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148 Responses

  1. Jane
    Jane February 7, 2012 at 10:13 am |

    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 …”

    YES. It’s great when you can read something in a blog entry that just . . . clicks. (Also I like the phrase “romantic orientation of divide by cucumber”.) I’ve never quite known what to do with the word “romantic” (and often get it muddled up with Romanticism.) Traditional “romantic” gestures (getting down on one knee! filling your apartment with roses! diamonds and stuff!) always seem vaguely . . . irrelevant or apocryphal, sort of (as in, “what point are you making?” “does anyone really do this?” and “does anyone really want this?”) (which is not to say that no one does, just that they seem kind of alien to me.) Whenever I have tried to come up with something I would think was romantic, it usually was very similar to something kind a friend or relative would do.

  2. Esti
    Esti February 7, 2012 at 10:37 am |

    This is fantastic, thank you.

    I’m not asexual, but I strongly disagree with definitions of enthusiastic consent where “enthusiastic” is defined as being turned on or deriving sexual pleasure. Enthusiastic consent is about making sure your partner really wants to do whatever it is–that they’re not just giving in because they feel like they have to or because you badgered them. It shouldn’t be about requiring people to experience desire or attraction the right way, whatever that might be, before their consent is recognized as “real”.

    Which everyone seems to be able to grasp when the conversation is about, say, being GGG even though you might not be specifically into whatever your partner wants to do. If my partner had a foot fetish, no one would claim that I was incapable of consenting to acts involving feet because I wasn’t turned on by them, nor would they claim that by engaging in those acts I would be “tricking” my partner or lying there like a dead fish or any of the other horrific things that get said by some people when conversations about relationships with asexuals arise.

    (Preemptively, because every one of these conversations seems to devolve into people talking about why they personally should not be required to date someone who is asexual: of course it’s okay to not want to date someone who is asexual. The problem is when your personal preference is then extrapolated out to general judgments about whether anyone who is not asexual can have a meaningful and happy relationship with someone who is asexual.)

  3. LC
    LC February 7, 2012 at 10:51 am |

    Esti, I’ve personally moved away from “enthusiastic consent” to “active consent” as a term, because I find the baggage that “enthusiasm” carries to be too much. I suspect an ex of mine was asexual and hadn’t figured that out yet. (I don’t know the vocabulary well enough to place “can and does enjoy sex, but isn’t actually all that interested in it”) She had all kinds of problems with the “enthusiastic” part, because she felt it meant she had to fake some heightened level of desire.

    Kaz, thanks for the article and the links. It seems vocabulary is a huge sticking point in communication on asexuality, and it seems the vocabulary is evolving. I am very happy to see “wtfplatonic”, because I’ve had that reaction as well.

  4. DP
    DP February 7, 2012 at 10:53 am |

    @Esti – it rather depends on how you define a {romantic} relationship, doesn’t it? If your definition includes sex, then on the face of it appears impossible to conceive of a happy relationship between someone who is sexual and someone who is asexual, because there’s a disagreement on a fundamental point of the relationship.

    If you view sex as not central, then that’s no longer the case.

    I guess the way I see it is that it would be perfectly possible to have a happy relationship between someone who’s asexual and someone who’s sexual, but it’s not possible to have a happy relationship as conventionally defined by most people.

  5. anna
    anna February 7, 2012 at 11:04 am |

    “being GGG even though you might not be specifically into whatever your partner wants to do.”

    I think that’s fine if they’re ok with it, but I think you (as in the generic “you”, not talking you specifically) should tell them you’re not into it but you’re happy to do it for them, so you can see how they feel about that. I for one would be upset if I thought my partner was getting direct pleasure out of something (if that makes sense?) and then it turned out they were doing it to please me, even if they were really happy to do it for my sake.

    I would also like to hear more about how gender stereotypes figure into coming out as asexual, if anyone knows. Because women in general are often assumed to not really want sex, to just be in it for love and cuddles and relationships, so if you are a heteroromantic asexual do you find people saying “Well that’s just how all women are really?”

  6. Aydan
    Aydan February 7, 2012 at 11:09 am |

    @Esti – it rather depends on how you define a {romantic} relationship, doesn’t it? If your definition includes sex, then on the face of it appears impossible to conceive of a happy relationship between someone who is sexual and someone who is asexual, because there’s a disagreement on a fundamental point of the relationship.

    If you view sex as not central, then that’s no longer the case.

    I guess the way I see it is that it would be perfectly possible to have a happy relationship between someone who’s asexual and someone who’s sexual, but it’s not possible to have a happy relationship as conventionally defined by most people.

    @DP– if the asexual person in question is also celibate, and does not wish to engage in sexual activity with hir partner. This is true of some of the asexual community– maybe a small proportion, maybe most of it. Asexuality is not synonymous with celibacy, and not everyone who is celibate is asexual. There are definitely happy romantic relationships between asexual and non-asexual (non-demisexual, non-grey-asexual) people; the BBC profiled one here, and several asexual bloggers have written about such. There are, of course, also unhappy mixed relationships.

    kaz– Thank you for writing this!! I’m really excited to see it.

  7. Esti
    Esti February 7, 2012 at 11:22 am |

    @DP

    As Aydan said, it’s not the case that asexual/sexual relationships have to be celibate. Some asexual people are happy to engage in various types of sex, either because they independently enjoy it or because they don’t mind it and want to make their partner happy (see also, the GGG concept). Not everyone wants to have sex with a partner who approaches it for those reasons, but it’s just not the case that the only way to have a happy asexual/sexual relationship is for both partners to agree on celibacy. And that doesn’t even get into the various ways in which open or polyamorous relationship arrangements can come into play.

    @anna

    I’m definitely on board with the idea of being up front with your partner.

  8. La Lubu
    La Lubu February 7, 2012 at 12:11 pm |

    ……..

    I dunno. Look….the reason these conversations devolve intothe sexual folk/asexual folk dating impasse is *because of* statements like ‘there aren’t enough asexuals, it’s hard enough for us to meet each other….therefore dating sexual folk has to be on the table’. No. Do not want. And yes, while I agree it may be possible for others to feel differently, I know what *I* do and do not want sexually, and I know that an asexual partner is a dealbreaker for me.

    And I think it’s worth mentioning *just how often* (heterosexual) women are expected to “suck it up and deal” with an unsatisfying relationship, even when it includes dealbreakers. And how often (heterosexual) women are derided as sluts for having a fairly moderate sex drive (and/or not confining our sexual activity to exclusive, committed relationships). So…expecting a sexual woman to be cool with dating an asexual person is just another form of expecting a certain performativity and/or compliance and/or compromise from her. When she’s already dealing with beauty standards, age standards, respectability standards, femininity standards, sexuality standards, etc. that are *already* serving to remind her that she oughta be damn glad anybody’s paying attention to her to begin with and who the hell does she think she is bringing her *own* standards and agenda, likes and dislikes, to the table?!

  9. LC
    LC February 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm |

    I think that’s fine if they’re ok with it, but I think you (as in the generic “you”, not talking you specifically) should tell them you’re not into it but you’re happy to do it for them, so you can see how they feel about that. I for one would be upset if I thought my partner was getting direct pleasure out of something (if that makes sense?) and then it turned out they were doing it to please me, even if they were really happy to do it for my sake.

    That’s always struck me as kind of obvious, but it seems a rare opinion. Be up front with your partner. I’m far more upset with the idea someone has been faking for my benefit. My partner not being into every little thought and desire that crosses my brain seems entirely normal to me. You work things out to everyone’s benefit as much as you can. If everyone’s needs can’t be met, you probably break up. (Hopefully amicably.)

  10. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri February 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm |

    LC @ 3

    (I don’t know the vocabulary well enough to place “can and does enjoy sex, but isn’t actually all that interested in it”)

    Does anyone who does know the vocab have a moment to provide a label for that? Grey-A?

    *goes back to listening to people who know what they’re talking about*

  11. Li
    Li February 7, 2012 at 12:47 pm |

    And yes, while I agree it may be possible for others to feel differently…

    Can we knock it off with the weak disclaimers already? It isn’t just “possible” that people “may” feel differently, they do. I am one of them. Every time we have this discussion people treat sexual people who are ok with dating ace people as some kind of vague hypothetical no matter how many times we put up our hands and point out that we are real. Let’s get that off the table early this time.

  12. Kaz
    Kaz February 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm |

    Thanks everyone who’s commented! I’m glad the conversation is going well so far. :)

    [quote]I dunno. Look….the reason these conversations devolve intothe sexual folk/asexual folk dating impasse is *because of* statements like ‘there aren’t enough asexuals, it’s hard enough for us to meet each other….therefore dating sexual folk has to be on the table’. No. Do not want. And yes, while I agree it may be possible for others to feel differently, I know what *I* do and do not want sexually, and I know that an asexual partner is a dealbreaker for me.[/quote]

    Then we are at complete agreement! Just like Esti said, if you personally do not want to date someone who is asexual that is fine. Nobody is trying to force or pressure anyone into dating people who they don’t want to. The most we are likely to do is point out that many people, when they say “I won’t date someone who is asexual”, actually mean “I won’t date someone who does/feels X about sex” without realising that not all asexual people do/feel X. E.g., Aydan explaining that not all asexuals are celibate, or the fact that some asexual people do enjoy having sex – their motivation to do so is just a different one than *sexual peoples’. We are a [i]very[/i] diverse community on this front. But nobody is saying “you must be willing to date people you don’t want to date”.

    However, just like Esti said, this gets generalised. Asexuality is a dealbreaker for you? Okay. But it’s not for everyone. And the reason I brought up the numbers problem is that these discussions so, so, so very frequently go “I don’t want to date an asexual, therefore asexuals are only allowed to date each other or else they’re being abusive/trying to trap sexual people in a sexless relationship/secretly Evil Overlords/etc.” without realising just what that entails for the community. (Or, you know, that they’re ascribing totally ridiculous motivations to the asexual side of the conversation. There is a reason I put Evil Overlord in there.)

    Ergo, no one is telling *sexual women that they have to date asexual men, or *sexual women that they have to date asexual women, or *sexual men that they have to date asexual women, or *sexual people of any gender… you get the picture. What we are saying is “just because it’s off the table for you, doesn’t mean you can declare it off the table for every *sexual person there is.” I’m sorry if that didn’t come across in the post.

  13. Charlotte
    Charlotte February 7, 2012 at 1:12 pm |

    I just wanted to say thank you for this post. I’m going to be reading those links.

  14. Aydan
    Aydan February 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm |

    Does anyone who does know the vocab have a moment to provide a label for that? Grey-A?

    @ 10

    There’s no real vocab for this– at least, not in the frameworks with which I am familiar– simply because asexuality is not framed around enjoying or having sex, but around experiencing sexual attraction. Someone who has and enjoys sex but is not that interested in it could be asexual, or grey-a, or demi, or any other orientation.

  15. Kaz
    Kaz February 7, 2012 at 1:13 pm |

    One day. One day. I will cope with switching between HTML and UBB. *siiiigh*

    I also don’t object to people asking about the asexual/*sexual relationships material since I did write about it, but I would ask you to please, please not turn this into yet another long comments thread about whether asexual people are allowed to date *sexual people. The world really does not need more of those.

    Pretty please? With a cherry on top?

    Does anyone who does know the vocab have a moment to provide a label for that? Grey-A?

    She could be grey-a, she could also actually be asexual – enjoying sex doesn’t exclude her from that, since the usual defining criterion is lack of sexual attraction. At the end of the day, she’s the one who’ll need to work out what she’s comfortable identifying as.

  16. Esti
    Esti February 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm |

    @ La Lubu

    Except that no one has said “here’s why non-asexual people should date asexual people”. Instead, we’re saying “some non-asexual people do in fact happily date asexual people.” The latter is not a challenge to anyone’s right to decide what they want in a relationship. Acknowledging the existence of those relationships is not the same as saying that you personally or women collectively are obligated to be in one of them.

    I understand the pressures that a lot of women face to not expect validation of their own desires. But the fact that many people in the sex-positive movement respond to those pressures by refusing to acknowledge that asexual/low-libido/willing-to-date-asexual people exist and are also making valid choices is precisely why that movement has alienated so many people.

  17. Jadey
    Jadey February 7, 2012 at 1:20 pm |

    This is really awesome, Kaz – thank you!

