Thursday, November 5, 2009

Question everything you know

Browsing through the forums on AVEN, I come across many young people just entering the community, asking the same question: "Am I asexual? Do I belong here?"

To them I want to say: Welcome. There is no stamp of approval and no authority to declare who is “really” asexual. We are just people who have found that none of the generally available sexual-orientation labels have been a good fit. The fact that you are searching and wanting to be true to whatever it is you really feel or don’t feel, means you belong. Here is a place where you can be perfectly honest with yourself. What you (don’t) feel or want, is natural and okay, for the simple reason that you actually (don’t) feel or want it, and you are a human being, so it must be natural for some human beings. There is no "correct" way to be asexual.

A lot of effort has gone into trying to get “asexuality” accepted in the eyes of society as a fourth “sexual orientation”, to kind of legitimize and rationalize that if you tweak and rearrange existing models, asexuality will fit in too. And reorienting mass mentality to include the possibility that you exist (!) can be perfectly useful in practical situations. But my personal take on it is that I opt out of the whole “sexual orientation" model. I abandon the existing preconceived ill-fitting framework and build my own interpretation of the world, based on how I myself actually experience it. There is so much more hue and variety in real life than any model can encompass. The labels “straight”, “gay”, “bi”, are only a lens we use for convenience so we can have a feeling that we are able to manage and contain an infinitely complex reality. People don’t realize that, and implicitly believe that humans should conform to the language labels they happen to have inherited from the way their society arbitrarily parses reality. My own feeling is that the concept of “sexual orientation” is due for a rethinking.

Our entire language around relationship matters is dominated by terminology and styles of speaking that accurately reflect the experience of people (males in particular) who are strongly driven by sexual attraction. In addition, sex has been historically associated with virility and power and strength and dominance and all sorts of desirable qualities that leaders in a tribe will possess. And they are the ones who have set the standards for all of us, who have described their experience for all of us, who we have been programmed to emulate and look up to. However, not everyone's reality and internal makeup is that of a specimen who is driven to rise to the top of the clan and mate with many individuals. Enough people in the world do experience sexual attraction that most of society seems to be able to at least relate to that, and view sexual partnership as the be-all and end-all of personal happiness and fulfillment. But then you see people who are radically unlike that “ideal”, and they are questioning if their experience of themselves and their lack of wanting to mate, is legitimate or is it pathological. Good grief people! Of course it is legitimate. It is just the way you are. Your world has been interpreted for you through the eyes of somebody else. It’s time to acknowledge that, and take back the right to be yourself. Discover for yourself what you actually feel. Invent your own language to accurately reflect your own experience, and know your own needs and desires. Own what you feel. There are so many ways to like people and be connected and intimate and loving with them that have nothing to do with sex. We only think they should, because we have been programmed to believe it.

One thing I do give psychologists credit for, is that they say something is a “disorder” only when it causes you distress. To all the new people who are feeling troubled: if there is anything causing distress, I would encourage anyone to investigate it. For example if there is a social anxiety and you are suffering because of it, I would recommend working with that. It may well be that after you relax around people, you may discover that you could enjoy having sex with them. It may equally well be that after you have worked through your fears around being with people, you discover that you actually enjoy being by yourself, or that you still don’t experience any sexual attraction to anybody. But now you will be able to state it with confidence, and won’t feel like you have to hide. In either case, you win. This community is a good place to explore your feelings. Being true to yourself is always a good guide. I like that quote from dr. Seuss: “Always be who you are, and say what you feel, because people who mind don’t matter, and people who matter don’t mind.” Good luck.


  1. That's a very good read!
    I also think that all this sexual orientation stuff is not/should not be a big deal. Especially, since it is only a tiny part of you, it doesn't define your whole being. Still...people act as if it was everything there is. But you're right history has been written by victors, it doesn't mean it's accurate. :)

  2. very interesting posts. happened by from "the angry black woman". I get the idea about orientation and have decided for myself that the problem is that often we only have words for the 4 corner designations hetero-homo-bi-a- and we rank them according to whatever beliefs protect our tiny little egos. and i think that between each and among each there is an infinity of orientations that we are simply too dim to recognize.