Edge of Everywhere

Archive for June 2009

Rainbow Amoeba recently wrote a great piece for the Asexual Perspectives section of the AVEN website called How Discovering My Asexuality Set Me Free. I found this part to be especially thought-provoking:

I do not think very often about what this orientation describes – my lack of interest in sex – but I am grateful every day for the many other things my awareness of it has brought me – all the choices I discovered I could make, all the new ways I discovered I could relate to other people and love them, all the possible futures that I now see open before me.

I love thinking about asexuality as a set of possibilities rather than as the lack of something. It’s usually framed in terms of the absence of sexual attraction/desire, but to me, that’s not what’s at the heart of asexuality. The dual realization that we don’t want the things we’ve grown up being taught that everyone wants, and that it’s actually valid to feel that way, is simply the beginning of a lifelong process of deciding what we do want out of our lives and relationships.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about asexuality less as an orientation and more as a worldview. Seeing the world asexually is about taking ownership of our feelings and desires and embarking on the sometimes scary but exhilarating journey of deciding what exactly we want from the people in our lives, based not on a set of pre-defined relationship models we’ve been handed, but on a new set of models that we can make up as we go along. It’s about being completely honest with ourselves and knowing that whatever we want is not only okay but maybe even attainable and satisfying beyond our wildest dreams, even if it doesn’t fit into society’s boxes. Instead of nothing making sense, suddenly everything makes sense, because it’s what we want, plain and simple. Before I knew I was asexual, my desires (and lack thereof) left me confused and occasionally ashamed. Now, everything I want and don’t want is simply a fact, a natural fact, and I can spend my time thinking about new possibilities and futures. I am incredibly grateful to have been given the chance to view and reassess my life through the lens of asexuality. It’s a lens I think all people could benefit from looking through.

It seems that when a woman announces that she is getting married, it is the duty of all the other females in her life to get hysterically excited and immediately start drilling her for all the details of the proposal, wedding plans, and so on, and then maintain that level of excitement through the whole process. It’s one of those rituals I just don’t understand at all, because when I hear the news, I don’t feel anything, except maybe annoyance at the fact that I will inevitably have to fake excitement.

It’s not that I don’t care about the happiness of the people in my life–quite the opposite. And if they find meaningful relationships that make them happy, I think that’s truly great. However, I don’t understand why I’m supposed to feel extra happiness about the fact that they are getting married. Personally, the idea of spending my life with someone has never been connected in the slightest to legal contracts, public spectacles, dresses, rings, or making my family members buy me expensive appliances. The whole wedding package holds no interest for me (and honestly, seems downright terrifying and torturous, because I am very private about my relationships), and the institution of marriage holds no meaning for me.

As an asexual person who is only ever going to be in somewhat unconventional relationships, it is very difficult for me to buy into the idea that people who are getting married have found the best, most meaningful relationships possible, because it can feel to me like an implicit invalidation of my relationships. When one of my coworkers gets engaged to a man she met only months ago and the frenzy begins (this has happened a few times), I can’t bring myself to believe that whatever she has found and fallen into so quickly is the be-all, end-all thing she hopes it is, or that it is somehow categorically better than any ultra-close, lifelong, yet not socially validated relationship of mine. I secretly feel superior, stronger, because I lack two of the things that seem to bring many these brand-new couples together: sexual attraction/desire, and (in my very cynical view) susceptibility to societal pressure to be married, which seems to lead them to put the ceremony before the years-long process of actually building a relationship together, and hope that the relationship actually lives up to the symbol.