promises to take care of his girlfriend after his death.

Back in 1992 I was still too conservative to watch this movie but when I saw it on the shelf at the library a few days ago I decided it was time to find out what all the fuss had been about. All these years I have been missing out on this little gender-bending gem!

I already knew enough about the story to not be fooled by Jaye Davidson in a dress so the one nude scene didn't surprise me. The rest of the story, however . . . now that did surprise me. I was not expecting to actually like this movie I was just trying to be more liberal in my film choices. This is one choice I'm glad I made.

There was no actual sex in this movie, aside from an off-screen BJ, but there was one brief moment of full frontal nudity. And the very androgynous Davidson is just plain fun to watch (sci-fi fans will remember him as Ra, the sun god in Stargate).

MY RATING: 10/10

IMDb page

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Us vs. Them

There is an interesting phenomenon that first came to my attention while I was studying Deaf culture in college. It seems the members of minority groups tend to develop an us vs. them attitude about the role their group plays in the larger world. They spend a lot of time complaining about their treatment at the hands of people who are not members of their little category.

I have also noticed this happening in the Asexual community and, as time passes and the community grows larger and larger, this seems to be getting worse. Far too often I come across posts on the forum at that are demeaning to people who are sexual (that's our word for people who aren't asexual). They talk about how sexuals are constantly horny and looking for sex or making lewd comments and telling dirty jokes, as if there is nothing that happens in their day that isn't about their next potential roll in the hay. Even though it only shows up on your computer screen you can almost hear the slime and cooties dripping off the word "sexual" as the say it. The sad part is some of them actually believe what they are saying.

To be fair, it is true that a lot of people do not understand asexuality and their minds reject the concept when they first hear of it. There are even some people who actively try to discredit it, saying that every healthy adult human experiences sexual attraction to someone or something. However, this by no means makes all sexual people the dunces that some aces try to make them out to be. There are a lot of very decent and classy people out there who do not share our point of view. In fact, I would go so far as to say most of them at least try to accept that it is the way we feel even if they don't understand how we can not feel a need for sex.

Fortunately, there seems to be a cure for such hypocrisy among aces. As we spend more and more time with each other and talk about how we feel and share our experiences with each other we become increasingly comfortable with who we are. As our comfort with ourselves and our identity grows we begin to tear down the walls we have built up in our minds that stand between us and the rest of the world. Eventually we reach the point where we can be as compassionate and understanding toward them as so many of them are toward us.

So, when you young'uns first come to the board full anger toward what you see as an over-sexualized world and you see us old folk shake our heads or even reprimand you for making disparaging remarks about sex or sexual people it isn't because we've lost touch with what's going on out there, we've just grown out of feeling offended by it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Penelope (2006)

Christina Ricci
James McAvoy
Catherine O'Hara
Reese Witherspoon
Peter Dinklage
Richard E. Grant
Simon Woods
Michael Feast

A modern day fairy tale about a young woman trying to break a curse passed down to her because of one of her ancestors' indiscretions.

One of my favorite new films. It's a cute story with beautiful cinematography and some very good acting. One of the highlights of the film is James McAvoy, whom I first remember seeing in Becoming Jane although he was also Mr. Tumnus in the recent adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And let's not forget Christina Ricci . . . (I think I actually had a crush on her at one time).

I really can't think of anything negative to say about this film. It's just an all-around good film.


IMDb page

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Brokeback Mountain (Widescreen Edition)STARRING:
Heath Ledger
Jake Gyllenhaal
Michelle Williams
Anne Hathaway

Two cowboys meet while herding sheep one summer and begin a secretive homosexual relationship that spans many years.

I heard a lot about this movie before I saw it. Some people said it was a beautiful love story, some said it was immoral, and one just said it was sad.

There were a few things about this movie that I liked. For one, the acting was believable and the story did have its touching moments. The mountain scenery was stunning, even for someone like me who grew up in the Rockies. It also portrayed the struggles these two faced as a gay couple in the 20th Century quite well.

Unfortunately, this film had some serious weaknesses. The two main characters were rarely likable, even when they were together. And it was mostly boring, I honestly think the story could have been told in half the time. There was also the sex, which could have been implied rather than shown.


IMDb page

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Losing my Identity

Lately I have been reading A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. In this book, the author talks about our individual sense of identity and how it can create problems in our lives. During the course of reading this book it has occurred to me that over the past few months I have lost, or better yet abandoned, most of my identity. It's like the pieces of the way I used to view myself have been stripped away. To illustrate, a few examples:

Male. Biologically, I am male, there's no doubt of that. Everything from the shape of my face to the equipment between my legs testifies to that. I grew up knowing I was a boy and that boys are different from girls. I also knew what boys are supposed to do and that's what I did. There came a point when I started to question that though. And now I realize that it is irrelevant. I am still male but I do not identify with boys or men (nor do I identify with girls or women). My body has a gender but my ego does not.

Heterosexual/Asexual. Growing up I thought I was a normal heterosexual boy. I liked girls and wanted to have relationships with them. I flirted, I dated, I even talked about sex and told dirty jokes. I also planned on getting married and having kids. But one day I started to question that too. That's when I realized that the attraction I felt was romantic but not sexual. Then I found out about the asexual community and started to identify with that. I got involved with every aspect of the community and was even an administrator on for a while. I even started acting that part too, swearing off sex and looking down on the sexual world. These days that too is irrelevant to me. I still don't experience sexual attraction to anyone or anything so the label fits me. However, that label isn't part of the way I identify. I am asexual but I am not an asexual, if that makes sense.

