“Sensual” Attraction? People feel that?

This is my entry for the December 2014 Carnival of Aces. Please consider writing something too! There’s still time – the beginning of January is okay too. ;) Or… consider writing something for whatever the current month when you’re reading this is, since the Carnival of Aces likely is still going on! Hopefully it will continue to go on, into 2016, and beyond!

Content Note: Around the middle of this post, I discuss my mother’s physical abuse toward me when I was a child/teenager.

Soon after I learned what asexuality was from AVEN’s website, I also discovered terms for other types of attraction, rather than sexual attraction.

To be honest, to this day I still don’t feel like I fully grasp what most of the other types of attraction mean. I’m not 100% sure how much I have in common with people who do and who don’t experience varying types of attraction. Some days even the concept of sexual attraction can continue to confuse me. Lmao. It’s hard when people don’t have concrete definitions for these things!! It’s harder when most of it is based on describing feelings one already has, so when you likely lack the feeling… you’re never going to fully get it.

When people speak of aesthetic attraction, for instance, I imagine this magnetism to LOOK and well for me, while I can judge people on a scale and decide who seems prettier than most, and while I can appreciate certain looks, I don’t feel drawn to stare most of the time, so I wonder if I experience aesthetic attraction for people at all.

Since the theme of this month’s Carnival is “Touch, Sensuality, and Non-Sexual Physical Intimacy”, allow me to focus upon sensual attraction.

When I’d first read Coyote‘s Differentiating Types of Attraction post, ey really introduced me to the concept.

Coyote wrote:

Sexual attraction, as it’s typically depicted in media, often includes aesthetic attraction and sensual attraction mixed in as if inseparable, as they are for many people.  Nonsexual aesthetic attraction is sometimes treated as believable, especially between women.  However, nonsexual sensual attraction is treated with a little more skepticism, a problem not helped by the fact that some people use the word “sensual” as a euphemism or synonym for “sexual”.

Sensual attraction is a feeling pertaining strictly to touch, creating an impulse to initiate contact with the recipient. A nonsexual example of this would be touching someone’s face or embracing them in a hug.  Since this is a type of attraction, it’s not the same thing as wanting to cuddle someone as a way to comfort them when they’re sad, or as an expression of affection, or because you’re craving contact in general.  All of those are valid, real feelings, but they’re not what I use the term to refer to. The best definition for it I’ve ever seen — and I can’t find the source where I found this, unfortunately — is that sensual attraction is “the feeling you get when you see a fluffy kitten”.  For me, this term is a useful description for how I sometimes feel a random and inexplicable (but controllable) urge to touch people.

And it fascinated me. I walk through clothing stores and see a fleece jacket or something else that’s a cool texture, and yes, sometimes I want to touch, I want to revel in how soft these pajamas would be and oh I wish I had the money to buy them because they’re so amazing to touch. But… toward a PERSON? Wanting to reach out and touch them just to feel what they feel like? No… I’ve never felt such a thing. I’m fairly sure of it.

Pretty much the only times I’ve ever initiated touch of any kind toward the people in my life have been toward my closest 3 family members – my brother, my father, and one of my cousins. I’ve reached out to try to comfort with a hug or a gentle touch in a time of their grief, briefly. I’ve playfully/casually leaned my feet on laps or rested my head upon a shoulder while watching TV. I don’t do it very often, especially recently, though.

And I’ve never actively craved touch. I remember being comforted by a hug a total of one time in my life – and yes, this hug felt SO amazing, at the end of a day that was probably the worst day of my life in many ways. There was something so special about that form of touch, for me. But it was just one instance, and in other times of being upset, I’ve felt pretty comforted by other things, instead of touch.

As Sara K. said recently:

I am not touchy-feely; on the other hand, I am not touch-averse either. If I got into a close relationship, and my partner wanted to touch me a lot AND had respect for my boundaries AND communicated well with me, I don’t think it would be hard to find a mutually-satisfying arrangement. What I’m averse to is people touching me without permission or insisting that I must touch because touching is good for me.

I feel like her words describe me too. I’ve been on dates with 3 different guys, and all of them have touched me in different ways.

When the first guy I’d ever tried dating kissed my cheek, it felt SO intimate and amazing, like a rush of wonderfulness. When we tried holding hands, it was uncomfortable and awkward and did nothing for me. When guy # 1 & I kissed… I ended up in tears, so needless to say I did not enjoy the experience.

I found all 3 of these guys via online dating, btw, so when I first met guy #2 in person and the first thing he did after stepping off the train and us recognizing each other from our profile pics was embrace me in a hug… I wasn’t comfortable.

