08 – pA*renting – being A*p(p)arent in an amato- and allonormative society (English episode)

TW: In this episode we repeatedly mention amato- and allonormativity as well as heteronormativity and compulsory sexuality. Please contact us, e. g. write us an e-mail at acearoundthecake@gmail.com, if you are missing a particular part that should appear in the following list of trigger warnings.

09:40 – 12:54 min Asexuality is called “unnatural”, feeling broken and having a hard time accepting one’s asexuality

22:08 – 23:32 min Homophobia (stereotypes)

23:45 – 26:48 min Heteronormativity (being straight-passing)

27:43 – 30:07 min Unwanted pregnancy, pressure in intimate relationships

37:49 – 43:42 min Unwanted arousal

39:45 – 41:15 min Mention of molestation (of children)

46:14 – 46:28 min Stereotypes about asexuality

47:04 – 50:40 min Restrictions on education about asexuality in Germany, discussion of missing education on queer topics

51:26 – 53:01 min Unwanted pregnancy, pressure in intimate relationships

[Music]

[Simon (he/him)] (0:00 min) If I had known I was ace, I don’t think I would have had a child.

[Carmen] (0:05 min) If I wasn’t a parent, it would have taken me longer. A lot.

[Simon (he/him)] (0:10 min) I want my son to know about asexuality and about aromantic.

[Carmen] (0:14 min) I realised, oh, damn, that’s me. I was lying to myself for years.

[Franca (she/her)] (0:23 min) If you add queer aspects, it’s not taking influence because influence is taken anyway.

[Lotta (they/them)] (0:34 min) […] and a warm welcome to our new episode of  ACE AROund the Cake, the Podcast by and for a* people. I am Lotta, my pronouns are they/them and I am asexual and aromantic.

[Franca (she/her)] (0:46 min) I am Franca, my pronouns are she/her and I  am asexual and heteroromantic.

[Alan (he/him)] (0:51 min) I am Alan, my pronouns are he/him and I am aroace and queer.

___________

[Franca (she/her)] (1:06 min) Hello and everybody, welcome to a new episode of ACE AROund the Cake! [the next part is originally in German] I’m sure you’re wondering why I just started in English. Actually, we have a premiere today, and we’re going to record our podcast episode in English for the most part. But that’s not a problem, because afterwards we’re going to offer a script for you, both in English and in German. But before we start content-wise, and I am going to tell you what we’re talking about today, we will first introduce a new team member in our podcast, and that is Momo. Hello Momo, nice to have you here today.

[Momo (they/them)] (1:41 min) Hello, thank you for having me.

[Franca (she/her)] (1:43 min) Yes, Momo, would you like to introduce yourself briefly? We already know that your name is Momo, but would you like to briefly say something about yourself, your pronouns, maybe your sexual and romantic orientation?

[Momo (they/them)] (1:55 min) Exactly, my pronouns are they/them, I identify myself as Quoi-aroace and I live in Frankfurt. I’m just going to continue talking. I live in Frankfurt and study history here at the University, at Goethe-Universität. I like to research aroace topics and that’s actually the reason why I think it’s so great to be here today and to be part of this podcast.

[Lotta (they/them)] (2:22 min) To that, I have a question. How did you hear about our podcast? Yeah, because we are always very curious when people learn something about our podcast, how you got the idea to join us.

[Momo (they/them)] (2:36 min) I don’t remember exactly if I received it via mail or Instagram, but I think it was via a social media post from the Queer Youth Centre here in Frankfurt am Main, KUSS41. I saw it either on Instagram or in the newsletter and I was really happy because I’m always happy when there is a podcast about queer topics, especially in German, which is actually a rarity. And yes, I’ve been listening to it since episode 1.

[Franca (she/her)] (3:05 min) Great! Great that you’re here now. Yes, would you like to briefly explain what role you would like to take on in the podcast in the future? What are you going to do?

[Momo (they/them)] (3:14 min) I’ve decided to work on the transcripts for the podcast episodes with you and hopefully upload them at some point, so that more people can enjoy the podcast and the content, possibly in English, if the episodes were recorded in German, or vice versa. And yeah, that’s going on right now for all past and all future episodes. I help a little bit with research as well and of course I’m here today.

[Lotta (they/them)] (3:45 min) Yes, that was nice. Welcome again officially to our team.

[Momo (they/them)] (3:48 min) Thank you very much, yes.

[Franca (she/her)] (3:50 min) Exactly, you are also there for the recording today. We’ll continue with that in a moment. So now I’m going to switch into English because the guests that we have on our podcast today also speak English. [here the English part starts] So welcome again. Yeah, what’s the topic of today, Lotta? What are we going to talk about?

[Lotta (they/them)] (4:07 min) We’re talking about a*parenting, about being ace or aro and a parent.

