Tag Archives: sex-normativity

Frameworks of Visibility vs. Acceptance

As a followup to my previous post on “visibility,” this (crossposted) post features what I should have started with in the first place: diagrams.

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Visibility is a trap

[Note: This post has been crossposted to Pillowfort.]

This is a post about “visibility” as the name of (and approach toward) a type of primary community goal. While in the drafting stages, I had considered naming this post something more simple, like “on visibility” — but it occurred to me that a potential reader just might think this was simply yet another post on “why visibility is important,” and it is not. This post is not pro-visibility. This is a post inviting the reader to consider the potential for visibility to become a trap.

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Takeaways from conservative Christian sex manuals

[cw: sex-normativity, misogyny, rape culture]

It is through sexual union that people feel closest to Christ. Not only does God reveal himself in sexual love, but, as one book poetically argues, the only way mortals can find Christ is in the marital act, which is the holiest of acts. In this sense, the marital union is seen as a profound prayer, as “no human activity gives more glory to man’s creator than the act by which man is permitted to share in creation.” […]

Husbands and wives are obligated to honor each other’s sexual needs for “it is God’s will that married people enjoy sexual relations.” Abstinence from sex is allowed only under specific conditions, by mutual agreement, and temporarily. […]

The two principal types of sexual maladjustment cited in the manuals are frigidity on the part of the wife and premature ejaculation on the part of the husband. According to one book, “sexual frigidity is without doubt the greatest sexual problem threatening contemporary marriages. It is not an exaggeration to say that the majority of modern wives are, in some degree, frigid!” These authors are pessimistic regarding the transformation of cold into passionate wives. “There are frigid women, many of them, and the most skilled lovers would be powerless to ‘cure’ them.”

Lionel S. Lewis and Dennis D. Brissett, “Sex as God’s Work”

Nothing to say here that I haven’t said already.

Thanks again to Kristiny for the link.

Ace-Hate in Anti-Kink Rhetoric

One of the problems in anti-kink rhetoric, as relates to constructing a “normal, healthy sexuality” in opposition to the big bad wolf of kinkiness, oddly mirrors one of the chief oversights of libfemy sex-positivity.  This is a brief post about that.

I know other people have pointed out this stuff before; I’m just putting this here so it’ll be on my blog and in my tags.

Anyway — I’ve seen anti-kink folk highlight a number of different things as their sticking point, the intentional causation of pain being one of them, which I assume is why the pain play/spicy food comparison as a counterargument is regarded as old hat.  And one of the ways I’ve seen the object of moral criticism differentiated, subsequently, is the potential for traumatization.


You know what else can traumatize people?

In the title of this post, I labeled this rhetorical choice an implicit form of “ace-hate,” but strictly speaking that’s an oversimplification.  The actual demographics invalidated might be better described as some number of people who don’t want sex, some number of people who have experienced sexual abuse or violation, and some number of people distressed by sexual dysfunction.

There are lots of reasons why sex could be a site of trauma for someone.  There are lots of reasons why someone might view sex as, for them, a damaging and harmful thing.

Yet as far as I’m aware, it’s rare for anti-kink radfems to extend sex-critical lenses into fully anti-sex claims.  As far as I’m aware, they might view sexuality as something that’s not above criticism, but that doesn’t usually result in a blanket condemnation of sex itself.  Somehow I haven’t managed to see as many people proclaiming to be morally opposed to (all and any) sex — on the basis of potential for traumatization — as I’ve seen proclaiming to be morally opposed to “BDSM”* for a similar reason.

*I really dislike this umbrella term more and more as I try to discuss these things.  It brackets a bunch of things together that don’t always go together, which depending on the context can interfere with clarity.

If “can be experienced as traumatic” were really the sticking point for being anti-kink in whatever capacity, then logic would dictate that the same precept should apply to sex.

But it appears people are a lot less interested in pursuing that idea.

Almost as if an “atypical” (negative) relationship to sex is deemed too uncommon to take into account.  As if it doesn’t warrant consideration in these matters.  As if people are reluctant to judge and denounce the-physical-act-of-sex-itself on the basis that damaging outcomes with it are possible.

I guess remembering not to imply sex is free of these problems would just be too inconvenient.

phone conversation

the copilot: (reading from the back of a book her friend gave her) “…Using Liberation Theology and Queer Theory, [this book] exposes the sexual roots that underlie all theology…”

me: (groaning) Why won’t people just leave me alone?

The Shame Clause

The Shame Clause (noun): the product of the mandate that any positive comment about sex repulsion must be followed with an addendum about not shaming sexual pleasure or expression.

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No, it’s not

[TW for rape culture]

Here’s a general reminder that there is no good enough reason to insist that a lack of sex is a sign of an unhealthy relationship, especially in direct response to a powerpoint about asexuality, and that this is completely inappropriate.

Just get out of here with that nonsense.

“I’m not saying that being in a healthy relationship means you have sex,” this kid is basically saying, “but, being in a healthy relationship means you have sex.”

I will pour a vat of horse urine on the idea that sex has to occur “unless discussed/agreed with otherwise” because that is saying sex is something you opt-out of rather than consent to and that is rape culture and does not belong in discourse about anyone’s relationships.

Go read this again if you have to.

Your Sex-Normative Ideas Ain’t News

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.