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Features, Opinion

When cake really is better than sex: Beyond Asexuality 101

I am tired of writing this article.

I am tired of answering the same questions about my orientation: do you masturbate, what kinds of sex have you tried, were you sexually abused?

It is exhausting, but I have to write this article.

I have to tell you that I am asexual, which means that I am not sexually attracted to anybody.

Being asexual is not the same as celibate or abstinent, I must explain every time.

Celibacy and abstinence are choices not to participate in sex, even if sexual attraction or desire is present; asexuality is not experiencing sexual attraction at all.

Whenever I write about asexuality, I must explain the difference between sexual attraction and libido: attraction is ‘this one!’, while libido is ‘now!’

Some asexual people have a libido, and some do not.

Whenever I say this, I must answer the question inevitably in your mind now: I don’t.

A spectrum

Asexual people talk about a spectrum that runs from sex-favourable (enjoying the act of sex and the good-time chemicals it releases) through sex-neutral (having sex because a partner wants to, or to have children, for example).

One reason I’m on panels so often is because I can represent the extreme of being sex-repulsed.

This is one thing I’m least tired of talking about, because it allows me to touch on activism issues that I want to highlight.

But we inevitably go back to ‘do you masturbate?’

(No. But some asexuals do.)

I’m not tired of explaining the Split-Attraction Model, the idea that we can feel different forms of attraction in different ways and for different kinds of people.

It’s commonly used in the asexual community, but everyone could benefit from thinking about it.

Most people know who they’re attracted to sexually, but we talk about romantic attraction.

I’m biromantic, which means I can develop romantic feelings for more than one gender; I’m just not attracted sexually to anyone.

I still want to hold hands and cuddle, build IKEA furniture, take our adorable children to the park, and grow old together.

Other kinds of attraction exist too, like aesthetic and sensual.

Not sex-shaming

I’m tired of explaining what a demisexual is: someone who can only become sexually attracted after forming a strong bond with someone.

I’m exhausted from having to correct the misconception that demisexuality is sex-shaming or prudish.

Demisexuals don’t suggest that everyone else hops into bed with total strangers on a daily basis (and don’t care even if they do).

Most people experience attraction without having a bond first, sometimes even without physically meeting.

A demisexual doesn’t feel an attraction unless a strong bond is already there – but having a bond is no guarantee of sexual attraction, just as being a homosexual man won’t mean you’re attracted to every man.

I’m not quite as tired of explaining that a grey-A or greysexual is someone who feels that ‘asexual’ doesn’t quite describe them.

Perhaps they experience sexual attraction just every now and again, or even just once.

An eternal 101

I’m so, so tired of being promised that I can speak about important issues rather than the basics, only to later be asked for just that.

I’m exhausted from suggesting ideas to queer publications and being asked instead for a 101 article for an audience who won’t understand what asexuality is.

Asexual network at Stockholm Pride.
Photo: Flickr | trollhare.

Sometimes, I feel stuck in an eternal 101, doomed to explain myself and my existence over and over, with a promise that once I’ve finished educating the whole world, I will be allowed to talk about the issues.

101ing is the tax we must pay for entry to the conversation, but we never see any reward.

I want to talk about the sex education curriculum.

I want to talk about conversion therapy, medicalisation, and social concerns like access to IVF.

Asexual activists have a lot to say about attempts to ‘cure’ us, the violence inflicted by doctors, partners, friends, and total strangers.

We have stories to tell about hate crimes.

We want to talk about how our identities intersect – how a homoromantic asexual is a victim of both homophobia and aphobia.

We would love it if those in the LGBTQIA+ community who welcome us and our aromantic cousins as part of the acronym would engage with us about those who do not, the lateral violence and gatekeeping, and how they can make spaces safe and inclusive.

I’m tired of merely listing the issues, showing up and tiring myself out with the FAQ, only to find the band playing me off before I’ve got my breath back to really speak.

Educate yourself

I ask the community to take some of that burden from us.

Educate yourself about asexuality.

Learn some new vocabulary, think critically, and ask yourself whether your question is something you could find out for yourself.

Then, bring a question that furthers the discussion.

Seek out asexuals to invite to your event, and take care of the 101 for them.

Provide links on your website that explain asexuality, and let contributors write about what matters to them.

Keep us fresh and rested so we can start out just a little further ahead.

We would like to teach Asexuality 102.

2 thoughts on “When cake really is better than sex: Beyond Asexuality 101”

  1. Wow, just reading this made my heart feel heard.
    Really everything we have to move on as a community, not just stick with the basics, but go further.


  2. Yes! Yes! This I’m sick and tired of being stuck at ace 101. The most Basic rudimentary form of asexuality being spammed over and over again.

    It’s even infected the ace community we too have stopped at Ace 101 and if you try to go beyond that you are met with a weird form of backlash. The prevalence and importance of the Split attraction model. Okay so it exists cool but how do you(aspec community) deal with aspecs who don’t use it/have need of it. A lot if community stuff is organised around the SAM to the exclusion of those who don’t use it.
    Inter-community aphobia, reenforcing allonormativity & amatonormativity?

    How allo/amatonormativity hurts everyone. how we can have discussions about the damage it has done to aspecs how wider allo society propagates it how this, why that, this complex topic etc etc but we’ll never get there because we are STILL on Aspec 101.

    You can’t have intellectual discussions on how not all aspecs use the SAM & how allo people can use it too because then it devolves into explaining what the SAM is over and over. And you are too exhausted to continue.

    Can’t discuss allonormativity and how it’s just as violent & hurtful as heteronormativity/cisnormativity because we have to do 101 so the allos understand the basics. And then after the basics they shut us off.

    No more Ace 101 there’s so many resources for ace 101. Can we please move forward to ace 203 now?


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