Systemic Bias and the Single Girl


I sometimes call myself a spinster because it’s my word to use. I’m a grown woman, single by choice. Call me an aromantic. No, really, do so – it’s a word I’ve accepted after exploring the realm of asexuality and aromanticism, which get little attention in dialogue of sexual diversity and can be pathologized by simplified concepts of evolutionary biology. As I get older the prejudice against me as a single woman is only going to increase. What’s wrong with me that I can’t find a man? What traumatizing experience did I have that turned me off relationships? What is lacking in my physiology that hinders my biological drive for mating and partnership?

(The answer is nothing, by the way.)

I’m lucky enough to have a family that at least doesn’t speak openly about its opinions and prejudices against single women. I’m lucky to be able to work at a job that pays well enough to support myself. But those personal benefits aren’t present for everyone, and any disadvantage asexual or aromantic people might face is from systemic bias. It’s not only embedded in our culture, but written in stone in the law and applied to the economy that single people should face consequences for a lifestyle choice, no matter how healthy and natural the orientation away from sex and partnership actually is.

Culturally, it’s not hard for anyone to see how much value is placed on sex, romance, marriage, and offspring. All of those are implied in the word “family” (though small advances have been made towards greater acceptance of childfree couples or unmarried parents). Legally, everything becomes an inconvenient ambiguity when you don’t have a spouse to default as your next of kin. Tax laws are framed around marriage. Economically, most housing is designed for couples and families. Home prices are cashing in on the dual income standard. Newer developments have dual sinks in the bathroom and dual closets in the bedroom, or as many bathrooms as bedrooms assuming that there will be children living with parents. There are heterosexist implications as well, especially where same sex marriage and adoption are legally prohibited, and they tend to stick to the narrow definition of a nuclear family that doesn’t accommodate multi-generation households. The legal definitions of “family” are very subjective to our culture, and yet they’re applied in objective ways. We’re led to believe that it’s the natural way, and recognition or accommodation of any other family structure under the law is seen as unfair.

Sex and romance are ubiquitous in popular culture and the media. It’s what sells, and there’s a lot of money to be made off of not only ignoring but outright stigmatizing asexual and aromantic people. Characters portaryed as such are at best in the background with beta personalities, but they’re frequently the joke. A single person’s life without weekly dates and sexual adventures has no stories to tell, especially for women. Main characters who don’t have romantic interests are portrayed as psychologically broken, or it’s merely a symptom of an overarching mental condition, like the neuroatypical Sherlock, or sociopath Dexter who started out in a relationship that was part of an overall guise. Even those characters are white men.

In feminist critiques, sex and sexuality is ever present. It’s absolutely an important aspect of patriarchal structures and gender inequalities, and this overlaps with the stigma and structural barriers to single, asexual, and aromantic women (or all genders, really). But so much of popular feminist dialogue revolves very specifically and exclusively around heterosexual dynamics that occur within the context of romantic relationships, sexual desire, or sexualized behaviours. Other conversations within feminism are LGBT inclusive, and examine dynamics within same sex relationships, and the broader oppression of LGBT people and lives by the cissexist and heteronormative establishment. Again, this is very important to the overall discussion around the harm patriarchy imposes on individuals and their personhood, but it doesn’t invite asexual and aromantic people.

Even LGBT dialogue can turn their noses up at the voices of asexual and aromantic people. In the elaborated acronym LGBTTQIA, the A is often assumed to mean ally, and it’s specified as such even by some LGBT organizations. It gets very complicated when you include multiple dimensions of asexual and aromantic orientations, because while some people don’t want sex they might still be homoromantic, biromantic, or heteroromantic. Aromantic people might still be sexual to varying degrees – grey-sexual is a common term for someone somewhere between asexual and sexual (or allosexual, as it is often referred to). I’m sometimes sexually interested in men, making me hetero-grey-sexual, and beyond desire to have sex I still do experience aesthetic and physical attraction to men. This saves me from the stigma and persecution of homo- or bi- orientations, whether romantic or sexual. So how much of a place do I or people like me really have in the LGBTTQIA dialogue?

This is skimming the surface of a deep issue that permeates the institution of medicine, workplaces, money, religion, and social rites. It’s like a Freudian Inception – our society is so obsessed with sexual undertones that we base our understanding of existence on sexual undertones, and we see a lack of sex in life to be unhealthy no matter what the individual genuinely desires. Aromantics aren’t cold, emotionless people unable to maintain meaningful social relationships. Asexuals aren’t stunted adults who are missing some kind of hormone fundamental to basic health. It’s also not black and white – I mean, I literally used the word grey to describe my own sexuality – and actions that may or may not include sex or relationships don’t make an asexual or aromantic person a fraud. Sex and relationships are still a means of survival, and asexual and aromantic people are physically and mentally capable of participating as a compromise or in their best interest.

