Question of the Week: June 13th, 2017

What sort of “causes” have you heard or thought up for you being ace and/or aro?

One possible cause, kindly suggested by a relative, was that I went to an all-boys high school, and thus did not have a chance to develop an attraction to women during my formative years.

He didn’t really need to make the suggestion, because I already thought of that hypothesis on my own.Β  But it doesn’t make any sense, because for most of my peers, their “formative years” were in middle school.Β  Also, I was not attracted to men in high school even though I am now.Β  Also, I have literally never heard from another ace who made a connection to an all-boys or all-girls high school.

About Siggy

Siggy is an ace activist based in the U.S. He is gay gray-A, and has a Ph.D. in physics. He has another blog where he also talks about math, philosophy, godlessness, and social criticism. His other hobbies include board games and origami.
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21 Responses to Question of the Week: June 13th, 2017

  1. Sara K. says:

    Mainly (in my personal experience) I’ve just heard the ‘late bloomer’ hypothesis. Oh, I’ve also heard that I was not meeting enough people, but considering that I knew hundreds of people, male and female, my own age in high school, that hypothesis seemed ridiculous to me as soon as I heard it (if one has to know hundreds of male and female people to even meet ONE person who is sexually attractive, that strongly implies that one is some kind of ace).

    • Jess says:

      I’ve gotten the ‘late bloomer’ one from my mom, but I think by now that time has passed, thank goodness. But, I did grow up pretty socially isolated (in college, mainly), and for a while I thought I just needed to get out more. I kept waiting for ‘feelings’ and thought I just hadn’t met enough people, particularly guys. That one was actually pretty hard to talk myself back from, but it’s just like you said, and what exactly are we supposed to do, just keep meeting as many people as is physically possible and try and force connections in case ‘one day’ we feel something we’re ‘supposed’ to feel? No thanks.

  2. Talia says:

    I used to hear I’m asexual because I haven’t tried sex. It’s annoying because it’s perfectly valid to be asexual and never try sex, but then also why are we talking about my sex life? How do you know I haven’t had sex?

  3. kaleighaw17 says:

    I haven’t really heard any serious speculations on “why” I’m asexual from others, but there have been a few times when I thought that maybe one reason I’m asexual is because I hate my own body, and the thought of being physically intimate with a body I don’t want to be associated with–which would make me hyper-aware of my body when someone is touching it that much–disgusts me, and I think that the other person would be just as disgusted with my body as I am. I can (sort of) understand being interested in physical intimacy when both people involved are comfortable in their bodies and think they’re both hot/attractive, but for me, I try to dissociate from my body on a regular basis, so sex seems counter-productive to that end. But, even so, that’s not enough to explain my repulsion towards sex in general. Even if I DID like my own body, even if I DID feel like physical intimacy wouldn’t make me super uncomfortable, the idea of sex and genitals still makes me want to rip my skin off and vomit.

    • Feral Child's Guide says:

      I thought this forever. As soon as I lose enough weight, I’ll want to have sex….never happened, even 50 pounds underweight.

      • kaleighaw17 says:

        Yeah! For me, throughout high school and college I dealt with anorexia pretty badly, and I was worried that being so underweight might actually be a cause for my asexuality too (like, it was messing with my hormones or something). And because I’ve always LIKED and been HAPPY being sex-repulsed, I was afraid that when I recovered and got to a healthy weight that my hormones would get fixed and I’d suddenly start wanting sex. But that hasn’t happened and I’m so relieved, the last thing I want is to start wanting sex!

        • Rivers says:

          Yeah, I think not wanting to want sex or to be sexually attracted to people can be a good indicator that you’re ace.