[Franca (she/her)] (4:12 min) Yeah, exactly. And what’s important to say, if you record a podcast on a*parenting, of course, you can record different perspectives. So we can record perspectives of people who do not want to be parents. We could record perspective of people who try to be parents, but who face different challenges because our society makes it a lot easier for allosexual and alloromantic people to become parents. But in the end, we chose to record our podcast with people who are already parents. So today we have two guests. The first one is Simon, and then we also have Carmen. So welcome on our podcast.

[Lotta (they/them)] (4:56 min) Yeah, maybe to get started, you can tell something about yourself if you want to. Maybe you, Simon, want to start. Who are you? What do you like to do? Something that people can imagine who you are.

[Simon (he/him)] (5:09 min) Sure, yeah, I prepared something. Sure. So, yeah, I’m Simon. Pronouns are he/him, aroace. I’m English, but I’ve been living here in Germany for 15 years now. I’ve been a web developer for 25 years. And for the last year and a half, I’ve been making my own science fiction podcast called Tests from the Future.

[Lotta (they/them)] (5:32 min) Very interesting. Everyone who’s listening to this podcast episode, check Simon’s podcast out as well.

[Franca (she/her)] (5:39 min) Yeah, Carmen, maybe you want to say something about yourself?

[Carmen] (5:43 min) Hello, I’m Carmen. I’m also known as Dastenna. D-A-S-T-E-N–N-A. And, well, I’m 40 years old. I’m ace and agender. And I’m white from Germany. And I’m working with the InSpektren podcast and doing the illustrations for the podcast. I was one of the people who designed the mascots for the podcast, Aaron and Acy. And yeah, and I’m illustrating for work, illustrating books and yeah, and doing archaeological drawings for for excavations. And you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, DeviantArt, and also on Patreon.

[Franca (she/her)] (6:50 min) Yeah, thank you for presenting yourself. We’re very happy to have you here. And yeah, you both have children. That’s the thing that we already know about you. But maybe you can tell us a bit more about your children, about your personal situation, maybe when did you find out for yourself that you are on the ace spectrum? Yeah, Simon, would you like to start?

[Simon (he/him)] (7:15 min) Yeah, what was the first thing? So I have one child, my son, 10 years old. My personal situation is two years ago my ex-wife and I separated and about half a year after that, that’s when I learned about what asexuality and being aromantic is. I hadn’t even heard the terms before and didn’t know what they were. So I learned about them about a year and a half ago and then a few months later recognized that about myself and so that’s made my life much nicer and easier. What were the other things you had that you asked?

[Franca (she/her)] (7:50 min) Yeah, I mean you already said that you have a child and maybe you can tell us a bit more about how you found out that you are on the a* spectrum?

[Simon (he/him)] (8:01 min) Sure. So I can’t remember the exact reason now, but sure, I searched for the word asexual. And that led to the AVEN website, and there were some simple definitions. And when I read them, it was a clear match. Like, it wasn’t confusing. I read it, it was like, oh yeah, that describes how I am and how I have been my whole adult life. But just because I hadn’t been aware of it before as a thing, I didn’t know it was a thing to be, you know?

[Lotta (they/them)] (8:30 min) Yeah, understandable.

[Franca (she/her)] (8:32 min) Yeah, I imagine it must have been difficult for you since you were already married, as you said, with your wife at that point, and you already had a child. How did it affect you?

[Simon (he/him)] (8:43 min) So I learned about it after we had separated, so about half a year after we separated, then I learned about it. Sure, looking back on my marriage, it had an effect, meaning the way I was had an effect, but I did not – hadn’t gone to counselling or the like, so I hadn’t come across the term. You know, if someone had told me about being ace, being aro, maybe I would have recognised it, would have spoken with my ex-wife about it. But as it was, I learned it all after we had separated. Since we actually did finalise our divorce, she and I have discussed it. That was nice. It cleared up a lot of things. But OK, I did not learn it soon enough. I didn’t learn it while we were married is the point.

[Franca (she/her)] (9:29 min) Yeah, thank you for sharing. Carmen, would you like to tell us a bit more about your story?

[Carmen] (9:34 min) Yeah, well, I’m a parent to one child as well. The child is 10. And I realised that I’m ace when the child was three years old. Yeah, 2016, when I was 33. And, well, it’s a bit of a hilarious story because I was researching for a story I was writing because one of the characters, well, behaved in a “strange way”. This was the way I was talking about this back then. And I wondered what’s “wrong” with him. I’m making quotation marks. So – And I stumbled across the term asexuality in German and thus I found the German AVEN forum and read through some of the topics there and thought and wondered why I remember some of these stories. They sound similar to what I’m experiencing. But well, no, no, no, that’s not me. That’s not me because I’m researching. I’m a typical heterosexual person, that’s not me. And it took a few months and some exchange with one of the administrators of the forum until I realised, oh, damn, that’s me. I was lying to myself for years. Yeah, but it took a few years until I finally accepted it. Even though I adopted the label quite early after realising it, it took a few years until I accepted it fully.

