Single & Loving It

One issue that’s starting to come up a little more often for me is marriage. Not in my personal life, but in my net life. Ed Brayton over on Dispatches occasionally responds to fundies and the like who whine about people who don’t immediately marry, and I occasionally run into trolls who implicitly or explicitly argue that being unmarried means you’re an unlovable loser who doesn’t matter and doesn’t contribute to society.

I’m on the borderline between hetero and asexual. I could be an asexual who’s hetero-curious or a hetero with a naturally low libido. I’m not sure which way to split the hair. Add in the social issues that come with Asperger’s for extra fun. Whatever it is, I’m just not strongly inclined to go looking for Ms. Right, though I don’t rule out the possibility that I might stumble on her. I’m glad I have understanding parents who haven’t been pushing me to get married. It’s not something I would want to force. I think marriage is supposed to be about genuine love and respect, not a forced duty to someone else’s wishes. Society’s drive for white picket fences and 2.5 children be damned, this is about what individuals want in their lives.

If you want to be married and have kids, go ahead and do that, but do it because it’s what you want and let me do what I want without being shamed for who I am. I do have a romantic side, but it’s like that idea of being “in love with love.” I think people who love each other should be free to celebrate their love. I like the idea of a couple who love each other making it work against the odds, and I’d be glad to help them. That’s one big reason why I’m pro-LGBT rights. Why should the heteros be privileged?

By the way, I think we should consider adding an A to LGBT. I think I might try doing that and see how well it goes. I had it relatively easy, but I still see some discriminatory attitudes against asexuals. One of the big ones I see is the assumption that relative disinterest in the opposite sex means homosexuality, which lets us have our turn at being targets for the same bigots.

One thing that really hurts are the people who cheapen marriage by making it about reproduction. First, our planet is suffering from human overpopulation. Reproduction isn’t an absolute duty because of that. Having a proportion of non-reproducing individuals seems like the most civilized way to lower the population, especially if they’re already disinclined towards reproductive forms of sex. Second, we’re k-type reproducers. We have relatively few offspring, but invest heavily into making those offspring successful. There’s more to the reproductive success of a species than simply popping out more babies. Non-reproducers like me can still contribute to the human infrastructure we call civilization for the next generation’s benefit.

Some trolls pull out the “if everyone did it” canard, which is quite moot. We aren’t trying to talk hetero couples out of having kids. We aren’t claiming there is One True Way to Live like these trolls are. Humans are naturally diverse and in large societies we naturally end up specializing. If everyone was a farmer, we’d have no scientists, no factory workers, no doctors, and so on. So what? No one’s proposing that everyone be a farmer. I’m not proposing that everyone should be a bachelor. And in this case, it’s not like a profession. You can change your profession. You can discover that you like a different line of work you hadn’t considered. You can get bored with your current profession. Sexual orientation isn’t so easy to change. As I see it, heterosexuality is the most common orientation, and it’s not going to die out just because we let same-sex or transgender couples marry or let asexuals stay single. We just want people to recognize that the other options are acceptable and they shouldn’t be stigmatized. They’re not objectively better or worse, just different, and it’s up to the individual to decide what best fits him.

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10 responses to “Single & Loving It

  1. I guess I’m just stating the obvious if I say that spiritual belief always seems to bring with arbitrary and ridiculous standards with it. Even the more liberal beliefs like New Age spirituality, which usually also push some degree of self acceptance, always seem to have some subtle pressure buried in them somewhere.

  2. okay, apparently something weird is going on with the caps lock on my keyboard. I don’t mean to spam your blog with comments. In fact, I had one comment I wanted to make.

    Right. QUILTBAG = queer (or questioning), undecided, intersex, lesbian,transgender, bisexual, asexual, gay.

    I first came across this abbreviation on Slacktivist and I rather like it because it includes options that most people don’t think of. “Intersex” for people unfamiliar with the term refers to people who have physical oddities relating to their sexual characteristics, e.g. someone with a Y chromosome who appears female without benefit of medical intervention, or a hermaphrodite. Also, it forms a pronounceable word.

    • Deleted the messed up comments. Curious how that bug works.

      QUILTBAG sounds vaguely naughty to my ears (trying to imagine some kind of combination of knitting and sex), but it’s memorable, and covers a lot of categories. First time I’ve seen it, so it apparently hasn’t spread to my circles.

  3. Didn’t know you were (mostly) asexual but it’s nice to hear someone make those points. I’ve been relatively lucky to live in a part of the country where not being interested in marriage is considered perfectly normal.