But since I won’t participate in romantic relationships, I face consequences in my everyday life. It’s easier to get by as a single woman here and now than in eras when financial independence and sexual freedoms were aggressively blocked off for my gender, and I’m grateful for that. But all things are not equal, in culture, in the economy, and in law. If I punch someone in the face for saying “Oh, you’ll find someone” too many times, I’ll be charged with assault. What’s the deal, huh?


What I Want to Teach Children Who Aren’t Mine


In the past year, there have been several children born to family and friends. There were several others born in the last three years. There are at least two more announced to be on the way.

None of them are mine, and none will ever be mine if I have my way (which I will, because I have agency and will FIGHT YOU TO THE DEATH to protect it). But I’ll be around as they grow up. I’ll develop a reputation as the eccentric spinster aunt. Yesterday my sister texted me to describe the giant turd her six month old produced because she knew I’d be proud. One day I’ll tell my nephew that story, so he knows just how proud I am.

What’s important for me to share, as that eccentric spinster aunt, is the sense of humour that will shape these children into good satirical citizens. Critical thinking has a punchline. Critical thinking makes little sense, because it grasps at straws for the even less sense that’s there to begin with. Children need to know why I’m single and childless and why I burst into laughter out of nowhere and why I get so many blank stares. I will share with them a few inspiring works that can start to explain why.

First of all, their grandfather will already ensure they get to know Monty Python when they’re mature enough. “Mature enough” for my father is twelve, or at least that’s when Flying Circus started to air at a time when I’d still be awake. I will need to warn them that the Ex-Parrot has become an Ex-Joke and not in an appreciable meta sense. I will need to facetiously tell them the human resources profession is exactly like the gooood-a-niiiiiight a-ding-ding-ding sketch, and try to convince them that there ARE two peaks to Mount Kilimanjaro.

Though it’s no longer on Netflix, I have on hand all five seasons of Kids in the Hall. I watched that show in the single digits and I came out okay, so if I start showing them certain sketches when they’re six or seven it will plant the right seeds nice and early. It will also do a better job of introducing them to LGBT* concepts from a historical perspective, hopefully leading them to believe that the world has been too stagnant for the past 30 years and we need a queer revolution now.

Speaking of revolutions – Mallory Ortberg, co-editor of The Toast and author of many of its best articles, will be required reading once they reach the double digits, to see how ridiculous the past looks in retrospect, and how ridiculous the heteronormative patriarchy looks now. I can’t imagine the heteronormative patriarchy looking much better in ten years, but it’s a win-win situation even if those institutions of an oppressive society are ripped to shreds.

Mitch Hedberg might need to wait until their teen years, as both a pro-drug and anti-drug message. The pro-drug message is that the world is hilarious in ways that uptight sober people don’t take the time to appreciate. The anti-drug message is that Mitch Hedberg is dead, and he doesn’t need to be because the comedy he made is funny in any state of mind.

Children deserve to be children. They deserve to have open minds, to make mistakes early enough to fix them, and to giggle at things that they aren’t able to verbalize. As people get older and more serious, they think that what they aren’t able to verbalize doesn’t exist. Exposing young minds to the creative brilliance that’s managed to capture these things anyway is what I want to contribute to another generation. I want them to see that what can make them a better person comes from taking far less seriously than everyone else.

365 Things


365 things to do by on December 31, 2015

I had the idea the night of December 30th to accomplish a full year’s cheesy bucket list. It was a bit late to brainstorm things that could possibly be crammed into one final day, since it was nearly the end of the evening and I had a full day of work in the way. But I can plan for it next year. I’m sure there are self-help types who encourage 365 goals for any year because blah blah blah every day counts yadda yadda yadda.

But it takes a special, reckless person to procrastinate an entire year’s goals and still achieve them. That’s the kind of person I want to be. And I have a whole year, rather than a few hours, to list things that I could conceivably do all on New Year’s Eve of 2015. Let’s start that list now.

