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What I lost to find this a perzine on asexuality & other identities

Why I wrote this, an introduction My Asexual Body: on fatness, desirability, and asexuality e 20 Year Old Virgin About Consent In My Dreams... On Polyamorous Queerplatonic Relationships

p. 3 p. 4-6 p. 7-11 p. 12-15 p. 16 p. 17-18

Poem 1 - Lost

p. 19

Poem 2 - Found

p. 20

Poem 3 - I won’t kiss you About the writer

p. 21-22 p. 23

is started out as a collective zine project I started putting together almost a year ago called Weird Zine Feels. After I started writing my own piece for the zine, I found out I had a lot to say! is is why I chose to also make my own perzine to talk about all of my weird ace feels. So I’m writing this for myself, mostly. I’m writing this for my past, present and future selves. I’m writing this zine because I couldn’t nd this content anywhere when I needed it. I’m writing this for my friends who have a lot of complicated feelings about their a/sexuality and a/romanticism and don’t have any space to express these feelings. I’m writing this for everyone who needs to see themselves in a piece of writing that isn’t medical, psychiatric, academic or educational. I’m writing this for anyone who needs the validation and the recognition. I’m writing this for you. .ank you so much for reading. I hope you are well. �ere are content warnings before each piece when necessary. Please take care of yourself. p. 3

Content warning for talk of weight and being fat, and body image.

As a fat woman, I am not supposed to want things. Fat people, especially women, are portrayed in ways that either desexualize or hyper-sexualize us. We are either too ashamed of ourselves/our bodies to dare desire anything (food, sex, love, attention, etc), or we’re so needy and desperate that we consume it “excessively” (we are pigs). Either way, we’re starved for it. is dichotomy of starvation and excess makes it impossible for our desires and our needs to be taken seriously. We can’t want things in the same way non-fat people do; we have to want them because we’re fat. We don’t deserve things, thus we shouldn’t even think about wanting them, because we’re fat. Sarah E.S. Sinwell wrote about asexual representation in media (speciically in TV series). Sinwell writes about how some bodies are asexualized, so not only desexualized, but also assumed to not have sexual desires. rough this process, asexuality is redeened; Fatness, disability, Asian-ness, and nerdiness, for instance, have all been associated with asexuality. ese characters are represented as asexual not because they do not experience sexual attraction, but rather because they are not sexually attractive; they are not allowed to have a sexuality because, if they were, normative codes of sexual desirability would be threatened. ese rep-

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resentations of asexuality connate a lack of sexual desirability with a lack of sexual desire and redeene asexuality via the desexualization of non-normative bodies and identities.[1]

I’ve been wondering for the past few years, while guring out my sexual orientation, if my asexuality is just an expression of my internalized fatphobia. If, perhaps, I simply don’t allow myself to want people and sex because I don’t think I deserve to have my desires legitimized and to see myself as desirable. I’ve been doing a lot of work to combat internalized fatphobia since my late teens and I think I have successfully eradicated a lot of the negativity around fatness I felt. But I still don’t see fat nega people, myself included (or maybe especially?), as desirable. Maybe it’s a failure on my part to question my desires and to smash beauty standards and such; maybe it’s just that I don’t nd anyone attractive or desirable. And don’t get me wrong, I think fat people are beautiful, stunning, immensely gorgeous and graceful beings. But I don’t nd us sexy (yet?). I don’t nd anyone sexy. I’ve never gotten what people meant when they called themselves or others “sexy”, to be honest. I mean, I get the concept, sure, I get the standards, and I get what it means for other people, but I’ve never felt it. I’ve recognized it in people because I was trained to do that regardless of what I personally want. But I can’t say I nd anyone sexy, myself included. _______________________________________________________________ [1] SINWELL, Sarah E. S. « Aliens and Asexuality: Media Representation, Queerness, and Asexual Visibility », in CERANKOWSKI, Karli June and MILKS, Megan. Asexualities Feminist and Queer Perspectives, New York, Routledge, 2014, 385 p.

