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MichaelTannock

What are your Invalidation Policy concerns?

Poll on Invalidation Policy concerns  

49 members have voted

This poll is closed to new votes
  1. 1. What are your concerns with the Invalidation Policy?

    • People won't have the freedom to tell others that their identity is wrong.
      11
    • People won't be able to suggest other labels for others to consider.
      19
    • People will be disciplined for merely relaying information.
      27
    • "Asexual" will lose meaning leading to the disintegration of the community.
      29
    • Asexuality will not be taken seriously by outside communities.
      27
    • It won't be possible to create resources to help others understand Asexuality.
      12
    • Education will be impossible without clear definitions.
      32
    • AVEN is not supporting a large section of the Asexual population.
      22
    • The term "Asexual" has become a status symbol so people to stop exploring.
      20
    • AVEN will stop improving its resources for fear of invalidating people.
      18
    • More pressing problems will be ignored to focus on stopping invalidation.
      19
    • Not concerned.
      11


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MichaelTannock

(Poll to be added later)

 

First, let me say that I don't want this thread to turn into another heated argument, so please stick to explaining your view rather than debunking someone else's.

 

My only goal in life has been to resolve conflict, and this necessitates understanding conflict.

So, based on the mixed reaction to the invalidation policy announcement both from the general membership and within Admods, I wanted a breakdown of concerns.

The announcement can be found here: AVEN's policy on invalidation thread

 

I can think of two possibilities, but I'm holding off on polling them until I'm reasonably sure there aren't more.

The first possibility is that people want the freedom to tell other's that their identity is wrong.

The second is that people are afraid of being disciplined for merely relaying information.

 

Are there more?

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GlamRocker

Afraid of being disciplined for merely relaying information, right here!

 

But ALSO afraid that "asexual" is now a totally meaningless word, with no discernible community, because the people in said community won't even have the most basic things in common with each other.

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Guest

Education is not possible without a clear description of what you are educating about - a.k.a. a concise definition - which includes drawing a firm demarcation line where the thing being described stops, the line beyond which it is no longer that thing.

 

Invalidating what's wrong is an absolutely, indispensably neccessary part of education. Without allowing for it, AVEN cannot do the job it claims to do (visibility for and education about asexuals).

 

The idea that "gatekeeping" is always inherently bad is dangerous, and will lead to AVEN's demise.

 

The core value of inclusivity, pushed to this irrational extreme, means AVEN is not doing its job, and is actively working to make it impossible for the job to be done.

 

 

 

ETA: Not sure why this is in Census? Feels more like Site Comments?

Edited by Guest

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Galactic Turtle

It is my understanding that the policy on invalidation thread was born from people feeling invalidated as a result of others relaying information which was the crux of the issue on that thread.

 

That is what prompted me to ask for an example of what AVEN was viewing as invalidation (to you) to which another mod later communicated that it was not the result of any one single thread but a general AVEN growing trend/problem (or something similar). From the context of both that comment and the thread later being locked it is my understanding that the growing trend/problem being referred to were the debates sparked from people relaying information (the definition of asexuality as outlined by AVEN) in the presence of those who do not fit that definition yet still ID as asexual. 

 

So I wouldn't say I am fearful of being disciplined. I've never so much as gotten a warning on this forum. My main concern doesn't have to do with invalidation at all, really (other than me still really wanting an example from this reported growing trend).

 

My main concern is that AVEN leadership is taking the stance that asexuality can mean anything to anyone who wants to use the word (regardless of the definitions outlined on the AVEN website) and that this stance is having a negative impact on the world's wider understanding of sexuality.

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Philip027
Quote

Education is not possible without a clear description of what you are educating about - a.k.a. a concise definition - which includes drawing a firm demarcation line where the thing being described stops, the line beyond which it is no longer that thing.

 

Invalidating what's wrong is an absolutely, indispensably neccessary part of education. Without allowing for it, AVEN cannot do the job it claims to do (visibility for and education about asexuals).

 

The idea that "gatekeeping" is always inherently bad is dangerous, and will lead to AVEN's demise.

 

The core value of inclusivity, pushed to this irrational extreme, means AVEN is not doing its job, and is actively working to make it impossible for the job to be done.

