Thursday, June 27, 2019


A puppy on a leash. Image source.
1. This neural net knows your secret recipe (posted June 20) "It figured out that it was supposed to be making easter eggs, but apparently didn’t know how and sort of panicked."

2. Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods could lead to a Bible shortage in the US (posted June 19) Well this is just FASCINATING- it's an intersection of a bunch of different things: white evangelicals' support for the orange antichrist, the economic reality of tons of stuff being made in China (even stuff you wouldn't expect), and the way white evangelicals are OBSESSED with the idea of having a physical printed book as if that's what "knowing God" means. (Apparently only a few people could be Christians before the invention of the printing press?) And also, not mentioned in the article is all the evangelical myths about Christian persecution in China. (Which is why it feels so surprising to find out that ACTUALLY a significant proportion of bibles are printed in China.) Persecution DOES HAPPEN, but not at all in the way that American Christians imagine it.

(Ahem, please note that I live in China.)

3. Migrant children describe neglect at Texas border facility (posted June 21) This is bad.

4. Facebook cofounder says the company's cryptocurrency plans are 'frightening' (posted June 21)

5. Honest Trailers | MCU (posted June 18) "Are you sure you know how to fly this thing?"

6. Black People’s Land Was Stolen (posted June 20) "But in addition to invoking the 40 acres black people never got, the reparations movement today should be talking about the approximately 11 million acres black people had but lost, in many cases through fraud, deception and outright theft, much of it taken in the past 50 years."

7. This group found thousands of offensive Facebook comments by police. Here's what you should know (posted June 20)

8. No White Saviors: Woman Accused of Letting African Babies Die at Fake Medical Facility in Uganda (posted June 25) [content note: child death] Oh wow this is terrible. And the only thing I can think is "God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called."

9. Young Earth Creationists and the Flat Earth Conspiracy (posted June 24) "I am absolutely confounded as to how Faulkner can write this. He works for Answers in Genesis." Libby Anne responds to an Answers in Genesis post bemoaning the fact that some Christians have so little scientific understanding that they accept conspiracy theories about the earth being flat, and it's FANTASTIC.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Strangers (part 1 of Autism & Teaching Kids to Protect Themselves)

A shy child hides behind their parent. Image source.
Blog series on Autism & Teaching Kids to Protect Themselves

Part 1: Strangers
Part 2: Touch
Part 3: Doctors


I've been thinking about the things I was taught as a little kid, by adults who wanted to protect me from kidnappers, sex abusers, etc, and the ways that being autistic meant I couldn't actually follow that safety advice.

Thinking about it now, I think I was more vulnerable than the average kid. I can't really say definitively, though- and fortunately, I was never sexually abused or anything; the things that the adults wanted to protect me from didn't happen to me. So that's good.

But, even though those specific things didn't happen, I was violated in other ways, because of being autistic and undiagnosed. Good, well-meaning people who loved me, who told me that my sensory pain wasn't real and I was "over-reacting"... and I internalized the idea that I'm weak and I'm not good enough and it's my fault.

I definitely don't want to claim that one kind of trauma is worse than another; I can only speak for my own experiences. But I feel like there was so much focus on protecting kids from being sexually abused by creepy strangers, that it meant my trauma didn't "count" because it had nothing to do with anything sexual at all. It's only been in the past few years, as an adult, that I've begun to realize these things happened to me that were not okay.

I don't have an answer for what adults should tell kids, in order to solve this... Maybe it just necessarily is true that autistic kids are more vulnerable, and there's not really a way to reframe the "how to be safe from sexual predators" advice to make it work for autistic kids. Maybe sexual predators are clever enough anyway and it's not really reasonable to expect that any kid- autistic or not- can be "safe" if we just give them the right set of "safety tips." (At the very least, though, I wish I had been taught that my sensory needs mattered... but that's a completely separate thing from what I'm talking about here.)

Anyway, here's part 1, about strangers.


I remember that the lessons about "stranger danger" always had two parts: First, don't talk to a stranger, don't accept candy from a stranger, don't get in a car with a stranger, even if they give you some sad story about how they're looking for their lost dog or whatever. And second, when you think of "stranger" you may imagine some old creepy-looking man in a trench coat, standing in the shadows of a dark alley, but oh that's not what "stranger" really means. ANYONE that you don't know is a stranger, even if they look nice and friendly.

