Thoughts on My Asexuality
When I was in middle school, taking sex-ed classes, I had assumed I was straight. I was not aware of any options other than straight and gay. I had no feelings for any (cis)women, so I had to be straight. Never mind that I had no feelings for any (cis)men, either. Straight was the default, so I was straight.
To that end, I found it easy to keep those ridiculous abstinence pledges the sex ed teachers expected us to make. I didn’t comprehend why it was hard to stay abstinent, because I never had to engage in a futile battle with my non-existent sex drive. I didn’t even know why other people found sex good, since I was only taught the bad aspects of sex.
It wasn’t until later on in high school that I figured out the truth. At that point, the only partners I’ve had were ones where a third party set me up with them, so I played along. I learned about asexuality online. I connected the dots and realized that I was asexual, rather than straight. This did not seem earth-shattering when I discovered it.
In some regards, it’s easier being asexual than it is to be sexual. I’ll never know what it’s like to feel sexually frustrated. I’ll never get questioned on my choice in partner. I’ll never know how much it hurts to be rejected. But I’ll also never know what it’s like to be more than friends with someone. Even if I forced myself to have sex, I’ll never understand why it’s so pleasurable. I’ll never have the experience to write a good romance novel.
Sometimes, I feel like a walking stereotype. I’m disabled. Disabled people are not allowed to be sexual. After all, disabled people are like children, and childen aren’t sexual. I’m autistic. Autistic people are socially inept people who’ll never understand sex. I feel bad that I fit people’s preconceptions so easily. It feels like I’m making things more difficult for the many people with disabilities who are sexual.
Yet, as someone who appears to be a woman, I exist for cisman’s pleasure. I’m supposed to dress up sexy, but not too sexy, and have sex, but not too much sex. Otherwise, I’m a frigid bitch who’ll never get laid. Like that’s a bad thing. Even people who accept gay men and lesbians don’t accept asexuals. I’ve once had someone ask me whether I liked men or women. “None of the above” was not an acceptable answer.
Also, I cannot be certain that my asexuality is even “real”. I’ve had depression for most of my post-pubescent life. Depression decreases a person’s sex drive. So do some depression meds. How do I know my entire sexuality isn’t just a side effect or a symptom?
By the way, you know how homosexuality used to exist in the DSM? Asexuality is still in there, as of the DSM-5. Look up both Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder and Male Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. You might have noticed them on your way to Gender Dysphoria.
Bear with me on this comment – I’m just providing an example from my personal experience, not denying the existence of asexuality.
First off, I totally and thoroughly believe asexuality is a legitimate and very real identity. It’s hard to say “sexual identity” in this case, but the point remains. My cousin is, what, 26 or 27 now, and as far as I know, he has never had sex, and moreover, as far as I know, never even had a date. He’s not gay, our family accepts me pretty thoroughly, a trans woman, and he’s never confided in any of us. So, there’s that for you.
Second, I do believe that asexuality is often (VERY often) misused and abused as a term. People will apply it to themselves with no regard for the damage they might cause to the real asexual community, as they quickly come out of their “asexual” period and end up having a very active sex life. This is why, IMO, asexuality is not taken seriously. Every “asexual” most people have known have quickly broken that and moved on to be “normal.”
I have a friend who’s asexual, trans, and was diagnosed with Asperger’s, IIRC. Well, that is to say, she is sort of asexual. More or less.
When I met her, she was quite contentedly asexually identified and a virgin, and we were just friends. One day through a series of misunderstandings, I made a move on her, and it rapidly devolved into sex. Afterwards, we talked about things and we realized it was an unregrettable (I think I just made that word up) mistake.
Something, however, had awakened in her. Like the dwarves in the mines of Moria, we dug too deep and awakened something ancient and terrible. 😉
At one of the conferences this year, she became the proud slut of our room, and though she still retains the identity of asexual (as she doesn’t actively desire sex), she has asked if any of our friends from that conference will be meeting us any time soon.
