So today, when I went to gym, one of the employees who swiped my card seemed to find me attractive. He gave me a big smile and I’m pretty sure later on, he was checking me out from a distance. He was actually pretty cute, and I rarely say that of anyone. Tall, broad-shouldered, clearly in good shape, nice face.
And it got me thinking about how different life is for me as a celibate asexual, than it would be if I were straight.
If I were an ordinary heterosexual woman and I found him attractive enough, that brief encounter with the guy could’ve been something. It could’ve led to a date or just sex. Hell, it could’ve even led to some ongoing romantic relationship.
Likewise, if he were asexual and there was some way for me to know that on sight, it might’ve turned into something. A new friendship at the very least, maybe something more involved.
Instead, like every time I interact with a stranger who finds me attractive, it involved me immediately sensing that in the other person and subsequently avoiding direct eye contact, saying as little as possible, etc. I obviously made no effort to invite him to find out who I am. There’s always some level of discomfort for me when I come into contact with somebody who’s clearly sexually attracted to me, and I have to assume the average male stranger who notices me in a public place is heterosexual because statistically, that is the likeliest thing.
I guess my point is that being a celibate asexual suddenly eliminates all of these social possibilities. If I were a heterosexual woman or even a queer woman, most of the world would be available to me for intimate relationships, for love, for sex, for affection, etc. As a celibate asexual, 99% of mankind is automatically off limits. Everywhere I go, I have to assume I’m the only person of my kind in the room, and that every stranger I meet or see is sexual, with a completely conventional view of human relationships, because realistically, most of them are.
I just can’t imagine being surrounded by opportunities for significant relationships everywhere I go. I can’t imagine even having the full list of people in any given dating website to choose from.
I rarely find anyone’s looks noteworthy, but this guy at the gym—while not impressive or breathtaking or anything—was certainly cute. I don’t even like the word cute, but I think he qualifies. Yet even if he’s good-looking enough to attract me aesthetically and even if he’s a wonderful human being with a personality perfectly compatible with mine, it doesn’t matter. None of that matters because he’s straight and I’m a celibate ace and there is only one conclusion to that combination: failure.
And I can’t help but wonder how many times in my life I’m going to have encounters like that: with somebody who, if I had been born sexual, I could’ve had some kind of connection or relationship with, but instead is no serious possibility for the sole reason that they want to fuck and I don’t. How many people could I have dated or fucked in college? How many people that I’ll meet by the time I turn 30 in eight years could I have dated or fucked if I were straight instead of a celibate ace? Hundreds? Thousands?
Then, I have to sort of wonder how I might meet the asexuals who are right for me. I have to assume that asexual visibility will improve over the course of my lifetime and that even ten years from now, when I’m in my early 30s, the scene will be a lot better for asexuals everywhere. More people come to identify as ace. Hopefully, there will be more websites, more meet-ups, more everything for us. I don’t really want to worry about meeting the right people for me—both because I won’t be devastated if I never do and because worrying doesn’t help—but I honestly have no idea how that’ll happen, if it’s going to happen. It’s not something I can make happen. I can’t go actively looking in the world, the way I could if I were sexually available. I can’t walk around with a sign that says “Celibate asexual looking for another celibate asexual to love!” I have very little control over how often I meet other aces, at this point in my life. And it’s something I have to make an effort to do. If I were a sexual person, the only effort I’d have to make is leaving my house. Or registering on a dating site.
And the other thing I have to think about is some people are asexual but don’t know it, some are asexual but they won’t come out to anyone, some are asexual and they won’t come out until they know a person really well. So it’s entirely possible that in life, I will meet other asexuals and never actually know that they’re ace because they won’t tell me and unless I’m given a specific reason to think otherwise, I’m going to assume they’re sexual people because a 99% majority is pretty damn dominant. How many lost opportunities will happen that way? (This is one reason why I myself aim to be pretty aggressively out.)
I’m not saying I envy the average romantic-sexual person for the abundance of relationship opportunities they have in life. I’m glad I have a built-in prevention mechanism to decades of conventional dating and conventional marriage because all of that shit is such a mess, I’m better off on a day to day basis not being involved. I guess what I am saying is: I’m a celibate asexual who does want serious, meaningful, intimate relationships, and the fulfillment of that desire rests pretty much entirely on the whims of fate and the Universe and whatever. All I can do is live my life and hope that someday, somehow, without any contrivance on my part whatsoever, I meet a celibate asexual man and an aromantic asexual woman who are not only compatible with me in the area of sexuality but compatible with me in every other way too.