Guy #3, my first official boyfriend… I enjoyed leaning on while watching TV. I didn’t really like the awkwardness of having to shift from growing hot/sweaty/uncomfortable over time. There was something special about cuddling with him, perhaps because he was getting sexually “turned on” by it, and I’d never had that effect on anyone before. I had never cuddled in quite this intimate of a way before and it was a new experience, and overall pretty nice. Really, though, I didn’t “love cuddling”. What I loved more was being able to talk openly and honestly with him. Enjoying TV together. Him teaching me to play Magic the Gathering. Him giving me a homemade gift. Him actually watching my fanvideos I’d created and enjoying them. Him letting me make one of my favorite recipes for him. If I had never once touched him throughout our entire relationship, I wouldn’t have been longing for it. I’m fully satisfied by non-sensual and non-touch-related pleasures. Touching can be nice, but I can take it or leave it. I certainly don’t feel drawn to it. And I don’t need touch on a regular basis.

My mother was abusive toward me growing up, and some of that abuse certainly was physical. I consider her abuse to have been mainly verbal/emotional… but to give you a taste of the physical…

It didn’t often leave marks, but on a few occasions I did bleed a tiny bit from small scratches caused by her fingernails onto my forearms or hands. More often, though, she’d use her body to trap me in a corner, and I’d try to push her away, but being a child I wasn’t strong enough, and all I’d succeed in doing was bruising her arms, which she’d later yell at me for, blaming ME for hurting HER. Or she’d violently push down my arms when I was using my hands to cover my ears as she yelled the loudest she possibly could. She broke a favorite, expensive bracelet of mine by ripping it off my wrist, while I was still wearing it. Or my hair was in a pony tail and she’d move my whole body by pulling on it, not even pulling out one hair, just pulling it enough to hurt a bit, to obtain control over me, and even to knock my much needed and expensive (breakable!) eyeglasses off of my face in the process. On a couple of occasions, she literally spit on me. She dumped out a bowl of cereal with milk in it onto my head. There are probably many, many more cases of things that were pretty “physically” abusive. But I think I’ve listed enough. So many of these things don’t leave physical injuries, just… emotional ones, I guess. But they often involved invading my personal space. Using “touch” in a negative way. Etc.

I remember that once I’d finally stopped living with her, while in the hallway of a courthouse as my dad and she fought over custody of me and my brother… on multiple occasions she tried to hug me and I jerked away. I did NOT want to be touched by that woman, okay? I wasn’t afraid she’d actually hurt me in a public place. I certainly expected it’d be “just a hug”, but the contradictory nature of such a loving action from her made me SO uncomfortable, and I wanted to avoid it.

As I soon ended up going away to college, on my campus there seemed to be a tradition at one point, by the Student Union, of “Free Hugs Friday”. And… I just really didn’t want to be hugged by strangers, okay? I felt so weird every time I dodged the people with their arms outstretched and the cheery posters. I felt like someone with “intimacy issues” who maybe would like hugging more if I’d tried it more. But whatever. I was happy enough with my life of not ever touching anyone.

I’m pretty sure part of the reason I identify as wtfromantic is because so many romantic ace narratives include so much TOUCH and I often feel like I must be aromantic, if I could be fully satisfied in a relationship that includes absolutely zero touch. That for most people, some level of touch that is reserved for only “non friends” is what makes a romantic relationship romantic, or something. But then again, I have a lot of other reasons for NOT feeling like I’m aro… but still, I feel like my relationship toward sensuality & touch, toward cuddling and non-sexual physical intimacy of all kinds… comes up a LOT in my self-analysis of my feelings when I’m trying to place myself somewhere on the romantic spectrum.

I feel like I enjoy hugging some of my extended family members slightly more now than I used to. Maybe enjoy is the wrong word. I think… I no longer feel awkward and uncomfortable hugging them.

I think for me, it’s about comfort with the person. How much I love them. How much I feel like they’re friendly and like me at all. How much I know them. To me, even a simple hug is a pretty intimate thing. My uncle who I rarely say one word to despite us showing up at the same Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, etc celebrations for years, who I don’t feel like I know at all? Hugging him is still uncomfortable and I’d rather skip that ritual when he decides he’s ready to leave the house, but I still go through the motions because I feel like I have no choice. But now that I’ve grown up, and I’m almost 25 years old… I feel like I really have gotten to know quite a few of my other extended family members better, after having many moments of conversational bonding with them… and all of a sudden hugging them feels so much more natural/simple/easy. Could I live without it? Sure. Would a wave hello and goodbye, or a simple smile, suffice? Yeah I’d be totally cool with never touching these people in any way, ever again.