[Lotta (they/them)] (11:48 min) Yeah, I think that’s something we maybe learned from society, that asexuality is not “natural”, in quotation marks. “You need sexual attraction to be happy in your life.” I can imagine that it might be hard to accept it in the beginning. I know that from my own story as well, that first you ask yourself, why can’t I be as everyone else? And in the end, you can accept it fully, hopefully.

[Carmen] (12:15 min) The weird thing is, when I was a teenager, I didn’t have a word, but I knew that if I had the words, I would have accepted it right away, because I knew, okay, this fits. I would have known that it fits. And I was quite accepting of myself, but thanks to some unfortunate situations in my early 20’s, I began to think I was broken.

[Franca (she/her)] (12:55 min) Yeah, now you were talking a lot about your internal coming out. Maybe you can tell us a bit about, I don’t know, external coming out. Have you talked to other people? I mean, you’re very active on the a*spectrum Discord server and you’re also involved in InSpektren, another a*podcast. But what about your family, your child, maybe your parents? Did you talk to them about it?

[Carmen] (13:24 min) Not too many family members, because, well, I don’t have that much contact to my family, to my blood family, that is. To my chosen family, I have much contact. There are friends and acquaintances and people that are close to me. I’m quite open about my asexuality to them. They’re accepting. My husband is… He was one of the people I talked to quite early. He was one of the first I talked to. And he said, well, that explains a lot. But I sometimes have the impression that he tends to forget it because there is sometimes, yeah, he keeps talking to me in a way he talks to not asexual people and it’s, well, it’s a bit weird And, well, when it comes to the child, I don’t know how to address it in the proper terms yet, because the child is still 10. But I’m, well, I try to describe it when we talk about sexual orientations, love, and the other stuff. It’s sometimes a topic when we are watching movies and there are kissing scenes or scenes where people are flirting and the child and I have similar reactions. We both think of this as, “urgh, why?” [Laughter]

And the child does more explicit sounds, they say, “eww”, well, it’s a child. [Laughter]

Um, and I’m trying to explain to them that, uh, that’s completely okay to not like it. And the other way around, it’s, it’s also completely okay to like it. And if people like it, please don’t do these sounds. Please don’t. Um, but yeah. And for the moment, the child and I are accomplices in not liking sexual and romantic stuff in movies. Well.

[Franca (she/her)] (16:29 min) Very nice. Yeah, I can completely understand that it’s not easy to talk to children about that topic, especially because there are so many terms that are important and you also don’t want to confuse them. But I think, Simon, when we talked before, you said that you were already talking to your child about the topic. How did you do that?

[Simon (he/him)] (16:47 min) It was a few weeks ago. He was asking me… So it came up, we were having a conversation, it came up that he asked me basically if I wanted a new girlfriend and he was asking because his mum has a new boyfriend, yeah? And I hadn’t prepared beforehand so I didn’t really have in mind how I would discuss that I was ace or that I even would discuss it with him. So I think I did okay. I did not use the word since I didn’t think they would make much sense to him, meaning saying ace or asexual or aromantic. But I explained, so I answered his question, yeah, he said, do I want a new girlfriend? So I simply said no, but it did give a bit of explanation, which was that, so he is 10 years old, yeah, but his concept of what it means to be in a relationship, to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend or to be married, I used that framework, so I said, you know, if you’re in a relationship, then you’re really close in a way. And I do not want that, that what I want is, yeah, friendship. And he seemed to understand that. And I think, yeah, saying that what I want is friendship. I mean, he’s a child, so he knows what friends are. And I specifically told him that I don’t want a girlfriend, like how he sees other adults and other parents and such. And then he wasn’t so interested. Yeah. Like I was obviously more invested in the conversation. Uh, really he just wanted to know if I asked him afterwards the next day, uh, what aspect was he interested in? And really it was just, he wanted to know if I wanted a new girlfriend, that was it.

[Lotta (they/them)] (18:31 min) Yeah. I think children are sometimes more accepting than maybe adults because they don’t have that much of heteronormative society in them. As we grow up, we get more and more for the society. And if children grow up with that it is maybe completely normal to not have a partner or to not be in a romantic relationship, then they also think that it is okay and accept it.

[Franca (she/her)] (18:59 min) But I think it also depends on the age, because at a certain age, puberty, etc., then sometimes at school those typical heteronormative role models are rather exaggerated. I think this innocent child attitude, maybe that’s when they are younger, but at a certain point it’s very difficult also when you’re a parent, because your child has also other influences, not only at home, but of course school and other social contexts, and they are full of norms and expectations, and it’s very hard to ignore that.

