This post was originally going to just be a comment on this other blog post, so please read it first:
“We Don’t Know if Asexuals Do or Don’t Want to Have Sex Because They Are All Queer Cats”
I really appreciated this post and your perspective, Talia, a lot overall. I’m finally posting this comment because queenieofaces’s response post went up and kinda reminded me I had an almost complete draft of a comment.
“Asexuality as a hard limit (or: the cat is dead)”
Talia’s post went up when I had been on vacation with only sporadic internet, but I’d been thinking about this a lot in my spare moments then and started to write this comment while offline since it seemed (and still seems) like a really important post in the ace blogosphere. It also seems related to the two demisexual submissions in the prior month’s (May 2018’s) Carnivals of Aces and all the people who wrote about desiring sex from an ace perspective, and other sentiments I’ve heard here and there recently.
I think Rachel here in the comments unpacked any issues I maybe had with the general framing for this post really well. The way you started it out… As I am myself an ace who doesn’t want sex but would like to find a partner, being reminded that so many people out there could never date the type of asexual who doesn’t have sex, without any validation brought up in the post itself that this is a frustrating situation for us too, was slightly… Idk. It made the post as a whole echo slightly of worse things I’ve seen written around about aces, while this post itself not being that exactly.
This post you wrote indeed made sense and was about another issue entirely, one important about conflating all asexuals as not wanting sex when actually asexuality is extremely varied and we don’t know whether aces do or don’t want sex if all we know about them is that their orientation could be defined with the word “asexual”. Asexual, in this way, is like the word queer in how “broad/vague” it can be. As Sennkestra said in a comment here, people “can have wildly different and even contradictory experiences yet still find shared labels like ‘queer’ useful.” I agree with the statement you made that asexuality is inherently queer, in general, although I think it’s mainly because all experiences of it deviate from expectations and averages of what heterosexual experiences are like. But yes, there’s a clear analogy to draw with the term queer and the term ace in terms of both being such umbrella terms leaving room for people with really varied experiences under the same one label. So I’m… seeing the point you were making with the title of this post. 🙂
When you wrote about the
important difference between “I came to identify as asexual because I don’t want to have sex and asexual people don’t have sex” and “I came to identify as asexual because I don’t want to have sex and that’s a part of the asexual experience.”
I only really understood the difference you were talking about (which I agree is an important difference!) after reading your further explanation. Somehow the statements on their own seemed too similar to me. Or rather, the idea of “that’s a part of the asexual experience” as a statement didn’t seem to be clear enough that it’s only some and not all asexual people who don’t have sex, meanwhile “and asexual people don’t have sex” doesn’t even seem necessarily to be a generalization about the entire definition of asexuality for everyone. I mean… I feel like there is at least one charitable way to read that as meaning closer to “there are enough asexual people who don’t have sex that…” instead of a blanket “exclusive” statement..
So Idk. I guess my point is it’s a really complicated subject and I wanted to tell you I am glad you chose to write about it.
So, as is now being discussed on queenie’s post about asexuality as a hard limit, I did that for years. I treated asexuality as my “good enough” excuse to not want to have sex, forever. I would be like Voodoo in Sirens where asexuality is entirely conflated with not having sex, repeatedly. As an example, see my LGBTQ+ Characters fanvideo collaboration at the 1 min 10 sec mark:
Where I saw what voiceover my vidder friend chose and realized how my friend was endorsing the “I just don’t want sex” message the show gave for what asexuality inherently is, definitely without making it clear that some asexuals are sex-favorable, gray, demi, or otherwise might want sex.
But back in September of 2017, one year ago, i edited my own video using scenes of characters in tv shows I watch which I decided to title a “Tribute to Embracing My Asexuality & Sex-Aversion”:
My first impulse was merely to say it was a tribute to embracing my asexuality – period, full stop. But at this point I’ve been surrounded by the sentiment, the pushback, that asexuality isn’t just “not wanting sex”.
Queenie set up her post with:
In the past few months, I’ve seen a lot of posts in ace communities stating that “asexuality has nothing to do with whether you want or like sex.”
And when I was posting my video I’d also seen plenty of those sentiments, probably already pushed back on Twitter against the sentiment that it has nothing to do with it saying that’s going a little too far even if i get what they’re trying to say.
So no, I didn’t take asexuality out of the title of my vid. My vid showed a tangled journey of figuring out sex wasn’t for me and that asexuality was the orientation that I needed to accept about myself. But I added “sex-aversion” to it. I started identifying as “I’m a sex-averse asexual” in places where i want to make it clear that, in a way that is l tied to my orientation and is a big part of my permanent identity now, i will never be having sex – such as on my online dating profiles! I’m trying to do this so that even if people know some aces do have sex they will see as early on as possible that I’m not one of that category of aces. I’m also hoping it helps sex-favorable aces too by sorta decoupling not wanting sex from being associated with just asexuality, instead linking it to the full phrase “sex-averse asexual” and specifically to sex-aversion.
I think this is a very complicated subject and i was afraid of offending people so I think I delayed posting this comment for months for that reason too. But now that it’s become over a thousand words, I’m posting the comment as a post on my own blog instead of as a comment.
So yeah. Please comment below if anyone reading this has any further thoughts.