Ace readers, prepare to cringe. Consider this a blanket trigger warning for the rest of this post and most of the links. To my fellow ace survivors, I hope you are taking care of yourselves, and please don’t feel that you have to engage with this.
Teen Vogue published an article by Jaclyn Friedman entitled “Why Sexual Pleasure Must Be Included in #MeToo Conversations” — and of course it has the tagline, “Let’s refuse to be silenced about our sexualities, and celebrate them instead.”
Okay, fine, let’s do that. I’m refusing to be silent about my sexuality.
I am asexual.
For those who aren’t familiar, here’s a quick rundown: what being asexual means is that I have a lack of sexual attraction to other people (though this is not the only way to define or experience asexuality). It does not mean anything about whether I have a libido or any interest in having sex or not (ace people can feel all sorts of ways about sex). Asexuality is also a spectrum, and it does not necessarily refer to a complete lack of sexual attraction or desire. It just means that a person has such a significant, consistent pattern of relative lack of sexual attraction/desire that they have acknowledged this as a stable orientation, and an identity. It’s important to keep in mind that there is a lot of variation among asexual-spectrum people.
For more asexuality 101, please check out:
- The Invisible Orientation by Julie Sondra Decker
- The Huffington Post’s series on asexuality
- Demisexuality links and resources
- Why you should care
Before the DSM-5, the book used by mental health care providers and doctors to diagnose mental disorders in the U.S., was released in 2013, psychologists generally considered asexuality to be a sexual dysfunction, a treatable disorder. This only changed after years of asexual activists tirelessly working to educate the mental health professionals in charge of the revision about what asexuality is. But the current version of the DSM still has problems, the profession is slow to change, and many mental health care providers still do not offer identity-affirming therapy—in fact, a lot of them still have never even heard of asexuality.
This leads many therapists to view asexuality as a symptom, a problem to be fixed—which means that asexual survivors of sexual violence have greatly reduced access to therapists competent to treat their trauma.
Ten years ago, in 2008, I was raped by someone who tried to “prove” to me that I am not really asexual. My sexuality did not change. I am still asexual.
I do not have sex. I do not have any interest in having sex.
I have tried it in the past, and yes, I have enthusiastically enjoyed consensual sexual experiences. I did this after experiencing sexual violence, as a way of attempting to “reclaim my pleasure.”
After all, this is what I was told to do—by many people, including other aces, other survivors, and a bunch of resources geared towards survivors trying to heal—which I was exposed to incidentally even before I thought of my experiences as sexual assault and myself as a survivor and intentionally sought them out. This is a dominant narrative about surviving sexual violence that I followed—a dominant sex-positive narrative, that is. Granted, there are other narratives competing with it (and sex-positivity is a whole mess of different things). But this is one that is most prevalent in sex-positive feminist circles, so this is the one I was most exposed to.
So I find it rather disingenuous to claim that reclaiming sexual pleasure hasn’t already been a part of the conversation about sexual violence for decades. Sure, it hasn’t been a dominant strain of #MeToo specifically, but #MeToo is only one aspect of the much larger anti-sexual violence/anti-rape culture movement—one that generally centers perpetrators (primarily the famous ones) and focuses on accountability (the French equivalent of #MeToo makes this focus more explicit: #BalanceTonPorc means “expose your pig”).
Clearly, educating the public about survivors’ experiences of sex aversion or non-aversion (including trauma-induced hypersexuality) and why neither invalidates their stories or means that they were to blame needs to happen… but is #MeToo really the right campaign to address this? Would it not be more effective to work on a separate campaign that thoughtfully includes not just this one particular narrative, but truly shows the diversity of survivors’ experiences? Wouldn’t it be easier to uplift marginalized voices if we cultivate a bit of distance from members of the media who care only about chasing the next celebrity reckoning story?
