Tag Archives: sexuality

Joke: Asexuality and Garlic Bread

Main Piece: 

Collector: “I remember a while ago you were talking about the link between garlic bread and ace people, right? Can you explain that?”

Informant: “Well, essentially, the consensus is that garlic bread is better than sex. And thus, slowly, over time, through memes and such, it became part of ace- asexual culture to just be like ‘Sex? Phhht. Garlic bread. That’s pretty good.’ It’s like that with various other foods. Like cake. Lemon bars are one thing- no, wait, lemon bars are bisexual. I don’t know why they’re bisexual, but they are.”

Collector: “What’s like a formula of one of these memes? Like if you had to cite a stock meme to me.”

Informant: “Like here’s the basic thing of how they kind of go. Sex. Then reaction pic of somebody going no, or nuh-uh, or whatever—”

Collector: “Like the Drake meme along the side.”

Informant: “Yeah. Like that and then the good one.”

Collector: “The approving side of the picture. 

Background:

My informant is a member of several online asexual communities designed as spaces of solidarity and safety. The common practices of these communities include sharing struggles unique or semi-unique to ace people, figuring out or helping others figure out whether the sexual identity applies to them, and sharing memes about asexuality. 

Collector: Why do you think this developed?”

Informant: “Primarily firstly because garlic bread is just good. It’s just fantastic. And then garlic bread being better than sex was kind of a meme outside of asexual culture. Just around, I used to occasionally find one just out in the wild.”

To my informant, garlic bread being better than sex was the adopting of a pre-existing, potentially ironic meme by a community that agreed whole-heartedly with the sentiment. Oher potential benefits include bonding over a meme.

Thoughts:

It seems telling that this is a joke told within communities specifically labelled as asexual safe spaces and not frequently elsewhere. It’s likely there’s an element of safety and community to this meme. The meme is proliferated within a safe asexual space to prove that the space is safe- saying that sex is bad is fine here and we’ll do it in a funny way. It’s also likely that catharsis is another element at play. In a culture dominated by people who value sex, it’s likely that the community has latched onto garlic bread as just one example to hold up of the many things they see as more appealing. By participating in the meme, consuming and posting, they reaffirm their feelings and get a release from the tension of being misaligned with a sex-dominated culture.

“The Bagel Song” at Camp

The informant is a 20-year old college sophomore at University of Michigan majoring in industrial and systems engineering. She went to sleep-away camp for several years and was excited to share some of her fond memories of it with me. One such memory is “the Bagel Song.”

 

“Bagels, doo doo doo

Bagels, doo doo doo

 

Bagels on Mars, Bagels on Venus

I got bagels in my…..

NOSE!

 

Bagels, doo doo doo

Bagels, doo doo doo

 

Bagels on the pier, bagels on the dock

I got bagels on my….

NOSE!

 

Bagels, doo doo doo

Bagels, doo doo doo

(The next person makes up a stanza similar to the first two, with provocative lyrics that make the listener think of something dirty, but that ends in NOSE

 

Interviewer: “Where did you learn the Bagel Song?”

Informant: “I remember my counselor one year teaching it to me and a few other campers. We thought it was totally hilarious. When I was a counselor a few years ago, I taught it to my campers too.”

Interviewer: “Where would you guys sing the song?”

Informant: “Oh gosh, all the time. Um, we would sing it when camp songs were song. Like at bonfires and before mealtimes when everyone was together waiting to eat. We would tease the cute male counselors with it too…”

Interviewer: “Did your counselor who taught you the song say where she learned it?”

Informant: “No. We never asked. But I do have a friend who went to an all-boys camp in Wisconsin who told me they had a variation of the song they would sing.

Interviewer: “Do you remember how the variation went?”

Informant: “Hmm. I think it was the same general principle. I think what was different was that the boys said “Bacon” instead of “bagel”? I’m not entirely sure though; it was a long time ago that I talked to my friend about it!”

 

Thoughts:

I see the Bagel song as a humorous song dealing with taboos of sex and sexuality. The song is especially funny because it makes the listener the one with the “dirty mind”, not the singer, as it is the listener who thinks the singer is going to make an obscene reference.

Oring talks about Children’s folklore (I would consider “The Bagel Song” fitting into this category) a good deal in Folk Groups and Folklore Genres. Ideas of childhood have been purified for a long time in American society, and the oppressiveness of the controlled environment in which children reside in can partially explain their dealing with the sexuality taboo, along with other taboos.

Cameroonian Views on Femininity

My informant is the mother of a USC student. She is an immigrant from Cameroon and came to America with her husband and son before giving birth to their daughter.

“In my culture it is believed that a woman who has no children is considered wicked, a man, and worthless. If she is married and childless, she will be divorced and asked to return her dowry to her husband. From what we know today, infertility could be from the man. Yet, yet all the blame goes to the woman, but back then, it was only the woman. The belief is that the wickedness comes in because gods would not bless a bad person and children, children are the most cherished gift to a women. So she would be shown without a child and no man is supposed to love a woman who could produce no heir. Next to a woman without children is one who has only one child—especially if it is a girl child—or has all girls. Women are blamed for not being able to produce an heir since most believe that only the boys should inherit the family s fortune. The irony here, is that, these same people who prefer boys stand to benefit when a girl gets married through the bride price and dowry.”

 

Analysis: My informant learned these cultural beliefs from relatives and extended family while living in Cameroon. This piece of cultural knowledge gives a very clear picture of the gender lines and distinctions within Cameroonian culture. From even this small amount of verbal exchange the listener gets an immediate and clear understanding that Cameroon is a patriarchal country that places incredible pressure on the women to live up to the standards of men. It is also interesting to note that in many cases after having moved from Cameroon to America these beliefs do not hold as much weight. My informant’s daughter, who is a close friend of mine, acknowledges her cultural beliefs, but does not hold the belief that the importance of women should be placed underneath that of a man. This gives the impression that cultural folklore has a much stronger meaning when the folklore is being spread in an area where the majority of people hold those same beliefs.

Gloria III

It began when we had our party I really don’t remember the beginning – it was the Genderfuck party, yeah –  because I was on this thing called DOC. And I was tripping and kind of like in my own little world. I do know that around 2am, people started taking off their clothes and were showing their boobies everywhere and they were just dancing and I was like, “What!? What’s going on, this is amazing.”

So we kicked everyone out and we all went to the back yard and we were lying on this really old twin mattress and I don’t know how people fit, but like you had like 18 people up in there and I was like uh-uh, I am not getting up in all of that. And so from there, the bonfire was really nice, then we went to Rachel’s room and there it was kind of like…I don’t know…we were all kind of like on top of each other and I was still kinda tripping, so I was just like, “everybody just touch hands!”(laughs). And we were all touching hands and then like I would make jokes like, you know let’s play a game called who’s in my mouth. (laughs) So then like, we were all touching each other and we took it to my room and then we were on G’s bed and S came in with ice cream and we started passing the ice cream to each other via mouth, and then I took off my pants and I was in my Andrew Christian underwear and you know how that makes my package look – humongous! And so then we decided to watch a video and then me and G got on the couch on the two couches or whatever and were dancing naked – oh no, we weren’t naked, we had underwear.

And R was like, “we should all take a shower,” and nobody said anything, so I was like, “yeah, let’s do it.” And so then like, nobody moved, so I got up and people started finally moving, at least that’s how I remember it. And so then we decided to go take a shower up in the cave bathroom, which is huge. And we put on Lady Gaga, The Fame album, and we all just took a shower with each other – I kept my underwear on, mostly because I was like, “I’m tripping, I don’t know what could happen, if I drop the soap, I’ll be like, ‘oops.’” (laughs) – You know what I’m saying? It was great times. That’s a pretty quick run-through for Gloria III.

 

At this point, ‘Gloria’ is a tradition, or at least a practice within this group. I heard variations on this story as well. My informant as well as others, described the requirements for ‘Gloria’ to basically be some kind of group bonding where people felt comfortable with their bodies and the bodies of others and comfortable with sharing space. Basically, it was intimate, but not necessarily sexual. ‘Gloria’ was also supposed to be fun. Also, they tended to define events as ‘Glorias’ after the fact, not during. These events explore human intimacy, for which we all yearn deeply, but fear at the same time, namely because we are afraid of how others may perceive us, we feel uncomfortable with ourselves, and we feel vulnerable when we share too much. As non-serious as this event was, it is an example of a group of people beginning to overcoming hesitation, fear of intimacy, etc.