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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Blogaround

Edgar Allen Poe Dameron cosplay. Image source.
1. Karen Handel and the spurious Christian case against LGBT adoption (posted June 23) "Most conservative leaders I know who vocally oppose LGBT adoption are not lining up to register as foster parents."

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Blogaround

Cat sitting on a couch, with its back toward you. Image source.
1. I'm Tired Of My Queer Identity Being Ignored & Erased On TV (posted June 28) "The TV shows I watched certainly never suggested that someone like me could exist."

2. The virginity fraud (posted May 18) "The absurdity of virgin-testing is illustrated in a study done on 36 pregnant teenagers. When doctors examined their hymens, they could only find clear signs of penetration in 2 out of the 36 girls."

3. All the Ways Christian Education and the Church Have Failed Me (posted May 4) "If God could see me, hear me and read my thoughts, I would give Him fake things to read. If anyone asked me a question, I would give them answers I thought God wanted to hear. I was extra nice to people because I thought God would want me to be nice. He would never know what I actually thought of everyone, what I actually wanted to say or anything else."

4. I Can't Be Your Gay Friend (posted June 27) "And I’ll be honest, you almost won me over with the promise of paying for coffee when we sit down so you can “hear my story.” However, I have some concerns."

5. I Don’t Accommodate Uncontrolled Men (posted June 26) "So I’m going to be that woman. I’m going to stand up and look that man in the eye and tell him that his inability to control himself is not normal, healthy, or God-given, and I have no sympathy for his struggles." Well amen to all of this.

6. I'm Intersex, And It's WAY More Common Than You Think (posted July 2) "If you had surgeries that... you've never felt completely believed that the reasons they gave you were the real reasons. Those are some of the things you can look back at and help you discover if you might be intersex or not."

Monday, July 3, 2017

I Know We'll Have a Good Marriage, BECAUSE We're Not Pure

A man and woman kissing. Image source.
Youuuuuuuuuuuuuuu guyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyys the wedding is just a few weeks away! Oh my goodness I am so ready to be married to Hendrix. (I'm not ready to have a wedding, there are still a ton of details to figure out. Oh my.) Really really excited about being married to him.

It's overwhelming to think how different this all feels than what I expected when I was in purity culture.

Back when I was in purity culture, the one thing I was always trying to figure out was this: How are you supposed to actually get to know a person well enough to decide if it's a good idea to marry them, if every bit of romantic or emotional closeness- even the very simple act of going on a first date- erodes part of your purity you can never restore and makes you less worthy of a good marriage?

How do you go from single and pure, completely inexperienced and therefore a perfect, undamaged potential partner, to actually married to a real live person? Doesn't it seem like in between there must be some period of time where you're dating someone without being 100% confident you're going to marry them, and that's taking a HUGE risk with your priceless purity... how is this supposed to work?

Some purity-culture proponents address this problem by having the parents control the "courting" process. The boy has to ask the girl's dad for permission to date her, and the dad judges if he's worthy or not. And then when they go on dates, they're never alone, they always have a "chaperone." The Duggar family does it like this (and it's CREEPY AS HELL). Basically, in this form of purity culture, the couple isn't actually making the decision to get married- it's the parents making the decision. And therefore there's no need for the couple to risk their purity by really getting to know each other.

But that wasn't the version of purity culture I believed in. Instead, I believed God would tell me which guy I should marry. I believed the decision would be made based on prayer and extensive analysis of a guy's characteristics- rather than by, you know, dating and getting to know him in a relationship setting. Yes, I believed I would have to date "my future husband" for 2 years, just to be sure, but the real decision-making would be happening before even agreeing to the first date.

I believed that, while it would be ideal to never ever date anyone unless he's "my future husband", in reality there's no way to actually be sure about that, and dating is a big risk no matter what. Even if God tells me I should date a certain guy, that's still not a guarantee he's the one I'll marry- it doesn't mean I'm allowed to quit "guarding my heart" and actually love said guy.

It would be a difficult balancing act between purity and information. I need to be as pure and inexperienced as possible in order to have a good marriage. But I need to get enough information about the guy in order to know marrying him is a good idea. Basically, my purity would be the currency used to buy information. And I need to make sure I spend as little as possible on guys I don't end up marrying. Every single action I take with a hypothetical boyfriend must first be carefully weighed to decide if the purity cost is worth the amount of information I would gain.

