Question of the Week: January 14th, 2014

In the last few months at the Agenda, we’ve talked about some ace community concepts that don’t see much discussion, like aesthetic attraction and sex repulsion/aversion. Are there aspects of your sexuality that you find important that aren’t discussed much? 

About Sciatrix

Sciatrix is an American graduate student studying ecology, evolution and behavior. She identifies as asexual and has mostly given up trying to sort out the whole romance thing for now. She has previously blogged about asexuality at Writing From Factor X. In her free time, she trains in canine agility and knits oddly cabled hats.
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17 Responses to Question of the Week: January 14th, 2014

  1. I would be interested in more discussions about experience of pleasure, specifically physical pleasure, though not limited to the sexual. I’ve read some about the “to masturbate or not masturbate” debate, but I would be interested in hearing more about how people who identify along the asexual spectrum experience / conceive of their bodies, excitement, pleasure, orgasm, etc. If anyone knows of any resources for this, please let me know!

    • queenieofaces says:

      Maybe this is just the stuff I read, but I feel like pleasure gets discussed A LOT actually. Asexuality Archive writes a fair amount about masturbation/orgasm/sexual pleasure (I mean, there’s this whole series: http://www.asexualityarchive.com/an-asexuals-guide-to/), and The Thinking Asexual has written a fair amount about physical pleasure/sensuality and asexuality, if I recall correctly. (I’ve also seen a fair number of pieces on enjoying sex from an asexual/grey-A perspective.) What I see much less often is people who write about things NOT being pleasurable (especially masturbation–I see a lot of “this bores me” but I rarely ever see anyone who says, “No, I genuinely find this uncomfortable and not fun.”). That might just be my bias, though!

      • Demi Graydient says:

        Thanks. I hadn’t found pleasure discussed very much in what I’ve read, but I certainly haven’t read everything! I appreciate the links.

        • I wrote that series primarily because I wasn’t seeing it, either. I saw a lot of people asking about it, but no one really talking about it. When it was mentioned (typically in an article about asexuality), the predominant opinion of it seemed to be that it’s just “scratching an itch” or “cleaning the pipes”, which is not how I experience it at all.
          And yes, I don’t see many people saying that they actively dislike the experience, either. I think people tend to be reluctant to express that view for some of the same reasons people don’t talk about repulsion as much.

          • I really enjoyed reading your “Guide To…” series and your survey summaries. Is there any way I could get access to the data about masturbation and orgasm? It would be incredibly useful for a course project I’m doing in my PhD program.

      • Sciatrix says:

        In general, I actually don’t see much about aces having sex; the pieces you linked to and some of the work on Shades of Gray is about it, and those pieces seem to have been largely forgotten.

        I mean, there’s definitely less out there from a perspective of being sex-repulsed or finding masturbation unpleasant or finding sex horrifying on a personal level! But there’s not a whole lot about finding sex enjoyable either, and I see lots of confusion about how aces could have sex and still be ace. It’s always seemed to me that it’s one of those subjects where whatever position you take, people can say you’re not “really” asexual, and so people keep mum on their own feelings. The one thing I do see is the “they can have sex to please their partner” thing Captain Heartless alludes to below, and as he points out no one ever actually elaborates on that beyond that sentence. Well, I saw a piece by Norah Liath that touched on it once, and they left a few other comments on the subject on Writing From Factor X, but that’s about it.

        • queenieofaces says:

          I guess I’m also thinking of stuff I’ve seen written on tumblr; 4seiji (http://4seiji.tumblr.com/) is the first one who comes to mind, but there are a couple of other people who come across my dash occasionally with (short) pieces about sex and asexuality. Also, off tumblr, Fistfelt (http://fistfelt.wordpress.com/) has written a bit about sex and sexuality. I don’t think there’s a lot percentage-wise, but there probably aren’t a lot of aces having sex, percentage-wise, and the number who are having sex and willing to talk about it is probably even lower.

        • That Shades of Gray “How to Have Sex With An Asexual” gets passed around from time to time, but what I’ve never really seen is a “How to Have Sex *AS* An Asexual”, which I think is something a lot of people could benefit from. I know I’ve written about my experiences having sex before, but I don’t think I ever really went super in depth about the end-to-end experience. I have considered writing it up essentially as a sex scene a couple of times, but that feels like it would be really really weird on multiple levels…

  2. I’m not sure if this counts as “not discussed much” but I feel like empathy (as in getting caught up in another person’s emotions) is by far the most important aspect of my sexuality? There’s usually the aside about how some aces have sex to please partners, but very little discussion of how that can also be pleasing to one’s self, and isn’t just “compromise”. On the other hand, I feel like this is fairly obvious and there isn’t that much to say? People get confused about it but I’m not sure why.

  3. As I brought up elsewhere today, I don’t really see a lot of people talking about being single, living alone, that sort of thing. Maybe that’s because perpetual singleness isn’t really seen as an “asexual” thing, at least not as much as trying to navigate a mixed relationship is. Other people have issues like “How do I keep my girlfriend from leaving me because I’m not interested in sex?”, while my issues tend to be more things like “How am I supposed to hang these drapes by myself?”

    It still seems like something that can be talked about more. I mean, it probably is being talked about in other places, but I think there are parts of it that would be highly relevant to ace spaces, as well.

    • Aydan says:

      “How am I supposed to get this filing cabinet up the steps by myself? I broke my leg and I can’t get around for six weeks, now what? Who’s going to eat all these extra cookies?”

      Yeah.

      • Sciatrix says:

        My solution to extra cookies is ace meetup, actually! It’s a nicely recursive problem. 🙂 (Actually, most of the people helping me move this weekend are from meetup, too.) I suppose most of the logistic problems of singleness can be resolved with more community, generally, although I appreciate that building that community to start with is a bit of a pain in the ass.

      • I definitely understand the cookie conundrum. Except for designer/”gourmet” cookies, cookies are never sold in a small enough quantity that it’s possible for one person to finish off the set before they go stale. Sometimes I’ll bring peanut butter cookies into work. My coworkers think I’m being nice, but really I just want to have some peanut butter cookies and not have to feel guilty about throwing out half the container.

  4. Quinoa says:

    I don’t know if this is something that really needs to be talked about, but I’d kind of like to see more talk about how we relate to our friends and other people who aren’t ace, and how they see us.

  5. anthean says:

    sort of touched on in the discussion of sensuality/pleasure above, but for me the sensation of physicality, of *having* a body and exploring how it can interact (non-sexually) with other bodies is a huge part of my sexuality, and one that I don’t see discussed a lot (possibly because it’s so specific to me).

  6. Rose says:

    I’d love to see more discussion about setting our own life and maturity markers since many of the allosexual ones don’t necessarily apply to aces. Having a relationship isn’t on my priority list, much less getting married. Sex? I haven’t even kissed anyone yet. I’m in my early twenties and somehow manage to feel less mature and worldly than my sister, who is planning on marrying before she leaves her teens, because these are things that I don’t intend to do in the near future. Often, I feel the rest of the world feels the same way, that I’m still immature because of all this. So what do I use as markers instead? How do I ‘prove’ to people that I’m a mature adult even if I’ve never had sex or a serious relationship? Surely I’m not the only ace with this problem.

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