More or less my thoughts.

 

It makes me wonder if the expression of "cutting off one's nose to spite their face" means anything to the head honchos here.

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LeChat
2 hours ago, Mysticus Insanus said:

...ETA: Not sure why this is in Census? Feels more like Site Comments?...

Sure. I see what you mean, but my guess is that it's because a poll will be added.

 

I don't know what to think about this topic, as I understand the differing viewpoints. I guess I can say that, although, sometimes, I do feel different from all the posts and topics related to relationships and sexuality because I've never experienced those things, I also find the topics curious to try to understand, and I relate to other things on the forum. So, the differences don't push me away from the forum.

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Memento1

Telling a person on the board that they're not asexual doesn't teach "the world" anything.  This is a slippery slope argument that allowing people to be wrong about asexuality will lead to everyone being wrong.  It's like riding a tightrope to have a clear definition and try to spread that definition to the masses while simultaneously being welcoming and validating to everyone who wants in, but this gives the false impression that trying to do one of those goals will lead to a catastrophic fall from the rope.  That's the rhetoric heard in politics, that adding a government program will lead to socialism, or that removing a program will lead to anarchy.

 

To me it's more about how disagreement is stated than whether one disagrees.

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MichaelTannock

@Mysticus Insanus @LeChat I had the choice of posting this in either Site Comments or Census, and I ultimately chose to post in Census because I plan to create a poll later.

 

@Memento1 This sounds like an argument against the concerns posted?

If so, I'd like to remind that the purpose of this thread is for people to post their concerns about the policy.

I will avoid arguing with anyone who posts their concerns here despite siding with the BoD myself.

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Guest
7 minutes ago, MichaelTannock said:

This sounds like an argument against the concerns posted?

If so, I'd like to remind that the purpose of this thread is for people to post their concerns about the policy.

I will avoid arguing with anyone who posts their concerns here despite siding with the BoD myself.

Glad and grateful to see this from you as the OP. 👍

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MichaelTannock

Thank you!

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Memento1

I was deeply uncomfortable with my previous post and finally identified why: I didn't attempt to acknowledge or empathize with their fears, and I'm sorry about that.  I know arguing against logic without validating emotions does no good, and just makes things worse.  I understand those fears, and I do not wish to dismiss them.  More to your point, you are absolutely right this thread is not the right place to be debating the issue.  I apologize.

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MichaelTannock

@Memento1 That's okay, I understand how easy it is to want to argue with someone if you disagree with what they are saying.

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Guest
23 minutes ago, Memento1 said:

I was deeply uncomfortable with my previous post and finally identified why: I didn't attempt to acknowledge or empathize with their fears, and I'm sorry about that.  I know arguing against logic without validating emotions does no good, and just makes things worse.  I understand those fears, and I do not wish to dismiss them.  More to your point, you are absolutely right this thread is not the right place to be debating the issue.  I apologize.

In the interest of fairness and credit where it's due... thank you for the apology. :cake:

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MichaelTannock

I've decided to move this thread from Census Forum to Site Comments after all because I'm asking for commentary on the site and I can still create the poll in Site Comments.


I'm tagging those who have already commented but aren't following so that they know about the move.

@GlamRocker @Mysticus Insanus @Galactic Turtle @LeChat @Memento1

 

I'm sorry for the inconvenience.

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Qutenkuddly

The one concern I have is that the use of the term "asexual" by those who enjoy, and actively seek out sex, risks diminishing the utility of the term by those who have come to rely upon it to identify their struggles to relate to the sexual world. I use the term asexual because I do not fit in with the sexual world and I've faced a lot of hardship for it  My expectation was that if I say that I'm asexual, the other party would understand that I am not interested in sex. However, the way things are going, it appears that I now have to state that I'm a non-sexual asexual to convey that same context (and, elsewhere, I have actually told I need to use non-sexual). So what's the point of me using the asexual label anymore, the label I've been using and supporting for years?