So whenever I had a crush on a good Christian boy, I would go to my room, kneel on the floor, and pray and pray and pray about it. I would try to find little signs that perhaps God was indicating that this guy was "my future husband." Maybe there was a certain song I kept hearing in my head over and over, and the lyrics reminded me of this guy- was God trying to tell me "yes" by putting that song in my head? I would analyze things that the guy said, try to judge whether he was mature enough, try to determine if he had the correct beliefs and worldview.

One of my friends, let's call her Claire, was asked out by a good Christian guy. She spent weeks praying about it, and finally decided no. Because, she said, she doesn't feel like she can submit to his leadership, because occasionally he seems to make decisions she sees as a bit irresponsible- and if she were his wife, she'd have to just go along with that. And because she's never been on a date before and her first date is a really really big deal and she's not willing to give it to a guy that she's not sure about. That was the kind of purity culture I was in. I saw Claire as a role model in purity. (I, on the other hand, had kissed a boy in the past so I was not pure like Claire was.) She and I talked a lot about how dating was supposed to work. How to always put God first and not lose our purity.

This is all so incredibly different from my decision to marry Hendrix. See, we're not "pure." I don't "guard my heart"- and I haven't "guarded my heart" for a LONG time. Our whole relationship has always been about loving each other, supporting each other, having fun with each other- not about carefully trying to stay as far apart as possible while discreetly gathering intel on whether or not he would be a good husband.

(If you're wondering, NONE of this is a euphemism for sex. [Though for the record, I'm not the least bit ashamed to say that YES, we do have sex.] I'm talking about how purity culture says it's "emotionally impure" to be in love. I'm talking about how the purity-culture version of Perfect Number would have stopped herself after laughing and laughing at some cute little thing Hendrix did, and she would have felt a stab of panic- "oh, I let my guard down, I let myself laugh and just enjoy this moment, he is working his way into my heart and this is DANGEROUS.")

I used to think I couldn't date a guy unless I was pretty sure I was going to marry him- and I worried about how to make a decision like that with so little information. I could investigate what his personality is like and try to imagine whether he and I would be compatible. It would be a lot of guesswork and hypotheticals. It would be a lot of prayer and searching everywhere for little signs that God was saying "yes" or "no." And... that's all. In purity land, breaking up is The Worst Thing Ever, so you pretty much have to decide to marry someone without even dating them at all. Just hypotheticals. Just prayer. (And even after you decide to date them, you still can't fully love- you have to "guard your heart" until you get engaged.)

And it's astonishing how my relationship with Hendrix isn't like that at all. This decision isn't about hypotheticals; it's about years of actual real-world experience being a couple. We haven't been cautious. We haven't held back. We haven't been "pure." We aren't jumpy and scared of being "too attached" and "emotionally impure" and so we've been free to just love each other. Free to just be a couple and support each other through the good and bad that life throws at us. And because of that experience, I have the information I need to make this decision. (And not just information, but a lot of fun and happiness along the way.) I know it's a good decision.

They always said that purity was the #1 most important factor in ensuring a successful marriage. But I've discovered it's not like that at all. It's our experience- the opposite of purity- which tells me we will have a good marriage.

----------------------------------

Makes me want to say "I do"~

"I Do" Colbie Caillat


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Blogaround

A cat laying on a rainbow flag on the street at a Pride parade. Image source.
1. Ancient wisdom from the neural network (posted June 22) "Death when it comes will have no sheep."

2. Toy Story Zero: The True Story Of Andy’s Dad & Woody’s Origin (ft. Mike Mozart) (posted June 22) "Woody doesn't even realize that ... the Andy playing with him now isn't the Andy who wrote his name on his boot."

3. Soap, soup, and support for Supreme Court nominees who will overturn Roe v. Wade (posted June 6) "Every medical missionary commissioned by any white evangelical mission board has had to contend with this Great Commission objection. Every mission agency that built hospitals or schools had to have an answer to it — an explanation for why they were doing that rather than building churches."

4. A groovy relic of the forbidden evangelical past (posted June 8) "In 1975 — two years after Roe — Zondervan Press published a book for white evangelicals in which Norman Geisler wrote: “Abortion is not murder, because the embryo is not fully human — it is an undeveloped person.” And nobody freaked out."