In case you don’t believe me about the dominance of the sexual healing narrative in survivor discourse, consider this:
Survivors, therapists, authors, support organizations, and advice columnists have been talking about how to “reclaim sexuality” after sexual trauma since at least as far back as 1992 (and probably considerably longer). There are a lot of resources and stories about it. Just google it: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20. These are just from the first four pages of search results. Of all of the articles I looked through, only this one mentions asexuality (more than once!), and many don’t even bother to say you should only pursue this “if you want it.” Although it’s pretty common for them to say things like, “don’t feel pressured, only do this when you’re ready,” it’s rare to find these articles acknowledging that some survivors may never want this, and that’s okay. Almost always, the presumption is that you will, one day, be ready for sexual healing.
If you click through the links above (which I don’t recommend), please notice how often people praise having consensual sex as a wonderful experience, suggest that not having sex is tragic, and say that experiencing sexual trauma doesn’t have to mean you are/will stay “broken” forever. There’s a reason that so many asexual people have thought of themselves as “broken” before discovering that asexuality is a real thing that exists, and is valid. Having (and enjoying) a sex life is positioned as “healthy” while not having one is stigmatized.
So yeah, amidst all of this cultural pressure, I tried it. I felt that I had to try it, just to see how it would go. I “reclaimed my body,” if that’s what you really want to call it, by having consensual sex with a loving partner. I proved to myself that I could do that, if I wanted to, that sex is not always awful.
It was okay, I guess. I enjoyed it, though I never developed a craving for it. It wasn’t magical. It was not transformative. It was not some kind of grand celebration of my sexuality or my body. I would not even say it was a source of healing, fraught as it was with issues related to my asexuality and sexual trauma. Even though, like Friedman, I too “went back to the drawing board and rebuilt my sexuality and sex life from the ground up,” it was still something that caused people to call into question my asexuality and my expertise on myself—both things I had experienced intense gaslighting about from my perpetrator.
So no, it wasn’t really a healing experience.
Instead, it was more of a tentative exploration of what I could possibly enjoy, of a sort that I would have been (somewhat tepidly) inclined to try anyway—which is part of what left me vulnerable to sexual violence in the first place. This exploration would not have even been possible if my partner had not accepted my asexuality first. She has always been incredibly caring and respectful, and willing to work with me on whatever types of sexual, kinky, or just sensual activities I am okay with doing with her, while also being totally clear that it doesn’t change the fact that I am asexual. So this wasn’t really so bad… for me.
But I’m not the only asexual survivor out there.
My feelings about sex tend to fluctuate and in the past few years my interest has really tanked, but I would say I have been considerably more okay-with-sex than most aces are—only 7.5% of ace respondents to the 2015 Ace Census said that they had a favorable feeling about personally engaging in sex (see page 56). Some aces are non-libidoist, meaning that they completely lack any sexual desire or arousal at all. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
I do not appreciate these exhortations to “celebrate your sexuality” that always come without any acknowledgment that “sexuality” is not a thing everyone has, or wants.
At the end of the article, Friedman says:
“The one thing all survivors have in common is that someone took control of our body against our will. We have all been victimized. But we shouldn’t have to choose between being “good” victims and being fully human.”
I bet all of the ace-spectrum readers could guess a line like that was coming. We’ve all been told that we’re “not fully human” before.
To interpret this quote, we need a little bit more context. Here is the part where Friedman talks about what being a “good” victim means:
“In many ways, that’s because it can be so hard to get taken seriously as a survivor in the first place. If you already enjoy sex before you get raped, you’ll be accused of having asked for it, or liking it, or being essentially unrapeable. (Just ask the woman who accused Kobe Bryant, or pretty much any sex worker.) If you don’t present as sufficiently damaged by the assault, the courts may find that you didn’t act victimized enough to deserve justice. (Just ask the women who accused Jian Ghomeshi.) And if you embrace sex — especially kinky or casual sex — as you heal, you’ll have to suffer the clucking “concern” of those who believe they know better than you about your own sex life, telling you that you’re acting out your trauma and need to be saved from yourself.”
Of course those are all things that do happen, and none of them are right. But notice what’s absent:
There is no suggestion that any victims also might face censure for refusing to engage in sexual encounters entirely after their sexual assaults—forever.
