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Notte stellata

Asexuality appeared in Southern Metropolis Weekly in China

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Notte stellata

A while ago I was interviewed by a journalist from Southern Metropolis Weekly (南都周刊), who found me in an asexual group on a Chinese website. She was planning a Valentine's Day article about the love life of various minority groups, including asexuals. The article has been published as the cover story of their latest issue, but I haven't seen it yet, as I'm not in China. It should be available online later, and I'll add the link then.

I do have the draft the journalist sent me, which shouldn't be too different from the final version. The asexuality section isn't very long, since it's only 1/4 of the article (other sections are about bisexuals, transgender people, and childfree people). Because of the Valentine's Day theme, it focuses on asexual people's relationships, but it also covers the basics of asexuality (difference between romantic and sexual orientation, repulsed and indifferent aces, asexuality isn't a biological or psychological problem, etc.). I was a bit disappointed upon reading the draft, because only a tiny part of my interview responses was used in the article (which featured a couple of other aces as well). But mostly I'm happy to see asexuality appearing in mainstream media in China (which may be the first time!). :)

Also, someone posted in the Chinese asexual group today, saying that they read that article and had a sudden realization of their identity. I'm glad to see it already helped someone!

UPDATE: Rough translation of the asexual section in post #3; link to article in post #9; summaries of the other sections in post #12.

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Aqua-ace

I'll be looking forward to seeing the article once it's posted! :) If this is the first time asexuality makes an appearance in mainstream media in China, congrats on being part of that breakthrough! :cake:

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Notte stellata

Thanks Aqua! I'm not 100% sure if it's the first time, but in the past I've only seen some short articles about asexuality online, and I don't think any of them involved interviews.

I translated the asexual section into English. Not word by word translation - some parts are non-literal and some bits are skipped. I changed the names into English ones for simplicity's sake, and I just changed mine to my AVEN name.

(A transitional paragraph introducing asexuality.)

The asexual group on douban.com was founded in 2007 and currently has over 5400 members. The group moderator, Autumn, said she has never been very interested in dating, and felt indifferent in her previous sexual experiences. She created the asexual group hoping to find out who she was, but didn’t expect to meet so many people on the same boat.

The largest international asexual community online, AVEN, was founded in 2002 and has more than 70,000 members. Because of its uniqueness, AVEN tends to attract long-term users. In comparison, members in the douban asexual group are more unpredictable – questions like “What is asexuality?” and “Am I asexual?” repeatedly appear in the group. But veteran member Annie says, “Asexuality is ultimately a self-identity. You’re (asexual) if you think you are.”

In the sexual world, romantic attraction is always accompanied by sexual attraction, but it’s not true for asexuals, who call themselves “ace” in the English-speaking community and “Little A” in the Chinese community. Asexuals are diverse: Some experiences neither romantic attraction nor sexual attraction; some can feel intense romantic love but not sexual attraction. Some aces are very repulsed by sex, but some are not – they can have sex to satisfy their partner, and even feel sexual arousal, but it’s only a physical reaction. In terms of desire, asexuals don’t feel sexual attraction to anyone.

It’s not always easy to realize what we lack, especially in private matters like sexuality. Some female asexuals may mistake their lack of sexual attraction for shyness, or they may be considered “frigid” by their partners, although they’re totally normal physiologically. Starrynight, who is pursuing a psychology PhD in the US, only found out she’s asexual over one year into her relationship with her now husband. “My husband wasn’t surprised, because he had noticed my lack of passion for sex long ago.” He is also a member on AVEN, and starry “doesn’t mind sexual compromise, and probably has a higher acceptance level for sex among asexuals.” Not having a big problem in the sex aspect, they may be a relatively lucky sexual + asexual couple.

But often times, asexuals face bigger challenges in relationships. Another member in the asexual group, Raymond, said, “I think it’s more difficult for men than for women. A woman can still be attractive without sexual desire, but a man without sexual desire is like giving up on the aggression to the whole world.”

Raymond has loved three women. He tends to be attracted to stable and mature women. He has good looks, pleasant personality, and a decent job. He enjoys cooking and longs for family life. “I’d have been married long ago if I weren’t asexual.”

It’s easy for him to distinguish between romantic attraction and sexual attraction. In a relationship, he loves to do all the romantic things that are common in heterosexual relationships: sweet talk, cooking for his loved one, listening to music together, travelling together…But the women he loved couldn’t accept his nonchalance toward sex.

“I can have sex and be aroused,” said Raymond, “but I need my partner to be very patient. And I get frustrated after sex, because I don’t like it.”

His last “true love” was the only one who stopped insisting he was gay. After their breakup, he found she shared an asexuality 101 post in her weixin (a Chinese social media) friend circle.

