Question of the Week: August 12, 2014

A few weeks ago, there was some discussion about sex-repulsion/indifference (or aversion/favorable, depending on your favorite terminology) as something that isn’t so much an immutable binary or even a clear spectrum but something that changes fairly dramatically depending on context.

This idea fit neatly into my own preconceptions on the subject, in part because it has been true both personally and for most of the friends I’ve talked to about repulsion. In fact, I’ve often been hesitant for this reason to commit to labeling myself either way for this reason. I’ve also known a lot of people who were much less squicked by text vs video porn, or who were only interested in sex in the context of kink, or who are okay with sex as long as they personally don’t have to get involved, along with a lot of other personal types of comfort zones. So, I’m curious, dear readers:

In what contexts is sexual activity or content appealing for you, and in what contexts is it aversive? I think I’ve mentioned before, my comfort level with sexual content and sexual jokes drastically changes depending on how safe I feel with the people I’m talking with–how much they respect me being ace and whether they know I’m ace at all, whether they stop if I send signals that I’m uncomfortable by trying to change the subject, how well I know them to begin with. Whether or not people are joking about sexuality in general or my sexuality is also pretty important to my comfort level.

I don’t actually think that is all that unusual, to be honest. I know lots of allo women who are comfortable or uncomfortable with sex jokes along similar lines. I also am more comfortable with written sexual content than I am with visual porn and more comfortable with still images than moving ones. Again, not super uncommon in my experience.

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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6 Responses to Question of the Week: August 12, 2014

  1. Taka says:

    Ah, hello. Never commented before, but I just found your blog — thank you, sincerely, for the amount of resources here, and for opening up discussions like this.

    As for me, I am mostly different shades of uncomfortable when it comes to anything to do with sex, although I seem to have built up something of an “immunity” (note: not really immune) as I’ve grown older and spent time around very sexual people. I do occasionally make dirty jokes with people I’m comfortable around, but that’s more of a learned social habit combined with a love of puns and wordplay — I suppose you could say I have a sort of ‘filter’ in my brain that helps me not think too clearly about what it is I’m saying. I make a joke, or they make a joke, and it’s just a pun: other than a very vague concept that doesn’t make me too uncomfortable, nothing terribly sexual comes to mind in that context.

    A few years ago, I cringed away from even sexual jokes and mentions and tried to block anything remotely sexual from my general space as often as possible. Perhaps I developed the “filter” as a sort of defense mechanism to deal with these sorts of things? Now, as I said, I am… if not comfortable, then non-uncomfortable enough to deal with jokes and mentions, skim over written sex scenes or read them if they are not too explicit, and tolerate things up to a certain level. (If images, scenes, or words get too explicit, I become immensely uncomfortable, however, and anything in the actual physical realm is a huge no-no for me under pretty much any circumstances.)

    ‘Tolerate’ is probably the operative word, there, though. If I could choose to magically mute all sexual content wherever I went with no consequences and erase knowledge of dirty jokes from my brain, I would.

  2. I personally am definitely averse to sex if there is the implication that I’ll have to be involved myself, but other than that the only thing that bothers me is visual porn. I’m okay reading (skimming, because they’re boring to me) sex scenes in books or fanfiction, and I’m okay with sex jokes or other people talking about sex. I just don’t want to have to see it, and I don’t want to have to do it.

  3. Lewis says:

    If there is is an expectation for me to be involved in an act, then I am pretty averse. If it’s simply talking about sex and it’s research, I will not only be tolerant, but extremely involved/excited if I am comfortable with the person or they know a lot and started the discussion. This is probably because I am vaguely interested in sexology and love research. As for jokes and such, it really depends. Hearing it from someone on the street or someone I barely know, I’d be a tiny bit horrified. From friends, I’m kind of used to it. I hear used to hear a couple of my friends make these kinds of jokes all the time. It simply gets easier for me to hear them, it does not make it any more funny or pleasant.
    As for watching or reading pornography, I feel like I am going to be an outlier here. I feel it is actually less awkward for me to see pornography than to read pornography or erotica. I don’t know why, but I have a slight idea. The erotica I have found, or the short passages I have found in “normal books,” I always chock it up to being negative for one of the parties involved. Maybe it’s because I don’t pick good books or I read into things too much? Whether it’s with two consensual people or not, I think my mind’s eye always makes the experience a little cloudy. While in pornography, I know that the two parties most likely signed up for this. While they may not be enthusiastically consenting, at least I know that they are (consenting). With fictional characters, I have no idea if they are and my “sex repulsion” can cloud my judgement.
    Another thing about pornography is that the actors are actually talking. For example, if they’re swearing (by referring to genitals or out of enjoyment) then I feel like that’s okay. I can deal with that. I hear people swear in real life all the time. While I don’t like swearing, they’re just saying it elsewhere (from where I usually hear it, in another context). However, when reading, swearing is just really hard for me to get through. I tend to step back,to imagine the author writing or the person saying those words. It’s really hard. It sort of separates out into its own space in my head. Additional negative emphasis might be placed on the word that wasn’t there before.
    I guess I’m saying It’s really hard for me to think of sexual things, and a visual sexual thing that’s right in front of me is easier than to imagine it myself. Watching something also puts less negative emphasis on things that I would if left to my own devices.
    I wrote a bit much…I hope I don’t sound too crazy and I am really excited to hear others replies to this question.

    • Lewis says:

      To clarify, I did not mean for it to sound like I go out searching for creative works with sexual content (not that people should feel bad about that), but if I run into it, whatever it is, I tend to have the above reactions.

  4. I don’t mind if people are making casual jokes about sex, as long as I’m not really expected to take part; however, I would feel very awkward if people were talking explicitly about their sexual experiences. I don’t mind coming across a sex scene in a book, though I might sort of skim past it as uninteresting, but it’s better if it’s part of a larger story and not the sole purpose of the written work. I prefer to avoid any kind of visual porn and have a much stronger aversion/repulsion response to photos or video than to written content.

    Basically, the more that sexual content appears in a larger context that offers other elements of interest, the more comfortable I am with it, but the more that the sole purpose or function of the content is sexytimes, the stronger my aversion to it.

  5. Ella says:

    For me, I do enjoy reading erotic fanfiction, and I sometimes enjoy watching porn, although I go through phases where I’m much less interested in the smut. I can enjoy thinking about characters having sex, but I want nothing to do with actually having sex myself. I can’t even picture myself having sex.

    I have an academic interest in sex and sexuality, and I have no problem with people making sexual jokes or discussing sex with me, as long as they’re aware that I have no interest in having sex myself. If someone associates my with having sex I get pretty uncomfortable. Even things like “Do you have a boyfriend” or my doctor saying “Not yet? Okay” in response to me informing her I’m not sexually active. I’m never really sure what to call myself. I don’t think I’m sex-repulsed, but I certainly don’t want to be having sex. I guess it depends on what you’re referring to with the terms. Is it referring to how you feel about yourself having sex, or sexual things in general that don’t necessarily have anything to do with you. It’s interesting to think about.

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