We were grabbing a bite of lunch at a small cafe, in a mall, right across from a booth that sold jewelry and where ears could be pierced for a fee....”
Supposedly invented by the Chinese, there is an ancient form of torture that is nothing more than cold, tiny drops falling upon a person’s forehead.
On its own, a single drop is nothing. It falls upon the brow making a tiny splash. It doesn’t hurt. No real harm comes from it.
In multitudes, the drops are still fairly harmless. Other than a damp forehead, there really is no cause for concern.
The key to the torture is being restrained. You cannot move. You must feel each drop. You have lost all control over stopping these drops of water from splashing on your forehead.
It still doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. But person after person, time and time again—would completely unravel psychologically. They all had a breaking point where each drop turned into a horror. Building and building until all sense of sanity was completely lost.
"It was just a joke, quite being so sensitive."
"They used the wrong pronoun, big deal."
"So your parents don’t understand, it could be worse."
Day after day. Drop after drop. It builds up. A single instance on its own is no big deal. A few drops, not a problem. But when you are restrained, when you cannot escape the drops, when it is unending—these drops can be agony.
People aren’t sensitive because they can’t take a joke. Because they can’t take being misgendered one time. Because they lack a thick skin.
People are sensitive because the drops are unending and they have no escape from them.
You are only seeing the tiny, harmless, single drop hitting these so-called “sensitive” people. You are failing to see the thousands of drops endured before that. You are failing to see the restraints that make them inescapable.
Actually, yes! It’s amazing, all the stuff that crosses my dash that I save away on the off-chance that it might be useful some day.
I have a few options for you, Anon.
First, from my very favorite sex-ed website, Scarleteen, there is this article on understanding desire. One of the types of desire that they talk about is what I would label sexual attraction, but they also touch on a lot of other different ways that desire can work.
The second description I have comes from a thread on AVEN about what sexual attraction feels like. A user who has experienced sexual attraction before chimed in here to describe what it felt like for him. (In case that permalink doesn’t work properly, I’m talking specifically about post #6, the rest is mostly asexual people speculating and/or very brief descriptions.)
There is also this thread on Reddit. Of the three, it is definitely the most crude, but if you can wade through that (gloss over any of the comments that are only one or two lines long, you won’t be missing much) there are a pretty good variety of descriptions there.
Last, but not least, a couple of ace-spectrum resources for you. This is a page that I’ve linked to as recently as yesterday, from Demi Gray, explaining sexual attraction and romantic attraction. While the mod of Demi Gray isn’t allosexual (she IDs as demisexual), she is still definitely more of an expert on what sexual attraction feels like than I am. Also, the mods at Asexual Advice have an FAQ that includes some answers to the question “what is sexual attraction?” You can find that page here, and the second section is the one you’ll be looking for.
I hope that helps, Anon!
I have a weird identity problem that nobody I know seems to share. I have lots of LGBTQ friends, and it seems like lately it’s a bad thing to be straight. I identify as mostly hetero, at least for now, but my friend group almost looks down on straight relationships, the way that many bigoted communities view LGBTQ people. I sometimes feel embarrassed about my orientation around my closest friends! I have no idea what to do. I don’t think that the fact that I’m straight detracts from how weird and wrong all this is. Perhaps I require a different perspective? Please help!
Sam W replies:
To start off with, I can assure you that you’re not the first person to be in this situation. So you don’t have to feel as though you’re the only straight person traveling in queer circles who’s ever felt uncomfortable with the way straightness is discussed. And believe me when I say the advice I’m about to give you is very much colored by my own experiences (I mean, all advice is to some extent, but let’s just say your question rang a lot of bells for me).
As a quick aside, I’m going to use queer as my go-to term here. I find it encapsulates the widest number of identities, especially in terms of sexual orientation, which is what you seem to be referring to (an obvious caveat is that not every LGBTQA person identifies as queer). You don’t mention gender identity specifically in your question (and I know some trans folks don’t associate with the term “queer”) but what I’m about to say applies regardless of which specific, marginalized sexual orientation or gender identity your friends identify with.
Now, you don’t go into specifics of what exactly your friends are doing, so I’m going to offer up some different scenarios (some of which are, given the patterns that exist in our current world, more likely than others). Are your friends harassing and picking on straight students because of their orientation? Are they writing mean things on their lockers or trashing their stuff? Do they shout rude things at straight couples holding hands, or ask invasive questions about the sex lives of their straight acquaintances? If so then yes, they are doing the same things that straight students do to queer students, and you should intervene and try to get them to stop. If talking to them directly about their behavior doesn’t work, I would involve a teacher or other adult at the school.
But, if I had to make a guess, your friends are probably not behaving that way. If they’re anything like the vast majority of queer folks, they’re mostly making jokes and comments about straight people and how much they’re annoyed by them/wish they would stop doing x thing/ wish they would all go away.
Essentially, they’re venting. And the reason they’re doing so near you is that you’re their friend (or you’re all hanging out in a safe space together). They’re using this feeling of safety as a chance to say all the things that politeness and/or a desire to avoid a nasty conflict, keep them from saying in the moment where they first think them. And if this is what’s happening, and you spend the majority of you time with these friends, then that may indeed give you the sense that it’s “bad to be straight.”
But here’s the thing: when your friends talk about how annoyed they are by straight people, or how much they hate them, those emotions have less to do with the identity of straightness and more to do with how they are/have been treated by straight folks. I doubt they think straight people are inherently sinful, or unnatural, or faking their identity for attention or to cause trouble (all of which, BTW, are things people assume about those with queer identities).
Instead, “straight people” is essentially shorthand for the nasty behaviors that your friends have been on the receiving end of. To be sure, there can be unpleasantness and bigotry directed from one part of the queer community to another, but the majority of nastiness that queer folks (your friends included) face comes from straight people. So, when they say things like “I hate straight people,” they’re expressing their anger, frustration, and exhaustion with the stuff they face everyday, be those micro-aggressions like looks or comments from people, or bigger aggressions like ostracization or violence at the hands of their family or their peers.
But it’s a hell of a lot simpler(and for some people more cathartic) to say, “I hate straight people.”
Read the rest here