Nicole Brinkley of YA Interrobang was kind enough to interview me for the column Dragons Raging: a feature that is for interviews of people from marginalized backgrounds.
We could definitely do with more asexual characters. Canon asexual characters in mainstream media are almost nonexistent, and characters interpreted or rumored to be asexual are often played as uninterested in sex/relationships for a specific reason (they’re an alien, they’re a villain, they’re ill, they’ve given up).
I would love to see both “issue books” about asexual people AND books in which characters are incidentally asexual. We need both of those things.
I was featured a couple places today. In The Varsity, Jasleen Arneja wrote about the WorldPride-affiliated asexuality conference and quoted me, using my book table photo as the featured photo. You can read the article in “Toronto hosts second-ever International Asexuality Conference” on their website.
And this was just a quick mention, but The Daily Dish decided to excerpt my The Toast article and that’s pretty cool:
“She’s Just Not That Into Anyone.”
I had the pleasure of attending the International Asexuality Conference in Toronto, Ontario, at the end of June 2014. As a WorldPride-affiliated event, we got some pretty amazing coverage and attention, with something like 300 registered attendees!
I was on the Asexual Leadership Q&A panel with Sara Beth Brooks and David Jay. Video here!
And later I was on a Visibility and Content Creation panel. You can see video of it here.
But what’s also great is it was the first appearance I made with my book!
I asked attendees to enter their names to win advance reading copies. Around fifty people entered and I got to talk to quite a lot of amazing people who were really excited about the book coming out. And there were a few who treated me like a celebrity or excitedly told me how much they like my videos online. How nice!
And after attending sessions and sitting on panels all day, I rounded out the night by appearing on Canadian national television.
Click to watch the video!
So yeah, that was a good experience. Hanging out with new and old friends was also fun–I was staying with asexual friends in a hotel, some of whom I’d known on the Internet before and some of whom I was getting to know for the first time. I didn’t stay for the parade–just the conference–but I’m glad I got to go.
Hooray for visibility and connections!
I appeared at the University of Virginia on Thursday, April 10, to talk about asexual relationships as part of the university’s Pride week.
My presentation in the University Chapel went well, including a slide presentation and an interactive talk. I got some really nice questions and got to hear from asexual students who attended my presentation. It was a positive experience all around!
You can see a recording of the presentation on my asexuality channel.
A piece about me has been published in Best magazine in the UK. It is included in the print edition as well as the abridged online version.
The article is written in first person as if I had written it. I did not. I also did not approve the article’s approach or content. I was promised a read-back and did not receive it. I also found out about its publication more than a month after it appeared.
The article contains factual inaccuracies about my life (I do not go out with friends in heels and a dress to have fun, and I would never imply that being asexual frees a person from the experience of jealousy), and its writing style not only contains British conventions I do not use, but employs reductionist and simplistic phrasing and philosophy I would never touch.
A read-back would have prevented this. A more comprehensive debunking is posted here on my blog.
The link to the article:
“I’m a 35 year old virgin”
Grainy scans of the print article (click to enlarge):
The pan-ivy queer conference IvyQ, held this time at Princeton University, invited me to be a speaker this year!
My workshop, entitled Inclusivity and Asexuality: Examining Asexual Participation in Queer Spaces, was held on Friday, February 7. In my afternoon workshop, I spoke to a small crowd about discrimination and prejudice and how it affects asexual people differently than it affects LGBT folks, and discussed how queer spaces can be more inclusive to asexual people and how asexual people can be more aware of the reasons behind opposition to their inclusion.
My program extract:
I really enjoyed talking to a few other asexual people and queer asexual allies, seeing the LGBT space on the Princeton campus, and meeting people who were actually familiar with my work! My asexuality workshop wasn’t the only slot on asexuality, either; David Jay was there as well, presenting a similar workshop the day after mine. (We didn’t get to see each other, though.) I was also lucky enough to be in the neighborhood of two of my writer pals, and got to meet both of them.
Yung Huang and Ronan O’Brien were the two volunteers who assisted me personally several times each and put up with my inability to find my way to anywhere, and even got me swanky shuttle service and a really beautiful, comfortable hotel room. The only thing that could have made the trip better was that the weather was too cold for my wimpy Florida self—there was snow everywhere!—and I didn’t get to record my presentation. All things considered it was a wonderful experience and I’m so glad I was part of it.
An interview with me was posted on the DiversifYA blog today. DiversifYA is all about providing resources for authors to make their young-adult fiction diverse and sharing perspectives about what it’s like to live with different experiences.
I submitted a suggestion last month volunteering myself as an asexual interviewee, and Marieke Nijkamp accepted my offer and sent me her questions. Marieke told me she’s gray asexual herself (an orientation that usually suggests being somewhere between asexual and non-asexual), and she discussed it in a roundtable shortly before my interview posted, so that was a nice connection!
Anyway, here is my interview: DiversifYA: Julie Sondra Decker.