 

Now, yes, there are newcomers that come here to figure themselves out and that's great; that's why we're here. When they ask questions about what an asexual, or other orientation, we should be (and are) free to present information to help them make their own decisions, like saying: 

 

"An asexual person does not experience sexual attraction – they are not drawn to people sexually and do not desire to act upon attraction to others in a sexual way. Unlike celibacy, which is a choice to abstain from sexual activity, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who we are, just like other sexual orientations."

 

However, what I'm sensing is a frustration that occurs when others present contradicting information and/or go beyond stating that everyone is to be allowed to make their own decision to stating anyone is asexual of they choose to be, and that's where we seem to be seeing a lot conflict come up 

 

Also, I have to wonder if the resident sexuals feel frustrated when the information they present about the sexual experience is completely disregarded. I think it would help if people would recognize that, if they choose to embrace the concept of an "asexual umbrella," they must also extend that reasoning to acknowledge a "sexual umbrella." (Also, if I was a sexual, I kinda might feel a little insulted that there are some trying so hard not to be regarded as a sexual.)

 

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anisotrophic

It sounds to me like this might be best framed as a "select any" rather than "select one". I empathize with all the points of view; while not asexual, there are strong parallels to identity debates regarding gender identity and transition – something I do experience.


I think I've seen concerns about...

- lack of concrete examples that distinguish what is and isn't a violation

- loss of a "safe space" for asexuals that affirms & supports not wanting sex

- failure to educate by enabling arbitrary definitions for asexuality

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Snao Cone

Here's where I think a lot of the concerns stem from:

  • Several long-standing members here came to AVEN thinking they were broken because they didn't want sex, or didn't like the sex they were having, and they were told there was something wrong with them but they felt deep within them that they genuinely didn't want it. They joined AVEN, participated, identified as asexual, and remained active members while the rest of their lives unfolded. Through a mix of interacting on AVEN and developments in their offline lives, they came to realizations that they are sexual in ways that they weren't aware of or didn't acknowledge before for whatever reason. This could be because they hadn't met the right partner. It could be because they had mental health issues getting in the way. It could be because they were confused about their orientation living in a heteronormative society. It could be because they had misleading impressions of what real world sexuality is because of hypersexualized media. These people now know more about sexuality than they did before, and they now confidently say that they're not asexual. They have stuck around AVEN because of the community they've formed, the connections they've made, and the wisdom they feel they have to offer people going through similar struggles. They're vocal people who are naturally inclined to engage in online environments, specifically on serious life-focused topics (rather than, you know, just make satirical memes or play AVEN Arcade games).
  • Most of the new members who come here heard about asexuality elsewhere through media coverage, which is usually written and/or edited by sexual people in media that wants to sell stories through quick reads of online content. People come here with incomplete information, or very select portions that media thinks will interest the sexual population. It's not written for asexual people. Thus, not everyone who comes here is quite as familiar with the less click-worthy stories of people whose lives involve no sex because they're happy that way. They might be assuming things about asexuality that aren't true for most people, and depending on their style of communication it might come across as declarative and presumptive of asexuality as a whole, rather than just sharing their personal experience and seeing if anyone else relates.
  • A lot of other new members come here at very vulnerable periods in their lives when they are being told somethings wrong with them, or they're expecting something to happen based on what they've been told, but they've been expecting it for a very long time and it's never come. They are confused or struggling to accept things about them and need a supportive environment that focuses on quelling their emotional volatility first. They might not be able to digest conceptual discussions before gaining assurance that they're not broken and are free to explore themselves here with no expectation that they turn out one way or the other at the end of the path.
  • When any combination of these types of members collide, the reaction can be explosive. Statements that suggest something based on an experienced person's knowledge and perspective can be taken as invalidation, even if it's worded in a friendly way. If a newer person is not 100% receptive to things an experienced person is saying, that experienced person can get very frustrated, and respond in a way that will again not be taken as intended, because the first explosion hasn't yet been contained. Even if two individual people try to communicate in a more constructive way and defuse the situation, because this is a forum anyone can join at any point and if they're not equally on board with developing rapport and understanding, things can start all up again.
  • Admods are expected to keep the peace in what are sometimes impossible situations. You can't please all the people all the time, right? Admod decisions, individual or collective, are not going to be universally applauded. The people who feel like they're not being listened to will not react well. If it's the experienced members, they already feel established enough in the community to put up a fight here. If it's newer members, they leave AVEN with a bitter taste in their mouths because they feel invalidated not only by individuals, but by AVEN as a whole. The newer members who stay remain embittered and stick to one side of arguments that keep popping up, rather than bridging things, because they feel like their experiences and perspectives will be erased if they don't defend them.
  • The jadedness and grudges that these frequent conflicts build up change how people communicate based on how overall frustrated they are. When a new person asks the same question, the responses they get may be of a tone that comes from very tired people who have said the same thing so many times that they hash it out without the kid gloves that may be necessary. This means the way something is said, even if the content is the same, isn't as sensitive or tactful as it might have been at an earlier time, which might cause more friction and conflicts, which builds up to statements that might be legitimately invalidating. Or it might be said by somebody who ideologically doesn't believe that sensitivity should ever matter. Their idea of "education" might be strict lesson-giving from a person of absolute authority to an underling. They might think declarative "facts" are the only way to get people to understand things. That could be based on their own experiences, or their culture, or their thinking style, or whatever. I'm personally not from that camp, but I acknowledge that I was given early education in a different way from most people, so my idea of what "education" is isn't held by everyone. People who believe in a more authoritative method of education are disenfranchised from AVEN based on not seeing what they think the E should stand for, while people who believe in a more collaborative method of education are disenfranchised from AVEN based on narrow thinking and no consideration for what will effectively resonate with people who want to learn.

