Why I No Longer Identify as a Sex-Positive Asexual

I have decided to stop identifying as a sex-positive asexual. Why? Why not? Why would anyone identify as sex-positive in the first place?

I won’t identify as sex-positive because there is no reason to. None. Having sex is an activity, like any other, and shouldn’t be seen as holding an inherent moral value or any other value.

As a moral nihilist, I have, at least in my own mind, always refused to assign moral meaning or value to anything, regardless of the effect it has had on my own life, and no matter how positive or negative others in society may view that thing.

Why should sex be a thing that I view as having an inherent meaning (a “positive” thing) when nothing else gets that special treatment?

I love writing; yet I don’t make absolute statements about it’s worth or morality or value as an activity. I hated being abused, but I refuse to assign inherent meaning to that as well; I will not define it as either a good or bad thing that happened in my life, to me it is simply something that happened.

So why did sex get this special treatment from me? Why did it get to be assigned as a positive when nothing else did? There is a pretty simple answer. That is, the stereotyping of asexuals as anti-sex, and the continued stigma applied to sex-negative asexuals in our community, creates a pressure to identify as sex-positive, because we don’t want to be seen as one of the “bad” asexuals. One of the ones that cause the stereotypes, one of the ones who think sex is icky, one of the ones who think they are morally above people who have sex…

Well, I’m sick of it. I am sex-neutral now. I know I am hardly breaking new ground here, that other asexuals before me have argued for sex-neutrality rather than sex-positivity or sex-negativity. But, better late than never.

And further, I am tired of the eternal pressure against asexual sex-negatives. Who cares if some people see sex as a bad thing, or an inherently negative thing? For instance, a person may find watching movies to be a boring, stupid, and unendurable activity. Making such statements as “Movies are boring.” “Movies are stupid.” may be considered rude, but they are also considered an opinion that we have a right to. However, were we to say “Sex is boring and stupid.” we would be jumped on for being sex-negative, shaming, and oppressive. What is the difference? Why is the other one simply a rude opinion, and the other such a big deal?

Obvious answer is obvious; sex as a recreational activity, unlike watching movies, has a history of being restricted and of people being persecuted for doing it. Therefore, to a sex-negative asexual, while they may to themselves simply be offering up a rude opinion on sex, to others it is making a statement that reinforces a belief (sex = wrong) that has centuries of history behind it, that is indelibly embedded in many cultural practices and mores, that still causes people a lot of shame and negative feelings.

But you know what? I am tired of it. I am sorry that people are sensitive to apparent criticism of what is a very important activity in their life. But at some point, you have to realize: to people who don’t have sexual feelings, or for who sex has no meaning, there is no good reason why we should see sex as a good thing, or have respect for it. There is no reason why it shouldn’t seem boring or stupid or silly to us. All those are valid opinions and feelings. They have such impact today simply because of attitudes and ideas created long before we were born by the majority population; non-asexual heterosexuals. It is not our baggage.

To a non-asexual, it can feel like a revolutionary statement simply to say that sex is a good thing, to say that it is a positive thing, to say that it feels good, and what feels good IS good. Such a statement is reclaiming one’s sexuality’s from society’s bullshit.

To an asexual, it can be a revolutionary statement to say that sex isn’t an inherently good thing, that it not necessarily a positive thing, to say that it doesn’t feel good for everyone, and for the people for whom it does not feel good, it is not good. Such a statement is reclaiming one’s sexuality’s from society’s bullshit.

Our society’s attitudes towards sex have hurt non-asexuals by shaming them for enjoying sex. And our society’s attitudes towards sex have hurt asexuals by shaming them for not enjoying sex.

There is a big difference when a non-asexual, for whom sex is a pleasurable experience, and who believes it is a pleasurable experience for most people, states that sex is a bad thing. Such a non-asexual would be condemning the pleasure as well. It is going against the innate moral sense that most people seem to follow (That what feels good is good).

An asexual making such a statement is not doing so. They are not condemning pleasure or what feels good. Sex simply does not feel good for them, so why should it be a good thing? In this they are following the innate moral sense that most people follow (what feels good is good.)

Most things that we do not enjoy we often consider boring, stupid, or bad. (“Sports is so boring, how can you watch that?” “Ugh, Harry Potter is fucking stupid. Who cares about some wizard kid?” “Country music SUCKS.”) At some point a person will usually hit a point where they realize the great truth of: different strokes for different folks, and gain a respect for the things others enjoy that they do not themselves enjoy.