5. Behind Wonder Woman Is a Great Man (posted June 6) [spoilers for "Wonder Woman"] "But if it’s important for girls and women to see a female superhero, it’s also important for boys and men to see a man who becomes heroic by following a woman’s lead."

6. If we confess our sins (posted June 22) "It reinforces the idea that “sin” is a matter of transgression against some capricious and inscrutable list of rules — an idea that the Bible repeatedly rejects, rebuts and mocks".

7. Uber sued over lack of wheelchair-accessible cars in D.C. (posted June 28) "The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, alleges that Uber is violating both the Americans with Disabilities Act, which requires transportation companies to offer equal access to all riders, and D.C.'s Human Rights Act."

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

For This Asexual, Purity Culture Was All About Fear

Fear, from the movie "Inside Out", with the ace flag as the background. Image sources here and here.
They told us it would be a terrible, dirty sin which would ruin our future if we had sex before marriage. But they also told us that statistically, most people- even if they're Christians, even if they make a purity pledge- do end up having unmarried sex. Somehow, this horrible, ghastly fate is happening even to people who put great effort into avoiding it.

How? How does this happen? Well, they said, temptation. Sometimes you have this feeling like you want to do dirty sexy things, and it's so hard- maybe even impossible- to resist. No, you won't be able to resist, so your only hope is to never even come face-to-face with that kind of temptation.

But see, they said, here's how it goes: Don't kiss too much, and don't use your tongue, because if you do, then you might feel like you want to have sex, and you won't be able to resist the temptation. Also, probably shouldn't kiss at all, because then you might feel like you want to kiss with tongue, and you won't be able to resist that temptation. Also, better not be alone and cuddling with a romantic partner, because then you might want to kiss, and you won't be able to resist that temptation. Really better not hug a person of the opposite sex at all, because then you might want to cuddle with them. And probably you shouldn't hold hands, because then you might want to hug. And we can keep going, up the slippery slope, to more and more mundane and innocuous actions, which will, apparently, bring unsuspecting victims closer and closer to the horrible, life-destroying black hole that is premarital sex.

They told us stories about good, pure Christian couples who found themselves alone together and "one thing led to another" and they "stumbled" and "gave in to temptation" and sex somehow "just happened."

And there I was, asexual but I didn't know it yet, and completely unable to wrap my head around how sex could possibly "just happen." I thought, hey I'm not an expert, but it seems to me that in order to have sex, you have to take your clothes off first, and let another person see your naked body. And you have to touch their genitals, and let them touch yours. How on earth could those things "just happen"? How? Why? How? How on earth could there be any feeling or desire that would cause me to go against everything I believed in and take off my clothes in front of another person?

But, they said, don't go thinking it can't happen to you. Oh no, don't go thinking you're so pure, that you're not sinful and vulnerable to temptation. Pride comes before a fall, doncha know? And there have been Christian couples- role models in their purity and dedication to God- who were careful not to even kiss, careful to follow all the rules, and then one night they were alone and got carried away and it *happened*. Don't think it can't happen to you. Stay vigilant. Avoid any situation which could maybe lead to temptation. You never know what could happen. You never know what your body is capable of, what sinful desires lurk in your heart.

And so I did. When I was dating my first boyfriend, I made sure to never EVER lay down on his bed in his dorm room. Because what if one thing led to another, and, somehow, we had sex? When I went back to my parents' house for spring break, they said I could bring my boyfriend- and I was terrified. If we both spend the night in the same house, who knows what could happen? (He had no purity-culture background and he didn't understand what I was scared of. "Are you saying... you think I would... try something?"  No, I said, no I didn't think he would do it on purpose, I was scared that both of us would be, somehow, unable to control ourselves.) Another time, I was out really late at night and wondering if I should just sleep on the couch at this fraternity house where a lot of my friends lived, because it was too far to walk all the way back to my dorm. But no, I decided. Because some of the guys who lived there were attractive, and what if one of them showed up in the night and ... somehow, something happened? I wasn't thinking about rape; I was concerned that in the darkness I would be overcome with desire and unable to control myself. (Please note, though, how this ideology makes it impossible to understand the difference between rape and consensual sex. Apparently, if you choose to put yourself in a situation with "temptation", and then sex *happens*, it's your fault.)