Meanwhile, I live in a state of constant separation and disconnect from everyone around me because I am fundamentally different from them. Not only can I not form the sort of intimate relationships I desire with them, I can’t even talk to them about what I want or how I feel or how I experience love or how I view the world, because most of them don’t even know what the hell asexuality is, much less how someone can be a celibate asexual who wants serious relationships. They can’t sympathize with me, they can’t help me, they can’t relate to me at all. And I can’t relate to them. I’m “other” everywhere I go, whether strangers know it or not, and it’s weird to think about.
It’s also weird to know that this will never change. As long as I live. No matter where I am. How old I am. I’m part of a 1% minority. I’m part of an even smaller minority within that minority, an asexual who won’t have sex. I might as well be from another planet, another universe. That’s how far away I am from almost everyone else on earth.
I feel like this is even worse when you’re a celibate aromantic asexual. :/ There’s not even a possibility of romantic relationships there.
This really resonated with me.
Behaviour is not attraction.
Behaviour is not attraction.
Behaviour is not attraction.
BEHAVIOUR IS NOT ATTRACTION.
BEHAVIOUR IS NOT ATTRACTION.
BEHAVIOUR IS NOT ATTRACTION.
Behavior is not attraction.
Behavior is not attraction.
Behavior is not attraction.
BEHAVIOR IS NOT ATTRACTION.
BEHAVIOR IS NOT ATTRACTION.
BEHAVIOR IS NOT ATTRACTION.
Behaviour. Is not. Attraction.
People on the asexuality spectrum can have sex and *gasp* still be on the asexual spectrum. Because behaviour is not attraction.
Hi! So I’m cupcake, I identify as an aromantic asexual (panaesthetic and pansensual, with homosensual leanings, in case you want to be really specific) and I identify as queer. I am a (white) cis women, lower-class, attending university, and do not speak for the experiences of those who have intersecting queer identities (such as being trans* and ace, or being homoromantic and ace, etc.,). I speak for my identity as a sensy asexy aro, and also being a white lower-class cis woman. Nothing else.
And yes, I identify as queer.
Because my experience as an aromantic asexual person vary significantly from the heteronormative. Because sex ed made no sense to me (pretty soon you’ll have all these weird feelings for boys!!!1!!one lolllololollolol1). Because to this day, I have no idea what it means when someone says “I’d so do him”. Because every sex-based ad ever confuses the fuck out of me and I “just don’t get it”. When reading romantic subplots (I don’t read romance novels) I go “huh?”. I can’t relate. At all. Because when I was a teen growing up I was very confused at the fact that my friends all seemed to be “gettin’ their shag on” or at least wanting to and I had no clue why. That’s why I identify as queer. Because for my entire life, I haven’t felt “normal”. So I identify as queer.
Also: Heteroromantic asexual and demisexual people are also queer if the identify as such for similar reasons.
The responses to the asks you’re going to send me and I will give no fucks about (you’ve been warned) because I’ve answered them all here:
Anonymous asked you: UR JSUT A SPESHAL SNOFLAKE.
Anonymous asked you: UR APPROPRIATING THE QUEER LABEL. STOP TAKING IT FOR URSELVES. U DONT BELONG IN QUUER SPASES.
Anonymous asked you: UR RONG
Anonymous asked you: DIE CIS SCUM
Anonymous asked you: GO KILL YOURSELF
THIS IS NOT OKAY TO ANYONE’S ASK. If you’re not sure why, here are my instructions to you:
Except take out “good sir” and replace it with “asshat”; and “regretfully” with “solemnly”.
Anonymous asked you: HERES Y UR RONG.
Anonymous asked you: *insert some other asshole like statement, poorly phrased insulting question, insult, condescending remark, attack of character, ignorant statement, something straight from derailing for dummies, or otherwise stupid thing here*
Since first joining AVEN a little more than 8 years ago, I have observed many instances of asexual elitism on the site. Asexual elitism on AVEN took the form of an asexual person’s understanding their asexuality as being defined by behavior or nonlibidoism rather than by attraction, with an additional belief that relationships without sexual activity were inherently “purer” than relationships with. Some asexual elitists I observed were anti-masturbation and many or most were anti-sex. Most of them did not state any religious reasons for their views. Many of them rejected the idea that a person can masturbate or participate in sexual activity and still be asexual. All of them took the position that they were more enlightened than people who were not asexual, and all of them had views that invalidated other asexual people’s identification as asexual.
Demisexual elitism, when it happens, is slightly different than asexual elitism. Like asexual elitists, demisexual elitists view their sexual orientation as a state of enlightenment rather than a description of their subjective experiences. Also like asexual elitists, demisexual elitists view their sexual orientation as contingent on behavior and engage in invalidation of other demisexuals’ identities.
