Am I sex-averse? Maybe. I have made a decision to identify as such.

This is my submission for the July 2014 Carnival of Aces, which I am hosting here on my own blog. The theme is sex-aversion & sex-repulsion, so this is my attempt to write something related to the matter.


Content Note: I discuss some sexual stuff in detail later down. So trigger warning if that applies to you… My own sexual experiences in explicit detail. So at the very least, this should be considered NSFW. It’s certainly not erotic or “sexy” in the descriptions, though.


 

I started writing like 3 different versions of this and then deleted everything I had written to start over.

My main problem is that I have a lot of complicated thoughts on the subject for this carnival, and they’re kind of all over the place. Part of me is quite confused about myself, which only further complicates matters.

Okay, let’s start at the beginning.

I’m probably 13 years old, but only a few months into that age. I got my first period a few days before my 13th birthday in January, and now it’s near the end of the school year – I’m in 7th grade, and they have done the sex-ed unit. It’s over. And I still don’t know what sex is. The curious side of me is pretty bothered by this fact. You’d think sex-ed would’ve explained it. But no. They tell you about what puberty does to your body – they did that in 5th grade too. They tell you how the reproductive systems of our bodies work. They talk about sperm and eggs, fallopian tubes, and they answered that one girl’s question in class about “wet dreams” she’d learned about from her brother with an answer about the officially termed “nocturnal emmisons”. But they won’t get to even discussing contraception or STDs until 9th grade, and that’s 2 years away for me. It’s after school one day and my 11-year-old brother who’s in 5th grade is with me. He’s had his 5th grade sex ed already too. We’re watching a re-run of Friends and enjoying it, but of course the characters bring up sex in some plot, and that gets me to thinking, once again, about the subject. During the commercial, I turn to my brother.

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Love Triangles (in Fandoms), Jealousy, and Polyamory (some random musings)

So a little while back I started reading more on why polyamory makes sense – after all, people accept that we can love more than one friend at once, and more than one family member, so why not more than one romantic and/or sexual partner? And I basically think that makes sense. I actually was reading this stuff and thinking it made a lot of sense even BEFORE I realized, fully, that I was asexual and would never be interested in typical sexual-romantic relationships. I was reading about this stuff prior to identifying as ace – which only officially happened for me in October 2013.

I grew up in such a “monogamy is the only way of life” mindset, and when I first came across the idea and realized it made sense in theory, I still wondered if I could actually, in the real world, handle any form of polyamory without being jealous.

Then, at a later point in time, I realized I might identify more with being aromantic than being romantic anyway, so maybe it’d be irrelevant in my own life, because in non-romantic contexts, almost everyone accepts polyamory as the default, although they don’t use the word.

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July 2014 Carnival of Aces: Call for Submissions

I’m hosting the Carnival of Aces this month! This is my second time hosting. The first time, I was the host was for April 2014. (If you don’t know what the Carnival of Aces is, check out the details here: http://asexualagenda.wordpress.com/a-carnival-of-aces-masterpost/.)


The theme I’ve chosen for this month is: “Sex-Aversion & Sex-Repulsion”.

I was just reading this tumblr conversation about the fact that many asexual people actively/strongly dislike sex: http://redbeardace.tumblr.com/post/88088956475/swankivy-scarybalkanlady-vhenanara-replied-to and this part:

I’ve seen people say that they don’t talk about it because they feel like there isn’t much to say, but trust me, there’s a lot to be said. (I still think someone needs to host a Carnival of Aces on it.)

made me think… why not? I can do that. I can host a Carnival of Aces on this theme.

Lately, a lot of people have been blogging on their own about this topic, but I figure why not encourage more discussion on the topic via the Carnival? :P So… here we go.


This glossary: http://asexualadvice.tumblr.com/glossary defines Sex Repulsion as:

A term used by some asexual individuals to indicate that they find sex disgusting or revolting, as in, “I’m a repulsed asexual” or simply “I’m repulsed.” Some repulsed asexuals take this to mean that they are repulsed by the idea of engaging in sex, while others take it to mean that they are repulsed by the idea of sex in general. The revulsion felt by a repulsed asexual may or may not be directed at sex acts other than intercourse. An asexual can be personally repulsed, but still be sex-positive when the sexual activity does not involve them.

If you want someone else’s point of view, at this link: http://www.asexualityarchive.com/tag/repulsion/ the author explains:

Many asexuals are repulsed by sex. Repulsion goes beyond simple disinterest. A repulsed person is generally disgusted by the thought of sex or of sexual things. There are many variations of repulsion among asexuals. Some think that all sex, anywhere, by anyone, is “icky”. Others are only repulsed when it comes to any form of sexual situations involving their own bodies, but are fine with other people having sex. Some repulsed people may be fine with their own bodies and may masturbate, but find the thought of doing anything with someone else disgusting. In some cases, the mere mention of an anatomical word is enough to cause someone to feel sick to their stomach.

The author also goes on to explain in a later paragraph:

Repulsion, by itself, is not necessarily an indicator of asexuality. Many non-asexuals are also repulsed by the thought of sex. They’ll experience sexual attraction, but once their thoughts turn toward the act of having sex, their thoughts will be blotted out by the ickiness of the fluids and the body parts and other goings on. Some people may even mistake repulsion for asexuality, thinking that because they find sex disgusting, that must mean that they do not find anyone sexually attractive, which is not the case.