 

I apologize for being so wordy, and I acknowledge the irony since wordiness can be one of the problems when someone who wants to relay useful information is perceived as lecturing and judging other people. What I think could be helpful for addressing the invalidation issues is making it clearer what the V and the E in AVEN stand for. Some people think it means declaring a set of requirements for somebody to qualify as asexual according to official AVEN guidelines. Some people think it means getting as many people to be aware of the word and to see it as a widely diverse and accepting group of people. What I've tried to do as the Resource and Education Director (and I'm sure a few of you are less than impressed) is improve the outward facing resources that new people can see before coming to the forums to give them a better idea of what the asexual community and concept has been built around so they don't have to ask as many questions that may erupt into nightmare debates that result in multiple warnings. I've tried to create better material that can be linked to for people to read on their own, rather than rehash their own version of it based on years of personal exploration in a way that can be seen as imposing and dictating how another person is allowed to feel. It's been a major task that I wish I could do more of, but life is life and setbacks are setbacks. And it was always too ambitious of me to think I could undo years of simmering conflict here, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

I just want more people to understand where both new members and experienced members are coming from, with less pride and ego getting in the way. It's not a lopsided cause. People from all sides are frustrated and don't feel like they're being listened to or respected.

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Skycaptain
1 hour ago, Qutenkreepy said:

The one concern I have is that the use of the term "asexual" by those who enjoy, and actively seek out sex, risks diminishing the utility of the term by those who have come to rely upon it to identify their struggles to relate to the sexual world. 

Exactly, which is exactly why many people, myself included, feel that asexuals are being invalidated on AVEN by some people who use asexual as their identity. Also why many are unhappy with the BoD statement because basically if Valentino was to say that they were asexual we cannot disagree 

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Homer

I'll just quote my own post from when this trainwreck was discussed in the backroom.

 

Spoiler

I stated my opinion on this about a hundred times already, so I'll keep this short.

 

As soon as we put "validation" above education, we might just as well throw the E in "AVEN" out of the window and call it "Label validation and chatterbox network". Sometimes people are wrong. That's an inherent part of learning and education. Pointing out a fact that may "invalidate" a "label" or whatever can never be prohibited on a website that claims to possess any trace of educational value, no matter whether the one who is objectively wrong likes that fact or not.

 

If I say that I love apples and they're the greatest thing in the world and I love their taste and their texture and here's a picture of my favourite kind of apple:

 

Spoiler

Banane_600x600.jpg

 

...and then someone comes along and says "That's not an apple though", that's not "invalidation". It's not saying that this fruit doesn't exist, it's not claiming that its texture isn't real and the peel isn't valid. It's not saying that the poster can't like it for any or all of the reasons they mentioned. It's simply stating that they're using the wrong term to name that fruit.

