Month: March 2016

By nature of being asexual, I’m defying gender norms

[Content Note: Brief discussion of biphobia/inaccurate stereotypes about bisexual people which my dad apparently believes/believed, mentions of conservative Judaism and Christianity, and general discussion of heteronormativity, the gender binarist world we live in, etc. I am a 26-year-old cis female, non-libidoist, aromantic/wtfromantic asexual from the USA.]

This post was written for the March 2016 Carnival of Aces, which is themed around Gender Norms and Asexuality.

Last night, a discussion about how it feels like most of the aces I meet in the local meetup group are either non-religious, or Jewish, transformed into me mentioning to my dad that one of my friends (friendly acquaintances?) whom I met last year at an ace meetup was raised in a conservatively Jewish home. This meant, actually, that when she came out to her parents as bisexual, it didn’t go well, and that’s why she still hasn’t felt like coming out to them as ace.

I was explaining that she thought she was bisexual before she realized she was asexual, and my dad was really surprised.

That concept was difficult to wrap his mind around, because “it was like she went from hypersexual to non-sexual”. It seemed my dad was wondering how anyone could be so confused?! How could they jump around so much with their thoughts on their sexuality?

And I cocked my head at him. I shot him a look, surprised by his reaction for multiple reasons. Yes, I was surprised by his unchecked belief that bisexual people are all hypersexual. (Hadn’t he watched that ABC Family TV show Chasing Life with me? If that kind of bisexual representation didn’t help him imagine a world where some bisexual people have a pretty average-seeming sex drive, I’m not sure anything would’ve.) And the first thing I said was that that was not an accurate idea of what bisexuality really is. But the other thing that jumped to my mind was… Oh. For all that we talk about, for all that I try to discuss with my family, when it comes to nuanced issues it takes me a long time sometimes to really get around to bringing them up. I only recently tried to explain queerplatonic relationships to them, right around when I started to consider entering into one, really!!

And even now, I don’t think I’ve told anyone other than the people at the ace meetup group and also everyone who reads my posts on the internet that I had multiple fleeting instances of questioning if I might be bi. I explained to my dad something broader, but my own personal experience with it didn’t make it into the conversation. Maybe I’ll find a way to bring it up soon.

What I said to my dad was that actually, it was a pretty common narrative in the ace community for people to think they were bi before coming to the conclusion that they were ace. That I might’ve thought I was straight-by-default, but some people kind of think they’re bi-by-default, because if they really aren’t attracted to either gender, equally, then they feel the same way toward both genders, and that can be easily interpreted by someone who doesn’t know asexuality is a possibility as “I must be bi”.

Continue reading “By nature of being asexual, I’m defying gender norms”

I was not a mirror

I was just recently revisiting Siggy’s “You don’t need to be a mirror” post on The Asexual Agenda.

He posted it in January 2015, so about 1 year & 2 months ago. It has had a pretty significant impact on my thoughts ever since he first wrote it, and it took me 4 more months before I’d write this and I still wish more people talked about these issues.

epochryphal’s thoughts on paper/stone dynamics have always fascinated me; cos writing had been my introduction to the entire concept and if I’m being honest, really whenever co brings it up is still my only time reading anything about stone/paper stuff, but especially cos comment on this post is important to me, because it helps conceptualize what I went through with my boyfriend at the time when I was experimenting sexually with him, and even at the time prior to that when I was considering it.

I was, at the time, inexplicably less comfortable with touching my boyfriend in sexual ways than I was with being touched by him, although it ALL made me uncomfortable, and it was confounded by the fact that he explicitly had told me his strongest desires and fantasies consisted mainly of what I guess are called “stone” tendencies.

I thought I’d be “indifferent” to sex until I tried it. When I tried it, almost instantly I realized I was “sex-averse”. I had, prior to giving it a try, thought that “of course,” since I wanted to make my boyfriend happy, I would enjoy the experience of being able to be the person to make him happy. (I also hoped maybe, just maybe, I might finally experience arousal, that what had never happened before would happen and I’d actually physically react to a sexual situation.) But I should’ve trusted my own instinctual negative reaction as soon as my boyfriend had admitted he found me sexy weeks prior. (I instead felt confused and torn by my own emotions, and tried to talk myself into feeling flattered.)