In all of these examples, I made decisions based on my fear that sex could "just happen," while completely unable to understand by what mechanism it could possibly "just happen." Wouldn't that require taking off my clothes? Wouldn't that require letting someone touch my genitals? How? How could a slide into "temptation" cause that to happen? Seems like the only way I would take off my clothes is if I chose to take off my clothes, and why on earth would I choose to do that? What kind of "desire" could possibly entice me to "lose control" and do that?

Maybe for people who experience sexual attraction, the warnings about "lust" and "temptation" make more sense. Maybe they intuitively understand what it feels like to desire sex, and balancing that desire against their desire to be good, pure Christians. Maybe they get what's enticing about taking off one's clothes in another person's presence. Maybe they understand their own desires and they know which situations are harmless and which are dangerous "temptation."

For me, though, it was all about fear of the unknown. They told me I had these desires, evil, dirty, sinful desires, deep inside, and I can't ever let my guard down or else "you never know" what could happen. They warned me about things that were dangerous, things that would lead to "temptation," and I believed them even though I never understood how on earth those things could lead to accidentally having sex.

Fear of the unknown. Fear of desires that I had never even experienced, fear that those desires were dirtier than anything I could imagine.

Here's the thing, though: I am attracted to boys. I'm a straight asexual. I experience romantic and sensual attraction- that means I have a desire for a romantic relationship, I can have crushes, I can fall in love, I like hugging a romantic partner, I like kissing and touching and being warm and comfortable together. But as it turns out, I don't have sexual attraction at all.

But they said those desires were all just steps along the slippery slope to sex. They said sexual desire is the same thing as sensual desire, but more intense. If a desire for holding hands gets out of control, it would turn into a desire for sex. And so I believed that, since I had such strong romantic attraction, of course I also really really REALLY want sex- that if I gave up an inch of ground to my romantic desires, then I would start to feel sexual desire too. And we can't let that happen. "You never know" where it could lead.

Anyway, fast forward to me and Hendrix, doing sexy things while not being married. No, we weren't having sex- I still believed it was a sin- but we took off our clothes and touched each other's genitals and such. But none of it happened because of "temptation." I was astonished at how, the entire time, I was fully aware of what I was doing. Every action was a conscious decision that I made. I wasn't "carried away." I wasn't "out of control." I was there, in reality, in the same reality I'm always in. The same laws of physics, the same bed and walls and cold air from the open window. Nobody was being carried away by "temptation." Nothing "just happened." I chose it.

And then, many months after that, when we finally decided to have sex, we couldn't even do it the first time. (By "sex" I mean penis-in-vagina sex, because that's what purity culture counts as the most impure, dirty thing you can do, that is the thing at the very bottom of the slippery slope, you do that and you lose all your purity. Even though in real life there are many other forms of sex and they're not in a heirarchy.) Yes, the first time we tried, I was still not totally clear on what a vulva was, and I had no idea that my body needed to be aroused in order to get the vagina to open. So the first night we tried, we couldn't get the penis to go in, and we gave up.

(Don't worry, we eventually figured it out.)

I look back on all that fear and I'm just amazed at how there was no way it could have ever happened like I feared it would. All those years ago, I was so worried that sex was going to "just happen", that I would "lose control" of my body and somehow do terrible things I would regret for the rest of my life. And then when I finally did try to have sex, when I actually wanted to do it, made a clear-headed decision and applied my problem-solving brainpower, I couldn't even do it then. There's no way it could have ever happened "accidentally."

All that time, I was scared for nothing.

(Really, I think all this "it just happened" language is either 1) blaming a victim for their own rape or 2) making excuses for consensual sex so it sounds less "sinful." Even for people who aren't asexual, I don't think sex can "just happen" with neither party consenting.)

I remember before I decided to have sex, I no longer believed in anything purity culture said, and I no longer believed sex was a sin. But I was still too terrified to try it. Maybe I just shouldn't, I thought, just to stay on the safe side. Just in case they were right and it really does ruin my life.

And there I was, with a partner who loves me so much, so comfortable together, so committed to each other, but with this artificial divide between us, this belief that if his penis goes inside my body, that would be THE WORST THING EVER and it would RUIN MY LIFE. Why? Why would it ruin my life? Why would this one little arbitrarily-chosen action have such devastating effects? Why can't we just try it?