  1. Wear black lipstick to work – a tribute to my gothic youth
  2. Shop at a store I’ve never shopped at before
  3. Dye my hair a new colour
  4. Go for lunch at a restaurant I’ve never been to
  5. Order a kind of meal I have never eaten at that restaurant
  6. Go for dinner at a restaurant I’ve never been to
  7. Order a kind of meal I have never eaten at THAT restaurant (okay, so there’s a bit of redundancy, but there are only 24 hours to work with here)
  8. On that note, stay up the entire 24 hours from midnight to midnight
  9. Tell somebody (to be determined) how I REALLY feel
  10. Read an entire book (title to be determined)
  11. Go on a longer run than I have before
  12. Email somebody I don’t know personally, but has inspired me, to give them appreciation
  13. Troll a despicable reddit subforum
  14. Listen to a new podcast for the first time

This list will be added to as ideas come. These things must take less than four minutes on average, though some can be handled simultaneously. To have this list in progress will encourage different thinking to reach the goal of writing enough things down. As much of a joke as it is about achieving goals and improving your life by small steps, that’s what it turns into.

But if I’m going to write about it, it’s better I do so all in one day rather than track my progress over the year. For the reader’s sake.



I’m stuck in a loop of never fully convincing myself that I’m an adult and it’s in step to take adult moves towards adult responsibilities, because I’m making adult money. It doesn’t feel like I am making adult money because it’s not being robbed of me by adult expenses, because I haven’t taken the adult moves towards adult responsibilities that incur those expenses.

adult cycle

There is no way to get in unless you already have one of these, and to get one of these you need to have all three.

It’s for this reason that I can’t commit to looking after myself. I’m a grown person, and I’ve lived alone for six years without serious injury from home accident or owing money to the mob. But I rent, and I’ve only ever considered buying a home once. When that fell through I knew I had to get more together before I could try again. I needed to have the adult money to make that adult move. But the money that I have can’t be adult money, because I’m making it without working 60 hours a week or having decades of experience in a high demand industry. Those are responsibilities that can only be earned through demonstrating maturity, and nobody could be seen as mature if they rent an apartment.

Ad nauseum. I don’t go to a podiatrist or physiotherapist to see how I can stop killing my feet with the walking and running that I do (when I do the running – separate issue to come later) because I’m afraid of what the solution will be. If I have to wear a certain brand of shoes or buy expensive custom orthotics, I won’t have the flexibility in style that gets me taken seriously as an adult. I’ll just be that loser in those shoes – pay no attention to that lady in the corner; she knows not what foot fashion is to the essence of a grown human, and thus she is still in that job that doesn’t pay as well as ours.

I know that physically I should keep in shape and that requires investment in time, discipline, money, and overcoming pride around other people. I don’t want to lose a lot of weight, but I want to maintain a level of control over my body and make my arms stop jiggling when I gently wave. I would need to join a gym, which would require facing my fear of being judged, and commitment, which would require an established plan through a trainer, which costs money. But look at me – I’m just a schmuckette with a schmuckette job (with a feminine suffix because the collar’s been dyed pink so it can be cast aside as merely an accessory to Real Business). I don’t have the right story to tell people whom I may meet at the gym. There will be no common ground. Thus, I don’t make the adult move of taking adult responsibility over my adult health and paying for professional advice on proper equipment. When I run, I just go on a 10 minute jog around my neighbourhood. Everybody can see me, so I’m more invisible. I avoid the adult move.

But I’m not even avoiding it properly. I’ve stubbornly stuck through running before – in spite of/because of a sore leg/ankle/foot/head/arm (yes, even arm); in spite of/because it was raining/snowing/extremely cold/extremely hot – and that’s just in the past 20 months since I decided I was going to spite my reluctant participation in bare requirements of high school gym class by running more out of choice. I got to wrap a scarf around my head like a ninja, which made me feel like I was doing this too immaturely. I wasn’t buying proper winter jogging equipment because the way of running I chose wasn’t of adult responsibility. I couldn’t spend adult money on the adult move to take adult responsibility for my fitness.


So that’s the rut I’ve been stuck in for 31 years.

The Unremarkable Head Rush


Tomorrow should be important to me, but it’s not. I should’ve planned a thematic celebration, but I didn’t. I couldn’t decide on what that would be. I wasn’t inspired to do anything about it.

It will mark twenty years since my head was cut open by the trusted hands of an old man with diplomas on the walls of his office. So carefully, he drilled into my head and gently cut out tissue that wasn’t supposed to be there, trying his hardest not to touch anything else.

He was successful, mostly. He didn’t get everything, but I didn’t lose any part of my brain. He put my skull back together and stapled the incised skin shut, which was shaven around by a certain radius. It eventually healed over. The hair grew back.

I was an unremarkable case of a health problem nobody wants to have, but also brings no genuine sympathy from other people without a heart wrenching story that tags along. I’m not a very good story teller. I’m not photogenic either. There wasn’t a sob story, because I was too old to be helpless, too young to be promising, and not cute.