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Sexualizing my own fat body feels weird and unnatural to me. It’s very alienating, trying to see my own body in a way I don’t even see others’ bodies. Even as I detach myself from the mindset I was in when I thought I needed to want people in a sexy way, I still feel a sometimes crushing need to be reassured that I am sexy as an extension of the need to be reassured that I am desirable as a human being (maybe more speciically as a girl). Sexualizing my own body, or seeing it as sexually appealing will not be a part of my process of unlearning fatphobia and learning to love my own body and fat bodies. I will love fat bodies, mine included, but I will not be attracted to them. And that’s ne. I will train my eye to see grace in the movements of fat bodies, to appreciate stretch-marked bellies and lumpy thighs, to observe the beauty of roundness and the loveliness of thick, soft so shapes. I will learn to love all of the things that make my own body and the bodies of other fat people “undesirable” and I will delight in it. My revolution won’t be sexy. My revolution will be mine.

p. 6

Content warning for sex/masturbation.

I’m 20 years old and I’ve been preoccupied on some level about my virginity since I was 16 and my best friend “lost” hers. We grew up together and she was always the rst one to have pretty much every ““rst time” between the two of us. Now I see how different we are and what my strengths are, but when I was younger, I would compare myself to her a lot and see myself as a failure sometimes. I saw being a virgin at 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 as a failure. I felt pressured to “lose my virginity” to someone (and I still do) by my friends and by all the unsaid things that were implied when family members would tell me one day I’d nd the right guy (then the right girl, when I came out as gay). It preoccupied me to the point where I got nervous when my little sister joked about my zodiac sign’s double entendre in French (Virgo is “vierge” in French, which also means “virgin”). When I was 18, I went to an lgbtq+ summer camp and participated in an activity where we voluntarily self-identiied with sentences called out by a facilitator in front of the whole camp


of 50-something people. e facilitator called out for things like “I identify as someone who’s a survivor” or “as gay” or “as someone who is questioning”, etc and we would walk out into the middle of the circle when we identiied with something. I wasn’t ready when they called out for people who identiied as virgins. My heart pounding, I got up and hesitantly walked a few steps into the circle with one other person. Out of fty 16 to 24 year olds, we were only two virgins. Or two who had dared to walk, anyway. I was so ashamed. I felt so vulnerable and alienated. I was so afraid that I would be put on the spot like that again that I thought about it for the whole year before returning to camp the next summer, where I knew we would do this activity again. I thought “If they call it out again, I’m going to walk in and be proud”. I wasn’t proud, but I had to tell te myself that, in order not to despise myself for it. When I wasn’t telling myself I was proud or okay with being a virgin, I was entertaining the thought of actually “losing my virginity” in the meantime, or, in my most ashamed moments, of pretending I wasn’t a virgin and not walking out during the activity. Turns out, the next year, they didn’t call out for people who identiied as virgins. I sat through the whole activity, anxious, waiting and psyching myself to be ready, until the activity was over and I went back to my cabin, almost disappointed I couldn’t prove to myself I was okay with my virginity, but also relieved that didn’t have to do it in front of other people. In the past years, I’ve examined that relief I felt at not being outed as a virgin again and I found that it’s something I need to let go of. I made a big deal out of it when, in fact, it wasn’t that p. 8

important to me. In my heart of hearts, I always knew that. But it’s hard to listen to yourself when you think the people you admire are looking down at you for being lacking in their eyes. My virginity is magical, it’s trivial, it’s unimportant, it’s preoccupying, it’s sacred, it’s shameful, it’s boring, it’s holy, and it’s mine.