    I have a bad habit of working out these kinds of thoughts rather solipsistically, so I adopted the descriptor “sex positive” after having seen it somewhere and thinking, “Yeah, that feels right!” but without knowing the context to it and how it actually gets used in communities. So the idea of being positive/pro/supportive of and about sex and sexuality still resonates with me, but I’ve since learned how narrowly many people define being “pro-sex” and I’m now not sure what to do with it. I want to reclaim it, but I’m now much more careful about where and how I use it. To me, being sex-positive means being supportive of all the ways in which people can be sexual or asexual and not sexually pro- or prescriptive or shaming in any way. (With the caveat relating to the role of consent, although I agree very much with the need to define consent in a way that includes all meaningful consent, and not just “enthusiastic” consent.) But I’ve definitely learned that this is not the universal definition or application of this term.

    I’m also never entirely certain how to position myself in regard to asexuality – I love language and terminology, but even I have found the wealth of terminology in asexual conversations overwhelming and, as before, don’t have enough active participation in the communities themselves (even on the Internet, I’m an introvert) to figure out how these terms are actually being used (and evolving, because they do!)

    I used to assume that I couldn’t be asexual because I have a strong sexual drive (by my own definition) and have since as long as I can remember. (Literally, some of my first memories from my childhood are what I now recognize as being kinky sex fantasies. Really fun ones!) But I am often overwhelmed by social contact and interaction (see above, re: introvert), so as much as I have an active… personal… sex life in terms of fantasy and sexual thoughts, I do not want to have sex with other people or even physically with myself that much.

    (Though this is partly confounded with my simultaneously body image issues, which also just make me very nervous and therefore less likely to be sexually aroused/attracted unless my partner(s) is/are able to help me feel at ease around them. Ack.)

    I have enjoyed sex with men and women (and am attracted to non-binary people as well, although I’ve never had the opportunity to have a sexual relationship with anyone in that category for obvious probabilistic reasons), but I’m not particularly upset about my lack of conventional sexual interaction at the moment. And, actually, even the sex I was having before wasn’t particularly “conventional” (see also: kinky.) But I don’t have many options right now for testing any of my theories. I’m not comfortable entering any “romantic” relationship without establishing the working parameters of sexual component first (not for moral reasons so much as practical ones – I can’t be comfortable and attracted to someone I’m not communicating with openly – I have anxiety attacks instead, which aren’t sexy at all), and I have accepted that I am shooting myself in the foot here for a variety of reasons (not only “low sex drive” by some definitions, but also kinky, poly, and pan/queer – not an easy orientation to get matched up with), so it’s rather hard to get field data.

    Overall, I think I’m drawn to the term “greysexual” if only because I think it’s clever and punny, but I’m not sure if I used it whether or not I would actually be communicating something meaningful and accurate to other people.

    Such a strange and funny world when we start breaking down the normative scripts around sexuality…

    I don’t know – am I treading old ground here? I can’t imagine I’m a statistical anomaly with so many data points out there. But I’ve tried again and again to get into asexuality-related readings and I often find myself more confused than before.

  18. Jadey
    Jadey February 7, 2012 at 1:29 pm |

    Ah, also relating to the comment I just made that’s in mod…

    I don’t think I really differentiate between physical attraction and “intellectual” attraction in practice. If I think someone is hot, then I’m very likely to imagine them being fascinating and intriguing and sexily clever too (and will stop being physically attracted to them when this is disproven), and the reverse is also true – I have found that my range of attraction to “physical types” is endlessly fluid and flexible if I find someone to be intellectually engaging (e.g., on a few occasions, someone I did not find in the least bit physically attractive previously and was not especially “conventionally” attractive became VERY attractive to me following some marvellous conversation exchanges). So all the conventional “physical sex drive” stuff that I hear people talk about is, in my own experience, more of a by-product than the main event (unless I am misunderstanding how other people are sexual, which is possible)… I’m not sure if that’s something that asexuality incorporates or if it’s something completely unrelated.

    shorter: Jadey lives entirely in her own head. Physical analogs do not necessarily compute.

  19. DP
    DP February 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

    . Some asexual people are happy to engage in various types of sex, either because they independently enjoy it or because they don’t mind it and want to make their partner happy

    This is odd to me – I mean, everyone can define their identity but it seems peculiar that someone would identify as asexual when they independently enjoy sex. Isn’t that like saying you’re a homosexual man who independently enjoys sex with women?

    @Aydan, I wasn’t actually talking about celibacy. Celibacy can happen for any number of reasons in a relationship – medical issues, age, whatever – asexuality is only one potential reason a couple might be celibate, obv. My point was more that conventionally, in American culture we define a relationship as two people (usually hetero) who want to and enjoy having sex with each other. I’m not saying that’s the best or even a good way to define it, just that it’s the conventional way to think about relationships.

  20. Li
    Li February 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm |

    This is odd to me – I mean, everyone can define their identity but it seems peculiar that someone would identify as asexual when they independently enjoy sex. Isn’t that like saying you’re a homosexual man who independently enjoys sex with women

    I know homosexually oriented men who enjoy having sex with women. They occasionally do it for work, and they enjoy their work (which, in case it isn’t clear, is makesexytime work) even if they aren’t sexually attracted to the person they’re having sex with.

    Come to think of it, I’ve had sex with people I’m not sexually attracted to and enjoyed it. Now, sexual attraction definitely improves things for me, but it’s not always necessary in order for me to enjoy sex.

    Does that answer your question?

  21. Sera
    Sera February 7, 2012 at 2:39 pm |

    @Jadey: Just want to throw out there that you and I are frighteningly alike…from early childhood memories to flourishing fantasy life to body image issues and (unless I’m mixing you up with someone else – I’m on my 2nd day of total insomnia) you’re Canadian too?

    Damn, it is comforting to realize there are other people in the world who might be like me.

  22. Sera
    Sera February 7, 2012 at 2:44 pm |

    One other point: I just realized that I have never thought about my sexuality in these terms. I am happily married to a cis man, and have children, however I’m not terribly interested (and an often rather freaked out by) the idea of regular intercourse. I though I was just weird, and always felt more than a little guilty for not ‘being a better wife/partner’ for W.
    Thankfully W is one of the most warm, wonderful people I can imagine and we’ve talked this out enough to reach a comfortable arrangement for us (notwithstanding my intermittant guilt).

  23. DP
    DP February 7, 2012 at 2:47 pm |

    @Li – I guess, but I’m still confused. In my mind heterosexual == attracted to opposite sex, homosexual == attracted to same sex, asexual == not attracted to anyone or interested in sex, bisexual == attracted to both sexes. It seems to me that if you enjoy having sex with women and men, you’re bisexual, not homosexual. Of course being a sex worker probably changes some dynamics around…because you’re having sex for reasons other than just you feel like it…still. Maybe it’s just confusing because human sexuality is confusing.

    But I feel like words should have a consistent meaning, otherwise it’s just a morass of confusion.

  24. Aydan
    Aydan February 7, 2012 at 2:59 pm |

    @DP– you talk about words having a consistent meaning, but the only definition for which you include “or interested in sex” is asexuality. You can be heterosexual and not very interested in sex; your level of interest is different from the direction(s) in which your interest is oriented.

    Analogies to other sexual orientations don’t always work. For example, it’s a reasonable statement that most gay men are not going to be particularly interested in sex with women, because they’re more interested in sex with men. Most straight women are not going to be particularly interested in sex with women, because they’re more interested in sex with men. But to say that most asexual people are not going to be particularly interested in sex with [blank], because they’re more interested in…? There’s nothing analogous.

    Also–

    “My point was more that conventionally, in American culture we define a relationship as two people (usually hetero) who want to and enjoy having sex with each other. I’m not saying that’s the best or even a good way to define it, just that it’s the conventional way to think about relationships.”

    Of course, you can want and enjoy sex and be asexual, but what I wanted to say was that I think this is a kind of toxic way to define relationships– not for any reason intrinsic to asexuality discourse, but because the word has a perfectly good and perfectly necessary other meaning, “a bond between two people.” (Or something like that.) When you repurpose “relationship” to mean “romantic and sexual relationship” you lose a good catch-all term for all non-romantic, non-sexual relationships, whether with your family members, friends, coworkers, clients, etc.

  25. Lapin
    Lapin February 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm |

    @Li – I guess, but I’m still confused. In my mind heterosexual == attracted to opposite sex, homosexual == attracted to same sex, asexual == not attracted to anyone or interested in sex, bisexual == attracted to both sexes. It seems to me that if you enjoy having sex with women and men, you’re bisexual, not homosexual. Of course being a sex worker probably changes some dynamics around…because you’re having sex for reasons other than just you feel like it…still. Maybe it’s just confusing because human sexuality is confusing.

    I’m kind of confused by your wording. First, you say that “homosexual == attracted to same sex”, but then you say that enjoying sex (with women and men) means a man is bisexual. This doesn’t mesh with the definitions you used (attraction versus enjoyment)

  26. Iany
    Iany February 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm |

    I know what *I* do and do not want sexually, and I know that an asexual partner is a dealbreaker for me.

    Yeah but it’s not all about you. In fact, this one is specifically not about you. Just because it’s your dealbreaker doesn’t mean it’s someone else’s. No one is forcing you to date an asexual person. Please don’t derail.

    It’s about negotiating mutually satisfying relationships. That’s very valuable.

  27. Iany
    Iany February 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm |

    Also, asexual people can be women too, come on!

  28. Computer Soldier Porygon
    Computer Soldier Porygon February 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm |

    ” “queerplatonic” is for a deep emotional connection/relationship that isn’t romantic”

    Friendship?

  29. DP
    DP February 7, 2012 at 3:28 pm |

    @Aydan –

    Analogies to other sexual orientations don’t always work. For example, it’s a reasonable statement that most gay men are not going to be particularly interested in sex with women, because they’re more interested in sex with men. Most straight women are not going to be particularly interested in sex with women, because they’re more interested in sex with men. But to say that most asexual people are not going to be particularly interested in sex with [blank], because they’re more interested in…? There’s nothing analogous.

    Not interested in having sex, surely. Isn’t that the definition?

    Of course, you can want and enjoy sex and be asexual, but what I wanted to say was that I think this is a kind of toxic way to define relationships– not for any reason intrinsic to asexuality discourse, but because the word has a perfectly good and perfectly necessary other meaning, “a bond between two people.” (Or something like that.) When you repurpose “relationship” to mean “romantic and sexual relationship” you lose a good catch-all term for all non-romantic, non-sexual relationships, whether with your family members, friends, coworkers, clients, etc.

    Friendships!

  30. Onymous
    Onymous February 7, 2012 at 3:40 pm |

    @DP
    I tend to think of asexual more as, some one for whom sex isn’t a motive in their life.

  31. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe February 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm |

    Esti @ 2,

    Isn’t there something in between “turned on” and being nagged or “have to”? “Enthusiastic” consent does seem to assume that partners have similar sex drives (read the therapist’s comment in the link below). A person may not feel like having sex or not be in the mood, but will do it sometimes because their partner wants to and it makes their partner happy. Having said that I think the problem is generally worse for a woman with a higher sex drive than her BF or husband, since they seem to wait longer to bring it up. I’m probably going to get spanked here for that statement. I’m sure gays and lesbians have the same issues, but I can’t speak for them, obviously.

    People here are also assuming that an asexual person, or even a person with a very low sex drive can be identified before you get into a relationship or marriage with them. I think some are kind of “in the closet” about it, and engage in sex as much as a new partner wants because they do want them or love them and want the companionship that the relationship will bring.

    Here’s a story by one woman that many here may have read:

    http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-me/i-am-in-a-sexless-marriage

  32. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe February 7, 2012 at 4:00 pm |

    Onymous @ 29,

    I think your definitition is too narrow and maybe off the mark. Indeed, many people who don’t have sex as a “motivation” like sex and have it frequently. There are people out there who could really care less about sex, and even some who don’t like it.

    One part of this discussion that I think is missing are the different phases in a person’s life. Sex drive can increase or decrease over years. Many people find their desire for sex goes down over the years and as the relationship moves to a new phase. Sex is often replaced with different rituals that can still be intimate and an expression of commitment. A problem only arrises when a couple’s desires are out of sync.

  33. La Lubu
    La Lubu February 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm |

    Iany, I didn’t mean to derail, but IRL I have encountered heat for refusing to take sex and or sexual attraction off the table in terms of “romantic relationships I’m willing to enter.” Why? Because I’m considered *old*. Old as in, at my age (44) I should be willing to “settle for less.” “Not be so picky.” “At your age, sex should be less important, and in a few years you won’t care about it at all.” “Why would you let a little thing like sex get in the way of what could be a perfectly good relationship?”

