Asexual Masturbation

NOTE: I see that this post has become quite popular among the wider community, which is not the audience for which it was intended. If you are unfamiliar with asexuality or want to know more about asexuality and masturbation, please check the FAQ. I’ve answered several more questions about masturbation there.

I briefly mentioned masturbation in my previous post, but I wanted to talk a little bit more about it, because it’s a pretty hot topic.

I HATE that when I tell people I’m asexual, one of the very first things they ask me is whether I masturbate. Because first of all, hello, that’s kind of rude, isn’t it? It might be okay if you and I have been friends for a while, and you ask discreetly. But most of the time I’ve known these people for all of a few weeks, if that, and they ask right out in public. If I were doing visibility work, I’m sure I’d get asked all the time by reporters and talk show hosts. And I do think it’s a good question to ask, in order to educate people, which is why I’m talking about it here, but really? I just don’t want to show that much of myself to the public. It’s a very private thing, for me. It’s the one thing I would really rather stay in the closet about, especially because answering that question honestly would lead to a whole host of challenges to prove myself to other people.

Which leads me to my second–and most important–point: it doesn’t matter.

Whether I masturbate or not has no bearing whatsoever on my asexuality. It is not a contradiction, as most ignorant sexual people perceive it to be. Because like I said in the previous post, I learned to masturbate as a child, before I even had any concept of what sexuality was. I don’t connect it with other people. I don’t have any desire to do so. It is something to be done alone, not shared with anyone else. That’s not to say I think it should be something shameful, that everyone should do alone. If other people enjoy mutual masturbation, then hey, whatever floats your boat, man. But for me? No thanks.

I think one of the main problems that sexuals have with understanding how asexuals can masturbate and still call themselves asexual is, they think about masturbation so much in terms of frustrated desire that they don’t realize that for other people, it’s not. Several weeks ago, I watched an internet argument develop between a fellow asexual and a skeptical sexual about masturbation. The incredulous sexual, when informed that people who masturbate can still be asexual, said, “Then what are they masturbating to?”

Okay, stop right there. What? Since when do we all have to fantasize in order to masturbate? I’ve never done it–in fact I’ve tried to, and it doesn’t work for me. Not all of us keep a mental image in mind while we’re doing it, and even for those of us who do, would that indicate an actual desire to do whatever-it-is in real life? No, not necessarily. A mental image can just be a mental image. For many asexuals, it may even be an unpleasant mental image. But maybe it gets the job done, I wouldn’t know. I imagine it’s a little like reading a book about a murderer. If I do that, would it mean that I want to become a murderer myself? It could, sure. But in the case of the common reader, it wouldn’t (or so I would certainly hope).

But on to my third point: why do I have to prove myself to you?

Most people, you know, I really don’t care whether they believe I’m asexual or not. Most of them, I’m not even out to. But with the people I AM out to, it gets tiring, having to deal with constant challenges to my sexual identity. It’s not even really the challenges that get tiring, it’s the ignorance. It’s the sheer unwillingness to learn something new, and accept something which may be just a little bit outside the scope of their world view. That’s an attitude that bugs me in any aspect of life, really. If I’m ignorant about something (and there are a lot of areas where I am), then I want to learn about it, even if it challenges my ideas about the world. But they don’t want to learn, and they don’t want to actually listen to me. They just want to prove me wrong.

Why would I open myself to that hostility? Why would I waste my time?

I do tell people I’m asexual, because sometimes I do reach people. And even if I only enlightened one other person in my entire life, that would make it worth it. I’m talking about this here so that maybe I will reach a willing audience. But in real life? I will not brush this particular subject, and I have no qualms about lying about it, if I have to. It’s none of their business. And I hate that I have to prove myself to other people, but I know from personal experience that sometimes that’s exactly what I have to do. This is one challenge that I might be willing to take on after knowing someone for a long time, but after just having met them? Until they’ve reached a certain level of acceptance of asexuality, it would be pointless anyway. I don’t want to overwhelm them with seemingly contradictory information, and I don’t want to subject myself to the inevitable frustration that comes with dealing with people who are trying to prove me wrong.
EDIT FROM THE FUTURE: You will find further discussion of asexuality and masturbation here.

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14 thoughts on “Asexual Masturbation

  1. Thank god!

    Its not easy being Asexual-I find the only reason i had sex was to fit in or to enjoy the pleasures or maybee i was fooling myself.
    blah blah, youve heard it all before.
    Wasting our breath explaining to people can be more fun that you know.
    Asexuality is akin to Shamanism and powerfull physical fitness. escape from the needs of opposite and amse sex relationships, not to mention the repeditive moaning demons force opon us via their vessels, other people. responses to our words are usually from idiots who are searching to dominate Asexuals to lighten their load. It is none of their business and it scares them.
    The truth they are hiding from, their mothers, other people e.t.c. its wonderfull being single and free!

    At least if you explained to a monkey all it would hear is what it can see-the illusion of communication.

    Thanks for openning doors for me, a man.

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    • Anon, I… honestly just have no idea what you’re talking about. Seriously, no clue at all. What on earth are your analogies to shamanism and “powerful physical fitness” about? Or demons? What?

      Either way, it all sounds very elitist, and that is an attitude I do not condone. Being asexual does NOT make you freer or more enlightened in any way, and I do not appreciate hearing sexual people called idiots and compared to demons or monkeys. They deserve respect, even though many of them disrespect us. There are lots of sexual people out there who DO actually try to understand us, and we can communicate with them just fine. It’s also rather presumptuous to imply that everyone is “hiding from the truth” that being single is amazing. Some people like being single, and that’s just fine! Others (like me) are happy in romantic relationships. Neither choice is inherently better than the other. They’re just different.

