Asexual Female Character: Clarissa Oakes

There is a serious dearth of asexual characters in media. Of the characters that can be considered asexual, few are explicitly stated to actually be asexual. (Really, there should be some kind of official scale drawn up—from definitely asexual, to identifies as asexual but is using the word in a way that contradicts the definition most asexuals use, to just exhibiting asexual characteristics, to no-one-knows-so-it’s-anyone’s-guess, etc. )

To see people like us on TV, in books, in movies, in an unstereotyped and nuance character, is something desired by most minority groups. Asexuals are hardly alone in being underrepresented in popular entertainment; yet there are few other groups of which I can literally count the number of obvious, outrightly identified characters on only one hand. The one and only factor that almost every asexual agrees that every asexual shares is a lack of sexual attraction. If we accept that as the standard for whether a character is realistically possibly asexual, we actually have quite a few characters out there who may be asexual.

And so I am delighted to consider that one of the female characters from one of my favorite novel series may be an asexual. That would be one Clarissa Oakes, nee Harvill, of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series. In examining her character in regards to possibly asexuality, we will of course have to show massive spoilers for the fifteenth book in the series, Clarissa Oakes (Published as The Truelove in the U.S), as well as quotes from the sixteenth, The Wine-Dark Sea. Spoilers now commencing; as is our character examination.

Clarissa Oakes is a young woman found to be stowing away on Jack Aubrey’s ship after leaving Australia. Being that was set in the early 1800’s, it should come as no surprise that Clarissa was a convict. In fact, she shot a man in the head, killing him, but surprisingly, that fails to make her a less sympathetic character. She is an amiable person, and her stance toward sex is fairly positive and unrepulsed. She does not experience sexual desire, nor sexual attraction, but she is not frigid in the least and in fact, probably has more sex with more partners than most people in the series (she sleeps with many of the ships officers, and worked in a brothel before being transported.)

Now if a woman does not dislike sex, does not fear it, does not find it repulsive, unpleasant, or disgusting, and in fact engages in it frequently and willingly without coercion, we would assume she is non-asexual, would we not? The only thing I could think of that would make me question that would be if the lady herself said that she did not desire sex, was not sexually attracted to anyone, and took no pleasure in sex (although some asexuals do enjoy sex. Mrs. Oakes seems to more completely neutral on that regard.)

In her own words: “I tried to make it [the ordinary normal adult world] out by novels and plays, but that was not much use, they all went on to such an extent about physical love, as though everything revolved about it, whereas for me it was not much more important than blowing my nose – chastity or unchastity neither here nor there – absurd to make fidelity a matter of private parts: grotesque. I took no pleasure in it, except in giving a little when I happened to like the man.

Now, not enjoying sex one has with men in a brothel is definitely not an indicator of being asexual. That is not the characteristic shown in that paragraph that says ‘asexual’ to me. Rather, it is Clarissa’s continual mystification as to what the big deal is about sex. What’s so important about it? Why is it such a huge fascination for most of society? I would be hard put to find an asexual who wasn’t confused by humankind’s big obsession with sex, and this is not the only time Clarissa wonders at it.
Now, before we go on to another important factor in Clarissa’s sexuality, I must bring one thing to attention. Patrick O’Brian is, as far as I know, not an asexual. He is not a psychologist. He passed away in the year 2000, well before asexuality began to get any wider visibility whatsoever. It is also the case that many of the creator’s of series with character we consider asexual (think Sherlock, Dr. Who, The Big Bang Theory) are not asexual either; and so they come up with these characters that asexuals look at and say, it walks like an asexual, it talks like an asexual, it meets every criterion for being an asexual, so why isn’t it accepted as an asexual? Well, because the creators aren’t asexual, and as such probably have no interest in it (Moffat, writer for Sherlock, is well-known among for pretty much saying an asexual’s life is so boring.) Who gets to determine whether a character is asexual or not?