    These little well-meaning lectures are gender-specific and age-related. And I’m not alone in hearing them. Many single women my age and older have been the target of matchmakers and/or Nice Guys (the TM version) trying to convince us that at our age, we oughta just be glad some man is interested (hence, our desires don’t count).

    And that’s what I’m rejecting. Trust me, that attitude is still in play.

  34. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe February 7, 2012 at 4:28 pm |

    La Lubu,

    Nice post. Just curious, when talking to a match maker or a new guy, how do you bring it up? I’m not sure I ever had a women bring it up, not even in speed dating, LOL.

  35. Norah
    Norah February 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm |

    Hey! Just wanted to let you know that the link to the Scarleteen input thing tells me I have an invalid page number (on the Scarleteen site).

    Also, is it ok to rehash basic asexuality stuff in this thread (like, the definition), or do you want it to stay mostly on topic? Because people can, of course, just go get that basic stuff elsewhere. Like *on the sites you linked*. The difference between romantic attraction, sexual attraction, how liking sex (with people) does not actually have to coincide with having sexual attraction to them, etc.

  36. Andie
    Andie February 7, 2012 at 4:33 pm |

    There’s a difference between enjoying sex and being interested in sex. Someone who identifies as asexual may enjoy sex, and participate in enjoyable consensual sex with another person, but may not personally be interested in pursuing sex themselves. I imagine it can mean that if the opportunity to have sex never arose again, an asexual person would be totally okay with that.

    (If I’m off the mark here, please feel free to correct me)

  37. Chally
    Chally February 7, 2012 at 4:45 pm |

    Computer Soldier Prygon and DP, it’s been made pretty clear that friendship doesn’t quite fit in either of those instances.

    There’s some seriously weird resistance in this thread to how asexual people figure language.

  38. Aydan
    Aydan February 7, 2012 at 4:48 pm |

    @DP–

    The definition of asexuality, as kaz and others have noted, is not experiencing sexual attraction.

    And “friendships” is not a good substitute for “relationships.” I am not friends with my supervisor, but I have a relationship with her. I am not friends with my therapist, but I have a relationship with her. I am not friends with my colleagues, but I have relationships with them. And they’re important relationships– but they can’t be described as friendships.

  39. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe February 7, 2012 at 4:54 pm |

    Andie,

    Good point. I once read an article about people not interested in sex, but still enjoyed once they got started. When a therapist asked one woman to describle her lack of interest in sex, but like of it, she said to her, “A lot of people, including myself, really like rubarb pie and will enjoy it if it’s served, but how many of them ever think about making one?”

  40. Iany
    Iany February 7, 2012 at 4:57 pm |

    IRL I have encountered heat for refusing to take sex and or sexual attraction off the table in terms of “romantic relationships I’m willing to enter.”

    I sympathise with your situation Labu, but it still has nothing to do with this. You’re taking your experiences with sexuality and projecting them on a conversation about asexual people. Who, believe me, get a lot of shit for being that way. I’m not out about it and I came out as queer.

    I haven’t seen a conversation about asexuality on feministe before (forgive me if there has been one, I just haven’t seen it). I have seen a lot of discussions about respecting sexual peoples desires and boundaries. Forgive me for being annoyed that you’re taking this one post about asexual experience, and forcing it to be a conversation about sexual peoples experiences (er, female cis people’s experiences, older female cis people’s experiences).

    It’s ok to want relationships outside of a sexual sphere. And it’s ok for people who value sex to still see if they can figure a relationship with an asexual person who cares for them.

    I feel like what I am (asexual) is often pigeon holed as boring or frigid when I’m very interested in sexuality (just not in the traditional sense I suppose). It’s not easy. But I try to believe that I’m still a valuable person, and someone worth being around.

    Of course, as your post unfortunately reminds me, I’m way better off keeping this stuff quiet. Because sexual people seem to often not get it or even take umbrage. Much better off in the closet, I can deflect the questions about dating when I need to.

  41. Norah
    Norah February 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm |

    Friendship is also way too broad a term. And if people tell me that what they feel for someone(s) is not romantic, but is also not like what friendship feels like for them, I tend to actually believe them instead of trying very hard to tell them that it’s friendship.
    I don’t really know why people need it to be covered under friendship so badly, if other people don’t feel it fits, anyway.
    And all of that not to devalue friendship, which is another problem, so often people have a ranking system where friendship has to come in lower than other kinds of relationships.

  42. Clarisse Thorn
    Clarisse Thorn February 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm | *

    @Norah, thanks for pointing out the problem with the Scarleteen link. It should be fixed now.

  43. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe February 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm |

    Norah,

    Great point. I actually think friendship is critically important if a relationship or marriage is going to last. Regardless of how much sexual passion is in a relationship, it must (I mean in your 70’s and beyond) fade. Intense sexual attraction may start a heated romance, but if the two people could never be friends otherwise, it won’t last.

  44. Jadey
    Jadey February 7, 2012 at 5:20 pm |

    Re-reading my comments, I can see how I’m participating in a derail from the topics that Kaz outlined (except the sex-positivity bit, but still). I apologize – my comments probably would have been better served as a post on my own blog (so I just made them into one – if anyone who is asexual or similar does really want to help a confused girl out, that would be cool).

    I have a lot of thoughts and questions about asexuality (evident!) but I’m still too much of a neophyte to contribute to this conversation except at a 101 level, so I will step to the sidelines for now and watch. Sorry for the derailing comments and thank you again to Kaz and all the asexual commenters here for taking the time and the energy!

  45. Computer Soldier Porygon
    Computer Soldier Porygon February 7, 2012 at 5:41 pm |

    “Computer Soldier Prygon and DP, it’s been made pretty clear that friendship doesn’t quite fit in either of those instances.

    There’s some seriously weird resistance in this thread to how asexual people figure language.”

    I don’t think my raising questions about the term ‘queerplatonic’ is resisting how asexual people figure language – a queerplatonic relationship isn’t a thing that only asexual people can have. My relationship with my best friend fits most descriptions of queerplatonic relationships I’ve read online, and we’re both sexual and have boyfriends (although my boyfriend will never get me on every level like she does). I’m not questioning the existence of queerplatonic relationships as described by s.e. smith and others, just wondering why there is a line between friendship and queerplatonic zucchini salads, because I define my intense interpersonal connections without a sexual component as friendships. And it bothers me that it seems to position friendship as something necessarily shallower.

  46. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe February 7, 2012 at 5:55 pm |

    Clarisse,

    Regarding: “I write about this cautiously: I have no intention of telling anyone what “real” men do or feel, or what “real” women do or feel. However, it seems conceivable to me that most men are generally more likely to enjoy promiscuity and emotionless sex than most women are — if only for hormonal reasons.”

    It is a generalization, but I definitely feel it’s true, although not for everyone. However, I have the feeling that if I had said this, I’d get spanked on this site.

  47. ahimsa
    ahimsa February 7, 2012 at 5:55 pm |

    @Jane

    Traditional “romantic” gestures (getting down on one knee! filling your apartment with roses! diamonds and stuff!) always seem vaguely . . . irrelevant or apocryphal, sort of (as in, “what point are you making?” “does anyone really do this?” and “does anyone really want this?”)

    I like sex. I like romance. And yet, I hate all the examples of romance that are listed above!

    I see this crap in movies all the time and I ask myself the exact same question – Does anyone really want this?

    You don’t have to be asexual to hate certain tired, romantic cliches. (sparkly rocks? getting on one knee? yuck, no thank you!) But that probably doesn’t help much. :-)

    I’m not sure I can actually provide a definition but I’ll try to describe what I think is romantic. It’s separate from something overtly sexual but perhaps it does lead in that direction.

    If my husband thinks about something that I would like (not something that I *need*, it has to be something fun or extra), and he does that for me for no reason at all, then that’s romantic. The point is that he is paying attention to my desires and trying to make me happy. And if I’m doing a romantic gesture for him the same type of rules apply. It has to be something that he actually enjoys, not just something that society says he should enjoy.

    What turns a nice gesture into a romantic gesture? One factor for me is the level of intimacy. I have a different set of boundaries for my husband than I do for my friends or family. If a friend, someone who was not my husband/boyfriend/lover, tried to do something “romantic” for me it would feel creepy, not friendly. But beyond that I really can’t define it.

  48. Tony_
    Tony_ February 7, 2012 at 6:00 pm |

    How do you guys define “sexual attraction”? I consider myself to be on the asexual spectrum, but I don’t think my arousal is any different from “sexual attraction” except that the things which arouse me (usually dramatic, emotional stories told in any form) aren’t what is normally considered ‘sexual’ (namely, nude bodies and ‘sexual’ organs, taken in visually). “Differently sexual” is a more descriptive moniker for where I am than “asexual” or “graysexual”. The more we attempt to categorize things, the more difficult it is, no? Is it not more important to be able to communicate what matters to you than to speak in terms of broad labels and categories?

  49. sqbr
    sqbr February 7, 2012 at 6:04 pm |

    Jadey: I think the term you want is sapiosexual. And it’s hard figuring this stuff out, isn’t it? I’m my own weird sort of kind-of-asexual-but-not-quite.

    Anyway, great post and a very interesting discussion.

  50. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe February 7, 2012 at 6:07 pm |

    Ahimsa,

    Thank you!!!

    I’ve watched all those movies with the rose pedals on the floor, candles, and bubbles baths and because I don’t understand how they are romantic, I’ve felt very inadequate, especially when watching with a gf. I think, “Do I have to do that?” What happened to a nice dinner, wine, and let’s get naked. To hell with the rose pedals.

  51. Donna L
    Donna L February 7, 2012 at 6:18 pm |

    older female cis people’s experiences

    44 is “older”? Jesus H. Christ. I wish I could be 44 again.

  52. Kaz
    Kaz February 7, 2012 at 6:18 pm |

    Right, so the way the discussion is going is making me kind of uncomfortable.

    Can people please try to be respectful of asexuality and asexual realities? By this I mean things like:

    - not telling asexual people that they should be using a different definition of asexuality
    - not telling wtfromantic people that their queerplatonic relationships are obviously friendship or romantic (look, I have spent years agonising over this. I’m glad if relationships are that easy to categorise for you, but they’re not for me)
    - trying to center asexual perspectives
    - looking up basic 101 material on e.g. the AVENwiki instead of promoting misconceptions here

    I have nothing against respectful questions! For instance, I loooove talking the difference between romantic and platonic relationships because I have spent years wracking my brain over this! However, a lot of these comments have, to me, carried the subtext of “justify yourself to me” and that is something I am not happy with.

  53. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe February 7, 2012 at 6:20 pm |

    Tony,

    Agreed. I don’t think you’re asexual, although I’m not an expert. I’m not sure about your identity given Tony can be anyone’s name, but most women are not turned on my looking at body parts. (I know – i’m a guy – and risk getting ripped for that). If you’re a guy, while you don’t fit into the stereotype, there’s something positive about your emotional needs regarding sexual attraction. It seems like you’re using it affirmatively and going with what works for you.

  54. seisy
    seisy February 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm |

    It’s in discussions like these that leave me just kind of shaking my head. Not in a bad way, necessarily. It’s just that it strikes me that there’s such variation between people and experiences and then you throw in culture and socialization in the mix and the ever elusive (and illusive) “normal” against which everything else seems to be measured…which is kind of ironic, because these discussions are how we demolish that. It just seems so impossible. I begin to hate categorization, because it seems to pathologize everything, sometimes. I don’t know. I’m having trouble expressing myself properly.

    The thing is, I sometimes wonder if we’re all still stuck in high school when it comes to sex, in that we’re so blinded with this idea that there’s some way or amount or look that everyone else is doing or getting. And this is a feeling directed more at the sex-positive side of the discussion. The best way I can think to say it is that I’ve often seen the idea in the larger culture that not having sex (voluntary or involuntary celibacy, asexuality, whatever) is a fate worse than death. Which is kind of ridiculous, actually. And I’m saying this as someone who is no stranger to lust or desire by any means. And my sister, the most hypersexual person I know (i suspect her inner monologue consists of sexsexsexsexsexsex) has been known to say that life without sex is boring- but not you know, the worst thing that could happen to a person.

