Asexuality as a Fetish

A little while ago I had a conversation with one of my friends about asexuality and fetishes. She wondered if there were any people out there who fetishized asexuals, did a google search and (of course) didn’t find anything relevant. I don’t think asexuality is well known enough yet for people to start fetishizing it, but I think it’s just about inevitable that at some point, someone will. I’ve already seen a sketch of “asexual porn” after all, which, although facetious, just goes to show that if it exists, there’s porn of it. (There’s no way I could link to this sketch, though, since it was on a high-traffic image forum on which posts usually don’t last even a few hours. For the record, this sketch was meant to be a picture of two asexual people lying there naked, doing nothing.) I don’t know why on earth someone would find this sexy, but apparently some people do.

The idea, though, is very uncomfortable. Asexuals are just about the last people on earth who would want to be fetishized. I have a hard enough time dealing with just being sexually attractive, let alone being attractive because I don’t have any desire for sex. How’s that for a paradox?

Exactly one year and one week ago (according to my chat transcripts), M actually told me something to that effect. His exact words were:

[05:20] M: ironically, your passivity towards sexuality, is actually what makes you sexy
[05:21] M: it’s weird
[05:21] M: lol
[05:21] Me: really
[05:21] M: yeah its hard to describe
[05:21] M: ol
[05:22] Me: so what, is it like an I’m not interested so you feel more like… it’s more of a challenge…effect?
[05:23] M: njo
[05:23] M: its just eerie and fascinating to imagine/see a sexual persona in an otherwise sexless creature.
[05:24] Me: hmm
[05:24] M: you’re just a weirdo. how about that.
[05:24] M: and weirdo’s are sexy.
[05:25] M: i mean, given other criteria are met
[05:25] M: but yeah. lol

I’m not sure if I agree with his perception of my attitude towards sexuality as passive, though I can certainly understand why he would have seen me that way. I had never actively pursued sexual activity before meeting him, never had any interest. (The only reason I was even interested in him was, ironically, because I had already realized that I had no interest in sex. I wasn’t sexually attracted to him, but I was so attracted to him in other ways that I realized that was as good as it was ever going to get.) I would never have pursued him, but since he sort of fell into my lap, well… I was extremely passive with him because I was so out of my depth; I had no idea what to do, and no instinct to rely on. The few things I actually wanted to do, I didn’t, out of fear that he would interpret them as sexual (rather than purely sensual), and get even more confused. So, although I am admittedly fairly passive in general, I am actually not quite so much so as I must have appeared to him at first. And, to nitpick, I am hardly passive towards sexuality as a concept, just disinterested (a more accurate word) in it in practice.

But, okay. Aside from the slightly inaccurate choice of words, I can sort of see that. I would have had him explain more fully, but he refused on the basis that I needed more of an incentive to come and visit him (I didn’t really), and we never revisited the conversation. Coming from someone else, I might have found it somewhat creepy, but coming from him, it was only slightly uncomfortable (mostly because, at the time, I wasn’t sure he accepted me as an asexual person). Now, I no longer find it uncomfortable, but just (indeed, as he said) rather eerie.

Going back to the conversation I had with my friend the other day, she said that the idea of asexuality as a fetish reminded her of doll fetishism. I can definitely see similarities there, especially in light of what M said to me about my passivity, a trait that is certainly evident in dolls by virtue of their being inanimate. Dolls are inhuman, something that asexuals are often thought to be (not literally, of course, but certainly there is a reluctance to apply the word to human beings, since most are used to only hearing it in the context of microorganisms and such). Dolls are objects, and as such, they cannot possibly have a sexuality. It is thrust upon them by the imaginations of humans, and they have no will to deny it.

I must admit, I have always found doll fetishism pretty creepy. It’s harmless, I guess, for those men who indulge in Real Dolls or something like that without inflicting their fantasies on actual women. It strikes me as a very unhealthy fascination, though, if transferred to them, due to its inherently imbalanced power dynamic. Of course, women do not like to be treated as objects, to have their basic humanity denied, and even more dangerous is the idea that the man has the ability to thrust his imagined sexuality onto her without regard for her actual desires (after all, a doll has none, so if he’s really, truly treating her like he would a doll, then there’s a problem), with the even more problematic idea that it comes from the lady herself, welling up from such a deeply buried place that perhaps even she is not aware of it (thus allowing the fetishist to excuse the disparity between his delusion—for at this point it is most certainly a delusion—and her behavior). There must be a very clear line drawn between fantasy and reality, or else this will tread quickly into non-consensual territory.

