For the asexually curious and the curiously asexual

100% positive

This post is about holding asexuals to a particular standard of non-judgementalism in sexual matters. I’ve seen it said that the existance of judgemental asexuals reflects badly on asexuals as a whole. Which is not just wrong on the basis that it judges everyone in the minority by the standards of one member’s faults. It is also wrong because it is blatently hypocritical.

Let’s look at ‘sexuals’ (the outgroup word for ‘people who feel sexual attraction’, for any non-familiar readers) as a monolith. These people feel sexual attraction. Some proportion don’t feel especially inclined to act on that, or have more important things to do (by their own prioritising, not by any universal one), but a lot of sexual people are wired to really love sex. They seek it out. It brings them pleasure. Our aromantic research division has even uncovered evidence that sex is inextricably linked to love, closeness and commitment for many sexuals. These people have often gone through life aquiring personal evidence that sex=nice.

So they should be 100% sex-positive, right? They should realise that sex can be a really good thing, that it shouldn’t be bound, as long as it’s within the realms of genuinely consenting adults, that judgementalism about sex is never, ever acceptable.

Turns out they don’t.

Now let’s take asexuals. These people don’t experience sexual attraction. Some of them find sex enjoyable anyway, some of them like sex because they find it helps establish closeness and romantic affection. Some of them don’t like sex, which isn’t surprising. When you take all the good stuff about sex away, the attraction and arousal and self-esteem elements, you end up not with a neutral activity, like squash, but a mildly/very icky activity, like rolling around in someone else’s sweat, saliva and genital fluids while being constantly reminded that society thinks you’re broken. A lot of asexuals didn’t even find out they were asexual until they had been through years of this ordeal, or at least thinking that this ordeal was inevitable, or just thinking they were broken for not wanting it. Essentially, what you have with asexuals is a group of people who have, over the course of their lives, been assembling personal evidence that sex=not nice.

And an awful lot of these people will actively champion your right to it. But expecting 100% of them? Expecting the people who’ve had reason not to like sex, who have relied on what society says because they don’t have any internal senses or evidence which contradicts that, to be BETTER at this than you? That’s hypocrisy.

And, while we’re on the subject, and because I simply refuse to write an entire post about this, the idea that asexuals in general, demisexuals in particular, are turning slut-shaming into a faux-marginalised identity, which has been all over tumblr recently. Just no.

Saying (earnest voice) “I don’t like sex,” (while also not being the definition of asexuality) is a PERSONAL TRUTH. It, in itself, says NOTHING about what you think about people who like sex. Saying it in a snobbish voice might, and reading it in a snobbish voice because this is the internet and it’s easy to mistake tone might make it sound as if it does. But there is essentially NO WAY of getting the information of one’s lack-0f-sex-liking out without saying “I don’t like sex.” You could follow this with “I don’t have anything against those who do,” every single time you say it. But that’s unweildy, normally unneccesary and still able to be read as a subtle hint that you’re actually a slut-shamer.

Alternatively, you could continuously frame your dislike of sex as a minority status and a personal truth. You could, for example, put yourself on a ‘sexuality’ model, where no sexuality is assumed to be any ‘better’ than any other, where campaigners for alternate sexualities have made it abundantly clear that they don’t want to convert everyone, they just want freedom for those who happen to be that sexuality. This is pretty much the only way I can think of signalling to everyone that your sexuality is not something you proselytise, it’s something you are. If even that doesn’t work, I have a serious question- how can someone say they don’t like sex without that automatically meaning the same thing as sex being bad and wrong and inferior? Aside from, you know, other people just getting over themselves and realising that identities are personal, and asexuality and demisexuality clearly frame themselves as equal-but-different minorities? Because that would be ludicrous.