If I compare my feelings of sex-aversion to how I feel about touch, I am 95% sure I’m not touch-averse, not as a blanket statement. I think I am pretty touch-averse in cases where the person is a stranger, a near-stranger, or my abusive mother. But in cases where I feel comfortable around a person and feel like I’ve gotten to know them fairly well, I can kind of find touch to be either something I’m indifferent to, or in a few select circumstances, a wonderful experience. I definitely don’t crave touch in my life, though. And I don’t experience sensual attraction toward specific people, either.

No Expectations, No Potential for Disappointment (in my romantic/ queerplatonic relationships)

This post has been cross-posted to my tumblr. Read it there instead, if you’d prefer.

Pegasus hosted the November 2014 Carnival of Aces, and the theme is “Expectations in friendships/relationships” – you should consider submitting something for the current month, whatever it is! My submission is below.

When I was around 20 years old, in college, and an online acquaintance mentioned having asexual friends, I asked her to clarify and she sent me a link to the AVEN homepage. I vaguely realized, on some very far away/buried level in my mind that I might be asexual as I read the definition, but I had so completely convinced myself that I was actually a very (100%) inexperienced straight girl that no, that couldn’t be me. I’d had crushes before (although, now, in retrospect I’m not 100% sure they were actually romantic crushes, which contributes to my current WTFromantic orientation label I’ve embraced), I could find certain guys, especially  celebrities, (aesthetically) attractive, etc. I had all these hopes and dreams and EXPECTATIONS that one day, I would be in a heterosexual romantic relationship and suddenly all the love songs, all the romantic subplots in fictional books/movies/tv series, etc would make sense and I’d feel what they felt too.

I was the girl who didn’t feel broken, who felt rather happy and whole and human and full of plenty of self-esteem, therefore I must have been a “sexual being”, too, and while every time people spoke of sexual desire I was confused, I figured once I got into a relationship it’d all make sense. Once I started dating, I expected to enjoy all aspects of dating, including the kissing & sex.

So when I graduated college and I was encouraged to get into online dating, I decided to go for it.

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There are a Variety of Ways to Be an Ally to Asexuals

This is my post that I’m writing for the September 2014 Carnival of Aces, which has the theme Asexuals, Advocacy, and Allies.

People can act a variety of ways. The worst non-allies to asexual-spectrum folk are our enemies. Those people sometimes write severely ignorant articles about us, spread harmful misinformation, or potentially, in-person do horrifically hurtful things to an asexual-spectrum person they might meet. There are an array of things you can do to clearly be a non-ally.

But if your sister comes up to you and tells you she’s asexual, and you don’t quite believe asexuality is a real thing; if you just nod and say okay to her and walk away… you’re not an ally to your sister, but you’re not the worst type of non-ally possible. If you understand and accept asexuality yet keep on naively reinforcing compulsory sexuality and silently participating, “by accident”, in ace-erasure, for instance, you’re hurting us very slowly, very quietly, and usually without realizing it, and if you were only taught how what you were doing was hurting us you might change your ways, but as it is now, you’re still a non-ally.

One of the things that is confusing is when* asexual people consider themselves part of GSRM (Gender, Sexual, and Romantic Minorities) or LGTBQ+, or QUILTBAG, or whatever acronym, yet there exist people who are allies to gays and lesbians, maybe possibly gender minorities’ & trans’ and/or bi folks’ allies too, yet aren’t asexual people’s allies. If a potential person is the most amazing ally to homosexuals, that’s great, but that doesn’t say anything about whether or not they are our (an asexual person’s) ally. It doesn’t tell you what they think about homoromantic asexuals/lesbian asexuals/etc either. It can be confusing to weed out when allies to other parts of the LGBTQ spectrum are and aren’t our allies.

Another confusing thing is that there are a few self-labeled allies out there who are unbelievably selfish, self-centered, and frustrating. Calling yourself an ally doesn’t actually mean anything about whether you are an ally or not. People in minority communities use the word ally to describe other people – to describe those who fit a definition that the minority themselves gets to set. It’s not an identity label for someone else to adopt. Being an ally isn’t about the ally. It’s… it’s more nuanced than that. It’s about the people being advocated for and if they appreciate the advocacy or not.

Then there is a gray area. People who some other people might consider allies, and yet the rest of the world might consider non-allies (including these allies/non-allies themselves – some of them might consider themselves to be allies, and others of them wouldn’t consider themselves allies). It depends on your definition of an ally.

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My asexual perspective on the interaction between “Sex-Positive” views, Compulsory Sexuality, & AVEN

I read Siggy’s new post, Sex-aversion, for sex-positive audiences, and then I was reading Aqua’s comment, and it made me want to share some of my own thoughts and experiences.