  55. Jo
    Jo February 7, 2012 at 6:40 pm |

    There’s some seriously weird resistance in this thread to how asexual people figure language.

    You know, Chally, you’re completely right. There are some comments in this thread that are seriously not ally comments.

    And I think it’s worth mentioning *just how often* (heterosexual) women are expected to “suck it up and deal” with an unsatisfying relationship, even when it includes dealbreakers.

    First of all, get rid of the “it’s all about me” thing. Taking about asexual/sexual relationships is fine. Saying “look at me and my cis heterosexual problems, they’re just as bad as any you have” is just not ok for an ally. Of course, I agree that there is a lot of pressure on cis straight women to conform to a sexual identity. But the place for that argument is not here, where it invalidates the challenges of thinking about asexuality and sex-positivity that we (as asexuals) have to deal with.

    In my mind heterosexual == attracted to opposite sex, homosexual == attracted to same sex, asexual == not attracted to anyone or interested in sex, bisexual == attracted to both sexes.

    Right, so you’ve got your normative categories all set up then. Thing that you’re not understanding is the difference between attraction on a sexual level and other sorts of attraction. And not everyone sits comfortably in those narrow categories!

    Sexuality is not just a scale in terms of homo-heterosexual. It’s also a three-dimensional scale of sexual attraction and desire. Check out this brilliant infographic by Rynn on AVEN. It shows that sexuality isn’t just a spectrum of colour, but of depth as well.

    So to the people here confused about asexuality? Well so was I when I found out about it. I still am today about some things, even though I am asexual. The way to deal with this is to ask questions without implying that our identities are bullshit because you can’t understand them. This is a really excellent post, and you have asexual people here who will answer your questions as best they can. Respect that and use the opportunity to learn something without brushing it off as “confusing” and “I dunno…”

    In response to some of the more general discussion about what sex means in an asexual relationship:

    I’ve found it helpful to think about the theory of asexuality as de-centring sex and sexual attraction from all other types of attraction, because there are many. Emotional, spiritual, intellectual. For asexual people these aren’t all able to be lumped together in one big ball called “attraction.” Thinking about asexuality means thinking about the ways you can have one without necesarily feeling any others.

    Kaz, this is an excellent post, something I’ve been thinking about recently as well. This is particularly relevant:

    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.

    This (almost) happened to me just the other day after a post on my own blog about finding it hard to get my head around women who act “sexy” or sexualised (by the patriarchy, as an insightful commenter pointed out) because I don’t see anything personally empowering in it.

  56. Maia
    Maia February 7, 2012 at 6:52 pm |

    Thanks for this Kaz, I found it really interesting. I really liked that you defined queerplatonic on its own terms, rather than in relationship to friendship. I’ve been struggling with the term, because I’ve only seen it defined in reference to friendship. When I’d googled it’d come up with meloukhia’s definition (which I’ve even seen taken out and put as a ), which starts: “Queerplatonic is a word for describing relationships where an intense emotional connection transcending what people usually think of as ‘friendship’ is present, but the relationship is not romantic in nature; people in a queerplatonic relationship may think of themselves as partners, may plan on spending their lives together, etc.”

    It is one thing to define your relationship as ‘queerplatonic’. But it is another thing to define queerplatonic against friendship and therefore limit friendship. If you define something as ‘transcending’ something else, then that’s saying some pretty emphatic about the thing you are transcending.

    The most important relationship in my life is (and has been for years) my relationship with my best friend. This relationship has been devalued by other people in many different and stressful ways. To have people describe their relationships as ‘transcending what people usually think of ‘friendship” really reinforces the ways my friendship has already been devalued.

    So it’s cool to see a definition that doesn’t do that – and it makes me understand these things better.

    Some other thoughts about stuff in the post, or that has come up in the comments. I personally have found myself using ‘meaningful consent’ a lot. Which I mostly use to emphasise the importance of the ability to say no, but I think unlike ‘enthusiastic consent’ it allows that consent can be different for different people, and doesn’t demand that consent be performed in a certain way (which I think enthusiasm can).

    Surely GGG is part of the problem? Nothing wrong with it as a relationship philosophy, but it’s only one. I often get turned off even of feminist discussions about relationships, because there are these implicit ‘shoulds’ around things like what to do in a relationship with different levels of desire, or cheating, and often questions become debating over whose norms hypothetical or actual people should be judged by – which is still very normative.

    I can get behind the following 4 things as ‘shoulds’: Be aware of the structural oppression other people face, don’t make assumptions about other people, be as honest as you can about yourself and don’t abuse what power you have.

    Surely everything after that is preference, compatibility and what works for people and the most important thing is to acknowledge how very different we can be.

  57. Bagheist
    Bagheist February 7, 2012 at 6:54 pm |

    Jumping in here as an asexual in a queerplatonic relationship with a *sexual person – There really is a difference between friendship and queerplatonic.

    And my relationship, though it may look like a “traditional” romantic relationship from the outside, is not. Please don’t try and tell me it is!

    (also, yeah, there are problems with enthusiastic consent – depending on how you define enthusiasm, I can never give consent! and I /like/ being sexual with my partner!)

  58. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri February 7, 2012 at 6:55 pm |

    Kaz and Aydan, thank you for the definition help. I’m still not sure wtf to call myself, as demisexual would probably be close enough with regards to male presenting people. Female and androgynous presenting people I have actual sexual attraction to though, so I tend to just go with bisexual for clarity (gender binary issues too there though) — I’m not sure there’s a simple term for that though, particularly since I’ve not formed romantic relationships with anyone besides cis/genderqueer men. I don’t think definitions are really going to make that make more sense though.

    The more we attempt to categorize things, the more difficult it is, no? Is it not more important to be able to communicate what matters to you than to speak in terms of broad labels and categories?

    Yeah, probably, to the first question; to the second though, perhaps? probably? but my psych major is recalling that our brains are wired to find and create categories — seems more useful for non-human categories though. (And, for a quick derail, like the source of plenty of -isms — and on that note, ignore Joe and use whatever label you’re comfortable with)

    Joe, please read Kaz comment directly above your’s, ze knows what ze is talking about, I’m going back to listen now, you should as well perhaps.

  59. Clarisse Thorn
    Clarisse Thorn February 7, 2012 at 7:09 pm | *

    Just remembered that I meant to link Norah’s blog response to the comments at my place! Original post (intro paragraph) has been edited. And here’s the link again: http://norah-liath.dreamwidth.org/10411.html

  60. Jo
    Jo February 7, 2012 at 7:13 pm |

    Any reason my comment wasn’t being published, or is the queue just really long?

  61. Jadey
    Jadey February 7, 2012 at 7:17 pm |

    Uhm, only because I can see mods active on the thread, but I’ve had a comment in moderation @ 44 for a little while now…

    (It can be deleted if it’s inappropriate, as can this.)

    1. Clarisse Thorn
      Clarisse Thorn February 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm | *

      I just went and cleared the mod queue. It is unclear to me why the Feministe software chooses some comments to hold for moderation and others not to hold. (Sometimes it even happens to me as a mod that my comments will get stuck in moderation.) I’m about to go do something else though, so as always, please be patient if comment mod is slow.

      Also, please do treat Kaz as a moderator regarding this thread — in particular, remember that it is explicitly a thread about why asexuals often feel out of place or unsafe in certain spaces.

  62. Jo
    Jo February 7, 2012 at 7:19 pm |

    Same as Jadey, here. Is it just our browsers?

  63. Kaz
    Kaz February 7, 2012 at 7:24 pm |

    Right, so I need to go to bed, but I want to toss out this link about the definition of sexual attraction and the usefulness of labels: If you can see the invisible elephant, please describe it on Writing From Factor X. Sciatrix has summed up a lot of the issues to do with the definition of sexual attraction (in particular, that the people who are working hardest at defining it and the people who really need to know what it is are the ones who don’t experience it).

  64. Computer Soldier Porygon
    Computer Soldier Porygon February 7, 2012 at 7:30 pm |

    “Jumping in here as an asexual in a queerplatonic relationship with a *sexual person – There really is a difference between friendship and queerplatonic.”

    I really don’t want this to come across as JUSTIFY URSELF!!!!, but can you tell me more about what the difference is for you (if you feel like it, obv)? This is seriously just a curious party inquiry, not an argument trap.

  65. Li
    Li February 7, 2012 at 7:36 pm |

    DP, I know the discussion has moved on from here, but the reason you’re hitting a block is because you’re conflating sexual attraction and orientation with enjoying sex with someone. To come at it from a different direction, there are a whole lot of people who you might be sexually attracted to but never have sex with, or who you are sexually attracted to but don’t enjoy sex with.

    The typical breakdown of sexuality:

    Orientation, or who you are attracted to, Behaviour, or who you have (and we could probs fit ‘enjoy’ here) sex with and Identification, or how you self-identify you sexuality.

    Those three aren’t necessarily going to perfectly fit a single category because they aren’t the same things.

    In terms of my experience, what I’m saying is that there are people I have enjoyed sex with who I am not sexually attracted to (for reasons such as physical pleasure, intimacy, sex being kinda fun). If that’s true for me, it’s potentially true for others, regardless of how large or small the pool of people they are sexually attracted to is.

  66. Tony_
    Tony_ February 7, 2012 at 7:44 pm |

    Kaz, thank you for opening up this discussion.

    Argenti, well yes. In retrospect, my comment was not about avoiding these categorical labels as recognizing their limitations. Categories seem to be more to define difference than what actually *is*, and in that role ‘asexuality’ is very useful. (Even the alternative of ‘differently sexual’ centers conventional sexuality, so that’s not a good descriptor either).

    Joe, you bring up an interesting point and one that I have considered before many times, but it’s too presumptuous of you to define my sexual orientation for me (!). Sexual women do enjoy the act of sex, whereas I do not. This is something that affects almost all areas of my life, so trying to do an analysis based on what I wrote in one or two sentences to set up a question is not going to be accurate.

  67. Anana
    Anana February 7, 2012 at 8:21 pm |

    Just wanted to say thanks for this post.
    I have a lot of feelings about this discussion, but I’ll try to keep it brief…
    For a long time I’ve been thinking I fall somewhere on the asexuality spectrum, and the discussions of asexuality I see in most sex-positive spaces have been, frankly, terrifying. What the conversation always turns into:

    1. Asexuality is a bullshit identity that’s only embraced by people who are gay and closeted/confused/afraid of sex/ashamed of their sexuality/have something medically wrong with them.
    2.Asexuals are constantly “tricking” normal people into relationships and then denying them sex. Asexuals should only date other asexuals, and they should immediately identify themselves as asexual so that nobody gets their hopes up about having sex with them (Maybe we should all wear a nametag or something?).

    Although I support sex-positive goals, I’m very wary of participating in the community because of this sort of thing. I’m glad to see that the conversation here has mostly avoided these traps – I hope this means the community is starting to become more inclusive.

  68. Tony_
    Tony_ February 7, 2012 at 8:23 pm |

    @67 – My comment had nothing to do with your rant there.

    Right, so I need to go to bed, but I want to toss out this link about the definition of sexual attraction and the usefulness of labels: If you can see the invisible elephant, please describe it on Writing From Factor X. Sciatrix has summed up a lot of the issues to do with the definition of sexual attraction (in particular, that the people who are working hardest at defining it and the people who really need to know what it is are the ones who don’t experience it).

    This is a great point, illustrated with a great analogy. By the way, I apologize of any of my commentary has come off in a tone of asking self-justification to anyone. I just discovered the asexual ‘community’ last year, and learned a lot of new terms last year, so a lot of it is just me working through some questions for myself, and probing how I, personally, relate to these terms.

  69. Bagheist
    Bagheist February 7, 2012 at 8:26 pm |

    @Computer Soldier Porygon

    (A bit of background here – I’m aromantic and asexual, so I don’t really get romantic attraction. It’s not an intuitive thing for me)

    Friendship for me is what I share with people who are important to me, but who are not my partner. If positive relationships were vegetables, my closets friends would be cucumbers, by my partner is a zucchini. They’re alike, but they’re not the same.

    Or, for a more specific example – my partner is someone I want to be living with me, in my life, and to come home to everyday. I want to share a bed with him, and share a life together. This is something I’m actively working towards. My closest friends, on the other hand, I would want in my life, but am ok with living in separate homes. If they lived in the same home as me, that would be awesome, but I wouldn’t share a bed with them. If I have an issue, I go to my partner first, friends second. Not because I don’t value them as much, but because I value them differently.

