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A brief rambling about platonic attraction and relationships

Happy Leap Day! That means an extra day for anyone participating in this month’s Carnival of Aces to finish their posts! I was in the process of writing an entry, but I decided against finishing it halfway.

This rambling doesn’t count as a proper entry, but this month’s theme is an interesting one, and I’d like to see others’ thoughts on it, but I’ve struggled to write about it myself because I’ve found the boundaries between a positive romantic relationship (i.e: one that isn’t possessive or all-consuming) and a platonic relationship to be unclear, or the boundaries between romantic attraction minus the obsessive aspects vs. platonic attraction (though that’s not to say that platonic relationships can’t be abusive or codependent, it’s just a lot more visible and condoned by societal norms for romantic relationships). Maybe it has to do with a skewed understanding of romance that is still widely perpetuated?

I’ve also struggled with knowing the boundaries between platonic attraction and platonic relationships vs. a very close friendship. It frustrates me that so many others can easily see and talk about these distinctions, but I can’t, and that I’m missing something. I feel like I can’t get that specific no matter how hard I try. I’ll look forward to seeing what others wrote, maybe it’ll help me understand these differences.

This is another very rushed post, to make sure once again I made at least one this month. I do have multiple posts in progress right now, but have been struggling with finishing them, but I may also elaborate on this topic further.

About “sex-negativity”, sexual morality vs. ethics

It’s easier to ask a question about how someone personally feels about themselves having sex, but trying to ask about how someone feels about sex in general is a lot more difficult.

The 2011 AAW census had a question asking this, but it was flawed. Aside from actually asking about 3 different things at once, that question was biased. “Satisficing” is the pressure to pick the most “desirable” answer to please the researchers. How it was worded also erased the fact that there are people who identify as sex-negative and/or antisexual and don’t mean what they mean, reinforcing the assumption that whoever identifies with either of those labels must be an asexual elitist or conform to “puritanical” ideas about sexuality, which speaks over the people who actually identify with those labels.

The AVEN 2014 Census attempted to resolve this issue by asking whether one identifies as sex-positive, negative, or neither/both/unsure* and to ask if one agrees or disagrees with the following statements “I have absolutely no problem with sex between consenting adults”, and “Our society has too much sex in it, and it would be better if it were diminished”.

As shown in the discussion section of this analysis, the emphasis on self-identification with the sex-positive/negative question was because of the ambiguity of each label, so there was an attempt to infer what the respondent meant.

I’ve wanted to ask about morality vs. ethics in regards to sexual attitudes. From what I’ve seen, the reasoning among people who have a positive attitude towards sex in general seems consistent. On the other hand, people can have negative attitudes towards sex in general for various reasons, and I feel like it does a disservice to lump everyone together, which has happened due to biases in the questions. It’s a problem that the asexual community has assumed that having a negative attitude towards sex must mean believing in “puritanical” views on sex, which leads into one of the next points.

One of the things I wanted to find out is what percentage of the asexual community believe under which circumstances is sex in general morally acceptable, and a separate question about ethics. It’s a difficult set of questions to write though. However, some people I’ve talked with said that they don’t easily make the moral-ethical distinction I recognize, or don’t make it at all.

What I meant by morality distinction, is whether one agrees with the viewpoints of traditional sexual morality, often known as sexual puritanism (although as The Ace Theist explained, that’s a misnomer but the name stuck), is incorrectly believed as saying is sex is always evil. It’s actually usually believing sex is morally good or at least morally acceptable under a narrow range circumstances, and evil under the rest, with “acceptable” sex usually being defined as being: monogamous, between a man and woman in marriage, while open to the possibility of procreation.

By the ethics distinction, I meant under what circumstances does someone consider sex to be ethically acceptable, or rather, it asks questions such as:

  • Is it good for a person’s well-being, or is it harmful?
  • Does it overall have the potential to be good for a person’s well-being, or are they outweighed by the ways that sex can be harmful?
  • Given all the pressure to have sex, and how widespread sexual exploitation is, how feasible is consenting?
  • Is sex inherently “using” someone, and how?

Being “sex-negative” under the ethics distinction means believing that overall, believing that there are many ethical issues surrounding sex, and those issues, and the ways sex can harm outweigh any possible benefits. It’s a viewpoint rooted in concern for one’s own, and others’ well-being. “Sexual puritanism” in contrast, is rooted in whether one’s behavior follows a narrow set of pre-defined rules.

This is just a starting point, and I hope I can discuss these distinctions, and refine them.


Footnotes:

*The lack of “sex-neutral” option was a limitation of that question

Concerns for the future?

A post I made asking about how to handle the future, how to keep ideals about not having sex permanently. I’m not worried about going against my ideals due to social pressure, but I thought some people who don’t have as much support could be at risk of having that happen to them.

That may be a separate topic: how to keep your resolve living the life you want to, in face of social pressure from family and society that says you should marry and have sex instead?

When I made that thread, I thought I was catastrophizing, but I was asking these questions under the worst-case scenario, because it almost happened to me, even though I was upfront about what I wanted and didn’t.

I was told that living alone, finding a partner who doesn’t want sex, or a roommate or friend to live with indefinitely aren’t realistic, even though I was aware that marriage, to someone who most likely wants sex, isn’t the only option. It was due to luck that this situation was averted.

FORTRESS: For Those Resisting Sexual Society

(warning: talk of sexual coercion)

I’ve asked others if they’ve experienced concerns about being able to keep to their values as antisexual/voluntarily celibate people indefinitely. This issue may also apply to sex-repulsed or sex-averse people, whether or not they rejected sex as a deliberate decision.

