This is a guest post from Patience for the May 2018 Carnival of Aces on Nuance & Complexity. She has written about the experience of having to rely on English to talk about asexuality, because her native language lacks words for it. I am glad to have her perspective represented for this Carnival, because the dominance of English on the internet is a real problem for non-anglophone ace communities. Continue reading
Back in 2012, I had my partner C* do an interview with me, because I had been getting requests from non-asexual partners of asexual people for advice and I thought her perspective would be helpful. Since then, we’ve been through a lot, including becoming totally celibate and far less romantic. In the past year, she’s started to identify as aromantic. So I thought it was worth revisiting.
For context, she is bisexual and trans. We’ve been together for seven years, minus a short breakup, and have been polyamorous from the start. Right now we’re sort-of viewing our relationship as basically a queerplatonic type of thing. These questions were mostly submitted to me by readers, although I tacked on an extra question at the end today based on an interesting comment C made last night.
I’d like to thank everyone who submitted questions! There was one she really had no idea how to answer at all, so that one has been taken out. Sorry! But she really tried her best with all of the rest, and I hope you enjoy her perspective. If you have further questions for her, she’s open to answering them in the comments. :)
(* C stands for “Cupcake” which is her original chosen pseudonym on this blog. She may comment here using that name, or she may choose something else again. She doesn’t tend to stick with the same pseudonym, but generally they all start with C.) Continue reading
This is a submission to the June 2015 Carnival of Aces on Asexuality and Mental Health by a South Korean person who wishes to remain anonymous. It has been very lightly edited and formatted for easier reading. I would like to thank the writer very much for sharing! It is not often that the English-speaking ace community gets to hear a perspective like this.
Additionally, if anyone knows of any Korean-language resources or communities for ace-spectrum, aromantic, or genderqueer people, please let us know about them in the comments!
[note: depression, OCD, forced outing, erasure/invalidation]
Hello, nice to meet you all. This is the first time I ever joined any Ace-related events. It is truly blissful that I found this event. Please pardon me if I make any syntactic, semantic, or lexical error, and if I ramble too much. English is not my mother tongue. What I want to tell you is that there are people like me in South Korea. My opinion does not and will not represent the general consensus about every Ace, Aro, and genderqueer issue debated in South Korea, but it might shed some light on it. Continue reading
This is a guest post by onlyfragments, reposted with permission for the purpose of making more resources available to people reading my How to Have Sex with an Asexual Person post, which I plan to revise. I will be collecting as many different articles related to the topic of respectfully approaching sex with asexual people as people are willing to write, and linking to them from that article when I fully revise it—ideally I’d also like to cross-post them here on my blog. If there was anything you wished had been covered in the original article, please consider submitting something, even if you are only writing about your personal experiences and not making an expert’s guide. I can give you feedback and help you edit before publishing if you feel your writing could benefit from that as well. You can reach me at prismatic.entanglements [at] gmail.com.
This article is cross-posted here at onlyfragments’ blog.
[ Warning to friends/family/others: I’m going to discuss my sex life below. If that’s TMI for you, I suggest not reading this. ]
After reading PrismaticEntanglement’s post about the topic of sex between allosexuals and asexuals, I decided to write my own post about how my girlfriend and I navigate this difficult topic. I’m going to try to impart some advice based on our experiences; that being said, this is based solely on my personal experience and what worked for us. I’m not an expert – just a person with a blog. Continue reading
The following is a guest post for the Carnival of Aces by Olivier, who has been a very insightful and eloquent poster at AVEN for the past five years. I personally have found his and his wife’s story quite inspiring, as I find my own attitude/tendencies to be somewhat similar to his wife’s, and had I not discovered asexuality so early in life, I suspect my own story would might have ended up sounding a lot like theirs. Here is how he describes himself:
I’m a heterosexual in a 22-year relationship with an asexual. Like many longer term sexual/asexual relationships, my wife and I had not heard of asexuality until relatively recently (2007), and for many years struggled with the failures of other theories, such as sex-aversion or libido-mismatch, to adequately describe the dynamics of our relationship. I’m incredibly indebted to AVEN for helping us put a name to something that we’d known about – lived – for decades, but had always misunderstood by looking at it through weird normative lenses instead of just seeing it for what it is.
