Small observations about the culture in the asexual pockets I’ve been to

For the Carnival of Aces this month (April 2015) the theme is “an Asexual Culture?”: and this is my post for it.

I have cross-posted this onto my tumblr, here.

I generally agree with Sara K.’s post:

She said,

I think asexual culture is still very amorphous, and it will take more time for it to emerge into a distinctive form.


I think what it will really take to further the development of an asexual culture is for … aces to spend more time with each other.  That could be online – aces devoting hours every day interacting with each other, or it could be offline.  I don’t think it would require a majority of aces – just enough to establish a critical mass.

and all of that is true, as is the stuff later in her post about Stormy’s post – in fact that jumped to my mind too when this month’s Carnival of Aces theme was announced. The culture of no touching without consent is huge.

I want to add what I’ve noticed.

The asexual culture I’ve noticed includes an expectation of education and understanding about gender identity politics and bisexuality and other less mainstream MOGAI/LGBTQ+/GSRM things, an understanding of terms like “heteronormativity” and stuff sometimes truly seem “assumed”. I’m talking about in the one real-life ace space I’ve frequented (I’ve been to 19 Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic meetups since July 2014 when I went to my first one), and also in the Asexual Blogosphere which is mainly centered around WordPress, and even in the tumblr asexual community. Those are the 3 asexual places I’ve been most often, and that’d be the culture I personally “feel”, it’s this “progressive”, super accepting and embracing culture of things that in other spaces that wouldn’t be able to be assumed, but in an asexual place could be. Even things like disability… there’s this pretense of assumption that people would hopefully be less ableist in these spaces. I’m talking about how extreme call-out culture can be on tumblr if you are ignorant of these things, and how shocked people were when one member who showed up to an Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic meetup didn’t know the term “cis” already. The culture is more… toned down, in person, and I too have noticed what Stormy mentions in hir post: Not to the extreme degree that Stormy does, since I haven’t been involved in the hypersexual queer community stuff in-person; I’ve only tried going to ace meetups, and just the one that is local to me, Asexuals of the Mid-Atlantic. But still. I feel that this is the “Culture” I’ve experienced that is related directly to asexuality. The other thing would be a culture of being anti-sex, and sometimes overly assuming that everyone is also content to not explore romance or content to remain childfree for life. Many aces who like sex in any way can often feel like they don’t belong in an ace space because too many aces assume sex-repulsion or at least sex-indifference. This is my personal experience – feeling surrounded by a type of ace that assumes aromanticsm is tied to it, and being anti-sex, and being childfree. It feels like the most acceptable narrative for an ace, the culture we’ve come up with, is one that fully rejects all conventional and traditionally sanctioned ideals. Asexual-spectrum folks are expected to be tolerant and understanding and embracing differences, but the default has been moved to “none” – no sex, no romance, no desire to ever have kids, etc. To not want romance, sex, or kids is to break the norms of society at large, but in the new subculture asexuals have created, the new norm is to reject all of it, as far as what I feel. And if you don’t reject all of it – if you are looking for sex, romance, and/or kids, or happily are already having sex, are happily already in a romantic relationship, or you already have a child or children, you are breaking out of our little culture where you’re now supposed to like cake better than all of it, in order to be the truest ace you can be. You’re supposed to reject it all.

This is just my impression. I don’t think the culture is set in stone. I think it’s temporarily at this point and may be different in other pockets of the ace community. It may be changing already into something else. This is just what I feel the ace culture that I’ve been exposed to is right now.

Someone on tumblr (theasexualanarchist) has replied to my post here:

15 thoughts on “Small observations about the culture in the asexual pockets I’ve been to

  1. Note: I rushed this post and wrote it on tumblr post, then pretty much just copied and pasted. Hopefully the formatting’s okay AND it makes sense. I don’t usually do my blog posts this way… 😛 I usually take my time — and write them here first, etc.


  2. I completely agree with you about the anti-sex part of current ace culture. When I was sex indifferent or repulsed, I felt like the community was super supportive, like yeah! We all hate sex! Aces hate sex! But now that I’m sex-positive, I realize aces who engage in sex for any reason are pushed to the outskirts. We’re treated like we’re the majority and therefore should keep silent, but we’re really the minority. I mean, the humorous side of ace culture, memes and jokes and stuff, all center around sex indifferent or repulsed aces. And when I try to defend the wants or needs of my allosexual partner, I’m practically strung up for being a traitor.

