I have a lot of feelings about the word autochorissexualism. Coined by academic Anthony F. Bogaert in 2012 to refer to a “paraphilia that is consistent with a lack of subjective sexual attraction for others and involves a ‘disconnect’ between an individual’s sense of self and a sexual object/target,” autochorissexualism has been a topic of discussion in the ace community ever since. Some aces identify with autochorissexualism, while others say it’s not an orientation or identity. In this post I’m going to delve into what autochorissexual could be and its potential connections to sex-favourable asexuality.
In future posts on autochorissexualism I plan to discuss the following problems: one, that autochorissexualism is considered a “paraphilia” and what that means, two, the questionable ethics behind Bogaert’s study and his model of attraction, and three, that Bogaert’s “proof” for autochorissexualism is based on a faulty premise. According to Bogaert, the sole fact that asexual people masturbate is evidence of autochorissexualism and/or another paraphilia! I’m looking forward to my full critique on that, including a list of many many reasons why asexual people might masturbate (inspired by Siggy’s “20 narratives of aces who like sex“); you’re welcome to anticipate that post and start writing reasons in the comments below.
Last year, in response to my post on living as a sex-favourable asexual, a commentor suggested “there may be some overlap with what you experience and autochorissexuality.” I replied:
Bogaert suggests that autochorissexuals don’t want to participate in the sexual activities they imagine. That does not intersect with the way I think about sex-favourable asexuality. And yet, sex-favourable and autochorissexual are closer to sexual normative scripts than other forms of asexuality, so exploring the connections between them might be interesting!
While I continue to believe sex-favourable and autochorissexual are distinct phenomena, I also think it’s important to recognize that they aren’t mutually exclusive.
To make sure we’re all on the same page, by sex-favourable I mean my counterpart to Mark Carrigan’s sex-averse and sex-neutral. Sex-favourable people are favourable to sex. That doesn’t mean sex-favourable aces want to have sex all the time (as some critics of the term supposedly say). They just want to have sex enough that the term sex-favourable means something to them. This is the key part we’ll return to in a moment. Furthermore, it means something very unique to say you’re sex-favourable in an asexual context; if I didn’t identify as ace, I wouldn’t identify as sex-favourable.
Autochorissexualists on the other hand, according to Bogaert, fantasize about sex that is not connected to their identity. In other words, they fantasize about people who are not them having sex.
Therefore, on the surface, autochorissexualism and sex-favourable seem to be incompatible or mutually exclusive.
Breaking it down:
- autochorissexual = you think about sex that does not involve you.
- Sex-favourable = you are favourable to having sex that involves you.
However, because sex-favourable people aren’t always interested in personally having sex (favourability exists under certain conditions, not as a permanent state of interest), it’s possible for sex-favourable aces to masturbate and think about sex that doesn’t involve them.
Hypothetically a sex-favourable ace could want to have sex on Monday. On Tuesday they could read or write erotic fanfiction that has nothing to do with them. Allosexual people do that all the time. Sex-favourable and autochorissexual refer to different phenomena, but you could be both. I might be both.
One problem with Bogaert’s article is that autochorissexual is set up as an all or nothing paraphilia – either you are or you’re not. That’s easily corrected if we conceive of autochorissexualism on a spectrum like sex-favourable already is. You can have it a little. Maybe you’re only autochorissexual. Maybe it ebbs and flows.
Autochorissexualism and sex-favourable asexuality are interesting to me because they both don’t follow normative ace scripts. In a simplistic example, if I went over to reddit (or even the AVEN forums) and started mentioning sex-favourable or autochorissexual tendencies, people would probably tell me I’m not asexual.
Autochorissexuality and sex-favourable don’t fit into this neat asexual vrs. everyone else divide because sex-favourable and autochorissexual are not exclusively asexual phenomena. Many people (incorrectly) assume all allosexual people are sex-favourable. But autochorissexual? We don’t know where to put that experience in the mainstream stereotype boxes. Autochorissexual is not really part of an allosexual stereotype, but it’s about sex, and so it gets labelled as a paraphilia.
At this point I don’t care to comment if autochorissexualism is really an identity or not. If someone finds the term useful or meaningful to them, why not use it?
Autochorissexualism is a potentially liberating concept; you masturbate, think about sex, and are a valid asexual? That’s amazing! Unfortunately the “valid” is what’s up for debate and part of why I don’t personally call myself autochorissexual (even though I might be). Stay tuned for more on this in future posts where I will critically explore the method Bogaert used to first write about autochorissexuality.