I remember being a bit puzzled by the "never talk to strangers" rule, because I reasoned that if everyone really followed it, then how would anyone ever meet anyone? How did the first civilization start, back in ancient times? I asked my mom about this, and she said yeah actually "never talk to strangers" makes no sense. (Like, the "don't go off somewhere alone with a stranger" makes sense. But just talking? Uhh... Like, I remember when we moved into a new house and my mom went over to meet the neighbors- strangers!- and introduce herself, because she saw they had kids my age.) And she herself NEVER advised me to "never talk to strangers" because she knew I was so shy and was never talking to anyone anyway, and she wished I would make friends with the other kids at preschool. In fact, she told me the exact opposite- she told me I should talk to people.

(It is BEYOND ME how the same adults who told me "never talk to strangers, and a stranger is anyone you don't know, regardless of whether or not they look creepy" were then CONFUSED about why I didn't really talk to other kids at school.)

So... let's switch gears and talk about autism a little bit. Let's talk about things that actually did happen to me, rather than these hypothetical situations with these hypothetical dangerous "strangers."

There were times we met some adult, and my mom would be like, "It's Mrs. So-and-so, you remember Mrs. So-and-so, right?" and NOPE I did NOT remember. "But she drove you to preschool so many times! She drove you to preschool just last week!" Like, yeah, I remember some adult woman who was a friend of my mom drove me to preschool, but I hadn't realized I was expected to actually look at her face and remember what she looked like. I hadn't realized I would be quizzed on it later.

Like, I guess for non-autistic people they just do that naturally? They look at someone's face when that person is talking to them, apparently? I mean, at this point in my life, as an adult, I understand intellectually why it's important (because if you don't look at people when they talk to you, they think you're not listening or you don't care about them; because if you're going to be interacting with the same person multiple times then you need some way to identify them and typically we do that by remembering what their face looks like, and so on). And as a child, I was taught about these rules for social interaction, about how I need to look at people and make eye contact and smile and nod to indicate that I care about them and I'm listening. I was explicitly taught all of that because none of it came naturally. And once I was taught those rules, I followed them and generally didn't have problems with eye contact and remembering people's faces and things like that. But when I was preschool-age, I hadn't been taught those "rules of social interaction" yet. And so I didn't really pay attention at all to other people, besides my family members.

So I was often caught off guard, when my parents would be like "oh here is Mrs. So-and-so" and I was expected to recognize her. And I was committing some kind of rude breach of social protocol if I said I didn't remember her. I really hadn't realized that I was supposed to be looking at people's faces and remembering them. But you KNOW that if the seat belts in her car had some kind of mechanical feature that worked slightly differently than the seat belts in my mom's car, I would have been ALL OVER THAT and I could tell you all the details. Now that's INTERESTING.

So as a little kid I would often find myself in these situations where my brain classified someone as a "stranger" and then adults would be astonished or even offended that I claimed not to know this person. Coming from that kind of background, it wouldn't have been possible for me to actually follow the teaching about "stranger danger."

Imagine if my mom told me "today Mrs. So-and-so is going to pick you up from preschool." Then I go to preschool, and at the end, some woman comes to pick me up, and suddenly I realize I literally have no idea what Mrs. So-and-so looks like. I have no way to verify if this really is Mrs. So-and-so. I mean, it probably is? Like what are the odds that some creepy person would happen to show up and try to take me on the one day that my mom's not available to pick me up? So I would go with her. Is that the "right" thing to do, according to what we're teaching kids about "stranger danger"?

Even if I had been taught I should try to get more information to verify a potential "stranger's" identity, in reality, could I actually do that? Could I actually do that, as an undiagnosed autistic child who often got in trouble for claiming to not know people that I had technically met many times before? (By "in trouble" I mean I felt like adults were unhappy with me and I had done something wrong- I wasn't punished or anything.)

Statistically, the vast majority of child abuse comes from someone the child knows, not a stranger. So maybe all this "stranger danger" stuff didn't matter anyway. Maybe it was never a real risk. Maybe it's totally fine that being autistic meant that these rules couldn't really work for me.

I don't know. My point, though, is that whatever they were trying to do, whatever the well-meaning adults were trying to teach preschool-age me when they talked about "stranger danger", it didn't work at all.

Thursday, June 20, 2019


1. You saw me covered in blood on a bus. But do you get outraged about all [homomisia]? (posted June 14) "Question why the photo of two attractive, white cisgender women compelled you to post about Pride for the first time."

