Bringing In The Asexual New Year

Dec. 31, 2016

I’m outside the Harlem Target store loading up my new kitchen appliances when suddenly a little old lady approaches me. With a smile across her face she exclaims,  “Ah! Bringing in the new year with a fresh start eh?”

I shrug bashfully, “Sure, sure.”

She nods knowingly, “I gave up new year resolutions ages ago, but a friend of mine, she’s a bit older than me, she told me a good one to try is having less sex. Hehehe.”

I nod and smile, “Indeed.”

Sometimes it’s bewildering even to me that I’m in my late twenties and still identifying as the same asexual I’ve always been since age 5. Back when I first learned of frogs that could reproduce without mating with an opposite sex. “That’s me,” I’d tell my parents, “I stand on my own. I’m asexual.” I’ve always struggled to understand why people strive to pair up or find each other sexually attractive. Why would anyone need to be so…close?

Of course they passed it off as silliness but by the time I was in the 5th grade the pressure was real to claim at least one boy attractive; to recognize the innate game of cat and mouse between the genders. My parents didn’t care if it was someone I knew, a celebrity or a damn cartoon character, I could feel them searching for “normal development” behavior and that there would be social consequences for not fitting in. Was I mentally falling behind my peers? Gay? Emotionally immature?  I caught on quickly that I needed to start acting ‘normal’ and began lying about boys on TV I thought were “Cute” or “Crush-worthy.” The look of approval from them when I did this made my stomach churn.

Stereotypes of Black women in the United States are hyper-sexualized to a caricature level. As a brainy femme teenager the expectation that I would fail in life was everywhere, from the Black community in my home to my white peers at our rural suburban high school. There are countless moments where my brown skin felt like a magnet for sexual advances. “Black girls are fast, Black girls are trouble, Black girls are easy and their bodies develop too early. They’re boy crazy and obsessed with babies.” –Total bullshit I still hear from my elders today.

I understood some of the discrimination I was getting at school surrounded by whites who’d only ever seen black people on the BET cable network booty popping (a channel they were proud to sneak a peek at when their parents weren’t home). But what hurt my feelings more was how often my relatives spoke of good clean girls vs. nasty fast girls – lecturing my parents on how to keep my sister and I in check of our hormones.

But quite the opposite was happening in our home. Our hormones were quite fine. I was a tomboy that didn’t talk about crushes, never asked about dating, and knew my helicopter parents were worried I was gay. (To this day they don’t believe asexuality exists. Everyone loves sex!)

Up until grad school it would bother me sometimes that my lack of interest in connecting with others in a romantic way hadn’t changed. I’d never so much as kissed another person but also didn’t want to do those things and had a hard time relating why anyone would want to. My fun was music, writing, art-making, conversation.  I saw the sexual currency people exchanged and consistently felt isolated from that market.(i.e. flirting through a job interview, the benefit of combined household income, professional approval…)

But the simple truth for many asexuals is, we’re solid in who we are. There isn’t a feeling of something missing, if sex never came up in our lives we’d never notice. It’s why I’m so surprised when people discuss their fear of being alone. Is it that scary taking care of yourself? Fighting your own battles?

I have friends, family and community just like you. I stand on my own and I’m cool with that, I’m building a life around that and enjoy what I do. I try to keep my mind open to having a platonic partner one day but honestly…I’m indifferent.

So you may be wondering why asexuals are coming out more and more, with some flowing into LGBTQA activism.

  1. We are “other” and therefore subject to many of the same discriminations and violence. Especially young people of color. When a homophobic family member suspects your sexuality is anything other than hetero, they rarely wait around to hear you explain asexuality. And because our society is that sex obsessed it’s not likely they would believe you. To them it’s just another gay person trying to hide in plain sight.
  2. People grow. Some of us reach asexuality later in life or fall somewhere else on the Spectrum. Maybe we already have children or have identified as gay most of our lives and now feel differently about our attraction to others. That doesn’t necessarily mean we stop having romantic relationships or stop identifying as queer.
  3. It’s only one part of ourselves. Queer, trans and non-binary folk can also be asexual. Some peoples feelings around attraction shift over time and it’s all about learning and understanding yourself better.
  4. We are not against sexuality in any way and support everyone’s journey. Granted I don’t like media propagating sex as a life or death need, but I love seeing my friends freely expressing themselves and loving who they love. You do you! It’s all about  everyone living their truth  without the threat of violence or discrimination from opportunity.