    (Sorry, I know this is kinda wishywashy – it really just comes down to it feels different. Like I’ve been told friendship and romantic attraction do)

  70. carnalasexual
    carnalasexual February 7, 2012 at 8:29 pm |

    Jumping in here as an asexual in a queerplatonic relationship with a *sexual person – There really is a difference between friendship and queerplatonic.

    Yes. There is. I have a queerplatonic lifemate (aka zucchini). I have a romantic partner. I have a best friend. All three of these relationships are incredibly different.

    The trouble is that there are no existing words to allow me to express the differences. And I’m not good at coining words.

  71. Ella
    Ella February 7, 2012 at 8:31 pm |

    OMG. Joe from an alternate universe @39, that rhubarb pie analogy is perfect. I had never thought my sexuality in those terms but that sums it up well. This post and the comments are answering questions that I didn’t even know I had. I’m going to go and process now, but I just wanted to say thank you for giving me so much to think about

  72. Matt
    Matt February 7, 2012 at 8:32 pm |

    I was never particularly fond of asexual as the nexus of this particular orientation sub continuum. Firstly it confuses the hell out of me as an a theist because its clear that many self described asexual persons, including several commentators in this thread, don’t interpret the A in the same manner. Even among the continuum of definitions of atheism none of them align with the claim that asexual persons enjoy sex and are willing to have sex to make their partner happy.
    I think its one of the primary factors confusing outsiders when we as a group use the asexual descriptor.
    I have been trying to work out a system which more intuitively labels the nexus and the variation of the asexual orientations grouping but only for personal use. I know that many people get upset about this kind of effort and I also don’t want to get anyone who can’t fall back on the but I’m asexual, too argument in trouble for using an alternate system.
    I can discuss this subject if anyone is interested but I don’t want to derail the thread or stir up drama.

  73. EG
    EG February 7, 2012 at 8:34 pm |

    By that definition, my feelings for all the best friends I’ve ever had have been romantic. Except for the part about wanting to live with them. I’ve never wanted to live with anybody, including best friends and/or people I’m in love with. I’d do it in order to raise a kid, because I want one a lot, but I like living alone. You’re defining “romantic” in an incredibly conventional way.

  74. EG
    EG February 7, 2012 at 8:38 pm |

    The rhubarb pie analogy really doesn’t help me understand much. Because it’s far too specific. It would be more like “Sure, I eat and enjoy food when it’s there, but it doesn’t really occur to me to make it or seek it out.”

  75. Lapin
    Lapin February 7, 2012 at 8:43 pm |

    So I’m kind of getting the feeling that there are some people saying “I don’t get this analogy” or “what do you mean by that?” less because they want clarification/to learn, but because they don’t believe asexuality is a real identity.
    Why not just say that and save the time of people trying to explain?

  76. LotusBen
    LotusBen February 7, 2012 at 8:55 pm |

    Melusina. . .I don’t know that much about these issues, but I believe I know enough to know your post doesn’t quite pass the smell test. I get that you disagree with some of the political analysis and stances of the AVEN community. But phrases like “it would be nice if asexuals would learn something about queer history” make me really uncomfortable. These kind of generalizations about a marginalized minority, even if you didn’t mean “all asexuals” come across to me very problematic and bordering on bigoted. Especially since it’s perfectly possible for asexuals to be transgender, to be romantically attracted to people of their same sex, or to be otherwise “queer” (even if we use your apparently more restrictive definition of the word).

    I was also unsettled by your commentary on the term “demisexual?” Why exactly is it any of your business how other people choose to identify themselves?

  77. Bagheist
    Bagheist February 7, 2012 at 8:56 pm |

    @EG
    I’m not sure if you’re talking to me or not, but in case you are (and to clarify for anyone else I’ve managed to confuse)

    Queerplatonic relationships feel different from friendship, in the same way that I’ve been told that romantic relationships feel different from friendships – i.e., when it comes down to it, even without any romantic actions at all (traditional or otherwise), a romantic relationship feels intrinsically different from a friendship. (NOT BETTER OR WORSE, DIFFERENT)

    e.g.- a sexual romantic relationship is not the same as a friends with benefits one, is it? Yet, on the surface, they could both be defined by “People who have sex and care for each other”.

  78. Melusina
    Melusina February 7, 2012 at 9:15 pm |

    @LotusBen

    While some asexuals are indeed LGBTQ as well, upon critical examination the asexual political lens is very much heterocentric (and also malecentric), and I have Never Once encountered an internet asexual who displayed an actual understanding and appreciation of the context of sexual minority identity. Sometimes the shoe fits and generalizations are necessary for interpreting the world around us.

    And again, I very much would fall under AVEN’s definiton of asexual, and so MATERIALLY, I’m being bigoted against myself? No, I’m saying this identity politic framework they’re putting forward is full of holes, and some nasty hegemony to boot.

    Your defense of demisexuality would work if identity politics were about individual atoms floating out there unaffected by each other. But that’s not who we are – we are humans living in a context, in a culture. Demisexuality as a “sexual minority” implicitly says something about other people.

  79. annajcook
    annajcook February 7, 2012 at 9:22 pm |

    Firstly it confuses the hell out of me as an a theist because its clear that many self described asexual persons, including several commentators in this thread, don’t interpret the A in the same manner. Even among the continuum of definitions of atheism none of them align with the claim that asexual persons enjoy sex and are willing to have sex to make their partner happy.

    I just want to point out here that many of our sexual identity labels are imperfect and confusing, and encompass a great variety of personal identities/desires/practices under political umbrellas.

    As a sexual person, I’ve come to understand that “a-sexuality” can be understood as a parallel construction to “homo-sexuality,” “hetero-sexuality” and “bi-sexuality” … the latter three terms describe peoples sexual identities in reference to the type of human beings they are attracted to; asexuality does the same. It indicates someone who is not attracted or interested in having sex with another human being.

    It can be confusing, yes — but I’d argue no more so than any other term we’ve developed to categorize our sexual desires! I mean, Hanne Blank has just written an entire book about how “heterosexuality” is complicated and historically contingent etc. and how we don’t really understand that either.

    This is all to say that I doubt that lack of cultural understanding is tied that deeply to word choice.

  80. Donna L
    Donna L February 7, 2012 at 9:23 pm |

    I’m trying really hard to understand also, as I have whenever there’s been a thread on this subject. But it’s extremely difficult. I think, for me, it may be that some people’s definitions of “asexuality” are so broad, particularly in encompassing people who do enjoy sex (and I’m not sure, by the way, exactly what “sex” is supposed to mean in this discussion — PIV sex? touching? making out?), that they would cover a great many people who would be very surprised that they’re covered. Including me. There are a number of aspects people have described that might apply to me — including “romantic” feelings towards certain friends and other people I’ve been very close to in my life that have been just as powerful as the feelings I’ve had for people I’ve been partnered with (kind of like EG describes), along with several others — but I simply can’t imagine identifying as asexual or any of the variations mentioned. So it makes me a little uncomfortable to see those aspects characterized as reflecting asexuality. I understand that nobody’s suggesting making people identify as asexual against their will, but I still have some trouble with it. It reminds me a little of those trans people who love to define transness so broadly that it encompasses way more people than the number who actually identify as such. Sure, it makes them feel that maybe they aren’t such a tiny, powerless minority — which we are; I never spoke in person to another human being I knew was trans until I was more than 45 years old — but even though it’s understandable, it’s still feels sort of appropriative to me. And so does this. It makes it seem that asexuality is broad enough to include anyone who has a lower than usual libido, who enjoys sex (whatever that means) when it happens (but maybe not PIV sex), but doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking or fantasizing about it, let alone pursuing it, and/or who has romantic feelings towards those they love that are either unaccompanied by, or more important to them than, sexual desire. If that’s true — and I could be entirely mistaken, but other explanations I’ve tried to read haven’t been much clearer to me — then I’m not sure how useful the term “asexual” is. Even though I completely understand how unproductive and frustrating endless internecine discussions about definitions and categorizations can be.

  81. Donna L
    Donna L February 7, 2012 at 9:25 pm |

    Just testing to see if the reason the comment I just posted went into moderation is its length. If so, I should just have broken it up into several shorter comments!

    1. Jill
      Jill February 7, 2012 at 9:27 pm | *

      Just testing to see if the reason the comment I just posted went into moderation is its length. If so, I should just have broken it up into several shorter comments!

      I could be wrong on this, but I think our spam filter traps comments that use the word “sex” more than 5 times (including inside a term like “asexual”). So that’s probably the issue.

  82. Ariette
    Ariette February 7, 2012 at 9:26 pm |

    Hi, this is my first time posting here, but I lurk pretty regularly. I just wanted to say thank you so, so much for posting this. I’m an asexual woman, and I honestly had no idea there were so many asexual communities out there. It’s extremely comforting.

  83. Donna L
    Donna L February 7, 2012 at 9:29 pm |

    Again, this is an experiment to see if length is determinative; apologies for the duplication, since this is just the first half of what I tried to post a little while ago:

    I’m trying really hard to understand also, as I have whenever there’s been a thread on this subject. But it’s extremely difficult. I think, for me, it may be that some people’s definitions of “asexuality” are so broad, particularly in encompassing people who do enjoy sex (and I’m not sure, by the way, exactly what “sex” is supposed to mean in this discussion — PIV sex? touching? making out?), that they would cover a great many people who would be very surprised that they’re covered. Including me.

    There are a number of aspects people have described that might apply to me — including “romantic” feelings towards certain friends and other people I’ve been very close to in my life that have been just as powerful as the feelings I’ve had for people I’ve been partnered with (kind of like EG describes), along with several others — but I simply can’t imagine identifying as asexual or any of the variations mentioned. So it makes me a little uncomfortable to see all of those aspects characterized as reflecting asexuality. I understand that nobody’s suggesting making people identify as asexual against their will, but I still have some trouble with it.

  84. Donna L
    Donna L February 7, 2012 at 9:30 pm |

    ^
    7 mentions of “sex,” but no moderation!

  85. Jadey
    Jadey February 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm |

    @ Melusina

    Can I suggest that maybe you haven’t met a representative sample of *all* asexual people. I’m sure there are asexual people with the super problematic politics you describe, but those aren’t the asexual people I’ve met (including the people in this thread, like, uhm, KAZ, who very much does not seem to be unaware of the experience of being in a sexual minority), which suggests at the very least that there is diversity in the group.

    The reference to an “asexual political lens” blows my mind. I’ve never encountered anything so unified as that, although I’ve been reading quite a lot about asexuality over the last few years. I feel like you have been exposed to a particularly unpleasant subculture if they’ve made their asexuality into a “political” ideology.

    Which is not to say that there wouldn’t be intersections of privilege among asexual people, but it’s fairly problematic to cast everyone who identifies asexually in with a political viewpoint they may have never even heard of, much less espouse.

  86. Jadey
    Jadey February 7, 2012 at 9:35 pm |

    Accckk! Why is everything I post in this thread moderated?!?! What did I do to anger the algorithm gods???

  87. Lilybet
    Lilybet February 7, 2012 at 9:38 pm |

    Queer and asexual here! Not absolutely wild about the whole “queerplatonic” phrase, not especially fussed by it. Would not characterize a relationship of mine that way.

    Several people have said that they see asexuality as conforming to social expectations for women and thus distrust it. That has not been my experience – my experience as a woman has been one of tremendous pressure to be sexual – admittedly in ‘appropriate’ ways only. Please understand that the social pressure you feel to express sexuality only in patriarchy-approved ways is not the same as the pressure on me. I am pressured to go from zero to “patriarchy-approved sexual expression”, while you are pressured to limit your sexual expression. You don’t want to restrict what you feel; I don’t want to enact a simulacrum of what I don’t feel.

    Frankly, it took me a long time to understand that I was asexual. I confused feelings of accomplishment (aha, I am desired! I do not need to feel inadequate) with feelings of sexual desire, only to be dismayed when they wore off. I felt for a long time that I was doing something wrong, and that if I figured out what it was I would enjoy and seek out sex. I felt a lot of shame. One thing I did not experience was any kind of social approval. I did not experience disapproval on account of having sex, but that is not the same thing.

    I suspect that some asexual people in relationships with sexual people only realize their asexuality late in the process. I assumed that I was bad or broken and that I should just keep soldiering on with the sex until something clicked.