But that is a real thing that happens all the time to asexual people (along with many people who are not asexual), whether they are survivors or not.
People tend to automatically presume that ace people are on the asexual spectrum because they were sexually abused, and may claim that it must have happened when we were children and we blocked it out of our memories, so that no amount of denial can convince them that’s not true. They use this presumption to tell us that we can’t really be asexual.
Imagine how painful that is for asexual people who actually were sexually assaulted, especially those who actually did experience CSA, repeatedly being questioned about our trauma histories by random strangers, friends, and family who weaponize our traumas against us. Imagine how much more difficult it would feel to be open about both your trauma history and your asexuality. This is not unique to asexual people, either—other LGBTQ people also face this presumption of sexual trauma, too.
Do you see how that reinforces the culturally dominant myth that asexuality is not a real thing, that it can be explained away by sexual trauma? Do you see how this myth implies that, should this sexual trauma ever be healed, we can “turn straight”—or “turn sexual”?
The dichotomy Friedman presents is whether to “choose between being ‘good’ victims and being fully human,” and the “good” victims are the ones who don’t want sex, because they are too “damaged.” Except, here’s the thing: survivors are only allowed a certain grace period (of varying lengths of time depending on who you ask) before other people start telling them that they “should be over it” by now—with the definition of “over it” usually including “able to enjoy sex.” Partners of survivors may get frustrated and start pressuring them to have sex, and friends may encourage this too, believing that a “healthy sex life” is necessary for true happiness. At that point, you’re really not being viewed as a “good” victim, are you?
Jaclyn Friedman, sex is not what makes us human. We are not half-humans with a big sex-shaped hole in our lives. And we are not actually considered the “good” victims either—we are instead considered fundamentally broken, delusional people who are missing out on something that makes life worth living. Please rethink your position, and word your articles a lot more carefully and respectfully next time.
Because this is really alienating:
“In fact, managing to reclaim our pleasure — whether through sex or any other means — in the aftermath of sexual violence is a triumph; proof positive that we are stronger than the people who tried to erase us through violence.”
Am I stronger than my fellow ace survivors who have not “reclaimed pleasure” because they do not want to engage in an experience that is utterly repulsive to them? (Keeping in mind that for me, the same experience is one I’m just “meh” about, so the baseline is different?) Have I triumphed more than them because I’ve managed to enjoy sex?
Does my narrative deserve to be elevated far above my fellow ace survivors’ narratives, just because it’s something that people—sex-positive people, non-asexual people—want to hear?
I don’t think so.
It’s true that sex can be a healing experience for some survivors, and I’m not saying that’s something no one should ever talk about. But it must be done carefully, with acknowledgment that not everyone feels that way, or else you will only further marginalize asexual-spectrum survivors, along with anyone else who doesn’t want any kind of “sexual healing.” Elevating your own narrative about healing through sex, while completely ignoring and erasing other survivors for whom that is not worthwhile, does harm.
It turned out to be okay for me to explore consensual sexual experiences, but I definitely did feel culturally pressured to do so as part of recovery. I know there are other ace survivors who have not fared as well. Narratives about sexual healing are not isolated events happening in a vacuum. What’s meant to be “empowering” is stigmatizing instead, and it’s everywhere. It’s inescapable and has permeated our community, too. Even within the ace community, sex aversion is too often excluded from educational materials and treated as a dirty secret, even though sex-averse individuals are not in the minority.
And again, this sort of thing isn’t just coming from laypersons. There are a lot of therapists out there who are uneducated about asexuality and think that “reclaiming your sexuality” after sexual trauma should be a goal for everyone. There are a lot of therapists that still view asexuality as a symptom of sexual trauma that must be cured.
That’s why I work with Resources for Ace Survivors to try to combat the prevalence of this narrative. If we can’t access therapeutic resources because the therapists available to us believe this, then our ability to heal is curtailed. If people keep compounding our traumas by insisting that sex is an essential part of healing, and refusing to respect feelings of aversion, we’ll all be worse off.
