This essay was cross-posted on The Asexual Agenda.
Two previous linkspams
included themes of doubting, and made me reflect on my own attitude
towards doubting. I have some very high-minded principles about
doubting that dominated my coming out experience.
I can't see
doubt as good or bad. Doubting is just what you do when you don't have
enough evidence. Not doubting is what you do when you have enough
evidence. That's the principle, the rest is details.
has acquired extra meaning, especially in the context of an identity
like asexuality, which is so often disbelieved and invalidated.
Disbelief and invalidation always seem to go together. Doubt thyself,
because asexuality doesn't exist. Doubt thyself, because real asexuals
can't have a sex drive. Doubt thyself, because you're just trying to be
the flip side, we have "overcoming doubts" narratives. Many of the
reasons we are given to doubt ourselves are expressions of ignorance.
To overcome doubt is to climb out of the pit of ignorance and wipe the
mud off your boots. It's realizing, "Wow, my friend actually had no idea what she was talking about with asexuality, and I only took it seriously because I didn't know any better!"
in our context, doubting is what the ignorant tell you to do, and not
doubting is what you do when you realize their ignorance.
can't see doubt as good or bad. To think of doubt as good or bad is to
constrain our view of the world, not according to what is true, but
according to what we want to be true. (I also suspect it will bite us
in the ass when the Unsures finally rise up as an empowered sexual
minority. Which I'm sure will happen any day now, right?)
yet, I felt bad about doubting. I felt bad about feeling bad about
doubting. I was scared of being wrong and missing a perfectly good
opportunity to fit the normative romantic narrative. I was scared of
being right, and not having any opportunity to fit the normative
romantic narrative. I was scared of inadvertently proving the doubters
right, even if for the wrong reasons. I was scared of the fact that I
was scared of doubt, and that made me doubt more. It was kind of a
I took solace in two things. First, I came to accept the
benefits of an aromantic lifestyle, as well as those of a romantic
lifestyle. So I would be okay no matter how it turned out, whether my
doubts were right or wrong.
Second, I gradually saw that my doubts
completely failed to conform to the reasons people said I should
doubt. People thought the label was limiting my exploration, but during
that time I did more exploration than the entire time I identified as
straight. Some people thought I was really gay, some thought I was
really straight, but as an informed doubter, I knew gray/demi were the
possibilities that loomed largest. People thought I would try sex and
like it and get over this asexual thing. In reality, I tried a
relationship, had a bad experience, and concluded I was gray-A.
I no longer consider myself much of a doubter. But I don't feel I overcame
doubt. I achieved better understanding through personal experiences
and philosophy, and reduced doubts were an incidental side-effect. If I
still found myself doubting, that would have been okay. If I start to
doubt again, that would be okay.
Perhaps this is confusing
correlation with causation, but I became comfortable with my doubts
around the same time I became comfortable with being gray-A. I feel
they are connected somehow. Being between worlds is different from
being unsure about your world, but in terms of personal impact they can
be quite similar.