Advertisements

Comments on: "100% positive" (6)

  1. You misspelled the word hypocrisy, but otherwise, an excellent article. :) I think this lack of respect for people who say “no” to sex as a general rule is… well, I find it unsettling. I doubt most of these people would ever dream of forcing anyone to have sex, as that is generally known as “rape” and is, in fact, a violent crime, but it still really bothers me when people claim that being asexual and/or not wanting sex is not only unnatural, but is, in fact, “judgmental and wrong.” I can’t help what I am, but I make the best choices I can within that context, and one of the choices I’ve made is to be a sex-positive feminist in addition to being asexual and celibate. I don’t have to want sex in order to be sex-positive; believe it or not, my personal choices *can* exist independently of my political views. Besides, sex-positivity is about choice and freedom, and the option to say “no” is a part of that. And guess what? Saying “no” — even saying “no” every time — does not make anyone a slut-shamer. It just makes them someone who does not, personally, want to have sex.

    • Spelling mistake fixed. Thanks.

      And yeah, I really don’t see how saying ‘no’ could POSSIBLY be taken to automatically mean hatred of anyone who says ‘yes’. It just erases the ability of people to say no, surely?

      I may just give up TRYING to understand how that makes sense.

  2. This post is amazing and I want to hug it and cuddle it because yes, yes, YES. Like, this is the reason I pointedly do *not* identify as sex-positive, why I complain about how sexual people expect *me* – repulsed ace, only sexual experience was sexual assault – to be their cheerleader about how amazing sex is. Like, I am willing to say “I don’t care what it is you get up to in your spare time as long as everyone consents, and I think it’s shitty people are judging you and will work against that.” But somehow this isn’t enough, I have to be able to compose sonnets about how amazing sex is for sexual people or else I’m ~anti-sex~ and in line with the oppressive majority and wtfever, and for a long time I did this and now I go “fuck that, seriously, I am the last person you ought to be asking for this”. And I can’t even talk about being repulsed without needing to disclaimer it all over with “btw: JUST HOW I PERSONALLY VIEW THINGS”.

    And yeah, the bit where people claim demisexuality is slut-shaming is just, I DON’T EVEN. Honestly, I think the people who are jumping from people’s personal recounts of their identity and experiences and assuming there must be some kind of moral judgement behind it need to take a long, hard look at themselves and their assumptions.

    • “I have to be able to compose sonnets about how amazing sex is for sexual people”

      This is a good way of putting it. Especially when the same portions of the sex-positive community who expect this also put NO effort into toning down their “Sex is wonderful and special all the time and the one true path to self-fulfilment and something that defines all human beings.”

      (I may, in fact, have had you in mind when talking about how rediculous it is to expect asexual people to come to a conclusion about sex that’s completely different from all the evidence they’ve ever got)

      And as for “in line with the oppressive majority;” I really need to write a post soon about the conversation that runs:
      “Society is sex-negative!”
      “No, it’s sex-positive!”
      “But look at all the slut-shaming!”
      “But look at all the social re-inforcement of sex!”
      “Negative!”
      “Positive!”
      “Nu-uh!”
      “Ya-ha!”

      Because that is getting so annoying. (is there a better word for me to use than ‘sex-positive’ that would mean ‘judgemental of asexuals and those who say no’ in this context?)

  3. […] asexual curiosities: 100% positive This post is about holding asexuals to a particular standard of non-judgementalism in sexual […]

  4. This was my favorite part of your article: “When you take all the good stuff about sex away, the attraction and arousal and self-esteem elements, you end up not with a neutral activity, like squash, but a mildly/very icky activity, like rolling around in someone else’s sweat, saliva and genital fluids while being constantly reminded that society thinks you’re broken. A lot of asexuals didn’t even find out they were asexual until they had been through years of this ordeal, or at least thinking that this ordeal was inevitable, or just thinking they were broken for not wanting it.”

    I have noticed that a lot of people seem to think that being sex-positive is mandatory for an asexual. The thing is, not all sexual people espouse the sex-positive movement either! People of every orientation have a wide variety of opinions about sex and intimacy. As an asexual, I am more interested in trying to heal from the wounds of feeling “broken” or “damaged” for not wanting sex than I am in trying to help fight for acceptance of sexual lifestyles that I know little to nothing about. Thank you a million times for pointing out that not all sexual people have sex or agree with every possible sexual lifestyle that exists on the planet Earth. Great post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: