Tried to reconcile the unreconcilable?

I created Outside of Sexuality as a project to reach out to people who don’t want sex, and chose life without it. There’s nearly no visibility or affirmation for non-asexuals who don’t want sex, so I especially wanted to reach out to them.

A lot of people in the asexual community have written about the politics of having, or not having sex, and how those who choose to not have it deserve to have their choice respected. Many have written about their personal experiences, but they were writing as asexuals who happen to not have sex. We also need writings about not having sex, as people who identify with celibacy/the rejection of sex first.

I intended to first write about OOS for part 4 of my “Mercenary from unknown lands” submission (part 3, still in progress, will be about conflict of interest issues). However, I felt like an issue has been plaguing OOS, and I need to write about it: the discrepancy between what I intended, and what it turned out to be.

I never was fully honest with what I intended for OOS to be modeled after. I was afraid others wouldn’t understand unless they already knew, even if they never wanted sex, and were happy to find a community about choosing life without it. I intended use the framework and concepts directly from the Antisexual Stronghold as closely as I could, because at least some other English-speakers do, and I find those standards useful. However, that required adapting certain concepts into English, while also figuring out how to adhere to those standards while still trying to reconcile the fact that at least half of the OOS members are from AVEN and identify as either celibate or sex-repulsed instead.

I don’t want to alienate them. I know that it can be hard enough for sex-repulsed individuals to talk about their experiences in asexual spaces just for being sex-repulsed, and it’s troubling that this is still an issue.

I knew that the contradicting definitions of celibacy between those who identify as celibate vs. those who identify as antisexual would be an issue, and struggled with it the whole time. I realized that identifying as antisexual and adhering to the framework of the Antisexual Stronghold means that in order to be consistent, I’d end up invalidating those who identify as celibate without religious reasons. In order to adhere to those standards without invalidating those who identify as celibate would require being inconsistent (which would make things even more confusing). To use celibate as the default term means invalidating those who identify as antisexual, by telling them to identify with a label that they feel doesn’t apply to them.

After all, if celibacy doesn’t have to be for religious reasons, then why don’t those who identify as antisexual just switch over and say they’re celibate too? Do they know I intended to include them when I talk about “voluntary celibacy”? This is what I mean by being inconsistent! Why bother using an impractical term or use a framework that’s difficult to adapt into English?

Sometimes I wish I could say we’re all sex-free instead as a term that’d include all of us, and kind of wish that’d catch on. Whatever we identify as, we feel like we’re free from sex, and that we’re not missing out, like how the childfree identify as childfree instead of childless, because they feel free in their choice to not have children.

Personally, I’m hesitant to identify as celibate. I sometimes do, as it is the easier option, and technically applies, but sometimes am still hesitant. Part of me still feels like I can’t, because I don’t have religious reasons for my “celibacy”, but I have no intent to invalidate the choice of those who identify as celibate without religious reasons just because I feel those doubts about myself. I don’t want to take away from others a label they find useful for their experiences.

I understand the reasons why these factions use the labels that they do, so how can I acknowledge and validate both of these factions without any contradictions? This issue has been frustrating me since I created OOS. It’s why progress for the main page stalled so much, and it also held me back from some of the topics I wanted to discuss. I know what to say, but not how to say it in a way that’s concise, and will include everyone I intended to include. I’ve felt stuck the whole time.

At this point, OOS doesn’t have a default term used to refer to the rejection of sex. It might be for the best, to sidestep that dilemma, but it makes things confusing. Some members don’t bother with labels, and I don’t blame them. Sometimes I don’t want to bother with labels either. I’m concerned that I’m taking this too seriously, but I’ve been wanting to get this issue resolved to find the most effective way to achieve the goals I had in mind with this project.

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11 thoughts on “Tried to reconcile the unreconcilable?

  1. luvtheheaven

    “I realized that identifying as antisexual and adhering to the framework of the Antisexual Stronghold means that in order to be consistent, I’d end up invalidating those who identify as celibate without religious reasons.” – wait, why? I’m a little confused. Is it because “To use celibate as the default term means invalidating those who identify as antisexual, by telling them to identify with a label that they feel doesn’t apply to them.” I’m still lost sometimes when I read these posts about celibacy vs. antisexuality (is that a term?) here on your blog. Again I’ve only ever heard of the anti-sexual community thanks to the things you write about, so…

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  2. luvtheheaven

    Okay so my thoughts here are that, for the 2014 asexual census: https://asexualcensus.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/preliminary-findings-from-the-2014-aven-community-census/ It was decided that, “To avoid ambiguity, “Ace” or “Aces” will be used to refer to the aggregate Asexual + Demisexual + Grey-­Asexual “Asexual Spectrum”, while “Asexual” will be used to refer to those who identify specifically as “Asexual”.”

    I think you could do something similar on your “Outside of Sexuality” wordpress blog. You can say “I’m choosing the term voluntary celibacy to mean ___ in order to avoid ambiguity” and explain that it doesn’t mean people need to identify specifically under the label of celibate in order to count, and you’re not telling them how to identify, you can just say you consider antisexual people to count as celibate under the definition you’re using on that blog or… whatever Outside of Sexuality is? A community? I’m not sure… I mean, if you are just trying to include everyone under one term, you could just go with “sex free” or whatever if you think the label “celibate” is too loaded… I don’t know what the right answer is, but I think being afraid to offend might be holding you back more than it needs to.

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  4. JH

    What about “nonsexual” as an umbrella term? I use “not sexually active” also, particularly when talking to doctors, as it seems to go down easier than… well, more detailed terms.

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    1. Aqua Post author

      I’ve seen the term “nonsexual” used a few different ways, and there isn’t a consensus on what it means. In the earliest part of the asexual community’s history, it was used interchangeably with asexuality, and I’ve seen a few people still use that term that way. I’ve also seen some asexuals identify as nonsexual meaning that they’re asexuals that don’t have sex, but I’ve also seen a few people use nonsexual as an umbrella term too, for anyone who is sexually inactive.

      “Not sexually active” is more of a description than a label, but it’s definitely the easiest term to use, because there aren’t any connotations behind it.

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  5. Nicole Ickes

    We’ve created a community around disliking sex at arcresources.tumblr.com. The basis seems similar to your OOS, in that it’s for anyone who is less than positive about sexuality–not just aces. We have a terminology page that I think solves the problem of describing people who don’t want sex, and also for people who do want sex: anticarnal and procarnal. They’re defined respectively as having very negative feelings about sex and sexuality, and positive feelings. Traditional -sexual suffix words fill in all the gaps for having various positive feelings, and so we created the -carnal suffix to discuss the same feelings from a negative point of view. Those particular two could be used as standins for a general idea of “has sex” and “does not have sex”, with standard exceptions for the gray area that sometimes someone who hates sex may choose to have it and obviously someone who does like sex may choose not to have it.

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  7. ettinacat

    I like sex-free. But judging from my reaction to childfree, as a childless woman who wants kids, it might alienate people who want sex (incel or sexually active people) because it sounds like you’re calling something that they really want a prison. I don’t really know the answer to this issue.

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