Patrick O’Brian, for instance, does not say that Clarissa is not asexual. However, in The Wine-Dark Sea, he attributes, through the character Stephen Maturin’s musings, that her attitudes toward sex are a result of her childhood isolation and sexual abuse.

it had become clear to him that physical love-making was meaningless to Clarissa, an act of not the slightest consequence. She took not the least pleasure in it and although out of nature or a wish to be liked she might gratify a ‘lover’ it might be said that she was chastely unchaste. At that time no moral question was involved. The experience of her childhood – loneliness in a remote country house, early abuse, and a profound ignorance of the ordinary world – accounted for her attitude of mind: there was no bodily imperfection.

I was in fact cautious to dissect Clarissa’s character because of this factor—the ignorant belief that childhood sexual abuse has somehow ’caused’ us asexuals’ asexuality is both pervasive and annoying, and bringing up a story and character that seems to use this trope seems like stirring the pot. But we know—we know that sexual abuse does not determine one’s sexual orientation. There ARE asexuals who have been sexually abused; but that does not mean that the abuse caused their asexual orientation, no more than that it would have caused the heterosexuality of a heterosexual who has been abused, or the homosexuality or bisexuality of an person who has been abused. The fact that Clarissa has been an abuse survivor is really irrelevant to this discussion, other than that it shows that Stephen Maturin buys into the abuse-causes-asexual-characteristics trope if Clarissa is in fact an asexual.

Stephen Maturin is not infallible though and O’Brian has never truly tried to paint him as such. So whether one’s character’s beliefs on Clarissa equal the author’s, we shall never know.

Stephen’s idea likely stems from the same place as other people who think sexual abuse is the cause of one lacking sexual attraction; that the trauma and damage caused by the early sexual abuse is inhibiting one’s sexual attraction. And I question this. Because so many people, even if they lack sexual desire, still experience sexual attraction. Because most often, people who are unable to become aroused, or cannot have sex without being triggered, still know that they are straight or gay, if they are in fact so. If Clarissa was a heterosexual woman, and her past history of being abused was affecting her sexual desire negatively, would she not know that? Would she not say that to Stephen, who she was so open and candid with, rather than simply seeming disinterested and neutral on sex?

To me, it is as it is in real life: I shall take the word of each person only on their own sexuality. Clarissa knows best about Clarissa’s sexuality, and has the final say on it. She doesn’t get what the big deal about sex is, does not find sex unpleasant, and does not desire it or desire anyone sexually. To me, she is an asexual female character.

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that’s what Google said…

[TRIGGERS AND WARNINGS: non-graphic mentions of sex, minor cussing]

I’ve seen a couple ace bloggers responding to the questions and search terms that pop up in their search engine referral boxes. I’ve never done that before because quite frankly, the idea of someone analyzing the mindless search terms I use to get to sites freaks me out a bit…And also, I suspect that while helpful as a resource to the non-asexuals bearing questions, most of the answers are old hat and boring to asexual readers.

Nonetheless, I feel obligated to answer a few since that seem to stem from misunderstandings that I feel it would be helpful to have corrections on. Questions exist to be answered, after all 😛

1. “Can an asexual enjoy blowjobs?”

Simply: Yes. Just like with people of any sexual orientation, there are asexuals who can and do enjoy oral-genital sex. I’d say, going totally off of personal observations, small surveys, and anecdotal evidence, that you’re probably a lot less likely to find an asexual who enjoys blowjobs, however. After all, there are the asexuals who are completely repulsed by the idea of themselves having sex at all, and then there are those indifferent to having sex, and then there are the asexuals who enjoy sex. Only the latter identifying-group would likely have some asexuals who enjoy blowjobs.

2. “Asexuals repulsed by sex hate couples”

No. Hell no might I add. Like people who enjoy blowjobs, people who hate couples can likely be found in any group. But no way do all or even most repulsed asexuals hate couples. Why would they? Even asexuals who are repulsed by the idea of themselves (or even others) having sex, can still be a member of a couple. Our parents were likely couples, our friends are quite often in couples, and some of us live to ship (pair fictional characters up into couples :P).

I think it is easy to see how someone might come to this misunderstanding that certain asexuals hate couples. Many asexuals, especially aromantics, have been the recipient of much unwanted pressuring to be in a couple-type relationship. My own mother out of the blue advised me to get married as the solution to all my problems the last time we talked on the phone!

“But I’m not dating anyone right now Mom.”