Trigger Warnings for rape, discussions of loss-of-virginity, etc. Please tell me if I should word this differently or add something else to this list.


I found out about the sex-positive movement before I found out about asexuality’s existence.

I watched pretty much every one of Laci Green’s videos and I also heard Dr. Darrel Ray speak in various atheist podcasts I listened to, and there were probably a few other places that sex-positivity seeped into my world.

At first, when it was a distant possibility for me, when I wasn’t close to dating anyone, when I knew I’d be single for the forseeable future (so the next few months), I loved learning about sex. And the sex-positive movement felt like a great place to do it.

At a basic level, I’ve always thought that “Sex-positive” was a reactionary term to the idea that sex is inherently a negative, sinful thing (or at least certain kinds of sex – premarital, homosexual, “sodomy”, etc). Sex-positive people are people that recognize that there is nothing morally wrong with fully consensual sexual acts of any kind, and sex-positive people on the whole believe that shaming people for things that aren’t hurting anyone – being gay, their specific fantasies and kinks, etc – is wrong. (Yes, the sex-positivity movement is a lot more complicated than that, but that is how I viewed it and… and how I mainly still do, when looking at it on its most basic level.)

So when I first was actually dating and realized I felt no chemistry when I experienced my first kiss, and I got to the point of considering “Is there a chance that I am asexual?”, I finally went on to the AVEN forums, which was the only place, at the time, that I knew to look for any asexuality discussion.

I really LIKED the “it’s great if people who enjoy it have sex” rhetoric being something around there on that site, and I agreed with it, and if I had posted more than lurked, I might’ve ended up repeating the sentiment myself. I’m fairly certain I myself never said anything along those lines over there, but I read what other people wrote. I read a rape-survivor’s experience on that site where she wanted to have surgery to repair her torn hymen because she wanted her virginity back, and never wanted to lose her virginity (she was ace and sex-repulsed) and I appreciated what people said in response to her about virginity being a sexist and antiquated concept and I don’t remember if the issue of her being raped was handled properly or sensitively enough, but my impression at the time was that people were generally kind, understanding, and wanting to make the world as a whole a better place by encouraging people to adopt sex-positive views. I think people handled her rape as a serious thing that is very different than just “losing your virginity”. I felt immediately comfortable in the sex-positive environment I saw on AVEN.

If everyone had been super negative sex and shamed allosexuals for things that allosexuals didn’t deserve to be shamed for, I would have felt uncomfortable in the community. For all of the people who say that AVEN made them feel uncomfortable because of their sex-positivity, I just wanted to express the alternate viewpoint that I, myself, actually felt more comfortable there because of it. I was already a sex-positive person. And I needed a sex-positive place or else I wouldn’t have felt I belonged.

I think one main reason why this sex-positive sentiment was important to me at the time, even though it turns out I am somewhere between sex-indifferent and sex-averse myself, is because I legitimately wanted to understand myself, and I knew that a relatively common societal belief is that losing your virginity makes you “dirty” and that sex is shameful and sinful, or that enjoying porn is “Wrong”, etc… and so I spent a lot of time trying to make sure I wasn’t repressing any true desires. I didn’t want “sex-negativity” to be the only reason I didn’t feel anything positive toward the prospect of sex, so I made sure that yes, I was thoroughly on board with the prospect of sex-positivity and agreed with that philosophy. I became sure that I didn’t think less of other people for giving in to temptations that were not hurting anyone. And I got to the point where I knew I wouldn’t think less of myself for doing such a thing either. I wouldn’t be afraid or ashamed to give in to my own temptations, if I had any. It was only then that I could fully realize and accept that I didn’t have any sexual temptations, and in fact had some small aversion to sex/sexual things – the opposite of a sexual temptation, really. I had a temptation to avoid it.

I hadn’t realized yet how much the sex-positive movement had hurt me, though, because I’d entrenched myself in it for years and the compulsory sexuality there is insanely strong. Being in a sex-positive environment means surrounding yourself with the FALSE rhetoric that we are all “sexual beings” (meaning allosexual) and we all feel sexual attraction and we all enjoy sex or will someday when we finally become sexually active, and everyone will be sexually active eventually, and the idea that anyone who doesn’t masturbate or doesn’t feel sexual attraction is LYING. I didn’t realize how wrong these messages were at first. I internalized them as true, and then felt very confused when I myself didn’t line up with any of them. When my experiences & feelings contradicted all of them.

