June 3, 2015

"All those crazy labels — bi, gay, lesbian, straight, pansexual, asexual, etc. — are there to help us communicate who we are and what we want."

"Once upon a time, NNFS, you wanted heterosexual sex, you had heterosexual sex, and you identified as heterosexual. That label was correct for you then. If the asexual label is a better fit for you now, if it more accurately communicates who you are (now) and what you want (now), you have none other than David Jay’s permission to use it."

That's sex-advice columnist Dan Savage answering a question from a lady who's trying to figure out if she's asexual. David Jay is the founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network.

Jay's comment was: "If you’re not drawn to be sexual with anyone, then you have a lot in common with a lot of people in the asexual community. That being said, there’s no such thing as a ‘true’ asexual. If the word seems useful, use it. At the end of the day, what matters is how well we understand ourselves, not how well we match some Platonic ideal of our sexual orientation, and words like ‘asexual’ are just tools to help us understand ourselves."

66 comments:

damikesc said...

He's still a useless asshole.

That being said, there’s no such thing as a ‘true’ asexual. If the word seems useful, use it.

"Yeah, call yourself whatever. Words don't mean anything anyways..."

Fabi said...

Will there now be a 'no true asexual' fallacy?

Ann Althouse said...

"If the word seems useful, use it." That's good/interesting advice that would apply to a lot of things.

damikesc said...

That's good/interesting advice that would apply to a lot of things.

But words are supposed to mean things.

If the word being used is meaningless, what is the benefit?

I don't think bastardization of a language is a good thing.

traditionalguy said...

Asexual is just another word for lazy.

Terry said...

So, what are Savage's qualifications to give out psychological advice?
"Savage attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he studied theater and history."
He may as well be writing an advice column on tree surgery or home security systems.

Skyler said...

This culture is entirely too obsessed with sex.

Countersnark said...

"I don't think bastardization of a language is a good thing"

Irony of ironies. "Bastardization". I wonder how that word made it into the lexicon? Was it bastardized?

I think you mean you don't like language being basterdized "to quickly".

amielalune said...

Many people today have way, way too much time on their hands.

Dr Weevil said...

And asexuals tend to have more time on their hands than most people.

Bay Area Guy said...

Debating "labels" rather than important ideas......

Navel gazing 101A

Bobber Fleck said...

Bay Area Guy said: Debating "labels" rather than important ideas......

Having a meaningful debate requires that we understand each other. If the meanings of words are not shared and agreed upon we risk miscommunication and misunderstanding.

If we hope to debate important ideas we should be consistent and precise in the words we choose. It is often important to debate the labels before we debate the ideas.

madAsHell said...

Pansexual?? FTW?? Spell checker recognizes the word!! So, I had to google it. There's a wiki page. Here's an excerpt....

pansexual, omnisexual, polysexual, queer, etc. are being used in place of the term bisexual because "bisexuality, it's been claimed, is a gender binary, and therefore oppressive, word"

We have way too many special snowflakes evaluating their belly buttons.

Bay Area Guy said...

@ Bobby Fleck -- yes, agreed. The Left wants to change a few simple immutable truths and labels such as: "men," "women," "sex" into a smorgasbord of conflicting, chaotic concepts.

No thanks.

Titus said...

I met a pansexual once-they are the worst. So proud of themselves and shit.

Titus said...

He forgot, "gay for pay".

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhhardin said...

Iowahawk points out a hockey-stick like explosion in the number of pronouns in English, in a graph that doesn't work on my browser.

The number of pronouns has been pretty small right through the midieval warm period up to about 2000. Then industrial human resources department effluent releasted into the atmosphere has caused a pronoun increase that will raise the oceans several feet by the end of the century.

Troubled Voter said...

What's the term for commenters who engage in circle jerk each other off in their complaints about issues that have no deleterious effect on their lives? That would be more relevant for the discussion happening here.

n.n said...

Asexual is a tolerable condition when it is not a progressive orientation (i.e. bias) and expression (i.e. prejudice) in a population/humanity.

Also, trans orientations and the expressions they engender are a bias, prejudice, and article of faith. There is only male and female, and heterosexual, as biological constructs, and that can be demonstrated in the scientific domain. The trans orientations and expressions are sincerely held beliefs by individuals, which may be realized and normalize (i.e. promoted) through a religious/legal consensus (i.e. Church, State).

Gahrie said...

I've always assumed that the difference between bi-sexuals and pansexuals is that bi-sexuals restricted themselves to the human species.

clint said...

Presented for your amusement and edification: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-specific_and_gender-neutral_pronouns

He, She, One
She/he, S/he, They, Yo
Ey, E, Hu, Ou, Peh, Per, Thon, Jee, Ve, Xe, 3 different Ze's, and Zhe

Oy vey.