The post is pretty much as he sent it in, but I chose the title.
So. Sexual exploration. I’d been banging around, looking for an analogy (‘cos I like analogies!) when the one I wanted sort of slapped me in the face: exploration! Or in a less 19th-century-pith-helmet way, finding somewhere nice to go on holidays together.
First, a bit of personal background. I’ve always got the impression in asexual spaces that sexual exploration is seen as something natural for sexuals to do lots of, and very much an optional thing for asexuals. I don’t necessarily disagree, but that’s not really been my personal experience. I have pretty vanilla tastes, and so in some senses I’m pretty easy to please sexually – not much exploration required. Just pack me off to the nearest beach, or city full of theatres and museums, or rainforest with waterfalls, and I’m happy. My wife on the other hand, knows that these sorts of things are generally regarded as good holiday experiences, but they do nothing much for her. Some people might decide that they’re basically a homebody and leave it at that. But not my wife, her natural reaction is to go exploring.
And so it was for us at the start. We’d do sexual stuff that I found really quite fabulous, and that my wife was putting a lot of effort into. As people who’d never heard of asexuality, and who saw both ourselves and each other as heterosexual, this seemed to me to be a perfectly normal way to approach sex and relationships. But then it would stop. And when it started again it would be something different, approached with gusto. Until it stopped. In hindsight it’s easy to see this for what it was – an asexual who thought she was sexual trying to find the thing that would do it for her. At the time however, it just seemed like the girl I was crazy about was just way more sexually adventurous than I was. Now, that’s not a bad thing, at all, but it is really, really, really, the wrong expectation to take into a long-term sexual/asexual relationship. Drama and confusion, of course, ensued.
While I was wondering what was wrong with that nice beach town with cool places to hang out, my wife would be planning a few weeks in Afghanistan to see if an element of danger made travel more fun, or a month in a place where nobody spoke a word of English, just for a challenge. And some of these places I enjoyed, and others not so much, but being with her certainly broadened my horizons. Problem was, and is, that even places that ticked all the boxes for her in theory, she didn’t much enjoy in practice. For all that drive to explore, there turned out not to be anywhere she particularly enjoyed going. And while she liked some of them well enough once she was there, she still thought that none of them were worth what you had to do to get there – airports and expense and lots of boring standing in queues.
So what’s a guy to do? My first tactic was to deal with all that boring stuff for her. Spend weeks planning. Get all the details sorted. Have things she liked – good books, tasty food – on hand for every step of the way to make all the transit fun. But when you’ve planned the perfect holiday in your head, there’s only one possible outcome: disappointment. And so with our sex life, until we finally admitted what we knew all along – all that exploration and adventure is basically not going to work for us.
So what to do?
Firstly, take a deep breath and get some perspective. For all the fact that sex is not what either of us hoped or planned, we’re ridiculously well matched and happy in every other department. In travel terms, we may not to get to travel much, but we’ve made sure our home is a great place to be, too.
Secondly, our compromise is to do stuff sexually that’s quick and not very adventurous, but is still something. Ironically, this is what works best for my adventurous wife, and leaves less adventurous me wanting more. Not at all what we would have predicted, but it works well enough for us. So it’s like taking a short drive to a beach we both like instead of spending a week in a resort, which would be torture if one of us didn’t want to be there.
And, you know, that’s not the worst, or most uncomfortable way to live. Sometimes I still get the travel bug, and sometimes even a drive to the beach is too much for my wife, but on the whole, it works, and it works well – simply because it’s shaped by the sort of people we both are. Sometimes all that exploring just makes you want to stay close to home.
The following is a guest post for the Carnival of Aces by henshin, who describes herself thus:
I’m a 28 year old bio female, I identify as homoromatic or queer. It took me a long time (about the age of 25) to realise I was asexual because I had always assumed that sexual desire would come with age or sexual experience. It also took me a long time to realise I was interested in the same sex (say 22) because I was never interested in anyone in a sexual way. Once I came to terms with my ‘sexuality’ I started a relationship with a girl who was unsure of her sexuality and our sex life was very exploratory, neither of us were massively interested in sex. After that relationship I had a couple of casual flings where sex was the main focus and then started seeing my current partner who is sexual but with whom I have a mutually satisfying sexual relationship.
