Q&A III

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. 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: how do you know if people are willing to have sex (from Google)
A: You ASK. Yes, out loud. Directly. In a manner that’s not confusing. That’s the only way you’re going to get a clear answer that can’t be misinterpreted. Just a simple, “Hey, do you want to do x?” will suffice. Don’t take any answer other than a clear yes. And don’t act like it’s so hard, or like it would kill the mood. Just be casual about it, and it won’t. If you’re too nervous to ask, maybe that will kill the mood, but the question itself? I can’t tell you how nice it is to be asked to give permission before someone starts touching me. Nobody is a mind-reader when it comes to these sorts of things, and you’re not (or you shouldn’t be) expected to be one. If you are being expected to read minds, that’s your sign to get the hell out of there. Any signs that a person might be interested cannot be taken as proof that they are, because what if you’re wrong? That’s too great a risk to make assumptions.

And do keep in mind that just because somebody wants to do x (for example, kissing or cuddling) doesn’t mean they also want to do y (for example, having intercourse), or that just because they say they want to once doesn’t mean they haven’t changed their mind, and also, it doesn’t mean they can’t change their mind in the middle. Consent is not a single decision; it’s a continuous state.

Q: what is a gray ace asexual (from Google)
A. Kinda redundant, considering that ace and asexual mean the same thing. It’s like saying “what is a (adj) bi bisexual?” (Yes, I realize this is from google, so it’s just there to make the search more specific. I’m just pointing this out because there are going to be people reading this page who don’t know that ace is short for asexual.) First of all, you have to understand that in this model, sexuality is viewed as a continuous spectrum without any specific dividing line between sexual and asexual. It is understood that sexual orientation refers to general preferences, and that a lesbian may on very rare occasions (like once or twice in her life) have sexual attraction to a man, outside of her normal orientation. It’s considered perfectly reasonable for her to continue identifying as a lesbian, because her preference is for women the VAST majority of the time. The same applies to asexuals who have experienced sexual attraction maybe once or twice (or think they MIGHT have, because keep in mind that for asexuals, sexual attraction tends to be particularly difficult to define/understand, due to lack of experience with it and others’ assumption that it is just intuitive that makes them unlikely or unable to explain). The problem is, at what point in frequency of these kinds of experiences do you go from being asexual to vaguely sexual? Once in your whole life? Once in fifteen years? Once in ten? Five? There is no objective line that divides asexuals from sexuals in that sense, and whether a person would continue identifying as asexual comes down to personal choice. Some people start identifying as sexual instead, some continue to identify as asexual because that’s what they’re like the vast majority of the time, and others say they’re in the “gray area” in between. Keep in mind this is not the only explanation for why someone would choose to identify as gray ace, as it’s pretty personal and the definition of what constitutes the “gray area” is intentionally vague, but it gives you a basic idea.

Q: why would an asxual masterbate (from Google)
A: For… pleasure? Why would you masturbate? Being asexual doesn’t mean you can’t feel any pleasure from genital stimulation. Or sometimes, if you’re not really in the mood to masturbate but you have a headache or something, you might try it in an attempt to relieve the pain. Or to make yourself tired enough to sleep. Or because you’re experimenting to see what it’s like. There are a number of reasons to masturbate, none of which are any different from the reasons people who aren’t asexual do it.

Q: are you supposed to be sexually attracted to body parts (from Google)
A: Not experiencing sexual attraction myself, I can’t answer from personal experience, but I thought it was an interesting question and I’ve read quite a lot of sex education materials, so my answer comes from that. From my understanding, there are people who find penises sexually attractive but have somewhat of a repulsion for men, there are people who find men sexually attractive but find penises kind of repulsive, there are people who find feet or other body parts sexually attractive but not (fill in the blank), and probably all manner of other combinations. There’s nothing wrong with any of these, all of them are just normal variations. And variation is the rule when it comes to sexuality. There’s no “supposed to be” because all people are different. You’re not supposed to be anything. You’re normal no matter what body parts you are or aren’t attracted to.

Q: how long should a woman give a guy personal space (from Google)
A: I’m not really sure how to answer this one, but I thought it was interesting that this search led to my blog somehow. I can’t answer it because I need more specific contextual information. Balancing personal space in a relationship can be very tricky, my partner and I actually broke up once because we were dumb about it. Even if you were just following what culturally is “supposed” to happen rather than what’s better for you as individuals, the answer to this question would still depend on what point you’re at in the relationship. The most generalized advice I can give is that you should communicate directly about what you need, and neither one of you should make assumptions. It’s more typical in heterosexual relationships to rely on cultural scripts that tell you what “should” happen instead of actually talking about your own personal feelings and what you both want from the relationship, but if either one of you balks at having relationship discussions, the relationship will suffer.