Of course, when describing events in a sufficiently diverse room, you might never need to use a proper name more than once.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm...I wonder what would happen if David Jay had advised the asexual woman that she could also describe herself as "frigid".

I suspect the femninazis would come down him as the Assyrian did, like a wolf on a fold.

Can't have Freudianism to creep into the discussion now, can we....

And of course, in the World of Whatev, there's no such thing as neurosis, mental illness, perversity or depravity.

What....ev.

Henry said...

NNFS is just one more crazy label, n'est–ce pas?

Dave P. said...

If the word fits, use it.

When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'

-Through the Looking-Glass

Bay Area Guy said...

Paging George Orwell.... Paging George Orwell .. . Alert.. Alert.. Using words in twisted, distorted fashion - to promote twisted, distorted ideas... Alert... Alert

Archilochus said...

“The biggest problem we face as a culture,” Archbishop Chaput said, “isn’t gay marriage or global warming. It’s not abortion funding or the federal debt…The deeper problem, the one that’s crippling us, is that we use words like justice, rights, freedom and dignity without any commonly shared meaning… .Our most important debates boil out to who can deploy the best words in the best way to get power.”

jr565 said...

Pan sexual is no different than bi sexual. It's not transgenderal. It conforms to sex not gender.
Can you imagine how silly it would be if you identified as someone who is sexually attracted to gender as defined as a social construct, as opposed to sex as defined by biology?
There is gay, there is straight and there is bi. And that's it. All correspond to sex from a biological perspective. If you want to include asexual, it's still biologically based.

jr565 said...

Also xim and xer are not real genders. Binary sexual definitions are not bigoted. It's like the left is living in bizarro world.

jr565 said...

Terry wrote:
So, what are Savage's qualifications to give out psychological advice?
"Savage attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he studied theater and history."
He may as well be writing an advice column on tree surgery or home security systems.

when you make shit up as you go you can be an authority on made up shit

Louis said...

Words aren't supposed to mean things. They are tools for communication. To assert they mean things is to presuppose there are things they can represent; those things are just mental states, not directly observable typically or comparable possibly ever. Words that meant things would be magical. Their mere assertion would alter reality.

Moneyrunner said...

Words as useful tools. Sort of like using a hammer to open a door? I'm told it works. Usually I use the knob. How about actions as tools? Dr. Ruth thinks that getting naked and crawling into bed with a man to get him aroused is sort of tool-like. Like getting out a hammer to drive a nail. But women seem to disagree, calling her antediluvian. Useful tools? Or not?

Titus said...

Scott Walker actually spoke about the 20 week ban on abortion. After that time women don't really think about the rape. They are completely cool with being raped by their brother Josh Duggar and are thrilled at seeing their deformed baby!

Republican men should stay out of the rape/incest dialogue.

Jon Burack said...

"words like ‘asexual’ are just tools to help us understand ourselves."

Is this a joke? "Understand ourselves." An ever more refined obsession with identity is not a way of understanding ourselves. It is what we have left after we have detached ourselves from all the life-giving cultural, familial, community and national sources of what makes both for true individuality and character, on the one hand, and for social solidarity on the other. As for identity, the obsession with it is just one aspect of the decadent historical moment we are living through. I am still with Normal O Brown back in the day ("Love's Body"). "The solution to the identity problem? Get lost."

Monkeyboy said...

Scott Walker actually spoke about the 20 week ban on abortion

You have a link I assume, one not about how he said people sending him ultrasound pictures of their children was cool?

Henry said...

This is the thread where amateur Freudians meet amateur linguists. The meaning of every label Savage throws out is perfectly plain. That is why I found it funny that I can't deduce the acronym.

Anonymous said...

Titus said...
Scott Walker actually spoke about the 20 week ban on abortion. After that time women don't really think about the rape. They are completely cool with being raped by their brother Josh Duggar and are thrilled at seeing their deformed baby!

Republican men should stay out of the rape/incest dialogue.
****

I suspect Professor Althouse would whup you upside the head if you used such utterly specious "reasoning" in one of her law classes.

How do the actions of one person justify calling for the muzzling of the many who don't engage in them or condone them?

Should all Dems shut up about the "abusing women/committing serial adultery" dialog just because Bill Clinton has done those things?

Laslo Spatula said...

Levels of steak cooking:

Blue
Rare
Medium-rare
Medium.
Well-done.

To a Vegan:

Meat.
Not Meat.


I think the point I am making is made.

Maybe not.


I am Laslo.

chickelit said...

Flipping Titus' hyperbole:

Barack Obama actually spoke about partial birth abortion. During one of those, women don't really think about the baby. And they are completely cool with being fingered by their older sister and they love her show. They are thrilled by getting out of clinic and resuming a normal sex life.

Titus should stay out of the rape/incest dialogue.

Lem said...

