Edge of Everywhere

Archive for August 2009

I recently found out about the phenomenon of the Cuddle Party, “a playful social event designed for adults to explore communication, boundaries and affection.” A bunch of strangers pay to go to a trained facilitator’s house, put on pajamas, go through exercises dealing with the aforementioned topics, and spend a couple of hours sharing non-sexual physical intimacy and affection. Participants must ask each other and receive a verbal “yes” before hugging, cuddling, giving massages, or engaging in any number of other types of physical contact.

I totally agree with their belief in the value of affectionate touch, but just as hooking up sexually with a stranger just for pleasure makes no sense to me, cuddling with a stranger just to enjoy the sensation doesn’t make sense to me either. I can only understand physical contact in the context of a close relationship, whether it’s with family, friends, or a partner. I mean, isn’t affection about liking and caring about someone? I just don’t get how people can take a shortcut to intimacy without actually knowing and liking each other.

The other thing that struck me about the Cuddle Parties is that their site spends a lot of time convincing people that cuddling can, in fact, be non-sexual. It also acknowledges the inevitable presence of sexual energy and arousal (including erections), and talks about how those are dealt with during the parties. Interestingly, a major rule of the parties is “no dry humping.” It was fascinating for me to read about non-sexual touch from a sexual perspective, because I generally forget that things like cuddling could ever be construed as sexual or seen as necessarily leading up to sexual contact.

I’m curious to hear everyone’s opinions on the Cuddle Party phenomenon. Great idea, or just kind of creepy? Have you ever gone to one? Would you?

The more I think about it, the more I hate the word “virgin” and wish it would just go away. Long before I came to identify as asexual, I was uncomfortable with the heteronormative nature of the concept, and was aware that it was irrelevant for non-heterosexuals. Sexual people of various orientations can and should redefine and reclaim the idea of being or not being a virgin in whatever way makes sense to them and fits with their idea of what sex is, but opting out of the dichotomy altogether is more complicated.

Since I do like guys in some sense, people (particularly heterosexual guys) often put together the ideas of “straight” and “virgin” and can’t seem to get their heads around the idea of heterosexual virginity being a state that does not necessarily ever need to change. They assume I am attainable, and occasionally delude themselves into thinking they will be the first to attain me. The idea of women who like men but don’t want to have sex with them just does not exist for most people. I don’t like admitting that I am a virgin for this reason, but don’t want to say that I’m not, either.