Sex and Semantics

It truly saddens me that people bemoan the fact that people feel the need to label themselves. Why can’t we have a “labels and communication are useful in a multiplicity of ways” type culture?

It’s true, the fear and dread around coming out is “unfair”. That’s because our heteronormative culture unfairly assumes all people are straight until they announce otherwise — and then punishes them when they do so. The choice becomes whether to live under a false identity chosen for you by others or to suffer the consequences of defying it.

People should not start coming out as straight because that’s ridiculous. Straight people aren’t in the closet. Heteronormativity, the culture of treating heterosexuality as the default, is why the closet exists in the first place. Straight people coming out as straight doesn’t destroy the closet. It just makes it look like you’re appropriating our struggles and making light of them.

Sex is not fun for some people. Sex is fun for many people, but that doesn’t make a blanket statement about it appropriate or fair. The reasons for the stigma surrounding the topic are hugely diverse and fall along many gendered and racialized lines. It is a long, complex history that can neither be summarized nor dismissed.

Talk about sex openly if you like, but don’t demand that we all start talking about it openly. There are numerous valid, legitimate reasons not to want to engage in that conversation at the drop of a hat, and that deserves to be acknowledged and respected instead of treated like some kind of illegitimate stubbornness. I think we should all abide by each others’ boundaries.  [ edit: For an example of a valid reason for not wanting to talk to you about sex, here is a post by a Black woman about not wanting to deal with Whites on the topic of sexuality. ]

There are many people who think we should talk about sex casually and do away with labels, and frankly, I’m sick of hearing from them, because they’re usually the type of people who’ve never had to grapple with a variety of difficult situations that they’ve never even given consideration to. For more information on the overwhelming benefits of finding a label for yourself if you’re the member of a sexual minority, try reading this personal account from an asexual man who struggled over his identity and thought there was something wrong with him until he found a word to describe it and to help him connect with others like him.

Life and Musings

Sex sex sex
I feel people cannot discuss this topic as openly as they should. It’s natural, more natural than half the stuff we do nowadays, so why can’t we discuss it?
There seems to be an infinite number of different kinds of sexuality – heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, pansexuality, asexuality, and everything in between. However it truly saddens me that people feel the need to label themselves as one of these things. Why can’t we have a ‘shag who you want, no questions asked’ type culture?
I must come across someone every single day who is not straight, but is too afraid to come out, whether it be because of family, or anything else. This just seems unfair. Maybe people should start coming out as straight, it is no more normal than anything else, so why do we act as if it is?
Sex is fun. Not necessarily your first time…

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3 responses to “Sex and Semantics

  • Calum P Cameron

    I have a straight friend who could arguably be described as having “come out” as straight. He wasn’t initially sure of his sexuality (his high level of introvertedness kind of got in the way, or something) and while he did just sort-of go along with letting people assume he was straight because, well, he didn’t actually have any real evidence otherwise, he recently wrote a relieved post on Facebook explaining that, after a lot of thinking it through, he had been able to comfortably say with certainty that he was indeed a heterosexual, and that it was something of a weight off his shoulders to actually be able to say that now.

    I guess he wasn’t exactly “coming out” to us, because we hadn’t even been aware that he was questioning himself, but I’d say if nothing else he “came out” to HIMSELF.

    Granted, people like him do appear to be a rare exception rather than a rule. And I otherwise agree with everything you said.

  • Linn

    Why can’t we have a “labels and communication are useful in a multiplicity of ways” type culture?

    Oh my goodness, even as an allosexual, this makes me so happy. This right here…is simply brilliant and genius. And I’m right there with you: why aren’t we open to the idea of using labels in a number of ways AND as a means of different communication? Seriously, why are labels just strictly defined as this: “A title or a name give to someone or something.”
    And how you touched on the fact that we should respect the ways that we communicate to each other about sex and sexuality…that made me happy as well. (Lol, I know I used happy twice; blame it on my INFJ tendencies!) Frank talk sometimes isn’t for everyone. And I personally understand why, and respect that, or at least try to.
    Just this article in general, gives me hope for how asexuals will be treated. You dear sir–you have the most smart, sincere, contemplative posts I’ve ever seen. I hope you continue!

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