In late 2020, the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network celebrated twenty years of online asexual communities. For over twenty years, people on the asexuality-spectrum (or “aces”) have congregated to commune on, petition over, speak on, and write about asexualities. Asexuals have proliferated on every major social media platform, have appeared in or created media of every conceivable genre, and have breached as many academic disciplines as will hold our experiences, theories, and critiques. When I was born, it would have been a heavy task to find others of my experiences and identity—today, the ripe ace blogosphere, forums, and assorted Discord servers make it easier than ever to access information about asexualities.
As of writing, ace(s’) writing and theory already display value for conversations held in classrooms across a variety of fields. These texts ask: How do we navigate intimacy without presumption? What pressures still exist within intimate relationships, and what social pressures continually impact the right to say “no”? In what aspects do “sex-positive” feminisms and the stigma around “prudishness” or celibacy negatively pressure asexuals and perpetuate rape culture? How do we address the harmful white supremacist and misogynist bases of “incel” subcultures without reiterating anti-asexual rhetoric which associates celibacy with mental illness?
What economic and sociocultural frameworks still rely on traditional standards for close relationships, and how do those multiply affect aro, ace, and other queer folk? Who is left out to dry when our notions of humanity, family, “soundness,” and health are built on constricted notions of “love” and marriage? Rather than widening the definition of "family" to an ever-lengthening grocery list, how might we decouple rights of visitation, immigration, and next-of-kin from normative understandings of personal relationship and obligation? Are there alternative sociopolitical structures we might construct which do not focus on distinguishing "valid" from "invalid" attachments at all? How can we care for each other outside of neoliberal ideals for the nuclear family?
Who is hurt when social justice movements use “love” and intimacy to bolster claims toward humanity? How can we reposition how we address desexualization to avoid scapegoating those who de-prioritize familial or intimate relationships? How do we escape the ensnares of neoliberalism and work toward effective systemic change?
I’ve created The Ace-B-Cs for educators and scholars who are already working with these and adjacent issues in hopes of highlighting how ace voices and theory intersect and navigate topics of intimacy, consent, kinship, and social justice at large. The syllabus is designed to augment existing curricula, and is flexible by design to accommodate varying levels of familiarity with asexualities and related theories. Recognizing that there is no universal “classroom,” each section is built around a particular pedagogical context, and “graded” for ease of navigation. Further, understanding that many students struggle with academic or theory-heavy writing, I also try to differentiate between resources by difficulty, length, and prerequisite knowledge. In all, it is my hope that these resources will expand the presence of asexualities in the curriculum, encourage young and versed scholars alike to explore ace theory, and increase the visibility of aces in the classroom and beyond.
While the Ace-B-Cs was conceived and arranged over the 2021-22 academic year, my goal is to continue expanding the project and refining the supplement lists provided here. If you have feedback, recommendations, or any other input, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Kat "Void" Yuen