2. Her Evangelical Megachurch Was Her World. Then Her Daughter Said She Was Molested by a Minister. (posted June 10) [content note: child sexual abuse] About Matt Chandler's church.

3. Every NIMBY’s Speech At a Public Hearing (posted June 13) "If I haven’t convinced you yet of my point of view, this surely will: as a middle-class white Christian man who came of age during the most profound and sustained economic boom in our nation’s history, I understand struggle."

4. Doctors will conduct health checks at facility with preemie (posted June 14) "They were held in an overcrowded McAllen processing facility that holds hundreds of parents and children in large, fenced-in areas and gained international attention last year when it detained children separated from their parents."

5. The female experience includes so much pain we end up choosing it (posted June 17) "Wanting to avoid pain doesn’t make you weaker or less powerful than someone who can grit their teeth and suffer in silence."

6. Ghost networks of psychiatrists make money for insurance companies but hinder patients’ access to care (posted June 17) "When the researchers actually reached psychiatrists’ offices, many of the doctors didn’t take Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance or weren’t taking new patients."

Monday, June 17, 2019

"This Doesn't Make Sense, But It Must Be Right"

Jasmine and Rajah look skeptical. Image source.
Recently Libby Anne has written a bunch of posts responding to some nonsense from Lori Alexander. (See here, here, herehere, herehere, here, and here, and probably more.) Lori Alexander is an extremely complementarian woman who believes all kinds of horrible misogynist things about how God wants women to submit to their husbands, and have sex whenever their husbands want, and not have jobs, and all women are bad at being leaders, and women's own desires and choices don't matter.

When I was an evangelical, I was complementarian, of course. Because I believed "that's what the bible says" and so of course all good Christians had to be complementarian. But I never took it as far as Lori Alexander does- believing it's BAD for women to have any kind of career at all, believing that women are supposed to have a ton of kids and don't get any say in the number of kids, and so on. I never heard Christian role models teaching that. And I never heard of Lori Alexander, back then.

So when I read Libby Anne's posts about whatever nonsense Alexander published on her blog, part of me is like "this isn't like my experience in evangelicalism at all- Lori Alexander is wayyyyy out there, let's just ignore her." But ... also, there's something about her that gets under my skin. Something about her that scares me because, if I had read her writing back when I was a good evangelical, I wouldn't have been able to recognize "this is wrong and so I shouldn't listen to her."

See, back then, there were some "wayyyy out there" Christians that of course I immediately recognized as "this person is clearly a crackpot, this is not how Christians are supposed to be, ewwww." Like Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps. But at the same time, I bought into Ken Ham's and Kent Hovind's stuff- even though I didn't have Christian role models in my life who told me I should. I just found it on my own, and their language and ideology was sufficiently similar to what I had been taught in church- even if the actual content wasn't.

And Lori Alexander, wow the language she uses is EXACTLY the evangelicalese that I always heard in church. If I had read her stuff back then, first of all I would have been very confused, because her ideas didn't fit with other things I had been taught in church. (For example, this post where she seems to think there's something *bad* about a woman not getting married until age 54 because she was "waiting on God's best." The purity culture I followed back then very much believed "God has picked your future spouse for you, and God has a plan to get you together, and hey maybe that plan is you don't meet them until you are 54, *shrug* well that's the way it is, you're going to be single until 54, nothing you can do about it, just trust God.") But even though I would have been extremely confused, I wouldn't have outright rejected it. I wouldn't have said "oh, then Alexander must be wrong about this." I would have felt like "well she is a good Christian role model and therefore this is true, but the problem is my inability to understand how it fits in."

So. That's why it creeps me out, to read her writing.

But here's the thing: This issue about "I have trouble rejecting a really bad idea if it's presented in a similar way to things I already agree with" isn't just about evangelicalism. I see some ways that I still have that problem now. I read a LOT of things, and sometimes I find myself reading something from an apparently "good feminist" source that's "on our side" and so I assume they must be right, even though I can't really make sense of what they're saying. 

Oh dear.

And now that I'm thinking about it more, doesn't everyone have this problem? You hear some teaching, and it *seems* like it's supposed to be something you should agree with, but it doesn't make sense to you. But you can't just reject it, because you don't believe yourself to be qualified to make that kind of judgment- maybe because "the heart is sinful, we must 'lean not on our own understanding'" or because "you have to believe marginalized people when they talk about their own experiences." And you can't ask honest questions to help you understand, either because "this is what the bible clearly says" or because "it's not people of color's job to do emotional labor and educate white people about this."