I believe Sex-Aversion is often used as a “tamer” version of the term. You just “don’t want” to have sex, you don’t want to see sex or things related to sex such as naked bodies, you don’t want to talk about sex, etc, but it doesn’t “actually repulse” you to the point of “feeling sick”, etc. Other times, I think sex-aversion is used as a simple synonym for sex-repulsion (i.e. they are taken to be completely interchangeable terms). I could be misunderstanding the nuances of how people use the terms sex-repulsed vs. sex-averse, though. Please use this carnival to explain where I might be wrong, to discuss this matter more in depth, etc!

I tried to search Google to find a good definition for the term “sex-averse” as used in the Ace community, and I couldn’t find the term simply defined! On an AVEN thread, one person said:

In my opinion, at least, sexual aversion is that you just don’t want sex, perhaps don’t even want to think or hear about it. While some asexuals may even enjoy sex, even if they don’t feel sexual attraction, I would say that sex-averse people could not even imagine enjoying sex.

Another person on that forum thread mentioned sexual aversion disorder and included this link: http://www.minddisorders.com/Py-Z/Sexual-aversion-disorder.html


Some ideas for this topic (“Sex-Aversion & Sex-Repulsion”):

  • What do you think the best definitions are for the terms “sex-aversion” or “sex-averse”, and the best definitions for the terms “sex-repulsion” or “sex-repulsed”? Do you agree with any of the ones I provided above or not, and why? Where did you first learn about the terms and how did you come to your definitions? Are the terms “averse” and “repulsed” synonyms, or do they mean different things?
  • Are you sex-averse or sex-repulsed yourself? If so, what are your own personal, nuanced, specific experiences? How does it affect your life?
  • Do you find it difficult to decide if you qualify as sex-averse or sex-repulsed or not? Why?
  • If you’re not sex-repulsed/not sex-averse, what are your thoughts on the matter? Explain your point of view from the outside. Perhaps tell us what your first impression was when you first heard that people did experience sexual things in this way, etc. How have your views on the topic changed over time and what is your impression now?
  • What could allosexuals learn from the asexual community’s perspective on sex-aversion/sex-repulsion? Is there any overlap between what a sex-repulsed/sex-averse allosexual person’s experiences are and an asexual person’s?
  • How do sex-repulsed/averse aces treat sex-favorable aces, and how do those aces who are not repulsed/averse (sex-favorable or sex-indifferent aces) treat the sex-averse/repulsed? These are two different subgroups of aces within our community. In what ways should the behavior of either subgroup change?
  • Does it matter (to the world at large, or to you) if someone feels their sexual aversion/repulsion was caused by a trauma or some other event or series of events in their life?
  • How can an experience of sexual-aversion/repulsion change over time/over the course of someone’s life?
  • How do you go about coming out as sex-averse/sex-repulsed, if you do at all? How do you explain it to people? In which situations do you feel it appropriate to discuss this fact about yourself?

There are many more ways to discuss this topic for this carnival. But I hope maybe some of my bullet points could give a few people ideas on how to potentially broach discussing this topic.

Submissions may be in any form: written, video, audio, a chart, comics, fictional prose that makes a point, poetry, etc.

To submit, you may post a link in the comments on this post, message me through tumblr, tweet me @luvtheheaven, message me through YouTube at luvtheheaven5, or email me at pemk7@aol.com. If want to make a submission and do not have your own tumblr or other type of blog where you can post it, send your submission to that email address. ;) I’ll post it as a “Guest post” here on my blog, and I can credit you by a name of your choice!

Good luck, and I look forward to your submissions!

Why Asexual is a Label I Need: An Open Letter to Matty Silver

luvtheheaven:

This is a wonderful response to what he’d written. Thank you for writing this, Jo.

Originally posted on A life unexamined:

An open letter in response to Matty Silver’s article in the SMH: ‘Asexuality: Don’t be too hasty with labels.’

Dear Ms Silver,

As an asexual person and an asexual activist, I am always happy to see asexuality featured in public discourse. As a sexual orientation, asexuality is woefully under-studied, under-discussed and under-represented in the media and in everyday discussions of sexuality. As a result, it took me a long time to figure out that I was asexual. Like David Jay, I was nineteen before I realised that is was even possible to not feel sexual attraction to anyone, to not feel sexual desire towards other people.

Being asexual is a source of pride for me. It is a part of who I am, a label I am proud to wear, a subject I am happy to talk about. I don’t know if you noticed, but the photo included in your…

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My Doubts about Not Wanting to Have Sex (and my journey through the depths of Scarleteen’s sex-positive sex-ed website)

Glossary:  Please note that I use terms like sex-repulsed, sex-averse, asexual, demisexual, allosexual, sex-positivity, AVEN, ace, and more in the post. Feel free to comment if you’re confused about any term, or search Google for a definition of it and hopefully you’ll find the answer you need. I may be bad about making this post fully accessible to a broader audience, because I’m mainly writing it with the ace-community in mind. However if you’re in the broader population and reading my post, thank you, and I hope you get something out of my asexual perspective and maybe even learn something in the process.


Content Note: I decide to talk in-depth about my (relatively limited) masturbation & sexual experiences here, so you may consider this NSFW and/or just uncomfortable to read if you’re sex-repulsed. I figure since it’s my own blog, I shouldn’t be too afraid to share, though. And I feel like details probably help explain my perspective in a way that vague terms probably couldn’t.

Another note: I link to quite a few Scarleteen pages throughout this post, and if you don’t want to get sucked into a Wikipedia-like or TV Tropes-like “death spiral”, proceed with caution. :P Most pages have links to other pages and… lol. This blog post of mine also has a ridiculous number of links, so don’t feel obligated to click them all.

