Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Not long ago I dared speak to someone I trust and say that I was questioning the whole notion of sexual orientation. Not what was my sexual orientation, but whether the concept even applies to me. When I talk to people like that I never know for sure where it's going to land: there is such pressure to conform to popular beliefs about how things work that I sometimes wonder whether I'm crazy, and at other times I suspect the world is crazy. But this person took it really well, to my immense relief.

And today I find that a word for what I was trying to describe, was invented 11 years ago already. It's pomosexual. Deconstructing sexual and gender identities. Postmodern sexual. Non-fixed, non-binary. All-inclusive and fluid. Yes, there is something wrong with the concept of "sexual orientation". Just how many people have considered that, I think not many. My, um, "partner", a fairly liberal-thinking person in most respects, unconsciously believed until recently that "bisexual" was "gay in denial". Just because the last time the issue ever had to be evaluated was way back in childhood, and things that were heard back then were fed into the autopilot until I challenged them, it seems.

I think a lot of people might be open to the idea of non-specific sexuality, it's probably just not something they have considered on their own. I hope to change that. "The future is here. It's just not widely distributed yet." (William Gibson)

Monday, December 15, 2008


So, our language around attraction and love is horrendously messed up, as many people who are calling themselves "asexual" would attest to. It seems to conflate all kinds of things that seem non-related to me, into one big soup. When in ordinary language I say that I'm attracted to someone of the opposite sex, and the average Joe hears that, there will be at least an assumption of being sexually attracted, and will bring a glint to his eye and a smirk to the corner of his mouth. If I state I am attracted to someone of the same sex, that automatic assumption will be less likely but still entertained as reasonable doubt which might slightly confuse that same Joe. "Attraction" is burdened with so many connotations and overtones that I do not intend. Yes, I am attracted! I'm attracted all over the place!

I used to think I was sexually attracted to all my friends, and then some people I liked, because I wanted to be physically close to them. That was a scary and embarrassing thought, I felt a bit freaky for having these urges for practically everybody. I preferred not to think about it. Until it recently occurred to me that maybe what most people are calling "sexual attraction" is not exactly the same thing as I'm experiencing. I'm imagining "wanting" somebody, wanting their body... and it just seems... disrespectful. Embarrassing. Like, not really true.

I develop strong feelings and intense attraction to some people. Sometimes more than one person at the same time. I feel urges to touch and be affectionate with people I love. In the past, I have often wondered about the intensity of my attraction, and because of this conflation concluded that it must be sexual. And I have always fantasized about people - but somehow my mind won't stay on the subject of sex. I can go on for a long time in pleasant imagination about how we are spending time together, what we are talking about, how we are looking at each other, touching each other lovingly, holding and cuddling, giving massages, even kissing if I feel very passionate. I've tried to imagine explicit sexual acts - and it feels more like a mental exercise, because I don't relate to the enjoyment that sex means for most people, so my mind strays or goes back to hugging and talking. And consistently, this fantasy happens when I'm away from a loved person - when I'm actually with them, when I can talk to them and touch them, I mostly feel fulfilled already. Doubts whether this is sexual don't cross my mind. I even don't need to touch them as much as in my imagination. And after spending some time with them, I feel kind of silly for having fantasized about such an intense physical relationship. It's like, I want closeness and intimacy with them, and symbolically, that's associated with sexual-related themes. But in reality, it doesn't have to be.

As for language that describes my experience around people: I don't know what "sexual attraction" is really, so I wouldn't use it about myself. Physical attraction is when I want to touch someone in a loving way or as a way to connect with them and communicate. This normally happens for me parallel to the development of emotional attraction, of getting to know a person and coming to care about them. Actually it doesn't work that well to break down the different kinds of attraction, because I do see it as all connected and interdependent, just one continuum. Just that so far I've never gotten to the part with anyone where I feel any strong urge to have sex. Even when I've thought what I wanted was to have sex, "heavy" cuddling has left me satisfied. And I want to challenge the assumption that sexual desire is the necessary endpoint and culmination of intense attraction. That I feel love and attraction any less strongly just because sex is not on my agenda. I doubt that very much.