Q: do you wish there was no sex (from Google)
A: Me? No way. Because 1) I find it generally enjoyable and 2) I wouldn’t exist if it didn’t. Moreover, the amazing diversity not just of our species but of life in general either wouldn’t exist, or would be severely diminished. I do, however, wish there was no sex that any person involved didn’t want to have on any level.

Q: why do i keep saying no to sexual partners when they want to have sex (from Google)
A: Presumably because you don’t want to have sex? It’s okay to say no, you don’t have to have sex whenever a partner asks. Just because you have sex with them sometimes doesn’t mean you have to do it every time they ask. If you actually do want to have sex but you still keep saying no, then there’s something about the situation that must be bothering you. Try to figure out what that is, so you can resolve it.

Q: what does it mean if someone says is it okay if i jack off your formspring page (from Google)
A: Uh… I have no idea. Anyone else care to take a stab?

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Have you got a question you’d like me to answer? Ask me here.

Questions, Round 2

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. 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: At what angle do asexual people masturbate? (from Formspring)
A: Well, you see, asexuals are the opposite of sexuals. Therefore, they masturbate at the exact opposite angle. In fact, they masturbate upside down. In the air. Yes, they masturbate in the open air, hanging upside down from an airplane. Setting up for their masturbatory sessions is a pain in the ass, so they don’t do it too often.

Q: how to get an asexual to want you (from a Google search)
A: You can’t. There is no such thing as a love potion. There is no magic formula you can follow to get anyone, asexual or not, to want you in any way. If you are hoping that an asexual person will find you sexually attractive, you are sure to be disappointed. You cannot convert or seduce an asexual person, so don’t try. You can (inadvertently or not) do some serious damage if you do. There are things you can do to make an asexual person feel more comfortable with you, so that if they personally feel that sex is something they are up for trying, and if their personal feelings about you are favorable, they might want to have sex with you. The most basic thing you can do to facilitate that possibility is stop trying to get them to do it. If you are willing to accept that there’s a possibility the asexual person will NEVER want to have sex, and give up the goal of making them want you, then an asexual person is more likely to be comfortable around you and enjoy your company. You must also, by the way, be willing to accept that there’s a possibility they will NEVER want to date you or be in any other sort of romantic arrangement with you. Some asexuals just don’t want that, period. And even if the person you like does want that at some point, or is at least open to the possibility, it doesn’t mean that their life circumstances are such that they are open to a relationship right NOW, or that if they were they would want it with you. Compatibility is a HUGE factor in whether or not someone will like you. If your personalities just don’t mesh well, it won’t work. Or even if they do, that STILL doesn’t mean someone will want you in whatever way it is that you want them to.

Q: are guys in porn creepy (from a Google search)
A: Depends on the porn, I guess? All of this stuff is subjective. Do I personally find guys in porn creepy? Well, not the ones that I remember seeing, though I have found the porn I’ve been exposed to either boring, laughable, or unpleasant. A lot of it seems so ridiculous that I can’t help but be baffled as to how it turns anyone. That said, it’s not a stretch to conjecture that some guys in porn might be creepy. I haven’t seen all that much porn. From what I’m told, most of it is awful but some isn’t bad. My partner tells me there’s feminist/queer porn out there that’s tastefully done, but that it’s basically like how the two of us have sex. So there’s not much of an impetus for me to watch it, and since it’s hard to find and not really available without a subscription to some site, I probably won’t end up ever seeing it because I don’t care enough to invest in it.

Q: what constitutes a creepy guy (from a Google search)
A: Basically, it’s a guy who steps over a personal boundary that should be common courtesy, sometimes in such a subtle way that you’re not totally sure if he’s bad news or just socially awkward, so you doubt your feeling that he’s a creep. But still, some part of you notices something intimidating or off about him, and you get a strong gut feeling even if you can’t place exactly why. Typically a creepy guy may do things like give you a penetrating stare, especially at parts of your body like your breasts and butt. He’s the guy who takes up your personal space and chides you to smile (as if you are not allowed to have a bad day or otherwise express themselves neutrally in public). He might say things that sound just a little bit off, things that might seem like innocuous flattery or friendliness, but those comments seem to carry an expectation that you act a certain way in response. If you’re not friendly enough, he may seem offended. He might be someone who says women are goddesses when they are doing what he wants, but as soon as they contradict him, he flies into a misogynistic rage. Beware of the guy who constantly shit-talks his crazy ex-girlfriend; she might not be so crazy after all. The sense of creepiness might come from how he treats much younger girls/women. He might say things, subtle things that might be passed off as a joke, that hint at a worldview that it’s okay to be violent towards women. He might be the type who is very forward in situations where it doesn’t seem appropriate, like personally emailing a stranger on the internet to help her achieve some sexual goal that she mentioned once in a blog post. He might follow you around, seem to be watching you, or just be the type who never seems to take the hint.