[Simon (he/him)] (19:36 min) Yeah, I have that in mind because there was a, so as part of, I think, the next day, also when I was speaking with my son, I asked him if he thought, so I have a couple of friends who are also ace and we hang out a lot, and I asked him if he thought one of them was my girlfriend and I found it really sweet that he just laughed at me and said, of course not, because, okay, he picked up on our body language, he picked up on our body language, yeah, that we are not dating or the like. And that was really great. And so, okay, I have that in mind though, because sure, as he’s a teenager. So I was thinking of that now, because what if he, so I was, you know, maybe I was thinking too many levels deep. I was thinking, okay, he sees his dad hang out a lot with a woman, maybe he thinks they’re going out. And maybe when he’s a teenager, maybe he would think that, you know, that’s what I was thinking. But as a 10 year old, no, no, he doesn’t have that idea anyway. And yeah, because upon our body language, it’s clear that we’re not. So I found that really sweet.

[Lotta (they/them)] (20:33 min) Yeah, that’s a nice story.

[Franca (she/her)] (20:36 min) And yeah, maybe also something that could be interesting to talk about. Do you also talk to parents who are not a* parents? Or like, in general, is it a topic when you talk to other parents? Or are you more with your a* friends?

[Simon (he/him)] (20:51 min) I haven’t yet, like not from avoiding the subject intentionally, but it simply hasn’t come up with other parents I know, like meaning especially parents of my son’s friends. I’ve been wearing this watch band since last summer with the ace colours on it, so if any of them have recognised it, they haven’t mentioned it, so it just hasn’t come up. People I’ve spoken with, sure, other ace people of course, and also, you know, so friends of mine, who are themselves not parents, so I haven’t really spoken about it in the context of being a parent.

[Lotta (they/them)] (21:25 min) Do you know any other a*spec parents?

[Simon (he/him)] (21:29 min) No, at least not in person.

[Carmen] (21:32 min) Yeah, I do. At least one of the members of our podcast is a parent and is on both a*-specs. Referring to the question you asked Simon before, whether we’re talking about a*spec themes with other parents. Well, with this parent, definitely, because we’re working on a podcast. With other parents, it varies. With some, I’m talking about the topic because I like these people and I know I can talk openly about these things, but there are other parents who are difficult to talk to when it comes to such topics. Not that they are a*phobic or something, but they have, I don’t know how to put it in a nice way, they have small minds. Those are people who said that, well, that in lesbian couples there is a man and a wife, a man and a woman, and they have these role models, even in lesbian couples. And I said, no, no, “I know one lesbian who says this!” And I was rolling my eyes and thinking, OK, well, I don’t have to explain this to you. You won’t get it. Well, but I live in a very rural part of Germany, so the minds are sometimes a little bit small.

[Franca (she/her)] (23:32 min) Yeah. Carmen, one thing that is also interesting, you mentioned that with your husband sometimes it’s a bit difficult because maybe he seems not to think prominently about the fact that you’re on the a* spectrum. How is it with you as a couple when you, I don’t know, when you’re walking the streets, I don’t know, probably people will also read you as a heterosexual couple, I imagine. How does it affect you? Do you feel the need to talk to other people about the fact that your relationship is maybe not the way that they read it?

[Carmen] (24:09 min) Actually, yeah, I have this impulse. But we are living apart and he’s in a new relationship and I have my two cuddle buddies, as I call them. So yeah, well, I’m straight passing, definitely. But it doesn’t matter around the people. I’m well, in my bubble, it doesn’t matter, because everyone knows that I’m ace. And even if I’m cuddling with people, they know that it doesn’t mean that I’m sexually attracted to them, and they know that I’m not heterosexual. And when it comes to strangers, I don’t mind, really. If they think I’m straight, well, it would affect me more if people that are close to me think that I’m straight than when it comes to strangers.

[Franca (she/her)] (25:30 min) Yeah, maybe that’s also that changes with the time. At least for me, I think at the beginning, I didn’t care at all about the fact that many of my friends thought I was heterosexual. But then with the time you see and you realise that it’s an important part of your identity and then at least I had more this need to talk about the topic just because there was something that affected my life in many ways not only like personally but also with regards to the podcast or I don’t know other a* meetings so there are many things that I couldn’t talk about anymore if I don’t talk about my identity in that part.

[Carmen] (26:06 min) Well around my friends I – Before I was coming out, before I realised, I wanted to clarify that I’m not really heterosexual, but I didn’t know really that I wasn’t. And I didn’t know how to talk about this. I only knew that it felt uncomfortable if they thought of me as heterosexual. The moment I realised, I went out there to my friends and said, hey, did you know I realised this about me? And yeah.

[Franca (she/her)] (26:49 min) Yeah. Thank you for sharing. I would like to come back to one topic, which is maybe a bit more general. Do you remember when, for the first time, you had the wish to have children? How did this come up? And maybe now that you know about your a* identity, maybe I don’t know, would you think differently about it?

[Lotta (they/them)] (27:10 min) Because to say there are some people who say like, yeah, of course, having children is not for everyone. And I think especially on the a*spec that maybe also a lot of people who don’t have children because it’s also made harder by society, like there are a lot of disadvantages you have if you’re not one of those heteronormative couples. But still, yeah. I guess, or maybe, did you want to have children?

[Carmen] (27:40 min) Me?