A demisexual elitist might take the position that only people who experience sexual attraction in a demisexual manner are capable of truly loving relationships, or some other position that devalues sexual attraction in the absence of a close bond. What all demisexual elitists have in common is their making a moral judgement that it is better to be demisexual than another orientation, or that everyone should be or become demisexual. They also seem to all share an understanding of their own demisexuality as a state they have achieved or were gifted with, rather than a state they happen to be in.
All the people who are critical of demisexuality that I’ve read have made the error of identifying a demisexual elitist’s demisexuality, rather than a demisexual elitist’s elitism, as the problem. People critical of demisexuality as a valid orientation fall into two groups: those who view demisexuality as an inherently elitist construction, and those who consider demisexuality to be “normal sexuality” or the default kind of sexuality society wants us to have. I will consider both groups separately.
I have read multiple people on Tumblr telling demisexual people that their orientation is an elitist or slut-shaming construction. This may be in part due to the fuzzy ways that people describe the inherently fuzzy concept of sexual attraction. If sexual attraction is described as an inclination toward sexual behavior with another person (as I’ve commonly seen it described), it is easy to confuse attraction with behavior and think that a demisexual person is describing their behavior rather than how they experience attraction (which is one reason why I’ve tried to identify sexual attraction in terms of desires rather than inclinations to behavior). At the same time, I have seen multiple individuals who are critical of demisexuality in this manner fail to respond to arguments against them by demisexual people who do engage in casual sex or otherwise have sex in the absence of sexual attraction—and thus fail to acknowledge that demisexuality as an orientation is descriptive of how a person experiences what they identify as sexual attraction rather than a description of their behavior.
I have also read multiple criticisms of demisexuality as an orientation by people who argue that demisexuality is the kind of sexuality that society wants people to have*. This group of critics argues that society wants us to be romantically attracted to people before we are sexually attracted to them. I think the people who make that argument have also confused attraction with behavior, but not in the way that you would expect. I think this group is also making the mistake of thinking that sexual attraction is a more conscious process than it is: they may be making the assumption that sexual attraction as a term describes what you feel when you judge that you are “ready” to have sex with a person, rather than a feeling that hhaving a romantic attractionappens before then. If you feel that at some point you had to make a decision as to whether or not you were “ready” to have sex with a person that you already wanted to have sex with, it’s likely that sexual attraction, if you experienced it toward that person, preceded that decision. So this position also confuses behavior with attraction. Ironically, the position that demisexuality is “normal sexuality” also has the consequence that sexual attraction (or sexual behavior) in the absence of romantic attraction is freakish, abnormal or bad. According to this criticism of demisexuality, it’s not okay to shame people for their sexual behavior, except that it’s totally okay to shame people for experiencing sexual attraction or engaging in sexual activity without also desiring a relationship. That position invalidates casual sex and any other form of sexual behavior or attraction that is not accompanied by desire for a romantic connection—I have a problem with that as a person who has willingly done sexual things with others without desire for or intention to have a relationship, and so does every demisexual-identified person who willingly has sex in the absence of sexual attraction: they exist, and are more common than you think.
It may be true that a lot of demisexual people describe themselves in the following manner: “I only want to have sex with someone after developing a close bond with them.” It is possible to interpret this statement as slut-shaming (if interpreted as a description of behavior), but it may also be a case of the speakers’ not being clear with how they’re describing their experiences, which results in others misinterpreting demisexual identity as slut-shaming and elitist. I think the underlying problem is people being quick to make assumptions when faced with vague statements, rather than willing to ask, “Are you sure that’s what you mean by demisexual? Could you be more descriptive? Phrased like you said it, I don’t understand how you’re not making a moral judgement about other people’s sexual behavior, and I would like to not make that assumption.” It’s time that the critics of demisexuality as an orientation become willing to acknowledge that they are reacting to vague statements rather than responding to true demisexual elitism.
It’s time to challenge the true elitists.
* It is worth noting that this position ignores that there are demisexual people of color and that the racist sexualization of people of color results in people of color, especially women of color, being expected to be hypersexual. It is also worth noting that this position ignores that there are demisexual men and that men are expected to be always ready for sex when their partners desire it.
All of this is true and good and worth the read.
You’re the reason we need safe-spaces.
