On the Experience of Others

I was recently directed to a tumblr page, and only warned that the person directing me to the page found it offensive. I didn’t know what to expect, but I figured I’d give it a look. I’m not going to direct you to the page mostly because I don’t want to supply any more traffic to the site. But also, the creator of the page has been getting a lot of rude and violent messages and I don’t want to risk any more mean message being sent.

Anyway, I read the only post that wasn’t a reply to an anonymous message, and found it to be very offensive as well. The page creator comes across as a young bisexual person, who feels very passionately about an issue. That issue being the idea that Asexual and Aromantic individuals do not belong in the LGBT community because they are not oppressed. They also say that asexual and aromantic people are actually straight, and that straight people have no business in LGBT safe spaces because they are taking valuable resources away from ‘real’ LGBT people.

Now, I’m not going to get too much into why this is wrong, but I will say that a person cannot be both asexual and heterosexual. Asexuality refers to a lack of sexual attraction, while heterosexuality refers to sexual attraction to the opposite gender. The two do not go together.

Back on track, I’m not here to rant about this idea, but I do want talk about a much broader problem that this exemplifies. Claiming to understand someone else’s experience. If you live, and have always lived in a developed country, you cannot claim to understand the experience of living in the developing world. You may know some of the problems that they face. You may have seen it first hand, but it is not your experience. You did not experience it, therefore you cannot fully understand it. Does that make sense.

It’s similar to the racial issues currently in the media. People are misunderstanding others’ experiences, and then claiming to have the answer, or know what is happening.

This is one of my biggest pet peeves. You can never fully understand another person’s experience. If you claim to, you’ve already lost the argument.

This tumblr user claims to know that asexual people do not experience oppression, and do not need safe spaces. But how do they know? They don’t because they have never experienced being asexual.

Oppression of asexuals occurs without anyone ever noticing it. It’s in every TV show, and most commercials. It’s on magazine covers billboards. Everything have sexual themes. That half naked model using sex appeal to sell power tools. Your favorite TV character claiming that everyone enjoys sex. The fact the no author can write a romance novel without the characters having sex. It’s everywhere. The oppression is literally everywhere. But most people don’t notice it.

Not to mention asexual people constantly deal with other people telling them “it’s just a phase” or “I can fix you” or some other invalidating line. There are also those people who tell them that they don’t belong in the LGBT community.

Just because the oppression of any group isn’t headline news, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Don’t pretend to know someone else’s experience. And more importantly, when someone tells you that you have misunderstood their experience, don’t tell them that they are wrong. Trust me, they know their own experience better than you do.

Let’s all just try to remember to respect other people, and their experiences.


For my Daily Blogging Challenge!

2 thoughts on “On the Experience of Others

  1. There’s painful irony in the fact that it’s a bisexual perpetuating acephobia, considering the exact same things being said about asexuals now was being said about bisexuals… well, not all that long ago. Sigh.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s