Sooooo I'm not sure how to solve this problem. The best I can come up with is it should be okay for people to say "I'm not sure I agree with this, because it doesn't make sense to me, but if you have any resources for learning more about it I would be interested." At the same time, though, this isn't a perfect answer... I'm thinking of pastors who get criticized for trying to stay in some kind of "middle ground" on the issue of LGBTQ inclusion- trying to stay in that "middle ground" forever and never take a stand. And I agree with that criticism. There's a point where saying "I am still learning about this, so don't be mad at me for holding the wrong opinion about it" starts to sound dishonest... you're not *actually* doing the work to learn about it. But there's no reliable way to know if people are being honest about that or not. So, this isn't a perfect solution.

All right so here we are. I thought I was writing a post about how evangelicalism didn't give me the tools to realize I shouldn't listen to Lori Alexander, but then I realized I've seen that same problem in the progressive/feminist community that I'm now a part of. And there are things we can do to address and minimize this problem, but I don't think it's actually solvable.

Thursday, June 13, 2019


1. First female CPR dummy created to help save women suffering from cardiac arrest (posted June 5) "The product, which has been produced by New York-based creative agency JOAN, was designed following a recent study by Dr Audrey Blewer which found that women suffering from a cardiac arrest in public are 27 per cent less likely than men to receive CPR."

2. Penny in the Air: My Story of Becoming Affirming (posted June 5) "Sometimes we lean so hard on the divine that we forget Jesus was also a product of his time and his culture. This passage reminds us in no uncertain terms that Jesus was a Jewish man in the first-century, conditioned to believe that Gentiles were dogs and outsiders to the promise. His response to her seems…well, prejudiced at best."

3. Robert Downey Jr. Announces Footprint Coalition to Clean Up the World With Advanced Tech (posted June 4)

4. When Protestant Leaders Didn’t Take Abuse Victims Seriously, These Bloggers Did (posted June 4) "They stepped in when church leaders would not, and their articles forced some of those churches to take real action."

5. How I Became Radically Pro-Choice (posted June 2) "I get why people get abortions now."

6. India heatwave kills ‘dozens’ of people as temperatures hit 50C (posted June 4) 50C is 122F.

7. Call Me Chrissy (posted June 11) "Welcome to the Coming Out Post I’ve Been Putting Off for Years"

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

2019 Reader Survey Wrap-Up

A cat staring at a computer screen. Image source.

Hi readers! I would like to thank everyone who took the time to do the 2019 Reader Survey. Thanks for your support and feedback for my blog. :)

Part of the survey asked about topics you would like to see more of. I've decided to take the top 6 responses and specifically write a post for each of them. So stay tuned for those coming up in the next few months.

Here they are:
  1. Purity culture: Wishing the Best to Josh Harris and His Ex
  2. Sex: If A Wife Is Required To Have Sex, That's Not "Intimacy"
  3. Asexuality: LOLLLLL yep should have known right then I was asexual
  4. Mental health: Boundaries and My Religion
  5. Responses to abusive theology: The Babylon Bee Completely Misunderstands Boundaries. I Am Shocked. (note: not actually shocked)
  6. Being ex-evangelical: "Parenting Forward": A Book About Valuing Children For Who They Are
(lol, looking over these, I'm like "yeah that is pretty much what my blog is about." I guess it makes sense that people who like my blog like to read about those topics.)

Probably the most "controversial" thing on the survey was I got a few people who said "I love the VeggieTales" posts and a few who said "I don't like the VeggieTales posts." In general I do those once a month, and I'll probably keep doing that. They're easy for me to do because it's just one giant thread of tweets, but also I think a giant thread of tweets isn't really a good format for a blog post and there are probably issues with readability and load times. Sooooooooooo... for now I guess I will keep posting them once a month.

Thanks everyone for reading, commenting, and sharing for these past 7 years of blogging. <3 And I have a bunch more good stuff planned for the next year~

Monday, June 10, 2019

On Purity, Asexuality, and Timing

Calendar. Image source.
So. Let's talk about sex ed and timing.

The timing of when I had sex for the first time was right for me. It was with Hendrix, who is now my husband, a while before we were engaged. I had never done anything sexual with anyone else before that. Even though I had dated other guys, the concept of me being interested in doing genital-related things with them never even crossed my mind. And the reason for that was purity culture- I was taught in church that of course no one should be having sex before marriage. Now that I know myself better, and I know my asexuality, I see that the timing was right for me, and I'm glad I didn't do anything sexual with anyone before. (BUT FOR EXTREMELY DIFFERENT REASONS THAN THE ONES GIVEN IN PURITY CULTURE.)