Truth be told, what M said to me back then did make me think of doll fetishism. It’s hard not to think of it, because as an asexual gothic lolita, I suppose I am as close to being a living doll as one could possibly get. I play with the imagery of dolls, adopt their aesthetics into my own fashion, parade around in ribbons and lace just to earn odd looks. I am often told that it suits me well, I suppose mostly because my body type is similar to a classic image of beauty, of the type often found in porcelain dolls (there is certainly something flippant in my appropriation of that image, as I am well aware of the politics behind it). My personality, too, is doll-like: cool, passive, unemotional. Asexuality has a lot to do with it, as well; most modern clothes I find too sexualized for me to be entirely comfortable wearing them. I dislike showing off my body, because I don’t like being the target of sexual interest I cannot return. I don’t mind being attractive, but I don’t like to be sexually attractive. I have little control over whether other people find me to be so, but at least I can present myself in a way that expresses my disidentification with sexuality, and appreciation for (some) Victorian ideals, interpreted with a modern twist. Most people find it too weird to be attractive.

Of course, there are plenty of people out there who, not understanding the aesthetic and ideology behind it, interpret this as fetish play, especially because of the gothic elements and similarity to cosplay. Most gothic lolitas will get all up in arms at any suggestion of a sexual element to their subculture, because (despite the nominal similarity to Vladimir Nobokov’s book) there is none. Even for those lolitas (the majority, I’m sure) who are sexual, the fashion is not about sexuality. It’s not about being attractive to men. It’s about expression of self. In a way, although it appropriates images of women from a time when many more restrictions were placed on them, it is very much a feminist fashion. It’s about being youthful, adorable, and elegant rather than sexy. In large part, it’s about the freedom of girlhood—a nostalgic ode to it, a mourning of its inevitable passing. It is rebellious because by donning lolita garments, we remove ourselves from the mainstream, and indulge in a decadent fantasy persona not bound by the expectations and burdens placed ever more heavily on women as their years increase (I recently read an article that said that according to a recent study, women’s happiness level peaks at age twenty, while men are relatively unhappy in their youth, and their happiness level increases as they get older. Unfortunately I don’t have a link to it). To interpret gothic lolita as fetish wear is to destroy the entire concept, because it places burdens of sexuality on women who are (at least for a short time) trying to escape it.

I imagine that asexual fetishism would run into a lot of the same problems as doll fetishism and lolicon (lolita complex). All three involve a sexual fascination with a non-sexual person or human-like object (almost always female), and projection of an imagined sexual persona onto that object, who wants neither to be sexualized nor objectified. It says more about the person with the fetish than the object of it. What she wants doesn’t matter. It’s not about her actual desires; it’s about what he wants her to desire. And to the person being fetishized, that is a disgusting and frightening thought. If he has such little regard for what she wants or doesn’t want, then what is stopping him from taking her by force? In a lot of cases, especially with lolicon (of the pedo variety), that does happen. To invoke a mindset similar to that of those who would commit such a crime is quite a scary thing.

However, as I said, I’m no longer bothered by M’s statement. This is because I am now fairly certain that he recognizes me as a truly asexual person (although he still thinks asexuality is a disability), so even though his perception of reality is different from mine, he at least has a good grasp on it. I am also sure that he never meant to hurt me, and would have respected (continued to respect) my wishes if I had told him what they were. It’s not like he had been having rape fantasies or anything of the sort; it’s just that his imagining a sexual persona of mine made me edgy because I wasn’t sure if he believed that he was seeing it, or just making things up to fill in the gaps between what he was seeing and what was really there. Perhaps he wasn’t sure either. Perhaps it was a little of both. After all, I do have a somewhat vaguely almost sexual persona, though I quashed most of my desires around him for fear that he would interpret them in light of his own imagination rather than seeing them in the same way that I saw them, and thus think they were somehow indicative of more buried desires, and that it would be okay to take things even further. It was difficult, especially since a lot of what went on between us was nonverbal, to be sure of how he was interpreting my actions. I think a lot of it had to do with him seeing things as sexual that I don’t. He apparently had some misconceptions about what asexuals are able to feel, and this without any confusion due to my grayness (which I never told him about, since he didn’t want to listen). Even things I consider pretty neutral, he seemed to interpret as being sexual (for example, making out). I can see how he could have constructed a sexual persona for me in his mind from things that he had seen me do, and although that idea is strange and somewhat difficult for me to deal with, I think it’s fairly normal. I don’t mind it as long as I know for sure that he knows what’s really going on. Which is another reason I never mentioned being gray-asexual: I wanted to make sure that he didn’t have a tendency to interpret his own fantasy sexual persona for me as reality, and would instead listen to me and let me construct my own persona without questioning my asexual identity.