I also remember seeing the sentiment over on AVEN that it was OKAY to be a virgin for life. To never want to have sex, not even “just to try it”. The compulsory sexuality that I had been so entrenched in in the sex-positive movement was being challenged, and it was jarring for me. It was that feeling of “Wow, wait, I maybe won’t ever be “Ready” for sex, because it’s not a matter of “not being ready yet” for me, it’s something else, it’s my sexual orientation” and combined with that, it was “Wait, is it really okay? Don’t I have to have sex?” Because I had internalized so much about compulsory sexuality, I couldn’t really believe that it was acceptable to never have sex. I felt like it still was compulsory for me to try sex, but my personal experiences on just a few threads on AVEN’s forums I don’t think were making that feeling worse. I think they actually said some good things that combated the compulsory sexuality mentality.

I think heteronormativity and compulsory sexuality both hurt me, growing up and into my adult life, and they made me take longer than it should’ve to accept my true asexual self and my true sex-averse feelings. I think AVEN and the sex-positive movement have both broken free, almost entirely, from heteronormativity, but that they both are entrenched in compulsory sexuality. I think it is possible to be a sex-positive asexual posting good comments on AVEN forums that combat the compulsory sexuality narratives, just like it is possible to try to combat compulsory sexuality even if you’re a sex-positive allosexual… but it is also possible to be a sex-positive asexual posting comments on AVEN that perpetuate compulsory sexuality. I was lucky to not run into people telling aces to try sex, and I am aware that I was lucky.

I just wanted to share my point of view and what I experienced.

The story of “Hansel and Gretel” really resonated with me as a child

This post does mention my asexuality very briefly, but mainly this post touches on the fandom and family parts of my blog and takes a break from asexuality-related discussions, FYI. The main fandom discussed is an unusual one, one most people wouldn’t call a fandom… lol… but I would like to think it counts. I also bring up Harry Potter at one point. ;)

 I would recommend you read my “The Insidious Nature of Abuse” post first, which I wrote back in April. It deals with many similar topics as what I have just now written about, below. I also discussed some stuff about my family situation in my “Lack of Awareness/Education Leads to False Assumptions… aka It Would’ve Been Great to Have Heard of that Term Sooner!” post and probably in a few other posts too.

So my dad and I went to Kohl’s on the Friday night a little over a week ago to buy some new socks for ourselves and the first thing that caught my eye upon entering the store was a Mercer Mayer collection of newly released children’s books, including an adaptation of Hansel and Gretel. I picked up a copy of the book and began leafing through it curiously, and was quite disappointed to find my favorite part of the story – by far the most memorable part, for me – being entirely skipped over as the story starts with Hansel and Gretel already stumbling upon the witch’s cabin in the woods.

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My response to an anonymous tumblr user who has been struggling with figuring out their sexuality, societal expectations, etc.

This was posted on my tumblr first, but I decided to share it here too. Someone anonymous asked me a question, broken up into 7 “to be continued” parts (tbc) because tumblr’s “Ask” system only allows people to ask questions with a limited number of characters.


If I have said something I shouldn’t have said, please let me know. I had recently checked out this linkspam of Queenie’s on giving ace advice, but I had read through these things before realizing I’d be getting an ask and an opportunity to give advice. When I read the “How to” on giving advice, I was looking at it was an outside perspective, as an onlooker, as an observer, not realizing it would apply to me too soon. So I feel like, now that the time has come to give out advice to questioning people, I probably did something wrong.

I am nervous posting this here on my blog – a blog that many asexual bloggers follow. I am much more nervous than I’d be just keeping it on my tumblr, because I fear many people might criticize how I said what I said, but I feel like sharing this is important. I did say what I said and I don’t want to hide that. I think these types of experiences such as the anon’s are important to be heard, and I’d like to hear feedback on how I replied and if people think I should have just not replied or if I should have said things differently, or what. I would like to learn and improve myself for the future in case this happens again, where someone else talks to me for advice. The tumblr user remains anonymous so I don’t think it hurts to share it more publicly, and besides, my blog is followed by a fairly limited number of people, so it’s not like I’m really sharing this “with the whole world”.