The fear was awful, because there was no answer to "why". There was no reason I could think of that it would be so life-ruiningly terrible to have sex with Hendrix. Just the thought, "what if they were right?" Just fear of the unknown.

And I'm so glad we finally did have sex. It didn't change me into a completely different person. It wasn't an amazing transcendant feeling that totally changed my life. It wasn't really a big deal at all- and so, the fear vanished. All this time, there was nothing to be scared of.

They told me that I had to be on guard against the "slippery slope" so I didn't get "carried away" and have sex somehow. And I believed them even though it made no sense to me- which is a recipe for fear. I was terrified of sex. But now, all these years later, I've discovered that even though I desire other "impure" things- like kissing and being in love- I never had any sexual attraction at all. I was so afraid, but now that I've found out what sex actually is, I see there was NO WAY I ever could have done that without actively choosing to do it. There was never any chance it could have "just happened."

One might think that purity culture is easy for asexuals. For me, it wasn't. I wish I had been allowed to actually explore my own desires and find their limits. Instead, I lived in fear of desires that didn't even exist.

Monday, June 26, 2017

So I Gave My Fiance the "Letters To My Future Husband"

A notebook with the words "Letters to my Future Husband" on the cover. Image source.
Writing "letters to your future husband" is A Thing in purity culture. Girls are taught that God has destined them to get married, to a man, exactly once over the course of their lifetime, and that God doesn't want them to date anyone else besides this one predestined man. And so their loneliness and romantic desire, which is not allowed to find fulfillment in dating, gets redirected into "writing letters to your future husband."

I wrote a few. Three. Back when I was in college, in my on-fire-for-God days. Each one was probably prompted by an instance of overwhelming, unbearable loneliness, or perhaps a HUGE CRUSH that I couldn't do ANYTHING with because I believed it would be a sin to make even the slightest move in the direction of possibly starting a relationship without explicit permission from God. I wanted so bad, so so so so bad, to be in a romantic relationship, but I was following the purity rules, which said ideally I am only allowed 1 relationship in my entire life. So the only outlet for that desire was praying for "my future husband" or writing letters to "my future husband".

Anyway, last time I was at my parents' house I found the letters, and I brought them back to Shanghai and gave them to Hendrix, my fiance. And we read them together.

I gave them to him because that's what their purpose was, ostensibly. But... they weren't really for him. They were for the perfect Christian purity-culture-following husband that God destined to be with me- an imaginary person who has never existed and who will never exist. Because I've changed so much since then, and I don't believe that stuff anymore, and Hendrix isn't even a Christian.

Letters, from a person who doesn't exist anymore, to a person who never existed. And I went ahead and gave them to Hendrix because that's what past-Perfect-Number would have wanted. But the content of those letters has no relation to the man I'm actually marrying, here in reality.

And OH GEEZ it's embarrassing, what's in those letters. Oh so much cringe. Here, take a look at this actual real thing I wrote in 2009:
I love Jesus Christ more than anything in the world. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. And of course you do too. That's pretty cool, and if you're like I want you to be, then reading "I love Jesus Christ more than anything in the world" made you kinda happy. Because that's the #1 characteristic you want in a wife.
Ohhhhhhh cringe so much cringe.

I mean, you have to be several layers deep in purity culture and evangelicalism to even understand a lot of the stuff in these. One theme throughout the three letters is how I'm working so hard to fight against my romantic desires. In order for that to make sense, the reader would have to share my belief that God doesn't want me to have any romantic relationships in my entire lifetime except the one with "my future husband" and that it would be a sin to even daydream about a crush or imagine how amazing and pleasurable it would be to touch an attractive guy. Seriously, the phrase "guy-related idolatry" appears in here. That is an actual thing I wrote back then, assuming that it would be obvious to "my future husband" what that phrase meant. (It means it would be sinful and extremly disloyal to God if I do anything other than squash down my romantic desires as much as possible.) Though I didn't use these exact words, the letters basically say, "I am working so hard to be emotionally pure by fighting against my feelings of attraction, and I'm doing it primarily for God, but also for you."

Another theme throughout the letters is obsession with God. I wrote about how God is the most important thing to me, how I love God way more than I love "my future husband", how we're totally going to serve God together and chase God together and pray together, and our relationship will be defined by wild, desperate, whole-hearted devotion to God.

