A Cheeky Glossary of Ace Terms

As a companion to how to read a post of mine, I suppose it may also be useful to provide an explanation of certain words and phrases a reader may encounter within one, especially as we approach the 10th anniversary of this blog. These terms were not necessarily coined by me—or indeed the ace community—but I can provide etymological insight should you desire it. And now, with tongue firmly in cheek, A List:

A Hand-Painted China Plate at a Barbeque
The title of this blog, from a comment, “For what it’s worth, I like your writing. It’s totally out of place on Tumblr (like a hand-painted china plate at a barbeque), but hey[.]”

Taking Up Space
The act of being openly, unmistakably asexual.

The Detox Period
A (hopefully brief) phase many aces experience when newly discovering their asexuality where they let out the bitterness and pain inflicted upon them by the dominant structures of society.

The Invisible Elephant
A metaphor for the paradox of society telling you there’s this huge, Important thing that you just can’t seem to see.

The constant companion of those with negative or liminal identities.

Negative Identity
An identity defined more by what someone is not than what they are.

Liminal Identity
An identity a person might hold “on a technicality,” “by default,” or otherwise through some gray area.

The See-Saw Cycle
The absolutely maddening way every subgroup within the asexual community feels aggrieved by the others.

The ongoing conversation between asexual thinkers and activists.

(Identity) Essentialism
The false belief that one’s orientation labels necessarily indicate their goals, behaviors, or future.

Orientation Isn’t Destiny
The true belief that one’s goals, behaviors, and future are independent of their orientation labels.

1) One’s internal experience of facets of sexuality and to whom those feelings point; 2) A sociological term indicating the group or groups one feels most identified with socially and politically.

Romantic Orientation
A thing I remind readers quarterly I don’t have.

But if I did, it would be this.

Or maybe this.

A more acceptable version of the above, and with more currency.

Like an instagram filter, highly idiosyncratic and not really substantial.

A mood characterized by heightened emotions and exaggerations or bowdlerizations of reality.

An imperfect thing hewn by imperfect human hands, but that may just provide us some insight nonetheless.

A complicated set of intuitions, attitudes, and preferences leading a person to conclude that sex is not for them. (cf. sex-indifferent, sex-favorable)

A synonym of “sex-repulsed” that doesn’t give people who have been harassed over their expression of their sexuality cause to hear the echoes of their tormentors’ voices in ours.

An Always No
The persistent state of some sex-averse people, that their answer to an invitation to sexual activity would always be declined.

Unassailable Asexual
1) An ace who presents perfectly and unimpeachably to the non-ace general public; 2) There is no such thing.

An ace stuck in the state of having to represent all aces but themself, a misguided visibility strategy.

Behavior one may engage in to make sure one is in line with “unassailable” standards, including silencing oneself.

Where someone appoints themself arbiter of who is “real” and/or “oppressed enough” and who is not.

A type of asexual who believes their form of asexuality is the only real or true kind.

1) Within asexual discourse, the frission of excitement at the beginning of a new relationship, typicallly associated with romantic attraction; 2) Outside of asexual discourse, obsession and infatuation with the object of ones attraction and a term with pretty negative connotations.

The opposite of jealousy; being happy at another’s happiness even when it’s not with you.

An obsolete term describing someone who has a libido and, by euphemism, engages in masturbation. (ant. Non-libidoist)

The Masturbation Conversation
Somehow inevitably a question asked when aces come out.

Erotic Energy
1) The proposition that people are energized by things that bring them pleasure, and this energy is transferable and can be channeled; 2) Unfortunately reminiscent of the anti-asexual meme that aces must have so much more energy or accomplish so much more for not having to worry about attracting and keeping a sexual partner.

The forcible removal of sexuality from people, something just as harmful to do to an ace as anyone. (ant. Sexualization)

1) An instance of a demographic in media; 2) (popularly) An instance of a marginalized demographic in fictional media.

Checklist Representation
Representation (def. 2) that is more concerned with yes/no questions than with asking if the themes and presentation of the fictional work are resonant with the marginalized group.

Asexy Lamp
An asexual character who exists only for other, non-asexual characters to react to asexuality.

The Empty Vessel
A character devoid of their own sexual/romantic desires and who therefore reads as asexual to the ace-savvy viewer.

New Zealand Soap Opera
Shortland Street, which had the first openly asexual character on TV in 2007 and I still haven’t shut up about.

The Vegemite Effect
The phenomenon whereby a person’s preconceptions prevent them from taking new things on their own terms, e.g. disliking vegemite because it is salty and they expect sweet spreads on breakfast toast.

A possible component to relationships that involves practical and/or long-term support.

African Violet of Broken Friendship
A social script for a friendship that is ending, which social scripts are hard to come by for friendship.

A non-normative relationship usually aspired to by asexual people that tended to carry more commitment and public significance than a friendship, but not as much as a traditional romantic-sexual partnership; 2) Partners in such a relationship.


The One/The Right Person
The mythical figure who is fated for you and will cure your “defective” orientation.

A symbol of welcome, celebration, and community.

The societal system that upholds the privilege of bread above all other baked goods.

The belief underlying the breadriarchy that bread is superior to pastries.