[Lotta (they/them)] (27:41 min) Yeah, both of you.

[Carmen] (27:43 min) Not really. Well, it happened because I did not use contraceptives, contraceptives for females. I didn’t want to because I thought, well, why should I use hormones on my body, just in case somebody maybe wants sex with me. I didn’t like this concept, but I was not that able to articulate that it – I wasn’t that able to communicate about boundaries and things I wanted or didn’t want. So I was not courageous enough to say, please use condoms. And I knew that and I knew that it could happen and said, well, if it happens, I’m taking the consequences and raise this child. And well, some of my friends said, we are doing a good job. I’m trying my best. And the child is not responsible for me not wanting children. So well, but my husband wanted, so, well. And I’m quite lucky that that it happened with him and not with other people who were less responsible.

[Franca (she/her)] (29:36 min) I think it’s very, very touching what you just said. And also this reflects many of the fears, I would say, that many a* people have when they are in, I don’t know, relationships or when they have intimate contact to allosexual people who are maybe not that respectful or even if they try, they just cannot imagine what it means to be a* and what you think and how much you feel pressured. So that’s very honest and thank you for sharing. Simon, how was it for you?

[Simon (he/him)] (30:13 min) Until I was in my late 20’s, I had no interest in having children at all. I have four younger siblings growing up and there’s like pretty spaced out so growing up there were always these little babies around crying and smelling bad and such so I had no interest in having children at all, yeah. But then in my late 20’s, then I met my, who would become my wife, and her sister had a child. So basically then I was around some babies. I’d not been around them for more than 10 years. And so then I could see the good sides, yeah. Like, oh yeah, they can actually be nice. And it is, at least from observing other people, other parents, I could see the benefits or the good side of being a parent. Then she wanted children and then I had these good experiences and then I actually became kind of curious what would it be like to be a parent. So then in our case then we got married and then a while later we had our son and I was really, I was, sure I was nervous, of course. But then I was really looking forward to it before he was born and then once he was born I was really glad to have him and I took two years out in sight and it was really wonderful, amazing and so and it’s still wonderful now. Yeah, okay after two years I needed to go back to work. But okay, I would not have expected, I say as a child, as a teenager, in my 20’s I had no interest at all in being a parent and then just as I got older and further away from it, then I really liked the idea.

[Lotta (they/them)] (31:50 min) Yeah, that’s that’s also nice. Thank you for sharing your story.

[Simon (he/him)] (31:54 min) Oh, and um part of it was did you ask I think so anyway if I had known I was ace I don’t think I would have had a child yeah because those things I mentioned are all true, but okay, if I knew I was ace, I would have, yeah, but okay, I’m not gonna have sex, so then maybe there’s not gonna be any children. And I wasn’t so interested that I would want to, maybe now it’s different, now I’ve actually been a parent, but back then at least I had no interest in adopting or anything like that. So in that regard, I’m very glad that I did not work out I was ace until after my son was born.

[Franca (she/her)] (32:23 min) But then for you, it’s like separate, having children and your asexuality, or is it connected? Because you said, maybe if you had known that you were ace, you would not have wanted to have children. But I mean, raising a child is much more than your sexuality, I imagine.

[Simon (he/him)] (32:39 min) Of course. Of course. And actually, now that I’m older, now I actually like the idea of having another child. So now it is separate, you’re right. And just back then, then I had it linked together. But by now it is a separate thing.

[Franca (she/her)] (32:55 min) Okay. Maybe one more question since we were talking about a* parenting and maybe you also have some recommendations or some some things that you want to say to other people who might become a parents or who might become parents in general or who are already parents.

[Carmen] (33:14 min) Difficult. I don’t, I can’t think about anything, no.

[Lotta (they/them)] (33:22 min) Then maybe let’s move on to another question that will maybe lead to something like to an answer for this question also. Is there anything you wish for from maybe society or other people as parents on the a*spec? Like maybe there are some certain challenges that you have to face because you’re on the a*spec, dealing with institutions mainly, for example. Is there something that you wish for?

[Simon (he/him)] (33:52 min) To go behind the scenes, you know, you gave us some of these questions beforehand that we could prepare. And this was one where I, so far at least, I can’t think of anything because, okay, right now I’m a, not a single parent, you know, I’m sharing custody with my son, but that would be more the kind of thing where, okay, if you’re, you know, okay, various like schools or doctors assume that I live with his mom, stuff like that. But that’s more, that’s just being divorced. That’s nothing to do with being ace. So I couldn’t actually think of anything – I couldn’t think of anything in response to your question.

[Lotta (they/them)] (34:23 min) I mean, that’s maybe also something good if you don’t have an answer to that question, because that might mean that you don’t experience so many disadvantages because of being on the a*spec and a parent.