Yeah....................... so .................... yeah. Hendrix read them, and I know there's stuff he didn't understand, because it's written in a very advanced form of evangelicalese. And since then, I've asked him several times, "So what did you think about the 'letters to my future husband'? I want to write a blog post about it," and he always tells me he doesn't really have anything to say. Just "yeah I knew you used to believe that" and that's all. The letters didn't make a strong impression on him; they're not meaningful to him at all. And why would they be? They were written for someone else entirely.

But when purity-culture advocates talk about "writing letters to your future husband", they talk about how sweet and romantic it will be when you finally give them to him. How it'll be a deeply meaningful expression of your love, to show him that all these years you've been waiting for him and thinking about him, you loved him before you even met.

That only makes sense if people don't change. And yeah, in purity culture, you're not supposed to change. They teach little kids "here's how the world works, here's what kind of spouse you should look for, here are the rules to stay pure and the consequences if you don't follow them" (and this happens before kids are even old enough to know what sex is or why anyone would choose to do it). And since those are all the "correct answers" that everyone is supposed to follow, there's no reason to expect that one's beliefs should change. In purity culture, change and personal growth are bad. In purity culture, even if you're just a little girl, you can be certain about what kind of man God wants you to marry, because ideally you won't change much between now and than.

And now I'm astonished that anyone would think that back in 2009 I had anything meaningful to say to Hendrix- but that's what purity culture teaches. And ... I don't know, maybe for some people it's kind of cute and funny to read something they wrote long ago, but this isn't like that for me. Because back then I was 100% serious. I worked so hard fighting against my romantic desires, and I thought it mattered.

The "letters for my future husband" were never for Hendrix, but I'm going to write him a new letter. It will be based on our actual real-life relationship, not what evangelical ideology claims my "future husband" should be like. I'll write about how I know he loves me because he helped me get out of purity culture and because he sometimes downloads little games for his phone so that "we can play it together" and that's just ADORABLE. And he'll open it the morning of the wedding day.

I'm so glad I'm with Hendrix instead of "my future husband." I'm so glad I'm not marrying a guy who appreciates all the hard work I did staying "pure" or believes that I hurt him by dating other guys before I even met him. I'm so glad I'm not marrying someone who would read my "letters to my future husband" and think they were deep, profound, and meaningful expressions of love.

---------------

Please enjoy this song:
"Countdown" Beyonce


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Blogaround

The four religions. (Google search box, someone has typed "how do i convert to" and Google offers 4 autocomplete options: judaism, islam, catholicism, and pdf.) Image source.
1. The Confederate flag largely disappeared after the Civil War. The fight against civil rights brought it back. (posted June 12)

2. Philando Castile Was a Role Model to Hundreds of Kids, Colleagues Say (posted 2016)

3. "Are you sure you should eat that?" (posted June 15) "Last time I had some, I scraped all the frosting off because I think it tastes bad. But you know what I was worried about? Having someone think I was scraping it off to try to make the cake 'healthier.' That’s a thing I’ve been complimented for doing in the past because I’m assumed to be 'counting my calories.'"

4. John Piper’s Best Tweets (posted June 15) This is a masterpiece.

5. Wonder Woman: When Gods Come of Age (posted June 5) "Among other things what this film is saying is that gods, like the people who create them, evolve over time."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

"America Never Was America To Me"

Protesters holding signs and a flag that says "Black Lives Matter." Image source.
So the police officer who killed Philando Castile was found not guilty, and ... I don't know what to say. How could this happen?

Growing up white in the US, I always heard people say "we live in the greatest country on earth" and how we have "freedom" unlike other countries, that the US was founded on "equality", the idea that all of us are "created equal", and we have "rights", "innocent until proven guilty", "no cruel and unusual punishment", "rights of the accused", etc.

Yeah, none of that is true.

The US has NEVER had "equality." The founders talked a lot of talk about "all men are created equal", but they had slaves. In school I learned that thank goodness Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr fixed those racism problems and now we are all equal- but it's not true.