The post was edited for typos and the title was chosen by me, but otherwise, all words are hers.
I’ve never been squeamish about sex. I guess my parents helped with that. I know about all the STIs, how to put a condom on, teenage pregnancy and consent issues. Without even trying I’ve just gained this knowledge from friends and their dilemmas, school, and my own research because of the fact that even if I am asexual, sexual situations will probably crop up in my life.
My first sexual experiences as a teenager were pretty negative. They were always with guys who were trying to push me further than I was comfortable, I would have preferred to just hang out, listen to music, and play games, but apparently when we hit 13 I became a different species and being friends was no longer enough. I’ve always been a tomboy and I never really grew out of it. I was a pretty clueless teenager, I didn’t know what people wanted from me and I didn’t care to find out. That changed when I started University as a 19 year old and I met my best friend. She taught me how to express emotion, how to listen to people, how to have a deep and meaningful relationship. Of course I fell in love with her, and of course I didn’t realise this for many months because I didn’t have any sexual thoughts about her, it was all about how I wanted to be close to her, share her bed, have her confide in me, touch her back, hug tightly.
It was off the back of this unrequited love that I finally determined I was probably homosexual. After that I forced myself to get over my bff and move on. The first girl I had a relationship with refused to declare her sexuality, she claimed it didn’t matter, that she was just interested in people, not their genitals. I sympathised but I couldn’t understand. The first time me and this girl got intimate, while fully clothed, I could feel the warmth between her legs as she got aroused and it was the most exciting thing I’d ever felt. I think that feeling is the basis for how I’ve built my sexuality.
We were together for almost a year but neither of us cared about sex really, we argued once because she felt pressured into sexual activity by me. I think I was feeling socially pressured to be interested in sex now I had a partner, but also I was curious. I always was curious about sex because it seemed like such a big deal culturally, but I never got it, I could never make myself like it, and my attempts to make sex into a big deal for me just ended in hurting my girlfriend. I was pretty confused.
In between then and now I had 2 pretty casual relationships. The first was with a girl who asked me out. I get really nervous when people are interested in me in that way. I feel like I have to pre-emptively stop them liking me because I won’t want to have sex with them. I feel like if I kiss them I’ve somehow given them reason to believe they’ll get all the way with me. Anyway when this girl asked me out I felt like I should say yes, and then when she kissed me I didn’t protest, and when she initiated sex I didn’t say no but I had to stop her because, oh yeah I didn’t mention this, I have never had an orgasm, and I find it hard to deal with sex, especially lesbian sex, when you know you won’t come but your partner is desperately trying to make you. Anyway, she wasn’t too impressed when I stopped her. But we still went out for a while. She eventually cheated on me with a guy, she was a very sexual person so I don’t blame her, it was evidently never going to work. But it bugged me that she didn’t even try to comprehend my point of view, she just thought I was a problem to be fixed. Sex with her was mechanical and dull.
I should probably take a second here to point out that sex between two girls is not, obviously, penile-vaginal sex. We take turns predominantly, we arouse each other, make each other come, then switch roles. This means that I can have sex with someone without having to have my own genitals stimulated. A blessing really.
My next fling was with a girl I really liked. We were friends for a while, and she was even going out with someone else. What can I say? I was the other woman. I was never primarily interested in sex though cus, y’know, asexual. But I thought that having sex with this girl would make her want to be with me. Turns out that wasn’t the case. We had sex a good few times, I was flattered by the attention and thought it meant more. I’m willing to give my body in exchange for romantic affection, I guess that sound bad but I think it’s just human. Anyway I did get some sexual pleasure from her touching me, but it never lasted long. I think it helped that she was a cool feminist and never saw the point of sex as orgasm, unlike the previous fling. Still it ended soon enough because we both felt too bad about her girlfriend. Judge me I guess, I just feel like we’re all fallible.