 

Before I ended my first-and-only romantic relationship (over the fact that I felt me and my partner were sexually incompatible), I remember seeing posts on AVEN that asked, “How do you know you’re asexual if you’re a virgin?” and answers like, “people know they’re gay without having sex first, same thing”. I remember seeing people embracing “being virgins forever” and various things.

I knew not having sex was an option before I’d gotten naked with my boyfriend. But at the same time… I felt very compelled to try sex, or something closer to sex than “just kissing”.

I felt like I couldn’t be sure of my new suspected sexual orientation (asexual), because while it’s often supposedly “obvious” that you’re feeling gay feelings once you get your first crush, that sounded different than what my experience of being asexual was like. Nothing felt “obvious” to me.

I felt a lot of pressure (both internal and external pressure) to have sex, in order to make sure I was really asexual. Or at least really a sex-averse asexual. Because while I suspected sex was not and would never be “my thing”, if there was even a small chance I was wrong, I didn’t want to prematurely swear off sex forever.

I couldn’t help but keep thinking that I should maybe see if I could like sex enough with my boyfriend to “make him happy” even if I was asexual. This, in retrospect, is a pretty unhealthy mindset to be in. Too much “should”, too much disregarding my own feelings in favor of someone else’s, etc. Continue reading

Being Involved in Fandom without Experiencing Sexual Attraction

This is a (late! Sorry.) post for the May 2014 Carnival of Aces, which had the theme “Obstacles in Being Asexual”.

One of the prompt questions they provided to help get us thinking about how this topic they’d chosen for this month was:

Have you ever had problems relating to others because you’re asexual?

And I thought… hmm. Maybe. That’s kind of a hard question to answer, in some ways. But I began to think of it in terms of “Can I as a fangirl/shipper relate to other shipper fans even without experiencing sexual attraction?”

Sexual attraction often plays a key component in storylines on TV shows and movies, as well as in “shipping”, and as a vidder and fanfiction writer/reader, I am seeped in the concept of shipping up to my ears, and I myself am also a passionate shipper as well.

Lately, I’ve been wondering, as an asexual and even possibly aromantic (still identifying as WTFromantic, btw) person, if maybe I’m missing something important when I watch my many TV shows and/or when I participate in the fun fandom event that is “shipping”.

I have been a shipper for about 8 years – since I was 16-years-old, since long before I’d ever really considered doubting the idea that I was just heterosexual but completely inexperienced, since long before I’d even heard of asexuality as a concept. (I first heard of asexuality around age 20, I had my first kiss less than 2 years ago at age 22… etc.) I’ve always loved love stories on TV shows. But I don’t exactly wait for the characters to consumate their relationships with sex. I don’t fantasize about them ripping each other’s clothes off. I only care if they finally “kiss” in certain cases, even. What it means for me to “ship” two characters is pretty different than what it means for other people to. I have come to really analyze all of my thoughts and feelings regarding romance and sex, including my shipper thoughts and feelings.

Obviously, we can’t all relate to every character on a TV show, and we’re not expected to. When a character is going through something that the writers know not everyone is familiar with going through, the writers can still find a way to make the character’s feelings accessible, understandable, relateable. I don’t need to be a doctor to get how it might feel to kill a patient – or to stressfully try my damnedest to save their life, unsure of if I’ll succeed. Saving Hope, Grey’s Anatomy, ER, House, Scrubs, and Emily Owens, M.D. were all shows that conveyed how this feels quite well to me (I’m a big medical show junkie lol). I also don’t need to have a terminal illness to get how it feels to go through it, when the show pulls off that kind of storyline right. I don’t need to be a football player (or even a football fan at all!) in a small town in Texas or a basketball player in a small town in North Carolina to understand that culture and what is involved in playing sports at the level where your goal is to “go pro”. I don’t have to be an alien from Krypton who has superpowers to “understand” what Clark Kent goes through, and I don’t need to have experienced transitioning into a werewolf or a vampire in my own life in order to feel connected to the character who is doing that on the show.

But when everyone in the world is expected to understand what sexual attraction and even romantic attraction feels like, sexual desire and various things like that which I do not feel, sometimes I wonder if I am missing a key underlying aspect to a story.

When someone is compelled to cheat on a partner, or to continue a romantic relationship with a teacher even though they’re just a high school student… I’m not sure if I understand the feelings the characters are supposed to be feeling on the correct level. I just watched all of season 1 of The Fosters on Netflix, and as a wtfromantic person, I’m having trouble understanding why Brandon and Callie can’t love each other as adoptive siblings and get their sexual needs taken care of with their other partners (Talya and Wyatt, respectively), because is there really so much of a difference between romantic love and platonic* love anyway?

I also sort of don’t “get” jealousy, I think. It might be that I’m more aromantic at heart than I realize and jealousy is something that only makes sense for romantic people to feel. But as a wtfromantic, I’m not sure that’s the explanation.

Many TV shows centering around teenagers or even co-workers who are mainly not related to one-another are able to have them date each other and then over the course of the show, become close friends as exes. They don’t always take the route of “he’s still pining over her but she still wants to be friends” – sometimes it’s mutually “I’m happy with someone new and you and I are just friends”, and I wonder, am I missing some lingering sexual attraction subtext? When the show doesn’t explicitly have the camera pan from one character’s eyes to the other’s sexual body parts (lips, boobs, butts, whatever), am I expected to be constantly thinking about it anyway, because I know these two characters have had those feelings in the past?

Shippers are less afraid to beat around the bush about sex than a TV show itself often is (especially if it is one rated TV-14 or lower). Slash shippers tend to enjoy lovely platonic friendships – or even enemies – becoming all about “the romance”, which always ends up including “the sex”.