This has also been posted to Prismatic Entanglements.
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…It’s always only a matter of time, isn’t it.
Addressing violence and negative experiences of sex gets treated like it has a time limit.
One thing I want to mention: while writing this, I really wanted to link to some kind of 101-level introduction/FAQ specifically about sex aversion, repulsion, and non-libidoism in the ace community… but nothing like that exists! All I could find were things like short glossary entries, or FAQs that do discuss it but it’s not really the main focus (for example, responding to the assumption that all aces hate sex). The rest was mainly discussions aimed at people within/already familiar with the ace community (Carnival of Aces, etc.) and personal stories, which I’d rather not link to in a context like this (thanks again to luvtheheaven for giving me permission to link to hers!)
I am obviously not the right person to write something like that, but if anyone wants to do it, I think it’s sorely needed! I mean, what kind of message does this send to sex-averse baby aces? Since there is so much diversity around this subject, if possible, I think perhaps it might be good to approach it as a collaborative effort.
I remember there being a discussion some time ago on Tumblr (I think started by redbeardace) that if you search Google for something like “not interested in sex”, few of the results even mention asexuality and none of them are by aces or specifically written for or about aces. And yet, if Google had been around when I was a teen (yes, I am so old that it was not), that’s what I would have searched on. I never would have picked out sexual attraction as the one thing I was lacking.
I’ll be blunt that I think sometimes we fight so shy of equating disinterest in sex, sex aversion/repulsion, non-libidoism, and the like with asexuality – rightly so, because many aces don’t experience them – that we forget a lot of aces DO experience them and may need materials that specifically address them as something that can be part of asexuality for some people.
I am very on board trying to create a good 101 resource that includes low-arousability/non-arousability/non-libidoism, since specifically that basically doesn’t seem to exist. My ranty and informal and long, very personal, blog post here: http://luvtheheaven.tumblr.com/post/136204244272/non-libidoism-asexuality-aka-i-have-never-had is not enough.
Laura, you would be one of the people who would be great to collaborate with on writing it, in terms of who comes to my mind…
I’m a libidoist ace, but I’m also sex-averse and I’m very interested in contributing to material about sex aversion. For example, I think there is a lot of confusion about the boundary between sex aversion and sex repulsion (for me the simplified definition would be: sex repulsion: GENERALIZED intense discomfort about sex, sex aversion: intense discomfort about PERSONALLY ENGAGING in sex. Because of this I consider myself sex-averse, but not sex-repulsed). There are only some technical issues because I only use Tumblr and Facebook “passively” (I read some material), don’t have accounts and generally I prefer old-fashioned e-mail and forums instead. luvtheheaven and Laura, you are welcome to contact me (perhaps through AVEN forum personal message system? I have the same username there) if you are interested about me contributing to some resource on sex aversion.
I use the terms differently, for me sex aversion is a generalized phenomenon of feeling averse to situations that might seem to lead to sex (e.g., a guy tries to flirt with me) and sex repulsion is the more specific or direct and much stronger response to actual sexual activity of the thought of such. I wrote about this here back in 2014.
I found a couple other personal narratives I’d written, including one on social anxiety and sex aversion and one about different components of my sex aversion. There’s also this discussion of low arousability and non-libidoism.
I think it’s a nuanced connotation thing that lots of different aces use the words, aversion vs repulsion, which are actually synonyms, in different ways. This outlines it pretty well actually: https://wikidiff.com/aversion/repulsion
And my Google search that led me to that also got me too this AVEN thread, and I really like parts of CBC’s comment here: https://www.asexuality.org/en/topic/116931-sex-repulsion-vs-sexual-aversion/?do=findComment&comment=1061173545
“honestly I consider myself more averse than repulsed. I don’t feel disgust/repulsion towards the act in terms of things like bodily fluids or whatever. I’ve also had enough sex (not a lot by any means haha, but enough) to know that it doesn’t particularly make me anxious or nervous, either. Just… uncomfortable. It doesn’t feel very innate (even though sometimes the desire leading up to it can be genuine), and I feel an aversion to that type of intimacy. It (usually) feels too invasive to me. Violating somehow. Am I repulsed, though? Not exactly.”