Failure to please his sexual ex-girlfriends makes Raymond feel frustrated and inadequate. “For straight asexual guys, the best choice is finding an asexual girlfriend.”

Annie, who is studying criminal psychology and abnormal psychology, pointed out that mainstream psychology assumes everyone has “normal” desires, and someone who lacks these desires must have something wrong. “If you’re not the majority, you must be abnormal.” In this sexualized world, some asexuals feel ashamed for not desiring sex. In the book Honey Money, sex is considered as a powerful capital. Sex is a weapon, a weapon asexuals can hardly handle.

For starry and Annie, there isn’t a big difference between friendship and romance - maybe romance is friendship with added commitment and responsibility. But for asexuals like Raymond, who can clearly experience romantic attraction, their struggle has just begun. “I think, like many gay people, some asexuals will enter marriage for convenience. They will marry someone who doesn’t have a high sexual need or who is also asexual, but without mutual love. After all, conventional marriage is sexual, and tied with the responsibility of reproduction most of the time.”

(A paragraph concluding the whole article, suggesting that an open society should allow everyone to write their own sexual scripts, even "deviant" ones.)

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Mysticus Insanus

Thanks for translating it, starry! :cake:

When you said it was just a small part of the article, I didn't expect this much... IMO, it's pretty well done, so yay! :D

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Notte stellata

Haha yeah, it didn't look long to me at first, but the translation seems much longer. :P Chinese is more space-efficient than English though, but then again, I skipped some parts in the translation.

Maybe it didn't appear long to me because it doesn't cover many asexuality 101 facts (e.g. different romantic orientations, grey-a/demisexuality - oh well, grey/demi doesn't even have an official Chinese translation yet) or "theoretical" stuff (like asexuals' views on the sexual society, which I was asked about quite a bit in the interview). But it's understandable for a Valentine's Day article, and what it has is pretty accurate.

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honor is all

Sorry to bother my fellow poly person but could you translate the whole article please? As a childfree, bisexual woman, a trans ally and someone who's curious about how other countries celebrate certain holidays I would LOVE to find out what my Chinese counterparts do on Valentine's Day or any other holiday for that matter.

Thank you.

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ithaca

Great job, starry! ^_^ :cake:

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Lambda Corvus

Excellent translation work, and a really great job.

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virtua

This is the link to the full article in Chinese. The section on asexuality is mentioned right after the fourth picture on the page.

Edit: Here's the original version of the section on asexuality for those who know Chinese and are interested in reading it.

对于自称“随性恋”的Ixtab而言,不但存在着异性恋对同性恋或双性恋的霸权,男、女性别二分法对于跨性别的霸权,还有更彻底的霸权—整个有性恋世界对于无性恋(Asexual)的霸权:一种最彻底的居高临下,漠视。

豆瓣的无性恋小组创立于2007年,迄今为止已有超过5400人的加入。组长秋秋潘来自成都,“感觉自己对恋爱一直不太热衷。有过性行为,不排斥也不厌恶。”带着对“我到底是什么人”的好奇,她成立了这个小组,“没有想到会有这么多同道”。

全球最大的无性恋线上组织AVEN(the Asexual Visibility and Education Network)成立于2002年,迄今为止有70000多用户—由于权威以及唯一(以及在圈子之外并不算出名),AVEN的用户黏度很高。相比之下豆瓣 无性恋小组的成员分配会比较不可预测—在小组里,关于“无性恋是什么”以及“我到底是不是无性恋”的提问会反复地出现。而在资深成员Annie看来,“无 性恋最终就是一种自我认同。你觉得你是,你就是。”

在有性的语境里,浪漫之爱(romantic)的吸引总是与性的吸引相伴相生。但是对于无性恋者们却不是这样。在英语世界,他们自称ace,在中文 里则叫自己小A。情况多种多样:有的小A既不能感受到浪漫之爱,也不能被性吸引。有的小A能感受到浪漫之爱的强烈震荡,但不会被性吸引。有的小A对性行为 极度排斥,有的小A则不—如果伴侣是有性恋,对他们有需求,他们可以配合完成,甚至也能感到兴奋、被唤起。但是这仅仅是单纯的生理机能的反应—在欲望上, 无性恋者不会受到他人的性吸引力吸引。

人们往往很容易觉察出我们“多出”了什么,但是对于“缺少”的,尤其是在性这样隐秘的领域—后知后觉太过容易。一些女性的无性恋者,会在很长时间里 把自己感受不到性吸引误认为是个性上的害羞,另一种可能是被他们的伴侣认为性冷淡—但其实她们的生理机能完全没有问题。在美国念心理学博士的孤鸿是在和她 现在的先生恋爱一年多后才知道自己是无性恋的,“我先生听到后不感到惊讶,他早已注意到我对性的不热衷”。他愿意陪太太一起上AVEN,而孤鸿也“不太介 意发生性行为,算是在无性恋者对性的容忍度较高的”,他们之间没有太大问题,算得上无性恋和有性恋恋人之间比较幸运的组合。

