For the asexually curious and the curiously asexual

So we had our first lecture on the law of negligence today. Our tutor, who I think deals mostly with first years because he’s one of the few vaguely capable ones, has a way of choosing cases that illustrate a principle while also being memorable, and telling them in an iteresting way. Today, for example, we had the case of a man who helped someone onto a train, who then dropped his luggage, which turned out to be full of fireworks, which went off and dislodged a sign, which then hit a woman over the head. The woman attempted to prove that this was a ‘forseeable consequence’ of the first person’s actions. Laughing at other people’s misery enough that you remember it is an important part of a law degree.

The last case went something like this:

“Now, all the boys in the audience are going to wince at this one, and all the girls will titter… (lots more rambling, this guy rambles a lot)… He had his genitals chopped off in an industrial accident.”

*shocked gasps from the men, laughing from the women. A general feeling that this is the worst thing ever*

Boy behind me: I’d commit suicide!

Tutor (observing people of various colours in his audience- the second time in two lectures today that I’ve felt like a white-haired, white-skinned law professor is subtly othering his coloured students while trying to be P.C.): And notice that’s a multi-cultural reaction- people of two genders in all cultures reacted the same (he didn’t say it this succinctly).

I’m fed up of male = penis. I’m fed up of inability to achieve sex being inability to achieve life-goals, especially when you’re a male-bodied individual (and, at some point, when I’ve done the legal research and considered it from a disability angle, I’m going to look at the legal advocates who will try the ‘sex is fundamental to the life of every man’ card at the drop of a hat- whether to gain disability benifits (imo: generally a positive outcome), or rape allowance (‘he’s a man, you can’t blame him’)). I’ve seen this expressed on Yadaforum in the last few days, and Charles also mentioned it recently, but the prospect of having functioning genitals is not something everyone is bound to. Personally, I’d be perfectly contented with some way to urinate hygenically, some way to have or raise children and, if it ever came to it, access to sex toys.

This annoys me like ‘God, I’d hate to date someone like you!’ annoys me. It’s a reasonable sentiment. “I’d hate to live without a penis” is a powerful thing to self-identify, especially if you’re cis, and a perfectly reasonable thing to identify, just like “I’d hate to live in a sexless relationship/one without mutually enjoyable sex as a key component”. Great. Tell the world.

But don’t insist that everyone is like you. Because what you’re doing there is invalidating your statement. When you make sure that all men insist they’d fall on their sword as soon as they loose sexual function, then you’re invalidating the massive variety of opinions people really have about their genitals, sex, and their relation to these things, and your opinion is one of these. This argument isn’t really for the benifit of asexual or trans people, who are the groups I’ve identified so far as being likely to have complex relationships with their genitals or their sexual activity. Because the people who are most likely to have complex relationships with their genitals or sexual activity are cis sexual people. Wonderfully nuanced, amazingly detailed, fabulously rich opinions and conversations and emotions. And that, really, is what you’re blocking off with your hegemonic opinions.

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Comments on: "Penes, and the joy of living" (9)

  1. I’m not a man so no idea how I would feel losing a penis. I

  2. I took part in a really great class last trimester called “Sex and Disability” and it has been one of the better classes I’ve taken at my current school. One video we watched was interviews with gay men shortly after the big boom of aids cases in the 80s. One quote that really struck me was from a man who was HIV+ who said something to the effect of “I used to have about 200 paths to orgasm, and now I gave up 25 of them because they’d put my partner at risk, but I still have 175 paths to orgasm, so I don’t miss the others.” For people who acquire a disability, are injured in an accident, lose their sex-related functionality due to illness etc they have a long road ahead of them if their entire sex-life consisted of “tab A goes in slot A” without ever thinking outside the box (pardon the pun).

    We’re very big on idolizing the “penis in vagina” means of orgasm which is so hetero-able-cis-centric! If we encouraged people to be way, way more in touch with themselves and their sexuality I think it’d be less of a cultural crisis when 40 year old men realize the don’t have the penis of 16 year old boys anymore! Maybe more women would feel like they had the right to tell their partner when they needed or wanted something else than what they were getting and then they wouldn’t be so bitter.

    Thanks for writing this! I really enjoyed it!

  3. “Now, all the boys in the audience are going to wince at this one, and all the girls will titter… (lots more rambling, this guy rambles a lot)… He had his genitals chopped off in an industrial accident.”

    Despite my lack of penis, I wouldn’t laugh/giggle at this and I don’t like the tutor’s assumption that I would. Maybe being CAFAB and FTM means I don’t count, but it always bothers me when people assume that my lack of penis means I find stories about awful things happening to penises funny. :/

  4. Last night, I was playing the “Would You Rather” game with a mixed gender group of people, and this question came up: “Would you rather lose two fingers, or a third of your penis size?” Most of the guys were saying, “Two fingers!” and just in their tone, making it sound so obvious. To me it didn’t seem obvious at all, though. With all the other questions, there was some debate, but strangely, not this one. If someone in the group disagreed, I really doubted they would have felt comfortable saying so.

  5. […] cisgendered manliness. But I can’t, because all of society is already doing it for me. This post on Asexual Curiosities has it exactly […]

  6. […] don’t express your desires as universal desires. Because all you’re going to do then is deligitimise your own opinion. Sexual attraction doesn’t work as a raging beast of hunger for most sexual people, or for […]

  7. Also, from a disability rights perspective, I’d like to point out that while people can imagine their initial reaction to some major change in their life, they’re really terrible at predicting how they’ll ultimately feel once they’ve had time to get used to it. I know of people who used to think that being disabled was awful and they’d be miserable forever if they were disabled, then they actually acquired a disability and they were miserable for a while and then accepted it and didn’t think it was such a big deal anymore. I’m guessing for many people a catastrophic genital injury would turn out similar to any other acquired disability.

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