That’s almost exactly how I feel…
Even Skycaptain’s comment lower in the thread says: “My opinion is that sex aversion is that sex is something that you will go out of your way to avoid participating in. Sex repulsion is where the thought of participation actually triggers feelings of nausea, disgust and the like.
“I regard myself as repulsed because the mere thought of kissing or more just makes me shudder.”
I associate the idea of sex repulsion with sex (in maybe all forms, maybe just some forms like personally engaging specifically,) being a nightmare/horror or completely gross to the person, like “disgust” as a word comes to mind. I don’t consider this to be the only definition out there in use, however people want to use it is fine, but that’s what I sorta saw as the dominant basic description of sex-repulsion. I chose to identify as sex-averse instead because that word resonates more with the idea of “uncomfortable”/”avoidance”/”I don’t know how to quantify how I feel about sex, but I know how I react and it’s a NO”.
The verb forms are also different in notable ways. Sex can repulse a person, a person is repulsed by sex. Sex is centered in that phrasing as the key thing causing the reaction.
Sex can’t “averse” a person, a person isn’t “aversed” by sex. That’s not how the English word works, although that would be the exact parallel to how I just used repulse. Rather with the word averse, the person is centered. The person is averse “to” sex, sex maybe causes an aversion reaction, but the person’s aversion is more what is centered. That felt more right to me for whatever reason. It wasn’t me feeling like sex was inherently the horrible thing in some way, it was me feeling like *I* am inherently averse to it.
“Sex-repulsed” feels like the past tense of the verb repulse, like the after effect of the sex doing the repulsing, while “sex-averse” feels like an adjective that I liked better as an identity label to help explain why I’m persuing a future free from ever having sex again.
But I feel neither term is very consistently used for if it’s talking about generalized or personal as you made in your distinction. The way people interact with seeing nudity, reading erotica or “smut”, joking about sex, talking about it in other contexts or hearing about it… I think aversion reactions or repulsion reactions can both be limited to personal feelings toward actually engaging in sex but not be generalized for some people, and for others EITHER of those reactions can be very generalized, and for still others is more complicated! (Like read this on being arcflux: https://theacetheist.wordpress.com/2015/10/09/on-being-arcflux/ )
Looks like we’ve reached the end of comment nesting.
I tend to use “sex aversion” as the more general term, similar to Laura’s usage. To me, “averse” does seem milder and less specific, and can potentially refer to a much wider variety of feelings/situations, including sex repulsion. Sex repulsion implies to me a much stronger feeling, usually of disgust, but not necessarily about all sex, even sex that doesn’t involve the repulsed person.
For me, I do occasionally feel what I would call sex repulsion, the more specific and stronger feelings of disgust, but it really doesn’t extend to all sex, it’s just stuff involving me and potential violations of my body. Usually, my negative feelings about sex are milder and more… well, nebulous I guess. It does tend to extend into any situation that might potentially lead to people wanting sex as well. So I usually just refer to all of the weird fluctuating bad-feelings as aversion and call it a day.
I think Stormy’s take on the differentiation between the two terms is relevant here:
(That post has become one of the most popular posts on RFAS, btw.)
I’ve also seen at least one person use revulsion with a V to indicate an even stronger level of disgust about sex.
I will also say that I have used “repulsion” in a more neutral sense, when I’m not talking about feelings about sex. As in, the other definition for repulsion in that WikiDiff page luvtheheaven linked: “The act of repelling or the condition of being repelled” or “the repulsive force acting between bodies of the same electric charge or magnetic polarity”—the antonym of attraction. In this case, I use it like that when I’m talking about how I tend to feel about men. I have attraction to them sometimes, but usually it’s the-opposite-of-attraction, not necessarily involving any feelings of disgust, just a repelling force as if we have the same magnetic polarity. This can occur at the same time as attraction, so that there’s a push-pull sort of dynamic going on. I have an unfinished draft about this, but otherwise I have only really used it in conversations with people.