    • Nowhere Girl says:

      In my case, I actually believe that my “corporeal anger” (I won’t say “hatred”, I don’t hate my body and feel no repulsion towards it, I just feel ANGER because of it not working as it should and feeling discomfort) IS the reason for my asexuality. I don’t feel like a sexual/gender identity must be inborn in order to be valid and I feel that I indeed likely wasn’t born ace, but was early made psychologically incapable of having sex by my illness. (Btw, I’m quite much overweight too, but now I strongly feel that I just wouldn’t feel like myself if I wasn’t “big”. It doesn’t necessarily have to mean “fat”, but I just really wouldn’t feel myself if I was petite and slender, I like my heavy footsteps, my broad, androgynous face and my muscles.) I suffer from quite strong allergy, my skin always looks bad and there’s little I can do about it – ointment (earlier Laticort and Elocom, currently Protopic) just keeps it in check, but is completely unable to eliminate all symptoms, I have long stopped taking any oral antihistamines because of their side effects (which was probably a wise decision, given that side effects of anti-asthma drugs have killed my father). However, it’s complicated and all I can say consciously is that I wouldn’t want it to change – to the point that I’m grateful for my illness because, despite all the horrible physical discomfort it causes (just think that I literally feel itching all the time, except when I’m asleep. And I don’t like sleeping anyway, I perceive it like an unfortunate duty), I feel like it has liberated me from compulsory sexuality. Of course, it does have the dynamic of a vicious circle – my inability to fully accept my body makes me repulsed about the idea of having sex (that said, I’m not against any sex, I just feel repulsion and fear towards personally engaging in it), so I can’t stand the idea of having these “obstacles” eliminated. But one can never have absolute freedom, one cannot experience everything possible, so I consider it an act of my freedom: I consciously choose not to do anything to change my feelings about having sex.

  4. Funaria says:

    CW: CSA
    Content warning says it all, really. When I came out to my mom, that’s what she went to as soon as she finished with ‘but how could you know’ and ‘I’m sure everyone feels like that sometimes’.

  5. Hibernia says:

    I don’t think anyone has suggested a reason I’m asexual, per se. I’ve been offered an opinion on why I *think* I’m asexual (but I’m actually not): My partner isn’t good at sex, and also men in general aren’t good at having sex that’s enjoyable for women. (I took this explanation seriously for zero seconds; disliking sex isn’t even the main reason I say I’m asexual.)

    On the topic of single-sex schools: I went to an all-girls school for twelve years, and I certainly don’t credit that for my asexuality, but I do credit it for my asexuality not causing me much exclusion or even discomfort in high school. Most people are straight*, and my school was small, so there was almost no dating among students — I was aware of only one couple during my high school years. I knew that my peers were interested in dating, and at least some of them were having sex, but there was no pretty much no dating or flirting on school time or grounds, so I didn’t see it, and I never felt any pressure to date, or have sex, or be attractive, or so on. I’m grateful for that.

    *citation needed

  6. Jess says:

    For me I think one of the ‘reasons’ (other than ‘I’m just not social enough’ which originally came from my mom–who I’m not out to but who probably figures something like that is up by now, even if she doesn’t know the terminology–and which I really internalized and sometimes still get down on myself about, even now when I’m much more comfortable with who I am) that came from me, was that I was bullied by guys growing up (I’m a cisgender woman) and that that biased me against them somehow; like I couldn’t be attracted to them b/c some of them were mean to me growing up. Now, I see this type of scenario as very unlikely, and truly feel that in my case I have always been this way. Sometimes I have doubts, but if I do, I remind myself ultimately the reasons don’t matter if I feel this is right for me now. But it does help to read others’ responses to this question to know that I’m not alone in hearing or thinking these things growing up.

    • Rivers says:

      Yes, this was a big internal thing for me (because I’m not out to anyone who hasn’t accepted me). I was bullied by guys in elementary school which ended up causing serious problems for my mental health later on, and early on I wonder if it might have done something to my orientation. However, looking back I can see that I have always been ace. In fact, it was probably one of the reasons things got as bad for me as they did even though no one, including myself, knew my orientation. I also recovered from most of the stuff that happened to me, and I’m still as ace as ever.