It was just before this last girl that I had started exploring asexuality. I remained friends with her after our fling and we talked about my asexuality a number of times. This girl maintained I wasn’t asexual because I had become physiologically aroused when we had sex. I never had the heart to tell her that my heart was never in it, or that all I ever wanted from her was a cuddle and a kiss and some reassurance. She tried to convince me that she only wanted to have sex with people she liked and that this wasn’t so different from what I felt, and therefore my claims of asexuality were over the top. I just stopped trying to explain after a while.
My current girlfriend is a bit of a godsend. We met at Pride and she hit on me shamelessly. I don’t know why but my typical reticence when being hit on faded. I was embarrassed sure, but I think I’d been reading a lot about asexuality and consent recently and felt confidently armed with the ability to say No. Anyway we stayed up really late, I told her at some point that I was asexual, she told me she was in an open relationship. It seemed like a fair exchange of secrets. We shared a bed that night, hugged and kissed and had fun but we didn’t do anything sexual. She was very concerned that I didn’t feel pressured to have sex and I had never felt so respected or cared for in a sexual situation before.
Fast forward a few months and this wonderful woman is my girlfriend. We have sex regularly; like I mentioned above, sex can be nice and one sided in lesbian relationships when your partner knows you’re asexual. And I still love most feeling the heat between her legs when she’s aroused and watching her orgasm. Sometimes I laugh out loud for the pure joy of it, which, to her credit, she’s never interpreted the wrong way.
We’ve had a number of discussions about my asexuality, we’ve gone through the phase where she doesn’t think I’m really asexual, and now we’re at a place where she’s accepted that I don’t feel the same emotional connection and vulnerability during sex that she does, but that I love it in other ways that are important to me. And very recently I’ve started missing her in an emotional way if I don’t get to experience her body in a sexual way for a while (we are a bit long distance and only see each other once a week or so). This is the biggest revelation to me so far and I know it makes her happy to think that maybe I’m changing in how I view sex but I don’t think I’ll ever be fully like her. But as long as we have mutual respect and we can communicate with each other I am pretty confident in our relationship.
If anything I think that being asexual has made me better at relationships. I mean, I guess it’s a combination of that and my personality but I guess I stopped believing in a normal life path a long time ago and I dedicate a lot of energy to reading about and thinking about alternative sexualities and ways of being. I’m never going to fall in love, have a normal sexual relationship, get married, have kids and live happily ever after. Some of that is being gay, some is being asexual. Either way I’m glad I had to stop believing in that path because it has made me more grateful for what I’ve got and more free to move around the boundaries of normal existence than I otherwise might have been.
And the best thing about being in a relationship with someone you can trust is the option to explore your sexuality not only with another person as your experimental partner, but also as an emotional safety net when you don’t know what the hell you’re getting into. I am nothing if not open minded about my future and the future of my relationships.
Since I started hosting guest posts, I’ve been bugging C (aka Cat Pajamas), my partner of roughly 3.5 years (and now gayancée), to write one for me. She couldn’t come up with any ideas for the longest time, and so to help her out and make it more comfortable for her, I sent her a bunch of interview questions to answer. If the questions don’t seem to flow from one to another very well, that’s because they were asked in no particular order, just as I thought of them, over email and rearranged later. She’s really worked hard to get her thoughts down and then organize and clarify them better. I’m afraid she found my questions rather frustrating, because they were hard to answer without writing book-length responses. I love that her tendency is to go into great detail about these things… and scribble huge diagrams on my white board about them, too! <3
We don’t often hear much from sexual partners of asexual people, so my hope here is to do a little bit to fill that void. C has another post that she’s working on about sexual attraction as well. If anyone has questions for her that aren’t answered here, feel free to ask in the comments!
From here on out, my questions and comments will be in purple text.
Hi, I’m a 26 year old MTF. I love to talk about sexuality and some other topics. I believe I have a very in depth experience with both sexes because I’ve gotten to experience being gay/lesbian/bi in both genders, which is pretty cool and fun to talk about since I think it’s a perspective not many people get to fully experience.
So, if you read that the same way I did, that means I’m at least 200% gay.
Besides sexuality, I have a rather large interests in PC gaming and some outdoorsy hiking/camping stuff.