So… these terms are really differentiated in complicated and conflicting ways. Maybe that’s a big part of why no one has written up any kind of definitive guide to them yet. I wonder how many different definitions you’d get if you asked a bunch of people to complete a survey explaining how they define these things. I suspect there would be some noticeable trends, but hardly a consensus.
Yeah, that Google problem is still as bad as ever. I just tried a few queries on Google and Bing to compare. There’s often at least one result on the first page that has something to do with asexuality, but it’s almost always below the fold. And it’s typically something like an Everyday Feminism article or a Scarleteen Answer. They’re okay*, but they’re not a gateway to the ace ecosystem. There’s no AVEN, no Asexual Agenda or Carnival entries, none of my sites, no ace Youtube videos, nothing that will naturally lend itself to further exploration.
That conversation led to me trying to create little targeted landing pages for specific feelings or experiences, in the hopes that The GoogleBot would start showing them fairly high in the results. (http://www.whatisasexuality.com/outreach/questioning/) It didn’t really work. In the test queries that I did today, I only saw one of those pages once. On Bing.
Focus on the Family, “Why I don’t like strapless strap-on dildos”, and an endless stream of “You’re stressed/you’re too busy/you need to schedule sex” type articles are beating out asexual content on queries that have clear ace intent. This is a clear outreach opportunity and something we need to crack.
* (Although one of those Scarleteen Answers really isn’t okay… The asker writes that they don’t masturbate and aren’t interested in sex, so “What’s wrong with me?”. Heather’s reply is several paragraphs of unwarranted defensiveness that’s just going to drive the undiscovered repulsed aces away. (For instance: “If I, as a vegan, choose to go to a site all about meat, I should expect to find content that’s all about meat, and see lots of stuff that grosses me out and leaves me feeling lousy.” In fact, she explicitly tells this asker to leave the site!) It’s not until the eighth (!) paragraph that Heather mentions the word “asexual”, and it isn’t until several paragraphs later (After she told the asker to leave) that she explicitly says the asker might want to look at asexuality and dives into what that means.)
If you look at my blog post here:
I found Scarleteen in my efforts to figure myself out, and skip to the
part… I mean. Yeah it wasn’t “really okay”, it just made me wish more than ever to not be what I was and made me feel more broken even is AVEN was linked to within the second paragraph. Heather was certainly trying to be an ally to asexuals, but was NOT assuming that the asker or the reader was LIKELY based on a question like these to be ace!
So I read through that Scarleteen article again and I’m pretty sure I remember when that went up and people in the ace community linked to it, and we were all pretty happy that someone mentioned asexuality… except, SHE ACTUALLY DIDN’T, she just linked to AVEN without even saying the word “asexual” once in that article. The word only appears in the tags!
I mean, it just goes to show you how our standards were different back then, because of how absolutely starved for any kind of recognition the ace community was, even if it was only the slightest nod. And this was late 2010, less than a decade ago.
Even *I* thought at the time, finding THAT from a mainstream source, when I was struggling in 2013 to figure out if I was ace or not, but knew about AVEN and the asexuality tag on tumblr, thought it was pretty much the best any allosexual writer could possibly do for us or something, like I thought “she’s saying some people never will want sex, she even knows about AVEN if you hover over the link, that’s pretty amazing allying right?” (The “right?” Being me trying to convince myself that kind of thing was the best we could hope for, and I think I already kinda knew deep down I was in that category, just was in major denial.)
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Thank you for your thoughtful, heartfelt post. I knew I was “asexual” from a young age, I just did not have a name for it until David Jay’s Netflix documentary (thank you so much, David Jay!).