Did you see that scene where Sylar and Peter on Heroes were having “eye-sex”?

Morgan and Reid on Criminal Minds don’t love each other merely like a big brother loves a little brother, like two cop partners care about one another… Nah, that has to be more.

Kalinda, who mainly likes sex with women more than with men, is clearly “in love with” Alicia on The Good Wife, and that must be why she was so upset.

Why would Derek on Teen Wolf be violently pushing Stiles up against the wall unless he wanted to be touching him? Getting his face extra close to his so that they maybe could even kiss?

I think sometimes shippers over-sexualize things, but then other times I wonder if my feelings are only because of my asexuality. I want to be a part of the shipper community. I am a part of it, a huge part of it. I have thousands of people subscribed to me on YouTube. I am on the “author alert” list of 52 members of fanfiction.net, meaning 52 people see whenever I post any new fanfiction story or chapter at all. I love being a fangirl and being obsessed with fandom. I named my blog “From Fandom to Family” for a reason, and I hope to write more on various completely non-asexuality related topics soon, including various meta things on fandoms.

But I also wish that sometimes I could better relate to the other people involved in my fandoms. I wish when having a healthy and reasonable discussion about why I don’t like a certain ship, my mind didn’t jump to “well maybe if I wasn’t sex-averse, I’d like this hyper-sexual couple who never has any meaningful scenes ever since they became ‘more than friends’ and now they only have sex” or “maybe my asexuality is making me miss the ‘obvious sexual tension’ between these two friends, sorry”. The weird thing is, there are ships where I fully believe that they feel sexual attraction for each other and that helps me to ship them.

I just… I feel like I never can know if my lack of being able to relate is hurting me, because unlike when a writer is well aware that not all viewers of a show are people who were on death row but then got kidnapped into a secret underground assassin training program and yet they want you to still relate to the characters, when it comes to characters experiencing sexual feelings, maybe it is all assumed to be obvious how/why/what the characters are thinking and feeling.


*Sorry. I think I’m gonna keep using the word, for now, to describe that vague, wishy-washy place between friendship and family love or where the two overlap, but I respect people not wanting to use it. Sometimes I might say “non-romantic” love but for now I feel like continuing to use “platonic”.

Let me try to talk about my “non-normative” relationships “failing”

By the way, I just changed my theme of my whole blog because the previous look was really not working for me, especially the layout of the comments. Hopefully this theme works better for both me and all of you.

 

Queenie of Aces recently posted over at The Asexual Agenda a post entitled, Why don’t we talk about non-normative relationships failing?. I enjoyed reading the whole thing, as well as the comment section. I mainly agree with points made over there and I highly recommend reading it and maybe you can even join the discussion. This is my contribution to it. It’s ridiculously long when originally I had intended to make it relatively short (whoops… major fail, lmao!!), it’s a bit ramble-y, and it goes a bit all over the place because I tend to get overly wordy when I write these things at 3:00 in the morning. I’m sorry. :P

Queenie said in the post,

There are a number of accepted narratives for mixed relationships failing: “I didn’t want sex and he did, so we broke up,” “once I realized I was asexual I broke up with her because I knew she’d be happier with a non-ace,”

- etc, etc, and both of those first two examples describe perfectly how/why my boyfriend and I broke up.

Sciatrix mentioned in the comments:

I don’t think that the expectation of an inevitable end is the thing that causes break-ups to be relatively painless. I think it’s a combination of other things, including levels of mutual respect for each other, how well everyone saw the breakup coming,

etc and my boyfriend and I (yes, I guess it was a normative romantic relationship, but bear with me and I’ll get to my sorta-non-normative relationships at the end) had both of those 2 things. We saw the break-up coming, we respect one another, we had open and honest communication throughout our relationship including as I tried to determine if asexuality fit me and I discussed everything with him – and he discussed everything with me.

As Captain Heartless alluded to in the comment section over there, I too don’t really see my “Normative” romantic relationship with my boyfriend as a failure. It was a success. I got to have someone to call a boyfriend. I got to try just enough kissing and sensual touching and sexual-ish things that I realized what I do and don’t want for my future, and I feel confident about my asexuality now in a way that I don’t think I’d feel if it wasn’t for being with him.

But it’s more than that. I really do like him a lot as a person. I want to still be friends with him, and we “broke up” saying that we could still be friends. Nevertheless, we broke up and then didn’t contact one another. At all. For a month. But then… a month after we broke up, my uncle committed suicide (at the museum my now ex-boyfriend’s mother worked at), and I’d remembered telling my boyfriend about one of my uncle’s previous suicide attempts while we were dating, so I decided to text him about his death. I explained what my family and I were going through. He was nice to me.

But then we spent 5 whole months… completely not in each other’s worlds. Not talking. At all.

Still, I decided at this point that I was wondering if he’d be actually graduating from college this year as planned, because if he was I thought maybe I could send him a congratulations card or something, so I got up the courage to email him. I asked him if he’d tried dating anyone. I asked him about his life. We’ve emailed back and forth a couple of times since then. Not much, but a bit. He replied the day after I’d emailed him and said he’d been thinking about me too. He says he wants to be friends. I think we might actually, sort of, still be friends. Not close friends, but friends. Maybe we can get closer in the future, or maybe we’ll drift apart. Are we now in the “non-normative” relationship territory? I don’t know. Does being friends with your ex-boyfriend count? Or is it simply a friendship? Regardless, I don’t think our relationship has ended. Not yet. It’s still… something. Some vague almost-friends type of thing. It might be sort of a failure if we never talk again. But it’s not a particularly “awful failure”, as far as “failed relationships” go.