 

If we can't do that on an educational website, it's nothing short of pointless. The fact that we're even questioning this is ridiculous. It's about the biggest disservice towards asexuality being recognised, let alone being taken seriously one could possibly come up with.

 

Besides that - nothing could ever stop someone should they elect to call their fruit "apple" regardless.

 

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Guest

@Homer I hope that doesn't get construed as breaching. Thank you for sharing this. :cake:

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Homer

I quoted myself... I could have re-typed and re-worded this for the umpteenth time, but there are only so many ways to express my stance on this.

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Firefly8

Affirming sexuals as asexual is invalidating to asexuals. If someone tries to clarify/defend asexuality from such invalidation then they are now the one that could be punished for invalidation. This policy is one-sided in that it is defending sexual "asexuals" and NOT defending asexuals' validity. This is supposedly a site for asexual education and community. Yet, I could be reprimanded for even politely defending my orientation here?  That's completely messed up. We shouldn't be surprised when people are confused and don't take asexuality seriously when there is no real education going on. The definition is so vague already, but now attempts at clarification are under scrutiny. I'm avoiding or walking on eggshells to try to make clarifying comments because someone could feel invalidated. This makes me feel invalidated and not supported here.

It honestly isn't fair to patronize those that are questioning or confused or just plain wrong either. If I were mistaken or wanting honest answers I wouldn't want someone replying to tap dance around or validate my mistakes. That's not respectful either.

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Serran

My main concerns, as I stated in the thread (and honestly, that thread wasn't getting that heated, so no idea why you locked it when it had devolved into joking around :P which was anything but arguing ) 

 

1) Asexuals are losing their own space by the recent push to accept loving sex and being unhappy without it as an asexual experience and the announcement by the BoD did nothing to support the asexuals who feel that way. It actually did the opposite. It basically said "Yeah, we don't care about how you guys feel. Those sex favorables feel invalidated, so go away and shut up" ... why the lack of support for those who feel like they are losing the label they could fit with, that protected them from being diagnosed as mentally ill with HSDD? AVEN hasn't even tried to support that side, just the sex favorable side. 

 

2) The ToS already clearly did not allow saying "you are not asexual" and that was already warned any time someone reported it. So, by saying the policy has been lax and not enforced, either the BoD was lying or they were announcing a change in policy. And no one in that thread clarified what the change was, they kept denying one existed. So, no one clarified if it was an empty PR stunt to try to make the sex favorables happy, or if there was an actual change.

 

Which leads to...

 

3) As I asked in the thread and mods refused to answer multiple times: if a user says "I am asexual cause I dont get turned on by looking at people, even though I desire sex with them, so i dont experience sexual attraction" and someone posts "According to AVENs definition, sexual attraction is the desire to share your sexuality with someone, so what you are describing is what many would call sexual attraction and is an experience many sexuals share" would that be against the rules now or no? Because, if it is, something major has changed and we are no longer free to offer information. 

 

Also, one of the things stated was we cannot say asexuality is not a spectrum. So, can we no longer say we don't see asexuality as a spectrum or we can't just state it as not a spectrum as if it was fact and have to clarify that's how we see it? 

 

You made your rules absolutely not clear. You based it on us saying "you aren't asexual", which rarely happens. And the fuss was over sharing of information and experiences. Just like yesterday, despite saying specifically "you can ID with whatever label you like" someone told me I was telling them what their label was by simply saying how i identify. So, we really need to be clear on where the line is, or lots of us are going to face warnings for things that would have been fine to say a week ago. 

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MichaelTannock

Here is a new list of concerns based on the responses I'm seeing, the first two being the two I already listed;

  1. People won't have the freedom to tell others that their identity is wrong.
  2. People will be disciplined for merely relaying information.
  3. "Asexual" will lose meaning leading to the disintegration of the community.
  4. Education will be impossible without clear definitions.

Please let me know if I've missed any, as I could easily have misinterpreted a new concern as one I'd already seen.