[Simon (he/him)] (34:38 min) I mean, in my daily life, it doesn’t come up. I mean, I’ve read online and I understand this can be a thing in the world that some people, it’s a big part, so meaning sexuality and romantic relationships, that that’s a big part of their daily conversation and people have expectations of them and all kinds of things like that. So if that was the case, I can imagine it being more of an issue. And at least in my life, my whole life, not just the last couple of years or the last year, rather, since I learned I was ace. It’s never been a big topic of conversation. And this is sure, this is a difference of me being a man, I know, compared to being a woman. Basically, no one had expectations on me. My parents, you know, society, they weren’t like saying, hey, you need to get married, you need to have a child, anything like that. So, because those things have never, they weren’t a part of my life before and they haven’t become a part of my life now.

[Franca (she/her)] (35:23 min) I think having children is more about only the sexuality, but it’s a lot more like institutional conditions that facilitate it or that make it more difficult. The question like, what happens if your child comes to elementary school in Germany and you’re working 40 hours per week? How is that possible to combine? And maybe that’s not that much related to the sexuality. That’s true. Maybe we could record another podcast episode about having children in general in our patriarchal society today. But I think it’s interesting to see that you personally, like if you only regard the sexuality aspect or the fact that you’re on the a*spec, that this doesn’t affect you as a*parents that much.

[Simon (he/him)] (36:05 min) So I don’t think I said so far, so I’m sharing custody of my son 50-50, so he’s with me three days a week and then with his mum three days a week, back and forth. And similar to actually when I was on parental leave, as you were mentioning expectations or patriarchal expectations basically it was seen as somehow a special thing that I had taken so much parental leave and now also that I’m looking after, being a parent to him, so the expectation at least still is a lot that in the case of divorced parents maybe that the children will be with the mum most of the time and just with the dad on weekends or every other weekend or stuff like that so definitely for me it’s been easier because I’m – basically, the expectations are so low. That’s why it’s been so easy on me. So sure, I work a 40-hour week, but since March 2020, so since Covid, I’ve been able to work from home. And that’s made things much easier. So then when he comes home from school, I can be here. I don’t need to sort out childcare or anything like that. So that made a big difference as well.

[Lotta (they/them)] (37:11 min) Yes, that’s maybe something that is not so much connected to the a*spec, I suppose. But being a single parent, yeah, and especially male-read by society.

[Franca (she/her)] (37:23 min) Yeah, okay, I think we’ve been talking quite a while. And maybe to come to an end of this conversation, I would like to ask you, what was the most remarkable thing that you’ve been listening to while we were talking about the topic, or what is your takeaway from our conversation? Or is there anything else you want to add, you want to talk about?

[Carmen] (37:49 min) When we were preparing for this episode, I mentioned something that made me realise, that helped me better realising that I’m ace and that was connected to me being a parent. You remember that? And I wanted to add this because I think it’s important because many people don’t know the difference between physical arousal and being, yeah being attracted to a person or wanting sex with a person and I was one of these people I really believe that okay the body reacts that means I have to have sex and well, I felt not good because my husband or former partners weren’t getting that much sex from me.

And I thought, well, okay, my body reacts, I have to give it to them. And what made me realise a little bit that this connection is not always there was when I was breastfeeding. Because, well, if you breastfeed a child, then the body down there reacts as well. It’s reacting with physical arousal. You cannot do anything about it. Back then, I thought, oh well, my body reacts. What does this mean?

And I remembered a TV show I saw as a teenager where they were talking about, it was about a couple. And he was accused of being a child molester because, well, a child was sitting on his lap and playing and his body reacted. And he couldn’t do anything about it, and he was terrified, and his wife accused him of being interested in this child, and the moderator explained that there’s a difference, that physical arousal doesn’t mean that you want sex. She talked about breastfeeding as well, and that it can happen with breastfeeding, and well, while I was breastfeeding my child, I remembered, oh, okay, yeah, there was something. And this helped me a little bit more later, three years later, when I found out that I was ace, because I was questioning a lot. I didn’t want to believe it. I wanted to remain in this, well, quotation marks, “normal” life.

And then I thought about everything that happened in my life that was related to sexuality, and I remembered this as well. So, okay, if your body reacted, just reacted, and you didn’t want sex back then, what about all the other situations? And I thought of every situation I could remember when I thought I wanted sex. And I realised, oh, well, I read a scene in a book, and my body reacted, and I thought, oh, I have to. And it was never because I was attracted to a person. Well, this helped a lot. This really helped a lot.

And this is a reason why I love these videos from Emily Nagoski, I guess, she’s called. She made some TED talks about arousal non-concordance. You can find this, for example, on embracesexualwellness.com. And Emily Nagoski, made a TED talk about this. Yeah, Emily Nagoski, The Truth About Unwanted Arousal. It’s a TED talk and it can be found on YouTube. I guess this is really helpful not only for asexual people.

[Lotta (they/them)] (43:14 min) Yeah, I think that’s a very important topic you talked about. And it’s something many people don’t know, that there is a difference between maybe how your body reacts to something and your sexual desire that you’re experiencing, or maybe you’re not experiencing that. And that’s maybe also a very good example of how parenting affects what you know about yourself and how you maybe find out more about yourself and are aware of what you actually want.

