**tw: sexual coercion, asexual invalidation, repulsion-shaming, talk of suicide**
…In the name of sexual liberation. This is a continuation of my Unassailable Asexual post, in which I explained a lot about why some friends I had, were so determined to invalidate my asexuality and sex-repulsion at every turn. Not only did they convince me I had no right to identify as asexual, they tried to make me get over my repulsion, and be open to sex, by shaming and bullying me. These two were both sex-positive extremists; they didn’t see anything wrong with their coercive tactics, because they believed it was “for my own good”, and would “sexually liberate” me.
4 years ago, I was facing a barrage of invalidation by them; my ‘boyfriend’ (the one who claimed we were dating) and one of our shared friends. His other friends who knew of this situation, but weren’t involved, were still enablers. They didn’t speak out against the inherent inequality in our relationship. I was pressured into answering intrusive questions; ones that I knew I was under no obligation to answer, but if I didn’t say anything, -and I usually didn’t-, they would’ve thought I had something to hide. No matter how I answered, and whether I did or not, these questions were to help ‘prove’ that I’m not asexual.
Their intent with all their invalidation of both my asexuality, and sex-repulsion, was to get me to accept my ‘real’ sexuality. They thought mine was lying dormant, and thought that now that I ‘knew’ what it was by telling me what I am, I was repressing it out of shame and fear.
Their intentions sound good, don’t they? A person is miserable if they can’t accept a part of themselves, spending so much time and energy lying to themselves about what they are. Some of these friends have been through that kind of ordeal before they accepted their sexualities, or another part of themselves. They thought I was going through the same thing that they had previously. While there are still a lot of people struggling to accept the sexual feelings that they have, I wasn’t one of them, and it was wrong for them to jump to conclusions, and decide what I am, and want, for me.
The three of us frequently argued over sex, because my ‘boyfriend’ wanted it, I didn’t, and this other friend sided with him. I felt betrayed by that other friend siding with him, because I told her things that were a blatant cry for help. I thought she’d understand, and side with me, but I was wrong.
I kept telling them that I didn’t want sex at all with anyone, nor desire it, but it kept getting pushed on me. I didn’t have any religious reasons I could use, but wished I did, because religious celibacy seemed like the most legitimate way to choose life without sex. I was always pressured to justify my stance, and my justifications were never seen as good enough for saying no to sex permanently. They said I was just afraid of intimacy, and trying to make excuses. They claimed that my repulsion is just fear rooted in conservative beliefs about sexuality, therefore my repulsion towards sex is absolutely wrong, and must be overcome.
I experienced unwanted touching and kissing, to try and make me more comfortable with it, and it was escalating; more frequent, more intense. I felt like I had no control, and it was no use trying to enforce my boundaries. I just ended up thinking that sex with him was inevitable, and all I could do was stall for time.
That’s another reason why I thought that sexual relationships are a fate worse than death. I can only imagine the crushing psychological pain it must be to endure unwanted sex for years or decades, believing there’s no other viable option. Or even forcing oneself to believe that it’s fulfilling, and the morally right thing to do in a relationship! I thought that in order to survive like that requires someone to believe that their personal boundaries don’t matter anymore, to completely disregard their own needs, and to stamp out their own sense of personhood; all to emotionally numb themselves for every sexual encounter. All the while, hoping to just become desensitized to it all, to not feel the emotional pain anymore, and endure the ‘marital duties’ on auto-pilot. I knew of how unhealthy the idea of sex as a duty was, and it influenced my sex-negativity (that I couldn’t see anything good about sex in general) before I met these friends, but the coercion I was under made these thoughts all the more vivid. I thought that’d be my fate with him.
I knew that he’d never physically force sex on me, but it felt like a matter of time in the near future before I caved in. I could tell that he was waiting, and was expecting sex as the outcome. It felt like it was my duty, and I was in the wrong for continuing to put it off. I worried that he was getting impatient. As the pressure, and looming sense of inevitability got worse, I began to believe that suicide was the only way I could be free. I felt that trapped and hopeless. I didn’t actually want to die, but I didn’t want to live if it meant just being used for sex whenever he wanted it.
They already tore away my asexuality, or ability to identify with it with any degree of confidence. Now my willpower to resist against the pressure they were putting on me to have sex, was on the verge of being completely torn down. It seemed like it would’ve been easier to just cave into sex the next time he asked for it, just because saying no, and having to defend it, takes too much energy, and it just seemed hopeless.
They didn’t listen to me. Instead of believing me, and allowing me room for self-determination, they decided for me what was best, even when it should’ve been clear that it wasn’t. I feel kind of bad talking about this, because their intentions were good despite their extremist views, but those good intentions don’t make up for their actions, and the harm that they did.
I had to reject the ideas that they were imposing on me in order to save what remained of my bodily autonomy, and possibly also my life. To many asexuals, the asexual community is a refuge from the hypersexualized world; it’s the first place they find out that they’re not broken, nor wrong for not wanting sex, and feel affirmed to meet other people who feel the same way! Some of them have been in my kind of situation, or much worse. I knew of this refuge, but I deliberately stayed away. I didn’t believe I could turn to it.
I had to turn somewhere else to find that assurance that I was needing. My defenses were almost all torn down, and I needed reinforcement. I needed to find another site of resistance against compulsory sexuality, and the sexuality that was being pushed on me. I had to take a very different path. It’s one I’m ambivalent about now, but I thought it really helped me during this difficult time.