The doubts aren’t due to sex being a temptation, because for us, it isn’t, but because of economic factors that may pressure someone to marry, even if it means likely having to have sex in order to keep the marriage*.

If it isn’t clear enough, by “economic factors” or “economic coercion”, I don’t mean people who seek partners for their money, to live a life in luxury. I’m referring to people who are pressured to marry in order to stay out of poverty.

I could’ve been catastrophizing as I was writing this, but those doubts felt like a real concern. It’s a situation that could…

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Pathologized for disliking sex?

This is a post written looking for more input by those who don’t want sex, and have had to deal with mental health professionals or doctors about it.

I’ve also been looking to understand the similarities and differences in experiences and challenges between those who are asexual and those who aren’t.

The second section of the post is meant to be a guide in progress to help those who are trying to seek a therapist, to help them avoid being possibly subject to unwanted treatments by therapists who think not wanting sex is a problem.

FORTRESS: For Those Resisting Sexual Society

This article about pathologization has recently been published for the main page, and I have several questions:

Who has dealt with this issue with mental health professionals, or doctors? What were your experiences like?

If you saw a professional, was it for reasons directly related to you not wanting sex?

Did you seek treatment to try and “fix” your dislike of sex, or were you seeking help for the feelings of isolation over not wanting it, and were looking for support?

Or did you seek a professional for an unrelated reason, and did the topic of disliking sex come up at any point? If so, did the professional try to convince you it was something that needed to be treated?

Are there other sections you would want to see added onto this page?

If you want to answer these questions more privately, you can still post a response here. By…

View original post 716 more words

I feel silly for asking…

Is there a recent tumblr post linking to my latest blog post? I’m seeing a lot of people being referred here by a post on their tumblr dashboard. I’m feeling a lot of anxiety about this, because I can’t log into my tumblr account to see what that post is, or what it says.

If it has to do with the issue that post had, I apologize for that, and removed that part out of the post, and want to prevent that issue from happening again.

The last-minute crunch

I’m afraid I couldn’t get the other parts of my Carnival of Aces submission up in time. It’s just one more minute before midnight in my timezone, and I hope they can still be included. I’ve spent a lot of time working on them, but have also been so busy with full-time work, and trying to juggle other projects at the same time. So much to say, so little time. These have been some of the most challenging posts I have written.

Don’t take touch for granted, part 2

This is part 2 of a 2-part entry for the December 2014 Carnival of Aces: Touch, Sensuality, and Non-sexual Physical Intimacy.

*warning: talk of sexual coercion*

In part 1, I wrote about the social norms that devalue nonsexual intimacy, because it’s often seen as just a lead-in to sexual intimacy in relationships. Consent in the context of nonsexual intimacy is hardly thought about, as nonsexual intimacy is taken for granted. Sara K, the host of this Carnival of Aces came to the same conclusion, noting that the ethics of nonsexual touch are much less developed than sexual ethics because of it.

I suspect that part of my repulsion towards sensual touch comes from the sexual expectations behind it, and that I’ve been in a relationship with someone who has sexual and romantic feelings for me, while not knowing what the line is between sensual and sexual.

Continue reading

Don’t take touch for granted, part 1

This is part 1 of a 2-part entry for the December 2014 Carnival of Aces: Touch, Sensuality, and Non-sexual Physical Intimacy

*content warning: talk of sexual coercion, and sexual harassment*

I like the idea of nonsexual physical intimacy in theory, but oftentimes I’m repulsed by actually going through with it. . It seems like it’d be nice to have in a relationship, as an expression of emotional closeness, though I don’t believe that nonsexual touch should be limited to romantic and familial relationships.

There is cultural variation to this, as in some cultures, hugs or kisses are understood, and accepted as ways of greeting a friend. The Anglophone countries are very restrictive about touch outside romantic-sexual relationships (and outside of familial relationships to some extent too) though, with norms dictating that friends aren’t “supposed” to express much physical affection with each other.

Despite the social restrictions on expressions of it, it is devalued. Society has a lot of restrictions on what is socially acceptable sex too, but even among the hardcore “no sex before marriage” types, they value (marital) sex tremendously. A lot of nonsexual affection, including sensual intimacy, is assumed to be “reserved” for exclusive romantic-sexual relationships, which ties into the assumption that there must be sexual intent behind it. In a relationship, it is devalued by being erased, and is erased by assuming to be sexual. When acknowledged, it’s still devalued as being lesser than sexual intimacy. It may be seen as merely something that must lead to sexual intimacy. With devaluation comes being taken for granted.

Continue reading

A challenger appears!

(This is what I meant to have as my first post…)

Hello! I’ve recently regained interest in the idea of taking part in the asexual blogosphere, motivated by recent posts on The Asexual Agenda! I can’t believe that I missed out on the blogging community, and how interesting their topics are to me, for so long!

The particular niche I have in mind is about both asexuality, and ‘voluntary celibacy’. Part of this is because of my personal experiences, as someone who identifies with the rejection of sex first, and as an asexual second. Another part is wanting to figure out the common ground between these two groups, how much overlap there is between them, but also the differences, to work towards a more accurate understanding of both. I’d also like to reach out to more people of either or both groups, including people who want to live the rest of their lives without sex, but don’t know that’s an option.

I first attempted to get involved through the asexual community on tumblr, with the same niche and goal in mind for a blog, but it didn’t get very far. I had too difficult of a time articulating my experiences, some of the points I wanted to make, and I fumbled over terminology, but now I think I’m ready, and have a lot more I can write about!