I believe anyone who supports shifting this cis-gender patriarchal system should join forces and build a stronger inter-sectional community of love and respect. Especially in 2017. This is a moment where the powers-that-be will strive to divide us and create doubt within our movements. It is critical that we support each other.

~ C.L

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P.S > *USA Womens March Jan, 21 2017

#blacklivesmatter #feministkilljjoy #qwoc #equality #asexual #pride #lgbtqa

 

 

 

Blkgrlswurld Autumn Edition 4.3 Now Online

She’s finally arrived, the latest edition can be found at the link below. This season’s book features artwork by Trifecta Studios and a short story we crafted during November’s National Novel Writing Month.

Later this week on Dec. 15th, we’ll be reading from the book & performing a bit of music in Brooklyn at Pioneer Works Book Shop. Details in the poster below.

See you in the pit! \m/

Edition 4.3 | December 2016 | View PDF Here


 

Words of the Week

A lot has happened in the U.S.A over the last 7 days. Below are some glossary terms that may help us to navigate the sea of bias news articles flooding our media feeds.

Dem·a·gogue

ˈdeməˌɡäɡ/
noun
noun: demagogue; plural noun: demagogues
    1. a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.

      synonyms: rabble-rouser, agitator, political agitator, soapbox orator, firebrand, fomenter, provocateur

 

Echo Chamber (In media or Social Media)

A metaphorical description of a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an “enclosed” system, where different or competing views are censored, disallowed, or otherwise underrepresented. The term is by analogy with an acoustic echo chamber, where sounds reverberate.

NPR Article: “The Reason Your Feed Became an Echo Chamber…”

Normalization

refers to social processes through which ideas and actions come to be seen as ‘normal‘ and become taken-for-granted or ‘natural’ in everyday life.

Article: “The Dangerous Fantasy Behind Trump’s Normalization”

 

Trickle-down Economics

Also referred to as “trickle-down theory“, is a populist political term used to characterize economic policies as favoring the wealthy or privileged. There is no “trickle down” economics as defined by economists; the term is almost exclusively used by critics of policies with other established names.[3] It is usually associated with criticism of laissez-faire capitalism in general and more specifically supply-side economics (for example, Reaganomics)

 

NaNoWriMo!

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Its November 5th  and the contributors of #Blkgrlswurld Zine are deep into writing each night this month 😀 I’m working on a few short stories, mostly in the horror genre that I’m hoping to add to the next issue of the zine. One short story is about an insomniac at a metal show who senses something terrible is following them. Will they make it out of the show alive?

If you’d like to join in the writing challenge, it often helps to begin with prompts to help get the ideas flowing, some that have worked for me include:

  • How does your character deal with stress? What do they do to calm down from it?
  • What did your character dream about last night?
  • What point of view are you writing in?
    • “Writing in third person is writing from the third person point of view and uses pronouns like he, she, it, or they. It differs from the first person, which uses pronouns such as I and me, and from the second person, which uses pronouns such as you and yours. “
  • Is your character hiding a secret? Who would they be willing to share this secret with?
  • If you spent the afternoon with your charatec would you get along?

 

Last Night w/ The Dillinger Escape Plan

Last night at Webster Hall the Dillinger Escape Plan blew my goddamn face off 😀

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It was my first and last time seeing them perform live with this being a sort of farewell tour for them and it was INSANE. I love bands like this that have been real and authentic from the beginning, inspiring so many other bands to form in the past 20 years but none of them ever really comparing to the originality of everything that is DEP. phew!