“That doesn’t matter. Just find some boy and marry him. He’ll take care of you.”

My mother, while her advice was serious, would never actually try to make me do such a thing, which is why it’s so hilarious. But it’s not funny, the real pressure that is put on some asexuals to “be normal” or to “give us grandchildren”, the treating of the asexual as a freak, or flawed, or immature, sick or crazy for not wanting to date, marry, or have children. So it is understandable, I think, that sometimes an asexual may take go to an asexual forum or their blogs and rant a bit about how they don’t want to f**cking get married Mom, GODDAMNIT. Such should be taken as what it is, a bit of venting, not an indication that some asexual types hate couples.

Or maybe you’ve seen some asexuals talking about how they hate seeing PDAs (public displays of affection, such as as couples’ public spit-swapping and making goo-goo eyes at each other :P). All I can say is, with all the loathing and ranting about PDAs I see from many non-asexuals, I can just guess that PDA-loathing, like many other traits, occurs in people of every sexual orientation, and that it’s opposing trait, PDA-loving, occurs in some asexuals. So the next time you see a couple locking lips leaning against your locker (I love alliteration :D), consider that one of them might even be an asexual.

3. “what is asexuality and its affect on others “
Asexuality is a sexual orientation that is defined by a lack of experiencing sexual attraction. That is the core tenet, the only real required defining trait to be considered an asexual by most people identifying as asexual. On most other traits (sex drive, porn habits, masturbation, willingness to date, have sex, marry, have children, attitude towards sex, favorite dessert) an asexual can vary a lot. A good thing to do is just keep in mind that core tenet. When someone tells you they are asexual, that is about the only thing you’ve learned, that they do not experience sexual attraction. Anything else, you’ll just have to ask them about (although really, do be tactful. I think many people of any sexual orientation might be put-off if a near-stranger asked them about their masturbation habits. )

As for its affect on others, a person being asexual will probably not have much effect on others, unless one of your family members is an asexual, or someone you are dating, married to, or want to date is an asexual.

If one of your family members is an asexual, you may have to accept that they may not ever date or marry (if they are aromantic), that you should probably educate yourself on asexuality and treat it legitimately and with the respect due other orientations, or you risk hurting or pissing off your asexual relative. You may also have to become accustomed to an increased wearing of purple, gray, white, and black clothing from them, as well as a higher demand for cake. You may, as a result, run out of things like eggs, milk, and sugar more frequently. (I make those last jokes with the assumption that the non-asexual reader will diligently educate themselves on asexuality…)

If you’re a non-asexual dealing with a spouse, romantic partner, or potential romantic partner who you have learned is asexual, you are probably (understandably) wondering about the sex issue. Some asexuals enjoy having sex. It’s rather hard to explain this, so I’m going to be lazy and leave that for a later post, but for now, suffice to say, some asexuals will be willing to have sex with you and will actually enjoy it (whether they enjoy it for the intimacy, or because it makes you happy, or because of the physical sensations, or whatever). Other asexuals are indifferent to having sex. They are neither disgusted by it nor enjoying of it. And yet other asexuals are repulsed by sex, or by certain sex acts. Whether you want to pursue a relationship with an asexual of any of these types, and how you want to deal with the sex issue is up to you and the asexual. Some asexuals, even if they don’t particularly enjoy sex, are willing to compromise and have it in a relationship.

Finally, aromantic asexuals aren’t interested in being in romantic relationships, but they can be great friends, and some desire platonic partners.

[/end questions/answers] If anyone has any questions about any of that, or spots any inaccuracies or incorrect statements, please bring them to my attention (I never try to be offensive or ignorant about anything, but there is really so much territory to cover with asexuality…and I am not particularly great at picking up some of the distinctions other asexuals make on terminology usages… also, has anyone else noticed their spelling abilities going down the drain with increased internet usage? I blame the auto-correct… ) And I simply MUST bake and decorate some Bert and Ernie cupcakes apparently, because I get more hits for that than anything asexual-related… /sob

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Gender, Queerness, Trauma, and Disability: The Unfortunate Topics Rendered Off-Limits Due to Stereotypes and Ignorance

[Trigger warnings: short discussion of rape/sexual abuse in 4th-last paragraph; it will have an individual TW where it begins/ends as well. Post contains discussion of stereotyping and anti-asexuality.]

