A few weeks ago, I joined a new group on FaceBook. It was for singles and dating in Spain, and the group description made it very clear that it was not just a dating group, but was also meant for single people who weren’t looking for a relationship, but wanted to get out and socialise more. This seemed perfect for me because I’m not actively looking for someone to settle down with (although I would if the right person came along), but I do need to get out more and meet people.
So I joined, and started posting occasional comments on some of the discussions.
There was one member who loved posting questions, and the threads he started always attracted many replies. If you ask a specific question, people tend to answer it! They also triggered some interesting discussions, and revealed assumptions that certain members were making. One conversation, about how far people would travel, and whether they would be willing to relocate, for the perfect partner, resulted in someone commenting, “It’s no wonder people are single, if they value a house above a relationship.”
This made me a bit uncomfortable. The person the comment was directed at had said her home (that she’d designed at built herself) was important to her, but she had also said a lot more than that! I said there are lots of things about living in this particular part of Spain that make me happy, and although a relationship would be the icing on the cake, “I’m not willing to give up the cake for the sake of the icing.”
And most of the group members – or at least the more vocal ones – didn’t understand.
Then came the big question:
Do you like children?
I answered it honestly, as I tend to do, by saying, “No, no, no. Give me kittens and puppies any day.”
A couple of other people gave similar answers, and we were immediately subjected to attacks from some of the parents in the group. How could we not like children? Why did we hate children? Everyone should love children. It’s natural to love children.
The fact is, I don’t like kids. I don’t hate them; I just find them boring, and I’d rather not be around them. Some people seem to see this as a personal attack on them and their children, but it really isn’t. If someone says they don’t like dogs, I don’t see it as a personal attack on Jimmy and Rufus. I just think they’re weird. People are welcome to think I’m weird for not liking kids, and I won’t take offense.
I’m good at staying calm and not being nasty and aggressive when an argument starts up in a FaceBook group. I’m a member of a number of groups that I use for business networking, and it’s important to come across as professional and mature, so I tend to get a lot of practice. Unfortunately, those on the other side of the argument didn’t do such a good job of keeping it friendly, and it attracted the attention of one of the moderators, who posted a reminder to be nice and not get aggressive.
I responded with, “That wasn’t directed at me, was it? I’m doing my best to keep it friendly.”
The moderator said, “It was directed at everyone.”
That was the first sign that all was not well.
A few minutes later, the same moderator commented that she doesn’t have children of her own, but she knows when to keep her opinions to herself, and that was when I left the group.
Let’s rename the group: Singles and Dating in Spain, for people who like children.
If you join the group, and you don’t like children, you’d better keep your unwanted opinions to yourself. You’d better stay invisible.
It’s quite insidious, this invisibility thing. Forcing minority groups to be invisible is one tactic people use (mostly unintentionally, I hope) to marginalise people, and it’s a tactic that’s commonly used against asexual people.
Asexuals are often told they are not really asexual. They just haven’t found anyone they find sexually attractive yet. It isn’t possible to be asexual because everyone wants sex. If you don’t want sex, there must be something wrong with you. Have you had your hormones checked? And so it goes on.
I had been looking for an opportunity to mention that I was asexual, probably in one of the discussions about sex that came up from time to time. I saw it as a chance to raise awareness about asexuality, and do my bit to make it easier for people “coming out” as asexual in the future. But if the reaction to my not liking kids was so negative, how would they have reacted if I’d said I don’t like sex?
I no longer felt comfortable with the prospect of sharing that bit of information about myself, but I felt even less comfortable about staying in a group where I was forced to remain invisible. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, so I left the group.
Asexuality is already the invisible orientation. Let’s not make it worse by hanging out in places where we’re afraid to talk about it.