So, I came out today

Kind of.

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Over four years ago now, I first confessed to one friend about my thoughts on being asexual, a year after I had been turning the idea in my head. After that, I (very) slowly tested the waters with a small amount of friends and actually accepted the label. I’ve heard you’re never really done coming out, but there is the big plunge of telling your friends and family and sharing the information with everyone on your facebook page. Probably cliched, probably boring, but it was the safest, easiest way to do things.

However, I didn’t really come out for myself. Not to say there weren’t selfish feelings involved. I decided I wasn’t going to be afraid, I wasn’t going to sit back and let people push my own feelings away just to save face. Overall though, I’ve never been very concerned with people knowing if I was or wasn’t asexual, as it really wasn’t their business and didn’t affect them, but I got to thinking; how many aces do I know, that have no idea there’s a word for how they feel?

Awareness and activism is something I feel responsible for as a part of both the asexual and queer/MOGAI community. People can sneer, call me names, and think what they want to think, but if there’s a chance I can help someone and spread the information about asexuals so that there is less ignorance and hate, I will gladly do that.

So people are welcome to whisper behind backs and talk about me in whatever way they choose. Call me a closeted dyke, call me fat and ugly, call me an idiot. I’ve heard it already. But if someone feels the way I and at least 70 million other people feel, then I will help them however I can.

Thanks for reading, I hope Pride Month goes well for everyone and some other people are safe and ready to come out as well.

Alyssa

So, Asexuals Hate Sex?

Welcome to part II, friends! If you missed the first part, it’s here, and if you’re here and you’re learning about asexuality for the first time, great! I’m so glad to see you. You must have some questions, or be a little confused about things, right? Do asexuals still have sex? Are they celibate? Do they masturbate? Do they hate sex? What the hell are all these identities?

Now, if you haven’t read this post on attraction, or this post on the basics of asexuality, and you’re not at least a little aware of what asexuality is, I need you to go to those first, and come back unless you really want to be confused. If you don’t mind being a little confused, proceed.

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Recall the first time you heard about asexuality. If you’re new to this whole thing, you won’t have to think too hard. You probably thought it was about agametic reproduction right? In other words, you heard ‘asexual’ and thought about a cell splitting into two. Then, when someone told you that was wrong, you jumped to, “Oh, so they just hate sex!” or “Oh, you just have a low sex drive!” and didn’t bother to ask any more questions.

Well, here’s the thing, we definitely don’t split into two (you would definitely know about it if people could do that), we aren’t reproducing on our own, and, depending on the person, we don’t necessarily hate sex, or have a low sex drive. Asexuals are still people, and since people are so frustratingly complex, we’re not all the same! Asexuality is simply the absence of sexual attraction to any gender, and that’s it. That being said, there are different ‘varieties’ of asexuals (collect them all!), some being more common than others.

Attitudes towards sex vary, even beyond asexuals. The types of attitudes in the asexual community are typically, favorable, neutral, and repulsed. As an example, more allosexuals tend to be sex favorable, or enjoy and seek out sex. In other words, sex favorable individuals like sex and will initiate it with a partner. Sex neutral individuals exist more among the asexual community, and don’t seek out sex, but don’t mind if it is initiated. Sex neutrals have an attitude of “I can live without it, but it’s not bad”. Sex repulsed individuals hate sex and are repulsed by the idea. This repulsion can come in the form of anxiety or even disgust.

So, this in mind, all asexuals don’t necessarily hate sex, some really love it, some are neutral to the idea, and some do genuinely hate it. No two people are alike, and as a result, no two asexuals are alike in their feelings. There may be reasons why one is favorable and another is repulsed, and different things that repulse different people. While some repulsed individuals may hate kissing, another may hate porn, and others may hate anything at all related to sex.

There are even different levels of liking and disliking sex. An asexual individual, like any other individual, can sit at any point in their attitudes. These attitudes can even fluctuate, depending on the person and situation. However, it is rude to assume that this is the case with all asexuals, and it should be kept in mind that it is very rude to attempt to force a sex repulsed individual into being sex favorable, or to change anyone’s attitudes on sex, particularly if it causes them anxiety.

So, now you may have wondered at this point about libido. Surely, if a person isn’t sexually attracted to anyone, there must be a problem with their libido, right? Well, as with differences in sexual attitude, each person has different levels of libido, and sexual orientation has nothing to do with it. Generally, asexuals tend to have low libido levels, or little to no sex drive, but there are still asexuals with healthy libido levels. That being said, this doesn’t typically affect attitude towards sex, and there can be favorable individuals with a low libido, and repulsed individuals with a high libido. Like anyone else, asexuals can have a libido, choose not to act on it, and still feel no sexual attraction.