So the Asexual Community Census 2011 has been finished! I for one have been incredibly excited about the whole thing, and seeing how many people responded (3436 people!) when only 500 were required is just so awesome. The results are here.

One of the most interesting and anticipated answers for me was the matter of gender identity within the asexual community. While I was expecting a higher degree of non-cisgendered people, I was really startled by exactly how much higher an amount there is versus the general population. (the generally cited figure for amount of trans people in the total population is around 1%)

And yet in the ASCC2011, only 80.4% of respondents answered “No” to the question of whether they considered themselves transgender.

Yes 10.2%
No 80.4%
Unsure 9.4%

That is a rather huge difference compared to the estimate of transgender people in the general population. 10-19% VS 1%. This could be almost a fifth of asexuals (who are ourselves a tiny percentage of the population, popularly referenced as 1% based on the few sexuality studies that have included data on asexuality in some way)
And yet what does this bring to mind for me but a stereotype, one preconceived assumption people make about trans asexuals? It brings to mind the assumption that trans asexuals are only asexual because they are trans, that is, being trans has caused their asexuality. The idea is, I believe, that the gender dysphoria that a trans person is suffering from is causing them to be unable to feel sexual attraction or sexual because of body discomfort, having to live and be treated as the wrong gender, etc etc.

And because this is a stereotype/blanket assumption, it is one that asexuals try to combat. (As in, “No, we’re not asexual because we’re ‘repressed/disabled/trans/been sexually abused/have a hormone problem/ugly/sex-negative’.

And this pisses me off. Because these fucking stereotypes have rendered certain topics off-limits, or at the very least, made them extremely risky things to talk about. Because we have to constantly fight against the assumption that say, all asexual trans people are asexual because of gender dysphoria, we cannot have the kind of open discussion and examination we need to have about the possibility that some trans asexuals may no longer feel asexual after they have transitioned.

Because I have seen at least one trans person who identified as asexual but who actually did begin experiencing sexual attraction after they transitioned. And the unusually high rate of trans asexuals does have me questioning a possible link.

It is not a sin for someone to accidentally identify as asexual when they aren’t. I am sure there is a small amount of people of each orientation that mistakenly identifies with that orientation when it isn’t truly the right fit for them.

But the stereotype that we are all “just going through a phase” or “will find the right guy or girl and stop the asexual nonsense” means we constantly fight against the idea that our orientation is just a temporary, flawed state that will one day be fixed.

It almost an unspoken taboo to talk about these things or spread stories that strengthen these stories’ truth. The sad thing is I cannot even decide this is a bad thing. Sure, it keeps asexuals from doing more to examine certain aspects of asexuality and certain possibilities, but faced with the sheer ignorance we encounter? When even a single asexual saying something is taken “proof” for all asexuals, and when most non-asexual people are coming across what we are saying with very little experience of asexuality other than their preconceived stereotypes and assumptions? Is it any wonder they will pay more credence to the stories and ideas that back up the beliefs they already had about asexuality?

The title of this is “Gender, Queerness, Trauma, and Disability: The Unfortunate Topics Rendered Off-Limits “ and I haven’t touched on trauma or disability. They are both off-limits for many asexuals in the same way. Take my social anxiety: I seriously questioned whether I should talk about it on this blog, or on anything connected to asexuality.

I had to wonder if it would undermine the validity of my orientation in many people’s eyes, if they would simply come to the assumption that my social anxiety led me to being too anxious or fearful to experience sexual attraction for someone, or date, or have sex. In the presence of a disorder such as social anxiety, a person could also assume that I was on medications that interfered with my sex drive* or ability to experience sexual attraction (yes, they are two different things. Asexuals can have low, medium, or high sex drives just like anyone of any orientation. Sex drive does not determine sexual orientation, sexual attraction does). This is not just an issue for people with social anxiety, this is a problem for most, probably all disabled asexuals.

Do we want to talk about our disability, and risk many people dismissing what we say about asexuality as a result?