Since then, I’ve tried to trivialize my own virginity, to make it less of a big deal to myself. I’ve reblogged dozens of “virginity is a social construct!” posts on Tumblr dot com to make myself feel validated. I’ve made up some fancy scenarios for hypothetical performance art pieces where I “take” my own virginity by masturbating with a dildo or something phallic, then eat an apple as a symbol for having ruined myself/the world, as Eve did in the creation myth. c I got into the idea of taking my own virginity, of fucking myself. And I eventually did, progressively, lovingly, with pleasure and joy and a bit of a thrill. I remember sitting on the toilet, peeing, after the rst time I ever fucked myself, thinking “I’ve done it. I took my own virginity... sort of.” At the time, I didn’t consciously have this agenda of reclaiming my virginity, but it felt magical and powerful to have “deeowered” myself physically all the same. I remember feeling like I’d cheated somehow. It wasn’t painful, it wasn’t awkward, and it wasn’t embarrassing. It was ne. I was gleeful at the idea of having cheated that terrible fate of losing my virginity to a clumsy boy in an awkward rst or second sexual encounter. My virginity became mine, something no one else could take away from me, something I couldn’t lose ’s up for grabs, to be given away or that has any value beyond what I choose to give it. It stops being that heterosexist social

p. 9

construct and becomes a mythical, imagined, fabled thing. My best magic trick so far! W hile slowly making this discovery and reclaiming my virginity over the years, I also uncovered my asexuality. I ght with this label internally every day because I don’t want my sexuality to be deened by the lack of something, but it really does t me. I don’t experience sexual attraction. It took me a while to realize, from when I started questioning my straightness as a teen until the summer of 2014 when I came to identify with the label openly. I negotiated labels and how they would t with my feelings and how they came out of my mouth after swishing them around for a while, like wine, tasting how it was right or not quite. I was demi, then grey, but also queer, and then, near September, I adopted asexual. It still feels odd to call myself that, because I’ve never before in my life considered it something that was legitimate or even known that it existed. But it does, and somehow, I’ve always been this and I’ve always known, in my heart of hearts. Society and culture make it complicated to unravel our own truths. It helps to have the words to deene ourselves, though, and sometimes it takes a while to nd those. So it took a while.

p. 10

But here I am; an asexual virgin, the punchline to a bad joke. I hate that I embody parts of a stereotype and that it makes me vulnerable to the “but how can you know if you haven’t tried yet?” argument. I constantly seek validation from other aces and from people in my queer community to counter that feeling of being a joke and that fear of not being taken seriously. I rarely nd that validation and very often, it has to come from within. It’s It hard to provide for myself most of the time, but I try, all the time, because what else can I do? Despite the downsides and the struggle, identifying as ace has also eased my anxiety about my virginity. When it became clear to me that I truly wasn’t interested in having sex with people, or when I stopped trying to fool myself that I would be, it also became clear that it was most likely I would remain a virgin. I nd there to be relief from the shame and inadequacy I felt as a virgin who thought I wanted sex. It makes me feel like less of a failure. On my best of days, my virginity makes me feel like I failu can relate to the Virgin Mary and to Artemis, mythical sacred women who, because of their virginity, are powerful. I read somewhere that “virgin” originally referred to a woman “not belonging to a man” (not married). I am very much my own person, and my virginity is my own. Powerful, magical, trivial, unimportant, preoccupying, shameful, sacred, boring, holy, and it’s mine. p. 11

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there’s something wrong with you and that you owe your partner(s) sex. My heart goes out to you if that is or ever was the case and I hope you nd validation in this. Feeling like you owe someone sex and that if you don’t perform as expected there will be consequences (confrontation/connict, tension, breaking up, insults, violence, etc) might make you feel like you should not say no to sex. at’s coercion. It might not be intentional on your partner’s part, it might not even be from things that they’ve done or said, it might be just from noticing that everyone around you has sex and that it’s “normal” to want that, but acting under the impression that you don’t have a choice is not consenting. One’s consent is not valid unless it is free. Meaning that if you don’t know that you can refuse to consent to sex or to certain acts, you can’t possibly be free to give informed consent. It’s essential to know that you can say no to anything. Consent is given freely (so not under threats or the impression that you can’t say no), actively (checking in every once in a while, can be retracted at any point), informed (you know what you’re getting into/what to expect), sober (not under substances that can hinder your decision-making capacities or enable you to cross your boundaries) and with the knowledge that if you say no, there will be no retribution (no negative reaction on your partner’s part). pa I want to encourage you to make space for saying no with no fear of reprimand in your relationships, whether they involve sex or not. p. 14

