Don’t ask, don’t tell

By |May 4th, 2015|Essays|0 Comments

One thing I’ve noticed over the past few weeks is how difficult it is to ask questions. This seems particularly the case when people want to ask me questions. We all have a natural curiosity, but we also have a natural inclination to kill it as it wakes.

I think this is rather sad, personally. The reason we kill these inclinations is because we have a heightened sense of the possibilities for how it may be received. We are afraid of offending or otherwise perturbing. We perceive in our minds that this is irreconcilable too: ask the wrong questions and you can lose your friends, your jobs, your place in society… Yet asking questions shows an interest and engagement with people, so it is a fine line to cross.

When it comes to sexuality, this fine line is even thinner. I’d say it was taboo. Some people are very vocal about their sexuality (welcome to my blog, by the way), while others are reticent and selective over who they talk to about their sexuality. Asking about sexuality, then, must be broached with caution.

Not least because asking the questions themselves can cause some embarrassment to the inquisitor as well as the respondent. Answers can be unexpected; they may change perceptions and assumptions. This makes it equally troublesome to spontaneously talk about sexuality. My policy then is “don’t ask, don’t tell”, despite the connotations of that phrase from the American military past.

When it comes to asexuality, people are just as naturally inquisitive. For all of us, myself included, there was a time when asexuality was unknown (or, at least, was a biological phenomenon of reproduction that is not performed by humans). There follows a period of learning about what it is — and in my case to establish that I am indeed one.

For that reason, I welcome questions: a quest for learning is a noble one, and to familiarise oneself with other human dwellers on this planet makes it far nobler. Of course, some questions are more intrusive than others (and some may be considered abusive too): in which case, I answer the question more broadly and more generally, rather than the specifics of my own circumstances and experiences. This inquisitiveness and the communication it creates are important. Without them, we are merely ignorant.