Food, Sex, and Asexuality

I don’t like the food metaphors. Is it okay to say that? I know it seems like almost everyone likes to use hunger, or food, or doughnuts, or something along that line, to explain to non-asexuals what being asexual is like.

But you know, I’m sorry, but no, that doesn’t cut it for me. A non-asexual imagining what it is like to not ever be hungry just does not explain the asexual situation enough for me at all.

For one thing, even if you don’t feel hunger, if you don’t eat, you’ll die. You will probably not die if you are a non-asexual and never have sex. Using a specific food like doughnuts or cake or whatnot is a little better, in that it is not necessary in any way to eat such treats and indeed, some people do not even like or want in the slightest that treat which most of us have to hold ourselves back from overindulging in.

You know what being asexual is like? Never experiencing sexual attraction. I mean, if you, as a hungry, food-eating person, can imagine what it’s like to never feel hungry or need food, then I don’t think I’m giving you too much credit in thinking you’re creative and empathic enough to imagine what it’s like to never feel sexual attraction or want sex.

If a non-asexual can make the imaginative leap to picture what it’s like to not have the urge to eat food, they can imagine what it’s like to not want sex.

I’m not ragging on anyone here, because you know, at first I really liked seeing all the metaphors for asexuality people came up with too. But I have seen the food metaphor used to explain asexuality so many times and it is tiring. And the reason it makes me feel that way?

Because asexuality does not need to be like something, like another experience. It is something, and we can simply say what it is if we want a non-asexual to understand. I kind of feel like using these metaphors is letting non-asexuals off the hook, giving them justification for not understanding asexuality. It’s not that hard to understand. It doesn’t need other experiences to be compared to so that other people can understand. It is not as complicated as some people like to pretend.

And I know that sounds pretty harsh, saying “letting them off the hook for not understanding asexuality” when of course many haven’t heard of asexuality and don’t know anything about it. But that is the thing—once we tell non-asexuals what asexuality is, that should be enough. A non-asexual can use their brain and their creativity and empathy, to imagine what it’s like to be us, and gain some understanding of how we operate. Sitting there and saying over and over that asexuality makes no sense, that it is incomprehensible, while we struggle to come up with more and more metaphors and examples to help the non-asexual understand, seems like nothing but assholery to me.

There will be people out there that simply don’t want to understand asexuality, or accept it. That is not our fault; asexuality is not incomprehensible or especially difficult to grasp. Just because there is debate over terminology does not mean we are too ‘confusing’. There are arguments over what it means to be bisexual and pansexual all the time.

We did not invent the term “sexual attraction”. The fact that people have trouble understanding what that term means is less a testament to asexuality’s supposed inherent incomprehensibility than it is to the extreme ignorance of sexual matters that is prevalent throughout the world. Much IS vague and unknown about sexual attraction, sexual desire, why people will have sexual chemistry with some people but not others, why people have different sexual orientations, etc. You know, there are a lot of gay people that could not explain what it is that makes them gay, but that does not make their orientation any less valid.
I know a lot of non-asexual people are not coming at this from a good place to understand. Many of us, asexual and non-asexual alike, do not have a good knowledge base about sexual matters (yes, even those people who have lots of sex and are sex-positive). We have had a candidate running for the U.S Senate make a public statement that revealed that he did not even understand very well how a woman becomes pregnant. While some of us may  not be that bad off, the majority of us have had little formal education about sexuality. And sex is a huge part of human life. Like food, it is in every culture and population across the world, and our species’ survival could not be maintained without it.

Okay, I guess I actually do like the food metaphors. What I don’t like is people who refuse to try and understand asexuality, and instead want us to wear ourselves out in the search for the perfect example, metaphor, or explanation that will make us valid in their eyes. I also don’t like people who keep knowledge of  human sexuality and food production out of our education system.

See, that’s what I love about writing these posts. They’re great for helping you to understand what actually has you ticked off. This is of course a really bad way to run a blog, starting off your post criticizing one thing and then supporting it in the end. WELL. I think we know what my thoughts on consistency are…

 

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About Lasciel

Out, out, brief candle!
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5 Responses to Food, Sex, and Asexuality

  1. ytakery says:

    “There will be people out there that simply don’t want to understand asexuality, or accept it. That is not our fault;”

    It may not be your fault if people have little desire to understand you, but it will be annoying. The metaphor makes people more likely to understand asexuals and more receptive to what feels like a radical idea to them. Have you tried out explaining it your way and seen how well it works?