Christian teaching about "sexual purity" was really harmful to me. I'm now reading tons of sex-ed resources to try to catch up. But ... if I wasn't in purity culture, would I have had sex I didn't want, because I thought it was "normal"? The sex-ed stuff I read now, it's not written in a way that's inclusive of aces. (ace = asexual) I'm trying to imagine an alternative to purity culture, that teaches kids it's okay to have sex before marriage, but also helps asexuals understand their asexuality and be confident in their feeling that "no, I really don't want to have sex."

For example, I've been reading sexy fanfiction lately. In some of the stories, one character has a crush on another, and there's all this angst about "oh my unrequited love", but then SURPRISE the other character feels the same way! And then they kiss. Some stories end it there, but then in some other stories, they go have sex immediately. And at that point I'm like "okay, this is ridiculous." I appreciate reading the description of how they have sex, for educational reasons (even though I know it's porn so it's not realistic), but there's just no way I can believe people really have sex on the first date. (Or rather, before the first date.) Like, in fiction, it might happen, because the readers want to read the sex scene and skip the boring parts, but that would never happen in real life.

Err, I mean, actually, yes I have friends who have mentioned that there have been times they've had sex on the first date. To me, it's like relativity: There's enough scientific evidence, so I know it must be a real phenomenon, but it just makes no intuitive sense to me. Like, did you know time actually goes faster or slower for moving objects, because of some fancy math with the speed of light? Yes, really. Like, literally, if you move, time goes at a different rate for you than if you're sitting still. We never move fast enough that the effect would be noticeable (you'd have to be moving at almost the speed of light) but it's REAL. This has been verified through scientific research. It sounds wild and unbelievable, but it's real, and so in an academic sense I know it must be true. In the same way, apparently sometimes people have sex on the first date, and that is somehow also true even though it makes no sense to me.

But my point is, if I read this stuff back when I was young and impressionable, I don't think it would have made me believe it's normal to have sex on the first date. Because it's just so unrealistic. That just happens in fiction. Right? So, that wouldn't have been a problem for little asexual-but-doesn't-know-it Perfect Number.

But. On the other hand, there are the fanfics where characters are in a relationship, and there's the assumption that of course people are having sex with their partner when they're in a relationship. Like it might not happen on the first or second date, but it is inevitable. And this would have been a really bad influence on me if I had been exposed to it back in high school, as an alternative to purity culture.

There was one story I read, where I really appreciated how one character was really hesitant about having sex, even though they were in a happy relationship. They weren't ready for sex yet, and their partner was supportive of that. Then when they finally decided they wanted to try, they told their partner, and their partner said actually today isn't really convenient, so they didn't end up having sex that day. Later in the story they did have sex, and it didn't go perfectly the first time, there were minor issues and nervousness and the whole thing felt very realistic to me. (Completely different from all those other fics that are like "and then he had the best orgasm of his life", which, come on, really?)

I liked that story because yeah, in real life, sex isn't this perfect thing that always feels good and everyone wants- even though in most of these stories, because they are porn, that's what it is. Like, I get it, the audience is reading for certain reasons and they want something enjoyable rather than something that actually reflects real life. That's fine.

But even though I really liked that story, I still have a huge problem with how it framed sex as something that's normal to do when you're dating someone. I have a huge problem with using language like "ready" because it implies that having sex is a goal you should be working toward. Imagine if, instead of purity culture, I read stories like this back when I was a teenager. Then imagine if I dated a guy who asked me to have sex with him. I would have felt like "oh he is so kind for not pressuring me and waiting until I am ready" while trying to get myself "ready", and "ready" would have meant "I've gotten used to the idea to the point where I'm no longer horrified and repulsed, so I think I can endure this, for his sake." And I would have thought my boyfriend was such a good and loving person- how hard it is to find such a loving partner, how lucky I am- because he was patient and accepting during the weeks or months it would take me to get to a place where I am emotionally "ready."

I see now, because I know myself better, and I know I'm asexual, that that wouldn't have been right for me at all.

What's right for me is this: I date someone, and sex isn't even an issue at all. We just enjoy being happy together, and nobody really says much about the fact that we're not having sex. Sex doesn't even become a possibility until such a time as I start to think, "hmm, maybe I'd like to have sex with him," and then I consider it for a while and finally decide that I want to.