An Aro Ace
Hi! I’m writing an essay about why people have trouble accepting people who identify as asexual and I know it’s a subject you are very passionate about and I was wondering if you could give me few tips on how to get started, I’d really appreciate it :) and as a side note: as soon as I mentioned what subject I’d be writing about, my teacher said “cause they don’t exist” and a bunch of people started attacking me and saying I couldn’t possibly believe that there were people like that… :/
Fail, your teacher and those people. But hopefully your essay might at least change the teacher’s mind. Let’s hope. Thank you for trying to bring some attention to it, I greatly appreciate it. <3
If you want to get more people’s opinions, you should check out the forums on AVEN. (asexuality.org)
Now onto my rambly ranting reply, in which I probably go way off topic, but oh well…
The first thing to keep in mind is that only about 1% of people are asexual (or “ace”), and out of those, the majority probably haven’t even heard the term outside of biology. That means there’s 99% who DO experience sexual attraction. It’s always difficult to imagine something you can’t relate to, so just like it’s difficult for me to imagine being sexually attracted, I’m sure it’s difficult to them to imagine NOT being it, and a lot of people don’t even try.
A large problem here is that unlike other sexualities, asexuality does not get a lot of coverage. People don’t know what it is, or they don’t understand it. They don’t realise there’s actual scientific research backing it up, and how many people DO feel this way, and that it does not mean we’re broken or abnormal. It’s partly a problem of not being educated enough on the subject.
It’s difficult to accept because they haven’t heard about it, like you hear about LGBT people. Even if you’re, say, pansexual and don’t get a letter in the acronym - yes, most people might not have heard about that, but you could explain it by simplifying it to bisexual. It wouldn’t be accurate, but at least it would give people an idea. The depictions might be wrong or negative*, but at least people have heard of it. LGBT is the acronym because those are the categories that most people at least acknowledge exist. (Though bisexuality slightly less so, as they often get lumped into one or the other category, or excluded entirely from either. They fight several of the same battles as aces do, of not properly “counting”, they just have more public awareness about them.)
*Or greatly exaggerated - like assuming all people who aren’t cisgendered and who don’t fall completely into one of the two “standard” gender categories are automatically “a trannie” and want what is somewhat crudely referred to as a sex-change. PS: “gender affirmation surgery” would be more accurate and respectful. (Though being cisgendered myself, I won’t pretend to be any kind of authority on this subject, so don’t take my word for it.)
People have a problem with fluidity and things being on a sliding scale. They like to put people into nice little boxes. There hasn’t been a box properly created for aces in society yet. Most people don’t even know the box exists, or have mislabeled it. (And then try to tell them that amount of sexual attraction is ALSO fluid and on a sliding scale, with grey-As and demisexuals fitting in somewhere in the middle. They just get even more confused.)
It’s often said that labels are for cans, not for people, but I disagree. We need labels to make sense of the world around us. We need labels to be able to communicate. The problem is mislabeling and stereotypes attached to labels. Even for a label like ‘gay’, there’s so much baggage that goes with it beyond “someone who is attracted to men”. The same goes for asexuality.
The few times asexuality has been depicted in mainstream media, it’s usually been shown as a flaw rather than an identity - a brain tumour, a hormone problem, being a victim of sexual abuse, or a prude, or just lying… So people assume that’s the case with you as well. That’s the mislabeling of the box I was talking about, the baggage that goes along with it despite having no business being there. Rather than counting it as an orientation, they just think there’s something wrong with you, or that something happened to make you this way.
(Also, for the record. Just because not all aces are asexual as a result of what I just listed, it doesn’t mean that people to whom it DOES apply aren’t also asexual. In every group, there will be an overlap, but they are not necessarily related to one another. You’re still allowed to have the baggage and be accepted as the orientation you identify with.)
Another thing is, people don’t care or don’t want to hear about it. “You don’t want sex? Well then don’t have sex, and stop complaining to me about it.” But we’re not complaining about our sexuality - we’re complaining about being ignored and silenced, and you’re not helping. It’s not like we’re fighting for our right to get married (although some of us might be**), so our fight “doesn’t matter”. Which brings me to my next point…
Media and the world is very sex-focused. Sex in general is very hyped up, both glorified and condemned. Sex is such a Big Deal, that it’s easy to forget that there are people who don’t consider it all that important. Even for people who aren’t asexual, sex is not necessarily that big a part of their lives, but that’s not what you’d think by looking at TV/movies/news/whatever. Which makes people who aren’t interested in sex feel “wrong”, and therefore scared to come out, or forcing themselves to try to want and like sex - I did the same for years. It wasn’t fun.
(True, it’s not as easy to show a “lack” of something in TV/movies, but honestly… In any well-written show/movie, it would not be so difficult to include it, unless your primary focus is SEX and nothing else. Just have someone NOT be interested, and then at some point let them say WHY they’re not interested. Also, have them be RIGHT, rather than give them a brain tumour. I’m looking at you, House. Not all tension and conflict has to be sexual, and not all people who aren’t having sex have to be repressing it. I’m looking at you, Sherlock.)
