Monthly Archives: June 2015

It wasn’t just me thinking this? Rant about sex-positivity in asexual spaces

(warning: talk of sexual coercion and repulsion-shaming)

I read the newest issue of F-ace-ing Silence, which brings up the topic of sex-positivity in asexual spaces, which to me personally, has been one of the thorniest topics for a multitude of reasons.

On AVEN, back when a call for submissions was announced, and I was tempted to write a submission.

Reading through the third volume, it brought up the issues that I’ve been concerned about. For so long, I didn’t know if I weren’t the only one who actually felt that way, or if I had just taken a lot of things the wrong way when I first found the asexual community, particularly AVEN. Thinking I was still taking things the wrong way was what held me back from making a submission.

When I first found the asexual community, I was sure I wouldn’t be welcome. The issue here was two-fold, and both sides are directly related. Issues with terminology, since I’m not originally from the asexual community was one reason. The other is that my first impressions of what I recognized as “sex-positivity” were very bad.

When I was lurking AVEN, one of the first things there I remember reading was about how “sex-positivity” is enforced, and I took it to mean that one is supposed to only say positive things about sex, and be open to, or at least indifferent towards it personally, implying that it’s bad to be repulsed by sex or have ideological reasons against it, even in asexual spaces!

I saw others on AVEN respond that someone can be sex-repulsed but still be sex-positive, a statement that I found highly objectionable. I interpreted that statement as: It’s okay to hate sex, as long as you’re still open to it, or at least be apologetic about never having it, and cheerlead everyone else’s sex lives.

“You Know, But Let Me Tell You”, on page 8 of the zine sums up how exhausting the approach taken with a lot of asexual visibility efforts is. Having to put in so many caveats makes what one intended to say a lot longer, and a lot less clear, making what’s said less about explaining asexuality itself, and more of it is reassuring others that we aren’t shaming them, whether they want sex or not.

If we’re talking about asexuality in a matter-of-fact way, shouldn’t it be implied that there’s no intent to alienate or shame anyone?

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Felt broken over how I feel about romance

I’ve found a lot of affirmation in knowing that there are others who also feel uncertain over whether they experience romantic feelings or not. I’ve found many posts published last year that helped me be sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. In particular, it’s difficult for me to discern what is romantic vs. platonic, and what constitutes a (non-codependent) romantic relationship exactly. I was also happy to see that there were specific terms for it: Wtfromantic or quoiromantic. I was also happy to find out that romance-repulsion exists as a concept.

However, during that time, I still felt broken for both my romantic orientation and repulsion towards romance, because I was in a relationship with someone who wanted a conventional monogamous romantic-sexual relationship, while I was repulsed by the idea. I also didn’t freely agree to it, but that’s a different issue. He had romantic feelings for me, but I wasn’t sure if I had romantic feelings for him, or if what I was feeling was just codependency, manifesting as a strong sense of obligation to do what he wanted, to make him happy no matter how much I didn’t want to do what he wanted to.

Admittedly, my understanding of what romance is, may be skewed because of my experiences, though over the past few years, I’ve developed much more nuanced understandings of romance and different relationship models, so I could question what is a romantic relationship like without codependency.

I’ve taken other peoples’ word for it that they can experience healthy, non-codependent romantic relationships, but that is something I’ve never experienced for myself. Is that desire to make someone happy, to the extent of self-sacrifice, a natural part of romantic love, or is it just a symptom of codependency?

I also questioned what sets romance apart from a platonic relationship, if there are no such thing as inherently romantic behaviors that define a romantic relationship, if there’s no inherent difference in level of commitment between the two, or no inherent difference in openness or exclusivity. I don’t know if I’ve asked these questions because of my romantic orientation, or simply because I’ve gained a more nuanced understanding of both romantic and platonic relationships, but was wanting to know what the inherent differences are.

There were several times that my “partner” demanded a yes/no answer to the question of whether I love him, by which he meant do I romantically love him, and want to be in a traditional monogamous relationship with him. I was afraid to answer either yes or no.

My answer was that there are different kinds of love, that I don’t see love as being just the one kind he had in mind. I also told him that I had a strong sense of obligation towards him, and that I care about him, but he said those answers were a cop-out, and they only frustrated him more and more, as he kept pressing the question, which also made me feel guilty and broken. From his perspective, I was completely missing the point, and trying to dodge the question with non-answers. From my perspective, the answer I gave counted as a form of love, though a different kind than what he may have had in mind, and he was disregarding other forms of love.

I knew I was quoiromantic, but began to hate it over this issue. I wished I could’ve given him a definitive answer either way, but also the thought of being sure I didn’t have romantic feelings for him also made me feel broken. Even if I were sure that I didn’t have any romantic feelings, I may have still been afraid to answer no.

I also felt bad about not being honest so much sooner, because not only would that have prevented so much stress for me, he could’ve spent that time finding someone he was much more compatible with instead of putting his hopes into a relationship that wasn’t going to work. It felt like we were holding each other hostage, which ironically is how I used to perceive romantic relationships.

What also made me feel broken is that I didn’t overcome the past. I thought I was past this, but I had this same issue with the same person 4 years earlier! It was after I found the asexual community that I began to develop a nuanced understanding of what romance was, but that still wasn’t enough to save me from falling into this situation again!

I’m free of this situation now, but I regret that it had happened again, and took so long to break free of, but when it ended, it was for the best for both of us.

Asexuality and Codependency: Vicious Cycle

This entry is for the June 2015 Carnival of Aces: Mental Health.

(warning: talk of emotional abuse, sexual coercion)
I’m very lucky that I’ve had positive experiences with therapy. None of my therapists knew of asexuality until I told them about it, but they were willing to understand. I was nervous about mentioning it to each therapist I came out to, and the first one was the most difficult for me, because of why I was there.

3 years ago, I saw a therapist in order to get help for my codependency, so I had to explain the dysfunctional relationship I was in, and the dynamics of it. My therapists didn’t show any sign of being judgmental, but fear did hold me back from coming out for some time, because of my bad experiences with the friends that I first came out to.

These “friends” frequently policed my identity, with my sexual identity being the part that they were the most insistent on policing, because they didn’t think I was capable of knowing what mine was for myself. This issue wasn’t exclusively about asexuality, because they also knew that I’m repulsed by sex, and have an ideological rejection of it.

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