Saturday, January 3, 2009

Lexicon Fail

In the asexosphere, we regularly find new coins and new terms to express ourselves. Some of these have gained a fair bit of currency. Others…not so much.

In that spirit, I would propose some of my own terms. I’ve already gotten a pretty good head start with a couple of creations that I don’t expect to ever catch on.

Sexualnormativity. An ace equivalent of heteronormativity. No one has picked up on it online, though others have used variants including “sex-normative” and “sex-normativity,” no thanks to my clunky coin.

Asexually repressed. The delusion of being interested in sex when one is not. As it turns out, I wasn't the first person to use this one, but I didn't know it at the time.

In addition to the terms I’ve already coined, I’ve been hard at work making up other ones that are equally doomed to oblivion but that would be awesome if they were used.

Other groups have terms of derision for political opponents. For example, LGBT people have “homophobe” and “transphobe.” Personally, I’m not really a big fan of “homophobe” for reasons not worth getting into here except to say that I really don’t want to see “aphobe,” or “asexophobe” to gain common usage. Besides, one suggests you’re afraid of nothin’ and the other sounds means of making music. But we need something, so here’s my epithet of choice: asexohater. It even comes with an verbal cognate for free.

Ace: I’m asexual. That means I’m not interested in sex.
Asexohater: You’re not asexual. You just haven’t met the right person yet.
Ace: Don’t you be asexohatin’ on me.

Another term that I find my vocabulary lacks is a word to express time spent in the reading and production of asexual discourse or doing some kind of asexual activism, education, etc. I really want a verb for this, but the best I can come up with is “asexize,” as in “I’ve been so busy lately, I haven’t really gotten to do much asexizing in a while.” However, I’m not particularly sold on this: it sounds way too much like “excise.”

And speaking of trying to excise someone's sexual orientation, I’ve got a great word for trying to “cure” someone’s asexuality: asexorcism.

Ace 1: I mean that shrink like totally tried to perform an asexorcism on me.
Ace 2: Don't let it get to you. He's probably just asexually repressed.


Anonymous said...

You're right. “Homophobia” is literally same-hate, and should mean “hate your peers” or “equally hate,” but not what it actually means. A correct Greekish neologism for “hate people who are attracted to people of their same sex” should be “homophylophilophobia.” In the same way, the hybrid Greek-Latin “homosexual” is literally same-sex, while the correct Greekish neologism should be “homophylophile.” The word “asexual” is itself confusing: reproduction way and sexual orientation.

I generally prefer Greek and Latin words, and it makes easier translation, but in this case I think that we should give up. Words like “gay” or “lesbian” are fine, since they have original meanings completely unrelated with sex; the same could be applied to “ace” if generalized. I think that “gay-hate” and “ace-hate” are coherent proposals, but I don't dislike “asexophobia.”

But, why do we need a word for this kind of people. Moreover, most of them don't hate asexuals; they plainly deny asexuality. Therefore, I think that “sexual fundamentalism” might be better for this reaction.

ACH said...

My reasons for disliking "homophobe" aren't really etymological. (To me, the "homo" is homosexual is derived from Greek, but the "homo" in "homophobe" derives from the English "homosexual" rather than the Greek. Thus "homophobe" etymologically works in a way.) My reasons are more about political issues that are quite a bit more serious for a post that was meant to be light-hearted and humorous. Also, for "asexohater" I meant the slang sense of hater rather than the strict sense of "one who hates."

I don't feel that I could say "asexohater" except half-jokingly, which is one of the main reasons I like it a lot better than "asexophobe."

Anonymous said...

I prefer to use Greek and Latin roots because I like to parallelize my technical lexicon in order to express myself in all the languages I will talk about the topic, including English, Spanish and Portuguese. “Homophobia” is an unwise word; it may be legitimate in English, but betrays its Greek etymology. Moreover, compare “homophile” and “homophobe.” Unfortunately, “homophobia” has spread widely. For instance, RAE dictionary gives as etymology for “homofobia” the English word “homophobia”, without further exploration of its Greeks roots, contrary to the usage of the Academy. Moreover, the current usage of “homófobo” in Spanish is an insult from LGTB groups to anyone who expresses opinions not in perfect communion with their ideology, although this opinions were not homophobic at all. I think that we should explore other word-building devices, in any language. I think we should not look for parallelism with gay issues, especially where this parallelism does not exist.

