Men (and many women) are endlessly attracted to women/others who are ‘unavailable’. But what does ‘unavailable’ mean? For most people this means ‘taken’ or otherwise not single, meaning you are dating someone else. However if you are already with someone you are in dating-mode; you might not be interested in anyone else however. BUT the ultimate ‘unavailable is not the one who is ‘no interested’, it is the one who is ‘not interested because they are not interested’. This circular logic seemed pointless to me for years, but I’ve come to understand now that this reason is much more powerful than initially assumed (by me).
This becomes a sui generis challenge to some people. This is particularly the case for people who identify as ace. This makes people (often via implicit bias, not thinking they are causing harm) want to knock you back into what they deem social conformity. You are put in your place. And that place is a rigid gender binary where cishetero normativity reigns supreme. Particularly for ‘dating’. Further, this is a binary where in which the socially accepted institution of marriage is an ‘aim’ to strive for, for everyone.
This is the same prejudice gay people experience. However in my circle of friends and family gay relationships are widely accepted and I take this as my starting point (because I can’t not). I realize now that the reason why homosexuality is embraced by these people is in large part because they can knock the people down [or raise them up, all accordingly] into the same socially accepted dating paradigm. The gendered hetero binary of man/woman is displaced in favor of cisman+cisman or ciswoman+ciswoman. That is the scope of the acceptance, which is also unacceptable.
However none of this limited embrace applies to aces. They do not strive for this institution (and thus indirectly: institutional acceptance) in the same way because some (yours truly included) do not desire it. This makes them worthy of being cast off, but more so dismissed: “No it’s just a phase!” “When you meet the right man/woman you’ll change your mind!” etc. (Mind you I have gone through almost 30 years of life with identical comments directed at me about having children something I have also never desired and rejected since old enough to be cognizant of my lack of such desire.) There is wide ignorance in this area, and as a newly identifying ace I am only just starting to become aware of these dynamics around me.
Like I said, I have very socially liberal friends and family. However, I still have not come out to most of them because I already know what the response will be (even though almost everyone already knows that I have no desire to date, marry or have children) and I prefer that level of violence coming from strangers rather than people I care about. It is also something to be said about the social self-righteousness of liberals. They may be more accepting than conservatives on some issues, but they also think that this makes them automatically enlightened on other issues and they are wrong but unwilling to address themselves.
I am lucky enough to have been isolated enough in my young life to be comfortable with myself from my early 20s and on wards. All the different bad self-confidence issues of my earlier years was rooted in self-hatred for not fitting into the oppressive social modes set out by the White cishet patriarchy. And I still struggle with that today. However, being able to live relatively alone (I am harassed daily but I know other women who are harassed to a much bigger degree) has made me realize that the more accepting I am of my differences from White cishet patriarchy, the happier I will ever be and continue to become.
****My best friend inspired this. He identified as cishet for 30 years but was never interested in dating anyone. Thus giving new nuance to the label ‘unavailable’. He was never uncomfortable with himself despite the constant cries of OMG why aren’t you conforming. Despite being a social conservative capitalist, he has never once questioned other people’s “difference”, including me and TWoC, perhaps because he understood himself what a burden it can be to live outside of these rigid norms. I am grateful that I can grow as a person and know that how ever I come out on the other end, at least this one person will accept me. ❤