Theme for February’s Blog Carnival was „language“. Since most German asexuals know the words they use, and have already gotten my definition rant, I will refrain from posting a German version of this.
A few facts on the German ace community: there’s a German AVEN sub-forum with approximately 9000 members, there’s two blogs (mine and the zine-blog, which isn’t updated on a regular basis), and semi-regular meetups in, I think, at least six bigger cities. I don’t believe this is due to Germans being notoriously good at organizing stuff, I rather think it has to do with the fact that this country isn’t all that big, and the transportation infrastructure is decent.
Part 1: Words in use
German is quite a bit more gendered than English, with, traditionally, the male plural being used when speaking of groups. Currently, it’s considered better form, and politically correct, to actually use the plural in the female version. There was a lot of derision when this change was implemented by official sources, but we’ve now become accustomed to it.
There is no such thing as a gender neutral pronoun for persons, as comparable to the singular-use „they“ in English. Alternatives, such as amalgamations of „sie“ and „er“ (she and he), leading to „sier“, or „xier“ are currently being tried out. Someone also has proposed „nin“.
There is no collective word in use for GSMs, as „queer“ is in English. As usual with Germans, we were lazy and simply imported „queer“, instead of going to the trouble of making up something new. However, the meaning of „queer“ isn’t exactly common knowledge (neither is LGBT, or the German equivalent LSBT), so it’s used and understood only by people who have interest in queer issues. GSM and GSRM have also made their way across the pond, but they’re so new, only the cutting edge seems to be comfortable with them.
We’ve also imported „gender“, because German doesn’t have a word for the concept.
The bigger sexual minorities, gay („schwul“), lesbian („lesbisch“), and bisexual („bi“, or „bisexuell“) are sometimes contracted to LesBiSchwul or SchwuLesBisch. Note here that „schwul“ commonly refers only to men, though I’ve seen it used as self-descriptor by homosexual women. Also, „schwul“ suffers the same use as „gay“ in terms of insult.
As is common elsewhere, bisexuals remain mostly invisible when same-sex marriage, pride parades and things like that are being discussed.
As to asexuality, this would be „Asexualität“ in German, and asexual is „asexuell“.
We’ve yet to agree on an abbreviation. Some favor „ace“. Some use „AS“. Other things I’ve seen and tried out are „asexy“ or „asexi“ both as adjective and noun, and „Ass“, which, yes, really, is the German version of „ace“. However, it can’t be used as an adjective.
Aromantics are „Aromantiker“, and sometimes „Aromanties“. „Aromantic“ is „aromantisch“. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a word for aromanticism.
Part 2: Talking about asexuality
So, the vocab lesson is out of the way. One would think, given the close relation between the English and German words, there should be minimal differences between what we talk about. You’ll find it isn’t so if you ever bother to translate the definition the founding persons of the German AVEN-subdomain slapped on the front page. It says „kein Verlangen nach sexueller Interaktion“ – literally: „no desire for sexual interaction“. They’re using a preferred behavior angle instead of the sexual orientation angle.
To this day, I’m unsure why they didn’t simply translate the English definition. I’ve tried to find the thread where they discussed it, but wasn’t able to dig it up.
If I’m allowed some speculation based on some comments I did find, the orientation-angle might seem, at first, counter-intuitive, especially if you don’t have any idea what sexual attraction feels like, and one could argue that the „no desire for sexual interaction“ is the outcome if you don’t have sexual attraction in the first place. It is, most of the time, granted, but I still believe this definition-mix-up will come back to bite us in the ass, if it hasn’t already.
„No desire for sexual interaction“ reads a lot like „no libido“ and I think we create more confusion with the uneducated medical establishment this way.
We still get „asexuality exists“ articles, and most experts being quoted for those never get past the „no desire“-part. After all, a low libido can be treated, if one should wish so, whereas sexual orientations are rather immune to therapeutic influence.
Therefore, I believe we’ll have an even harder time being recognized as a legitimate sexual orientation.
Also, most scientific literature on asexuality is in English, with „no sexual attraction“ as the current working definition. Given what I’ve read, I don’t think that this working definition will change anytime soon, so anyone doing research on German-speaking asexuals will have to be mindful of that difference.
So: I don’t have a grand conclusion this time. Given discussions with other people at the Asexual Worldpride Conference in London last year, I actually live in ace-wonderland. Even without London, I’ve met a good two dozen other aces. However, we’re far from being commonly recognized as belonging to the alphabet soup, so… there’s more visibility work ahead. (As usual.)