And honestly, I’m not even so sure my romantic relationship with my boyfriend was EVER “normal”, since I feared I might be asexual ever since our very first kiss and told him as such as soon as we’d kissed that first time. (And yes, I turned out to actually be asexual in the end). We never ended up having “Actual sex”. We barely had sexual experiences together. We were almost a non-sexual romance. We didn’t kiss that often. We mainly talked about all sorts of things just like I kinda do with my dad and brother, except he was a brand new person in my life so it was a lot of learning about each other all at once. We discussed deep philosophical things. We discussed his sexual fantasies and my lack of them. We discussed all sorts of things, our families, etc. He taught me how to play Magic the Gathering. I brought him over to meet my dad and cook him one of my favorite meals. I met his mom and ate dinner at his house. We cuddled while watching lots of TV. It was close to a friendship in many ways. But we did try getting naked together twice. We did cuddle which I don’t do with my friends. I don’t like kissing so we really did avoid it most of the time, but we did try it multiple times which again, I don’t do with friends. Was it ever a “normative” romantic relationship? I don’t know. Is any relationship fully “normal” anyway? We’re all different. So what’s the difference between a non-normative relationship and a normative one, anyway?

Honestly, the most non-normative my relationships have ever been is that I’ve felt like I’ve been very close friends with people I’ve never met in real life, who I only knew through a shared hobby of vidding and through online messaging back and forth. When I started to form friendships with these “online friends”, I didn’t even realize what was happening. I didn’t realize that a select few of them would be people I’d grow extremely close to, who I’d bond with, who I’d share very personal stories about my life troubles with, whose real first names would be just as memorable to me as their usernames, who I’d end up talking about to my dad and brother in real life. I mentioned that I told my ex-boyfriend about when my uncle killed himself? Um, I actually told my closest online friends first, though. It was only natural to tell at least the one I’m closest to. She was very understanding and had lost someone to suicide before too, and I already had known that because like I said, we’re close!! She’d talked to me about it when it had happened in her life. I realize that these relationships are non-normative because they are my best friends in my life, yet I feel afraid to mention them to anyone other than my dad and my brother, for fear these other people in my life wouldn’t understand. I fear everyone around me thinks of online-friendships as “not real” and the fact that I don’t even know what most of them look like, the fact that I don’t know or remember most of their last names, that I don’t plan to ever meet any of them in real life…. that these facts will all negate my friendships as “legitimate” in these people’s minds. Sometimes I try to downplay how important these friendships are in my own life, because I know if I did ever get married (which I realize is a lot less likely than I once thought it would be, now that I realize I’m wtfromantic and asexual) I couldn’t invite them to my wedding. I realize if they get married I can’t be invited. If they die I can’t go to their funerals. A very morbid thought, I know. But it’s crossed my mind. Etc. I think the other thing is I’m mainly friends with these people because of a shared passion for vidding and/or just fandom stuff in general, and all of the other stuff came later, but if they ever decide to stop vidding then we might completely stop talking to each other. And I’m prepared for that. It’s okay if I don’t stay close with my fandom friends after they’re not “fangirls” anymore. It’s happened to me before! And this is probably the BEST example I can think of of how my non-normative relationships have failed. Let me explain.

You know how you’re friends with someone in elementary school, but then your family (or their family) moves to another town/state/country and you’re simply “not friends” anymore? (Or this can happen with high school friends once some of you go off to college or whatever, etc. It can happen with work colleagues once you no longer work together anymore. It can happen a number of ways.) And sometimes you were more just friendly acquaintances with this person… but other times you really did share your heart and soul with them, you knew everything about them, you knew their families even, you hung out frequently outside of school/work, etc. Yet you just stop being friends. You might get a “goodbye” moment before they move away. You might not. Oftentimes you don’t even get that. Oftentimes you never see it coming. You thought you’d stay friends but neither one of you is the first one to call/text/email/Facebook message the other, to ask to meet up again, to do whatever you’d have needed to do to stay friends. And then years pass, and before you realized it they just used to be your friend.

This is basically what has happened to me with a few of my online friends. The person I confided in when I felt very alone the first week of my freshman year of college? One of the few people who really knew all the details of the ridiculous stuff my abusive mother was putting my family through? One of the few online friends I had where I knew not only her first name but also details about her family and her life and everything? I called her my “best online friend” or “best YouTube friend” for a period of time – years, I think it lasted – but a new person has that title in my life now. Really, both my current best online friend and this past one I’m remembering were not only my best friends online, but also in life. I didn’t have a closer friend in “Real life” and I still don’t. My online friends are who I feel closest to, other than my dad and my brother who get put into the “Family” category rather than “Best friend” anyway. This “best friend” and I drifted apart slowly, without realizing it. It’s different with online friends, it’s easier to do, it’s just her slowly stopping being in the online spaces we both frequented nearly as often because her real life started to get in the way. It’s us slowly having less in common because vidding stopped “being her life” even when it still consumed pretty much all of mine. It’s a combination of a lot of things, and it’s sort of a relationship that “simply ended” rather than “failed”.