To answer the question that wasn’t asked, here’s what a creepy guy is NOT: he is not just anyone who is sexually attracted to you. It’s totally fine to be sexually attracted to somebody; the thing that makes the difference between a creep and not-a-creep is how he handles that attraction. The guy who is not a creep understands that there ARE creepy guys out there, and he will back off to give you some personal space. He doesn’t expect you to respond in a certain way, and get so angry he denounces all women when you don’t respond the way he hopes. He follows the three second rule, tries to shift his gaze to avoid making you uncomfortable. He won’t give you extravagant gifts too soon in a relationship, or otherwise try to rush you or make you uncomfortable with the pace of the relationship. He won’t stalk you. Basically, he expresses himself respectfully with some consideration for your feelings. This doesn’t mean he will never make a mistake; nobody is perfect. But if he does, he will apologize and back off.

Q: how do you have sex with a trans woman? I thought they were a myth made by the patriarchy to show that people outside the gender binary are weird. (from Formspring)
A: My girlfriend is certainly not a myth, that’s for sure.

The following question concerns rape and its effects on sexuality, and since it might be triggering I’ve placed it under a cut. Continue reading

Questions From Google

A lot of people seem to like typing full questions into google instead of just key words, and so I tend to get hits from people asking questions about asexuality. I find these quite interesting, because they reveal something about the people asking certain questions, and they reveal what people are still ignorant about when it comes to asexuals, or in other words, what we need to focus on when spreading awareness. So I’ve decided I’m going to start to periodically answer these questions with a blog post, in the hopes that if any other random googlers show up here asking questions, they’ll be enlightened. And perhaps in the process, we’ll be entertained. All search terms appear exactly as they were typed into google, 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. 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.

So here is round one!

Q: why are asexuals ugly
A: We’re not, but thanks for playing! If you know an asexual that you consider ugly, you should keep in mind that you don’t know all the asexuals in the world. I’ve met some pretty cute asexuals, myself. There’s no way to tell whether someone is asexual just by looking, so you may have met some too, without realizing it.

Q: can you find asexualness attractive?
A: Yes, people who like asexuals are out there. As another person informed me through another search term: i find asexual people sexy. Someone else searched for asexual charm so unless they were looking for something like the black ring or a symbol on a keychain or something, I suppose some people find asexuals charming, or at least the ones they’ve met. I’ve also personally had a guy tell me something to the effect of, “It’s just really fascinating to see an otherwise sexless creature in a sexual way.” Fascinating clearly meaning, in the context of the conversation, that it was a sexual interest.  (By the way, it’s creepy to call someone a “sexless creature,” don’t do it. We’re not inhuman just because we lack sexual attraction.)

Q: how to like someone who is asexual
A: Huh? Why are you looking for a how to guide? If you like someone, you like them. If you don’t, you don’t. Maybe you can learn to get along, see things from their point of view, but you’re not going to teach yourself to like them in that way, if that’s what you’re going for. If that happens, cool. If not, then why try to force it?

Q: how to convert an asexual person
A: WHAT!? NO NO NO NO NO, STOP!! You can’t “convert” an asexual person, just like you can’t convert a gay person, and if you try, you will do a tremendous amount of damage! Why do you want to convert them anyway? Everyone would be much happier if you just accept it, trust me. Yes, even you. If you’re not getting the sex you want, the first step to maybe making it more comfortable for an asexual person to have sex with you is to STOP TRYING TO CONVERT THEM. Listen to them, try to understand their asexuality and their feelings about sex. Be patient. Be kind. Never pressure them, or otherwise try to seduce them. We know when you’re trying to seduce us, and if you try it, you’re missing the point completely. Which makes us uncomfortable, and far less likely to be okay with having sex with you. If sex does happen under those conditions, it will be some really shitty, possibly even traumatizing sex. Whereas if you accept and try to learn about asexuality, if you listen and respect the asexual person’s feelings about sex, then you just might, if the asexual person is willing, have the possibility of having good, great, or even spectacular sex. If you’re patient enough to try, and you’re willing to accept responsibility for obtaining explicit consent, where the asexual person is saying yes, not just not saying no. If you’re willing to accept the possibility that sex will NEVER be an option first. If you don’t want to put your time and effort into that, then it’s better that you just move on without trying to convert anybody. Please. Don’t do it.