Anonymous asked:

This isnt the best format so please forgive the multiple submissions and disjointedness. I recently came across this blog and wanted to say thank you to you and others with similar ones. I have struggled with figuring out my own sexuality and not necessarily thought there was something wrong with me, I just knew that I didn’t have the same feelings, views as others but I didnt have words or labels or context to try to understand why or what they meant…


…Reading posts on here makes me feel a little bit better about that. I am still trying to figure out who I am, I do know that I find myself attracted (I don’t even know if that is the right word) to both men and women, but thinking about sex with another person (man or woman) does not sound appealing to me. Thats not to say I don’t have sexual desires – just the thought of myself and sex with someone doesnt seem to compute, if that makes sense…


…Obviously a big part of my struggle is what society views as normal, not just re sexuality, but kids, school, work, etc. I grew up in a suburban area with a good school system, people were expected to go to college, find a job, get married have kids etc. I did the first 2 because they were easy, but I don’t know about the rest…


…I’m not sure I even want to have kids. I dont know if its because I cant even figure out who I am, how am I supposed to raise a child, be there for them, answer their questions if I struggle with myself and my own questions? It could be I just dont want kids, but I dont know and it is so infuriating that I cant tell which one it is…


…When I was in high school I had asked my mom if she would be okay with it if I were gay. I was shocked when I saw the look of sheer disappointment on her face. I honestly thought she would be open about it, but I guess I was wrong. I thought she would be understanding because my uncle is gay and she was there for him during his coming out and they have a very close relationship even now. I cant wrap my mind around how she can be so accepting of her brother, but not of her own child…


…I don’t want to blame all my issues on her, but I feel that that one moment made me want to be try my hardest to be “normal” that it set my figuring out process back. Even thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes – tears of anger, frustration and sadness…


…I have never talked about my feelings with anyone and I am thankful for the anonymity of the internet, because I don’t think I would be able to discuss this with people I know personally (at least not any time in the near future). I’m not going to say I feel better, because honestly I dont, I’m still confused and don’t know what to do about it, but I would say it does feel nice to have expressed my feelings in some format for the first time in my life, so thank you.

Wow. Thank you for sending me your anonymous “Ask”, all 7 parts of it. I know you weren’t really asking for my advice, or opinion, but then again you did share your story and feelings and experiences with me in the form of an “Ask”, so I’d like to respond a little if I could. I’ll put it after a “Read more” break because this has ALREADY gotten long from just your question, and my response is gonna be even longer.

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What Does a Real Asexual Look Like?


I think so much of this needs to be said, and in a way this post by Ace in Lace works well as a follow up to my own post for this carnival: https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/your-asexuality-has-been-made-unassailable-for-you/

I think it works well in correlation with my own post, because of the “So what?” section. I recommend that everyone read the whole thing, because while I stand by my original post, I also agree with everything here. I think they complement each other in some ways, rather than contradict. :D

Originally posted on Ace in Lace:

The August 2014 Carnival of Aces is on The Unassailable Asexual. The Pure Asexual. The Gold-Star Asexual. True Asexuals. Real Asexuals.

These are all terms to describe the kinds of asexuals that meet whatever qualifiers someone has set for what makes up an asexual.

There is an agreement on what makes someone an asexual that is widely agreed on. “Does not experience sexual attraction”. Few people dispute that definition. The problem is that there are so many people out there that have decided there are other qualifiers to being considered a “real” asexual. Not only must you not experience sexual attraction, you must also not masturbate. Or have sex with your partner for any reason. Or you must never have been raped or traumatized. Or you must not be physically impaired or its probably the physical impairment that’s causing the asexuality, you’re not a real asexual in those people’s eyes.

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My “wtfromantic” identity label has become very significant to me…

Queenie of Aces just wrote a new post on Prioritizing Identity, and a wonderful conversation has been happening in the comments too.

This post is a response to that. I branch off to one specific part of the discussion though, and don’t talk much about the whole… um… “Are Aces Queer” discussion or some of the other things in the post. But I might leave a comment on that post to address one of the other sides of the discussion.

Queenie mentions:

…you can divide aces into four groups:

  • Group 1: Aces who consider their romantic orientation more important than their sexual orientation.

  • Group 2: Aces who consider their sexual orientation more important than their romantic orientation.

  • Group 3: Aces who consider their sexual and romantic orientations equally important or who prioritize different orientations at different times.

  • Group 4: Aces who don’t identify with a romantic orientation and thus consider this whole categorization system boring and pointless.

And there is a lot more in the post worth reading but I figured quoting at the very last this small part here was necessary, because I would like to refer back to “Group 4″ or whatever and you be able to quickly and easily scroll back up and understand which group I am talking about.

As someone who on the surface is a Group 4 person, “Aces who don’t identify with a romantic orientation and thus consider this whole categorization system boring and pointless”, I wouldn’t quite agree with the second half of the statement. I mean… yes, I don’t identify with a romantic orientation, but…

I find the whole categorization system to be so many things, but NOT boring and NOT pointless. I find it amazing and wonderful, I find it enlightening and it seems useful to a lot of people and because of that in some ways useful to me too, but at the same time confusing, frustrating, and inadequate for me, myself. I find it fascinating and worth discussing more. I like the system, I mainly have positive feelings toward it, and really, all of the confusion and frustration I feel is more pointed at myself for not fitting into it quite right. The system itself seems pretty great because without it I feel like we’d all be SO LOST lol and even if I don’t fit in it quite perfect, having the system is so much better than having nothing.