Can you briefly explain how we met, and how we sort of accidentally ended up in a romantic relationship?
We ‘met’ through a mix of an LGBT group at the university we both went to and me messaging you on OKcupid. Sadly I don’t remember why I messaged you initially, although I do know I was fairly curious about asexuality. We talked online for a time before we decided to go see a movie as friends. The movie wasn’t supposed to be romantic (kung fu panda) and my plan was to just take you back to your place afterwards, but you wanted to just sit around and talk. So we went to a uh, tea/sandwich place that’s kinda artsy and we just sat around and talked.
As it turns out, if you go to see a movie with someone and then talk to them for about 5 hours afterwards and you can’t say good bye, you’re probably doomed to start some sort of romance, whether you intended to do it or not.
Before you met me, if somebody had asked you, “Would you ever date an asexual?” how would you have responded?
I would probably respond with “I’m not sure.” At the time I wasn’t really aware of asexuality and without some information about it or the person, I would probably not do anything. Although I like people that are different from the norm.
If someone asked me that before I started transitioning, I probably would have said “no” since I was quite a bit more sexually active at the time (and ignorant). Once I started transitioning, it would have certainly been closer to a yes (still based on ignorance).
What did you think when you first encountered my profile on OKCupid, and in the early part of our relationship thereafter? Why did you contact me?
When I first encountered it? Who knows! At this point, I’m not sure if there was a reason I messaged you for reasons other than “I don’t know what asexuality is” and I think we had some music groups in common.
I’m pretty sure the reason I messaged you was mainly because of asexuality, since I wasn’t really aware of it and I wanted to know more. I don’t recall wanting to date you. ;)
How did you expect things to proceed? What things surprised you?
Well, ignoring the whole “What? We are dating?” thing… I fully expected the relationship to develop very slowly sexually, so I tried my best to go very slowly. Since usually my relationships have a very sexual nature to them.
What surprised me is how comfortable you were with certain kinds of play. Also how open you were/are to various sexual activities. Based on my (old) knowledge of asexuality, I would have imagined you to be a uh, prude. Thankfully that’s not the case.
Continuing a project to create understanding and awareness within the asexual community and the community of women with female sexual dysfuntion, I now have a guest post up on Feminists with FSD answering K’s questions about asexuality and the problems the asexual community faces due to the wording of the HSDD diagnosis, and my thoughts on how we might address them without hurting anyone who would seek treatment for HSDD or the wider community of women with FSD.
Requisite background info:
This discussion is predominantly focused on women largely because it grew out of the Great Flibanserin Debacle of June 2010, which concerned a drug that was being developed for women with HSDD, and was popularly (though misleadingly) called a “female viagra.” I won’t recap the entire discussion for you all as I trust that if you missed it and you really want to know what happened, you can use your google-fu to find out. But it resulted in exposing an undercurrent within the asexual community which I hadn’t really been aware of before, of patronizing hostility towards people who have or support HSDD as a diagnosis and on a broader level, of being dismissive towards anyone with sexual dysfunction. In the interest of rectifying this, I offered my blog as a place to host a guest post to K so that we might spread some awareness and understanding to the asexual community, and with the help of some other asexuals (thanks again, guys!), we came up with some interview questions for her. The resulting interview is here, and I highly recommend that you read that first! We also had some discussion in the comments that I think was very important to have, so be sure to check those out too.
We’re not really talking about Flibanserin anymore, but I do mention some of the concerns that I saw feminists raising about the legitimacy of treating what they prefer to call sexual “problems” with a drug as well as the legitimacy of the diagnosis itself. I realize that not all my readers may be familiar with this context, so for more background info I’d suggest you check out the rest of K’s posts, as she has several excellent posts that address these issues.
Comments to this post are disabled; please direct all comments to K’s blog so that we may have a more streamlined discussion.
And now… it’s time for me to get off the computer and go vote! Bye!