    PS— have you been visited by the Dethemberween Thnikkaman today?

  4. I can agree with a lot of this, though I approach the situation from something of an opposite angle in at least one dimension: I’ve got an intensely high libido, significantly beyond even the normal “oh, it’s teenagers” sort of thing, but… well, it’s very complicated in my head, but may or may not be aromantic to some degree. There’s something of an internal debate on the subject of constantly second-guessing myself and wishing I had access to other people’s qualia so I could figure out what the heck romantic interest actually feels like.

    Anyway, it’s ended up driving me into a very similar area; I’m not really with anyone, I don’t know if I want to look for anyone, and people who expect me to just just go get with someone for the sake of being with someone or reproducing or whatever just result in me staring at them dumbfounded.

    …so yeah, this is really just a longer way of saying “I agree with and support this post”.

  5. I’ve been sort of dancing around the edges of the various atheist/humanist/rationalist scenes for some time now since I’ve been distracted by other things in my life. It seems I’ve missed out on a LOT of stuff.

    I hate to make this about me, but I guess I’m pathological that way. I thought the “asexual” thing was a joke until you mentioned it seriously later on in your post. I’ve never even heard of this! To explain, I used to make jokes like that myself (calling myself an amoeba) back in the days of the long long ago of the net and sometimes in real life. I just never shared the popular interest in having all of the sex. Maybe someday I’ll get interested, but it hasn’t happened yet, and to some people, that’s surprising. I really had no idea that it was a “thing” though, I just considered myself “disinterested”. Is there an actual movement behind this or something? Sorry, it’s just really surprising to hear it talked about like that.

    I had no idea about the “thinginess” of this, but when I made it clear recently to my mother that I really didn’t have an interest at all in pursuing a relationship, she understood pretty well and said that’s probably “smart”.

    Considering my rather poor social skills (which I will state I do work on as much as possible), it can become tough to both avoid sending the wrong messages and to “read” messages sent my way. Since I never bother with the “bar” scene or anything like that, such scenarios don’t occur too often anyway, but I’ve still had to turn down people who had mistaken impressions.

    I HAVE heard people argue that I “should” get married, that it’s my purpose, my destiny, my biological imperative, and something psychologically needed for a full and happy life. That said, it’s few and far between, as most of the time it doesn’t even come up in conversation.

    I suppose it’s only natural that the “if everyone did it humanity would go extinct” argument would be applied to people with no interest in the whole matter now and again. Here’s what I’d say the big problem with that argument is. You make a good point that it’s simply unlikely to ever happen and pointless to argue as if it could. However, let’s give the benefit of the doubt there for just a moment and assume they are right and everyone COULD actually take up that lifestyle. It assumes that everyone would just fiddle while the world burned. It speaks to the person with this sort of mindset’s attitude towards human nature, that we’re all just wicked mantis people who would just as soon destroy each other as help each other. Assuming everyone stopped reproducing as a matter of normal life, society would kinda NOTICE that there are no more children and people are getting older long before the last decrepit old person kicked off. Society would enact changes to keep the population going. I believe several programs consisting entirely of volunteers would open up to have and raise a new generation, and that program would keep going. Heck, if you ask me that would be great. Even if NOBODY volunteered (incredibly unlikely, as total extinction seems like a high motivator), there’s still artificial insemination.

    In other words, I reject not just the premise that everyone would suddenly take on the lifestyle, I reject the higher order premise that if that did happen, humanity would just lie down and let itself die out. In fact, I don’t think it would even come CLOSE to that, I think population levels would drop but drop by a healthy amount, the sort that would be good for the ecosystem as a whole.

    • Yeah, asexuality is a “thing,” specifically a sexual orientation or lack thereof. It doesn’t get much exposure since it’s hard for the lack of sex to be considered scandalous.

  6. I feel like I’ve been in the dark on this while everyone else has known about it for a while. I’d like to learn more if you’ve got some resources.

    • I don’t know any clear resources, unfortunately. Do think there’s a TV Tropes page about it.

      Random side thing: I’ve got my Thesis pretty much done, and after I end up lugging all the heavy copies around campus, ready for binding, I find out the thesis guide conveniently failed to mention that the paper has to be 25% cotton with a watermark.

      • I did the obvious and looked it up using mighty Googletron (may it advance us all), and found some place called asexuality.org. It seems like a good place to start, but the site appears to be down. I just read the Wikipedia page… It’s rather startling actually. I’m starting to think this is a fair description of me too, though I’m hesitant to seriously wear a label I once just passed off as a joke.

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