This is a compilation of links to online conversations about aces and attitudes toward sex, demonstrating intracommunity tensions about how asexuality is defined and how best to talk about the diversity of the community. More than once have I referred back to these conversations as a basis of comparison, so I’ve decided to create this as reference post on how these conversations have unfolded before.Continue reading
Tag Archives: sexuality
This post is my submission to the January 2018 Carnival of Aces under the theme of “Identity.” Specifically, this post deals with topics of sexuality, identity, alienation, labeling, doubt, touch, trauma, and abuse.
This impetus for this post is a tumblr post about “being stone vs. being asexual” that Rowan shared with me, after it came up as a recommended post on their dash. There’s maybe a few different things I would question in that post (emphasis on question, since some of it is beyond my depth), but maybe chief among them is how stone sexuality & asexuality are being presented as either/or, i.e. mutually exclusive.
There are times when I think about how things would have been different growing up if teachers and other adults had chosen to express that whole idea of kids “being inappropriate” (re: making sexual comments in class and stuff) as… like… a matter of appropriate boundaries between themselves as adults and us as kids, rather than as one of the Rules, the way “do your homework” is a rule and “be respectful of the teacher” is a rule.
I mean what if those adults had told me and other kids that it wasn’t that talking about sex was taboo, but rather that they just didn’t want to necessarily share those conversations with us (outside of formalized sex ed) and that if an adult DOES want to share lots of sex jokes with a kid and share sexual conversations with a kid, that we should regard that adult as suspicious.
What if they had actively encouraged us to judge and be critical of the way adults treated us, in case of an adult stepping over a line, and what if those boundaries were genuinely treated like something for our benefit rather than another excuse to control us and scold us and brand us “bad kids,” and what if “breaking” that “rule” about appropriate talk for the classroom was reframed as not yet having learned how to set good enough boundaries for ourselves and how to be more wary of what we share with people in a position of power over us, not for fear of wrath or deliberate punishment but because there are people we will meet who will try to exploit us.
Like what if the way adults acted towards us didn’t put the idea in other kids’ heads that sex was this edgy rule-breaking thing and that having any kind of boundaries about it ourselves meant we were goody-two-shoes stuck under an adult’s thumb. What if not setting boundaries for yourself well enough wasn’t ever framed as “acting out.”
How would my life have been different then? Can I even imagine that?
[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.
[cw: sex talk, misogyny]
Initially I wrote an introduction to this but instead just have this list:
[cw: Christianity comparison in post; sexually-toned “reparative therapy”-toned psychiatric abuse, misogyny, and anti-sex worker sentiment at link]
Anyway this is the kind of thing I’m talking about when I say the concept of “health” has been used to abuse and control people.
And I should be able to drop a sentence like that and leave it, without anticipating someone seeing it and coming back to me with “It’s good to be healthy though. Don’t shame people for trying to get healthy.” Of course it’s convenient to be healthy. But I should get to be able to say “be wary of how people deploy the concept of ‘good for your health'” without getting inane responses, the same way I should be able to say “be wary of how people deploy the concept of ‘it’s God’s will'” without someone replying, “But some things ARE God’s will and it’s important to follow it.” I mean, I expect even very sheltered Christians to get the idea that some Chritianities are worse than others and do lead people astray, but I swear I don’t know how to get through to some people about healthism, not when it’s as ingrained in my culture as it is, I dare say more than Christianity is. Critiquing healthism is incomprehensible blasphemy. I might as well tell someone “I want to be sick and always getting sicker.” It’s… I don’t know. I worry. I worry about the pervasiveness of a faith that strong.
Here are some quotes for those of you who didn’t click the link.
A quote from user lesbian-lily in the linked comment chain:
I’m too tired to find sources and images and whatever, but this is literally how they used to assess women’s mental health and still is a lot of the time. If women wore baggy clothes, didn’t wear make up, didn’t have perfect hair or rejected femininity in any way it was used as a sign of their mental health, a sign that they were crazy and needed fixing. Women wouldn’t be able to free themselves from institutions until they began to conform to femininity. Associating self care with femininity is kinda really fucked up considering we used to get sectioned purely for not being feminine enough.
A quote from Beauty and Misogyny: Harmful cultural practices in the west screenshot’d by user nineteencigarettes:
Pertschuck’s big worry is that, “The woman who feels unable to meet the demands of a female identity and who grooms and dresses accordingly is indeed likely to be viewed as asexual by those around her” (1985, p.221). The woman may desire precisely such freedom from men’s gaze but Pertschuck will not allow it. He sees the solution for such women who refuse to service male sexuality as “appearance training.”
What’s got me hecked up is that I can’t even be properly horrified at just the passages themselves, because I’m also thinking…
I’m imagining that someone would tell me the use of the word “asexual” here has nothing to do with the modern usage by the ace community, not even a little bit. Which makes about as much sense to me as saying that there’s no anti-butch sentiment in trying to “help” an unfeminine woman engage in more feminine beauty rituals, as long as the reason for that “help” isn’t paired with suspicion that she’s attracted to women. Or as much sense as saying that this “appearance training” to make her sexier (to men) has nothing to do with heteronormativity. Just misogyny. Just misogyny alone. Because those two systems don’t overlap like that and aren’t enmeshed in each other or anything.
I’m so hecked up by the homophobia of saying homophobia doesn’t care about making women attractive to/attracted to/”sexually available” to men. It’s just so patently false, so black is white and red is blue, it springs up in my brain now when I read about this stuff. God, I want to fight someone. But this is down the rabbit hole deep.
Anyway. This… thing… tumblr meme? …of positioning ace/bi/pan folk as an allied unit was cute at first I guess, but it’s making me uncomfortable at this point.
‘Cause the theme has just more and more aggressively become this implication that The Hypocritical Gay Kids are invalidating and being bigoted toward innocent blameless ace/bi/pan folk, and, uh, while that definitely happens in specific incarnations (trust me, I’ve been there), it’s pretty clearly presented as if solely gay people (as a class) are Problematic and ace/bi/pan people (as a unified class) never engage in the same vice.
Which is false, by the way.
I’ve heard aces talk like anti-gay prejudice is mostly over and aces have it harder. I’ve seen bi/pan people get on lesbians’ case for not being into men. Our communities/demographics are not pristine.
If you’re addressing a specific case, that’s one thing, and if you’re just talking about things that have happened, that’s one thing, but if you’re adding that up to speak in metonymy as if gay people are guilty of invalidating others’ sexualities and ace/bi/pan folk totally aren’t… you’re wrong.