What we’re fighting for is not only to get people to think it’s okay to be asexual - we have to prove we EXIST. So that other people who feel the same can find our community quicker, and realise there are others like them, and there’s nothing wrong about being asexual. The fact that your teachers and classmates reacted the exact opposite way means there’s probably a LONG way to go. There might easily have been an asexual in that class who now feels even worse about themselves, having been told they don’t exist, or that they’re simply mistaken about how they feel. And that makes me deeply upset.
Trying to get back to WHY people have trouble accepting it… In essence, it’s because they can’t imagine it, because they don’t know enough about it. Because society tells us that you’re supposed to WANT SEX. Even the people who teach abstinence, who say that sex is wrong and you shouldn’t do it - they still assume you WANT to. There’s a lot of projection of their own feelings going on, and therefore the few people who disagree and who don’t really think sex is all that important are silenced because they don’t want to labeled as freaks.
This is especially true for guys. Now, I’m not saying girls have it easy, quite the opposite, as we’re either called prudes or sluts, and we’re pressured to both want sex and to abstain from it. But it’s even more difficult for guys to come out, because of our society’s crazy gender roles, that says ALL MEN WANT SEX and will do ANYTHING to get it, at any time. Rather than prude vs slut (both negative), they get freak vs manly. There’s a very clear distinction between negative and positive. Just look at how insulting the word “virgin” is supposed to be for guys. At widespread memes like “forever alone”. Or how much viagra spam I get in my inbox, for that matter. Just another example of how gender roles hurt men as well as women.
People have trouble accepting asexuality as a valid orientation because people like your teacher tell us it doesn’t exist. Because so many people who do experience sexual attraction don’t bother trying to imagine not being that way.
**I haven’t really covered people who are asexual but still experience romantic attraction. Being asexual does not mean you don’t crave intimacy or companionship. Biromantic or homoromantic aces probably have even more problem fitting in, because they can be in a same-sex relationship without feeling like they fit into the queer community on account of not having sex. But they’ll probably fight for gay marriage, so treat them nicely.
Disclaimer: Sexual people are not the enemy. Wanting, having and enjoying sex is not bad. Sex is just sex, and no one should judge you for it as long as it follows the basic rules of safe, sane, and consensual.
Not being able to accept that people might experience the world and their bodies differently than you do is what’s bad. Keep an open mind and take people for what they are.
(To norcillo: feel free to steal my wording or whatever. To everyone: Hopefully I didn’t offend anyone. I’m not an expert, and when talking about a group of people I don’t belong to, it’s easier for me to make mistakes. I try to be as including and accepting as possible, but we all make mistakes and can’t be aware of everything. If you disagree or have an addition, please say it respectfully and I will listen to you.)
Aromantics aren’t covered in this, but it’s still very good!
Allosexism, therefore, refers to an ideology privileging people who are sexually attracted to other people, and prejudices arising from that ideology.
So without touching the rest of this, I’m just going to come right out and ask, exactly how are homosexual people sexually privileged? Before you can even begin to bandy about allosexism, you must first demonstrate how having sexual attraction is something which privileges ALL people of ALL non asexual orientations. And, if this IS something you can demonstrate then you have to explain how it does NOT apply to gray and demi people, as they DO feel sexual attraction.
This is why ~sexual supremacy~ is a dumb as fuck concept, and I just wish people in the asexual community would stop trying to make it a thing over and over again. There is no privilege for experiencing sexual attraction. There is only one sexual attraction that is privileged in this society, and it’s the hetero kind. This is an immutable fact about society that you cannot deny, and it’s really infuriating that so many people seem to be intent on the casual dismissal of how homophobia affects homosexual people in order to bandy about concepts to apply to homosexual people that don’t actually apply at all.
If I tell my coworkers I’m gay the will not treat me less awfully if I assure them that my gayness is totally sexual. If anything I will get MORE shit for it. Because homosex is especially disgusting and awful. Homosexual sexual attraction is not privileged. Allosexism is YET ANOTHER version of the homophobic tripe that is ~sexual supremacy~. Just. Please. Stop.
Maybe I’ll address this at some point.
Maybe I’ll just avoid the blood pressure spike.
And I’m pretty sure it makes sense.
I think I’ll keep using it.
Allosexism (n) - The attitude or bias that favours sexual people and relationships.
EDIT: Looks like at least one other person is already using it! :3
Make it two! :D