Monthly Archives: November 2014

I fought the monsters, but became one myself: A musing about relationship expectations

Full title: I fought the monsters, but became one myself: A musing about relationship expectations incorporating Nietzsche’s philosophy, with a brief ranting about romance novels
Content warning: Aside from the Carnival of Aces link, all the other links in this post discuss abuse.

This post is intended to be for the November 2014 Carnival of Aces: Expectations in friendships/relationships. (not sure if it counts though, because much of this story took place before I found the asexual community)

One of Nietzsche’s most famous quotes is very fitting for my experiences with the expectations surrounding romantic relationships:

“He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster… when you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

Continue reading

This is a shout-out to the visitors interested in celibacy!

Since this month, search engines have become one one of my main sources of referrals here. Often times, I don’t know what the search results that brought someone here are (they only display as “unknown search terms”), but there have been times I saw that people found this blog through searching for “non religious celibacy” and “voluntary celibacy”. So, if you found this blog through either of those searches, or any related searches, welcome!

My blog is about both asexuality, celibacy (specifically, the kind that’s voluntary and for non-religious reasons), as well as how they can intersect. For the time being, my blog has predominantly been about asexuality.

I’ve been wanting to write some 101-level material about voluntary, non-religious celibacy, but I’ve gotten stuck from a near lack of input. There’s not much in the way of resources for us either, but I’m trying to do my part. I want to reach out to people of any sexual orientation, who don’t want sex.

Remember that you’re not alone for not wanting sex, nor are you alone for not having religious reasons behind your celibacy. If you don’t want sex, and are not asexual, you’re also not alone, nor if you rejected sex, but don’t identify as celibate!

I’m also part of the asexual community, and very involved in it, but it has bothered me that celibacy seems to be taken for granted, and it’s difficult to actually talk about there. One of the hardest things I tried to explain is how celibacy isn’t simply long-term sexual abstinence, but a sexual identity in its own right, that some people primarily identify with.

I believe that separate spaces are needed. I’ve seen celibate non-asexuals join asexual spaces, because they can relate to feeling ostracized in a hypersexualized society, and that many asexuals also don’t want sex. Sure, they were welcome there, as long as they follow the rules like anyone else, but it’s just not the same, because they were just guests. We, as voluntarily celibate people, need spaces of our own to call home. I feel that way too, because I often feel like I’m just a mercenary serving the asexual community, not actually part of it.

Making those spaces is a challenge though. Whether the non-religious celibate community even exists, is a question that stumped me. I can’t tell if the better option is to push for unification, or to embrace the disjointedness of the “celibate community” and the contradictions between its different factions. There was someone who told me that looking past all the differences in labels and definitions, the most important thing is that we share experiences as outsiders of the sexual world. What are your thoughts?

Asexuality and relationships? It’s complicated (to write about)!

One of next part of my “Asexuality (and related concepts) 101” page is going to be about relationships, but there are some things that are making me struggle to write for this section, so I’m asking for a lot of help with this one:

Organization: I had in mind the following general topics: challenges asexuals face finding relationships, ace/ace relationships, mixed relationships, and asexuals’ experiences with different relationship models.

How much should I write about these topics on this page, how much should be split off into other pages? If I’m going to be writing about aromantic asexuals and relationships in particular, should that go under the “Asexuality (and related concepts) 101” page, or under a separate aromanticism page?

Information on ace/ace relationships: I know a lot more about mixed relationships, and how to write about them, but I’m struggling to find information specifically about ace/ace relationships. I was thinking of writing about the following things:

  • How sexual attraction towards one partner isn’t needed in a significant relationship to make it fulfilling.
  • How to find other asexuals?: It can be due to chance that two asexuals are in a relationship. Other asexuals seek each other out online, through dating sites specifically for asexuals (such as AceBook), or sites for people looking for nonsexual relationships, therefore are likely to attract a lot of asexuals (such as Celibate Passions). While AVEN isn’t a dating site, and has rules against being used as one, there are some couples who met over AVEN!
  • Romantic and platonic ace/ace relationships: What they’re like, and the differences between them. This one I’d need a lot of help with, because I can’t seem to distinguish nonsexual romantic from platonic relationships.
  • Rhetoric to avoid: suggesting that all asexuals want romantic relationships, or that platonic relationships are “watered down”.

Other ideas, and anything you’d want me to elaborate on?

Asexuality (and related concepts) 101 part 4

This is part 4 of my Asexuality (and related concepts) 101 page, and I’m looking for input. This section is probably big enough to be its own page though!
EDIT: This is an edited version, based off of suggestions made in the comments. Thanks to luvtheheaven and sablin27 for the suggestions. This section is still open to more suggestions.
Because of how large this section is, it’d be better to split it into a separate page, that the “Asexuality (and related concepts) 101” page will link to.

Attitudes towards sex

How someone feels about having sex is separate from whether they’re asexual or not. Asexual and gray-asexual people’s attitudes towards the idea of themselves having sex, and towards sex/sexuality in general, are as diverse as allosexual people’s viewpoints.

Personal attitudes towards sex

The three terms usually used in the asexual community to describe how someone personally feels about sex, or the idea of sex involving them, are repulsed, indifferent, and favorable.

Statistics from the two relevant censuses of the asexual community will be used. The questions to measure personal attitudes towards sex were phrased differently, with radically different results, because of it*. For each group, breakdown by asexuality, gray-asexuality, and demisexuality will be given, for both surveys.

Repulsed

Repulsed (or “sex-repulsed”) individuals strongly dislike the idea of themselves having sex, under most, or all circumstances. They may feel physically or mentally grossed out by it. There are different degrees of sex-repulsion, ranging from someone who is completely repulsed by anything sexual, and doesn’t want to talk about it, to those who like the idea of sex in theory, but are repulsed by the thought of actual sex involving themselves.

Sex-repulsion isn’t itself a sign of being asexual, but the sex-repulsed do make up the majority of the asexual community, and the asexual group has the highest percentage of sex-repulsed individuals.

Results from 2011 AAW Census

  • Asexuals: 65%
  • Gray-asexuals: 51%
  • Demisexuals: 37%
  • (no stats for allosexuals given)

Results from 2014 AVEN Census

  • Asexuals: 55%
  • Gray-asexuals: 27.4%
  • Demisexuals: 15.9%
  • Allosexuals: The percentage still needs to be calculated**

Another term that’s sometimes used is sex-averse, which sometimes is synonymous with sex-repulsed, but other times, it’s something similar, but not interchangeable.

Indifferent

Indifferent (or “sex-indifferent”) individuals are indifferent towards the idea of themselves having sex. They often describe their attitude towards sex as “take it or leave it”, or “wouldn’t mind having sex under some circumstances, but would be perfectly content to never have it”. Some are willing to have sex, even if they might get little, or nothing out of the act itself, such as if they have an allosexual partner who wants sex, and the want to make their partner happy. Not all these relationships are sexual, for different reasons, described later in the “Mixed Relationships” section.

For indifferent individuals who don’t want sex, it’s not that they find it repulsive, but rather, they feel like it may not be worth it for them from a cost-benefits perspective.

Results from 2011 AAW Census

  • Asexuals: 24%
  • Gray-asexuals: 32%
  • Demisexuals: 34%
  • (no stats for allosexuals given)

Results from 2014 AVEN Census

  • Asexuals: 42.3%
  • Gray-asexuals: 61.2%
  • Demisexuals: 54.3%
  • Allosexuals: The percentage still needs to be calculated**

Favorable

“Sex-favorable” individuals are those who are favorable towards the idea of themselves having sex under some circumstances.

Results from 2011 AAW Census

  • Asexuals: 1%
  • Gray-asexuals: 4%
  • Demisexuals: 11%
  • (no stats for allosexuals given)

Results from 2014 AVEN Census

  • Asexuals: 2.7%
  • Gray-asexuals: 11.4%
  • Demisexuals: 29.8%
  • Allosexuals: The percentage still needs to be calculated**

Not everyone neatly fit these labels

Not everyone can neatly fit their experiences into just one of these labels. Some individuals may be unsure, or ambivalent towards the idea of themselves having sex. Others may feel like their experiences are a mix of them, and can’t neatly be categorized. Some individuals may also identify with multiple of these labels under different contexts.

Desiring sex is separate from wanting it. Sex-favorable asexuals may want sex for the sake of it under some circumstances, despite not having any intrinsic desire for it, and there are sex-repulsed and averse allosexuals who never want sex despite having an intrinsic desire for it.

Rhetoric to avoid

  • Certain usage of “Asexuals can enjoy sex too!” (particularly right after talking about sex-repulsion): It’s true that some asexuals can enjoy sex, but how this phrase is often used, has been used to silence repulsed asexuals, by sweeping them under the rug. When talking about both sex-repulsed and sex-favorable asexuals, take care to mention both sides respectfully. Acknowledging one group doesn’t have to come at the other’s expense.
  • The assumption that all indifferent and favorable asexuals are open to sex: This one may be unintentional, but it does seem to be implied a lot. Liking, or at least not being repulsed by the idea of sex, doesn’t automatically mean being open to sex, and there are other reasons someone might not want it.
  • Assuming that a repulsion or aversion to sex is something that must be treated: Many sex-repulsed individuals aren’t distressed by being sex-repulsed; their distress comes from isolation, and lack of acceptance, and there have been many repulsed individuals who don’t feel welcome talking about their experiences, even in the asexual spaces.
  • Assuming that if someone’s sex-repulsion isn’t “supposed” to have a cause: Some sex-repulsed individuals feel that their repulsion does have a cause, including trauma, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling that way. Their repulsion isn’t any less valid.

Attitudes towards sex in general

How someone feels about personally having sex (repulsed, indifferent, favorable), is also separate from how they feel about others having sex, or how they feel towards sex in general. There are terms used for describing attitudes towards sex in general, but the definitions for each of them are widely disputed.***

The AVEN 2014 Census showed that most respondents don’t have any problem with consenting adults engaging in sex, but many of those same respondents also at least somewhat agreed with the statement “Our society has too much sex in it, and it would be better if it were diminished.”. Agreeing to both of those statements may not be contradictory, considering how sex is treated as compulsory by society as a whole, and there’s a lot of pressure to have it.


Footnotes:

*On the full page, I’ll have a footnote addressing the discrepancies between the percentages of sex-repulsed, indifferent, and favorable individuals in the 2011 and 2014 surveys. These discrepancies are likely due to methodological differences between each survey, and how they measured personal attitudes towards sex.

**The percentages of sex-repulsed, indifferent and favorable allosexuals will be added when those statistics from the 2014 AVEN Census become publicly available.

***I’m also planning on writing a terminology page, with a section for terms whose meanings are highly ambiguous or disputed. The “sex-positive” and “sex-negative” labels are two of them.

Asexuality (and related concepts) 101 part 3

This is part 3 of my Asexuality (and related concepts) 101 page; original post proposing the idea is here.

Allosexuality

(allo- “other” –> “sexual attraction to other people”) People not on the asexual spectrum, or people who are not asexual nor gray-asexual. They experience sexual attraction, or the desire for partnered sex in a consistent manner, and this attraction is usually closely tied to other forms of attraction they experience.

Rhetoric to avoid

  • Assuming all allosexuals feel the same way about sex: It’s not fair for us to assume they’re a monolith, when we, as asexuals are speaking out to show the diversity of the asexual community. It’s also incorrect. Allosexuals can experience sexual attraction at different frequencies and intensities from each other. They also value, and prioritize sex differently from each other, ranging from those who feel that sex is a must-have in a relationship, to those who never want sex, and rejected it for life.
  • Assuming all allosexuals experience romantic attraction, and that their romantic orientation must match up with their sexual orientation: Aromanticism isn’t limited to asexuality, and there are allosexuals whose romantic orientations don’t match their sexual orientations.

Other forms of attraction

Aside from sexual attraction, there are other types of attraction, including romantic, aesthetic, and sensual.

  • Romantic: The desire to form a romantic bond with someone. People who don’t experience romantic attraction are known as aromantics, and some are asexual, others aren’t. For more information on romantic orientation, see the “Romantic orientation” section.
  • Aesthetic: Finding someone aesthetically attractive, strongly drawn to their looks, in a non-sexual way.
  • Sensual: The desire for sensual, but non-sexual contact with others. Not everyone can neatly separate sensual attraction from sexual attraction, and for many allosexuals, they may be closely linked. For some asexuals who experience romantic attraction, sensual attraction is closely tied to their romantic attraction.

Asexuals just don’t experience sexual attraction (going by the “sexual attraction” definition), but could experience any of the other forms of attraction, and describe their other attractions as being inherently disconnected from anything sexual.

“Squishes” are intense feelings, and a desire to form a platonic relationship with someone. Aromantic people don’t experience “crushes”, which are romantic, but may experience “squishes”.

Libidoism and nonlibidoism

Asexuals with a libido often describe it as having a libido that isn’t directed at anything, and can be satisfied with self-stimulation. Nonlibidoists are people without libido, and have no physical need for self-stimulation. Arousal is separate from libido, and some, but not all nonlibidoists can be physically aroused. Those that can, and could feel physical pleasure, just have no physical drive for it.

26.1% of asexual spectrum people are estimated to be nonlibidoist, according to the 2014 AVEN Community Census.


Points that are still unclear:

  • Can someone be allosexual and nonlibidoist? I heard that isn’t possible, and all people who experience sexual attraction, but no libido are gray-A. I’ve also heard of others saying that all nonlibidoists are asexual, claiming that sexual attraction can’t exist without libido (though libido can exist without sexual attraction).
  • Any rhetoric to avoid with the attraction and libido sections?: I think I addressed one, when I said that not all nonlibidoists can feel physical arousal or pleasure. I didn’t know until it was first pointed out that a lot of explanations of nonlibidoism erase those that don’t.

Other points I wanted to add, but wasn’t sure: It’s harmful and inaccurate to assume that all allosexuals feel the same way about sex, because it may also suggest that mixed relationships are a lost cause. There is a later section on mixed relationships, so I wasn’t sure if I should mention this point in the “rhetoric to avoid” header for the allosexual section. I also thought of splitting off the upcoming section on aromanticism into its own page.

One more thing: Preliminary findings of the 2014 AVEN survey are up!

I should’ve waited a bit before making my last post, because there was one more thing I was involved with during AAW, and that was helping out with writing the Preliminary Findings Report for the AVEN 2014 survey (now called the 2014 AVEN Community Census)! The results have just been posted up!

How did Asexual Awareness Week 2014 go for you?

So, it’s coming to a close, or already did, depending on your timezone! Did you do anything to celebrate it?

I tried to. I spent some time looking through the #asexual-awareness-week tag on tumblr, and found so much great stuff, but I didn’t have the time to re-blog much. I’m still working on the 101-level material page, though I fell behind on what I intended to do, which was post up a section every day during AAW.

During the week was when my full-time job started, and it was a huge adjustment that I’ve been struggling with.

If you did something, feel free to share it here! I hope I can still write a post rounding up as much AAW 2014 stuff as I can!