So as I may have mentioned here before I'm in a human sexuality class this semester. And, three weeks in, it is by far my favorite class. The subject itself is fascinating -- I'm not as much of a sex/sexuality nerd as some people I know but it's still way cool to study -- and my professor is just incredibly fantastic. Seriously, I have all the love for this professor.
Anyway, we're still kind of looking at the study of sociology (since this is a 1000 level class and so it's assumed that the people taking it aren't sociology majors, which, at least in my case, is a perfectly valid assumption) and at why it's a useful lens to look at to study sexuality. Beginner stuff, mostly, but still interesting and she can still find ways to work in all the swear words and graphic descriptions she can just like she warned us she would and I'm still enjoying myself immensely. Today we were looking at the idea of "sex" and what it means to "have sex" and what counts and what doesn't count and how people keep count. (As an aside, I never realized what a big deal it was to tell someone your count and how much thought apparently goes into what number you give. Clearly you learn something new everyday.) About halfway through class we'd broadened our definition to roughly, "An expression of erotic desire ending with a sense of completion." (My notes for this class are shit, which will probably be a problem when it comes time to study for the exam but oh well. It's hard to focus on taking notes when your professor is bouncing around the classroom talking about being a party favor and generally proving herself to be awesome.)
So we had that definition, and then she looked around and was like, "But that definition still leaves some people out, doesn't it? Who do you think it leaves out?" And no one had anything to say, because people still don't talk much in class because her enthusiasm is intimidating and it's still only the third week and, anyway, no one -- myself included, I'm somewhat ashamed to admit -- seemed to be able to come up with an answer to her question. After a minute of letting us think about it she went on and said, "What about people who don't experience desire? What about people whose sex lives involve not having or not desiring sex? They count too, after all." And it was beautiful and I was kind of surprised by how much that inclusion meant to me. Because she was talking about us. About asexual people. And if she never said the word, well, she doesn't usually say gay or straight either, she tends to talk about partners and attraction patterns rather than the common labels, which is fine. Because it was very clear, at least to me, that she meant us.*
And then later in the class we were talking briefly about privilege because we'd wandered back into sociology and what it meant to study and do sociology and privilege comes into that in a pretty big way. So she asked all the people who ID as heterosexual how many of them had had to come out as straight and oh, one or two people tentatively raised their hands. And she nodded and was like, "yeah. And the system is set up in a way that most of you never have to sit there and agonize about the person you like and what that means and what it says about you as a person." Then she paused and then added, "Or sit there and agonize about how you don't like anyone and what that means and what that says about you as a person." Again, talking about us. And again it made me just ridiculously happy.
I don't think I realized before now just how good it would feel to be mentioned like that. In a lot of ways it was better than having a whole unit specifically devoted to us, though obviously that would be fantastic. But just being mentioned casually like that takes asexuality out of the domain of 'that's so weird' and into the real of the so-called 'normal.' It's just one more thing, one more variation, something just as legitimate as anything else. I'm pretty damn sure that this is the first time I've ever heard asexuality talked about like that, especially by someone who isn't ace. It wasn't a discussion of asexuality, we didn't dwell on it, it just was. And it was fantastic.
*For the record I am out to her, as of the end of last week, and I need to write up that conversation because it's one of the big reasons I love her as much as I do. I have never had as good a coming out conversation in my life.