在更多的情况下,做出妥协的往往是无性恋一方。雷蒙(化名)曾是无性恋小组里沉默的潜水者之一,他后来对记者表示:“男性和女性还不太一样,女人没有性欲,某种程度上并不减损她的美感。而男性没有性欲呢?”他隔了很久打出一行字,“就像对整个世界放弃了进攻一样可耻。”

雷蒙说他有过三个真爱。他偏爱御姐,能吸引他的始终是稳定、成熟的女人。他本人长相清秀,脾气十分温和,在国企有一份不错的工作,喜欢做饭,向往家庭生活。“如果不是因为asexual,我早就结婚了。”

清晰区分浪漫之爱的吸引力和性的吸引力对于雷蒙并不是难事——他的真爱们普遍有修长的身材,职业化的打扮,头脑敏锐、谈吐充满吸引力。“我喜欢跟她 们聊天,讲甜言蜜语,给她们做饭,一起听音乐,开车带她们去兜风,看演唱会,旅行……”所有普通异性恋情侣恋爱中能发生的甜蜜之事雷蒙都乐此不疲,但是他 的御姐们显然不能接受他对性爱的冷淡。

“我可以做,我也有反应。”雷蒙说,“但是需要耐心的挑逗。以及,做完我会沮丧。我不喜欢。”

最后一位“真爱”是唯一不再咬定雷蒙是同性恋的。他们分手后,她删了他的微信,他用别人的手机看过她的朋友圈:她分享了一篇关于无性恋的常识贴。

“对于无性恋的直男而言,最好的可能性肯定是找到一位同为无性恋的女友。”无法令他生机盎然的前女友们释放欲望让雷蒙挫败:一种不亚于“无能为力”的挫败,“不想”比“不能”更像是对征服的全面溃败。

在修读犯罪心理学和异常心理学的Annie看来,主流的心理学假定了人人都有“正常”的欲望,如果一个人没有,必然是哪里出了毛病。这和此前异性恋 霸权世界假定只有男人对女人有兴趣、人只能接收来自另一个特定性别的性吸引力一样,“如果你不是多数,那么就是病态”。而在这个全面“性”化的世界,一些 无性恋者感到,比之性欲的泛滥(如性瘾),如他们般对性的无欲看上去更令自己蒙羞。伦敦政治经济学院的社会学研究员凯瑟琳·哈金曾写过一本名为《性感资 本》(Honey Money)的书,她将性资本与布尔迪厄所谓经济资本、文化资本、社会资本相提并论,并认为其是一种综合战斗力超越后三者的资本—看,性是武器,一柄无性 恋者难以持有的武器。

在孤鸿和Annie心中,友情和爱情的区别并不重大—后者,或许是契约化了的友情,增添了一份承诺和责任。但是对于雷蒙这样能明确感受到自己被“爱 意吸引”的无性恋者而言,困难恐怕才刚刚开始。“我想,像同性恋一样,一些无性恋者会选择形婚,与他们并不爱慕的、性需求不高或者同为无性恋的伴侣。毕竟 世俗的婚姻生活是有性的,大多还附带有生育这样的义务。”

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Notte stellata

Thanks everyone! :)

Thanks to virtua for posting the link and the article. I hadn't seen it online yesterday yet (I translated from the draft). So it looks like the concluding paragraph is moved to the very beginning as an introduction to the whole article.

Sorry to bother my fellow poly person but could you translate the whole article please? As a childfree, bisexual woman, a trans ally and someone who's curious about how other countries celebrate certain holidays I would LOVE to find out what my Chinese counterparts do on Valentine's Day or any other holiday for that matter.

Thank you.

I'm glad you're interested, but I'm afraid I don't have time to translate the whole article. It's not directly related to Valentine's Day though. It's more like they chose to write about minority groups' love lives in general, for an issue published around V-Day. I can translate summaries of the other sections if you'd like that, or other Chinese speakers can translate the whole thing (or part of it) if they want to. :)

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honor is all

Thank you Starrynight for offering to translate the summary. Thank you to any other Chinese speakers who ant to help. Even better if it's not about Valentine's Day only but about minority relationships/lifestyles in general. Never hurts to learn more.