I’ve appeared in Digital Journal now, hot on the heels of the Daily Mail article, and I’m afraid it’s full of misleading information and mistakes. It’s pulled heavily from the Daily Mail article from earlier today, but then it adds embellishments and outright factual inaccuracies. I wasn’t asked or told about appearing in this. A friend found it and posted it on my Facebook.
“An asexual activist speaks out”
Problems with it:
- The full title is “‘I don’t need to be raped’ an Asexual activist speaks out.” (Capitalization and punctuation intact.) I don’t understand the media’s fascination with sticking “rape” in the headline. Would someone say they do “need to be raped”?
- I’m repeatedly called “Julia” in the article. My name is Julie. It’s not short for Julia.
- A quote: “Anthony F. Bogaert of Brock University states that he believes one percent of the world population is bisexual.” I don’t know where “bisexual” came from. This article is on asexuality. So is Bogaert’s work. And the next part of the sentence says “and according to Julie Sondra Decker of Tampa, Florida she is one of them.” So according to this article, I’m bisexual.
- They claim I never had an intimate relationship with a man or a woman, but I dated in high school. It’s part of how I found out I didn’t like it. The fact that I dated in high school is public in my body of work.
- None of my family members ever dragged me to a doctor like this article implies. My mother did ask about it during an examination she asked me to get before going to college. The suggestion that this was an attempted intervention is exaggerated.
- The article claims I have a psychology degree. This built on the misconception in The Daily Mail and gave me an imaginary degree. I majored in education. I studied psychology. I don’t have a psychology degree and have never claimed to.
- “While asexual’s [sic] never pursue a sexual relationship, some do have romantic relationships.”–Untrue. The author should watch the video embedded in this article, because I debunk that assumption. Some asexual people do pursue sexual relationships despite lack of sexual attraction.
It’s full of really egregious typos too. I’m sorry to see this–something with this many errors and misleading statements does more harm than good.
Copycat articles are appearing in magazines whose languages I don’t speak: “Elle n’a jamais fait l’amour et ne le fera sans doute jamais” in French magazine 7sur7 and “Aseksuaalne naine: meeste arvates tuleks mind ära vägistada” in Estonian magazine Elu24. Copycat articles also appeared in Nigeria News (“I Have Never, and Will Never Have Sex“) Joint Arena (“I have never had sex and I never will“) and The Hollywood Gossip: (“Julie Sondra Decker Discusses Being Asexual“).
I received a few quick interview questions from someone at The Daily Mail today, mentioning without detail that they were doing “a piece” on me, so I answered the questions briefly. However, most of the article that got published a few hours later did not come from those questions. I had a few problems with the content as well.
You can read the Daily Mail article here:
“Asexual woman on how she never has, and never will, have sex.”
Problems with it:
- That title: Very poorly written. Take out the appositive phrase “and never will,” and you have a sentence that says “Asexual woman on how she never has have sex.” In the title? Ouch.
- Also the title: I have never stated that I “will never have sex.” I don’t think I will, because I don’t think I’ll ever be attracted to anyone that way, but I don’t make dogmatic statements like that.
- Also the title again: On the page, the full title is “‘Men say I need a good raping’: Asexual woman, 35, on how she never has, and never will, have sex.” I’m very put off by their need to put the word “rape” in this title.
- The photo: Grabbed from my Facebook photos without asking me to provide a photo or asking for the credit. The photo is of me in my bathing suit. It is nine years old. (It was featured on my Facebook because I was writing a novel even while on vacation. I guess they used it to get a good thumbnail for the views?)
- I’m repeatedly referred to as “the blonde” which sounds weird to me.
- A bunch of the quotes were mined from the Salon article published about me in 2005, a Huffington Post article, and one of my YouTube videos.
- It contradicts itself by saying I started calling myself “nonsexual” at 15 (changing to “asexual” later when the community settled on the term), then later saying I called myself “asexual” at 15.
- The statements about my family are false. My mom joked about how I’m probably a closet lesbian, because I cuddled with my girl friends in high school, and though she asked me to get a personal exam before going to college and asked the doctor about my lack of interest being a sign of pathology, she did not drag me around to doctors trying to see what was wrong with me.
- I don’t have a degree in psychology. I have a degree in elementary education. I took enough classes in psych to have a minor, though.
Some of the quotes from me are just fine, and overall the article may be a little unfocused but still has some interesting stuff despite its inaccuracies and weird choices. Throughout this week I’ve been finding out I’m in the media without being told by the authors, though. I found this one when someone commented on my YouTube that they’d seen me in The Daily Mail and I had to Google it.
The Huffington Post is celebrating Asexual Awareness Week and now I’ve appeared in an article again. This time, instead of being a nameless contributor to the collaborative video they featured, the article focuses entirely on me and embeds my “Asexuality: An Overview” video.
Please read it:
“‘Asexuality: An Overview’ By Julie Decker Explains A Frequently Misunderstood Identity”
The embedded video was a new addition to their material, but the rest of the article was recycled somewhat from June’s comprehensive Huffington Post article.