Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dan Savage Needs Some Asexual Education

photo of Dan Savage is from here

Gratefully, I've been led to a post by a radical feminist colleague. The Q and A on that post is already two and a half years old. It contains some of Dan Savage's sex advice.

Dan Savage is the very white, pro-mainstream, Liberal to Conservative Gay [Male] columnist who ought not be positioned as a spokesperson for the queer community, in my opinion.

You might know him as one of the  founding voices behind the It Gets Better Campaign (an anti-bullying effort and a supportive video series for queer youth). Every time I see the public service announcement on television, I'm struck with how few women are in it, and also how few people of color there are, regardless of gender. It makes it seem as though queer women of color don't matter as much to Dan as white gay boys.

What could possibly explain his strange attitudes about asexual folks? Let's have a look at what he says. You can read it for yourself, uninterrupted by me, *here*.

You can read it below, interrupted by me. I'll comment in brackets and bold. As you're about to see, Dan's positioning himself as an expert on sexuality. He's clearly no expert, however, on asexuality. He's downright ignorant and insulting, actually.

I'll address these remarks directly to Dan.

The post was titled as follows:

The truth about asexuality 

It’s just as confusing as all of the other ones.

Q Does asexuality actually exist? My partner's younger brother claims to be asexual, but I think he's just a maladjusted little shit and that he's intimidated by the thought of sex. Your thoughts? --The Sister-In-Law
A Asexuality must exist, TSIL, seeing as it has its own website---asexuality.org---where you can read this:
"Asexual people have the same emotional needs as anyone else, and like [those] in the sexual community we vary widely in how we fulfill those needs. Some asexual people are happier on their own, others are happiest with a group of close friends. Other asexual people have a desire to form more intimate romantic relationships, and will date and seek long-term partnerships. Asexual people are just as likely to date sexual people as we are to date each other."
[Correction: we're far more likely to date sexually active people because there are so few of us asexual-identified people to date! We also do have sex, sometimes, for many, many reasons. I'm asexual AND celibate, but that's not the case with all asexual people. I used to be sexually active, for example.]
I'll probably be accused of asexophobia 
[Or not--because it's a stupid term, unless you're fearful of "asexo".]
for suggesting that asexuals who date "sexual people" are obligated to disclose their asexuality, preferably on the first date and certainly no later than the third date.
[Thanks for that time frame, Dan. I'll make a point not to remember it. What makes you assume that all queer folks who date are lookin' to get laid? Or have sex? Do you really think people have to discuss a/sexual preferences and orientations by the third date? How's about people actually take more than three weeks to get to know one another? 

