Edge of Everywhere

Archive for January 2009

I hate the word asexual. I hate that the “a” can be easily swallowed and the “sexual” is so prominent. Asexuality is the only orientation without a widely known alternative word, and I think it’s ironic and cruel that when asexuals come out to people, we’re the only ones who have no choice but to use a word containing “sex” even though we’re the only ones who don’t care about┬áhaving any. It’s also unfair that we have to use a word that describes only one aspect of our relationships, the one aspect we don’t care about. It doesn’t say anything about the relationships we do have and want. It confuses people, makes them try to diagnose our “problems,” makes them feel like they have the right to know about our masturbation habits. I can’t wait until asexuality is more widely understood and “ace” catches on, because that’s something I can actually feel good about saying.

Coming to understand my asexuality has actually given me a better understanding of the reasons people have sex. Now that I know I have never had any actual interest in it, I have been able to sort out my actual reasons for doing or considering doing certain things with people: wanting to be close to them, wanting to please them, enjoying their attraction to me, going along with what they initiated and not knowing how to say I wasn’t interested, or just doing what I knew people were “supposed to do” in certain situations even though I wasn’t into it at all. I can remember conversations I’ve had about girls who admitted to having sex with guys repeatedly despite the fact that they didn’t really enjoy it. I remember judging these girls as self-hating, oppressed, pathetic. But now, I get it, because all the things these girls gain by having sex are things I gave up when I finally admitted to myself and to other people that I had no interest in having it with anyone, ever. I’ve given up the right to gain instant (if temporary) status in a guy’s life and social circle by being the girl he’s sleeping with. I’ve given up a certain type of validation of my attractiveness, desirability, and worth (albeit an arguably unhealthy one). I’ve given up a certain type of intimacy. So now, when I hear about these girls, I don’t judge them anymore – I just feel lucky that I can wave my A-card an as excuse to get out of situations I know I wouldn’t really enjoy, and feel bad for them because they haven’t found an excuse yet.

I’m generally wary of telling people about my asexuality unless I already know that they understand what it means, because I hate being misunderstood and having to defend my identity. However, I’ve started to realize that while my sexual friends may not immediately understand what it means to “not experience sexual attraction,” once I tell them more, there are a lot of things they do get, and relate to: the idea of hooking up with someone out of perceived obligation or habit rather than desire, not being into it, feeling like there were other things they could be doing, feeling like it was kind of pointless and that they could do a better job themselves. It may still be hard to understand that I could feel that way no matter how much I like and am attracted to someone, but I’ve found that once people can conceptualize asexuality in terms of concrete experiences rather than vague definitions, it doesn’t seem so alien or impossible anymore.