    The food metaphor puts it in the other court. Rather than having to explain why you don’t hate sex and why you don’t think sex is dirty but you’re still asexual you put the ball back in their court and get them to question why you should like sex. I’ve seen it in action. Questioning is essential for learning and education.

    • Lasciel says:

      But my main issue with it is that I don’t think it *does* make it seem less radical. Even amoeba’s eat–why is it so easy to imagine existing without the hunger drive, as opposed to imagining existing without a sex drive? At least with sexual attraction, non-asexuals can look back to their childhoods, in which sex was much less important an issue, to draw upon for understanding. Hunger has been with us since we were newborn infants–it seems much more bizarre and alien to picture a life without it.

      Explaining asexuality simply as what it is has worked pretty well for me. The only people who have failed to understand are those for whom the food metaphors didn’t work either–because I saw other asexuals trying to use them to help the persons understand, as well as using other metaphors and examples, and it was all for naught.

      Questioning may be essential, but for it to help you have to get to the right questions. I ‘m less interested in leading someone who makes strange assumptions about my attitudes on sex to more appropriate questions; and more interested in questioning them on what influences in their life have led to them making such assumptions about people. I’m not being sarcastic either, I would genuinely like to know what is behind such people assuming such things. I find it be a better use of my time to try and understand them than to try and force them to understand me. Even so, if you look at the blog post before this one, you will see that I educate people who assume asexuals think sex is dirty, in the exact same way I advise educating about asexuality in general; by providing the facts. We don’t all hate sex. There is no logic in providing a “reason” why we don’t hate sex; rather, someone should tell me why they think we would need such a reason in the first place.

      • ytakery says:

        The metaphors generally don’t focus on hunger as a whole, which would hit your issues, but on individual foods that one person may like and another may dislike. Taste and desire for a relationship have a variety of components. Some people like sweet things, some people dislike sex. With sexual attraction non-asexuals generally have no memory existing without it as they don’t remember it well. They do remember disliking one kind of food or another.

        I agree that if a person isn’t receptive then no metaphor can force them to be receptive. Explaining it more works with receptive people. I find that metaphors are good for mixed social situations though where some people are receptive and some aren’t.

        ” I ‘m less interested in leading someone who makes strange assumptions about my attitudes on sex to more appropriate questions; and more interested in questioning them on what influences in their life have led to them making such assumptions about people.”

        That sounds like a lot of effort and also sounds quite difficult to do in a public setting. If you enjoy doing it you’re welcome to that.

        I and others prefer another approach, involving donuts.

        On just the facts approaches, I have found most people are very receptive to anecdotes and aren’t receptive to facts.

        “There is no logic in providing a “reason” why we don’t hate sex; rather, someone should tell me why they think we would need such a reason in the first place.”

        I would totally support that, questioning them is good for learning. I personally don’t care that much about what is morally right or logical in this situation, though I have no issue with you caring.

  2. “Because asexuality does not need to be like something, like another experience. It is something, and we can simply say what it is if we want a non-asexual to understand. I kind of feel like using these metaphors is letting non-asexuals off the hook, giving them justification for not understanding asexuality. It’s not that hard to understand. It doesn’t need other experiences to be compared to so that other people can understand. It is not as complicated as some people like to pretend.”

    AMEN. Seriously. The thing about having to use metaphors otherwise certain people just can’t get the concept of not feeling sexual attraction through their heads is that at one time, we were ALL “asexual”. No one (or so I assume, I suppose) is born immediately sexual and desirous of intercourse. That’s what puberty is for. So why is it these people can’t just think back to when they were, say, ten, and thought “eww, why would I kiss a girl?”. You’re right, it’s not a hard concept in the first place, but it’s baffling that people seem to forget there was a time in their own lives when they didn’t covet a certain sex themselves.

    (Of course, I guess then that gives them the ability to make the “you’re just a late bloomer” argument, which I despise.)

    • Lasciel says:

      Yeah, I think that is the most logical metaphor/example to look back on. But unfortunately, like you said, with the way people think, they then like to make the assumption that we are childlike, or stunted somehow, or the dreaded, ‘late bloomer’ :P. I suppose people see any adults having any traits in common with children to be such a bad thing that they then assume asexuality is a bad thing to be corrected. (Man our society is so messed up in so many ways…) It turns being sexual into yet another necessary part of “acting one’s age”, another piece of proof that one is matured and developed ‘properly’. I know that has been many asexuals experience anyway…

      PEOPLE 😛

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