Q&A IX

All search terms appear exactly as they were typed into Google/Formspring, so I take no credit for any spelling or grammar errors.

Standard Definitional Disclaimer: Asexuality refers here to a sexual orientation among humans.  It does not have anything to do with biology, whether that means the biology of non-human asexually reproducing species, or humans with non-standard anatomy (if you’re looking for that, google intersex conditions instead). Asexuality means not experiencing sexual attraction; it does not mean or imply that we are “not sexual” in any way at all. The term is analogous to homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, etc. For a more detailed explanation on this, please check my FAQ page. Asexuals are a widely varied group that may have little else in common with one another aside from not experiencing sexual attraction to others as a general rule. I can only answer for myself. My answers may include sarcasm.

On to the questions!

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Q: do asexual people get turned on (from Google)
A: I don’t actually understand what the phrase “turned on” means, so I have a hard time answering that question. If it’s just about physical arousal, then yes. If there’s necessarily some sort of mental component to it… then maybe? Some might. I don’t know whether or not I’d qualify. It’d have to be explained to me a lot better than that.

Q: why do i attract asexuals (from Google)
A: Do you really? Hm, that’s interesting. Since I don’t know who you are, I can’t comment, though.

Q: does tim gunn have aspergers (from Google)
A: No, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t. If he does, he’s never mentioned it anywhere. I don’t think he shows symptoms of it either, especially given that he has a huge focus on following social niceties, so clearly he understands them well. I suspect whoever googled this was just grasping for some explanation of Tim Gunn’s celibacy and/or asexuality that makes him abnormal. It’s fine, dudes, there’s nothing wrong with him. Don’t trust whatever random person with a degree a reporter happened to pull off the street who is willing to call themselves an “expert” on human sexuality. If they haven’t heard of asexuality, they’re not really experts.

Q: can i use a straw to masturbate (from Google)
A: Wow, that is one of the weirdest search terms that has ever led here. I can understand how the masturbation part would lead here, but straws? I have no idea when I have ever mentioned straws. Good luck, whoever you are!

Q: what is a purple stripe(horizontal) on black? Or, black stripe purple stripe black stripe. Ive seen this on Bumper stickers but cant find the meaning. (reposted from a comment)
A: You know, I have no idea. I’ve never seen or heard of anything like that, and I can’t find anything about it, either. Google is not turning up any answers.

Q: why is infallibility not frightening? (from Google)
A: This is taking quite a turn for the philosophical, isn’t it? To me, a person who thinks they are infallible is certainly very frightening, especially if they hold power. I suppose that to a person who thinks they are (or someone else is) infallible, it’s not frightening because then that means that they can’t go wrong. It must be especially comforting for those who believe in an infallible god, because a god is supposed to be in control of everything, therefore nothing can go wrong. It lends a powerful sense of certainty. Except that when you have to deal with some inevitable tragedy, you have to face the idea that whatever infallible god you believe in allowed that horrible thing to happen. That has extremely frightening implications to me, to the extent that I’d much rather not believe in anything like that. (Fortunately there is no evidence for any such god, anyway!) In any case, the idea that someone is infallible should be frightening; what makes it dangerous is when people aren’t frightened of it.

Q: okay. i fall somewhere in the asexual spectrum,but i’m not sure where. and it has fluctuated over my fifty years plus,so i don’t know what THAT means. anyway,i guess i just don’t understand the definition of asexual as not having sexual attraction but still having sexual interest and/or drive. do you mean that you don’t find some people more attractive than others,but you still might like sex and/or have a good sex drive? sorry i’m dense about this. if you could point me to something i could read that would help,that would be great. thanks! (reposted from a comment)
A: “Sex drive” usually refers to just an urge to feel some kind of physical sexual release, which I do get on a low grade, very infrequently. This includes masturbation, and most asexuals who have a sex drive/libido prefer to just satisfy it through masturbation. Some describe it as being like “scratching an itch”—it’s not connected to any desire to be sexual with a partner at all, and has nothing to do with sexual attraction.

What I mean by not experiencing sexual attraction is that there’s never a time for me when I look at a person and think, “Wow, I’d totally have sex with them.” I can find people beautiful, but when I stare at people because they’re pretty it’s sort of a similar feeling to looking at a gorgeous sunset—can be really breathtaking and awe-inspiring sometimes, but that never leads to me wanting to have sex with them. This I refer to as aesthetic attraction. Also included in this category is enjoyment of others’ voices and such.

With some people (although only with a few), I get feelings of wanting to be physically close to them, wanting to cuddle and kiss and so on and so forth. This I refer to as sensual or physical attraction. These desires don’t progress to a sexual level for me. I want to JUST cuddle, kiss, etc. although I am not saying that I am always necessarily opposed to having sex. It’s just not something I actively desire, whereas cuddling etc. is. This is where it gets really tricky to explain—and you’re not dense for not understanding right away, it’s taken me years to figure this stuff out!

My fiancée is sexual. Because she likes sex, and because I don’t find it repulsive or otherwise distasteful (prior to being with her I was pretty much completely neutral towards the idea of myself having sex), I wanted to have sex with her. This is not the kind of desire that we think about as a result of attraction, but rather a more intellectual sort of desire. I usually try to distinguish this kind of wanting from the kind of wanting that results from sexual attraction by calling it “sexual interest” rather than “sexual desire.” It is perhaps too subtle of a distinction, but the English language doesn’t really have any better terminology for it, so that’s what I’m stuck with. It’s not like I get this intense urge to have sex, I just want to because she enjoys it, and I’ve found that I can enjoy it too, so why not?