To boil it down a bit: my problem with this mindset reflected in doll fetishism, and potentially asexual fetishism if it ever comes into existence, is about how these people view reality, and about whether they respect the wishes of the people they are fantasizing about. It creeps me out because if they don’t, then it can turn into a potentially very dangerous situation for the person being fetishized. Otherwise, it could possibly be okay, though I would still find it quite uncomfortable to be the object of such fantasies. At this point, it is a little bit far removed from reality anyway to consider the possibility of asexual fetishism, but it’s interesting to speculate anyway.

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9 thoughts on “Asexuality as a Fetish

  1. (The only reason I was even interested in him was, ironically, because I had already realized that I had no interest in sex. I wasn’t sexually attracted to him, but I was so attracted to him in other ways that I realized that was as good as it was ever going to get.) I would never have pursued him, but since he sort of fell into my lap, well… I was extremely passive with him because I was so out of my depth; I had no idea what to do, and no instinct to rely on. The few things I actually wanted to do, I didn’t, out of fear that he would interpret them as sexual (rather than purely sensual), and get even more confused.

    Speaking of eerie… this sounds like a page taken from my own journal… I’m rarely attracted to other guys, but the last time it happened, I was totally confused too. I didn’t understand how I could feel so attracted, but not be attracted (sexually)… of course, this was before I figured out what asexuality even was…
    Oh, and speaking of asexual fetishes, have you checked out this post or this video on it?

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  2. The idea of asexual fetishism reminds me of virgin fetishism, which was apparently popular in the Victorian area. I read somewhere that there was a large subset of prostitutes that specialized in “deflowering” fantasies, even using fake blood to simulate the experience. But people were, apparently, obsessed with deflowering real virgins too, which to me was disturbing. In that society, virginity was so important t0 a woman, but “taking it” from them was also condoned to an extent. Reading about it was very creepy.
    And I like your description of being attractive but not sexually attractive. That’s how I feel, as well.

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  3. After reading your post I was left wondering how much if any research you’ve done into the world of fetishism and BDSM? While you view the idea of a doll fetish as a scary and potentially non-consensual thing for the one being fetishized, have you considered that the “doll” in this case may be fullfilling thier own desires?

    I was partnered for a couple of years with a person who was asexual. This person was also a submissive and a masochist. Their pleasure was derived not from sex but from being used as a toy, sexually or not. I loved and respected my partner as a person however when the appropriate time came they offered themself to me as an object to use to as I pleased, and I used them as such. We both got enjoyment and satisfaction from it, though obviously in different ways.

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  4. Sorry for such a late reply, guys!

    theimpossiblek – Yeah, I have read that article. It’s not quite the same type of fetishism that my friend and I were thinking about, but really interesting anyway!

    bentcrude – Hi! :)

    Ily – Yeah, I’ve heard of that, too. I was actually reading a book about virginity before I got distracted, and meaning to post something about it at some point. I still hope to eventually get around to it.

    David – That’s great that you and your partner had a mutually satisfying relationship. I didn’t mean to imply that doll (or asexual) fetishism couldn’t be a fulfilling thing, if in a context like what you described. However, I don’t think all fetishes are equally harmless–pedophilia and the sexual preference for committing rape are both quite frightening things. Pedovestism, because it evokes a sort of mindset that can be read as similar to pedophilia, is thus understandably a bit creepy. It sets off some alarm bells because it could be related to hidden, destructive desires. Likewise with the other fetishes I mentioned in this post.

    I admit I haven’t done a whole lot of serious research into fetishism and BDSM myself, but I have had several friends who are interested in it and will talk to me about it, so I don’t consider myself entirely clueless. I have ended up talking about it a lot with my girlfriend too, lately, since she is very interested in it herself. So I hope I haven’t come across as someone who doesn’t know what she is talking about, and doesn’t understand or approve of fetishism/BDSM at all. I assure you that is not the case.

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  5. Hi, been reading though here. You have a very interesting blog.

    I had always assumed that any sort of asexual fetishism would be of the variety that is similar to something I heard a while back on why men enjoy lesbian fantasies so much.