[Carmen] (43:44 min) Yeah, if I wasn’t a parent, it would have taken me longer, I guess. A lot.

[Simon (he/him)] (43:53 min) So I did not obviously have that physical reaction, but the thing that I was remembering now, so I looked into asexuality, I mentioned right at the start, yeah, that I searched for the word and that’s how I found the definition. And I remember now why I started even looking for it, was basically that as a part of separating from my ex-wife, that I basically just made a list for myself, what do I want from a relationship. And when I made that list, there was nothing in there that was romantic or sexual in any way. It was basically a list of things that I want to do with my friends. And at the time I thought, okay, I’m just really upset about you know, getting separated. So I thought, okay, but in a few months, a year or whatever, I’ll be able to add to that list some romantic things, whatever. So I did not. And I think that now I remember that was the thing that made me look more into it.

[Franca (she/her)] (44:41 min) Thank you for sharing. Yeah, I think now we have come to the end of the interview. So if you have any comments, if you want to add anything, you can do that.

[Simon (he/him)] (44:53 min) Just another thing. It would make sense when talking about things we want for our children from school. So specifically I want my son to know, to know about asexually and aromantic, yeah, because I didn’t know about that at all until I was 39. And had I known it earlier, that would have been pretty helpful. So especially if he is either or both of those things, but even if he’s not, you know, just that he knows about them, that friends of his or the world in general, but especially if he is, I want him to know what they are. Not that he needs to be mixed up for, yeah.

[Franca (she/her)] (45:25 min) Yeah, that’s very important what you’re mentioning, like education and school. And unfortunately, in the normal school lessons, there is not a lot of diversity with regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. There are some projects, I’m active in one of these projects where we go to school and implement workshops and talk to children about these topics. But still, of course, we don’t reach all schools and there is a lot of education needed and yeah hopefully maybe in the next years also with social media i always hope that there is more information coming to the children as well so that they know some of the terms at least when i’m in the schools and i ask like have you ever heard about asexuality aromanticism, aromanticism not that much but asexuality is now a term that many have heard at least of course they don’t have the correct idea about it and they have a lot of stereotypes and like “this is like people don’t want to have sex” something like that and i always correct it but at least they have heard about it and it’s not a complete weird and new concept so i think there is hope.

[Lotta (they/them)] (46:29 min) There’s yeah that’s very nice for it to say for the end there’s – there’s hope and there’s progress

[Carmen] (46:51 min) May I ask what age groups you’re talking about? Fifth class up? Or how old are these kids?

[Franca (she/her)] (47:04 min) Yeah, we’re only allowed to implement the workshops from the 8th grade to 12th or 13th grade in Germany, so from the age of 14 to maybe 19, 20 maximum. We also wanted to do it earlier, but since the project is funded by the Bundesland Hessen, there are some regulations that we have to follow, there are some Qualitätsstandards, and one of them is that we’re not allowed to do it when they’re not 14 years old.

[Lotta (they/them)] (47:35 min) Because they might be afraid that children get sexualized or something, or learn too much about sexuality?

[Franca (she/her)] (47:42 min) I don’t know if it’s that they are specifically afraid, or if it’s only that they’re afraid by the reaction of the parents. Because that’s mostly the problem. Also, there is sex-ed, for example, often 6th grade already. And I’ve talked to some teachers and they say it’s horrible because parents are always like, no, but you cannot talk to children about these topics and you’re taking like influence. So there’s a lot of fight.

[Simon (he/him)] (48:07 min) I mean, that’s where TV and films are helpful. Because, okay, at least right now, you can’t legally, in schools, I mean, like you’re saying, you can’t teach it, or teach about it, rather. But last week at Nippon Connection, I saw a film called I Am What I Am. I mean, okay, it’s a film for adults, not for kids. But that was a film, and there are other TV shows and such where it’s not an educational thing, yeah, but the characters themselves are ace or aro. And so then, okay, when kids watch those shows, they know about things. I don’t know about any German shows yet, but least I know of that.

[Franca (she/her)] (48:40 min) I mean, it also doesn’t make sense to say that if you don’t have queer education, then there is no education because there’s always education. It’s always heteronormative education. So if you add queer aspects, it’s just like a complete picture. And it’s not taking influence because influence is taken anyway.

[Carmen] (49:02 min) By kindergarten and school, by other adults. In TV, yeah. Ah, this is a difficult discussion, yeah. And I want to add something before you forget it. People who are afraid that kids in their early teens, like 10, 11, 12, get information about sexuality and are quotation marks “sexualized”, forget that that is the age where most people first realise what sexual orientation they have. So, I mean, I was 12 when I realised that something was different about me. And if I had a word back then, I would have known that I was neither bisexual, nor homosexual, nor heterosexual. And I know people who knew this way earlier.