A sex-negative asexual making such a statement has most likely not hit that point of respect yet. Should we see their statements as an oppressive, harmful mindset, or should we treat it as simply a rude opinion by people who have not yet learned to have respect for other interests that they do not share?

It doesn’t matter to me what people decide to do.  I am after all, a nihilist, and we are not exactly known for the amount of fucks we give about things. I usually tend to write about things with the dominant moral viewpoint in mind (what feels good IS good, and what makes the most people feel good is best, right to pursuit of happiness blahblah) but today I was inspired by meeting another of those rarities of rarities, an asexual with a respect for nihilism, and so I decided to indulge myself and write with my own ethical stance in mind.

P.S: I don’t hate sex. Sex-neutral, remember?

About Barnacle Strumpet

Out, out, brief candle!
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15 Responses to Why I No Longer Identify as a Sex-Positive Asexual

  1. Amen to literally all of this. Yes yes yes.

    • Lasciel says:

      I am glad someone agrees! I was afraid most people would find it offensive -_-

      • I’ve gotten some odd reactions when I’ve told people I’m asexual, as if they honestly can’t fathom a person can have no sexual attraction. I try to explain it like “well, YOU don’t find [insert gender here] attractive, right? Well, imagine that, but for everyone”. Still seems to fly over some people’s heads, though.

        As for all the asexual labels (sex-positive, aromantic, homoromantic, etc etc etc), I think they’re all just a bunch of unnecessary jargon. Why isn’t it enough to identify as asexual and leave yourself at that?

        • Seth says:

          Maybe it is enough for some, but to insist that it should be enough for anyone is to conflate sexual attraction with romantic attraction, which is problematic and erasing for many people in the asexual community. The concept of romantic orientation is no less valid or useful than the concept of sexual orientation.

        • Lasciel says:

          I don’t get that either. Is it so hard to believe that someone wouldn’t find men attractive, or women? (Or any third genders). I think the problem is they don’t examine their attractions. Instead of asking us “How can you not find anyone attractive?” they could ask themselves “Why/how do I find certain people attractive?” and probably learn a lot more, as well as gaining some perspective that could help understand us.

          To some extent I think you have a point, but I think most people just use so many terms online because they are going to be discussing certain of these aspects. Like sex-positivity (or negativity, or neutrality), it is useful to identify my position on this because I talk about this subject in quite a few other posts. I would never use it as part of introducing what my orientation is though; “I’m an asexual” is usually enough, there is no reason for me to say “I’m a sex-neutral, gray-pan-romantic non-repulsed libidoist asexual” which I agree is quite a mouthful (especially considering the amount of people that would understand all that without consulting a dictionary or wiki is probably small).

          So I think it is enough for many of us to simply say asexual; it is the primary part of the identity after all. The rest is just icing on the cake.

  2. Pingback: Linkspam: November 30th, 2012 | The Asexual Agenda

  3. Blarf says:

    I find this post a bit odd because to me, sex-positive doesn’t mean positive towards sex in general, but having a healthy attitude towards doing it safely, ex: being diligent about using a condom, being knowledgeable about STIs, respecting your partner’s boundaries, etc. That’s the definition I’ve always been familiar with. Interesting to see a different perspective.

    • Lasciel says:

      The definition as I think of it includes the health things like you said; but I’ve always associated it with breaking away from the stigma on sex in some societies. That is, it’s meaning exactly what it is saying in the name: that sex is a good thing, a positive thing, a natural thing, etc.

  4. vampyremage says:

    To me, being sex positive is about being supportive of the choice not to have sex just as much as its about the choice to have sex and, if so, how and with whom to have sex. I consider myself strongly sex positive but in saying so, its about more than just the sex for me. I am an extreme individualist, meaning I am supportive of one’s right to do with their own body what they please so long as there is no direct harm to others and, if others are involved in the activity, there is informed consent. Because sex and sexuality remain such a pervasive and often controversial topic, I feel it merited to specify that yes, I am sex positivist because asexual or not, the right to choose and not to be shamed by that choice is something incredibly important. Personally, I can take or leave sex but I understand the important of one’s sexuality to many different people that manifests in many different ways.

    Within the asexual community itself, I feel the need to comment in opposition of sex negativity which is, unfortunately, rather pervasive. Again, its about the right to choose not about the sex itself. No one has the right to judge another by an arbitrary action which, in and of itself, is not positive or negative nor do they have the right to judge a group of people but said same action. Thus, I can respect your own position but I still continue to promote sex positivity from an asexual perspective.

