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.

First of all, asexuality simply means not experiencing sexual attraction.

This means there are many ways to count as asexual.

But another option is that you can have no sex drive (no libido), and therefore no desire to actually have sex, but still be an allosexual. You can also have both a sex drive and also can be able to experience sexual attraction but choose to be celibate for any of a number of reasons, such as a strong desire to adhere to religious rules (say you want to become a priest or a nun, so you do not want to have sex) (or maybe you are sex-repulsed now for any of a number of reasons, and sex makes you very uncomfortable/upset) and so you might not want sex while at the same time still feeling those intrinsic feelings of sexual attraction – finding certain other people sexy – that asexuals don’t experience.

That being said, you certainly could be asexual or on the asexual spectrum. You might experience feelings of aesthetic attraction or sensual attraction, or even just attraction in an emotional/intellectual sense but maybe what you’re feeling isn’t sexual attraction. You might have a sex-drive and enjoy looking at porn without finding yourself specifically attracted to the people (what you appreciate about porn might be the sex itself, or the situations, without finding the actors sexy) – some libidoist asexuals can relate to that. (Other libidoist asexuals don’t like porn. The only thing that makes one libidoist is having a “sex drive”. And still other people (like me) are non-libidoists. We’re all different.)

There are asexuals who enjoy the feelings of sex regardless of the fact that they don’t find people sexy, asexuals who feel repulsed by sex and avoid having it at all costs, and asexuals everywhere in between.

There are also allosexuals who feel the same potential things toward the idea of partnered sex. Not all people who experience sexual attraction are going to necessarily want/enjoy sex.

There are also people on the asexual spectrum who identify as gray-asexual or grey-asexual (a or e in the “Gray”/”grey” spelling), also known as gray-a, or even “grace” as a nickname sometimes (as the phonetic nickname for asexuals are “Aces”).

You can do more research into any of these topics and try to figure out where you land. Only you can figure out/decide if what you’re feeling is just a sex drive but no sexual attraction, is sexual attraction but no sex drive, is something else, etc. For me, I personally had confused sexual attraction (something I don’t feel) for my feelings of aesthetic attraction/appreciating beautiful people the same way one would appreciate other beautiful things in life like a work of art or a scenic view of nature.

I would highly recommend reading this:

Possible Signs of Asexuality – Part 1: About You

(there is also a part 2 and part 3 there). Asexuality.org is down right now but that site, AVEN (the asexuality visibility and education network) has more than one “What is sexual attraction?” thread on their forum with many of us trying to figure out what the heck that thing even was, and many other allosexuals trying to explain it, and I spent a lot of time there when I first considered the fact that I might be asexual.

The next thing I would say you need to look into is the childfree movement. There is a whole wikipedia article on this. Cristina Rad posted an amazing video on the subject a couple of years ago. This blog is one I recently came across and is one you’d probably really be interested in: Childfree Voices. I feel some kinship with the childfree movement despite the fact that I personally do want to have a kid one day, because I have decided I want to adopt/foster and definitely never have a baby via pregnancy. While I am the opposite of a childfree person, as I actively want kids, I respect those who don’t want kids, and I feel bad for the way society at large often treats them. There is this normative expectation that people will grow up and have kids. But feeling happier as a childfree person who actively plans to never have kids is actually becoming more and more common an experience for people. I’ve seen it be a very common feeling/decision for aromantic asexuals. Many aromantic asexuals feel content to be childfree for the rest of their life (as do many heterosexuals, gay, lesbian, and bi people, etc., but it seems like if you are an aromantic asexual, you have a higher chance of deciding to be childfree than most people).

Which leads me to the next important thing for you to look into – the romantic spectrum. People of any sexual orientation, asexual or not, can be aromantic and not desire romantic relationships, not be able to experience being “in love”, or maybe they never have romantic crushes. The definition of aromantic is much more confusing and contested than the definition of asexual, but here is one of Queenie’s awesome linkspams on aromanticsm: http://queenieofaces.tumblr.com/post/94657889458/teeny-tiny-linkspam-on-aromanticism Some people are happy living their lives alone, and feel fulfilled that way. Other people fill their lives with people who they love and who love them, but the love is non-romantic, and they are still aromantic people. There are also heteroromantic people, biromantic or panromantic people, and homoromantic people (including those who identify as both asexual and lesbians, for instance). You can be a romantic person and still want to be childfree. You can be aromantic and still want a kid. I wasn’t trying to say being childfree only happens with aromantic people. Remember, we’re all different, and there are so many possibilities of combinations of feelings and experiences, or mixes and matches with the identity labels.

