Q&A VIII

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

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

On to the questions!

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Q: I’m asexual, and one thing that always seems to come up when people find out is the whole “well, no one will ever want you if you’re not going to put out” situation. sometimes I find myself thinking the same thing. how did/do you respond to that? (from Formspring)
A: Hm… well, for me personally, in my current situation, it’s fairly easy to respond to. The assumption that just because I’m asexual I won’t “put out” is bad in the first place, and depending on the situation I may or may not correct it. Usually if I do correct it, I will say something like, “You shouldn’t assume that all asexuals don’t want to have sex, some of them are sexually active, for whatever reason.” That way they’re free to make whatever assumption they want about my own sex life without directly asking me. Then I will point out that they’re just flat-out wrong. Being engaged myself and having had my partner plainly state that while she would like to have sex with me, she would still want to be in a romantic relationship with me even if we never had sex (and indeed, we’ve gone long stretches of time without), it’s fairly easy for me to counter these arguments with personal experience. But for someone without that kind of personal experience, I understand it can be much harder! I’ve had those worries that nobody would ever want to date me because I’m asexual myself. I used to try to keep in mind examples of successful asexual couples that I knew of from browsing AVEN, but there’s also other hard evidence that you can find to contradict this idea. For example, the very existence of Celibate Passions, an online dating site specifically geared towards people who want celibate romance and friendships, disproves the notion that nobody would want to date a person who doesn’t want to have sex. You can link to it as proof, and if people continue to insist that nobody is interested against hard evidence contradicting them, then they are being unreasonable and it’s totally fair to point that out. If the conversation continues to devolve—and I know that some people would even go so far as to predict eventual relationship failures, which they see as somehow inevitable—I’d just advise you to calmly tell them they have no basis to be making such claims and that they should drop it. If they won’t, feel free to take whatever steps you need to in order to get them to leave you alone.

Q: It burns when I pee, why? (from Formspring)
A: …Yes, dear. That is indeed a burning question. And one which I am not qualified to answer. I’m glad I know it’s not someone actually looking for one!

Q: asexuals and kitties why do they match (from Google)
A: Because they are both awesome. :3

Q: Can someone become asexual or is it a condition you are born with and may be never realized you had it until you read an article on the website BBC website? (from Formspring)
A: I have heard some people report “becoming asexual” before, however I’m unclear on what exactly they mean by that. I do think that sexuality in general has at least some degree of fluidity, but it’s not the type of thing you can consciously influence. You can’t “become asexual” by sheer force of will, and people who report having done so likely do not mean asexual in the same way that we mean it. I think those people are talking about being celibate, and not realizing that there’s a difference between celibacy and asexuality (covered elsewhere on this blog ad nauseum, so I won’t go over it again). There are, however, a few people within the asexual community who used to identify as sexual and have said that they did feel sexual attraction prior to a certain point in their lives, at which point they say they became asexual. I’m recalling some very old forum posts on sites I’ve long since stopped visiting, so I can’t give any specific examples (and for privacy reasons it probably wouldn’t be best to do so anyway), but as far as I can recall, most of them felt that they were on the low end of the scale of sexual attraction or somewhere in the gray area between asexual and sexual. We tend to tread cautiously in cases where a person says that they’ve had a sudden, drastic drop in their level of interest in sex, as that can be a symptom of a number of different health conditions. If that sounds like you, then it’s a good thing to get checked out.

Q: a newbie to understanding this orientation……are there any stats on gender, as related to this? More prevalence in one or another? Also, is this ever known from an early age, as has been suggested in other sexual orientations? Do romantic asexuals feel (from Formspring)
A: I guess that last question got cut off, feel free to resubmit it for the next round! Anyway, there are some stats on gender suggesting that asexuality is vastly more prevalent in women than in men, but due to the way that these stats are collected, they’re not very reliable. Most surveys are collected from samples gathered over the internet, which leads to sampling bias, especially in cases where the links get passed around on sites like Livejournal which are largely made up of women in the first place. It is also more likely that due to cultural pressures to be sexual, asexual men are less likely to find out about asexuality and begin (publicly) identifying as asexual, even if they actually fit the definition. If not for those factors, would there still be a big gender difference? Who knows.