To have sex an essential part of life, relationships, a deal-breaker if you will, something that can cause agony of rejection, feelings of powerlessness and coercion, was like being told I had to eat hot dogs to be “normal”. I just did not, and do not, care about sex, and you can’t make me, or use it to manipulate me. If you’re going to fire me for not having sex with you, I guess you’re going to fire me. I now know quite a few people that don’t pathologize me for valuing friendship and intellectual stimulation, and respect my boundaries. I have not yet found an “asexual” blog or site that is not obsessed with talking about sexual attreaction and tortuously labeling every nuance of lack thereof. For dog’s sake, can we talk about SOMETHING ELSE???
I wish you the best.
Thank you. I’m glad you have found people who don’t pathologize you and respect your boundaries.
The reason that asexuals talk about sexual attraction so much is because it is really not such a clear-cut experience for many of us. It’s not obvious what “sexual attraction” actually means, and we are told so often that we must actually experience it but just not know what it is that we’re left in a haze of constant self-doubt. A lot of other kinds of attraction can seem similar enough to sexual attraction that we might wonder whether it really is sexual attraction that we are feeling. And some asexuals DO experience sexual attraction sometimes, but with such low intensity, frequency, or … I suppose I could phrase this as “emotional weight”? …that they still feel different enough to describe themselves as asexual. There are a lot of people who identify as asexual not primarily because they have a lack of sexual attraction, but primarily because they have a lack of sexual desire. They’re allowed to call themselves asexual too.
I would really recommend that you read Sciatrix’s post Switching On Airplane Mode and the invisible elephant post linked in its first paragraph.
You don’t seem to have this sort of self-doubt, and that’s fantastic! But for many of us, that’s not the case. I identified as gray-asexual for a long time because of this kind of self-doubt. I certainly did go through a phase of “tortuously labeling every nuance” about sexual attraction too. It is not a fun state of mind, and yes, these conversations get very tiring. If they’re not for you, then by all means, TUNE THEM OUT! Just understand that what you’re seeing is asexual people sorting through and processing their feelings, which is necessary in order to get to a place where you have less self-doubt.
To respond very briefly to your other comment:
Because sex is also an important topic for asexual people to process their feelings about, and the ace community is very, very diverse, so not everyone feels the same way about it. For some aces, perhaps like yourself, sex may be a complete non-issue in their lives. For others… it’s still a big deal. For ace survivors, it can be especially difficult, and there are a lot of issues related to it, including people trying to tell us that our experiences with sexual violence “don’t count” as “real sex” (and implying that if we had “real sex” that isn’t bad we’d somehow not be asexual anymore).
If you’re not here for these conversations, again, just tune out. But they’re important for a lot of people to have, because there are all these awful messages that we need to not only process but actively counter.
So, you probably aren’t going to find a place in the ace community that never talks about sex or sexual attraction. Asexuality is something that’s defined by a negative, so we do have to grapple with what we don’t have sometimes, and our various complicated feelings about sex. You’ll find discussions like that happening more often in the places where people tend to go when they are newly identifying as asexual, like AVEN.
But I promise you, aces talk about lots and lots of other things too. This blog, The Asexual Agenda, is probably one of the best places to find those other conversations, because of the weekly linkspams. I hope you’ll stick around! 🙂
Thank you for your thoughts. I hope I can relate my own experience if you would be so kind as to allow me. I am in my 60s so I have had plenty of time to work through my doubts. I have felt sexual attraction, but realized it came from outside myself–I was picking up on sexual energy of other people. And I mistook it for an opportunity for intimacy and growth of a relationship. Truthfully, I never agonized about sex or attraction, I agonized about community and intimacy. Sex does not lead to this, I have found–I think it is the other way around, and it does not matter in my experience whether I perceive sexual energy or not. What matters is whether my relationship with a person is healthy and supportive. My issue with sex is that it is given such an uppermost place where it causes confusion and pain. I have heard many men and women say that if sexual attraction is not present when they first meet someone, they will not “waste their time” with that person. Fine–I hope they move on. I for my part will not “waste my time” either. I understand how people can be questioning their feelings. My wish for all of the people searching for a sexual “identity” is for them to relax and, as my hypnotherapist put it, “not go shopping for eggs in a hardware store.” I send my love to you and all seekers here…
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