What that looks like is: • asking for consent before touching someone (in anyway), • disclosing your intentions (explaining why you want to do something, like hug for example) • checking in if you sense discomfort or hesitation • expressing your own boundaries and desires • offering alternatives if someone says they are uncomfortable to one thing (like a hand hug instead of a full-body hug) • keeping your reactions in check (so not looking disappointed if someone says no) • not taking a no personally (it’s not about you, it’s about them and what they are comfortable with) • respecting boundaries and decisions (not asking why someone said no and not pushing them to say yes or shame them for saying no) • trusting that the person you asked knows what’s best for them Practicing all of these things (and/or whatever else works for you) will most likely make you and your partner feel more comfortable to say no to things you don’t want to do (to express non-consent). I hope this helps

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In my dreams of my ideal future, I am living with other people who are independent of me and who are there because we love each other. I am not in a couple or partnership or defined arrangement of any sorts. I am free. I am free to love and be loved in ways what make sense to us. I am multiple and single. I lay flowers on the beds of my loved ones ones and and they they kiss kiss my my cheek cheek and and hold hold me me in in loved the morning, but we owe each other nothing. Nothing but respect. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s somewhat of a revelation and I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what to do with it, or how to achieve it. Maybe thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the goal.


Until recently, I was in a relationship with a great person whom I care about a lot. That relationship evolved slowly and quite naturally and for both of us, that was a first. I think what made me happiest in regards to our partnership was that we made it what it was and despite pressures from everywhere and everyone, it was true to who I was/am and how I felt about them. It’s It liberating to think about what you want in a relationship, and to make it happen, instead of going along with what you think you’re supposed to want or with what someone else wants for you. It’s amazing to love in a way that makes sense to you. It’s very hard, though. We were both open to polyamory, or having multiple partners, and we thought of our feelings for each other as platonic. I rarely told people in my life about this because I was afraid they wouldn’t understand and that they would dismiss the importance of this person in my life and deem our relationship to not be what it was. I think part of why I was afraid of that is because I haven’t completely gotten rid of the ideas about partnerships I’ve internalized myself. I want to be free. I want to love how it makes sense to me. I f want to make space in my life for relationships that are comfortable for me and that don’t make me feel trapped or like I’m playing a role. p. 17

That’s really fucking difficult. Polyamory, even in an aromantic and asexual relationship, requires a lot of working around jealousy and time management and communication. Making up the rules as you go is liberating, but it’s so challenging and it can become stressful! It’s like walking hand in hand on a tightrope and you’re not sure you have a safety net. There’s no EverydayFeminism.com article or Clementine Morrigan zine about how to do aro-ace poly relationships! There’s nothing to guide you but your own gut feelings and your feelings for each other, and those are hard to trust when you don’t know which desires are yours and which you’ve internalized from years of thinking you weren’t asexual! It’s isolating, because there aren’t many people to talk to about this, aside from your partner, who knows the terms of your relationship. Also, it’s hard to find someone to talk to because you have to out yourself + your partner when you open up to someone and that isn’t always comfortable or o possible. The fear of being judged or misunderstood often kept me from confiding in people I trust with other things. I wish I could end this with a solution or 10 Steps To A Successful Aro-Ace Polyamorous Relationship, but I haven’t figure it out yet. All I can say is that even if it’s difficult, it’s worth it. For every step you take in the dark, there’s a sigh of relief or a moment where your heart feels bigger and brighter and warm. Trusting yourself and your partners is a beautiful gift to all of you. It takes courage, patience, will and love, but it’s it achievable. To you and to me: good luck!

p. 18

Finding is losing something else. I think about, perhaps even mourn, what I lost to nd this.