I’m sorry about what your mom said and how she made you feel and how you were brought to tears, even now, writing about all of this. I think if you are asexual (and I don’t know if you are or not, only you can decide) there is a chance you might appreciate acetheist’s post here: http://theacetheist.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/allonormativity-self-vs-other-and-the-delayed-realization/ 😉 It’s all about the confusing nature of wanting to be normal and sexual attraction being normal, so… asexual people often end up feeling broken and very upset.

I was talking to my dad once, who fully accepts me as asexual, about how I was just listening to this awesome sex-positive podcast where Dr. Darrel Ray talks about it being okay to masturbate at age 11 and it being okay to want kinky sex and being so nice and reassuring and kind about any type of sexual desires and behaviors and then I started to tell my dad “but no one ever says, “It’s okay to not feel any of it,” and as I said the words my voice started to break and I actually started to cry a little tiny bit. And I was caught off guard by my own emotions, by how emotional I was over this fact, but the truth was I was hurt. I was hurt, so badly, by the allonormativity and ace-erasure and compulsory sexuality in the world. Deep down, on some level, it had made me feel alone and broken for so long because i didn’t know asexuality was an option. And while most of the time I just assumed I was heterosexual because I had good self-esteem, because I knew I was normal, there were also other times when I fit the other side of acetheist’s coin in that post I just linked you to previously. There were those other times when I knew I was different and therefore I felt broken. And it sucks that any of us, ever have to feel this way.

You might also want to look into philosophies against marriage, or into finding people of any background who do not want to personally get married ever as that is not an unheard of viewpoint, I promise you. You should also consider looking into philosophies against monogomany or pro-polyamory, etc. Regardless of if you’re asexual, grey-asexual, aromantic, gray-aromantic (hey I forgot to mention that’s a thing too but that’s actually where I fall, lol, I’m a WTFromantic lol, which is a subset of being a gray-aro!) childfree, polyamorous at heart, or none of the above, you feel different. You feel like you’re “not normal” and you need to “Try to be” but trying such a thing is not being true to yourself. I promise you, if you embrace what you actually want, if you realize you are not alone and whatever you are feeling is okay, things will start looking up for you. 😉 The world is a huge place, there are so many people out there, and while no two people are exactly the same, you are never 100% alone in experiencing any single experience – someone else out there always exists who also has felt what you’re feeling too. 😉

Good luck on your journey to better understand yourself. I understand what a long and difficult process it can often be, but it is okay and regardless of where you end up, remember you are an amazing and special person who has every right to feel everything you feel and you shouldn’t have to hide it.

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

  1. I appreciate your disclaimer and all, and overall I don’t think this is a bad response, but there is something I want to point out in regards to the paragraph that begins with this:

    “That being said, you certainly could be asexual or on the asexual spectrum.”

    While this may sound open-ended to you, next time I’d recommend staying away from any kind of “you could be…” phrasing because, too often, it gets read as simply “you’re probably” or “you are”. The person who messaged you doesn’t appear to have asked about asexuality or raised the possibility of themselves being asexual, but if you wanted to provide them with more information about asexuality (which does make sense in this scenario), it’s safer to stick to “This is what asexuality means, you might want to look more into it, here are some possibilities that exist,” etc., along the lines of what you wrote here:

    “There are asexuals who enjoy the feelings of sex regardless of the fact that they don’t find people sexy, asexuals who feel repulsed by sex and avoid having it at all costs, and asexuals everywhere in between.”

    That’s a good example of what to say, without making any “you” statements that might, in effect, veer too close to telling someone what they are. I know that was never your intention, and that you make disclaimers about it here and there, but it’s still something that you have to be careful about and consider all the ways that what you say can come across. This is something that you should have found in Queenie’s advice-giving linkspam.

    From the sound of things, what with them saying “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”, this person seems to be the most confused about how to classify their attractions (or whether they have them), and if I were answering, I probably would have focused more on providing frameworks for that.

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    1. Thank you for your advice and opinions. I’ll take all of that in mind! 😉

      I guess the other thing that matters is the context that they said all this to *me*, on *my tumblr* where I post specifically about asexuality (and a bit about aromanticsm) plus random fandom stuff, and while I could focus more on their attractions, and they probably knew I could answer more specifics about types of attractions, but they didn’t dwell on that aspect of their question. They seemed almost sure that they DID experience attraction of some kind and moved on quickly from their confusion over how to classify their attractions. The majority of their discomfort seemed to be with the idea that they might not get married or have kids, or with the fact that their mother wouldn’t accept them if they were gay. The main focus of their 7 “asks” seemed to be “I might not live up to expectations and therefore I’ve been trying to be normal, and it’s making me feel angry, frustrated, and sad”. Maybe that’s just how I read it.

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