[Trigger warning: rape/sexual abuse]
For asexual survivors of rape and sexual abuse, there is the assumption that asexuals who have been raped or sexually abused are asexual purely as a result of it. Once again, that is the cause of one’s asexuality.
Does this stereotype, and the tendency to dismiss a person’s asexuality as a negative result of experiencing rape or sexual abuse, inhibit discussion of asexuality and rape/sexual abuse?
[end rape/sexual abuse trigger warning]

Finally, queerness. Asexuals have encountered so much negativity and backlash when trying to discussion queerness and asexuality that most of us have given up trying. Even if we’re queer and accepted as such because of our gender identity or homo/bi/pan/poly romantic orientation, the sheer amount of ignorance, or privilege-denying (I’m not even sure there is a non-asexual privilege, but the close-minded, vehement refusal of many to even examine the possibility makes me suspect there is) means that it will almost never be worth it to an individual to start those discussions.

Over half of us asexuals connect with each other via Tumblr, if the census is anything to go by (54.6%). And yet simply trying to discuss things like having a term to refer to non-asexuals, led to such vitriolic trolling and anti-asexual sentiment that many of us would have been forced to abandon the tumblr asexual community. I myself have now refrained from posting many things on the tumblr asexual tag because I don’t want to risk creating another backlash on there that could result in some asexuals losing their only place to really communicate with other asexuals about asexuality.

How do we move to a place where we can have these discussions? Is it simply a matter of biding our time till one day people are more aware of asexuality? Are there solutions to this problem? Is there a problem at all, or it is just the poor imaginings of an overworked college student’s mind?

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A bit on the “Everyone wants me to be an asexual!

In the debate about whether the term “sexual” is offensive as a term for people who are not asexual, one problem I have heard brought up is the over-sexualization of gay people. I have heard some gay people make the claim that “everyone wants them to be asexual” instead of gay, and that gay people are treated as extremely sexual beings.
I think this is definitely a problem, but I think it’s less from the idea that “everyone wants gay people to be asexual” and instead perhaps stems from the fact that to be gay is to have to talk about experiencing sexual attraction in a way that when being straight one simply does not.

Because heterosexuality is the default, when one heads down that path, there are less questions asked, less assumptions made. Being a heterosexual is what society wants a person to be, for the most part. Thus what need is there to badger a heterosexual, ask intrusive questions, make ridiculous assumptions, and stereotype?

Being heterosexual is the thing to do. It’s encouraged before most people could ever experience sexual attraction. No one needs to talk about sexual attraction in this case. Why bring it up it and what does it even have to do with anything? It doesn’t. You are interested in the opposite sex because everyone is interested in the opposite sex and that is the way it is done. Starting a family is de rigueur for many people because of culture or religion. Maybe you’re pursuing members of the opposite sex out of dreams of a bitchin’ wedding, or all the cute babies you’ll have, or of dreams of pure and blissful romance, or, out of sexual attraction and desire, but no one ever knows unless they ask, do they? And have you ever seen a person being questioned for the motives behind their heterosexual behavior? I haven’t.

So how about those non-heterosexuals? Well, that’s a different story. Because the question changes, but it’s not actually: “What your motives for having asexual or homosexual behavior?” the question is instead “why aren’t you having heterosexual behavior?.

Because a person who is homosexual or asexual could want to have an awesome wedding, cute kids, and pure and blissful romance, that’s true. But why be homosexual? Why be asexual? Why not just be ‘normal’ and heterosexual and get those things?

Because of sexual attraction. A lesbian may say “I want a wedding, awesome kids, and romance, but I want them with a woman, because of sexual attraction. Because I experience sexual attraction to females.”

And an asexual may say “I want to pick out a bridal gown, get Valentine’s Day chocolates, have a child, but I want them with the explicit knowledge that I am an asexual, because of the issue of sexual attraction. Because I don’t experience sexual attraction for anyone, and I don’t want to mislead people into thinking I will experience sexual attraction to them.”

That said, we know that almost everyone does experience sexual attraction. The big difference between heterosexuals and the rest of the bunch, is that heterosexuals don’t have to bring the sexual attraction issue to the table, they don’t have to address it and deal with the issue. A heterosexual does not have to say they experience or don’t experience sexual attraction for anyone with their behavior.