People say "he didn't obey the police officer's instructions" or "the cop thought he was reaching for a gun" as if that makes everything okay- is that really the kind of world you want to live in? You think a world where not following directions carries the death penalty is just completely fine, move along, nothing to see here? You think if a police officer has a feeling like someone is reaching for a gun, then it's totally fine to kill them, even if that feeling turned out to have no basis in reality? No, when white people make these kinds of excuses, what they're really saying is, "well I know it won't happen to me, so I don't really care, but I need to give some kind of excuse to blame the victim and justify my not-caring." (Please note, though, the similarity between "he wasn't 100% calm and polite and following instructions, therefore he deserved to be killed" and "all people deserve to go to hell for their sins- no matter how small those sins are.")

And white people bring up stuff about "he was on drugs" or "he was a suspect in a robbery"- like, what happened to all those lofty ideals about "innocent until proven guilty" and "America is the greatest country on earth"? So if a police officer suspects that someone committed a crime, they can totally kill them and it's FINE? Since when? You really want to live in a world where that's totally FINE?

There's never been "justice for all" in the United States. There's never been "equality." As Langston Hughes said, "America never was America to me." Instead, we have white supremacy. We have racism built into the system at all levels. And it's deadly.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Blogaround

A snow leopard holding its tail in its mouth. Image source.
1. Common Christian Miracles, Explained and Translated. (posted June 4) "It’s the most amazing thing to me that the people who make this particular claim don’t wonder who lost that money or why their need was obviously so much greater than the need of the person who their god stole from." Very good article about genres of "miracle" stories that Christians claim happened to them.

2. James Comey and the Predator in Chief (posted June 8) "The victim of sexual harassment is constantly haunted by the idea that she said or did something that gave her persecutor encouragement."

3. Harry Potter Theory: Why is Ravenclaw's Mascot an Eagle?! (posted June 13)

4. Shanghai Pride 2016 Here's a post I wrote last year about what Pride month is like here in Shanghai. (Note that this was written before I started identifying as queer.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

3 Reasons I Need To Identify As Ace

Ace flag with a pirate-style skull and the words "Asexual Pirates are not interested in your booty." Image source.
I'm asexual, but also straight. And engaged to a man. And I do have sex with him. So, someone might ask, what's the point of identifying as asexual? Like why does it matter? Society will see me as heterosexual, and I'm not celibate anyway, so ... so what?

Here are 3 reasons:

1. To find people who have similar experiences

Having the word "asexual" allows me to search for and find information that relates to my experiences and feelings. I can find other people who are ace, talk to them or read about their experiences, and it's really helpful to know that there are people who have gone through the same things I have.

Also, the vocabulary I've learned from the ace community has been extremely helpful in understanding my own feelings. Different types of attraction- sexual attraction, romantic attraction, sensual attraction, aesthetic attraction. Sex drive and arousal are actually separate from sexual attraction. A romantic orientation and sexual orientation that don't match. Without this language, my understanding of my own feelings would be a nebulous cloud of "well I'm really really attracted to boys, and Hendrix in particular, everything about him is great, his body is great and I love to touch him, but ......... why is sex so weird?"

2. It grants legitimacy to my "naive" questions about sex

I have a lot of questions about sex, and I feel weird asking them because people will be like "you're joking, right?" For example, I heard that, for people in regular-land rather than purity-land, it's normal to have sex sometime around the third date. Is that true? I mean, even if you tell me a statistic and it's true, I need more of an answer than that because it just does not make sense to me at all. Why would people have sex after just dating for that short amount of time? And what about casual sex, where, apparently, people are going to bars and finding a stranger to have sex with just once? Is that a real thing or just a stereotype used for fearmongering about how "immoral" our culture is? And even if you tell me "yes it is a real thing," that's not good enough, I still don't get it. I'm not judging at all, if you want to have casual sex with people, go right ahead, but I just cannot fathom why. Like what is the thought process there? Not judging at all, I am really genuinely curious.

(Other "naive" questions include: Why do people watch porn? I mean, like... what's the point, I watched a little and I was so confused. On sitcoms where some character has like 4 sexual partners in 1 year, that's like, not realistic, right? That's just one of those things where they make it more dramatic for TV, right? Like would anyone in real life actually have that many sexual partners? And when people say they want sex, do they realize that sex means stimulating one's genitals with another person? They want that?)

I have so many "naive" questions, and without the asexual label, I feel really weird asking them- like people won't treat them as serious questions. People will think I'm pretending to be clueless as a joke, or to make some kind of point, or... something? But if I first inform them that asexuality exists, it's like "proof" that I really am this clueless, I really am asking as a 100% serious question. ("I grew up in purity culture" probably also works, if you're not ace but you are still totally clueless.)

