The Asexual journal is an independent platform publishing work by asexual, aromantic, and agender authors.

What Am I?

What Am I?

Am I Man? Am I Woman?

I don’t know.

When I am awake, I act. Do my actions make me male? Do they make me female? Does doing things give me a gender?

Do my actions make me male?

Years ago, man and woman, with love and wisdom, tell me:

“Boy, put your hands down. Don’t walk like that.

Boys don’t walk like that.”

Years later, I see a certain recognition in the eyes of man and woman both when I enter a room.

This isn’t you, I scream at me. A dense cloud forms in my head. It expands. It hurts.

Do I uphold the systems that men built for man to thrive in? Do they benefit me? Or do I suffer from those systems?

Years ago, man and woman, with love and wisdom, tell me:

“Boy, don’t cry. It’s a waste of time. Boys don’t cry.”

Years later; bruised, alone, I cannot cry. I want to. The cloud in my head gets heavier. I can’t think. I can’t breathe.

Man, tell me. Am I still a boy, if I want to cry but cannot? If I do not want to be feared or respected, but loved? Can I be a man without these things, and without wanting them?

Can I still be violent without wanting these things?

I know that I am violent.

Does my violence have a gender?

Is my violence male? Is all violence male?

Years ago, man and woman, with love and wisdom, tell me:

“Boy, be a Man. Be tough, be strong; or people will crush you and eat you up.

All boys must become men.”

Years later, I can taste my blood in my mouth. But there is also blood on my hands. Not my blood. There is fear in the other Man’s eyes. My secret is safe.

Yes, I have a secret.

What is my secret?

I don’t know.

But I know that I must keep it a secret. If I am found out, then people will crush me and eat me up. And I must protect myself. I must protect my secret.

When Man’s violence comes knocking at my door, I will give him Man’s violence in return to protect myself and those I care about.

I do not say this with confidence. I say this with fear. I do not want to be crushed. I do not want to be eaten.

I do not want to be found out.

The cloud in my head gets denser and more painful.

My actions, likely make me a man in your eyes.

Does that mean I am a man?

Why do I feel like I’m always performing an extremely uncomfortable role?

Why do I feel like a prude playing a stripper? Exposed, but desperately trying to stay covered?

Stop looking at me.

I will hide my face behind a beard.

Could it be that I’m a woman playing a man?

What is a woman?

Years ago, woman and man, with love and wisdom, tell me:

“Boy, stop being so shy.

Girls are shy.

You’re a boy.”

Years later, I am still shy. But the women around me are not.

I already know I’m not who I pretend to be; but am I also not what I think I am? Another cloud forms in my head. The pain doubles.

What else do I know about women?

Years ago, woman and man, with love and wisdom, tell me:

“Boy, remember;

you must protect women.

Women are kind and gentle.

But they are weak.

Men are strong.”

Years later, I see women that are kind. But I also see women that are cruel. Women with great capacities for committing violence, physical or otherwise. But they are all strong.

Is all violence male?

It isn’t only men that I see screaming at women that they can’t be women because people told them that they were boys when they were born. It wasn’t men that were telling women that they can’t escape from their male privilege even though they weren’t men. It’s not only men that say that a person’s genitals can tell us the truth about who they are. It isn’t just men who drive these women to kill themselves.

Woman, tell me. Do you fear me? Do you fear that my violence is male?

I am big, I am strong. I am of able body. I get angry. It is not wrong to fear me. I can tell you not to fear me, but how do you trust a Man to tell the truth? I’d tell you that I might not be a man, but I fear your violence. You can keep your fear and I will keep mine, until I know that I do not have to be afraid of you.

The cloud gets denser; and I feel weak and miserable. I feel imprisoned by something that I cannot explain.

Years ago, man and woman, with love and wisdom tell me:

“Boy, stop being so scared of everything.

What’re you, a girl?”

Years later, I’m scared. But I’m called a fine young man. I see fear in the eyes of men and women when I’m in their presence. They’re scared too.

What are we all so afraid of?

I’m scared that they will discover my secret. I’m scared of being caught naked. I’m scared that my truth will be laid bare, when I don’t know what that truth is myself.

I’m scared of men. I’m scared of women. I’m scared that men will try to kill me. I’m scared that women will try to make me kill myself. I’m scared of myself. Because I cannot understand what I am. I cannot understand what men are. And I cannot understand what women are.

Women and men are both violent.

Women and men are both cruel.

Women and men can both be kind and strong.

Women and men can both command respect and fear.

The system is unbalanced; but women and men are both capable of the same things.

I can be all of those things. And I have been all of these things. But that still does not tell me if I’m a woman or if I’m a man.

Neither makes sense. Nothing fits.

What am I, if I’m not a man or a woman? What am I when I stop pretending to be either?

There’s a loud screaming in my head. I can’t hear myself think.

Years ago, I was alone, broken and bleeding. I didn’t want to live. Man and Woman had done this to me. Man and Woman did not try to save me. I saved me. Not man. Not woman. But me. Stripped of Man and stripped of Woman I found that I still exist.

The clouds part a little and the sun bursts through. I exist outside of man and woman. I exist.

Is there any part of you that exists beyond your manhood and your womanhood? What makes you a man or a woman?

When I am asleep, do I dream male things, or do I dream female dreams? If I were to show you my dreams, would you be able to tell? Do women dream only of roses? Do men dream only of war?

When I am dead, what am I? Man or woman? What will I be to myself, and what will I be to you?

To myself, I will be nothing.

To you, I will likely be a man.

But stop making me a gender.

I’m agender.

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