I watched an HBO NYC cannibal cop documentary the other day. I recommend people watch it. Emojis

Darn Google is asking me to prove I'm not a robot.

Gusty Winds said...

Dan Savage, sex advice columnist?

I give more credit to the advice given by the 40-something hot women in the Viagra commercials who tell men to swallow their pride and take the blue pill.

In that soft breathy voice they should end the commercials with, "It's not about a problem, it's about a party."

William said...

Whatever happend to sublimation? Some of humanity's greatest achievements were accomplished by people who had difficulty getting laid, or rather they put more effort into their work than in getting laid. Asexual seems like a weak, diluted state. Why not refer to asexual people as the sublime among us?

William said...

And pansexuals as the horny goat fuckers.

Skipper said...

The psychiatrists' have their work cut out for 'em.

Fen said...

How many pro-nouns are we at now? Its a Tower of Babel. But this time with tats for Special Snowflakes to tag themselves with. More "victim" tribes to expand the Perpetual Culture War for the Community Organizers, Marxists and SJWs to profit off of.

Can we just skip to the culling? That would be nice.

fivewheels said...

There is a problem with that Humpty Dumpty shit, and it does not further communication; it impedes it, sometimes deliberately. I'm not against gay marriage, but I find the dumbest argument for it is when people say, "Why does it matter if they want to call it a marriage and not a union? How does that affect you?"

If, when she was running around telling people not to vaccinate their kids, Jenny McCarthy had called herself a "doctor," how would that affect anyone who holds a medical degree? Live and let live, right? If she says she's a doctor, she's a damned doctor, QED. How dare you impose your limited point of view on her in your vicious linguistic rape!

Yes, rape. That's another word that used to have a meaning, and we were all better off when everyone knew what it was. Before it sometimes meant touching a girl's arm at a party at Columbia.

Terry said...

Lucius Shepard's The Golden is a novel about a vampire detective named Beheim.
Beheim is like Poe's detective Dupin -- extremely rational. Beheim believes that reason can solve all mysteries. To solve the mystery of the murder of a specially bred human called The Golden, Beheim needs to visit the king and father of all the vampires, and of vampire society, Dracula himself. Beheim is excited at the prospect. Beheim believes vampire society is more rational than human society.
When Beheim finally meets Dracula, he is shocked. Dracula isn't reason, he is instead the locus of unreason and madness. The lesson, if Shepard intended one, is that you can't create reason from madness. The vampire society of the novel appears rational, but is based on an unreasoning lust for life. It tries to make life from death, but you can only make life from life. Beheim's journey to meet Dracula is a metaphorical journey to the core of Beheim's own self. Beheim travels to Dracula's lair by diving into a pool, and following twisted passages, swimming ever deeper through a series of flooded caverns until, at the deepest point, he finds the chamber with Dracula and his wives.
Savage thinks he, and us, will find reason and happiness way down there in the deeps. Good luck, Dan.

Ann Althouse said...

"If the word being used is meaningless, what is the benefit?"

If there is no benefit, then it isn't useful. You need to reflect on the conundrum! "If the word seems useful, use it." Why isn't that good advice?

As for you words-have-fixed-meanings people, I wonder how you think languages ever came into being in the first place.

I wonder who was the first person who thought it was useful to say he felt "blue" and what you knuckleheads would have said in response.

Ann Althouse said...

a1450 Chaucer Complaint of Mars: "With teres blewe and with a wondyd herte Taketh youre leue."

Ann Althouse said...

Let's criticize Chaucer's spelling... or our own for not looking like Chaucer's.

Dave P. said...

If there is no benefit, then it isn't useful. You need to reflect on the conundrum! "If the word seems useful, use it." Why isn't that good advice?

As someone with a background in language and semantics, I know how words are invented, and how meanings change. But I have a problem with people using 1984 as a how-to manual.

Shouting Thomas said...

Observing you, professor (along with others), has led me a startling conclusion.

As a proper Western literary intellectual, I once regarded the notion of a Satan or Beelzebub manipulating and tempting people as a sort of fable.

I now regard it as a reality.

All the Faustian stories start from the same premise... the vain intellectual seduced into believing that the traditional moral values do not apply to him/her.

This also explains your statements that you feel no religious urge.

Satan sells the vain intellectual on the notion that rejecting Christian/Judaic morality is a sort of "enlightenment."

You qualify on all counts. You, along with your strange sisters, have convinced me of the existence of Satan.

You are blind to where this is leading. The die is already cast. And, you will laugh this off, too.

rhhardin said...

Has Jenner lost his marbles?

JAORE said...

"If the word seems useful, use it." That's good/interesting advice that would apply to a lot of things.

Page one, line one of your syllabus?

Ann Althouse said...

"This also explains your statements that you feel no religious urge."

When did I ever say that? You're just making shit up. But maybe it's just the Devil at work and you don't know what you're doing.

chickelit said...