What I’ve discovered is that I experience something called responsive sexual desire. What this means is that I don’t so much have a “drive” to have sex—I don’t really get an urge to do it, and I certainly don’t get inspired to have sex by other people’s appearances, voices, personalities, etc. Occasionally (now that I’ve found I can enjoy sex, anyway) I might think to myself, “Oh, that might be kinda nice right now.” But it’s in this very detached, intellectual sort of way. It doesn’t feel like the sort of desperate need that I see others describing. But when my partner and I agree to have sex, after she physically arouses me, THEN I get a strong desire for it. It’s a desire that starts for me only after the physical stuff starts happening. Here is an old post I wrote about this, if you want more of an explanation.

So that’s how I can have interest in/desire for sex, even though it isn’t based on being sexually attracted to people. I hope my explanation made sense to you, let me know if you want me to try to clarify further. I hope this helps you figure out where you might be on the asexual spectrum! :) Fluctuation is quite common, too, and some people feel they are kind of in a gray area between sexual and asexual, with periods where they are more or less sexual.

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8 thoughts on “Q&A IX

  1. In Spanish the slang for male masturbation is, literally translated, cracking a straw, so this idea is not weird for me. I have heard a man saying that he thought when a teen that masturbation required a straw, and tried to put one through his urethra.

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    • LOL, poor guy! We call that kind of thing “sounding” in English, and I know there are people who are into it (though most men I’ve met cringe at the idea of anything going in their urethra), so the idea itself is not all that weird to me. Just… how did it lead here, of all places?? Although actually, now that I think about it, maybe I have used the phrase “straw man” at some point. That would make sense, then.

      I wonder who came up with that phrase… pretty creative, I think. I kinda want to import that into English now, heh.

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      • I dunno, am I the only one who sort of cringes in pain when associating “cracking” a “straw” and then a penis? I’ve actually seen a booklet with all kinds of penis injuries a person can get (picture booklet!), and yes, the thing can break D:. It looks extraordinarily painful. Incidentally, there were also pictures of results-gone-wrong if inserting stuff in it ;).

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        • Well, yeah, it does sound painful to me, and probably to most people… but I think that’s kind of the point? For people who like it, anyway. I assume it has something to do with the Masochism part of BDSM.

          I just think the phrase is kind of hilarious precisely because it sounds so painful and violent. Kinda reminds me of “choking the chicken.”

          That picture booklet sounds like it was all sorts of really terrible though. D:

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          • This whole discussion made me realize that I don’t know much about sounding. The whole practice to me seemed so strange and it didn’t ever sound appealing, so I never looked into it.

            So I actually looked into it and discovered that a large portion of the people that enjoy sounding do it primarily for pleasure. Either a direct method of inserting it or they leave it in for orgasms and claim it feels good.

            I also learned that, apparently, after you do it a few times, it can stop being painful. And usually when the pain occurs it’s from using an object that would actually scratch the inside of the urethra, which would usually occur on the removal of said object (after all the fun time is, presumably, over.

            There is also a group of people that really like to use it as a form of control over their body, since it could be used to completely eliminate the ability for a person to urinate (if the object is inserted far enough to be contact with the bladder).

            I’m kinda glad I didn’t really look into this pre-surgery, since I might have been tempted to try it. Thankfully that urge is gone now :D.

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  2. I like your definition of intellectual sexual desire and responsive sexual desire! I can relate to that too (I’m not sure I’m grey-A or asexual). I have a further question: when asexual people enjoy sex, do they just enjoy the physical pleasure, or do they also feel a deep emotional connection with their partner? From some posts I read on AVEN, it seems that asexuals only enjoy the physical part, so partnered sex isn’t really different from masturbation to them. Is this right?

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    • I think it totally depends on the person. For me personally, I enjoy both the emotional connection with my partner and the physical part of it—and the physical part of it doesn’t mean a whole lot to me without an emotional connection, because masturbation is safer and easier than partnered sex while still satisfying on the physical level. Some asexuals don’t really find sex particularly pleasurable or desirable on a physical level themselves, but do really enjoy the emotional connection they get from it. Others don’t feel, enjoy, or don’t want to feel the emotional connection as much, but can enjoy the physical part of it. I’ve heard some asexuals talk about how they think they might enjoy trying casual sex or sex with prostitutes more than sex in the context of a romantic relationship, although I’m not aware of any who have actually tried it. I know there are some who have done the sex-with-friends thing (more commonly called “friends with benefits” although I dislike that term because it implies friendship doesn’t have inherent benefits), too, and from what I recall some had enjoyed it on both levels as well.

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  3. I really like the idea of distinguishing between ‘sexual interest’ and ‘sexual desire’. It’s also how it is for me, and I now realize I may not have made it clear in my post about sexual attraction and desire. I don’t feel sexual attraction to people (usually), but I will be like ‘I want to have sex with this person’. It’s mostly in response to an emotional connection and wanting to be closer to them, and sometimes it’s just being horny and that person happens to be around.
    The way I distinguish sexual attraction from sexual desire is that people don’t turn me on, but I do want to have sex with them. It’s a thing I mostly made up, because there was no other way to describe what I was experiencing.

    And also what you wrote about feeling sexual desire after you already start having sex – it’s the other way around for me. I’ll want to have sex up to the point when things start happening, and then it’ll suddenly disappear, and I have to actually put a lot of effort into getting aroused again.

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