As for the second question, because asexuality is a lack of something rather than the presence of something, and particularly because all children are assumed to be asexual before puberty (even though that isn’t actually true), it’s very difficult for young asexuals to come to the understanding that there is a difference between them and their peers. It’s not readily apparent that there is anything different until you’ve gotten past the point at which the excuse that “you’re just a late bloomer” starts to become questionable to you, and this point varies a lot depending on the individual. Indeed, many of us are so well-trained that asexuality doesn’t exist that doubts about whether or not we’re just “late bloomers” plague us well into our twenties. There is no universally agreed-upon acceptable age at which you can determine that you are asexual for sure even within the asexual community itself, so many of the younger asexuals will be told that while it’s cool to hang out with us, they should still keep their minds open to other possibilities. We are often accused of “closing ourselves off” to possibilities by identifying as asexual by people who are not familiar with the community, but actually we may tend to be a little too cautious to leave ourselves open to those possibilities, in some cases. There are quite a few 13-14 year olds that I’ve seen already identifying as asexual, though typically people begin identifying as asexual later than that. The youngest I’ve personally heard of someone identifying as asexual is twelve.

Q: Could you add ‘sentually attracted’ as a term? I ask this as I want to flert and turn on a partner, but when the pants come down I become disinterested. As you may know it takes about 6 sec of physical contact for most guys to start pulling it out. (from Formspring)
A: Actually, I already use that term! :) The way I define it, sensual attraction is about wanting that skin-to-skin feeling, wanting to indulge in something that engages the senses without necessarily being sexual with one another. It’s not so much just wanting to cuddle, but more about wanting to be close in a sufficiently epicurean way. Like lying close while feeding each other grapes, for example.

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Have you got a question you’d like me to answer? Ask me here. Remember to check the FAQ page!

Q&A VII

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

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

On to the questions!

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Q: how to be asexual (from Google)
A: This is one of those questions that makes assumptions that aren’t true. It assumes that you can learn how to be asexual, which implies that it’s also assuming that asexuality is a set of behaviors. Most likely, you’re looking for advice on how to be celibate. Celibacy means not having sex. Asexuality means not experiencing sexual attraction. Sexual attraction is not really something that we can just turn off or on at will.

Q: can you make an asexual sexual (from Google)
A: No, you can’t. Don’t bother trying, you’ll do way more harm than good. PLEASE.

Q: is assexuality an emotional problem (from Google)
A: No, it isn’t. Social reactions to it can cause emotional problems, but the same is true of being gay. Asexuality is a sexual orientation just like being gay or bi.

Q: can a man be asexual and still enjoy sex (from Google)
A: Yes.

Q: am i sexually frustated if i bite my nails (from Google)
A: What the… Seriously? No, there’s no connection. You might be nervous if you tend to bite your nails, sure, but…

Q: why do people think it’s ok to ask if asexuals masturbate? (from Google)
A: You know, I wish I knew. I think it’s probably a combination of things, or different people have different reasons. It does kind of depend on the situation, as in a few cases it might actually be okay (and if you have to wonder if it’s okay to ask someone or not, then it’s NOT). I know a lot of people are genuinely curious, and curiosity’s fine (that’s what this question series is about), but thinking that it’s okay to directly ask someone whether or not they masturbate is something else. I think for some people it might be that they think that just because you brought up a word related to sex that it’s okay to ask you intimate details of your sex life… kinda like those people who think that if someone talks about sex they must be open to doing it with them. In other words, they can’t understand discussion of sex that is detached and intellectual, and/or don’t realize that by directly asking about masturbation, they’re making it personal. Others might think it’s a “problem” that you need to have them solve for you, even though you tell them it’s not. And plenty of people just start thinking that you’re wrong immediately and that they have to prove it to you. Still others probably just go around asking EVERYONE about masturbation, without knowing or (more likely) caring that it’s usually considered rude at best, and especially bad to ask of an asexual person. Whether they realize it or not, they almost always come off in a way that communicates “you don’t deserve the respect I give normal people.” The “problem-solvers” and the people who want to prove you wrong clearly start thinking of you as a problem, and forget that you’re a person with your own agency.

Q: can asexuals still find people attractive (from Google)
A: Yes, in other ways. We can think people are beautiful, for example, while not feeling sexual interest because of their appearance. Or a myriad of other kinds of attraction that I’m not going to get into here because it’s been done to death. Poke around if you want examples. I’ve written about it some, but other asexual people are a lot more into categorizing different kinds of non-sexual attraction than me.