Richard Brautigan

This has felt a lot like grieving. The sexuality I won’t have. I grieved my heterosexuality very briefly, the sight of lesbianism attractive enough that I didn’t dwell on it too long. Being different isn’t too bad when you’ve got company and women had always been better company to me than men. Lesbian didn’t stick to me though, it felt like an ill-fitting trench coat. Protected me from the wind, but too tight and the sleeves a bit too long. Still, I felt naked without it. Finding queer was like tripping. Like skipping a step while going down the stairs, your heel failing to catch the step, and you tilt back for a moment, balance lost, and your heart stops just before catching yourself on the railing and (ha!) straightening back up, a little panicked, but alright after all. Queer is a happy arrhythmia. A road that goes on forever, from sunset ‘til sunrise and again, and again, you can ride and look every which way, queerness is always there, somewhere, maybe hiding (to surprise you again!), but it’s there. I found myself along the road. And that a little piece was missing. Sex. I’m still bitter about it, to be honest. Sex is full of contradictions and I want to be queer enough to live them all, but it’s not for me. I’m not adventurous, I just want to be comfortable. Grieving sex is sometimes like pulling a fish hook from my skin. Sometimes, it’s like letting out the fart you’ve been holding in all evening. It’s painful, embarrassing, oh God, it’s such a relief! Being on the road, with queerness on the horizon, a pink sunset, my short hair flowing in the wind, sexless, smiling, maybe I’ll reach it before I die. And then I’ll look back at what I lost, grateful. Found.

Sometimes I get so involved with the thought of kissing that my heart starts beating quickly, my breath cut short, but not in a good way. Kissing scares me like crossing a bridge to somewhere I don’t know. I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep you because I don’t want to kiss you, even though you said you don’t want to kiss me either, because we ar aren’t like that, but it’s so ingrained in my head that you kiss the ones you love that I wonder why don’t I want to kiss you and sometimes I wonder why you don’t want to kiss me and feel, for a moment, before reason catches up, hurt. I don’t need to kiss you. This is me saying “I won’t kiss you.” Because it scares me. And the thought of you kissing someone else only scares me because I think that means I’m not enough. That’s not true. And I’m angry at everyone who makes me think it’s true, who’s made it believable. Fuck them. It’s bullshit. I won’t kiss you. Because I don’t want to. sorry, because I am, but I want to write that I’m sorr that’s for them, not for us and I’m not sorry for moving slow. We smile at each other as we pace gently on our way, and make sure our shoelaces are tied before we take another step. I’m a Virgo, what can I say? I need patience and kindness and words and explaining.

p. 21

I don’t need to kiss you. Maybe I’ll hold your hand one day. Kiss your cheek. I’ve dreamed a few times that you would sleep beside me, or that my arm would be wrapped around you. dreams. It felt nice in those d I’ve also dreamed of kissing you. I heard somewhere that when you dream of kissing someone, it means you want to get to know them. I do want that. I want to know everything about you that you’re willing to show me, teach me, tell me. You’re bright and delightful and I can’t say I would mind all that much getting to know you for a long while. For now, maybe forever, I don’t want to kiss you. And there are thousands of things I’d rather do with you. Let us witness morning dew kissing rose petals this spring and I’ll be happy. Let the sun kiss our summer skin once more. Let the waves kiss the shore, and the wind kiss my face. Let that be our first kiss, and let me be at peace.

p. 22

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A collection of personal essays and poems about the many weird feelings I have had about being asexual, queer, a fat girl, a virgin, and a witch, among other things. Thank you for reading.

Cover illustration by Witch-Hazel

Profile for Stephanie Meunier

What I Lost To Find This  

A collection of personal essays and poems about the many weird feelings I have had about being asexual, queer, a fat girl, a virgin, and a w...

What I Lost To Find This  

A collection of personal essays and poems about the many weird feelings I have had about being asexual, queer, a fat girl, a virgin, and a w...