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A list of things you probably shouldn’t say to an asexual person. Just to save you from being punched in the face, or making someone feel bad.

“So do asexuals have sex? Do they even masturbate?” Another loaded question that surely popped into your mind. Once again, like anyone else, asexuals can still have sex, and do still have sex, depending on the person. Though, there are various reasons why asexuals choose to have sex. Some reasons include, to please their partner, to satisfy their libido, because they like sex, to relieve stress, to conceive children, etc. Similarly, there are reasons why aces might masturbate, including satisfying their libido, relieving stress, to get to sleep, and to clear their minds. While there may not always be a sexual feeling propelling their physical feelings, for different people it is simply something they just have to do to take care of their bodies.

However, no matter how curious you may be as to how one asexual sits on the various spectrums, unless they have told you it is ok to ask questions, it is never ok (unless you are their partner) to ask them if they have sex, have had sex, or masturbate. Regardless of orientation, these are still very private things to ask! Somone’s private life and attitudes do not suddenly become public to you because of their orientation. If you are a partner to an asexual, you may want to discuss these things in order to set boundaries or explore things, but unless the person is comfortable with detailing their personal life, it is never ok to ask those questions.

So no, asexuals don’t necessarily hate sex, or don’t ever have sex, although some may choose that. Some asexuals love sex, some are neutral, and there are different reasons why someone might choose to have sex. The main takeaway I want you to have with this is, essentially; Asexuals are people. You can’t put them under one stereotype, and especially not, considering the complexity of asexuality and human sexuality in general. A person can be asexual, and still not differ at all in their everyday lives than any allosexual individual. Even if they differ completely in their lives and their desires, they’re still just people. If they are open to questions, I definitely recommend talking to them about how they feel. Every asexual experience is different, and they may want to share theirs with you. If they aren’t comfortable answering questions, then that’s alright too! That’s why there are resources like this blog, and AVEN out there. There are tons of different places where you can learn more about asexuality, and awareness is growing more every week.

Let me know in the comments or on http://ask.fm/AlyssaErmish if you prefer your comments/questions/concerns to be anonymous and/or hidden; Is there anything about asexuality that still seems confusing to you? What do you wish more people knew or understood about asexuality?

Feel free to write as much as you want, and ask any questions; I welcome curiosity and interest with open arms.

Have a very asexy week,

Alyssa

The Asexual Spectrum: What Even is That?

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If you’re here and you’re learning about asexuality for the first time, great! Welcome! I’m so glad to see you. You must have some questions, or be a little confused about things, right? Do asexuals still have sex? Are they celibate? Do they masturbate? Do they hate sex? What the hell are all these identities?

Now, if you haven’t read this post on attraction, or this post on the basics of asexuality, and you’re not at least a little aware of what asexuality is, I need you to go to those first, and come back unless you really want to be confused. If you don’t mind being a little confused, proceed.

Now, just as a refresher, let’s cover what asexuality is, before we talk about what it isn’t.

Asexuality: Having no sexual attraction to any gender

What does this mean exactly? It means that asexual individuals do not feel sexual attraction to any people, or that asexual individuals do not ever see anyone and have sexual feelings for them. While someone who is allosexual may see someone who is incredibly beautiful, and as a result fantasize about them sexually or want to do sexual things with them, asexuals do not experience this. This is the only qualifier for the orientation of asexual.

Because people are different, and while the majority of asexuals will have similar experiences and feelings, we cannot say that things like libido, number of partners, or sexual experience define someone as asexual. It is only the absence or rarity of sexual attraction that defines someone on the asexual spectrum.

So what the hell is the asexual spectrum anyways? And what are all these identities? What do they all mean? Well, since asexuality is a very complicated orientation and no two people are exactly alike in their attractions, the asexual community has developed their own identities or ways of identifying their feelings, and various orientations exists under the asexual spectrum as a result. Here are a few examples of orientations that fall under the asexual umbrella,

Asexual: Someone who experiences no sexual attraction to any gender

Demisexual: Someone who does not experience sexual/romantic attraction unless an emotional bond has been formed (though not necessarily even then).

Gray-A: Someone who experiences sexual/romantic attraction but only very little, very specific circumstances, or not enough to act upon (Also called grayace, graysexual, etc.).

Lithsexual/Lithromantic: Someone who experiences sexual/romantic attraction but stops experiencing it or does not enjoy it when it is reciprocated.

Since these orientations involve an absence of sexual attraction, except sometimes under very specific circumstances, we place them under the asexual spectrum or umbrella. Those who feel sexual attraction at all times or frequently with no specific circumstances attached to the person their attraction is directed to, we identify them as allosexual, or not under the asexual spectrum.