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Notte stellata

Summary of the article:

Part 1 (opening):

A man and a woman (whose names are the Chinese translations of "Romeo" and "Juliet" with the last character dropped) are planning their wedding. They've been together for seven years. They attended the same college, and now both have a successful career. They're both liked by the in-laws. Their love is blessed because it fits in society's standards perfectly: They're a heterosexual couple in mutual romantic love; they're monogamous (although they agree that it's okay to have some harmless secrets occasionally); they intend to be married for a lifetime and have children. They created a "textbook love story" without much effort, but not everyone in the world is as lucky as them.

Part 2 (childfree couples):

28-year-old Mr. Z has been married for 3 years, and the couple is firmly childfree. Z is very busy with his job, which gives him a decent salary, while his wife S stays at home. However, she's not a traditional housewife: she doesn't have kids to take care of, nor does she have to cook for her husband. She sleeps in, goes shopping, enjoys good food, plays video games, reads any book she likes, and goes anywhere she likes. Z says, "she lives my ideal life for me."

Their parents don't understand their arrangement, which seems unfair to Z. But Z thinks it's better for him to do all the work and for S to enjoy life. They have a 3-hour dinner together every day, during which they always have a lot to talk about. S will tell Z all the interesting things she did in the day, i.e., "living the life for him."

Childfree people are often told "you'll change your mind and regret your decision one day." But Z and S are confident in their choice. They both have a rebellious side. Neither of them liked children to begin with, and now their marriage is so fulfilling that they don't think there's room for a child. They want to have an interesting, exciting, and "crazy" life, while keeping growing and evolving together. And if one day they suddenly wanted kids, they'd be happy to adopt, because they don't see it important to pass on their genes.

Part 3 (bisexuals):

Chris fell in love with her classmate Faye in their last year of high school in a conservative small city. Chris was a typical tomboy, whereas Faye was a quiet, sensitive and thoughtful girl. Chris hadn't seriously thought about her sexual orientation before that, but Faye seemed to know quite a lot about homosexuality and was more confident with her identity.

In their third year of college, Chris had sex with a guy who liked her out of curiosity. Surprisingly, she felt good about it and fell in love with him. She felt guilty because she not only betrayed Faye, but also became the traitor of the whole lesbian community. Among lesbians, it was common for the "femmes" to end up with a guy, but in her case, it was she, the "butch", who was "stolen" by a man. She knew Faye's pride would be deeply hurt, and she couldn't face her. Faye dropped out of school half a year later. Although Chris was very happy with her boyfriend, she had been tortured by guilt every day.
There is a prevalent bias against bisexuals in most gay and lesbian circles. Bisexuals are considered as casual and unreliable because they face too much temptation. Jade, a 27 y/o gay, said his previous relationship with a bisexual guy was his worst experience, "as if the whole world was my rival."
Ixtab is a bisexual active on douban.com. She came to her bisexual identity through the Taiwanese bisexual organization "Bi the Way." She learned that bisexuality is normal, because our desire can flow from one gender to anther, the same way as it flows from one individual to another.
Chris wishes Faye had known all this. She doesn't know if she'd have the courage to come out as bisexual to Faye if they could go back to eight years ago (when they broke up). "At that time, we thought it was already a big deal to come out of the closet, but we didn't know the closet had so many doors."
Part 4 (transgender / genderqueer):
For Ixtab, self-identification has been a long journey, and she stopped bothering at last. She has identified as transgender, bisexual, asexual, and her made-up label "whatever-sexual," but now she has been tired of all the labels. She calls herself a Dadaist.
In high school, Ixtab noticed she was attracted to both boys and girls, but it often took her a while to react when others mentioned "girls": "I had to think about it, like, oh, I'm actually female. It was a weird but wonderful feeling." She can't tell which part of her is masculine and which part is feminine. Sometimes she wishes to be a guy, but she doesn't actually want to go through sex change. She wants to look neutral, neither like a man nor like a woman. She has thought of having her breasts removed once she can afford it.
But for 19 y/o N, even removing her breasts is unnecessary. Her identity crisis started from age 12, because "in that year, I knew I had to become a woman." She considers herself a boy. "But does a boy have to grow a penis?" Can she change her gender without changing her appearance?
In her colorful coat and scarf, N is the most lively kind of girl on the street. She has chosen to be transgender without changing her body or clothing, because ultimately it's about self-identity: she believes she's a boy.
N said she has a crush on a boy. "He's smart and sensitive. I knew he'd understand me just by one look." She wrote about her secrets in a letter to him. The next day he asked her out and they had a long talk by the playground. "He only asked me one question, 'Are you gay?' I wanted to explain Judith Butler's gender theory or Foucault's ideas to him , but my head was a mess, so I just said 'it's not important.' And then we closed our eyes."
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lapislazuli

Wow very long article!!

Nice to see this in a mainstream Chinese media even if it's not very detailed.

Thanks for sharing!

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Notte stellata

Summaries of the other sections translated in post #12. :)

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