And ugh, I hate to say this, but because of purity culture, that's pretty much how the timing worked for me. I never even considered the possibility of having sex with the boys I dated before Hendrix- but it wasn't because "I know myself and I know that's not what I want", it was because "premarital sex is evil and dirty and will ruin your life and no one should ever do it."

What would it have been like, if I was taught to respect and value myself so much that I knew my "I don't know if I want to" meant "no"? And I use the words "respect" and "value" very intentionally here, because purity-culture advocates use those exact words. They say that girls who respect and value themselves don't have sex, and girls who choose to have sex don't respect and value themselves. In their ideology, "respecting and valuing yourself" means following God's rules because they are God's rules, and not being aware enough of your own feelings and desires to even know what you want. "Respecting and valuing yourself" means you can't be trusted to know what's best for you and make your own decisions. Yeah, eff all of that.

Sooooo... purity culture was really bad for me. But, for me, this stuff about sex and timing was one little good thing. And please don't misunderstand- it happened to work out correctly for me, but I have read a lot of #churchtoo stories about women in purity culture who were sexually assaulted and didn't have the tools to understand what happened, and blamed themselves and thought they were dirty and worthless, and I see how I was vulnerable in all those same ways but luckily that didn't happen to me. So no, let's ABSOLUTELY NOT teach kids that they need to be "pure" ... but I'm having trouble figuring out how to teach sex ed in a healthy way that's also a healthy way for aces. 

Like, right now I watch sex-ed videos about how to do oral sex and what foreplay is, and things like that, and it's a very different thing from what I always thought sex ed was... Before, I thought it was "well we don't really want kids to have sex, but that's not realistic, so, like, well, if you have to have sex, at least use a condom." But now I'm learning from a completely different kind of sex-ed materials, that presents sex as something good and enjoyable and worth taking the time to discover- because it does take time and it does take learning. And right now it's really good and healthy for me to learn this stuff, because I know myself and I know what I want, and I have sex with my husband. But if that was the sex ed I had as a teenager, instead of purity culture, ugh no that would have been bad. I would have felt like I should be doing those things.

And yes, sex-ed sites also mention asexuality. And they say you don't have to do anything sexual if you don't want. But that's not enough. Because how would I know I was asexual? How would I know that I'm one of those people who doesn't want to have sex? I was too inexperienced to know what I wanted, and so I would have just taken what was presented as "normal" and assumed it applied to me. 

So... what would have helped? Maybe if I read a story with an ace character who's in a relationship and is very confident about not wanting to have sex. But... sort of difficult to have a story like that and have it come across as real. It would be easy for it to come across as a morality lesson to teach kids that they shouldn't have sex. Or like the character claims they're happy but they're in denial and it always feels like something is missing. Or, if sex isn't mentioned at all, it would read like "this is a G-rated story so we won't actually say they're having sex, but like, you can assume they are because that's normal in a relationship."

Maybe, if I could have read something like that, I would have recognized, "THIS is how I feel. This is what I want." And I would be able to process the information from "here is how to have sex" sex-ed materials in a healthy way. Instead of feeling like being in a relationship means I'm "supposed" to do those things.

And actually, reading sexy fanfiction has been really helpful to me because it includes a TON of examples of different ways people might feel about sex. You might come across a character whose perspective you relate to, and that helps you understand yourself better. I don't know of any other resource that has that. Even though, obviously, sexy fanfiction is heavily biased toward being over-the-top porn.

And on a broader level, maybe we should teach all kids "as a general rule of thumb, you shouldn't have sex unless you definitely know you want to. If you feel like 'I don't get why anyone would do that' then that's probably a sign that sex isn't really right for you." But be careful it doesn't come across like "haha, oh, you'll understand when you're older", as if being interested in sex is a sign of being grown-up, and aces just aren't as mature as everyone else. Like I said, I'm not okay with terminology about being "ready"- as if sex is a goal that people should be working toward.

And maybe this too: "As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn't have sex if you haven't masturbated before." Masturbating can help you to get a general idea of how your body would feel during sex- it's not at all the same as partnered sex, but it's better than having no information at all. And then you can decide if it's the sort of thing you would want to bring another person into, or if you feel like "no, this is way too vulnerable, I don't want anyone else here" or "no, I don't like this, so I don't want to have sex with a partner either."