    As far as asexual enjoyment of sex goes….well, sometimes it’s like getting a really good back rub, eh? It’s physical contact that feels pleasant with someone you trust. But that’s not what sexual folks are on about when they talk about wanting sex.

    Me personally? I have sexual feelings, sort of. But they don’t lead me to want to have sex with anyone. Sexual feelings followed by actual sex with a partner are no fun, no matter the situation and no matter the partner. What’s more, I don’t feel bad about this and don’t want to change. This is not, or so I am led to believe, how sexual folks feel about sex.

    Where does this come from? In my case, I think it’s probably social as much as inherent, and it’s also part of how we as a society construct sex. A hundred years ago, I could have just been a spinster (which would have brought its own problems). I would not have had to justify the fact that I didn’t want to have sex. Because now we as a society talk a great deal about sex, porn is very visible, there are many fewer sanctions on sexual activity outside of marriage, and most importantly because we have a theory of Being Human which says that Everyone Should Like Sex Because Evolution…I have to justify how I feel and put a name to it. On balance, I think the trade off is totally worth it and would much rather live now – but please let me name my own sexual experience! Or asexual experience, rather.

    Maybe if you went back and magically changed some factors in Baby Lilybet’s life, you’d end up with sexual Lilybet instead of asexual Lilybet. Who knows? All I know is that I don’t feel broken or messed up, and I think it’s okay to say “I’d rather not have years of therapy to figure out what happened when I was eight months old that made me this way to change it in the name of some norm when I am not unhappy in the first place.”

  88. m
    m February 7, 2012 at 9:42 pm |

    I’m reminded of the check-yourself reminder common to many privilege discussions: “If it’s not about you, it’s not about you.” Not everyone who would be covered by a given term will choose to identify with it, and they are under no obligation to. My sister refers to her best friend as her “hetero lifemate”; they’ve lived together for fifteen years now. If I offered them the concept of “queerplatonic,” they would reject it out of hand. That doesn’t make the label any less useful for other people who find it does resonate for them. If you match the “criteria” of a given label but you don’t identify with it, then you don’t identify with it, and the discussion becomes Not About You.

  89. Lapin
    Lapin February 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm |

    @ Donna L: asexuality isn’t about sex really. The definition we’re using is “a person who does not experience sexual attraction.” That’s it.

    The reason we often have to qualify with things like “asexual people can enjoy sex too” is because people often believe that we’re really talking about celibacy.

    Now, being asexual can certainly lead to a general disinterest in sexual activities, and I would say this is true for the majority of ace folks. But that’s not what we’re talking about.

    There are people of other sexualities, for example, heterosexuals, who aren’t all that interested in sex, yet are still heterosexual because they know they experience sexual attraction to the “opposite” sex. (If someone goes their entire life without ever having sexual contact of any kind, but still says they are heterosexual, would you say they aren’t?)

    As for the usefulness of the term, it basically prevented me from committing suicide because I felt so broken and alone.

  90. anana
    anana February 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm |

    I don’t get what’s so threatening about other people identifying themselves as asexual. Nobody is asking you to apply unwanted labels to yourself, so why are people so troubled by this?

  91. bpbetsy
    bpbetsy February 7, 2012 at 9:46 pm |

    This is a very useful discussion.

    Can I ask for clarification re: enjoying sex with a person one is not sexually attracted to? I think this is the one thing I don’t fully understand, after doing much research on the topic ever since my sibling came out to me as asexual. This is a question I would find too personal to ask her. If anyone here could address it (ex: what is pleasurable about partnered sex for someone who does not experience sexual desire for other people?) that would be helpful, but obviously don’t feel obligated to educate me!

  92. Shiyiya
    Shiyiya February 7, 2012 at 9:47 pm |

    Dear Everyone In This Thread:

    Asexuality means not experiencing sexual attraction. THAT’S IT. Asexuals CAN enjoy/not enjoy sex, prioritize/deprioritize friends, have romantic relationships/not have romantic relationships, have queerplatonic relationships/not, have a high libido/have no libido, and ANY OTHER GODDAMN THING because THAT’S NOT PART OF THE DEFINITION.

    It is about ATTRACTION. That’s IT. Behavior has NOT A SINGLE THING TO DO WITH IT.

    And if you don’t want to identify with a word, you don’t have to! Nobody is making you!

  93. Shiyiya
    Shiyiya February 7, 2012 at 9:55 pm |

    @bpbetsy: The physical sensations are there regardless of sexual attraction (or nobody would ever masturbate). And someone might want to do it because they knew it made their partner happy, and they enjoyed making them feel good (or nobody would ever give presents).

  94. Bagheist
    Bagheist February 7, 2012 at 10:02 pm |

    @ bpbetsy

    Personally, I enjoy having sex with my partner because not only does it just feel good (nerve stimulation and so forth)but because he enjoys it. I like giving him pleasure, and I like touching him, particularly on bare skin – touching his bare skin is not particularly arousing for me by itself, but it’s still something I quite enjoy.

    It’s kind of like if I enjoyed being outdoors with him, and he liked playing soccer – I’d play soccer with him, because I’m outdoors with him (so I’m enjoying myself because we’re outdoors together), AND he’s enjoying himself (because we’re playing soccer together). We’re getting different things out of it, but we’re still enjoying the same activity.

  95. Lapin
    Lapin February 7, 2012 at 10:04 pm |

    Actually I’m a bit confused why people are hung up over having sex with someone whom you don’t find sexually attractive.

    I doubt it’s something that only asexual people do. In fact, Li mentioned it upthread…

  96. Donna L
    Donna L February 7, 2012 at 10:16 pm |

    Asexuality means not experiencing sexual attraction

    Yes, I’ve read that many times. But I just can’t seem to grasp — even though I’m trying very hard — what that actually means. Specifically whether, for those who identify as asexual but do enjoy sex, it means that you don’t experience sexual attraction when you’re not actually having sex (which is something I do “get”), or also that you don’t experience sexual attraction even while you’re having sex and enjoying it. Is there a distinction being made between physical and mental attraction? In any event, I’ll stop asking questions now. I wouldn’t be asking them at all if people didn’t seem willing to try to answer them. And even if I don’t get it — the same way most cis people can’t begin to “get” what it means to be trans — that doesn’t mean I don’t accept people’s self-identification.

  97. Melusina
    Melusina February 7, 2012 at 10:30 pm |

    @Jadey – Kaz says, hirself, that “David Jay is the face of asexuality.” Asexual identity as-such is rooted not in real-life communities that sprung up organically over decades, , but in David Jay and AVEN. So /of course/ they are all working from the same fundamental identity politic. They’re an internet subculture, and in some ways have more in common with others like “childfree” than with material, real-life sexual minority communities.

    @Shiyiya – But “demisexual” and “gray a” people DO experience sexual attraction… sooooo… your own definitons are kind of internally incoherent.

  98. Chally
    Chally February 7, 2012 at 10:30 pm |

    The post is entitled “An Asexual Map for Sex-Positive Feminism,” not “Let’s Walk All Over People’s Identities Because it is All About Us”. There was a topic, and this was not supposed to be a referendum on the legitimacy of asexuality. Also, Kaz provided heaps of resources for 101 questions. Possibly we could talk about how asexuality and sex-positive feminism might fit together.

  99. Melusina
    Melusina February 7, 2012 at 10:32 pm |

    @Chally, the notion that identity is sacred is such western individualist snowflakey crap.

  100. Aydan
    Aydan February 7, 2012 at 10:33 pm |

    Yes, I’ve read that many times. But I just can’t seem to grasp — even though I’m trying very hard — what that actually means. Specifically whether, for those who identify as asexual but do enjoy sex, it means that you don’t experience sexual attraction when you’re not actually having sex (which is something I do “get”), or also that you don’t experience sexual attraction even while you’re having sex and enjoying it. Is there a distinction being made between physical and mental attraction? In any event, I’ll stop asking questions now. I wouldn’t be asking them at all if people didn’t seem willing to try to answer them. And even if I don’t get it — the same way most cis people can’t begin to “get” what it means to be trans — that doesn’t mean I don’t accept people’s self-identification.

    It’s the second one. Asexuality means not experiencing sexual attraction, full stop. I’ve seen several different kinds of attraction separated out– sexual attraction; romantic attraction; aesthetic attraction (“Oooh, they look/sound/smell nice”); emotional attraction (sort of like platonic attraction, I guess?); and some people discuss intellectual attraction, which is a sort of fascination with someone’s mind and ideas.

    I realize that for many/most people, these things go together and there’s no need to distinguish them, which is, I think, one reason many people have problems with these concepts and this identity. But for us, they just don’t go together.

    (Also– I don’t mind answering good faith questions like this, but kaz or other moderators, if you feel this is a derail, apologies and I will of course stop.)

  101. Iany
    Iany February 7, 2012 at 10:54 pm |

    I… give up on this thread.

    Thanks for your post Kaz, I think it was a great start and a great jumping board for learning and discussion. I just wish the comments reflected that more.

  102. Aydan
    Aydan February 7, 2012 at 11:08 pm |

    So what would be a better, more workable model of consent? What might that look like?

    Enthusiastic consent, as it is commonly interpreted, is too high a bar for many people to reach, while garden-variety no-means-no consent is way too low a bar to prevent rape. What’s in between? How can we take the yes-means-yes concept from enthusiastic consent and uncouple it from the requirement for, well, enthusiasm (or at least, enthusiasm as it’s sometimes defined, ie the throes of passion)? What if we just… recognized that not all yeses have to be enthusiastic to be valid affirmations of consent? Would that solve the problem?

  103. Chally
    Chally February 7, 2012 at 11:08 pm |

    Um, okay, Melusina, but this non-white person really doesn’t need to be told that Western ideas aren’t universal, you’re still not on topic, and you’re actually talking about special snowflakes in a social justice forum. If it wasn’t evident from one of your comments being deleted, you really should be taking a step back.

  104. Jo
    Jo February 7, 2012 at 11:09 pm |

    Iany, I completely understand you.

    I posted the same things Chally just said up at #55 in length. But I didn’t think it would get worse from here. Melusina, I did not think that I would find such intolerant and unaccepting comments here.

    Calling asexual people “an internet subculture” and far removed from “real life sexual minority groups” is just unacceptable. If people said the same as sexual GLBT people here they would be (metaphorically) shot. That sort of thinking is outdated and elitist. Not to mention the fact that I am an asexual, and a homoromantic asexual – I’m romantically interested in the same sex. Does that not make me queer? All the GLBTIQA people I know have no problem with asexuality being included in the queer spectrum. It amazes me that you find this so incomprehensible, and that you have managed to turn this space, which I assumed would be a safe space for asexuals, into a place that has made me feel angry, unwelcome and unsafe.

    Is there a distinction being made between physical and mental attraction? In any event, I’ll stop asking questions now. I wouldn’t be asking them at all if people didn’t seem willing to try to answer them.

    Donna L: yes, that is what asexual people realise. There are different types of attractions, physical, sexual, emotional, intellectual, romantic. To reinterate what I said above, if there were some sort of theorietical base behind asexuality, it would be the realisation that not all sorts of attraction form a big group, and the decnetralisation of the idea that sexual attraction is central to everything else (such as wanting to have a relationship with someone). If you want to talk about this further, feel free to email me from my blog: this thread is just getting out of control.

  105. Shiyiya
    Shiyiya February 7, 2012 at 11:10 pm |

    Aydan, I think “uncoerced” is the important element that people are trying to convey with “enthusiastic”? I’m not sure how to construct a model around that, though.

    1. Jill
      Jill February 7, 2012 at 11:15 pm | *

      Ok, so, Kaz is going to bed and so am I, and I’m going to be away from the computer for most of the day tomorrow, and it seems like this thread is getting frustrating for a lot of people. So I’m putting this whole thread on mod. I’ve given Kaz the keys, and ze can moderate comments as ze sees fit. So: Please listen to and respect Kaz’s requests regarding comments. I will help mod when I can, and Clarisse will help mod when she can, but both of us will be spending large chunks of time away from the blog. So please be patient when your comments don’t go up right away.

  106. Jadey
    Jadey February 7, 2012 at 11:18 pm |

    Does ‘meaningful consent’ work, as was mentioned up thread? Or does that create the redundant problem of people not being sure what ‘meaningful’ means? (In my head, it means being capable of giving consent at the point that it was given – although there’s probably always going to be some disagreement about where hard-and-fast lines on that stand; just look at the “real” rape thread and the discussion around intoxication).