So, take that as you will.
I do somewhat get your point about asexuality being misused. There is a popular website (I won’t name it; I don’t want to cause unnecessary drama) where a lot of the regular users claim to be asexual. However, a lot of these same users claim a lot of sexual fetishes and express sexual attraction. There is a line somewhere, even if it is wide and fuzzy. And I’ll admit to being biased against this particular site, considering it is a hotbed for bigoted and just plain terrible viewpoints.
Still, asexuality covers a lot of things. I’m actually pretty stereotypical, as far as asexuals go. I’m aromantic without a sex drive. There’s plenty of asexuals who do have a sex drive, but aren’t sexually attracted to anybody. And there’s also plenty of asexuals with a romantic orientation. The main dividing line is sexual attraction. Even then, as your friend demonstrates, there’s a lot of people that straddle that line.
Incidentally, your friend might want to look into a Gray-A or demisexual identity, and see if that fits her. But if she feels asexual fits her just fine, I’m certainly not going to force her to change her identity.
I’ve thought about things since writing this, and decided that even if my asexuality is a symptom or side effect, it doesn’t make it less real. After all, it’s highly unlikely that my depression will completely go away or that I’ll be taken off my Prozac (I don’t feel like it’s doing a damn thing most of the time, but it’s not hurting me). And even if I do develop the ability to feel sexual attraction later on in life, that doesn’t really change that I’m asexual now. If gender can be fluid, why not sexuality or lack thereof?
Oh, I completely agree, and if I didn’t say so before or clearly enough, none of that was to question your identity or anyone else’s. In fact, quite the opposite – the comment that asexuality was a misused term was to mention that others are delegitimizing the identity by misusing it.
My friend identifies as a romantic asexual – I know that from personal experience. I think she’s still pretty confident in her asexual identity, because she has no sex drive, it just seems that she has a penchant for getting naked with people who want her to, insofar as that means anything.
You have the right to be exactly who you are – disabled and asexual and some day when people better understand the two, hopefully you won’t feel bad for being a “stereotype” because it’s your human right to be exactly you.
I think it’s not right that asexuality isn’t deemed as a real identity. I believe in trusting people’s experiences. It’s true, a lot of people in the queer community do not accept “asexual” as a queer identity and I think that’s wrong. Exclusion is hurtful in a community that supposedly preaches inclusion. Point is, asexuality isn’t heteronormative because there is a lack of heterosexuality. Anything not heteronormative is misunderstood in this society.
I don’t know if this means anything to you coming from a stranger but I am a lesbian and I am sexual but I support you in your identity. You have my full support because although my experiences are different from mine, I trust that you know what you feel.
Right now I’m trying to be more inclusive for asexuals, any advice on how I can be a better ally?
Argh, I meant although YOUR experiences are different from mine.
Kelsey, that does mean something to me actually. I wish I knew more people like you in my offline world.
As for being a good ally, you’ll probably find AVEN to be a good resource:
As for my own advice, well, it’s important to recognize that sexuality and asexuality is a spectrum of sorts. There’s asexuals like me who don’t have any romantic or sexual attractions or anything resembling a sex drive. Then there’s Kate’s friend, who doesn’t need sex, but enjoys it. There are asexuals out there with a sex drive, who just masturbate to relieve it. And there are more varieties. The point is, don’t expect most asexuals to be like me.
Also, don’t assume disability and asexuality are related. I’m both disabled and asexual. Disability didn’t cause my asexuality. There are plenty of disabled sexual people and non-disabled asexual people.
Then, there’s the usual good ally stuff that applies everywhere. Be a good listener. Don’t derail discussions on asexuality. If an asexual person corrects you, don’t get offended.
Anyhow, I think you’re doing pretty good so far.
Thank-you for the advice and I’m glad my words could mean something to you. 🙂
Hopefully some day you’ll meet better people.