It seems like the hot new thing these days in asexual visibility is to highlight the existence of asexuals who like sex.
Or is it really? I can’t actually think of any example where it’s mentioned in major media. It doesn’t appear to be in Huffington Post’s massive six-part series, although they mention that some gray-A and demisexual people like sex. It seems aces talk about it in their own spaces (with more or less emphasis, depending on the space), but it doesn’t actually make it into the media, for better or for worse.
Talking about asexuals who like sex serves many points that we often wish to make:
- Asexual spaces are very inclusive. We’re okay with people flirting with the boundaries of our socially constructed boxes.
- Asexual spaces are sex-positive. We’re not skittish about people in our midst having sex.
- Sexuality is complicated and we know it.
- We take very seriously the definition of asexuality as lacking sexual attraction. It’s not about behavior, and it’s not about all those other reasons why people like sex. There’s something about sexual attraction that makes it especially important to our experiences.
By repeating all these ideals, we encourage the community to fulfill them.
Of course, there are disadvantages as well. Are mainstream audiences really ready to hear about asexuals who like sex? It seems like it could potentially provoke major negative reactions above and beyond the typical negative reactions. Our de facto solution is to talk about it amongst each other and not talk about it much to outsiders.
Also, some asexuals feel a bit uncomfortable with point #4, because to them, not wanting sex really is the most important aspect of their asexiness. It’s like when I said last month that self-awareness of difference was the most important aspect of asexuality to me, and multiple commenters said that they weren’t so self-aware in the way I meant it. Wow, the experience I think is most important, other aces didn’t even experience! Imagine that. It’s almost like we are more than one person.
In my own observation, the discussion seems to be missing something important: People talking about their own experience as asexuals who like sex. (Disclosure: I am a gray-A and I like sex, so that’s sort of close.) I almost always see it posed as a hypothetical. As in the title of this post, it’s always about “them” and not “us”. This is rather bothersome to me, as if asexuals who like sex were merely a political tool, even if it is used for positive ends. I also think it empowers critics, because it’s easier to diss people not present than to diss people to their face.
The lack of personal testimony is not so surprising if, as the surveys show, only 1% of asexuals enjoy sex. Those same figures show that 4% of gray-As and 11% of demisexuals enjoy sex. The amount of attention given to asexuals who like sex seems disproportionate (depending on the space), which solidifies my view that it’s mostly about politicking.
On the other hand, asexuals who like sex may not be speaking up because they don’t want to be put under personal fire. Some of them may even be talking about their own experience right now, but choose to hide it by posing it as a hypothetical situation. That seems like the kind of thing I might do, hypothetically. I like that it’s common knowledge among ace communities that some asexuals like sex, and I like that I don’t have to put myself out there to make the point.
TL;DR: There are lots of good reasons to talk about asexuals who like sex, but I have mixed feelings about the how it’s dominated by third-person accounts.