Or, how's about people who are not asexual let those of us who are asexual AND celibate know that they're dating us to get us into our pants, so we might have the information we need to decide if we want to pursue a closer connection? Would you please make sure that happens within the first three dates? We don't need to be led on, after all.]
Asexuals may have the same emotional needs as anyone else, but most of us sexuals---heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals---expect to have our emotional and sexual needs met in our "intimate romantic relationships," thanks, and we're going to want to know if that's not in the cards before we get involved, not after.
[Most of you "sexuals"--het, bi, or neither--get your sexual needs met using pornography, Dan, while pretending no one gets harmed in that vicious industry. Come on now--surely you know that. Not 'in the cards' huh? (I'm going to assume you're speaking for yourself because I know you're not speaking for all gay, bi, and lesbian people--asexual or not.) Is dating all about getting YOUR needs met, then? I thought dating was about two people getting to know each other. Silly me. Isn't it one traditional process by which we determine who we want to get to know intimately--with or without sex?]
Someone who is incapable of meeting a sexual's needs has no business dating a sexual in the first place, if you ask me. At the very least, asexuality must be disclosed.
[Well, you might want to consider not dating then. Because life doesn't happen according to your rules and regulations for queer society. It might take those of us who are asexual at least three dates to determine how bigoted people like you are about asexuality. We may not want to come out until we have a sense of that. Of course if we've read this, we'd know before hand what sort of nonsense you believe about asexuals, and could avoid dating you altogether. What needs are you and your 'sexual' sexually active friends functionally or dysfunctionally attempting to get met by having sex, anyway? I'd say it's probably at least as important that we know about each other's abuse histories, regardless of whether or not sex is 'in the cards' and I don't imagine that's always going to happen within the first three dates for the sake of the more impatient sexually active person.]
And I'm still trying to wrap my head around this: "Figuring out how to flirt, to be intimate, or to be monogamous in nonsexual relationships can be challenging..."
Um...since monogamy is understood to mean sexual exclusivity---you don't fuck other people---I'm not sure how you define monogamy in a sexless relationship. Does your asexual partner promise not to not fuck other people?
["Monogamy" means "one mate", Dan. Not one sex partner, necessarily. It is sometimes used in our community to distinguish people from those who are polyamorous. And not all poly people have sex with everyone who is in their mate or friendship network. So how about if we define monogamy in terms related to its etymology. And let's not forget: many married couples--across sexual orientation--don't have sex with one another.]
As for your brother-in-law, TSIL, I don't see what his asexuality and/or hang-ups have to do with you. If you're prying into your BIL's sex life, I'd say he's not the only maladjusted little shit in the family.
[I agree that this really ought not be of any concern to her. I'm concerned about you using a term like "hang-ups" with the term "asexuality" as if they are synonymous. They're not. An example of a "hang-up" might be someone who isn't asexual thinking that asexuality is a hang-up.

Asexuality is not something to be dismissed or otherwise dissed. As someone who is asexual, I don't appreciate Dan Savage pretending he has a fucking clue. Or an afucking clue, as the case may be.

Those of us who are asexual are not easily pigeon-holed. We're not all celibate, for example. We don't all experience the world with no sexual feelings or desires for physical intimacy. If you want to find out what we feel and think, I recommend meeting and getting to know us with as few ignorant biases as possible. And please don't expect us to tell you what you need to know in the first three meetings.]

[Here are two of the comments that were posted on Dan's site:]


I would love to be asexual! Imagine how much better life would be, especially if you're a guy, if you don't have to worry about wanting and chasing tail all the time? You could focus on other more important and more productive things. You could still have close and loving relationships, you just wouldn't want to sleep with the other person. It usually just complicates things anyway.

For now, I'll just have to put up with being horny.
Posted by qpmzwonxeibcruv on September 20, 2009 at 8:31 PM |

Jesus Christ, K., get over yourself. You don't sound like you have an anti-feminist axe to grind or anything. So sorry *your* "widdle feelings" appear to be hurt by this complicated world we live in.

*I* don't care what term you use. Use the pseudo- or at-best-questionably-scientific term 'frigid' all you like, go with the cultural flow of forcing sexual minorities to reduce themselves to pathologies or "information" that you're not entitled to, be an asshole and refuse to consider anyone's identifications (while no doubt, holding strongly to your own, which we could just as easily dismantle). Just be prepared for the verbal [b-tch]-slap when you meet a person who considers themselves to be asexual (or who is a friend of such a person) and knows what they're talking about from experience.
[I hope you read that carefully and thoughtfully, Dan.]


  1. Thank you so much. I will share this - I think lots of Asexual people have read his article. Really a shame that he is so ignorant and clearly such a hypocrite.

  2. Very nice. This guy's been on the warpath trying to tell asexuals what their relationships need to look like for a while now. He never seems to consider that perhaps the asexual isn't "the perpetrator" in relationships that don't work out because of sexual issues. I like seeing you point out that we have just as much of a right to be irritated and feel misled when we find out that sex is "just expected." We all have to compromise, Dan . . . perhaps it never occurred to him that sexual compatibility might not be the very first thing on an asexual's mind when it comes to dating?

    I'm sad to say that in the upcoming asexuality documentary (A)sexual, he's got some similarly bigoted things to say. At least he looks like an ass saying them because of the quotes and perspectives he's sandwiched between.