I also think I’ve had non-normative relationships with some of my family members, depending on what non-normative is. Is it normal to not even feel a little bit of “love” toward your own mother? For as long as I can remember, I have not wanted to say “I love you too” to her regardless of who many times she says “I love you” to me. I have not wanted to tell people “I love her”, not even in the “I love her, but she was abusive to me” kind of sentence. No. I don’t. I don’t love her. It’s that simple. My relationship with her is a huge “failure”, seeing as she was abusive to me and most of what is described as common in “sexual-romantic” domestic abuse can easily apply to the non-sexual, non-romantic relationship with my mother. She did not sexually abuse me in any way, but she did abuse me. I can EASILY see, because of my experiences, how aces in “Friendships” of any kind, queerplatonic partnerships, non-sexual romances, whatever kind of relationships might be able to be in abusive, destructive, awful relationships with people that are painful and confusing and non-ideal because um… yeah. I was in a non-romantic, non-sexual relationship that was abusive, awful, horrible, etc. I was trapped in it for years, not sure it could count as abuse if I didn’t have actual broken bones, if it was just my mother and not a man doing the things that made me terrified all the time that she’d get mad at me, etc. I can understand anyone, asexual or allosexual, being in an abusive friendship with someone and being confused if friendships can even be abusive, because our society had me thinking abuse had to fall into a narrow set of boxes too, like that men abused their wives, children, or step-children and no other types of abuse dynamics existed, despite the fact that I was in one of them, and that yes, ex-wives can abuse their ex-husbands (like my mother did with my dad), friends can abuse friends (yes, it can happen), and oh so many other types of relationships too (yes every type of relationship, not just romantic or familial, has the potential to be abusive).

I think I’m closer with my dad than most people are with their dads, especially most girls with their dads, partially because we both have very limited social lives and love lives. He’s been helping me buy dresses and bras and pads/tampons/menstrual cups… etc… just helping me be a cisgirl for as long as I can remember since I never really had a mom (uh, see above) and people have… noticed that he’s out of place in those kinds of situations. We talk about more than most people ever feel comfortable talking about with their parents. Really nothing is off limits in terms of conversation. I’m not afraid to discuss anything with him, even things I’m afraid to talk about with other people. I don’t feel like he has secrets from me, either. In that case I have a non-normative relationship with my dad. And him with me. We live together and have been for 2 years, ever since I graduated college – just the two of us. But our relationship isn’t going to fail. I might stop living with him, might stop talking to him quite as often, might find one topic I don’t want to discuss with him one day or something but it’d just make our relationship change slightly. I know nothing will ever cause our relationship to actually “end” other than one of our deaths, and I can’t imagine considering this non-normative relationship a “Failure”, if you know what I mean. My relationship with my brother is relatively similar. It’s changed over time but we’ll always be there for each other, and I think we’ll always have this very strong level of trust and emotional/intellectual intimacy. Even if we don’t talk for months, we still are very close as far as siblings go. And because we’ve discussed philosophy so much, feminism, asexuality, etc… I can’t imagine him ever betraying me or hurting me in such a way that would end up causing me to label our relationship a “Failure”. I’ll try to let you all know if I am proven wrong, though. :P

In general, I think for me the only way a relationship could really feel like a failure is if suddenly and unexpectedly I lose a person who was a very important person in my life. It has to be jarring. It has to leave me feeling betrayed or full of regret or something. And honestly… that’s never happened to me. I’ve slowly drifted apart from various people. I’ve kept a relationship with someone but our relationship itself has changed. I’ve cut out my mother from my life when I never wanted her there in the first place and it wasn’t a relationship that could fail on MY end because it was never MY responsibility to make that work, never my goal, and well I never went into the relationship in the first place with any plans/hopes (I was just born into it). Just like I don’t consider my relationship with my dad to be a “success” either. It’s more complicated than that. It’s just a very good relationship I’m in.

I think, instead that the only relationship I’d really call a success or a failure is the one I had with my boyfriend. Because I went into it hoping to get something out of it. Because when I enter friendships (online type or not, either way), it happens more unexpectedly and very organically and so without the hopes/dreams/plans attached to the beginning of the relationship, how can the end of the relationship (or lack of an ending) be really accurately called a “failure” (or a “success”)?

I think I’ve had a really lucky time with relationships, a really happy life so far. I think none of my relationships are failures or too messy  or anything. Maybe I’m just being an optimist. Maybe I’m glossing over things in my mind. Maybe some of the relationships I’m in are too one-sided and a friend or family member doesn’t love me as much as I love them and maybe that is or isn’t healthy. I don’t know. But I feel at peace with my life right now. I don’t feel lonely. I don’t feel like I wish someone wasn’t in my life that is in it. I don’t desperately miss someone who doesn’t miss me.

So maybe I “failed” at talking about my non-normative relationships “failing”. I’m sorry. I tried. ;)

Why I use “allosexual”

luvtheheaven:

I like to use the term allosexual myself, so I am reblogging this now. These reasons make sense to me, the arguments against using it don’t make sense. So here. Please read this in order to be less confused when perusing my blog.

Originally posted on The Asexual Agenda:

In general, language reform is one of my least favorite kinds of social justice work.  People are soooo defensive about what words they use.  For example, if you even mention that the word “female”, used as a noun, can be demeaning, it will completely derail all discussion of more important feminist criticisms.  (I’m thinking of a real event last year in the atheist community.)  I’m grateful for the times when I don’t have to get into that kind of argument.  But here I am doing it anyway.

“Sexual”, as a term for people off the ace-spectrum, is a bad term.  Most words have problems, but I think “sexual” has problems that should kill it.  I prefer “allosexual” as an alternative (because it has enough momentum that people in the know are familiar with it), or for visibility purposes, “non-asexual” (because it’s immediately understandable to everyone).

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Carnival of Aces: April 2014 Round-Up of Everything Submitted!!