  7. Cracticus says:

    My mum tried to suggest to me I might be ace because I was on the Pill, despite being ace before being on the Pill. I do wonder whether trying to explain that I was grey-A made things a bit too complicated for her. She tried to use the fact that I’d mentioned I’d experienced sexual attraction once to invalidate that for me not experiencing sexual attraction is the norm.

  8. Jen says:

    People have asked if it had to do with my conservative, Asian background. One person even suggested that it had to do with the fact that I’m a scientist (which made me want to laugh because my scientific mind is what makes me curious about sex).

    Sometimes I wonder if instead of being a heteroromantic grey-a with very strong aesthetic attraction to women, I’m really a heteroromantic homosexual who’s been repressed. When I thought I was bisexual, some of my friends said some homophobic stuff and it made me feel guilty about liking female bodies so I never explored it. I’ve concluded that grey-a still fits better because my mind typically doesn’t go to sex.

  9. TreePeony says:

    Well, I’ve gone to all-girls schools all my life, and live in a conservative South Asian country, so the commonest reason that I hear, and which my parents are hanging onto for dear life even now, is that I wasn’t exposed to enough boys in my puberty and therefore am “too shy to try anything intimate” with them. Never mind that 80% of people in my country go to single-gender schools (it’s the norm here: mixed schools are pretty substandard in terms of education) and girls are actively discouraged from being close to guys until they turn 16 or so because of the aforementioned conservatism, yet none of them ever have a problem with finding guys, getting married, and having kids. But of course I’m beyond trying to be logical now, so I just shrug and take it in stride.

    Another thing, the theory that non-family members (none of whom know anything about my sexuality but can obviously see I have no interest in romance or sex) are fond of is that my introverted personality, lack of make-up and fancy clothes and weird interests (namely, unusual novels/movies/cartoons, manga and anime — practically nothing mainstream) “scares away all the guys.” So basically they’re suggesting something like “lack of opportunity/unattractiveness to men,” I guess. Well, it’s better than being called a freak or an attention-seeker, which are very common insults in my country for people who don’t “act normal” (where normal=heterosexual, obviously). So I consider myself blessed (for now, dunno when all this will change, so knock on wood and all that).

  10. Ettina says:

    As an abuse survivor, I’ve pretty much just heard that it’s the abuse that did it.

    • Ettina says:

      My own theory is that it might be due to autism, because autistic women are more often ace. I also wonder if being nonlibidinist/no response to masturbating made me ace. And if my lack of response to masturbating is a sensory processing difference.

  11. luvtheheaven says:

    I’ve been asked if it was my Catholic upbringing that left me repressed or if I think it might be a hormone problem by my boyfriend, the hormone thing by many people actually. I wondered about the hormones myself, wondered if it was a psychological hang-up. I also wonder if the same part of my brain that doesn’t get high/drunk can’t experience orgasm, because I’m an unusual type of ace who is very much nonlibidiost with no arousability… I don’t imagine the type of abuse I experienced would’ve caused asexuality but maybe my aro-spectrum-ness could be related… seems unlikely since so many of us come from such wildly differing backgrounds… I think my not-necessarily-needing-to-be-monogamous and my pan-romantic-in-terms-of-who-I’d-date aspects of my romantic orientation are both “caused” by being on the aro side of things, though. I don’t “care” to be monogamous or about what gender I’m with because of it? πŸ˜›

    I often do suspect it’s different than “just another sexual orientation”, though, since for me it’s very tied to not even having a masturbatory(/sex) drive/libido at all…

    I’ve seen a few people think their asexuality might be genetic.

    I’ve known someone whose gray-asexuality was most certainly a side effect of drugs.

    Mainly I don’t think for me there is an easy or obvious cause, it’s just how I’ve been forever, made apparent with the onset of puberty but a lack of onset of sexual attraction or sex drive lol.

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