So what is it that I'm attracted to in a person? I honestly don't think it has much to do with physical appearance: most people's appearance is pleasing to me, and they invariably become more physically attractive the more personally I get to know them. People I love are all beautiful people! I do have some preferences about faces and bodies that are more appealing, but that just doesn't mean very much all by itself. When I evaluate a person's appearance for attraction, it's rather in terms of how are they taking care of their body, what their face and body language tell me about their feelings, and what their external markers of identity display about their personality.

I think what I'm actually attracted to is the potential I sense for resonance, connection and intimacy. Seeing how open and transparent someone is with me, is very exciting and powerfully attractive. It can sweep me away: the feeling that I could be utterly real with another human being has me always coming back for more. That's also why I can be attracted to several people: because obviously more than one person can represent that in my life. I'd love to be able to freely explore physical intimacy as an expression of love and closeness in a context that doesn't spill over into sexuality.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Think of me as a cat

I like cats. They are elegant, graceful, clean, intentional, independent, and... OMG sexy. What does "sexy" mean coming from an asexual anyway - should I even be allowed to use that word?! Yes, I reserve the right to use it and redefine it as I see fit to describe my experience. And no, it doesn't mean I'm into animals [rolls eyes]. The sexiness of cats is in their confident demeanor, their sleek moves, their self-awareness, their soft hair... all of which makes me want to touch and connect with these beings. I too have felt "sexy" sometimes, and to me, that doesn't imply I was out to find someone to mate with. When I feel sexy, I feel confident and comfortable in my body, I feel physically beautiful, fit, strong, and attractive. I may put on clothes that emphasise my figure. I may want to be seen, touched and appreciated. And yet! It does NOT mean I want to be groped or laid. Wrap your head around that...

When it comes to physical affection and sensuality, the best analogy I can come up with is to think of me as a cat. A cat will choose people she wants to snuggle with, and will freely touch and rub against any part of their body, as long as she likes and trusts the person. Humans generally have no reservations petting other people's cats, and there is no expectation either by the cat or by the person that a committed monogamous relationship or sex will ensue. After a mutually enjoyable petting session, one or the other simply directs their attention to something else. This is how I would be - if I did not have too many socially imposed reservations in place! Think of how easy it is for puppies to huddle together in a pile and sleep... Or how naturally and freely small children touch and look at each other and are affectionate, without expectations and rules... That's what I miss! As we grow up, we are expected to narrow down our physical affection mostly to our sexual partner, and in limited doses, to a few friends. Friends don't usually walk down the street holding hands, are not allowed to touch all body parts, don't gaze into each other's eyes, don't sleep holding each other, don't lovingly stroke each other... Affectionate physical contact between friends has unspoken rules about limited duration and intensity - otherwise sexual interest is to be assumed. People crave loving touch, and so find functional reasons and excuses to "have to" touch each other for some apparent purpose other than just physical enjoyment and bonding. How sad!

Let's make a new world.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The closet

Why did I call this blog "thereisnocloset"? I spent a lot of my life with this nagging doubt in the back of my mind that said: I have some issues with sex, there is something wrong with me, I'm a little strange, and one day I'm going to have to confront it. I used to think that it must be just because I was shy as a teenager that I could not get the hang of the world of dating, and that once I get over that, my sexual personality should become unleashed. I then became a reasonably adjusted and moderately self-aware adult, and still kept waiting for that sexual flowering to happen. And when it wasn't happening, I kept worrying and telling myself that I must be repressing something. I had fleeting fears that I might turn out to be gay if I looked too closely. I mean, what other possible explanation could there be for me not wanting to have sex with men? Until this year, when I did some serious sitting down with myself and allowing for anything I was, to be okay just as it is. And the horrible scary truth that I had to accept about myself was that, once I opened that closet door, it contained a big huge... nothing. A gust of wind. Echo... My id, let loose upon the world, would rather do something else. The option of "just not interested" had never been considered before, not as valid anyway. We, children of Freud. To have the thought "I never feel any need or drive to have sex with anybody, and that's perfectly okay, because that's just how I am" - was hugely liberating, and so much of my past, my behavior, my being different, my not fitting in, suddenly made sense. It was the first time for me to think that other people were actually experiencing something all along that I did not really know how to relate to because it simply wasn't there for me. I had done my best to imitate them because I figured this was just how we are supposed to behave to be normal. It had not occurred to me that other people actually felt driven by sexual attraction. To realize now that the reason I had always felt awkward and confused, was because I really was different, and that there is an option to be who I am, be aware of my actual feelings and have them be legitimate... Celebration!