With all of this sudden loss of identity I should be having some kind of crisis, shouldn't I? I'm not. In fact, it's liberating. I no longer have a load of unrealistic expectations about what I'm supposed to be. After peeling away all those labels I can finally see myself as I really am. And I'm free to be that person now.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Asexual Limbo

I've been thinking a lot lately about and my involvement in it (thinking is a hobby of mine and, like most hobbies, I enjoy it whether or not I am good at it). Lately I have started to wonder if I really belong there, since I don't seem to fit in with the views of many of my fellow members. I don't mean the political or religious views they hold, I mean their views of sexuality.

There are a few reasons why I feel the adjective asexual fits me. Firstly, I don't experience sexual attraction. I do have an opinion of who or what is pretty though. Almost every time I leave the house I see someone about whom I think, wow, she's pretty! However, that feeling stays in whatever part of my brain is responsible for aesthetics and somehow doesn't ever find its way to the part responsible for sexual arousal.

Another thing that makes me think I'm asexual is the word sexy. Will someone please explain this concept to me? I have looked it up in the dictionary several times and, although the definition is written in plain English, it does not make sense to me. Sexually attractive? Sexually appealing? These are concepts that I do not understand no matter how hard I try.

Now comes the part that makes my relationship to the asexual community a bit fuzzy. So many people there talk about being grossed out by sex or feeling that it is too prevalent in our society. This is also something I do not understand. I don't find sexuality offensive or disgusting in any way. There are times when I think it is overemphasized or it gets a bit silly but those times are infrequent.

Another thing that muddies the water for me is the fact that my body does respond to some sexual stimulus. To be quite frank, I can get aroused, even horny. I also have the ability to perform sexual acts and don't even find them distasteful.

So here is my dilemma: I fit the definition of asexual as a sexual orientation, yet I have nothing against sex itself. If I married a woman who was sexual I would have no qualms about having sex with her. And if I married one who was asexual I would be content to never have sex with her at all. So, where do I fit into this whole thing? I'll let you know right after I decide if it really matters.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

American President: my plan for the US election process

Many people are complaining about the election process theses days, so I sat down and thought about it and came up with a solution - let's make it into a reality TV show.

First of all, I'm thinking American Idol style here. I first thought of something more Survivor style but then we'd have to put a bunch of politicians on an island and they would just sit around blaming each other for the rat problem and the lack of food. That would be boring.

The first part of the show would be a selection process with a panel of judges. We could get some political analysts to do that, they love to criticize people. The contestants will come in and give short speeches, after which they will either be allowed to join the competition or be sent home. This could be the funnest part of all to watch.

The next part will include just those contestants who passed stage one. It would be 15 to 20 people at this point and there would be a maximum of three from any given political party, thus eliminating the per facto two-party system. They will each be sequestered (I've always wanted to use that word) in a hotel until they are eliminated from the running. This will keep them off the evening news and we won't have to put up a whole year of mudslinging.

Each week they will come on stage one by one and take three minutes to answer a question provided to them a few hours before. Those who have not yet taken their turn will remain backstage in a soundproof room until it's their time to come out. The question will be the same for all of them and they will not have input from anyone else on what to say.

After the show is over people get to vote for their favorite. The next week the person with the least number of votes is excused. This continues each week until only one person remains and that person becomes our next president.

With one simple solution we can eliminate long and senseless speeches, year-long campaigns, filibustering, campaign finance issues and the two-party system. We will also get a bigger voter turnout. The only I see so far is vote tampering but that's a problem already, I'm sure we can find a way to resolve it too.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Labeling: Descriptive vs Prescriptive

Once upon a time I created a phpBB forum based around an anti-label viewpoint. It didn't last because I didn't feel like putting in the necessary effort for its continued growth.

Lately, however I have been thinking about this idea again. I had an experience recently that caused me to reconsider some of the labels I had been using to identify myself because I realized that I had been denying feelings I was having in order to fit into one of my labels.

While I have been musing on this anti-labeling idea over the last few days I have also been doing homework for my Deaf World Discourses class, in which we're studying sociolinguistic variation in American Sign Language. I came across two words that caught my attention and I realized that I now had a better way to discuss my views on labeling. The two words are descriptive and prescriptive.

For the purposes of this discussion descriptive means that a label is being used as an adjective. It describes the person in brief terms that other people can more quickly understand. Prescriptive, on the other hand means that the label is being used as a guideline. It prescribes a set of criteria that the individual must meet in order to use that label.

I am a longtime member of, which is a site for people who identify as asexual in terms of sexual orientation. On the front page of the forum the definition of asexual is: a person who does not experience sexual attraction (it is important to note there is no mention of hormones or sexual activity in that definition). I have identified as asexual for a long time because I don't feel sexually attracted to anyone. That doesn't mean I can't have sex though, I do frequently experience arousal and I'm capable of acting on it. I'm just not drawn to people in that way.

The mistake I was making (and that some others on the forum often make) was using the label prescriptively rather than descriptively. I was trying to fit some ideal definition of this label in order to feel like I belonged to the community that has developed around this forum. I realize now that this was not a healthy mindset and I should avoid doing this in the future. If by chance any other asexuals read this blog, learn from my mistake and only use the label descriptively. It's much less stressful that way.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Alpha Post

This is my first post on my new blog. I had a blog before but I lost interest in posting to it because it was a theme-based blog and I just had a lot less to say about that theme than I thought I would.

About the title of this blog: well...I am a bit of a loner who spends a lot of time thinking about things, so that's what I'm going to blog about.

Also, I recently started reviewing films on my former website Ace Linkup but they didn't get much traffic there since it was a members-only site. So, I decided to create a public blog of film reviews from an asexual point of view. Enjoy.

Edit: I have now added albums and other arts to the list of things I will be reviewing here.

About the URL: It just amuses me.