    I think what’s most telling is a Tumblr I created, called still-a-valid-ace. One of my most popular posts on there is about still being a valid asexual even though I get aroused when I pleasure my partner. A TON of aces have reblogged that post. So the need for more sex-positive ace visibility is definitely there.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to go on this long.. XD


    1. Don’t apologize! I love long comments. 😛 And yours wasn’t all that long anyway haha. But yeah… It’s even more complicated for me because I actually am on the indifferent to repulsed side of the “how I feel about sex” spectrum, and am aromantic-spectrum too, but I still… notice it. I still notice people like you in our community struggling by being pushed to the outskirts. I still notice all of the jokes being, like you said… just based on the anti-sex thing, and it’s a culture thing more than a definition or rule. It’s complicated.


    2. I’ve noticed that need in my advice blog. People are always asking for more stuff for aces who have sex. My blog focuses on demi/grey people, but still.


  3. I’ve felt the opposite than you’ve experienced; I feel isolated in asexual spaces, because I rejected sex as a deliberate decision, as opposed to abstaining primarily due to lack of desire for sex that comes with asexuality, plus I identify with that rejection first, asexuality second. I’ve feared being seen as an elitist because of it by others in the asexual community. I feel like I’d be more welcome if I were simply repulsed, or indifferent, and passively rejected sex (i.e: primarily due to the lack of interest), or willingly compromised on it.

    However, I don’t deny what you experienced. I think there’s a paradox going on here. One is that the most “respectable” image of asexuality that heteronormative society has of asexuals being “just like everyone else minus the sexual attraction”. I wonder if those who implicitly or explicitly believe that to be part of the asexual culture must mean rejecting sex, romance, and having children, could be lashing out against those expectations, because those expectations make them feel silenced and unwelcome in asexual spaces themselves?


    1. There may still be a very distinct form of rejecting sex that is acceptable and a form of it that is unacceptable in all of these pockets of the ace community I’ve been in. Generally, people say “I’m SO asexual, haha, you know?” and *then* insert an anti-sex joke, or discuss at an ace meetup or in the “asexuality” tag on tumblr that BECAUSE we’re all aces, we all “get” the anti-sex, single-for-life, never-gonna-have-kids sentiment.

      So if you reject sex first, philosophically, and don’t think it’s because of your asexuality, or even if you think it is but don’t care if it’s because of your asexuality, I can definitely see how you wouldn’t fit into the culture quite right.

      You also may have been in different ace spaces than me, for sure. I spent very little time on AVEN, for example. There is this “don’t be an elitist” attitude, you’re correct, I mean I feel it for sure too. So no one is allowed to say “Sex is bad, categorically, not just for aces” without being subjected to harsh call out culture.


  4. I’m super jealous of a space where not knowing the word cis was abnormal. Damn I’m jealous. Even my physical ace spaces never had that (and the damn Ace Unconferences had the WORST cis interlopers interrogating the trans/nb caucus, it was ridiculous and the cis ace allies did fuckall).

    I definitely agree there’s an assumption that ace spaces are/should be safe for disabled folks. Hahahahahaha. Another obstacle to recognizing the rampant ableism. Same for race and racism I think. All this “we’re welcoming!” and no critical restructuring or outreach or making sure the discourse isn’t alienating/actively hurtful. And survivors ofc, and people with sexual disorders….


  5. I don’t think I ever really see anti-sex, traditional values, etc very often — I think it’s probably an attentional bias thing where we just notice the things that annoy us more and it might be because I started out on AVEN and moved to Tumblr afterwards but I’ve always felt that the ace community on Tumblr was very romance-based (I see a lot of people worrying about ever finding a romantic partner in the tags) and, other than the occasional elitist (most of whom seem to be trolls and/or not asexual) ace Tumblr has always seemed very pro-sex to me. I’ve actually found myself gravitating a lot more towards the aro side of Tumblr because the asexual side is a bit too romance-orientated. But I think that that’s got to be attentional bias since so many people seem to have conflicting views on the same spaces, especially when it comes to discussions of aces who don’t have sex and aces who do and which one is championed.


  6. I’ve seen both a focus for romance and a ‘no sex ever’ attitude in many ace spaces online. Because of that, I often find myself leaning more toward aro spaces, since those focus on friendships and sex is sort of a ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ type of situation. The few times I’ve discussed my personal feelings about sex in ace spaces, there tends to be a bit of a pause, I guess? Because I’m not sex-adverse, but I don’t engage in sex(or rarely do) because I’ve decided that it’s an unhealthy practice for my mental health. There seems to be this assumption that doing that is selfish, especially if I have a sexually-inclined partner.

    That said, I’d really love to see some IRL ace spaces.


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