So, heterosexism essentially. And as for the claim that “everyone wants homosexuals to become asexual” I have found very little to support that idea. I have of course, found a lot to support the idea that large portions of society want homosexuals to become heterosexual. From what I’ve read, as far as society is concerned, heterosexuality is the best orientation for one to have. After that, among the religious crowd, celibacy and or chastity is a better option than anything else.

I’m going to clarify just in case there’s new readers: asexuality is NOT celibacy. Asexuality is NOT chastity. Some asexuals may be celibate and/or chaste. Some homosexuals may be celibate and/or chaste. Some heterosexuls, etc. It’s a behavior/state that people of any orientation can be in. Celibacy is refraining from marriage or sex. Asexuals, like people of any orientation*, can get married and/or have sex, and thus not be celibate.

Since some asexuals date members of the same-sex (and even, gosh, have sex with them) I’m somehow doubtful that religious heterosexists truly want a person to just become an asexual, and that would satisfy them. Because being an asexual does not dictate your behavior, and that is what religious heterosexists actually want: to change a person’s behavior, not just their orientation. To them there is only one orientation: normal, and everything else is a disease or a demon or a sin.

(*People of any orientation can be married to the opposite sex; the supposedly ideal state to be in, whether homosexual, bisexual, pan or asexual.)

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A bit on internalized stigma and the duties of asexuals

[TW for discussion of identity policing and anti-ace attitudes]

“Too bad Internet Asexuals have such a shitty track record when it comes to analyzing the cultural context that their movement exists in, otherwise they might have something to say about how asexuality can serve as an umbrella that people can take cover under to avoid having to confront internalized homophobia or sex-negativity. Seriously, the AVEN crowd does not address that at all. “Not attracted to women but repulsed by the idea of sex with anyone else? Totally uninterested in the way mainstream society portrays sex and sexuality? Think vaginas are disgusting? Congratulations, you’re probably asexual! Have some cake!” NOOOO, THE LACK OF ANALYSIS, IT KILLS ME”

So that is from a tumblr post I came across by a non-asexual queer person. The tone of the post is essentially “most of you people who say you’re asexual aren’t really asexual! My definition of asexuality as a non-asexual is totally better than the one most of you asexuals agree on, allow me to define your identity~” There is also a strong undercurrent of “It’s every asexuals’ job to educate and analyze their orientation for non-asexuals~” with a side helping of “sexual behavior=sexual orientation”.

But it does make the claim that the asexual community does not address a potential issue of some asexuals actually being homosexuals suffering from internalized homophobia. So I at least will try to address this potential issue to the best of my ability.

First, let’s deal with the idea that if you’re repulsed by the opposite sex, and neither repulsed nor attracted to the same sex, that that means you are actually a homosexual. This idea could not be more wrong. Lack of repulsion does not mean attraction. Many homosexuals, for instance, are not repulsed by the bodies of the opposite sex, nor are they particularly disgusted or appalled by seeing them perform sex acts. If a homosexual is not repulsed by the opposite sex, that does not mean that they are attracted to the opposite sex, or that they are secretly heterosexual or bisexual. It is much the same for many asexuals. Many asexuals do not feel repulsion for anyone of any sex or gender. But not being repulsed is not the same as being attracted. If it were, many of us asexuals would have had a much easier time, and we would not need to identify as asexual.

Now onto the idea that the asexual umbrella shelters homosexuals with internalized homophobia, and that it is somehow the duty of asexuals to root them out and force them to confront their internalized homophobia or sex-negativism.”\

Alright, I was trying to stay neutral, but fuck you. Really. One, that’s not our job. Two, if someone is suffering from self-loathing and doubt because they are homosexual, we are not going to fucking kick them out of the asexual community to make them ~confront their internalized homophobia~. At least I’m not going to. I’ll do whatever I can to help support them until they’re ready to deal with it. Have you by any chance noticed that our society tends to treat homosexuals really shitty? That sort of thing can be hard to deal with. When you are dealing with that, community support and acceptance is a great thing, even if it’s not the community of a group of people you’ll eventually identify with. Maybe they’re not ready to deal with it, maybe they’re not even in a place [physically, familially, or mentally] where it’s safe to deal with it. I see no great harm in allowing someone to identify as asexual who may turn out to later identify as homosexual.