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Serran
7 minutes ago, MichaelTannock said:

Here is a new list of concerns based on the responses I'm seeing, the first two being the two I already listed;

  1. People won't have the freedom to tell others that their identity is wrong.
  2. People will be disciplined for merely relaying information.
  3. "Asexual" will lose meaning leading to the disintegration of the community.
  4. Education will be impossible without clear definitions.

Please let me know if I've missed any, as I could easily have misinterpreted a new concern as one I'd already seen.

5) A large section of the asexual population is feeling a lack of support from AVEN, which is the one place that is meant to support them. 

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MichaelTannock

@Serran Is this better?

  1. People won't have the freedom to tell others that their identity is wrong.
  2. People will be disciplined for merely relaying information.
  3. "Asexual" will lose meaning leading to the disintegration of the community.
  4. Education will be impossible without clear definitions.
  5. AVEN is not supporting a large section of the Asexual population.
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Guest
41 minutes ago, Serran said:

3) As I asked in the thread and mods refused to answer multiple times: if a user says "I am asexual cause I dont get turned on by looking at people, even though I desire sex with them, so i dont experience sexual attraction" and someone posts "According to AVENs definition, sexual attraction is the desire to share your sexuality with someone, so what you are describing is what many would call sexual attraction and is an experience many sexuals share" would that be against the rules now or no? Because, if it is, something major has changed and we are no longer free to offer information.

I don't want to turn this thread into another debate thread, but I will throw my 2 cents into this.

 

In my opinion, that would be fine. What would throw it into invalidation territory is if you added a "Therefore, you are sexual" at the end. Providing information so someone can reach their own conclusions about their sexuality is okay. Reaching that conclusion for them is not.

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Serran
36 minutes ago, Road said:

I don't want to turn this thread into another debate thread, but I will throw my 2 cents into this.

 

In my opinion, that would be fine. What would throw it into invalidation territory is if you added a "Therefore, you are sexual" at the end. Providing information so someone can reach their own conclusions about their sexuality is okay. Reaching that conclusion for them is not.

Which, was already against ToS and enforced and rarely happened due to this . So, again, what was "lax" and not enforced that had to be changed according to the BoD? Labeling a person has been a quick way to get a warning since ... I joined over five years ago. So, that didn't need an announcement, change in ToS and would not settle the sex favorables feeling invalidated since it would be changing nothing as that was already not allowed and strictly enforced when reported (unless you guys decided to stop following ToS since I quit being on the team, which I somehow doubt). 

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Serran
54 minutes ago, MichaelTannock said:

@Serran Is this better?

  1. People won't have the freedom to tell others that their identity is wrong.
  2. People will be disciplined for merely relaying information.
  3. "Asexual" will lose meaning leading to the disintegration of the community.
  4. Education will be impossible without clear definitions.
  5. AVEN is not supporting a large section of the Asexual population.

Yes. 

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Puck

Most of the things I believe have probably already been said and I'm not reading this whole thread, but I skimmed and I'll just focus on this:

 

2 hours ago, MichaelTannock said:

@Serran Is this better?

  1. People won't have the freedom to tell others that their identity is wrong.
  2. People will be disciplined for merely relaying information.
  3. "Asexual" will lose meaning leading to the disintegration of the community.
  4. Education will be impossible without clear definitions.
  5. AVEN is not supporting a large section of the Asexual population.

I don't love how number 1 is worded, but that is a version that some might want. So I'd request to add a extra:

 

1a. People won't even be able to suggest other labels for others to consider.

 

I would add to number 3:

 

3. "Asexual" will loose meaning leading to the disintegration of the community, outside communities not taking the orientation seriously, and the inability to create resources to help others understand the orientation.

 

I would also add another one:

 

6. The term "asexual" has become a status symbol rather than an option. Already it is being seen as a coveted label that shackles people instead of giving them the freedom to explore and feel happy trying out different labels.

 

I'm verbose so feel free to boil those down if you can word them better.

 

Edit: Two more

 

7. AVEN will be so focused on letting everyone be asexual that it won't move forward in creating more and better resources, that it will be unwilling to change the resources it has when it's learned they are not as effective as they could be because it's leaders are too afraid to invalidate anyone themselves.

 

8. AVEN leadership will be so focused on stopping invalidation that they focus on punishing it rather than fixing the more pressing problems of AVEN.

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