Because, wow, the idea of having partnered sex if you've never even masturbated before, if you've never even touched your own genitals ... which is what I did ... it's just so vulnerable. So much more vulnerable than if you do have experience with your own body. You lay yourself out there for your partner to touch- they touch you in a way you've never even touched yourself. You're letting them, but you don't even know what you're letting them. It's vulnerable because you don't even have any way to estimate beforehand just how vulnerable it is. So vulnerable, in fact, that maybe I would go so far as to say no, no one should ever do this. Do not have sex if you haven't at least tried masturbating before. Do not let another person touch your genitals if you've never even touched your own genitals.

Even if you have some super-romantic story of how you're so committed and you're soul mates for life and you're not going to have sex until marriage and all that. Even then, I don't think anything good can come from having another person be the first one to touch your body like that. It should be you. Know yourself and love yourself and own your own body. And then, after you're confident that you know yourself and you understand what you're getting into, then you are able to share that with another person in a healthy way.

Masturbation is a very different thing from partnered sex- I'm not saying it's the same. I'm not saying it feels the same. I'm not saying you have to masturbate enough to be good at it. I'm not saying you have to have experienced an orgasm. Just, oh geez for the love of lady god, to at least have some very rough approximation, some broad outline, some vague sketch of what the physical part of sex might feel like- SOMETHING! How can you know if you would like to have sex or not if you don't at least have *something*, some experience with touching your own genitals- however limited that experience might be. Just something, oh god something. ... Because, I didn't.

(To be honest, I feel quite weird laying down an absolute rule here, when I haven't heard other people giving advice along these lines before ... Am I wrong? I truly can't see any benefits to attempting partnered sex without ever having attempted masturbation, and I see A LOT of unnecessary emotional risk here.)

And also: "As a general rule of thumb, high-schoolers shouldn't have sex." Am I wrong? I think high-schoolers aren't mature enough to handle the physical and emotional risks. Am I being naive and showing my asexuality way too much here? Like, yes I believe high-school kids absolutely SHOULD be given all the information they need about how to have sex, in case they end up doing it anyway, but it should be framed as "you will need to know this in the future, but not now."

One more thing: Well since I said it could be helpful for baby aces to see an example of an ace character who knows what they want, I'll go ahead and talk a little bit about my husband, and why I have sex with him while I'm glad I never even considered having sex with any of my exes.

Here goes:

So, popular opinion says that if you're attracted to your partner, having sex inherently feels good, in a physical sense. It will feel good, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a good idea to do it, because it could make the relationship all complicated, or make your emotions all complicated. But the "temptation" is there because it will feel good physically, and you have to keep reminding yourself it's not worth it because of the other complications that would come from it. (Or rather, have a realistic view of what the outcome would be and decide if that's something you want or not.)

For me, that's not what sex is like. (Actually, that's what kissing is like for me. Straightforward and self-explanatory, and feels good if I'm attracted to my partner. But potentially complicated and unwise for reasons related to emotions.) For me, sex is such an incredibly weird thing to do, that I would be extremely extremely uncomfortable doing it if I didn't already love and trust my partner. And when I say "love and trust" I mean I'd want to be pretty sure we're going to get married. Like, it's just not worth it otherwise. Like, sex can feel good physically but that's not the main point of why I want to do it with my husband- the main point is the trust and closeness. It's so NOT worth it if the physical feeling was all I was getting out of it.

With the boys I dated before, they weren't committed enough. We never got to the point where we were discussing marriage. So they weren't worth it. (And I'm not saying that as a judgment on them- I'm just saying our relationship wasn't committed enough where it would have made sense to have sex. And that's totally fine! Absolutely nothing wrong with being in a relationship that never ends up getting to that point.) Sex is weird and vulnerable and confusing and time-consuming and has a steep learning curve, and it just wouldn't have been worth it to get into all that with a short-term boyfriend. With Hendrix, it's worth it because we're married and he loves me and we're committed. (We had sex before we were engaged, so maybe that's a plot hole in my story... *shrug* well whatever, the timing was right for me.)

(Important note: If I had had sex with other boys before, it wouldn't have been worth the trouble, it would have been a mistake and a bad idea, but it would NOT mean I "gave away part of my heart", it would NOT cause problems in my marriage, it would NOT mean I was dirty and impure, or any of that scare-mongering crap that purity-culture proponents teach. Life would have moved on and I would be COMPLETELY FINE.)