But because it’s so hard for me to find my place in it, to figure out the difference between romance and non-romance, I definitely find myself falling more in Group 2 and just calling myself asexual and not worrying too much about my romantic orientation for practical purposes. My asexuality is a clearer part of my identity, so it’s easier to focus on. You physically *can’t* focus eyes on the foggy, blurry, unfocused mess of a romantic orientation that is “maybe heteroromantic, or maybe bi or panromantic, but maybe just aromantic”. It’s too vague or self-contradictory and you don’t even know what you’re looking at. So you focus on the asexuality, the clear simplicity of that, especially when you’re like me – a non-libidoist, not even close to gray type of ace who is pretty sure she’s averse to sex too and plans to remain celibate for the rest of her life. Asexuality becomes kind of “cut and dry”.

But THEN AGAIN, there are times when I almost feel like I’m in Group 1, when the fact that I am wtfromantic matters a lot to me, where the fact that I am asexual is a given, a background “yeah, you and I know that about my identity, let’s move on” type of thing. My asexuality can, sometimes, become a practical non-factor, because for those moments what matters to me is: “What even is my goal in life? Am I looking for a boyfriend? Should I delete my stupid OkCupid profile because I’m aromantic anyway?” When I’m at an ace-meetup (I’ve only been to two of these, ever, and both within the past 2 months, FYI) of course I’m ace, we all are, so it’s our romantic orientations that make us different and suddenly I feel kind of weird – or at least “special”, lol – when person after person is completely secure in being aromantic or one young woman thought they were a lesbian before realizing they were ace and I am met with wide eyes and a bit of surprise when I explain that I actually did online dating… with (*gasp*) 3 different guys… and even the people who talk of heteronormative experiences, of dating (or in one guy’s case, marrying) the “opposite” gender, etc. don’t actively identify as heteroromantic, and I don’t want to identify as heteroromantic either, it feels important to me to express that I am actually currently identifying as wtfromantic – as not necessarily aromantic, but not definitively hetero-romantic.

…and then I’m writing a fanfic where I’m making a girl have asexual experiences a lot like mine, and I need to tag it on AO3, and I don’t know whether to tag it aromantic or not and I spend way more time actually thinking about that stupid thing than I should… and yeah my wtfromantic identity (and my character’s) end up mattering a lot in my life, and I basically feel like I am in Group 1, where I don’t even know how to end my fanfiction story, because what does my character even want?

When reading Queenie’s post just now, that one that this whole post is basically just a reply to, I noticed when she discussed the Group 4 aces that she linked to 3 tumblr discussions that I clicked on and read and I ended up in an internet-death-spiral of reading other people’s tumblr comments on these same posts as the whole thing is a bunch of people reblogging reblogs and adding their own comments along the way. And I found the discussion facsinating. One of the most fascinating things that I found indirectly because of this “Prioritizing identity” post of Queenie’s just now was where Sciatrix questioned:

*Are* people thinking of “wtfromantic” as a distinct identity?

And I looked at that and thought… I think yes, yes I actually have been, lately. I’ve been thinking of myself as a wtfromantic asexual and feeling comfortable in that label.

When I read The Ace Theist’s post recently, “Re: Greyness 301″, and also the linked/heavily referenced epochryphal.tumblr.com original Greyness 301 post I left the first comment. The Ace Theist and Cor had been talking about grey-asexuality. Grayness in terms of sexual attraction and stuff. They talk about how confusing and messy it is. I never wanted to call myself a “gray-romantic” before reading that post, but when reading it and seeing how well their descriptions of “greyness” in regards to sexual orientation fit my whole relationship with romantic orientation so well. Other people (Queenie, yes her again lol, and also Ace in Translation) agreed with me after that in the comments that they also related as gray-romantics.

I have been strongly identifying as wtfromantic over gray-romantic because I think the “wtf” accurately expresses so much that the gray doesn’t. Gray implies some middle ground, halfway points, etc… it implies a lot of things to me that I don’t think I am. Maybe I have been wrong to assume that gray means any of those things. But “WTF” expresses more of where I’m at – confusion, frustration, etc.

I’m not sure I have a good stopping point for this post, so I’m gonna stop right here. I’m going to end by saying I am pretty comfortable in the wtfromantic identity label for now. And it has been for months and months. I do think of it as BOTH a distinct romantic orientation label and a non-romantic orientation at the same time, somehow. I think it somehow is a good final answer, as I’m not sure things will ever get more clear/less confusing for me… but it’s also a state of being in perpetual questioning – which means the chance for answers to maybe be found, one day. It is what it is, and I, personally, am happy to have found it.