Q: is someone that has had sex before asexual
A: They could be. Asexuality doesn’t mean that you’re celibate necessarily, although some are. Lots of asexuals do have sex for whatever reason, and some even do it because they enjoy it. Imagine that! Click around here if you want more information about that; you’re in the right place.

Q: what happens if you arouse an asexual person
A: That completely depends on the context of the situation and the feelings of the person who is being aroused. If you arouse an asexual person… then they’re aroused. That doesn’t mean they’re not asexual, because sexual attraction is not necessary for arousal to occur. However that particular asexual individually feels about being aroused will probably determine what happens next.

Q: could asexuality account for most sexual dysfunctions
A: No. Asexuality is not a sexual dysfunction. Sexual dysfunctions are not caused by asexuality. Some asexuals also have sexual dysfunctions, but non-asexual people probably account for the vast majority of people who have sexual dysfunctions. If you want more info on this, check out these posts, and K’s blog.

Q: is it asexual to fantasize but not want to have sex
A: Not necessarily. I mean you could be asexual and fantasize without wanting to have sex, sure. But you could also be asexual and still want to have sex, for whatever reason. With or without any fantasies. And you could be sexual and fantasize but not actually want to have sex. In fact, I think plenty of sexual people do that all the time. The key thing here is, neither fantasizing nor wanting to have sex is a deciding factor in whether you’re asexual or not. They might be clues, I suppose, but the basic question is: Do you feel sexually attracted to other people, as a general rule? If not, then you might be asexual.

Q: what kind of sex are asexuals into?
A: LOL. Are you kidding me? What kind of sex are sexuals into? What kind of sex are people into? You might as well be asking those questions! I could answer for myself, but not for every asexual. We’re different people, we all like different things. And you know, this may surprise you, but some asexuals aren’t into sex. (Did I really just have to type that? Wow. Novel concept, to say the least.)

Q: what do asexuals masturbate to
Q: do asexuals masturbate when thinking about partner?
A: How about you ask a specific asexual instead of trying to generalize to all of us? That is, if you know any who would be comfortable answering such a deeply invasive question for you! If not, don’t ask any questions about masturbation at all. If you don’t know if they’re comfortable with it, ask them if it’s okay to ask personal questions first. Do realize that it’s very different to talk about one’s sexual orientation than it is to talk about one’s own personal sex life, and that we will all have varying comfort levels with talking about something so private, just like everybody else. It would probably be better to make it an open question for different asexual people to give their own answers on the internet somewhere, so they can be anonymous if they wish. I’m sure it varies quite a bit. Each one of us can only answer for ourselves, not for all asexuals everywhere. Not even all of us masturbate, you know that right? But hey, you get some points for realizing that masturbating does not make somehow make a person not-asexual.

Q: is it hard to be an asexual
A: No, not really. I mean, it can be, but not strictly because you’re asexual in and of itself. But because asexuals are a very marginalized minority—so much so that people don’t even know we exist, or don’t “believe in” us, as if we’re unicorns or something—we do face certain problems that other people don’t have to deal with. These range from feeling erased, to having a much smaller dating pool, to having your romantic relationships not considered “real”/serious relationships, to dealing with obnoxious/invasive comments, to harassment and bullying, to facing lots of social pressure to have sex with a romantic partner (as if it is an obligation), to even “corrective” rape. In other words, you wouldn’t have such a hard time if people (and circumstances in some cases) didn’t give you a hard time. The vast majority of the time, when people aren’t giving me crap about it, it’s not hard for me to be asexual at all. So I’d say it’s not hard just to be asexual, but it’s hard to be asexual in a world where asexuality isn’t accepted.

Q: are bisexuals dangerous
A: No, don’t be silly. Bisexuals are no more or less dangerous than your average person. And that post title? While I do think that spreading the idea that sexual orientation is based on and measured by behavior is generally a bad thing that has negative consequences for asexuals… That was a tongue-in-cheek over the top sensationalistic headline. Clearly nobody ever gets my humor around here. Therefore everything is ruined forever. (Yes, I am an elephant. I should really own that shirt already.)

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Well then, that’s it for this installment. If you want to ask me a question but don’t want to try to find my blog through google to do so, I’ve set up a formspring account for that purpose, located here. You can ask anonymously if you want, and you don’t have to ask about asexuality, you can ask whatever you want. I’ll answer most things, unless they compromise my anonymity in some way. If you want my advice on a situation, that’s fine too, although I don’t know if there’s a character limit on formspring, so if you want to ask something longer you might have to email me instead (if you do, let me know it’s okay to post the reply). Ask away!