    That is, the type of fantasy where two women are busy making out or whatnot, and are joined by a man, who by his mere presence and manliness not only manages to be involved in a threesome with two women, but also gets the ego boost of having turned them straight – at least for the night.

    So similarily, wouldn’t asexual fetishism also have that part there where the men just get off on having ‘changed’ someone? The idea that “I am so manly, I have made you straight!” In my opinion, that seems like it would be the ultimate confirmation of masculinity – their sexual powress is just THAT amazing, they have changed your very sexual identity.

    I’m kinda tired right now, but is what I’m saying making sense? I think so…if not, just ignore what I’m saying. I must admit that I know very little about fetishism, because (it seems to me) there is no universal reasoning for why people ejoy that sort of thing.

    For instance, there are reasons that fit some people for liking being handcuffed (perhaps they get a thrill from having control taken away from them? Placing complete trust in their partner?), but other people may have a completely different rationale for enjoying it (as part of a more elaborate fantasy, or maybe involving something more masochistic?). It’s hard to come up with explainations for things when the explainations vary so much. So trying to define a fetishism (how or why people are sexualizing something) is difficult and has no single answer.

    I appear to be rambling, and seem to have gotten off-topic. My apologies – I really shouldn’t be allowed on the internet, I talk far too much. So I’ll just leave this off here, and hope whatever I’ve been typing makes sense.

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    • A valid point. I think there can certainly be more than one rationale behind a fetish, even from the same person’s perspective.

      The whole “changing” someone thing just reeks of people being unable to accept that asexuality is real and permanent though, and I would argue that it still goes against the will of the asexual person for that reason, and is thus a destructive attitude.

      The whole “ooooh, I am so masculine lesbians will have sex with me!” thing has always struck me as being REALLY dumb, because, uh… if lesbians are attracted to women, and the feminine… if they like you, then HOW exactly would that make you masculine? My gf and I both have a stronger preference for women than men (though we are bi, not lesbians), and the only men we like are the feminine ones; the masculine ones turn us off.

      Hooray for flawed logic, I guess. Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that even with that sort of rationale, there is still the issue of the attention being unwanted by the asexual. I doubt that there could be a rationale behind an asexual fetish that actually takes into account the wishes of the asexual, so it would only work well if the ase in question actually wanted to be used. Otherwise… I can’t see a positive scenario, honestly.

      Anyway, thanks for your reply! :) I’m glad you found my blog interesting enough to warrant a response.

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  6. Hi the gray lady,
    Anyway I find that your article is very interesting especially asexual into dolls.

    So let me bring this straight, I don’t know whether I am asexual or not but I never like girls invading my privacy which normally I have a limit to that and yes I have autism traits. And guess what this leads to social awkwardness and probably asexual people.

    All I know is that in this world the women are not perfect. Why? Behavior is the major problem and you just want a major control on them (I’m a controlled freak I guess)
    I normally prefer digital models than super human models because humans are no match for computer generated super sexy woman :) This is for real I’m sorry if there is some women out there feel offended.

    OK what is so special about the digital models? Well to me I always wanted exclusive stuff and when I look into real life women they always share some similarity looks and not to mention high maintenance which means social awkward person have no way to provide their high needs. I know what are you thinking now, those girls are pretty similar to dolls, but hey there’s more to that :D I’m talking about future women which are high tech girls (Robots that look like human and function as human and there will be only one master) and these girls mean to have the personality and behavior as requested unlike humans it is fixed, changing it will required a serious amount of work but it’ll never work because no one wants to change.

    I’m sorry if I didn’t actually replied properly to this article but I’m high all the time because I have mental problems but hey I hope you get the picture what am I actually trying to say here.

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  7. I agree with you here, in fact I even posted a question on how paradoxical an asexual fetish would be in yahoo answers. The only answer I got was from a person who said it was only a fantasy fetish. well that’s all fine and dandy as long as such people can make a distinction between fantasy and reality. Speaking of distinctions between fantasy and reality, I noticed that you warranted the fear of all lolicons out there. Being a lolicon, however, I am interested in the type of lolicons you mean. Those who like only the anime and manga styled loli hentai (such as myself) or the sick twisted monsters who actually prey on real children. I know you may feel discomforted by both. but please don’t lump lolicons like me with the real dangerous predators.
    Their are major differences between us.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing this interesting and though informative post. KUDOS

    The Easy Joe

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