Hey, everybody! It was my honor to host the Carnival last month, and I posted a very long call for submissions about the theme I’d chosen, “Analogies to an Asexual Experience”: http://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/april-2014-carnival-of-aces-call-for-submissions/

And WOW a lot of you managed to submit something! Thank you so much. I worried after seeing how few submissions there were in March, but you guys impressed me and really came through.

Without further ado, here’s what was submitted this month.

queenieofaces wrote Asexuals aren’t “just like everyone else, minus the sexual attraction” and allow me to quote a small section:

“I cannot imagine a world in which I am not asexual.  If I were not ace, my interactions, perceptions, experiences, and sense of self would be so radically different that I simply cannot imagine a world in which I am not ace and yet am still me.  This is the issue with so many of the asexuality-related analogies out there.  When you try to use liking or not liking cake as an analogy for asexuality, you’re not talking about an identity of the magnitude of asexuality.”


On the heels of that post, I don’t think this was written with the Carnival in mind but it includes an analogy: “Because I feel the same way as Queenie does: my asexuality is an inherent part of my identity, something that can’t just be detached. If I can furnish you with an analogy, asexuality is like a cog in a machine: everything turns with it, and although there are also many other cogs, they all depend on each other to keep turning. The asexuality cog can’t turn on its own, and without it, nothing else turns either.” So hopefully Jo doesn’t mind me mentioning her post here in this compilation… ;) I think it applies too. And it was written in April. But back to only the things actually submitted for the carnival…

Regarding aromanticsm, ifisaysayred posted a quote from The Amber Spyglass by Phillip Pullman, and explained it.

Carmilla DeWinter over at Der Torheit Herberge wrote A rare beast (version written in German is here) about a certain rare personality type being compared to the rare thing which is asexuality.

Hezekiah the (meta)pianycist wrote about being asexual and being autistic.

2cq5 submitted a poem called “Lipstick”, which I guest hosted here on my own blog.

Shokubutsujin over at Something Queer to Read wrote about Asexuality, video games and the future.

I (luvtheheaven) wrote Lack of Awareness/Education Leads to False Assumptions… aka It Would’ve Been Great to Have Heard of that Term Sooner! and discussed growing up with an abusive mother who suffered from undiagnosed mental illnesses/a personality disorder but never knowing about personality disorders even existing, and also growing up unaware of asexuality’s existence.

The Ace Theist wrote What do we need a word like “semi-arid” for? which is a great way that the gray spectrum/demisexuality/etc. was included this month, it’s short and I highly recommend giving it a read…

Stormy explained two analogies that she commonly uses when explaining to people both what asexuality is and how asexuality feels. (A car in neutral, and an abandoned alien! It makes sense once you read what she has to say.)

And finally, (or well, the final 2…) Sara K. over at The Notes Which Do Not Fit wrote An Analogy About Abstinence, discussing abstaining from drinking alcohol and abstaining from sex, and I wrote about the same thing right here with There’s a Reason It’s Called a “Virgin” Cocktail!! ;)

I think that’s everything, but if I accidentally left you out, please post a comment below, or tweet me @luvtheheaven or something and let me know! I can also update this post with new links if anyone wants to submit something late. That’s fine! Just let me know.

Update: Nutmeg over at jarofnutmeg submitted a wonderful little analogy about a room full of meat-eaters and the few vegetarians…. well just read it for yourself lol… this was submitted late, on May 17th: http://jarofnutmeg.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/analogy-to-an-asexual-experience-april-14-carnival-of-aces/

 

There’s a Reason It’s Called a “Virgin” Cocktail

This is, finally, my second post for the April 2014 Carnival of Aces. Asexuality will come up eventually if you keep reading, I swear it will. :P (Sorry it’s a tiny bit “late” and now it’s already May. Time got away from me.)

