During a recent discussion of asexuality in the comments on Clarisse Thorn’s sex-positive 101 post, a reader named Kaz got in touch. Kaz is German and studying mathematics in the UK. Ze is a feminist activist and eir particular interests are related to asexuality and disability rights. You can find zer on Dreamwidth. (Please note that a commenter named Norah also wrote a blog response to the comments at CT’s place.)
As it currently stands, many asexual people often describe the sex-positive movement as unsafe for them. This is a problem that needs to be addressed by the community.
One strategy to help change this is to talk more about asexual people’s concerns, and more generally about things that affect low-sexual-desire people. Obviously, many people feel unwelcome in a movement that rarely addresses their issues and where the people often don’t even know basic information about asexuality like vocabulary, definitions or common issues. This would also serve to make a lot of the anti-asexual and sex-normative attitudes in the community visible. For example, when discussions of asexuality occur in public places, concern trolling about the health of asexual people often abounds — up to and including outright denial of asexuality — as does demonization of asexual people in romantic relationships. I imagine that individual sex-positive people who want to root these out just don’t know where to find them, whereas for an asexual person it can be like stumbling through a minefield.
That said, I imagine “talk more about asexuality and our issues!” isn’t all too informative to someone who may have no idea what we talk about or where to find out.
So — if you’re interested, I’m giving you a little introduction to asexuality online — links to some of the blogs, explanation of some of the common issues and stuff we talk about. I think there’s some topics that are really of interest to more than just asexual people, and some which sexual people could really benefit from as well. And — to be honest, in general I feel as if any movement that claims to be about sexual freedom as a whole that almost solely concerns itself with the issues of people with average-to-high sexual desire is going to be missing vital issues, and that it will often end in new sexual obligations and norms. I think sex-positivity needs asexuality, needs to talk about this side of the coin and the issues people face here. But even if you disagree, I hope you’ll find some of the material and discussions of use.
Writing from Factor X, by Sciatrix. She’s a bit less active now, but she used to do weekly linkspams and there’s a good blogroll.
Asexual Curiosities, by SlightlyMetaphysical
Asexy Beast, by Ily
Shades of Gray, by Elizabeth
Charlie the Unicorn, by Charles
Hypomnemata, by Minerva
Confessions of an Ist, by Aydan
Love from the Asexual Underground, by David Jay. DJ is pretty much the face of asexuality, as he’s the founder of AVEN — the main community. His blog is mostly inactive, but he’s written some amazing things.
Verbs not Nouns. This has a particular focus on asexuality and kink.
This is just an overview — you can find a lot of other people via blogrolls (Sciatrix’s is large and up-to-date). There’s also an asexual blog carnival, the masterpost of which is on Writing From Factor X.
Also, you will probably stumble across words you don’t know. The asexual community has an abundance of vocabulary and uses other terms (e.g. libido) in very specific ways. Charles has a nice glossary, or there’s the AVEN wiki. (AVEN is often what will get recommended first and foremost for asexual info. The main site has good information, if somewhat out of date, but the forums have some problems and I don’t recommend them.)
Topics of Interest
* Workable models of consent for the asexual community. This is sort of complicated — on the one hand, there are asexual people who have sex, who may enjoy having sex or really don’t mind having sex or do it to please their partners or whatever, and a lot of them wouldn’t pass the enthusiastic consent test and a lot of them would be rather upset about being told they’re unable to consent to sex. However, on the other hand this ties into …
* The compromise problem. Asexuals are very vulnerable to a certain kind of rape culture — the type where in a romantic relationship you owe sex to your partner, because refusing to have sex is bad and wrong and abusive. And in asexual communities, there’s a lot of talk about compromise — essentially, having sex with your partner even though you yourself don’t have an intrinsic desire for it. As you can imagine, this can go to very bad places. This is another discussion a lot of sex-positive spaces don’t manage very well, because there’s often very little empathy for the asexual partner (or, in related discussions, the partner with less sexual desire) in that situation. In fact, they are frequently demonised when this comes up. There’s also very little empathy for the fact that for asexual people, this ties into …
* The numbers problem. A lot of asexuals identify as romantic (generally with an orientation prefix — heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic) and still fall in love with and want to date people. They experience romantic attraction but not sexual. Dating only other asexuals is often very unrealistic: we’re a very small, very invisible, very diverse orientation. For a homoromantic woman, the dating pool consists of homoromantic or biromantic asexual women — an estimated 0.1% of the population before you factor in asexual invisibility. I’ve met all of one other asexual in real life without specifically flying to visit them. Dating people outside the asexual community is often the only option, and that means that the issue with sex has to be addressed.
* Also related to numbers: some people identify as aromantic, i.e. experiencing no romantic attraction. And some, like me, go “hold on a second, what’s this ‘romantic attraction’ thing and where are you drawing the line between it and platonic relationships? I don’t understand! How do you tell the difference between romantic love and friendship love and …”
Of late, we’ve been calling this wtfromantic (although I still like calling it “romantic orientation of divide by cucumber” and other people may have their preferred terms) for Makes No Sense, Does Not Compute, Wrong Question. What we’ve been talking about a lot is things like relationships that don’t fit the romance/friendship binary; emotional commitment; partnership and intimacy outside of romance; etc. This has some interesting intersections with polyamory.
(Some specific vocabulary you may run across on this topic: “queerplatonic” is for a deep emotional connection/relationship that isn’t romantic, “zucchini” is a queerplatonic partner, and there’s a variety of vegetable puns based on that ranging from “squash” for a queerplatonic crush to “courgetting” for queerplatonically flirting.)
* There is also some discussion about sex-positivity. What you may not know is that there’s often pressure for asexual people to identify as sex-positive and act in certain “sex-positive” ways in order to prove we’re not slut-shaming and anti-sex. (Our identity frequently gets interpreted as being inherently slut-shaming and/or anti-sex, even when it is explicitly described as being about personal feelings, not behavior. This happens especially often to demisexual people.)
I don’t identify as sex-positive. This is primarily because of having been made to feel utterly unwelcome sex-positive feminism, but it’s also partially backlash against this. I’m tired of feeling as if not playing cheerleader for the wonders of sex (for sexual people) mean I’m anti-sex and making asexuality look bad, and I’m tired of seeing asexual people being told that they can’t talk about their own negative sexual experiences under the guise of compulsory sex-positivity.
That said, in the past year or two I have seen more people outside the asexual community actively attempting to engage with asexual issues in a constructive manner. I have a lot of hope that this trend will continue!
Good Examples of Ally Posts
Mary Maxfield Brave talks about her experiences in asexual spaces, and what sexual people can learn from asexual communities.
Heather Corinna of the sex education site Scarleteen asks for input on asexuality-inclusive sex ed.
Chally talks about asexuality on Feministe.