ACH said...

Moreover, the current usage of “homófobo” in Spanish is an insult from LGTB groups to anyone who expresses opinions not in perfect communion with their ideology, although this opinions were not homophobic at all.

The situation in English seems to be pretty similar, and this more-or-less the main reason I don't like the term "homophobe."

With asexuality, we're in a somewhat odd position because the asexual community just started to come together thanks to the internet. We don't have a lot of internally developed categories or concepts to use to think about asexuality, so we do a fair amount of borrowing from other more established groups. Sometimes those concepts work well for asexuality, and sometimes they don't.

The Impossible K said...

Awesome post! I love playing around with language in this way, so it was really entertaining to see you create new, asexy words. :)
As for an alternative to "asexize" - might I suggest AVENing? Short for "Asexual Visibility and Education Networking"... or if you wanna be really hip, just say you're bringing asexy back. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, I haven't realized before that, as internet gathered community, inherits the lexicon issues of the internet itself. :) I think that this word-playing is a good idea; proposals are needed. The ultimate power over the lexicon belongs, as Cervantes said, to the masses and the usage.

ACH said...

Heterogen-- The ultimate power over the lexicon belongs, as Cervantes said, to the masses and the usage. Pretty much, except in this case, "the masses" refers to a specific subgroup rather than the population at large, but the general idea is pretty much the same.

K- I'm not sure I like AVENing--it sounds to specific to one website, but these days the majority of my aceizing isn't on AVEN. "Bringing asexy back" is pretty sweet. I think I'm going to have to find ways to use it.

Anonymous said...

Um, this is hilarious. I think there's so much hatred (and a lack of dialogue) inherent in calling them someone a 'phobe; the term "hater" is a lot more humorous, and therefore appealing. Asexorcism also cracked me up. I am definitely adding that (and the never-before-thunked-of, on my part anyway, "homosexercism") to my vocab. Actually, I'm going to make an effort to keep all of these in mind for future occasions. As for the discourse verb... maybe asexologize?

ACH said...

I like asexologize. And it makes my blog one big act of asexologization.

Anonymous said...

LOL @ "asexually repressed" and most of the rest of the post, actually.
The verb that comes to mind for producing asexual activism is "ase-liferate". Too obscure?

JRG said...

I love this post.

Pandora said...

What about "semisexual" for those who want to imply that they are somewhat sexual, as in masturbation, or being able to become aroused? That way, when trying to quickly explain to someone where your orientation lies, you can prevent the impression that you are this big mysterious void. At least they will have an idea that you are on some sort of continuum, which may make them open to asking you more questions, and thereby coming at it from a point of curiosity, rather than you being in the immediate position of having to defend/explain yourself. Also, the whole statement of being semisexual implies that you are operating in the sexual realm, and it sort of immediately sets you up for having a more "normal" discussion, within "normal" conversational parameters. After all, most people would only go so far in probing into a fellow acquaintance's sexual life, unless the circumstances were really unique and open.
Also, what about "relational" instead of "asexual", when referring to someone who has little or no sexual feelings or practices? That way, it is a polite implication that you are more into relationships than sex. It still has an air of being completely normal, if not more so, in the intimacy department. It sort of implies that relationships are sacred above sex, and anyone who is going to dispute that is almost putting a higher price tag on sex than on relating. And if they try to imply that sex only creates added closeness, you can say that you are about as close as you can get. They will probably secretly envy you.

ACH said...

I don't really like the word "semisexual" because whether someone does or does not masturbate (generally) is a very personal matter and private and has little to do with social identity. If someone does not experience sexual attraction, what they do or do not do in private with themselves down there is not very important for the social effects of not experiencing sexual attraction.

Dani H. said...

At my liberal Liberal Arts College, "heteronormativity" is a very common word--one I think is mandatory for all incoming freshmen to know. (I say that jokingly. :) But liberal as we are, still asexuality is unknown, invisible, and "impossible". Therefore "sexualnormativity" is the perfect word to add to my daily vocabulary!! :D

ACH said...

I've found that the downside of "sexualnormativity" is that editors think it's a typo. One two different occasions, I've had it "corrected" to "sexual normativity", and both times I ended up just settling for hyphenation.