Please read my previous post if you want some background on my relationship with alcohol…

~~~~~~~

When I took a Philosophy 101 course in college and they got to the section where we’d discuss the concept of Free Will (and whether or not it exists), not much was actually new information for me, personally. I had already been persuaded by arguments for Determinism when listening to the Reasonable Doubts podcast in my free time for over a year prior to taking the class. However the class did introduce a few things to me… the idea of compatiblism, which actually I might prefer over just outright dismissing all of Free Will as a whole… terms like “volition” and how they affect the debate, etc. One of the most memorable things for me was when they explained how you might have conflicting desires at once. Two examples:

You want to stay in bed for another hour and sleep more

but at the same time,

You want to go to work (and get there on time), because you know it’s the only way to make money, to not get fired so that you have the option of going to the job tomorrow, etc.

Or:

You’re addicted and your body is telling you just how badly you want a cigarette, and you really do feel like you would love to smoke one right now

but at the same time,

You want to quit smoking, for any number of reasons.

I think it is obvious how people can have these types of contradictory desires at once, but it’s interesting to think about them in terms of free will. However, the point of this post is not really to discuss free will, but rather to discuss an analogy between my relationship with alcohol and my relationship with sex before this month’s Carnival of Aces is over. Yes. I’m getting there as fast as I can.

For me, compulsory sexuality works in society in such a way that it feels like “peer pressure” even when you’re all alone, and to me there feels like a culture of compulsory alcohol drinking too.

And it means I end up with conflicting desires:

My actual desire to not have sex/not drink alcohol

at the same time as

My desire to fit in, to do what is expected of me, to do what I always expected I’d one day do and one day get great pleasure out of doing.

It’s an assumption that everyone loves sex, that everyone has sex, and that everyone feels sexually attracted to people too. If you’re not a member of a conservative religion, it is assumed that you probably aren’t a virgin once you have gotten to your mid-twenties in age and people don’t think twice about it.  And honestly, most of the time that doesn’t affect me too much, as a 24-year-old asexual sex-averse person who qualifies as a virgin under most definitions of the term – and who plans to remain a virgin for life. Because most of the time whether or not I’ve had sex before doesn’t matter. If I’m with my social circle of friends or family, I’m not expected to have sex right there with them/in front of them. So no one really needs to even know that I am different from them when it comes to sex. Most of the time it’s just not relevant.

But with alcohol, drinking is something you’re expected to enjoy, expected to do all of the time in front of all of these types of people. And each and every time I’m offered an alcoholic drink, I feel very… embarrassed about declining it. I shouldn’t feel a need to justify it, and I generally don’t have any justification, but I still feel… self-conscious about not wanting to drink. About being unusual, about not feeling the same way toward alcohol as everyone else.

I had been planning on writing this post before ever seeing Sara K.’s take on this subject, but she said many things that ring very true for me over on The Notes Which Do Not Fit. One of which was:

“People find it weird that I was essentially following the laws about underage drinking, and making no effort to break them. In many of my social circles, you are expected to say that you snuck in alcohol before you were of age.”

I feel like people do not realize how they make people like me and Sara K. feel when they “expect” something of us like that, something that ends up not being true. I can’t help but wish I “fit in” more sometimes, because everyone else fits in and I’m stuck outside smiling along awkwardly, pretending to relate, or admitting quietly that I don’t.

But Sara K. said:

“However, I think the pressure to drink alcohol is not nearly as strong as the pressure to have sex.”

…and I disagree. To me, the pressure to drink is what feels stronger in a lot of ways than the pressure to have sex. There are certainly pressures for both, and people probably feel stronger about sex things, but in my life many people also don’t like to talk about sex all that often, but alcohol is something they’re always happy to discuss openly. The pressure to have sex with someone only applies if you’re actually in a romantic relationship with someone (or in an environment where everyone is being picked up for one-night stands, which I’m sure no one would be surprised to learn is not a type of space I frequent). You feel pressure to have sex in general in life, sure, but for me, drinking is the thing that ends up being a thing I actively have to refuse to do much more often. Not having sex is easy as a single person, I don’t even have to say “no” to anyone. But when it comes to alcohol, I have to constantly, throughout my life, say “no thank you,” and it is always a reminder that I’m different than other people when it comes to how I feel about alcohol.

You know how people sometimes very rudely suggest to asexual people “You need to try sex! You won’t be asexual once you try it,” and this even gets into corrective rape-threat territory? Well no one has ever actually said that to me and made me feel uncomfortable in that way. I am lucky to have avoided that thus far in my life. However my brother and his girlfriend have explicitly said to me: “You need to get drunk! Come on, we’ll take you to do shots” or “Just try it” and all sorts of things like that. Eventually my brother accepted that I wasn’t interested, and he’s nice about it, but at first the pressure people were exerting on me to drink was making me very uncomfortable, like I wasn’t really being given the option to say “no”, and that was upsetting to me.

Sara K. also explained that:

“it is a major coming-of-age rite when you can finally drink legally. This is not unlike how ‘losing one’s virginity’ is considering a defining coming-of-age rite.”

And for me, that rings so true. Not only that, though, but also it took me years to come to terms with the fact that my own expectations for “growing up” needed to be shifted. That for me, I was coming of age without the normal rites of passages, that I wasn’t gonna ever grow into someone who enjoyed getting drunk or enjoyed having sex. Those things aren’t me, and it took a lot of time to get to the point I’m at now, a point of acceptance that those things don’t have to be rites we pass through on the way to adulthood. That we can be adults without them. And that it is okay and that we’re not missing out on any more than anyone else, not really, because no one experiences everything possible.

Ironically, when I was still hoping I was not asexual and dating my boyfriend and trying to get up the nerve to do sexual stuff with him… when I was trying to figure out if there was a way to increase my non-existent sex drive from “zero” to “something” and all of it… I considered getting myself drunk to see if it would help. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was not comfortable with sexual things, and I was also not comfortable with the idea of drinking to see if it would lower my inhibitions enough to help me be more interested in sex. :P Now, I am glad I didn’t pressure myself into doing either thing.

I did experiment a tiny bit with sexual activities with my boyfriend in a completely sober state of mind, and I was more comfortable because of that. I never was interested, but I was able to realize sex wasn’t my thing through a positive experience of doing only as much as I was comfortable with, doing it with my boyfriend who I loved and trusted completely and who respected my limits and everything else. The same is true of my limited experiments with alcohol, which I explain here. I drank just enough to start to feel a bit of the effects of drinking when around my dad, which was me being in a fully safe space around a person I trust completely and I didn’t drink things I didn’t want to or which scared me (like trying a shot), I didn’t drink enough to get drunk… I didn’t drink really again after deciding I didn’t like it enough for it to be “worth it” for me.

Honestly, I’d always prefer to drink a virgin strawberry daiquiri over an alcoholic one, and I’d prefer to remain a virgin for my entire life rather than find myself in some future relationship actually having sex for some reason. I just wish the word “virgin”, both in reference to the drinks and in reference to us human beings, did not have the connotations it did. Because I am not immature, waiting till the day I am “allowed” or “old enough” to drink the “real thing”. No, the virgin form of a strawberry daiquiri is sweet and delicious and just as real, and for me an even more wonderful experience than drinking alcohol. My life is not incomplete without alcohol, and my life is not incomplete without sex. Since accepting the fact that I am a sex-averse asexual… I find myself more sure of what I want for my life and my future, and that makes me happier in many ways than I ever have been in the past.