In general, when people talk about sex, there's a lot of euphemisms and "if you know what I mean" and giggling, and for real, I don't know what they mean.

And on that note, this is THE MOST USEFUL sex-ed material I have EVER seen: An Asexual's Guide To ... It doesn't use any euphemisms or jokes which assume that we all already understand what sex is or why it's pleasurable. It explicitly and directly tells you what things are. Seriously. Cannot recommend it enough.

3. To improve our sex life

[content note: in this section I talk about me and my partner having sex. maybe TMI]

A few months after Hendrix and I started having sex, I thought to myself, "wait, isn't this supposed to be, uhh, pleasurable?" The biggest immediate benefit of sex was that it completely freed me from the fear I had internalized because of purity culture. Years and years of believing that premarital sex was THE DIRTIEST SIN and it would RUIN MY LIFE, and then even after I decided I don't believe it's a sin, I was still terrified. I'm so glad we started having sex and I found out it's not some kind of life-destroying big-huge-deal. But. After a few months, I realized, "oh hey, but isn't this also supposed to be pleasurable, like, in and of itself?"

Anyway, I ended up talking to 3 different doctors about this problem. (Why does it hurt? Why do I basically just like it because I'm in love with Hendrix and any activity I do with him makes me happy, but I don't feel pleasure specifically from the act of sex itself?) None of them were that helpful. They all told me "just relax" and other equally vague and useless bits of advice.

But when I found information about asexuality online, it all made sense. That's the answer, that's why sex is so difficult for me. It's because most people have this thing called sexual attraction, and I don't. And I love Hendrix and I want to have sex with him- if I didn't know these facts about my own orientation, it would be so much more confusing and difficult.

And this paragraph is going to be explicit [NSFW], but I'm going to write it because this is the secret I've discovered that has improved our sex life SO MUCH. Like, I'm just going to go ahead and say this explicitly because NOBODY EVER SAID IT TO ME EXPLICITLY AND THAT'S WHY I'VE HAD SO MUCH TROUBLE: So if you want to do penis-in-vagina sex, the important thing is that first the vagina has to open. Like, in regular life, it's not very open and so it would be incredibly painful to try to push something in. As it turns out, when people use the term "arousal", they are referring to when the vagina becomes more wet and open (or, if you have a penis, "arousal" means getting an erection). (I think? Correct me if I'm wrong on the vocabulary. As I said, I'm kind of clueless.) Furthermore, when people talk about "foreplay", what they mean is doing things to get the body aroused. See, before, I assumed "foreplay" meant "kissing and touching each other in pleasurable ways before you have sex." But it turns out it's more than that- if you're going to do penis-in-vagina sex, the foreplay NEEDS TO accomplish the task of getting the vagina to open. I had NO IDEA. Really. I thought foreplay was just about feeling good and maybe making yourself *want* sex (in an emotional sense)- I had absolutely no idea it was also supposed to include tangible genital-related bodily reactions. And that if it doesn't, then penis-in-vagina sex will be painful or maybe even impossible. LIKE THIS IS A BIG HUGE DEAL, NOT SOMETHING YOU CAN JUST SKIP or be like "eh I guess we've done enough of that, what comes next?" Like seriously, before you try to put a penis in, use your fingers and check if the vagina is open or not. Because usually it's NOT. It's only open if you're aroused enough. Sooooo anyway I figured out that if I use a sexy toy and stimulate the clit before we start actually having sex, and get an orgasm that way, it will make the vagina open and wet. And then we can put a penis in way easier. I don't know if that falls under the category of "foreplay" or not, because it's pretty much just me doing it, not my partner, but WOWWWWW that has helped our sex life SO MUCH. (Also: Use lots of lube.)

But anyway. The point is, if I didn't identify as asexual, I would have no answers to the question of "Why is sex so difficult for me? Why do I feel like I don't *get* sex?" I want to have a good sexual relationship with Hendrix, and having this information about asexuality is a necessary starting point.

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I need the term "asexual." Even though I'm straight, even though I do have sex. Without the language and concepts I've learned from the asexual community, everything would be so much more confusing. And it would be way more difficult to have a good sexual relationship with my partner.

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