The tumblr poster makes it sound as though the majority of asexuals aren’t actually asexuals. I would hazard that it’s actually a pretty small amount of people that later decide they’re not asexual and are instead some other orientation. I fail to see the problem with someone mistaking their sexual identity at some point. I once identified as pansexual, and it was a great relief to me to find a sexual orientation that seemed to fit me [equally unattracted to every gender LOL]. I am grateful to the LGBP communities and people that were there for me during that time; but going by the tumblr poster’s advice, they should have sniffed me out somehow and “forced me to confront my internalized asexual stigma and sex-positivity”.

I don’t know, I just think that’s a rather potentially harmful attitude. When you’re not a straight/heterosexual person, or you’re in any way questioning your sexual orientation, it’s not an easy, comfortable place to be. It’s not a societal-approved place to be in. I guess what it comes down to is, why would someone advocate each orientation’s community go around policing it’s members’ sexual identities? I have no clue, does anyone have any suggestions as to why someone thinks that could be a good idea?

And this idea that it is every asexuals’ duty to analyze our movement, police/call-out people within it, or say anything about the movement as a whole. Like with any group of people, whether homosexual, asexual, pansexual, trangendered, Pokemon fans, whatever, not everyone in a group wants to be a writer, think critically and analyze the community, educate non-members, or spend their time arguing and calling-out other members of the community who did something offensive. Some of them just want a place where they belong, where they can find the resources they need to deal with a [group]-related problem, share the occasional joke, look for compatible partners, or get advice on how to beat the Elite 4.

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Boundaries: OTL

[TW: discussion of sexual acts, kinks, biting, oral, kink-shaming, coercion] This is isn’t really about asexuality at all.
This post at Feministe got me thinking. Specifically,

““I think it’s important to interrogate the aversion to certain sexual acts“


and

“Does a dude have a 100% right to be like, “I don’t like giving oral sex, and that is a boundary for me and I won’t do it”? Yes. Without some relatively good reason for why he doesn’t like oral sex (other than “it’s gross”), do women who enjoy receiving oral sex (who I realize are not all women, but for the purpose of this post I am talking about those women who do enjoy it, which are a lot of women) have a 100% right to be like, “That is some misogynist bullshit right there, and if you are not only unwilling to give me what I need to be sexually satisfied but you also pathologize my body then you are officially kicked to the curb”?

This concept has just been bugging me. It seems to be saying “Sure, you can set boundaries. But you have to come up with a good reason for those boundaries, or there’s something wrong with you, bye.”

Not liking something is not good enough of a reason for some people, apparently. Why should you ever have to defend not wanting a certain action done to you? Or not liking to do a certain action to someone else?

Once upon a time I had a friend who didn’t like to be bitten. In fact, she hated it. She didn’t want it to be part of her sex life at all. But unluckily for her, her boyfriend insisted on this act.

You know why she didn’t like being bitten? Because it hurt her, and it scared her. There wasn’t some deep meaning behind it. It wasn’t because of trust issues or misandry or being repulsed by mouths. But going by the logic quoted above (that being repulsed by a certain sex act is pathologizing the body) we could easily come to the conclusion that saying biting is scary is kink-shaming at the very least, the statements of a judgemental prude. She was told this.

Misogynist, homophobe, prude. Those are all labels most of us would not willingly embrace.

The thing is, you can break it off with anyone for any reason you like. But let’s not pretend that there is no power behind it when we act like someone is being discriminatory for not doing a certain sex act. When you tell someone they are a prude because they don’t want to be bitten during sex, or you tell someone they are a misogynist because they don’t like to give oral sex and have no reason other than that, or you tell someone that by not liking anal sex they are a homophobe…

What do you think? No one wants to be those things. No one wants to seem like a stuck-up prude, or a sexist woman-hater.

“Do this or you’re being a prude.”

Are we really going to act as though there is no power in statements like that, coming from someone we love or are attracted to?