    In research, we talk about “informed consent”, which is the idea that people have to have all of the necessary information within reasonable access in order to make the decision to participate or not. There is no expectation of enthusiasm (which is good because most undergraduates aren’t particularly overjoyed to chase dots around a computer screen in a lab on Friday afternoon). Obviously research participation and sexual interaction are not synonymous, but at least there’s an example of a consent situation (which does sometimes involve risk and personal investment, depending on the research) in which enthusiasm is not a prerequisite.

  107. EG
    EG February 7, 2012 at 11:22 pm |

    Queerplatonic relationships feel different from friendship, in the same way that I’ve been told that romantic relationships feel different from friendships – i.e., when it comes down to it, even without any romantic actions at all (traditional or otherwise), a romantic relationship feels intrinsically different from a friendship.

    I think, ultimately, the block in my understanding is that romantic relationships do not really feel emotionally fundamentally different to me than intense friendships, except for the sexual component. For me, sexual attraction is literally the only thing that differentiates a what I feel for a romantic partner from what I feel for a best friend or what I feel for children I have taken care of. So I can’t actually understand what you mean.

    e.g.- a sexual romantic relationship is not the same as a friends with benefits one, is it? Yet, on the surface, they could both be defined by “People who have sex and care for each other”.

    I…don’t know. Because that’s also a concept I’ve always had trouble with. Because if I’m attracted to you…and I want to spend time with you and I like you…how is that not a romantic relationship?

    I suppose I’ll never understand. That’s cool. I don’t have to. It’s just not my thing.

    Actually I’m a bit confused why people are hung up over having sex with someone whom you don’t find sexually attractive.

    Honestly? I can’t speak for anyone else, but because the times I’ve done that–and hell, I’ve been in relationships that lasted for months that worked like that–it was deeply, deeply unpleasant, to say the least. Those experiences did a real number on my libido and on my whole sense of self. Just remembering them makes my skin crawl. It’s not so much the concept of “having sex with someone whom you don’t find sexually attractive” that I don’t get; it’s the concept of enjoying it.

    Again, I don’t have to, but that may well be the reason for people who aren’t me, too.

    So I’m kind of getting the feeling that there are some people saying “I don’t get this analogy” or “what do you mean by that?” less because they want clarification/to learn, but because they don’t believe asexuality is a real identity.
    Why not just say that and save the time of people trying to explain?

    As more than one therapist and many friends have ungrammatically said to me “Just because you have a feeling doesn’t make that feeling true.” I didn’t get the analogy. Of course, I also like to cook, and the only reason I don’t make pie is because I don’t have the counterspace, so…

    As to “real” identities: very few identities are “real,” if by “real,” you mean objectively transhistorically and transculturally present. Identities are real insofar as people find them meaningful ways of making sense of their lives and experiences. So, in answer to your kind of passive-aggressive implication, no, I’m not saying that “asexual” isn’t a “real” identity. I’m saying it’s one that doesn’t make sense to me. It probably never will, as I have read numerous explanations by this point and none of them has clicked. No big. It’s not like I’m going to go out there and fight to deny you rights or anything.

  108. LotusBen
    LotusBen February 7, 2012 at 11:48 pm |

    The reference to an “asexual political lens” blows my mind.

    I think Melusina’s “asexual political lens” is similiar to Tony Perkins’ “gay agenda,” except in Tony Perkins case the people being screwed are fundamentalist Christians, while in Melusina’s case the people being screwed are non-asexual LGBT people.

    Melusina, I did not think that I would find such intolerant and unaccepting comments here.

    I’m actually pretty shocked at the overall tenor in this comment thread not from trolls but from solid feminists who should know better. I mean–I’m not asexual; I haven’t met anyone asexual in meatspace; and I haven’t even researched this topic that much before today–but even I realize the same rules apply here as if this topic were about any other oppressed group. Check your privilege people: it’s not that hard.

  109. Azalea
    Azalea February 8, 2012 at 12:46 am |

    Aydan @ 6

    @DP– if the asexual person in question is also celibate, and does not wish to engage in sexual activity with hir partner. This is true of some of the asexual community– maybe a small proportion, maybe most of it. Asexuality is not synonymous with celibacy, and not everyone who is celibate is asexual. There are definitely happy romantic relationships between asexual and non-asexual (non-demisexual, non-grey-asexual) people; the BBC profiled one here, and several asexual bloggers have written about such. There are, of course, also unhappy mixed relationships.

    But the asexual partner need not be celibate for the sexual partner to be unhappy. Sexual incompatibility is a problem amongst two sexuals , it would definitely have the potential to raise a big problem between a sexual and an asexual depending on the libido of the sexual.

    If you’re found to be wanting something (in this case sex) out of your relationship that you feel you do not get often enough because your partner really doesn’t want to or would feel awful about it you wont be happy. Relationships, no matter the specifics, has to be about mutual pleasure and happiness on some level. Its up to the two people to decide if it would work for them.

  110. avendya
    avendya February 8, 2012 at 12:54 am |

    I would like to note that I identify as asexual, and I participate in real life LGBTQQIA(etc) groups — both formal and informal — with other people who identify as asexual. Some identify as queer, others identify as allies, still others don’t give a damn about LGBTQQIA identities one way or the other; some are liberals, others are not; some are white, others are not; some are American, others are not. Don’t tell me this is just an internet subculture.

    (I will admit that vocal asexuals on the Internet often know each other and influence each other, which could contribute to the idea that asexuals all have the same political views and opinions. However, vocal asexuals on the Internet != all asexuals.)

  111. Azalea
    Azalea February 8, 2012 at 1:12 am |

    Actually I’m a bit confused why people are hung up over having sex with someone whom you don’t find sexually attractive.

    I doubt it’s something that only asexual people do. In fact, Li mentioned it upthread…

    I definitely agree, there are plenty of people who are with someone for everything except their physical/sexual appeal and they have and enjoy having sex with that person without ever having been sexually attacted to that person.

    I am not sure how many can/will/have done that but sex and sexual attraction is huge for most. Unfortunately, far too many people do not understand and cant emphathize with something they havent experience personally.

  112. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri February 8, 2012 at 1:25 am |

    Aydan, I think “uncoerced” is the important element that people are trying to convey with “enthusiastic”? I’m not sure how to construct a model around that, though.

    If you have to ask more than once, it’s probably not really consent? — I’d think this could probably work for most of these “questionably consenting” situations — take your partner’s first answer as their final answer?

  113. seisy
    seisy February 8, 2012 at 1:57 am |

    @Aydan

    I realize that for many/most people, these things go together and there’s no need to distinguish them, which is, I think, one reason many people have problems with these concepts and this identity.

    I liked this whole point. I think there are a lot of different relationships that we have with people- that we all do have with people- but that they can overlap and layer to the point that we may forget that a relationship isn’t a singular thing but multi-faceted.

  114. Norah
    Norah February 8, 2012 at 3:36 am |

    Wow, an entire thread on the most basic level, mostly even talking about the definition. People who say “I just don’t understand how you can have sex and enjoy it and not have sexual attraction” who sound more like “You know, this really just isn’t possible, for anyone.” A few people saying that asexuality is the same as celibacy. Lots of people telling asexual people that these relationships really are just friendship or just romantic relationships, because we just understood the definitions wrong or we’re making friendship look bad or wah wah special snowflakes.

    Yeah, people really haven’t been trying to figure this stuff out for years and come up with what fits best after thinking about it and doing tonnes of research, so thanks for explaining.

    Very little about sex positivity.
    Very little discussion of the links.

  115. LongHairedWeirdo
    LongHairedWeirdo February 8, 2012 at 3:41 am |

    I think that’s fine if they’re ok with it, but I think you (as in the generic “you”, not talking you specifically) should tell them you’re not into it but you’re happy to do it for them, so you can see how they feel about that. I for one would be upset if I thought my partner was getting direct pleasure out of something (if that makes sense?) and then it turned out they were doing it to please me, even if they were really happy to do it for my sake.

    You know, I think this is a good example of just how incredibly complicated people can be.

    Seriously, stop and think about this – and I’m not saying there’s a right or wrong answer here.

    You love X_Activity. Your partner tries it out, and loves what it does for you. But, really? Not a turn-on, without you. If their next partner doesn’t like X_Activity, it won’t be a *relief*, but it won’t be a disappointment, either.

    Now, let’s think about your partner – why bring this up?

    Some people might feel guilty or like a burden for engaging in X_Activity, even people who aren’t normally guilt-ridden. Sex is a deep area of vulnerability, after all.

    So, not bringing it up can be hiding something. But bringing it up could make things less happy than they’d otherwise be.

    And it’s crazy, because just saying “you know, this isn’t a primary turn on for me” can seem like it means more than what it says, just because it was brought up at all. It can raise questions.

    And then, just to turn it on its head, a partner could ask “what business is it of *yours* if I’m actively turned on by X_Activity, if we have fun doing it? How do you get to judge how much or how little pleasure I have to get (and whether or not it’s the right *kind* of pleasure!) before I have to speak up?”

    Again, not saying there’s any good answers here, and I’m certainly not saying someone’s right or wrong. Just saying, wow, people are *complicated*.

    (As a side note: there are “X_Activities” where I’d rather only engage in them with people who find them to be a primary turn-on. So, I’m not disagreeing with you, either. I’m just thinking.)

  116. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth February 8, 2012 at 4:24 am |

    Kaz, this is a great post and I’m quite glad to see it even though the discussion has turned quite nasty at some points. I’m amazed about the comment about how DJ somehow IS the entire asexual community, as if we’re all organized solely around him and everyone agrees with him all the time. LOL! He’s a great organizer and he’s been a good spokesperson for many years, but I certainly don’t agree with all of his opinions. That’s kinda like saying that, say… Ellen Degeneres IS the lesbian community, that everyone just follows her and agrees with all her opinions, or something like that.

    And claiming that asexuality is just an “internet identity” that doesn’t exist in meatspace? Well, consider this… Maybe you’ve never met an asexual in person that you know of. The thing about asexuality is that, like bisexuality (or to an even greater degree considering that you would assume a person is bisexual if you have seen them kissing both girls and boys), it’s largely invisible. I’m willing to be you’ve met asexuals before, and never been close enough to them for them to come out to you. I’ve discovered three or four fellow asexuals that I already knew in real life after mentioning something related to asexuality myself. Asexuality has a presence offline, but people are likely to be unaware of it. Asexuals have existed prior to the formation of AVEN and were described in more than one study on human sexuality–Kinsey called us “Group X” for example. Check out Asexual Explorations for more examples.

    To those of you who are curious about how an asexual person can enjoy sex, and why a sexual person would want to date an asexual person, please do check out my blog. I have a lot of posts dedicated to this, including some dedicated to answering questions about asexuality, and my partner just made a post about why she is dating me. I probably won’t keep following the comments here, but if you have any questions for me to answer on my blog, send them to me and I’ll put them up in a post whenever I have time to answer them.

  117. piny
    piny February 8, 2012 at 8:06 am |

    However, in general, there are reasons people may use the queerplatonic term even if they don’t feel this distinction, even if their queerplatonic relationships feel like a natural outgrowth of their friendships. And among them is the fact that friendship is frequently extremely devalued. This is obviously going to be culturally dependent, but… in my experience, as far as society’s opinion goes, life partners don’t fall under “friendship”. Nor do people you want to raise your kids with. Nor people who have input or even a voting right in your major life decisions because your lives are entwined. “Friends” aren’t people you’d move to another continent to live with. “Friends” have extremely little power.

    I think you’ll find that many people form relationships like this with people they’re not related to by blood or sex. She’s like a sister to me. He was like a father to me. He’s like my big brother. There are people in my life with that level of gravitational pull.

    That model you’re referring to is also a heterosexist model: born to a blood family, cleaving to a spouse, raising children of your own. Queer people can’t usually just stick with the crowd they’re in with; they get expelled. They have to build their own “families.”

    And there is a really big difference between acknowledging that our society devalues this kind of relationship and identifying it with only one minority segment of the population. Long-lasting, intense nonsexual relationships are incredibly common, probably more common than not. They’re a cliche, and they’re most common amongst people (sexual and a) who are not living with extra pressure to build their lives around a pair bond with a sexual component.

    I don’t have a problem with this new terminology for deep platonic relationships. But it isn’t right to say that this is something asexuals are more prone to or invested in.