    • In the ways like you describe, I would probably be considered a proponent of sex-positivity as well. To me though, it just seems like the people like yourself are in the rarity. I know most sex-positive aces obviously are for choice and don’t think that sex is so great everyone must have it in their lives of they’re suffering but… like I said, this attitude doesn’t seem very common outside of the asexual sphere. The rest of the sex-positive movement is rife with value statements (“Sex is good”) and lots of erasing of asexuals. I guess I can’t be objective on this, since I have a personal reason to resent the sex-positive movement (the whole ” sex is great! everyone should be having it because it is the best thing in life!” attitude that is pushed by a lot of people in the sex-positivity movement is why I came to identify as asexual years later than I should have. I stupidly bought into the “If you don’t like sex, don’t worry, you’re just a later bloomer/repressed” crap so many sex-positive people pushed).

      I am glad you are doing that. I am grateful for everyone who takes the time to try to make the ace community better. I do think since we’re a newer movement/community we should work to avoid getting into some of the bad habits other movements have, like judging out-groups (in this case, non-asexuals) and working on being inclusive to all kinds of people on the ace-spectrum. I do want the ace community to be a welcome, non-hostile feeling place for demis, grays, and aromantic non-asexuals, and non-asexuals with divergent romantic and sexual orientations, as well as our allies. Don’t get me wrong, I know we should not condone our fellow asexuals acting like brats about sexuality. If only for practical reasons, it’s not a good idea for our movement if we set ourselves up as holier-than-thou for being asexual. That would be a great way to make people despise us even more.

      And even if I do think most asexuals are being sex-negative from immaturity, rather than the internalized sex-negativity of a sex-negative non-asexual (whoa that’s a mouthful), it doesn’t mean I think we should perpetuate/condone that kind of rudeness. If I saw anyone making the kind of rude statements I listed above (“Country music sucks, sports is boring”) I would have a lecture ready for them. (Which I know is ideologically hypocritical of me, but people putting down the things other people love or value irritates me). And I usually do the same in regards to people putting down sex acts, and the like.

      (I’m sorry for my tl;dr response, but take it as a compliment: if I go on this much it means someone got me thinking :D)

  5. vampyremage says:

    Don’t worry about the long response, I do the same thing when I feel the need too :D

    In truth, I try to educate sexuals I know about asexuality just as much as I try to promote sex positivity within the asexual community. The way I see it is that its a two way street. There needs to be so much more done to educate the public regarding asexuality but because it is so early in the movement, I feel its especially important to put out the right kind of message regarding both what asexuality is and, just as importantly, what it isn’t. I know I certainly don’t want the community associated with sex-negativity and looking down upon sexual individuals; I feel that is entirely the wrong message to send and will do a great deal of damage in the long run. Thus, I do what I can to promote the opposite message both within and without the asexual community.

    Indeed, I agree with you that its just as much of a problem those within the sex positive movement disparaging asexuals and those who either personally dislike, are indifferent too or for various reasons choose not to engage in sex. Were I more entrenched in those communities I would try and do more from that angle to try and change those perspectives as well. Sex positivity should be about choice not about a universal blanket statement that sex is good for everyone always end of story. Because, and I think its especially clear to those of us who identify as asexual, sex is not a universal positive and especially for those who are repulsed can in fact be a very prominent negative. I know myself, when discovering my own asexuality, I went through a few months of being strongly repulsed due to being completely overwhelmed by a highly sexual partner.

  6. Jenny says:

    Nice article! I thought that the comparison between sex and watching movies or other activities was a bit simplistic though. Sex has a stigma in almost all cultures, so it is different. But I agree, sex-neutral is more inclusive than sex-positive.

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  9. Heather says:

    Thank you for the fascinating perspective. I was trying to determine what the term itself meant, and I loved how you explained it (sometimes one learns more from those who reject something than those who embrace it). I completely agree with what you said (although I actually reject saying things like “Jazz is horrible” because I know how much it hurts to hear nothing but negativity against something I enjoy… I also acknowledge that I am a total freak there ;) and just ask people not to piss on my parade and I won’t piss on theirs).

    For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how someone could be offended because someone else doesn’t want to have sex. I didn’t think about the historical context. I still think it’s bullshit, but that does put it more into perspective.

    I can see it being frustrating finding out your SO has a different libido than you do (it’s irritating being pestered for sex when you don’t want it/not having it available when you need it — I’ve been on both sides of that coin), but if my friend/relative/acquaintance/complete stranger never wants to have sex with someone and is content with that, how does that affect me? It doesn’t, unless I’m helping fight off some horny jackass (an equal risk with friends with sexual attraction, so in the end, their orientation means jack shit).

    Anyway, thanks for the article!

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