Q: is it possible to have a sexual relationship with an asexual person? (From Google)
A: Likely I’ve already answered this question for you if you’ve found this blog, but yes. Yes, it is. I have several posts about this already, most notably this one on things that help, and this one on what NOT to do, and I have a few more coming up, including a guest post by my partner.

Q: how to have a nipplegasm (from Google)
A: LOL, I find it hilarious that this search term somehow led to my blog. I guess that phrase must’ve come up at some point. It’s also weird that this search has led to my blog more than once. I’m not going to actually answer that question because there is no surefire way for any given person to have one. Some people don’t. And I’m not terribly familiar with techniques—are there actually like named, distinguishable techniques for different kinds of nipple stimulation? It seems like the kind of thing that looking up on the internet would make worse, not better, because then you’d be more focused on whether you’re doing the technique as described and not whether your partner likes it.

Q: if you have been celibate for a long time do you need std testin? (from Google)
A: [Disclaimer: I AM NOT A DOCTOR.] It seems to me that it would depend how long it’s been, and when your last STD test was. Some STDs can go a very long time without symptoms, or the symptoms might not show up at all (like herpes). And some (like HIV) may not show up on tests right away, so you can test negative even if you do have it. I’m told it’s standard to wait six months before testing for HIV, because it won’t show up on the test right away. But keep in mind that it can take a lot longer than that to be detectable in your body. If you haven’t been tested at least six months after you last had sex, go do it. And if you got tested like seven months after or something, you might want to err on the side of caution and get tested anyway, but I realize not everybody has the money for it. Look for a free clinic in your area.

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Have you got a question you’d like me to answer? Ask me here. Remember to check the FAQ page!

My Planned Parenthood: Five Hours Away

This post is for the My Planned Parenthood blog carnival, hosted at What Tami Said and Shakesville.

The nearest Planned Parenthood facility to me closed in 2009.

It was already about an hour’s drive away from where I live, when it was open. Now, the nearest Planned Parenthood is about a five hour drive from my house, 191.02 miles from my zip code, according to the Planned Parenthood website. It’s in a city that I’m only vaguely familiar with, so once I got there I’d probably get lost trying to find it.

Fortunately, I haven’t needed it. I have health insurance for at least the next two years, and considering my partner is now sterile, there’s no reason for me to be on birth control. Even STDs aren’t a worry at the moment, considering we’ve been functionally “monogamous” as far as sex goes for quite a while, even though my partner has been dating other people online. Before her surgery, my partner and I primarily used condoms, although there were occasions where we decided to forego them because I’d been tracking my fertility through the Fertility Awareness Method (not the same as the rhythm method), and I was reasonably certain I wasn’t fertile at the time, and planned on getting my period within the week. Still, it was never a totally sure thing. Even on months that we hadn’t had that kind of sex, both of us (particularly her, because she is very strongly childfree) would get a bit nervous if my period was late. I had a stack of cheap pregnancy tests that I used on those occasions. Never once did I get a positive reading.

Now I have a bunch of unused pregnancy tests and condoms that I don’t know what to do with. I’d give them to a friend or my sister, but then I’d have to explain why I had them in the first place, which would involve outing my partner as trans. And in some cases, it would take explaining that just because I’m asexual, it doesn’t mean I don’t have a sex life, and it doesn’t mean that I’m not “really” asexual. Those are conversations I really don’t want to get into. I’d bring them to my local Planned Parenthood for them to distribute… except, oh wait. I don’t have one.

Unless my circumstances change dramatically—and I’m very keenly aware that they could, because I’ve been doing an ongoing survey about sexual assault for an awareness project (TW at link for non-explicit mentions of rape; this project is still open so please participate and pass on the link if you want)—I’m not going to need to go to Planned Parenthood myself. But what about the people in my area who do? They’re just completely out of luck.

That’s why I think people should donate to Planned Parenthood and support it in any other way they can.

And since contraception doesn’t get talked about very often in the asexual community, consider this an open thread to talk about it. What methods do you use? Where do you go for STD testing? Even if you’re not sexually active, are you aware of places you can go for testing etc. in your area? Do you have a Planned Parenthood nearby?

Read the rest of the MyPP stories here.