      Besides all that, being antagonistic towards sexual people is likely to make them MORE likely, not less, to be hostile towards us. I hope you will reconsider your attitude.

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      • The truth that I can see in anon’s post is that by not spending your time worrying about sexual relations you are freed from sexual marketing and many difficult situations associated with sex and have time to pursue your own aspirations. The issue that comes up is the hedonistic treadmill. While pursuing these grand ideals (sex or “powerful physical fitness”), we eventually reach equilibrium. So time has no value until we set goals and plan to reach those goals. In the end, everyone is still equal, as Elizabeth mentioned.

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  2. Finally someone who UNDERSTANDS. I completely agree with everything you said! And about the masturbation issue, I also learned it as a kid, and in my case I do fantasize but hell, I would NEVER want it to happen in real life.
    Before I had sex the first time, I tried to be like everyone else, with the whole making out and such, but slowly it started getting worse and worse. At a point in time I started to get disgusted after the whole touching thing. It felt good at the time, but later on I was like “what on Earth did I do? EW”
    After my first time, well that was when the whole asexual thing stopped taking over slowly and just kicked in entirely. I don’t feel any pleasure watching porn anymore, which is something I honestly used to like. I dislike touching, and I don’t ever want to have sex again. I still masturbate at times, but it is something I do alone,of course. And I think it’s ridiculous how some people try judging others saying they are not what they KNOW they are. I mean come on, do you want to know me better than I know myself? And I’m not saying that strictly for the asexuality issue, but for any other aswel, really.
    I met a person just recently and I really like them. I’m still thinking of how I am going to tell them that I am asexual though.

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  3. Any human being willing to share his/her sexual orientation but voluntarily withhold masturbation habits is an outright hypocrite.

    Seeing how asexuality is a relatively concept in sexual orientation, discussion is inevitable as a result of novelty-derived curiosity.

    Lastly, I found your blatant embarrassment with masturbation an indicative sign that you quiet possibly harbour a sexual attraction you are so keen to suppress.

    An interesting observation to note is the correlation between the increase of Internet pornography and asexual individuals.

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    • Okay, so anyone who says “I’m straight” should therefore be required to disclose all of their masturbation habits.

      Is that SERIOUSLY what you’re arguing?

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  4. Elizabeth,
    Who are you to say that they way something identifies with something is wrong? If being asexual for one person means being single and feeling free, who are you to say otherwise?

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    • Words have meanings. You can’t make words mean whatever you want just because you’ve decided that they do#8212;you have to get a social consensus. You don’t go around saying “dog” and pointing to an apple.

      In this case, it matters because we are trying to get research done on asexuality, and a consistent and rigorous definition is important. I’m not going to go around telling individual people that they aren’t asexual, because it’s a matter of internal experience and nobody reads minds. But when (for example) someone goes around telling other people that asexuality means the same thing as celibacy… well, that misinformation hurts me, as a person who doesn’t experience sexual attraction but still has sex. So that’s who I am to say otherwise.

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  5. This is something i have not really thought about before and i thank you for sharing. I actually feel pretty bad i havent as im a very liberal minded/feminist/open to learning kinda person. Not to sound snotty in any way, please dont take that as such. You’ve given me something to think about and look into and i applaud your efforts to educate others!

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  6. I expect that when people ask if you masturbate, they are actually trying to ask if you have any sexual feelings or bodily function at all. They perhaps just don’t have the vocabulary or understand their curiosity well enough to word it adequately, or they might just be attempting to be concise. As for where they get off asking in the first place, if it follows your revelation of your asexuality, haven’t you just introduced the topic of sex and sexuality yourself, as relating to you and your own urges or interests, and isn’t it a bit odd to find it so upsetting or startling that that topic would branch to other similar matters?
    I absolutely feel your privacy should be respected, and if the person responds rudely to you telling them that their question is intrusive, they are absolutely in the wrong, as boundaries have been set and should be regarded. I cannot, however, see how it is inappropriate or unreasonable for the question to be asked in that circumstance. If you don’t want to discuss sex, I would suggest not telling people your proclivities towards or away from it. If they ask, perhaps you could set your boundaries then, as it would seem to be a topic you aren’t comfortable discussing with them.

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    • I’m talking about a circumstance with a person I had literally just met one week ago. Not something where they know me well enough to have established any sort of respect for boundaries. And no, I don’t think it’s reasonable to say that just because someone has said their asexual, that therefore it’s acceptable to have my whole sexual history questioned. There is a huge difference between sexual attraction as a topic of discussion and sexual history, including masturbation.

      Quite frankly, it’s a question MUCH better left to google than something that you should be asking individual people. There are plenty of asexual people who are willing to be open about it on the internet, but in person? No. You don’t do that.

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  8. Okay. Just to put my personal experience. I have always identified as gay. In my 32 years of experience, i have sometimes felt romantically for other guys. But i could never have sex with a person actually (I tried twice). And yes, i know that it will be unthinkable to be with women.

    I ‘jerk off’ regularly though… often with kink/ fetishy mental constructs (again with no act of sex as in penetration of any kind, or even any attention to private parts in the mental images).

    So i guess, this kinds of moves me towards the asexual spot in the spectrum! This would genuinely surprise me!

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    • It sure sounds like it! What you describe is really not unusual for ace people. You may find the asexual community helpful for you, in that case… but you certainly don’t have to identify as asexual if you don’t feel that it fits you well. Keep in mind, you can identify as gay AND asexual if you feel that fits best. Many people do.

      This post gives a good rundown of different ways people on the ace spectrum might identify, if you’re curious about it.

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