Sex is so different than anything else, and analogies only go so far lol. I can be a good person who cares about my boyfriend’s happiness, while still having these kinds of personal boundaries and aversions to sex.

Just like “An asexual’s body is perfectly functional. It reacts to touch just like anyone else’s…” isn’t actually something that helps someone like ME at all when I see it in visibility/education/ace 101 materials, the phrasing Siggy captured in this blog post, “Why would asexuals ever want to have sex?  Well, some people like pleasing their partners.” is just as harmful to someone like me. Because no one had ever pointed out, explicitly, to me the logical next step of “More importantly, what does it mean to not like pleasing your partner?”, and I was left with just this confused mess of feelings, of learning that sometimes aces “compromise” and/or “enjoy” sex even when that sex only makes their partner and not themselves happy. But as soon as I tried to do that, fully intending to make my partner happy through sex, the moment it was happening all I could think was “ah I actively dislike this experience, I don’t enjoy making my partner happy in this kind of way at all, I’m not feeling any kind of pleasure from making my partner happy. I really wish I was, but I’m not.”

I do know what it’s like to feel a rush of excitement from, as cinderace mentioned in their comment, giving someone a gift that they really enjoy. I know what it feels like to see someone else be happy and to just be happy FOR them, no real reason other than empathy kind of. There’s a reason why people talk about “infectious” laughter or happiness.

But it’s just not true that sex is that simple. It’s just not true that “Some people enjoy pleasing their partner” (while all the other people, the aces who don’t have sex, just don’t enjoy making their partner happy). And I’m really happy that Siggy brought this up a little over a year ago – that he brought it to the forefront of my mind – because it is so relevant to my life. Because yeah, I wish I could’ve enjoyed pleasing my partner in that way, but it’s really a lot more complicated than that. I ultimately broke up with my boyfriend because I really wanted him to be happy, and I knew, given his stone tendencies, how the only way for him to truly be fully happy was to be in a sexual relationship with a woman who really, intrinsically had those kinds of sexual desires. Someone who wouldn’t be doing stuff just for his sexual benefit, because the only real thing he wanted to be doing was something for my (or her) sexual benefit! Ah what an obstacle course we were having trouble navigating.

I wish I had known what I know now back when I was going through all that.

I wish I’d had more of a road-map.

But even if it was a bit late, it is nice to finally have a way to conceptualize the confusing territory I had navigated without-any-guide before. I love being able to look back on my life and finally have just the right lens to look through. To finally be able to really see it clearly – or at least, more clearly, than I could before.

What does it mean to “like” someone?

When I was 10 years old, in fifth grade (my final year of elementary school), waiting with my mom for my brother’s haircut to be over and for it to be my turn to trim off an inch or so of my hair, she asked me if I liked any boys in my class. (Truthfully, I’m only 25% sure this memory is factual, but please, go with it as if it really happened like this.)

Phrasing it like that, asking a young girl if they “like” any boys in class, plays into heteronormativity to the extreme, amatonormativity, etc. It assumes “like” in a sense that is rare, special, probably slightly-sexual but maybe not too sexual since I was barely entering puberty by then, and definitely a synonym for the term “crush”, with heavy romantic connotations.

And I thought about the boys in my class, none of whom I was actually “friends” with because of the societal gender binary splitting us off and only girls being considered for friendship. Who I talked to at lunch and at recess were pretty much just girls. So the guy I liked was the guy I had noticed reading all 50 books in the Animporphs series just like I was, but with whom I’d never gotten a chance to share a conversation. Was the guy that stood out to me because he was the one non-white guy in class and he was also one of the smartest of my classmates. I was a straight-A student in elementary school, and so was he. We both raised our hands really often to participate in class. And I respected him a lot for all of these reasons, and I decided he was the guy, I guess, that I had a crush on. Let’s call him Jeremy.

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I Don’t (Meaningfully) Experience Platonic Attraction

This is my submission for the February 2016 Carnival of Aces, which was themed around Platonic Attraction. To see the original call for submissions, look here, and the round up of all the officially submitted blog posts is right here:

Sorry I’m late with this post.

For the December 2014 Carnival of Aces on “Touch, sensuality, and nonsexual intimacy”, I wrote about how I don’t experience sensual attraction.

The more I think about all the forms of attraction, the more I doubt I experience any of them.

Continue reading “I Don’t (Meaningfully) Experience Platonic Attraction”