Everyone warned me their live shows were crazy, and I’ve had my share of wild times in the mosh, but I wasn’t prepared for this mayhem and it was Beautiful. Sigh, if only every band went this hard. The closest I’ve seen in recent years are the sets from Every Time I Die. (They’ll be playing with Beartooth on Halloween this year in NYC)

 

The band has been gracious enough to leave us metalheads with a parting gift, a new album titled Dissociation that stands to inspire musicians for years to come. I have mad respect for Mathcore techniques and love coming across bands that keep the music unpredictable, damn near genre-less and freeform. Definitely gracious I was able to witness what makes these guys a legendary movement.

Album of the Week: Mariner

 

How do you deal with an album that presents itself as not likely to ever be performed live?

A musing I heard from Cult of Luna in a Spotify: Metal Talks interview, the long distance collaboration between Cult Of Luna  based in Sweden and Julie Christmas based in Brooklyn is a stellar pairing or ethereal vocals with heavy forward moving riffs.

From afar the album had less than 10 songs but in progressive rock tradition you’re still taking care of in moving songs that drift into the abyss for 7 minutes and longer. (I long for the days when a 2 hour album consisted of 3 songs or movements.)

I highly recommend the song, “The Wreck of S.S. Needle” and if you’re not familiar with the talents of Julie Christmas, check out her performance below. The way she controls her voice is a true skill.

 

As it happens the artists are actually going to do a brief European tour of the album this fall. Check this statement from Cult of Luna below:

“Mariner was never supposed to be played live. It was under this premise that we started working together with Julie over two years ago. 

The goal was to release the album, which was hard enough considering that we live on two sides of the gigantic Atlantic ocean. But if there’s one thing that life has taught me, it’s that you should never say never – however unlikely an event seems to be. 

Usually unlikely events are bad things that happen despite all precautions but in this case… well, let’s just say that the outcome is yet to be decided.

The stars have aligned perfectly and I am going to have take back what I’ve repeated in numerous interviews this past year: that Mariner will not be played live, because it will. 

We have managed to sync our schedules and in November we will do a select few shows in Europe. Note that we will only play Mariner from start to finish. 

There will be five Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas shows in Europe, nothing more and nothing less. There are no plans to perform the album live again.”

Worth a flight to Stockholm? I’m thinking yesssssssss 😀

Printie Printy ^^*

This summer we’ve set up a home studio to edition relief prints and screen prints at home. You can imagine the expense of renting studio time at a local NYC shop so it’s been fun trying to set up everything we need in our living room. Check out some of the surprises on Instagram 😂

DIY Quick tips: 

  1. Always have a bowl of water & sponge handy for spills of changing inks.
  2. Power washers for screens are overrated, proper screen are can be accomplished with a good soak in degreaser, sponges and a Magic Eraser. (For emulsion many things like bleach or simple green work but I’m shooting for toxic free printing and using only water soluble materials)
  3. Never let ink dry in the screen or on your relief block/linocut
  4. Pick a spot to dry your prints and don’t let anyone touch!

Album of the Week: THRICE

To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere was released earlier this month by Thrice and here at #Blkgrlswurld we can’t stop playing it.

I’ll be the first to admit, I always mistake Thrice for a heavier grunge band of the early 2000s, rocking the grinding tones similar to that of Chevelle or Staind but they aren’t really like that at all. Now that I’m older I realize their true skill rests in producing amazing rock ballads, the smooth voice of Dustin Kensrue taking us through a soulful alternative sound of release and retribution. I even detect some bluegrass elements that remind me of Kings of Leon….mellow? Yes. Its a nice break in playlist of post-hardcore metal.

My favorite tracks from this new album include, “Black Honey” “Blood on the Sand” and the big ballad, “Hurricane”- 30 minutes of this album and I’m swaying side to side in my car under some sort of post-grunge spell.

Thrice performs in NYC this June 16th at Playstation Theater, Times Square . xoxo

#Blkgrlswurld Zine