This past June, as some of you will remember, I posted a link to a petition to stop the FDA from approving Flibanserin, a drug the media repeatedly called a “Viagra for women.” I did so with the assumption that my readers would follow the link and read what the advocates who created this campaign had to say about it, rather than taking my short comments as a full explanation of my concerns. It seems that many misunderstood my position. Andrew Hinderliter of Asexual Explorations then made a series of posts all over the asexual communities explaining in more detail the reasons why we should be concerned, which sparked an unexpected explosion of controversy. My own view on the subject boiled down to this: given the lack of proof that the drug actually worked as advertised, and given the great potential for harm that would come from an advertising campaign not just to asexuals who would be falsely targeted by it, but also to women who might be offered this drug as a cure for their genuinely unwanted condition only to find that it doesn’t work, I felt it was appropriate to support such a petition. I had little faith in the FDA to make the correct choice without a strong case against it, as they have been known to screw up on occasion, and so I felt it would be helpful to bolster the cause by showing the FDA how many people were concerned what effect Flibanserin’s approval would have. Had the drug been proven to have a more significant effect, I would have supported it, and focused instead only on the advertising campaign and spreading asexual awareness, but all the evidence I encountered suggested otherwise.
What I did not realize at the time was that the New View Campaign, the force behind this petition, has had a history of alienating women with sexual dysfunctions. As I was shocked to discover, some of us in the asexual community (as well as the feminist community) also have tendencies not only to alienate, but to outright marginalize women with sexual dysfunctions in our attempts to advance our own goals (not that we all share the same goals; we’re too diverse for anything remotely resembling an “agenda” but the point still stands). This was never my intention, and I want this blog to be a safe space for women with sexual dysfunction as well, and so I asked K of the Feminists with FSD blog to make a guest post here to highlight these issues. Due to my unexpected hiatus, this post was long delayed. It was originally written shortly after the Flibanserin fiasco, and has subsequently been edited by K.
Some ground rules for comments: this should be obvious by now, but I will tolerate absolutely no disparaging, insulting, or ablist comments. I would also like this not to get derailed by arguments about Flibanserin itself—that’s old news and we don’t need to rehash it here. (If you really want to talk about it, I guess you could dig up the dead threads on some forum, but I wouldn’t recommend that either, honestly.) What I’d like to see addressed here is how our communities can become aware of and accepting of one another, so that we can work together without any nastiness coming from either side. Whether deliberate or otherwise. So please, by all means, check your privilege before posting a comment.
(By the way, I’d also like to mention that if you are a person who is both asexual and also has a sexual dysfunction, I’d like to hear from you, too! Please contact me at grasexuality [at] gmail.com if you would be interested in making a guest post.)
I am a feminist blogger living with female sexual dysfunction, specifically the pain category of FSD. I have vulvodynia, specifically vulvar vestibulitis, (though at the current moment it is fairly well managed,) and some residual pelvic floor dysfunction/vaginismus. I have been blogging about feminism and sexual dysfunction for two years, in part motivated by frustration with mainstream depictions of sexual dysfunction (or the complete lack thereof.) I approach these topics from the perspective of a white, cis het woman. I am not a doctor or therapist in any way shape or form, so most of what I know comes from personal experience (mine and that of others) & what I’ve read. While I feel I have made good faith efforts to do my homework, what I say should still be taken with a grain of salt, and I do not claim to speak for anyone save myself. Today I am here to try to answer some questions about sexual dysfunction that were raised on a+, regarding sexual dysfunction and flibanserin.
What is Female Sexual Dysfunction? What kinds of FSD are there?
Female sexual dysfunction is a broad term encompassing several types of sexual problems with a common denominator of personal distress. A good overview of sexual dysfunction can be found at harvard.edu. When discussing FSD in general terms it is important to remember there it is not limited to one specific manifestation. In addition to sexual medicine, there’s a lot to talk about with regard to female sexual dysfunction.
There are a few different ways of looking at FSD. The two ways I’m most familiar with looking at FSD are through the medical model and the social construction model.
The medical model is probably the most widely recognized way of looking at FSD. The medical model of FSD looks at sexual difficulties as problems to be addressed medically. It is derived from Masters & Johnson’s work on the Human Sexual Response Cycle. To refresh your memory, the cycle goes arousal, plateau, orgasm, resolution. Deviations from this cycle may be viewed as problems.