#2014

Odd Woman Out, or: Sex-Repulsion and Queer Media

If you spend any time around me, either online or offline, you know I am out and proud. I wear a rainbow bracelet every day; my purse has a button that says “crystal queer” on it; I wear flannel as much as humanly possible; I have a sidecut; and you can bet I’m going to mention my wife at every possible chance. Online, I’m an avid Creampuff, Fannibal, and Amedot shipper, and I run my own asexuality blog. Hell, even my Twitter name is “Queer as Hannibal”. What I’m saying is, you can sense my queerness from a mile away no matter how you encounter me. And that’s on purpose. I don’t want you to have to see me holding my wife’s hand to know I’m queer – I want my very self to radiate so much queerness you can see it from space. It’s an important part of my identity and I spend a lot of time keeping up on trends, issues, and news in the community. I try to spread positivity and inclusiveness, and to learn how to be a better ally to my fellow community members. In short, I am all about queer pride.

I say this so you have some understanding of why I feel conflicted about queer media. See, I’m asexual and definitely vary between sex-indifferent and sex-repulsed. I’m sex-positive in the sense that I think two or more consenting adults can do whatever they want with each other, but I don’t really want to see or hear about it. However, I’m also part of the wlw (women who love women) community, and I feel incredibly invested in positive representation of queer relationships. I’ve been reading the webcomic Band vs Band as long as it’s been running and was dying for the two main characters to get together. Likewise, I watched The Legend of Korra with a hungry eye for anything Korrasami, and always swoon a little when Laura and Carmilla waltz or flirt. As for Steven Universe, well… Amedot is the hill I will die on.

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I WILL GO DOWN WITH THIS SHIP

In short, I absolutely put my attention, money, and support into queer relationships in the media and will always defend narratives that help broaden our understanding of relationship diversity. And yet, when my wife warned me there’s a sex scene in the Carmilla movie, I sighed a little in my head. See, being asexual/sex-indifferent and also a part of the wlw community can put me in an uncomfortable position because I tend to lose interest in a fictional relationship when it becomes sexual. It’s not that I think sex is immoral – it’s just not something I can totally connect with, and so it feels like I’m being alienated by something that becomes the focus of the relationship. I love Laura and Carmilla, but there are times in Carmilla season 2 when I get a little uncomfortable with how often they make out. Same with Band vs Band, even though the interactions are chaste and, for heck’s sake, just drawings. Yet while I know that response isn’t logical, fair, or healthy, I still feel this weird twinge of… something. Jealousy? Disappointment? Resentment? It’s hard to pin down, and I usually feel too guilty to examine my emotions.

Therein lies the problem. See, the closer to a sexual relationship two characters get, the less comfortable I am. However, I also know how important representation is, and so at the same time I’m cheering for this couple and what they represent in our changing culture. It leaves me in a weird gray area where I feel like I’m the bad guy for wanting a relationship to remain chaste, but not because I hate queer people being sensual or sexual; I think I just want to see more people like me, and it’s hard each time to lose a connection with a character once they become canonically allosexual. I know a lot of my own issues are wrapped up in this conflicting feeling – my longing to be a “normal” allosexual queer woman versus my simultaneous desire to stand up for people like me – but that doesn’t make the burden easier to bear.

Being sex-repulsed or sex-indifferent in the queer community can be a very fine line to walk. We want, and deserve, more representation and yet we have to be so careful that we don’t come off as sex-shaming or heteronormative. But with so little representation currently, it’s no wonder those misconceptions are rife in our community and so easily cause little sparks to rage into huge fires. Queer people have always been shamed for acting on their sexuality, and that will never change unless we normalize all forms of consensual intimacy. We just need to also remember that for many in our community, sex isn’t what makes them queer – and that’s just as valid. The more we vary what “real” relationships look like, the more everyone in the community will feel comfortable with who they are and what they want.

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#1999

I dreamed the kind of dream that makes you wish you could draw or were otherwise skilled in a visual art, because there’s no way words can adequately describe it. The dream took place in a militaristic, space-based empire of genetically advanced humans. In this empire, warriors and knights each had their own personal weapon which could be summoned at will (much like the gems in Steven Universe). The weapons were formed with a sort of black energy, which lent them additional versatility and destructive power. Warriors in higher military commands were also linked with their own starships (which looked like Ryo-Ohki from Tenchi Muyo). These ships existed primarily in an alternate but parallel dimension, but could be summoned into the main dimension when needed for battle; in fact, their ability to exist partially in both dimensions simultaneously made them ideal for large battles becauses they could fire on an enemy yet not be directly hit. (Imagine massive starships that can literally ghost through solid objects, such as buildings, to fire on the inhabitants.) Often the ships and weapons were used in honorable battle between knights, but also frequently for full warfare between the empire and dissidents. In addition, the most powerful warriors could also form an energy shield/aura called an ‘aspect storm’ (my brain borrowed the term from The Cold Commands by Richard Morgan) which, if the warrior was particularly skilled, could be controlled like a giant monster to do widespread damage.

In this dream, Tanim was the emperor’s son and being groomed to take his father’s place in the future. He was an admirable warrior with his own ship, and his personal weapon was a black lance that could be turned into a powerful longbow when battling aspect storms. At one point in the dream he stopped by a training session in which some of the best warriors were teamed up against a single man dressed all in black – I recognized him as Daren, though in the dream all Tanim knew was that the stranger was new to his father’s service. Despite being surrounded and outnumbered, Daren easily held command of the fight. His weapon, thin double blades that allowed him superb speed and range of motion, was somehow set to instantaneously cauterize any wound it created. In this way, Daren was able to deal legitimate injuries but the risk of killing someone in one blow was small. Still, he severed several fingers and at least one arm, and maimed others in ways that would permanently remove them from the emperor’s service. Tanim was certainly impressed (okay, and probably pretty turned on), and I think they ended up fighting together against a gigantic aspect storm later on. At any rate, there were lots of explosions and space battles and stuff, and it was awesome.