Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wanting to be a groupie

Before I learned about asexuality, I had for a long time wanted to find someone else like myself with regard to what I now call asexuality. I had on occasion thought to myself that perhaps I didn’t need a word, I didn’t need to know that there were others like myself, I should simply accept that I am me. Are we not, after all, all unique? Why should I need for there to be someone else like myself? But This line of argument seemed deeply dissatisfying and I could never convince myself with it. Perhaps, I could not explain to myself why, but it just didn’t seem like what is meant by everyone being unique. In retrospect, I feel that this intuition was right.

Suppose some ancient artifact is found in an archeological dig. By studying the artifact in isolation, we can learn about its shape and size, its dimensions and material composition, look for traces of chemicals to find out its use. Perhaps we note designs on it and observe the shapes and patterns used. What does this tell us about the object? Basically, nothing worth knowing. Studying the artifact alone, in and of itself, we can learn some facts about it, but we lack a framework in which to understand those facts. We must also understand it in relationship to other things we know about that culture, its pottery, history etc. (not to mention where the artifact was found.) Only in relationship to other things and by comparing it to other things can we understand the artifact or make sense of any of the things we learned by examining it.

Perhaps it is this—that understanding requires comparison, context and relatedness—that made so unsatisfactory the idea of simply saying I am myself and being satisfied. I wanted to compare myself with people similar to me. I cannot learn from someone wholly like myself—then I would learn nothing new—or someone wholly different—then I could not relate. But from people enough like me with regard to that which I wanted to know about to learn from them and in the process come to better understand them and myself.

I had predicted that if I found others who didn’t feel what I didn’t feel, I would, by comparing notes, come to better know myself, and this has proved true. In the nine months since I first learned about asexuality, I feel I much better understand my feelings and emotions, what I feel and what I don’t, and to be able to recognize those feelings and acknowledge them rather than just saying to myself, "That’s …something…but I don’t really know what," and that by acquiring a set of categories others use to think about their feelings, I would at least have some framework for understanding my own. It has come with a good deal of asexual self-doubt, and while I lack certainty, I do feel that I am better for having gone through it.

No comments: