For the asexually curious and the curiously asexual

Archive for August, 2010

The lures of the feminine- bloomin’ quests

Recently, I’ve been feeling like I’ve been having the tiniest bit of sexual attraction to women. I tend to over-minimise my attraction on this blog, so ‘tiny’ tends to mean ‘minor’. In this case, it means ‘less than tiny’. It’s not even got to the stage of being sexual attraction yet, it’s like… increased responsiveness. Like before, I went looking for the bit of my brain that stores my gynophilia and there was just a wall there. Now, the room is still empty, but the wall has disappeared. There’s a room in my brain that I’ve never been into before, waiting to be filled up.

I use this metaphor because that’s what it feels like when this feeling strikes. It’s that physical sensation when you open a door in pitch black, and somehow, you can sense the open space in front of you.

And I’ve been thinking about why this is, and what this means. Neither are easy to answer. Neither, I know, are strictly neccesary to answer, sexuality can be what it is without cause. But I think it’s useful to look deeper.

When I was younger, I used to think that girls were off-limits. I used to surpress any proto-feelings I developed for girls, and encouraged the ones for boys, because I’ve been raised in a culture where heterosexuality is destructive. Where it is a metaphor for destruction heaped on the female by the male. Fires which, as they kiss, consume.

I’ve been going on a bit of a journey on that front, recently. I’ll write about it when I have time. Knowing internally what I knew academically- that heterosexuality isn’t wrong. Giving myself permission to feel things. When I do, now, it’s interesting, exciting, not shameful or confusing. I feel like I’m on a new, a wholesome, adventure. And that could be the reason for my feeling of newfound space.

Also, and I’m less sure about this one, I’ve hinted before that my attraction to men may be as much about who I want to be as who I want to be with. Now I’ve come to the horrific realisation that I’m moderately attractive, I feel like that whole issue is coming to a close, and leaving me more mentally healthy.

So, it appears I have a flexible sexuality. And, what’s more, it appears that my sexuality is often tied into whatever issues I’m dealing with at the moment. So, here I am, the perfect example of a late bloomer who deals with repression to fully accept themselves and suddenly open new vistas of sexuality. Yes?

Well, no, not really. The important take-away message I have about asexuality and flexibility here is that it really works both ways. As someone like me goes on a journey, their sexuality will change to reflect that journey, in subtle and unexpected ways. All too often, in our society, coming into a sexuality is seen as maturity, openness, a good end goal. But coming into asexuality, a restriction of sexuality, can be just as much of an emotional blossoming. It can stand for maturity, contentment, refinement of personal knowledge. So there is such a thing as a late bloomer. Right now, I feel like I’m blooming quite a lot. But asexuality is just as much a bloom as sexuality.

As sexy as they get

This depressing thought struck me as I was waiting at the platform of the train station in the rain.

I am an attractive young man.

I have no deformities, nothing that would repulse the shallow or unsuspecting. I am tall, dress smartly, my hair finally looks like it was grown by someone who realises that hair can be aesthetic. I fit narrow, Euro-centric, even Aryan beauty standards. Careful choice of glasses hides the things I hate about my face, and careful choice of clothes hides the things I hate about my body. I am skinnier than I think, even if I will never take the massive time/money/pain investment that leads to a great body. I am reasonably healthy. People who know me well wouldn’t call me confident, but various strangers have loved my confidence so much that they crushed on me. When I talk with passion, when I reveal what I tend to hide, I can feel people responding to that.

When I realised this, I felt as if I’d been gutted. Because that’s it. Battle over. Goodbye, irrational complexes, see you again sometime in middle age. Have fun.
Because I’ve spent so long looking at uber-pretty men, I can’t bear to accept that this is it. This is how far I get. This is attractive.

I don’t feel any different. I don’t feel like I always imagined attractive men to feel. So therefore I don’t feel like I’m attractive.

It’s sort of like the myth of thin, which I read about somewhere and now cannot find (prizes to whoever provides me with a link). You keep putting your life on hold, thinking ‘when I’m attractive, I’ll have this amazing and successful life’.

Well, I’m attractive.

It’s time to start living.

On redefining queer, and who’s allowed to use it

First off, a quick asexy link, courtesy of my friends at American Virgin. I think I’ve heard about this film before, and I’m guessing the first place they came to fundraise was AVEN, but, in case you haven’t heard the trailer, go and take a look.

Anyway, I forgot to write down the big list of topics I had to write about, so now I’ve forgotten them all, and I’m back to writing whatever comes into my head.

How does this reclaiming the word queer thing work, guys? Are we still meant to be slightly disapproving of anyone who uses it and doesn’t fit in the LGBTQ crowd? Does it still hurt too much that we don’t want to give others a free pass to use it?

I ask because I may one day decide that asexual is too confusing a shorthand for demisexual etc, and decide queer would be better. If I label myself queer, am I defining myself by a word that over half my friends can’t even say? Cos that sort of sucks for them. It sort of sucks for me, as well, when they try and explain what I am, and can’t use the actual word that I find most helpful.

Is it free to use, but you have to be prepared to grovel the instant any non-hetero-cis person takes offense?
Or is it based on how progressive you are? Feminists and sex-positive people get in free? Do you have to donate a certain amount to gay rights organisations (in which case, I’m not entitled, and won’t be until I have some actual disposable income, in several years time [hopefully])?
Maybe you have to have a seal of approval by an actual queer person. If so, we could get little cards printed. That would definately save on confusion.

Or maybe we could just say ‘ok, a word’s a word. What’s more, it’s the only word we’ve got for a concept that needs expressing*’. If it’s used in hate, sure, point out the hate, same as you would if someone viciously spat the word ‘gay’ at you, but just agree that the word itself isn’t offensive any more.

*And a concept that needs expressing is a concept that EVERYONE needs to be able to express.

The demi closet

So, quick recap:

In the last post, I promised my next few posts would be short. I then wrote a post that I thought would be really short, and it ended up the same length as the others.
In the post before that, I promised to make things less asexual-based, or at least more wired towards a readership that I don’t assume to be asexual. That’s also notably been failing.

Today, I hope to meet promise #1, if not promise #2.

I’ve been thinking about how little I really mention the sexual side of my demisexuality on this blog. A lot of what I write about is written from the ‘asexual perspective’, and I almost seem to be trying to aviod the part of me that’s, well, normal. Seriously. Second-guessing how sexual everyone really is makes my brain hurt, but I reckon there’s happily sexual people out there with the same level of sexual attraction to me. I know that my feelings are the only ones I can comment on, but the more I let them be what they are, the more they seem to mark me out as subversively on ‘the other side’. It doesn’t mean I’m not asexual, the label is still the most useful to me without getting complex (like demihomosexual), but maybe that I’m less asexual than my deliberate persona.

I think it’s a matter of bravery. I don’t want to stand up and say “This is who I am” because it goes against the idea of the Ideal Asexual. Or maybe, if the Ideal Asexual is the asexual sexuals want to see, the Pure Asexual, the one who’s as asexual as possible, who has earned their place at the table of the sexless.

And then there’s the excuse. The excuse being- we live in a society with screwy notions about sex (especially queer sex), and I know that I can never rely on this blog to be anonymous. I want the worst real-life experience I can come away with to be “Yes, I blogged about asexuality for several years. God, I was privileged, time-wasting and self-obsessed back then” and not to be “You’ve read my blog? Oh, great. Now you know way too much about how I think about sex.” I draw the line very high so I have a little further to slip.

And the problem is that it’s quite a good excuse. The chances aren’t all that remote, especially as I remain openly asexual, if someone just decides to google asexuality and do a lot of reading on it. I’m probably blowing the effects out of proportion, I’d never planned to be any sort of graphic sex blogger. After all, that would isolate some of my asexual audience (see promise #2, above) and be practically impossible, considering I’m not reckoning on having a sex life to write home about any time soon.

But anyway. What’s courage and what’s foolishness?

And, looking back, I’m less convinced that I’ve met promise #1, or that I’ve not met promise #2. The moral of this story is- I always break my promises (must be because I’m an evil demisexual aromantic).

Sexual aromantics and asexual romantics- guess which are the bigger bastards

Note on the title: Yes, I’m perfectly aware most asexual romantics don’t agree with the people quoted here, and the ones who I have quoted probably didn’t think about it in this much depth. Now I’ve got your attention, I’ll put away my broad brush and start painting with the narrowest implements I have. Which would be the knives.

So I spent three weeks on holiday and what feels like another half a week catching up on all the internet stuff I missed out on (and that only includes the blogs I have feeds for- the busier ones I tend to just check whenever I have time and inclination- that’ll take me months!). Anyway, I tend to compose my subjects for blogging away from my computer, so I have two or three short things that will basically write themselves, and one big, epic post I want to make about heterosexual masculinity, and am building up to.

When I came back, I noticed Charles (I’m avoiding Pugnacion because it’s harder to spell), who has been the most admirably busy asexual blogger in my absence, had linked to a thread on sexual aromantics on AVEN.

I’m demisexual a?romantic, I’m probably the closest anyone has come to self-identifying as sexual aromantic, and I want to use that thread as a springboard for some of my thoughts on the matter.

It wasn’t as bad as I’d thought, to be fair. Only two or three comments were actually offensive, a lot of the rest were telling the offensive ones that they were wrong.
In the manner of a very effective presentation on pedophilia that Pretzelboy recently linked to, I’m going to re-phrase each negative statement made so that it reads as a statement about you, the reader. This is effectively what the AVEN thread was saying about me as I read it:

I find you rather horrifying, and I think many people here would agree with me on that count.

The emotional aspects mean absolutely nothing to you. You trick people to get them into bed and then never call them back or talk to them again.

There may be people like you who do not come off as sleazebags, but I’m not entirely sure how that would work . . .

I think you are horrifying, or disturbing in the very least.

The final quote is one I’d like to pull out for further analysis:

“it would be so much simpler, if you wanted to satisfy sexual desires, not to be so focused on the other person. Sex for the sake of pleasure rather than the intimacy and focus of love and whatnot.”

Ok, so there’s a whole load of stuff about how I don’t feel the right thing. I can’t feel love. I’ve said how much that hurts. In its place, I have (a small amount) of lust. And that’s bad. That’s shallow. That’s wrong. Thank you. Thank you for reminding me where I stand.
I’ll skip over that for now, I’m certain I’ll come back to it later. What overwhelms me are the misconceptions. According to the quotes above, someone who feels sexual attraction but not romantic attraction:

-Tricks people and lies to people
-Does anything possible to get people into bed
-Is incapable of human connection
-Is incapable of self-control
-Is always and irrevocably selfish in bed

And, I know, asexual people aren’t the best at understanding how sexual attraction goes, for obvious reasons. And AVENites are often not on the same page as me regarding sex-positivism. But how are any of those things linked directly to sexual attraction? You can have casual sex without deliberately hurting or deceiving your partner. You can be sexually attracted to someone and want them to be happy in bed. That’s how it tends to work, in fact.

The ideas in that thread were based on two paradigms. The first is that a sexual relationship without love is inevitably destructive, and that people (often interchangeable with ‘women’) will only have this destructive sex if they think they’re tricked into getting love. The second is that sexuals cannot control themselves- sexual attraction, sooner or later, is a matter of selfishness, especially when not balanced out by the healing and benevolent and entirely unselfish powers of romantic attraction.

A lot of gender/sexuality blogging seems to be about picking out the paradigms behind what someone thinks, and then pointing out that the paradigms are wrong, to a load of people who already agree with you that those paradigms are wrong.

They’re wrong. See. You agree with me, don’t you?

God, I’m good at this.

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