[Franca (she/her)] (50:14 min) Yeah, it’s true. I mean, children are questioning anyway. And if you don’t give them the words, then they just don’t have the options to tick for them. So that’s very, very important. Not only by parents, but also by school, by books, by any form of education that is implemented in the society.

[Lotta (they/them)] (50:41 min) Okay, then I think we’ll maybe stop the recording right now. It was very nice having you as guests. Thank you for sharing your stories and for being so with us.

[Simon (he/him)] (50:52 min) Thanks very much.

[Franca (she/her)] (50:53 min) Yeah, then have a nice day, both of you. Thank you for your time. Thank you for waking up early.

[Lotta (they/them)] (50:58 min) Yes.

[Music] [The next part is originally in German]

[Lotta (they/them)] (51:09 min) We talked about different aspects of the topic of a*parenting, such as being a*spec and having children. And, as always, after the actual content of the episode, we’ll talk briefly about what we actually learned. Franca, what are you thinking about right now?

[Franca (she/her)] (51:26 min) Well, I have to say, there are actually a few things going on in my head right now. It was a super inspiring conversation and also different perspectives. Above all, it was also a topic with which I personally am not really in contact now, because it has not played a role for me yet. But I think the aspect that will probably stay in my memory for the longest time was when Carmen told me how much pressure had been put on Carmen at the time when Carmen may not have been able to say no yet in some situations. On the one hand, this desire not to contracept by hormones which I can totally understand. But at the same time, you have to tell your partner that you have to use condoms and that it’s really difficult to get over it. I found that very intense. That’s what Carmen also told me, to deal with the consequences.  “Okay, I’m actually ready to take the consequences and then have a child.” That moved me a lot, and I think it also shows the pressure on a* persons in relationships or in any intimate situations, when an allo-person is there, who may not yet completely know what asexuality or aromanticism actually means. And even if the person knows what it means, it doesn’t mean for a long time that there is actually the trust to be able to demand something like that, to have a condom.

[Lotta (they/them)] (53:02 min) Yes, that’s definitely an impressive point. I’m sure I’ll think about that for a long time. Alan, what about you? What did you take away from the conversation today?

[Alan (he/him)] (53:13 min) I think especially about the question of how to talk to your child about asexuality and aromanticism. And also the thought that maybe heterosexual couples don’t have to think about it at all. That it might be better if all people with their children would generally talk about queer topics or asexuality and aromanticism. Because that would give the children a better, maybe a more complete view of the world, that they understand other people better, that they understand themselves better, that people are no longer 20, 30, 40 or even older before they know that they are asexual, that people don’t have to think for ages, “is something wrong with me, what’s going on with me?” So just that generally to talk to children about it, even if you are asexual yourself, could be very helpful.

[Lotta (they/them)] (54:07 min) Yes, it would definitely be nice if there was more awareness. Momo, what are you thinking right now?

[Momo (they/them)] (54:11 min) Yes, I can actually only agree directly, especially when it comes to the differences between attraction and erection towards the end, or also about school lessons, sexual education lessons, it occurred to me, or it became clear to me again, how much asexuality and aromanticism in school, especially for younger children in the 6th grade onwards, can give a special, valuable perspective on biology, on sexualities. Basically, asexuality could be seen as the proof that there is this separation at all. So I mean the existence of asexual people. And that would be a great point to include such a topic in the lesson. Because that in itself is not a suggestion that someone has to be asexual. But would be a relatively factual explanation of the whole thing. I find that very exciting. It inspired me.

[Lotta (they/them)] (55:24 min) Thank you very much for your assessment and your reflections on our topic today. And now, of course, we have our piece of cake, as always, and this time Momo has brought it to you.

[Momo (they/them)] (55:36 min) Exactly. Before we recorded the interview, I dealt with scientific literature on the topic of asexual parenting or aromantic parenting. I have actually found a lot that moves in this big cosmos. But what I particularly noticed is the text Asexuality and its Implications for LGBTQ Parent Families by PhD Megan Carroll from the California State University. Megan Carroll is a person who speaks a lot about asexuality in English published, so it’s very interesting to look for the name. The text itself deals with the scientific status to this day and refers to the potential that research has in this area. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of research that has taken place, but this text not only very well summarises the scientific status of asexuality in itself, which is a great achievement, it also works intersectionally, with class, race and the like, and asks a lot of critical questions. And I’m very excited about that. It’s a bit of a longer text, with a bit of scientific content, so 32 pages. But I can really recommend reading it, and I think we can also link it in the show notes.

[Lotta (they/them)] (57:01 min) Yes, exactly, we can do that. I’ll link them for you, so you can find them. Yes, thank you very much. That’s it for today. We had a lot of fun recording this. I hope you did as well. See you soon!

[Franca (she/her)] (57:17 min) And feel free to contact us if you are a* parents yourself or would like to be in the future or not. Feel free to contact us, give us feedback. We’re always happy to hear your comments and your messages. See you next time!

[Everyone] (57:27 min) Bye!

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