As for you words-have-fixed-meanings people, I wonder how you think languages ever came into being in the first place.

The heteroNormanative Conquest of 1066 was a great way for all that French to enter the English lexicon.

Bobber Fleck said...

Althouse said: "As for you words-have-fixed-meanings people, I wonder how you think languages ever came into being in the first place."

My comments were aimed at the "words mean anything I want them to mean" crowd. The arbitrary re-definition of words is destructive of understanding. I don't advocate fixed and permanent meanings. " It is often important to debate the labels before we debate the ideas."

Of course languages evolve. The advance of technology alone ensures the creation of new words and meanings. However, debates where the opposing sides assign different meanings to terms is counter productive and confusing.

chickelit said...

Of course languages evolve. The advance of technology alone ensures the creation of new words and meanings. However, debates where the opposing sides assign different meanings to terms is counter productive and confusing.

Intellectual property law disputes are marked by a Markman hearing wherein the parties agree to the meanings and definitions of key terms. Legal reasons proceeds from there.

Bay Area Guy said...

AA: I wonder who was the first person who thought it was useful to say he felt "blue" and what you knuckleheads would have said in response.

Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see

Bluebirds
Singing a song
Nothing but bluebirds
All day long

:)



chuck said...

"are there to help us communicate who we are"

Vocabulary? How effete. Direct methods are better, like man-spreading, man-splaining, and wearing brass knuckles disguised as rings.

jr565 said...

Althouse wrote:
As for you words-have-fixed-meanings people, I wonder how you think languages ever came into being in the first place.

I wonder who was the first person who thought it was useful to say he felt "blue" and what you knuckleheads would have said in response.

What a load of horse shit. You mention the word "blue". That has a meaning that 99.99999999999% of people recognize as blue. Blue does not mean red. Nor does it mean potato. If we were to pick a color on a color wheel that corresponded to "blue" we'd all get the answer right unless we were color blind or wack a doodles.
So, yes, words DO have fixed meanings. They mean what they mean. For fucks sake.
How many times do you tell your readers to figure out what you meant when you say they misconstrue your meaning? Its happened plently of times.
because you are a "words have fixed meaning" type of person too.

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jr565 said...

Althouse wrote:
Let's criticize Chaucer's spelling... or our own for not looking like Chaucer's.

Thats how people in chaucers time spelled. And when we translate it into our own modern language we use actual words that correspond to their words. Since words still have fixed meaning.
And if there were a time when Chaucer wrote something that didn't correspond to a fixed meaning, we'd say "We have no idea what Chaucer is saying here since these words are indecipherable. "

jr565 said...

"Xe laughed
I called xem
xyr eyes gleamed
that is xyrs not mine.
xe likes xemself."

What the fuck are you talking about? Is this kligon language? Since when did we acknowledge made up pronouns as binding on our language.
You are either a he or she, even if you are confused about your gender. No need for stupid made up pronouns. And even less of a need for me to adopt this bizarre language, and for you to get offended that I don't call you by your made up pronoun.

Here's my pronoun laid out in various sentences:

I called GO FUCK YOURSELF
GO FUCK YOURSELF eyes gleamed
That is GO FUCK YOURSELF not mine.
GO FUCK YOURSELF likes GO FUCK YOURSELF.

You notice it doesn't change? Well, why does it have to? Its my pronoun. GO FUCK YOURSELF if you don't adopt it.

jr565 said...

I had a huge argument with a lefty years ago over the word History. She thought it was sexist and why couldn't it be her story. Or Ourstory. And I said it wasn't sexist, because its etymology is not based on sexism, but rather a Greek word - historia. Which means "narrative, history" and which then made it into latin, and which then made it into our language.
You can't say your offense at how a words sounds overrides etymology when your view of the word is not the historical reason why we have the word.
Etymology overrides someones personal view that it sounds sexist, because they are ignorant of where a word comes from.
"But it sounds sexist!"
"But you sound like a moron!"
Needless to say I ended up not being friends with that person after that.

jr565 said...

another one - Management is sexist because it implies that only men can conduct meetings. So we need to change it from management to coordinator.
Because some idiot found a word that sounds like another word, has no historical basis for her argument but gets to have words changed because of her being insulted.

So heres' the etymology. From the latin word for "hand" also, italian maneggiare Which meant to control, and specifically to manage horses. (Girls like horses, I'd figure they'd be ok with a word that describes managing horses). So, no, manager is not a sexist word, you are just a dumbo. Please take some classes on etymology.

And no we don't have to change the word Manual to something different because it has the word man in it "Why can't it be womanual or Ourual or Book with instructional stuff in it, how back instructional book?" "Because you are an idiot. That's why. It's manual because that's what it is?"
And incidentally Woman, contains the word Man in it. Best do something about that.