    And maybe you could extend that benefit of the doubt to the people who keep saying, “I just don’t see the difference between friendship and queerplatonic.” Maybe that doesn’t mean that they don’t have intense friendships, or that they’ve never been in a relationship that could be termed queerplatonic. Maybe it means that they do, in fact, place that kind of trust and intimate care in their friends.

  118. Lapin
    Lapin February 8, 2012 at 8:46 am |

    So I’m sorry if I came off as passive aggressive, but it’s just that whenever there is a discussion of asexuality in non-ace spaces, it tends to get pretty bad, and I was hoping that wouldn’t happen.

    Also, I’m not saying you should/have to date someone who cannot feel sexual attraction if that is important to you. You don’t have to date a person if you don’t want to. However, people tend to get pretty judgey about informed adults who choose to date/have sex with asexual people, which doesn’t seem all that sex positive.

  119. Kara
    Kara February 8, 2012 at 8:50 am |

    In all of this thread full of fumbling over the need to have terms and labels other than “friendship” for all of these different levels and shadings of relationships, I am surprised that no one has yet brought up the Greek concepts of eros, storge, phillia, and agape.

    In many cases, like this one, I find that the English language can be so limiting…

  120. Lilybet
    Lilybet February 8, 2012 at 9:37 am |

    Some night thoughts:

    1. I feel like some of the “asexuality isn’t real; it’s just conforming to patriarchy” concern comes from a place of “if asexuality becomes a thing I, a sexual woman, will be told that if I am unhappy with my sex life it is because I am a closeted asexual”. That might very well be true – it’s pretty much in line with patriarchal practices about women’s sexuality, to wit, if you’re unhappy it’s because you are thinking wrong about yourself. But this is a problem with patriarchy, not me, and it won’t be solved by telling me that I am wrong about myself.

    I actually did want to explore a couple of the concerns from upthread which were brought up in a problematic way:

    1. The idea that asexuality isn’t a real thing like queerness is a real thing, because queerness is a social identity with political struggle and community behind it. First, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for visibly queer people to point out that you can get casually queerbashed just for your appearance, affect, holding hand with a partner, etc, but you’re unlikely to get casually asexual-bashed while you’re walking down the street. And if an asexual straight person has kids, they will have far fewer problems with custody, etc, than a queer person who has kids. So yeah, as a queer asexual person, I do see the social differences between the two identities and think they’re meaningful.

    However, queerness/homosexuality/lesbianism became political identities for specific historical reasons and under specific conditions. Being a gay man in England in 1920 is pretty different from being Socrates in ancient Greece or experiencing the passions of the cut sleeve in Heian Japan. Homosexuality became a political identity because there was a need for a political identity to combat a specific set of medicalizations and persecutions during early modernity. It was a response to a specific set of modern ideologies. All else followed. I experience my queerness today in a certain way because queerness has evolved a particular set of rhetorics and theories; it’s not that I sat down in the wilderness and made up my queerness.

    Similarly, I see the political identity of asexuality as a response to a 20th/21st century narrative about sex – to wit, a narrative which says that you must do the work of enjoying sex or you are broken. You’re not a natural celibate, or a member of a religious order, or a spinster or confirmed batchelor or a virtuous person who has risen above their baser animal nature or even someone who just doesn’t want to get pregnant (and all of those descriptors have problems, it’s not that these are anything I would ever wish on anyone, they’re just a way of explaining that no thanks, you really don’t). Instead, if you really don’t, you’re broken, or closeted, or frigid, or a prude, or a fundie, and you need to change. More, there’s an unspoken implication to the whole sex positive/GGG discourse which says that you’re selfish even if your partner is happy or you don’t have a partner. The political identity of asexuality is a way of mobilizing bodies and discourse to deal with that political reality – a way to be, as it were, that doesn’t hurt.

    3. The socially constructed nature of asexuality: I was thinking this morning that no one is born a union member (I’m a union member!) and yet we don’t say “all this stuff that you say about ‘workers’ and ‘exploitation’ and ‘unfair working conditions’ – that’s just totally made up, and all in your head, and an artifact of the 21st century, so if you just think about your job the right way, you will no longer want to organize”. We make history not under the conditions of our own choosing, as the poet said.

  121. Andie
    Andie February 8, 2012 at 9:52 am |

    I just want to say thanks for writing this, Kaz. I’m learning a lot.

  122. amaresu
    amaresu February 8, 2012 at 9:57 am |

    I like the term active consent myself. The whole idea that consent isn’t something you give once and then everyone is good appeals to me. I like the idea that you check in with the other person(s) and make sure everything is still good every once in awhile.

    I think active consent also makes it okay to stop midstream and say that you don’t want to do this anymore. Because there is a certain sense that once you start you need to finish, at least that’s what I’ve encountered and I think that is where a lot of my repulsed feelings come from. Not that it’s not okay now to stop in the middle, but there’s not a lot of talk about it being okay.

    Sex-positiveness is often all about how great sex is and how everyone should be doing it and very little about the various ways and reasons that people may choose not to have sex or do certain sexual acts. Which makes it a very unwelcoming place for anyone who doesn’t want to have sex, for any of a variety of different reasons.

    Active consent, for me at least, is all about talking and communicating. It says that having sex is good, but not having it is also good. It’s just as much about the things you don’t want to do as the things you do because you need to work out consent for all stages of intimate activity. Rather than just going with the flow.

    And I’ve probably babbled enough.

  123. Esti
    Esti February 8, 2012 at 10:04 am |

    I’m actually pretty shocked at the overall tenor in this comment thread not from trolls but from solid feminists who should know better. I mean–I’m not asexual; I haven’t met anyone asexual in meatspace; and I haven’t even researched this topic that much before today–but even I realize the same rules apply here as if this topic were about any other oppressed group. Check your privilege people: it’s not that hard.

    This bears repeating. I’m not shocked by how this thread went, based on the few (even more hostile) discussions of asexuality that have happened here in the past, but it’s still disappointing. I know this is a topic that’s new for a lot of people, but there are a ton of helpful 101 links in the original post. Just because you (the general you) are sincerely trying to understand doesn’t mean that your questions and comments aren’t creating a hostile environment for members of the group you’re interrogating.

  124. Lapin
    Lapin February 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm |

    In my post at #123, the second paragraph is directed not towards anyone in particular, just the general “you”. Just wanted to clarify that.

  125. piny
    piny February 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm |

    1. I feel like some of the “asexuality isn’t real; it’s just conforming to patriarchy” concern comes from a place of “if asexuality becomes a thing I, a sexual woman, will be told that if I am unhappy with my sex life it is because I am a closeted asexual”. That might very well be true – it’s pretty much in line with patriarchal practices about women’s sexuality, to wit, if you’re unhappy it’s because you are thinking wrong about yourself. But this is a problem with patriarchy, not me, and it won’t be solved by telling me that I am wrong about myself.

    Well, no, I think a lot of people are bothered by the way in which asexuality and some associated definitions–to take a strong example, demisexuality–define many aspects of human sexuality as somehow not common to a lot of people.

    Those aspects of human sexuality–intimate platonic relationships, fluctuating libidos, tricky libidos, relationships that are romantic but not sexual, sex for other than lusty reasons, vitally important relationships not limited to marriage or pair-bond, alienation in general–have formed part of the identity politic of many other sexual minorities.

    Sexual minorities have been trying to craft a more embracing model of human sexuality. They have been trying to get people to acknowledge that monogamous heterosexual mars-venus partnerships are adequate to the needs of a tiny fraction of humanity. They have been trying to get people to admit that human sexuality is much more complex for most people, that most people need more. A limited definition of human sexuality is an oppressive one–one that pathologizes women not as asexual, but as unreal. If “unhappy with my sex life” is not considered pretty much normal, then women under patriarchy are abnormal and patriarchal male sexuality is normal and valid.

    And although I am very glad that this discussion is happening, I am troubled by the fact that so many people seem to be saying frankly boneheaded things about human sexuality and relationships in general. It isn’t the definitions of asexuality that are offending so many other sexual minorities; it’s the implicit converses that keep cropping up. And although asexual people are a minority in their own right, a whole lot of them are straight cis people, and the movement as a whole needs to pay attention to the societal tendency to engage in hetero- and cissexism.

  126. Tomek Kulesza
    Tomek Kulesza February 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm |

    Well, apparently you can’t touch atypical relationship idea without stumbling into polyamory anymore :D

    The distinction between romantic/sexual love and friendship love is just nonsensical.

    I never understood the problem with asexuality in regards to enthusiastic consent. I mean, the enthusiastic consent isn’t about enthusiasm at all, but about agenda and active decision (to engage) instead of ‘giving up’ and not disagreeing – “enthusiasm” is pretty much irrelavant here.

    Never thought of asexuality as being even vaguely related to slut-shaming and sex-negativity. What would it be? Sex positivity isn’t about enthusiasm for sex anyway but about acceptance and shamelessness.

    Thus, i reain puzzled about the source of the whole issue.

  127. Sera
    Sera February 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm |

    I want to echo the thanks to Kaz for this discussion, and for the whole new world of self-awareness it has opened up for me.

    Sex-positiveness is often all about how great sex is and how everyone should be doing it and very little about the various ways and reasons that people may choose not to have sex or do certain sexual acts. Which makes it a very unwelcoming place for anyone who doesn’t want to have sex, for any of a variety of different reasons.

    This has been my view vaguely of all feminism, and more specifically ‘sex-positive’ feminism, which has made me feel more strange than I do in my daily interactions. I don’t want to feel like there is something wrong with me b/c I don’t do sex like you do…whether that means your orientation, your kink, your variety, your frequency… or anything else.

    I find it so very strange, this hostility against asexuals, because as has been said by so many marginalized groups before: “What harm are we causing you?”

  128. LotusBen
    LotusBen February 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm |

    Piny, give me a fucking break. The only people who keep bringinig up the experiences of non-asexuals here are non-asexuals. I haven’t read a single post here where an asexual tried to define all non-asexual experience, queer or otherwise. No one here has said that non-asexuals can’t have deep, meaningful platonic relationships, flucuating libido, sex for non-lusty reasons, etc., etc. In fact, they have gone to pains to point out they are specifically not saying that, that this conversation is not about us non-asexuals, and if we want to identify with the their terms anyway we can and if we don’t want to identify with the terms we don’t have to.

    Maybe these “implicit converses” you keep seeing are really caused by your own privilege projecting itself. I know plenty of times I’ve read conversations on feminist websites talking about women’s experiences and thinking “wait a minute–aren’t they saying something about me as a man? I should post and explain how they are making men like me feel!” And 9 times out of 10 I come across a self-centered idiot because that’s what I’m being. This. Thread. Is. Not. About. You.

  129. Charlotte
    Charlotte February 8, 2012 at 3:15 pm |

    I think that one of the things that sex-positive activists and asexual activists should very much be in alliance about is the idea that you never owe anyone sex. This is perhaps more intrinsic to the sex-positivity side than the asexual side, as obviously some asexuals enjoy sex, but I feel like this connection should be useful, somehow? I’m not entirely sure what I’m getting at but it seems like there is some possibility for connection there.

  130. Argenti Aertheri
    Argenti Aertheri February 8, 2012 at 3:27 pm |

    @132 — in reply to what slut-shaming and asexuality have to do with each other, I suggest attempting to follow that thread — since that got beyond weird, and is probably TL;DR — someone in that thread, Aydan I think it was, was flat-out accused of slut-shaming. This came up again in the first few comments in this thread too.

    I’ve only ever seen enthusiastic consent as a counter to the GGG expectation that you should do things you’re meh on, or really don’t want to, because it’ll please your partner. That performing sex acts for your partner’s sake is “kinda rape-y”, because you’re not really consenting, just going along, is kind of inherent to the concept of enthusiastic consent though. Except, it seems to me anyways, that plenty of the sex being had by asexuals is sex they’re meh on, but are consenting to because it will please their partner, and they like pleasing their partner. Having been on the scary side of the compromise problem, I think it makes a huge difference whether the *sexual partner is expecting this act, or would accept a rejection if you gave one. (and really, I don’t see this being limited to asexuals, though I’d imagine they’d face it the most often, if partnered anyways)

    Kaz, sorry if this is a babbling derail, that thread over the summer got *weird* and I really don’t want to see that all dragged out again. And thank you for this post, I really hope this thread goes better than that did.

    1. Jill
      Jill February 8, 2012 at 5:29 pm | *

      This doesn’t seem to be going anywhere good, so at Kaz’s request I’m closing comments.

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