An Asexual Map for Sex-Positive Feminism


Topics of Interest

Workable models of consent for the asexual community. This is sort of complicated — on the one hand, there are asexual people who have sex, who may enjoy having sex or really don’t mind having sex or do it to please their partners or whatever, and a lot of them wouldn’t pass the enthusiastic consent test and a lot of them would be rather upset about being told they’re unable to consent to sex. However, on the other hand this ties into …

The compromise problem. Asexuals are very vulnerable to a certain kind of rape culture — the type where in a romantic relationship you owe sex to your partner, because refusing to have sex is bad and wrong and abusive. And in asexual communities, there’s a lot of talk about compromise — essentially, having sex with your partner even though you yourself don’t have an intrinsic desire for it. As you can imagine, this can go to very bad places. This is another discussion a lot of sex-positive spaces don’t manage very well, because there’s often very little empathy for the asexual partner (or, in related discussions, the partner with less sexual desire) in that situation. In fact, they are frequently demonised when this comes up. There’s also very little empathy for the fact that for asexual people, this ties into …

The numbers problem. A lot of asexuals identify as romantic (generally with an orientation prefix — heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic) and still fall in love with and want to date people. They experience romantic attraction but not sexual. Dating only other asexuals is often very unrealistic: we’re a very small, very invisible, very diverse orientation. For a homoromantic woman, the dating pool consists of homoromantic or biromantic asexual women — an estimated 0.1% of the population before you factor in asexual invisibility. I’ve met all of one other asexual in real life without specifically flying to visit them. Dating people outside the asexual community is often the only option, and that means that the issue with sex has to be addressed.

* Also related to numbers: some people identify as aromantic, i.e. experiencing no romantic attraction. And some, like me, go “hold on a second, what’s this ‘romantic attraction’ thing and where are you drawing the line between it and platonic relationships? I don’t understand! How do you tell the difference between romantic love and friendship love and …”

Of late, we’ve been calling this wtfromantic (although I still like calling it “romantic orientation of divide by cucumber” and other people may have their preferred terms) for Makes No Sense, Does Not Compute, Wrong Question. What we’ve been talking about a lot is things like relationships that don’t fit the romance/friendship binary; emotional commitment; partnership and intimacy outside of romance; etc. This has some interesting intersections with polyamory.

(Some specific vocabulary you may run across on this topic: “queerplatonic” is for a deep emotional connection/relationship that isn’t romantic, “zucchini” is a queerplatonic partner, and there’s a variety of vegetable puns based on that ranging from “squash” for a queerplatonic crush to “courgetting” for queerplatonically flirting.)

* There is also some discussion about sex-positivity. What you may not know is that there’s often pressure for asexual people to identify as sex-positive and act in certain “sex-positive” ways in order to prove we’re not slut-shaming and anti-sex. (Our identity frequently gets interpreted as being inherently slut-shaming and/or anti-sex, even when it is explicitly described as being about personal feelings, not behavior. This happens especially often to demisexual people.)

YES MAAAAAPS OF THINGS. Although perhaps one day I will outline my own map of asexual sex-positivity, since it’s not like I’ve been sex-negative/slut-shame-y this whole time that I’ve identified as ace. I mean. Basically mine boils down to a kind of ‘Your kink is not my kink but your kink is okay so long as it happens with enthusiastic consent between all parties’.

Also the original post is on Feministe which makes me go :| bc of stuff and things related to the website, but yeah. …Now I really really want to make my own map of how I construct my own sex-positivity. After I write my poem about being socialized as a girl. And finish an essay about how friendship is devalued by language. GODDAMMIT COLLEGE I DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR YOUR ESSAYS BECAUSE I AM TOO BUSY EXAMINING THE WORLD. JUST LET ME IN SO I CAN DO THIS ON YOUR CAMPUS.

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    ‘Your kink is not my kink but your kink is okay so long as it happens with enthusiastic consent between all parties’....
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    YES MAAAAAPS OF THINGS. Although perhaps one day I will outline my own map of asexual sex-positivity, since it’s not...
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