For people who came to my blog searching for the term “wtfromantic”, consider reading this post: https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/i-have-looked-through-what-search-terms-have-brought-people-to-my-blog/ about search terms that have brought people to my blog. Also, consider reading various other posts of mine, as I write about this topic fairly often.

Your Asexuality has been made “Unassailable” for you.

This is a post written for the August 2014 Carnival of Aces, which has the theme “The Unassailable Asexual”. Details are here: http://queenieofaces.tumblr.com/post/93501116848/august-2014-carnival-of-aces-call-for-submissions

And I apologize in advance if this gets ramble-y and confusing. I’m trying my best here but I’m aware it’s a bit convoluted.

From what I can gather, the basic idea of “The Unassailable Asexual” or “Gold Star Asexual” is that many people aren’t unassailable when it comes to their asexuality. If you look up “unassailable” in The Free Dictionary, which compiles definitions from multiple different dictionaries, some of the relevant definitions are:

Impossible to dispute or disprove; undeniable.


not vulnerable to attack or assault.

I think the main purpose of discussing the idea of “the unassailable asexual” in the first place was probably to drive home the fact that it is difficult to fit this “ideal” mold. That all of the people who are not unassailable (who are assailable, if you will allow that,) are not alone; that a person’s asexual identity being able to be easily attacked is actually quite common.

It would be amazing if other people, both inside and outside of the ace community, would look at any random given asexual person and say, “Yeah, I believe you completely when you say your sexual orientation is asexual. I’m not gonna try to tell you you’re not ace. Of course you are.” But that is a fantasy.

Many people – heck, probably most people – have some specific aspect about who they are, how they act, or what they’ve experienced that makes them a target. Something that makes it so their asexuality is “assailable”.

It might be the fact that they fall on the autism spectrum. Or maybe it’s a history of having been abused, or perhaps it’s simply the fact that this person finds pleasure in something deemed too-sexual-for-the-person-to-still-be-asexual, such as reading erotica or masturbating at times. And countless other personal factors can become reasons their asexuality becomes doubted. There are so many ways this happens.

Interestingly, when you look up “assail” in the dictionary too, the definition isn’t only “to attack”, although yes, definitions #1 and #2 are such a thing.

But a notable thing is that there is also the following definition:

To trouble; beset:was assailed by doubts.”

And that example sentence – “was assailed by doubts” – that is probably the most insidious of the ways failing to be an unassailable asexual person hurts us asexual people.

It’s not just other people attacking our label. It’s us, ourselves, doubting it fits – often before we have officially adopted the asexual label. We are asexual, deep down we know we don’t experience sexual attraction, and we’re really close to accepting that fact. But then we start to doubt it.

We think: “I have a lot in common with asexual people’s experiences, but can I really be asexual if I am a rape survivor?” or “I’m not sure I really am asexual, maybe it’s just my anxiety disorder making me feel this way where I don’t find other people sexy.”

From the inside out, we are assailing that “asexual” label too, and that is a very unfortunate place we find ourselves in.

I’ve seen a lot of newcomers to the ace community, often anonymously asking tumblr advice blogs or posting their question on the AVEN forums, saying “if ____, can I still count as an asexual person?” and overwhelmingly, most of the good advice I’ve seen dispensed is always “yes, you can be. The only thing that being asexual means is that you don’t experience sexual attraction. If you fit that definition, and you feel comfortable labeling yourself asexual, then you’re welcome here. Regardless of romantic orientation, if you have sex or if you’re celibate, if you enjoy sex or if you’re sex-repulsed, if it was caused or if you think your asexuality’s innate.” I see this good advice being dished out regularly, and I’m happy about that. I think that is the right message to be sending.

This way, the newcomer to our ace community has had their asexuality made unassailable. It’s not a vulnerable identity anymore. If you come out to a new friend and say, “Hey, I’m asexual”

and your friend says, “But that can’t be true, I know you like to use a sex toy for masturbation – I’ve seen it in your bedroom,”
you aren’t vulnerable to that attack.

You can easily defend yourself and say, “The fact that I masturbate doesn’t make me any less asexual. I don’t experience sexual attraction to people and that is that.”

I think this is a powerful and important thing, for our own sakes first and foremost. Even if your friends and family still doubt your asexual sexual orientation, if you know that you can be secure in your asexual identity label, then you can go on with your life as a happier, more confident person. And the more confident you are about your own asexuality, the more likely everyone around you in your life will accept that the label is right for you.