And as for the “I’m going to break up with you if don’t give me blowjobs/let me bite you/pee on me” thing…

Many people make the point that you have the right to be sexually satisfied in a relationship, and that if your partner won’t do a sex act that you need to be satisfied, you’re within your rights to end the relationship over it. Cool. Agreed. But then we’re back to the “give me a good reason” thing. If you can go without that sex act for the right reason, well, what is that right reason? It just seems like if you can give it up for any reason it’s not a dealbreaker. So why make ‘good’ and ‘bad’ reasons in the first place? If your partner doesn’t like it and you can take it or leave it for any reason, isn’t them not enjoying it a good reason?

Like back to the biting thing. My friend’s ex-boyfriend needed the biting in a relationship. It was too important to give up. It didn’t matter that it left his lover crying and scared and unable to enjoy the sex at all; he made it clear: if you don’t want to put up with being bitten, we can break up. She stayed with him for years.

And yeah, she was an adult and could have left at any time. But can we please not act like making ultimatums like “Do such sex act or I’ll break up with you” doesn’t have the power to get someone to do a sex act they don’t want to do?

“ He’s definitely not entitled to blowjobs either”
Funny, but I can’t come up with any reason I don’t like giving blowjobs other than, I don’t like giving blowjobs. So I guess I am obligated to give blowjobs, or I’m being a misandrist prude who pathologizes the bodies of people with penisis (penii?) and who should be broken up with for my penis-phobia. (Because not wanting a dick in my mouth is the same as hating and fearing penises (penii?) right?. Yes.

Thanks for telling me I need justification for setting boundaries.

Disclaimer: I am one silly ignorant asexual person and my stupid rambling musings should be not taken as a reflection on all asexuals. Disclaimer because many people are currently going “Oh look! This asexual said something stupid/problematic! Asexuals are inherently slutshaming/homophobic/ignorant!”

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In Which I am Amused; also, puppets

It all started when I came across a self-identified LGBTQ ally on tumblr decrying the possible marriage of Bert & Ernie… [TW for heterosexism and stereotyping asexuals]

“I am all for gay rights, equality, and teaching children tolerance & acceptance. But to impose gay activism on a 3 year old child who doesn’t understand it is ridiculous. Change.com is petitioning for Bert and Ernie to not only come out on Sesame Street, but also get married on the show. Are you serious? They’re cartoons. They’re friggin’ puppets. They don’t need a sexual identity. ” snipsnip “Can’t these innocent characters remain innocent and asexual?”

Ok, that cracked me up because, have you ever met any asexuals? Sure, some may be the pure, innocent type, but all too many of those “innocent” asexuals are responsible for some of the truly filthiest jokes that have ever reached my innocent asexual ears. Not to mention the slashfic… oh don’t even remind me. Maybe I just hang around particularly lewd asexuals, but if Bert & Ernie are truly asexual, gosh, I’m not sure we should let them be shown on TV. I’m worried about the impact they could have on my future clone-children… 🙂

why do we have to randomly and forcefully turn bert and ernie gay ? the characters on this show are asexual, they dont display sexuality. Because at 5 years old, you don’t know nor do you care about what sexual identity even is, nor do you expect your characters to.

Now sadly, this paragraph leads me to believe that the poster was not in fact identifying Bert and Ernie as characters with an actual orientation that is asexuality of some variety. Rather, they are simply using the term “asexual” to mean ignorant of sexual/carnal knowledge and childlike.

And that’s disturbing, not funny. Because while not all of us have an appreciation of sex/sexuality in any form; very few of us are ignorant of sexual knowledge. It’s not even easy to find about asexuality as an actual orientation; most people that found AVEN or the asexual identity were actively searching for an identity, a solution that fit them. When you don’t fit in with society, and that society is telling you there is something actually wrong with your attitude towards sex, you don’t remain ignorant of anything for very long. You go looking for answers, for reasons, and you learn a lot about sexuality and related areas.

We are not pre-sexual people or ignorant of sex; we will not ‘grow up’ someday and become sexual. We are adults, some less or more ‘pure’ by the standards society has set.

Now, since this post has had to talk about the gross conflation of innocence & sexual ignorance with asexuality; we deserve some fun:

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