Something aces like. (ant. alcohol)

Something aces are good at.

1) Something I, an ace, am good at; 2) A hazard of reading this blog.

A thing I have to say to reinstill humility every time I come close to forgetting how lucky I am to be ace.

Label applied to representation where the author is part of the same demographic as the representation.

My Second Language

“Asexual” but in Japanese.

A term I wish would disappear from the world.

Short for “sexual minority” (セクシャルマイノリティ), an analogous term to “LGBTQ.”

Analogous to a job hunt, a “marriage hunt,” where one tries to meet a potential spouse.

My Third Language
German? Mandarin? Swedish? It’s anyone’s guess! (Not Italian or Danish, at least.)

A gender-neutral third-person pronoun (from Swedish).

1) A label to be used by those who feel affinity and belonging with the asexual community; 2) A tool.

A tool.

1) A driving goal of the asexual community for over a decade, aiming to make asexual people no longer invisible to mainstream society; 2) A trap.

I’m A.
A complete sentence that was never taken as one.

A slang term for all those who identify under the asexual umbrella.

An essentially redundant slang term for gray-asexual people, who are included under “ace.”

A term made up by outsiders who are unaware that not all communities have the same ethos as theirs.

The Split Attraction Model
A term made up by outsiders concerned with proving asexuality as inherently homophobic and not anything like a real model.

The Anti-Ace Brigade
1) A group of mostly cis-gay people who came to tumblr specifically to harass the asexual community there in 2011; 2) Anyone who harasses asexual people on the basis of their orientation online.

Passing Privilege
Not a privilege.

The Homophobic Nazi Conspiracy Theory of Asexuality
Almost funny, in hindsight.

Orange Twizzled Jumpers
Non-ace people. No further explanation.

Non-ace people. No further explanation.

Tumblr Ace
1) A person who talks about asexuality on tumblr; 2) A member of a loose conglomeration of asexual bloggers who are generally diverse but tend to share a common experience of online harassment.

Same Hat
1) Literally: a comic where two men see each other on the street, see they are wearing the same hat, wave excitedly, then continue walking away; 2) Figuratively: a shallow experience of ace community that only provides the ace with the knowledge there are others like them with no further philosophical exploration or practical support.

Positivity Posts
Posts that tend to say someone of a certain identity is “valid” and very little else.

Validation desired by many in the community, usually through Same Hat, Positivity Posts, and Checklist Representation.

Care and consideration that needs to be shown towards all people in other letters of the QUILTBAG by all people in the various letters, not just by straight/cis people.

Something aces need to show to each other when interacting online to break the cycles of hurt engendered by online harassment.

A transitive verb.

Community Builder License
1) Something someone absolutely does not need to do the work of building up the asexual community; 2) Something I will give you if you’re not convinced by definition (1).

Banana Bread
1) Something I have mailed before and will mail again; 2) Something the asexual community needs more of.

The Asexual Spectrum Professional Network, an organization you should definitely join.

Queer Futurity
1) A way of imagining a future connected to our present that doesn’t rely on biological reproduction; 2) Proving that fanfiction is a Confucian ritual through textual analysis and autoethnography; 3) Monument by KEiiNO.

A thing aces are absolutely not.

A thing you absolutely have to be your whole and authentic self.

The thing I am trying to provide with this blog.

Thanks for 10 years! これからもよろしく!


  1. Zucchini: A non-normative relationship usually aspired to by asexual people that tended to carry more commitment and public significance than a friendship, but not as much as a traditional romantic-sexual partnership;

    Why not as much?

    Representation: 1) An instance of a demographic in media; 2) (popularly) An instance of a marginalized demographic in fictional media.

    Only media? Not the government? ….Actually, no, nevermind, I don’t know how I’d handle it if people started campaigning to get an asexual elected to Congress.


    1. Why not as much?

      I confess, I was really referring to not as much public recognition…. :P

      Only media? Not the government?

      So, I do think non-fictional people count as representation, but the way they come to us is generally through the news, which I would count as “media.” There is also, I suppose, direct contact through things like twitter (like me and Higashi Tomomi), but that is social media :P I mean, if you know a person in person, even if they’re a famous person, is that “representation”? Hmmmmm


      1. Sure. A person being a famous member of a community can end up “representing” that community in a way (or shaping people’s impression of it and acting as a go-between), even if that’s not a role they ever wanted for themselves. Kinda one of the hazards of fame, really.


        1. But what I mean is, they’re not representation to you, their friend/relative/etc., they’re representation to the people they’re famous to. If you were to run for Congress, then I think you could be representation to other people, and I would support you, but I don’t know that you would be representation to me because that’s not our relationship? Is what I’m getting at?


                1. When it’s a noun, the person/character at issue is the object. We gaze upon them and judge them according to our arbitrary personal metrics. When it’s a noun, they become the subject and us the object. They represent us, and while we may approve or disapprove, there is little we can do to change that fact. I think both people and fictional characters can both be noun and do verb, but the difference in focus is an important nuance, I think.


  2. Visibility
    1) A driving goal of the asexual community for over a decade, aiming to make asexual people no longer invisible to mainstream society; 2) A trap.

    I appreciate you.

    Liked by 1 person

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