So how can I celebrate something that wasn’t an issue at the time?

I didn’t have a formal celebration of this ten years ago, fifteen years ago, or nineteen years ago as conventional anniversaries. Two years ago I took a dive into a major hair transformation that was…a net gain of fun while it lasted, but it didn’t last very long for a reason.

I can’t think of anything that I want to do to mark this occasion but close my eyes and hope I don’t have a headache. I saw my neurologist today and spoke of increased frequency and diversity of headaches, that come from different sources with different symptoms in different spots with different textures. (Headaches have textures. If you didn’t know that, you aren’t very widely experienced in headaches.) I have no idea if this has anything to do with the reasons that 20 years ago I had to walk underground, commando in a hospital gown, from the Children’s Hospital ward to the operation room. (Since my legs worked at the time, they wouldn’t take me there in a wheelchair.) I laid myself on a table in a very sterile grey room, had an anesthetic mask put on, and then spent a few days below the surface of functional reality.

I want to drink, but not as any nostalgic marker because I didn’t drink at the time. I want to drink because I’m frustrated about not having anything planned. I’ll probably walk for an hour to the biggest mall in the city and do shopping I really don’t care to do. I might play video games. I might opt to sleep the whole duration instead, which would actually be the most appropriate option of all. Not just because I spent most of October 25th, 1994 lying down unconscious, but because there’s nothing worth celebrating when the story wasn’t a marketable victory against all odds.

To Not Sleep, Perchance to Create


I used to have worse sleeping habits. It’s a side effect of other medication that I can fall asleep pretty well now. When I had insomnia I would mostly just lie in bed at best in an absence of anything – no tiredness, no comfort, nothing but awakeness. At worst it would be related to inexplicable pain in my limbs.

Now, I can usually get 7-8 hours in on weekdays, and on weekends I lie in bed as long as I please, coming in and out of sleep for a couple of hours each morning. Rest is important, as scientific studies confirm and confirm again. But through the posting of thoughts and interactions publicly on the internet, I can see how much is passed around by insomniacs. There’s more to contemplate and more to create outside of a daily schedule. I’m not around when the good things happen, all because I’m getting a healthy sleep.

Beyond posting inane dribble on Twitter, there are the chances to interact with others in constructive dialogue. There’s the surge of ideas that can come with sleep deprivation (or can be the cause of it, chicken/egg) that can be put into action by creating something. I’m missing that time and those conditions in my life.

I’m sure if I were still an insomniac I would be thinking along the lines of Hamlet, with much smaller problems mind you, that I hope death, if not just pure nonexistence, is eternal sleep. In the winter months especially, approaching as the sky stays dark into the start of my mornings, I long for hibernation and sleeping for three months in exchange for longer waking hours for the rest of the year. Despite the obvious benefits to my health, I want to reject the standard schedule of balancing sleep and waking time in favour of extremes.

My thinking is clear, but my ideas are worthless when I’m well-rested and functional. If not the creative process itself, a lack of rest at least instills the delusion that my bullshit deserves to be put out there, that my opinions matter, and that my writing is good.

The New Khristopian Vision


There’s a change of direction here. I’m going to start pointing everything towards me. It’s a narcissistic move, but like most of the constructive things I do in my life it’s a self-eating snake. The more I express self-absorbed opinions, the less I express opinions about other things as if it matters – as if what I have to say isn’t already overrepresented by loud mouths much like me, or as if I can say it better than people who live through more day to day struggles that need to be brought to light.

However, I can write about myself more accurately and with more authority than anyone else.

Someone might dare to prove the contrary and write thousands of words about what I can’t see in myself because I’m self-absorbed, but that person is likely a white man with unaddressed mental health problems. Somebody who’s not a white man would have more important stories to tell from their own experiences that aren’t taken for granted as the baseline for the function of the universe. Somebody who has addressed their mental health problems would know better than to care about me, and somebody who doesn’t have significant mental health problems wouldn’t be bothered enough to write.

But I – a white woman with unaddressed mental health problems – have a load of things to write about myself. My ego has been growing. When I look back at pictures I took of myself, a serious problem that started back in the 90s, I can see the ebb and flow of weight and hair and skin and fashion sense that brings me to the buoyed state I’m in today. I’m in a pretty good place. I’d like to talk about that.

This can’t be a journal of day-to-day life because that’s not what the internet is for anymore. It’s not a safe place to talk about real people and real things without cash reward. I’d rather talk about a surreal person – myself – because I can’t get in trouble for deification nor vitriol. I can lose friends, for sure (which has happened before), but I can stop at whatever point it makes me no longer love myself.