This post is inspired by recent events in the ace tumblrsphere. Some of the highlights (cw for rape culture): from bessibels–x, x; from scarybalkanlady–x, x, x; from vhenanara, from beranyth–x, x; and the (eventual) apology. That’s not every single post that was made, but there’s some good (and important) content in those links, so if you choose to read through these, I recommend reading all of them.
There are a lot of different possible takeaways from this, but for now, the one I want to broadcast here is that asexual awareness, asexual education, and the ace community could do more to pass on to sex-favorable and sex-indifferent people (within the community as well as without) the following important memo: Your sex-normative ideas ain’t news.
There is a .0001% chance that you’re bringing a new idea to the table by suggesting an ace person have sex with their partner. In the cultures that the English-speaking asexual community is primarily drawn from, you can safely presume that people in romantic relationships have already considered the possibility of having sex with each other (whether they’ve rejected that possibility or not). The time when it’s appropriate to suggest that aces “try sex” is literally never. The pressure to have sex, especially within established romantic relationships, is monumental and in-your-face, not some neglected, oft-forgotten possibility buried under dust in the attic. Unless you’re sure — with good reason to be certain — that you’re conversing with a person from a wildly different cultural context (and no, not even conservative Christian environments are necessarily a determining factor) that somehow hasn’t already reached them with that idea, then you don’t need to bring that up as an potential option as if they haven’t ever thought of it before. Your sex-normative ideas ain’t news.
When people even within our own community give advice that amounts to, “Well, have you thought about trying sex?” to people who have just expressed distress at the possibility of having sex, it’s morally reprehensible as well as oblivious to our surroundings.
It reminds me of the painful cluelessness that confronted me that time I was hanging out in a dorm living room, talking with the copilot and expressing some irritated confusion at the way sex is treated as an Important Rite of Passage for men in fictional media (to the point of his friends taking it upon themselves to “get him laid”) — a rant that took issue chiefly with forceful social expectations that regard sex as a holy ritual for masculine worth that Must Be Done irrespective of enjoyment or personal interest — when this nearby hetero couple butted in on the conversation to offer this illuminating, new, unheard-of perspective:
“Well, sex feels good.”
And I wish I had exploded then and there, just gone off on them, because even aside from the fact that the entire point of my objection had gone flying straight over their heads — ReAlLy? “sex fEeLs GoOd”? nev!Er HeArD that PERspective beFoRE! it’s not LiKe my WhOlE CuLtuRe is SATURATED with ThAt iDeA! wh!at FR!ESH I!NSIGHT!
They really did think I’d been living under a rock all my life, I swear.
Come to think of it, it’s not any different from the time I came out to a coworker as ace, and he told me “there are some things that can only be experienced… intimately,” which in context I can only assume translates to, “Well, but sex feels really good though.”
What’s with people acting like I haven’t heard that opinion before? And not just heard it before, but seen it everywhere, in everything. I’m drowning in it, for goodness’ sake.
Your sex-normative ideas ain’t news.