The point is, I know what I want now. And if other people want something different, that's fine. People can have casual sex if they want, whatever, I'm not judging, but I know that's not what I want. But I wonder, what kind of sex ed could I dream up, that would have been good and healthy for me as an asexual, while also good and healthy for other kids who aren't asexual? How do we send the message that sex is a normal part of life for most people and can be a very good thing, without accidentally telling aces that they're "supposed" to do it?

I think aces are especially vulnerable here, because for people who experience sexual attraction, they understand "I'm sexually attracted to this person but not to this person", they get what would make people interested in having sex, and they're not going to consider having sex with someone they're not sexually attracted to. But aces have no reference points like that. So we are likely to focus on some subsection of our not-sexual-attraction and decide maybe that's what people feel when they want to have sex, and maybe it means I should have sex.

Aces deserve better sex ed than that. For me, the timing worked out right because purity culture made me terrified of my own body, but I don't recommend that to anyone.


I Wanna Preach the Good News of Masturbation
They said it was about "valuing our bodies." That was a lie. 
I’m Really Really REALLY Glad I Had Sex Before Marriage 


This post is part of the June 2019 Carnival of Aces, a blog carnival about asexuality. This month's topic is "Then, Now, & Tomorrow."

Thursday, June 6, 2019


Chewbacca and a porg. Image source.
1. Contract Buying Robbed Black Families In Chicago Of Billions (posted May 30) "African Americans who bought on contract paid, on average, an additional $587 (in current dollars) more a month than if they had a conventional mortgage."

2. Texas Church: We’ll Pay for Your Wedding To Stop You from Co-Habitating (posted May 25) I rolled my eyes so hard.

3. Alabama just unloosed an army of Raskolnikovs. This will not end well. (posted May 15) [content note: anti-choice murder] "What Paul Kagame and Paul Rusesabagina and Zura Karuhimbi should have done in response to the Rwandan genocide (which was, after all, only 2 percent as serious as abortion) was to support their local Republican Party, just as Dith Pran should have done in Cambodia."

4. Separated by Design: How Some of America’s Richest Towns Fight Affordable Housing (posted May 22)

5. I Can Buy Cereal and Cookie Butter With My Harriet Tubman–Stamped $20 Bills (posted May 15) "You might have read about the TubmanStamp — a pocket-size rubber stamp that perfectly superimposes the face of Harriet Tubman over that of President Andrew Jackson on $20 bills."

6. Back When the SBC Issued a Million-Baptism Challenge (posted June 1) I used to do all kinds of evangelism events, and this "let's set a wild unbelievable goal because God is telling us to, and we'll talk and talk about how oh it seems impossible but GOD IS WITH US and we are going to SEE GOD'S POWER and be successful, and then when it fails we just kind of move on quietly and never say anything about it again" is very familiar.

7. LEGO Fan Pushed Out of Convention for Graphic (but Accurate) Bible Displays (posted June 2) "It’s ironic that depictions of Adam and Eve, David and Goliath, Abraham and Isaac, and others would be standard fare for kids’ classes at church but too sexual or violent for a LEGO convention."

8. On YouTube’s Digital Playground, an Open Gate for Pedophiles (posted June 3) Holy shit.

9. The rules about responding to call outs aren’t working (posted 2017) "One opinion gets lifted up as “the position of marginalized people”[.] Agreeing with that opinion is called “listen to marginalized people”[.] Disagreeing with that opinion is called “talking over marginalized people”[.]"

10. Could Onward BREAK The Pixar Theory?! (posted June 4) I don't believe in the Pixar theory, but I love these videos SO MUCH because the Pixar theory is EXACTLY THE SAME THING as biblical apologetics.

"But no matter what they've thrown at us, from monsters to skeletons to rats, there's always been a logical explanation for how it all fits together and where and when everything would exist on the timeline." BAHAHAHAHAHAHA yes clearly. An obvious logical explanation. Just like how the Left Behind books are a "literal" reading of the bible. And how "the biblical definition of marriage" is totally a real thing that exists. Sure. Yes. Clearly. Yes, that's exactly what the text says. BAHAHAHAHA.

And when he says "Could it be after 'The Good Dinosaur' but before 'Brave'?" the only thing I could think of was the creationist gap theory. (Which, by the way, I never believed in because I believed in Answers in Genesis's young-earth creationism. Gap theorists were our rivals.)

But Jon Carlin totally gets that the Pixar theory isn't really a theory- it's a game. "Let me let you in on a little secret: There is no disproving the Pixar theory. If you found a plot hole, good for you! That just means we all need to come up with a new way to explain it." It's unfalsifiable.