Now, because we have covered the orientations, there are also asexual identities that you may have stumbled across before. Keep in mind that these are not orientations on their own, but rather identifiers or labels that some in the asexual community may choose to use for various reasons. Reasons for using these identities may be to understand their feelings, sexuality, connect with others, or to explain to others how they feel. The main reason these identities exist is to provide a unique language among asexual communities, to show that particular feelings can still be experienced by asexual individuals. Since we do not experience sexual attraction and don’t have a true idea of what it feels like, we use language to label particular feelings. Some of these identities include,

Apothisexual: a term for someone under the asexual umbrella who is specifically sex repulsed (it is often easier to use sex repulsed asexual)

Aceflux: describes a person who fluctuates along the asexual spectrum identities (may be repulsed sometimes, but neutral or favorable at others)

Autochorissexual/Aegosexual: a disconnection between oneself and a sexual target/object of arousal; may involve sexual fantasies or arousal in response to erotica or pornography, but lacking any desire to be a participant in the sexual activities therein

Caedsexual: describes someone whose sexual orientation incorporates the specific feeling that one once was allosexual, but that has been “cut away” or taken from them due to past trauma [For trauma survivors/PTSD sufferers only]

Placiosexual: means to feel little to no desire to receive sexual acts performed on them but expresses interest/desire in performing them on someone else

Keep in mind that these are only a handful of current identities, as identities are ever changing to fit the community. These are simply some of the more common, or useful identities used. Once more, these are identities or labels used by the community, but not on their own used as orientations. You can, however, be asexual and placiosexual, demisexual and autochorissexual, graysexual and apothisexual, etc. These are identities that the asexual community doesn’t necessarily expect the larger allosexual community to be aware of, and are mainly used within the community or with partners as a way to talk about specific feelings.

For example, if someone is reading erotica and enjoys erotica, but is asexual, this may seem confusing for outsiders. That person may be autochorissexual, and may choose to communicate that to others to avoid confusion.

So, when you see a list of asexual identities in the future, don’t get them mixed up with orientations, and be suddenly angry that there are, ‘all these made up orientations’! They aren’t orientations, and unless you’re on the asexual spectrum, they probably have nothing to do with you. It’s simply a part of the ever expanding vocabulary being used to talk about sexual orientation and identities. Just as the gay community has twinks and bears, lesbians have lipstick lesbians and butch lesbians, the asexual community has their own vocabulary to talk about the variety of asexual identities as well.

Once more, there is a master list of asexual/aromantic identities here that you can browse through If you would like to see a full list of identities and orientations. They have a great list of terms, mostly for aromantics and arospec individuals, but each prefix can generally be attached to a sexual orientation as well. If you’re curious about aromantics or aromanticism, I would highly recommend browsing their blog. Let me know in the comments or on http://ask.fm/AlyssaErmish if you prefer your comments/questions/concerns to be anonymous and/or hidden; Did this post clear up a few things about asexuality for you? Have you encountered many of these identities or other identities before? How do you feel about these labels being used? Would you be comfortable using this type of language to communicate with allosexuals?

Feel free to write as much as you want, and ask any questions; I welcome curiosity and interest with open arms.

Have a very asexy week,

Alyssa

Happy Asexual Awareness Week!

ducky Hello, to all asexuals and allosexuals, and a very happy Asexual Awareness Week to you! I realize I’m a day late, but be prepared because we’re about to launch into full ace mode. You are about to experience a flood of posts all about asexuality, in honor of ace week. Why? Well, I’ve noticed something great about the internet, and so have other people, and it’s this; a lot more people are coming out, and a lot more people are actually caring.

Just this week, facebook revealed that incredible numbers of people are coming out on their social media site, which I’m sure had a lot to do with National Coming Out Day on the 11th (I missed it, boo!). The internet is becoming a place to come out, talk about sexuality, celebrate it, and be safe. Ace week is already in full gear and the internet is going wild. I’ve been seeing an increased traffic here, so I’m hoping that more aces are speaking out and spreading the information about asexuality, and I want to help. Parents, families, friends, and confused individuals are flocking to the internet in search of answers, and because I have spent an unhealthy amount of time researching everything and stockpiling this knowledge, I want to be a resource for people.

Having an argument with someone? Send them here.

Feeling confused? Look no further.

Wanting to educate yourself and learn more about asexuality? I’ve got what you need.

So this week, please, please interact with me and send me any questions you have, any topics you need covered, anything at all, and I will do my best to put it out there for people, because this is a crazy, frustrating and confusing world and I want to help make it a little more comprehensive. Unfortunately, asexuality can be one of the more confusing sexualities, but it doesn’t have to be!

I look forward to talking with you and giving you some answers, so have a happy, safe, ace week.

Alyssa Ermish

Sapiosexual: Brains are the New Tits

Hey there! Surprise, surprise, I’m not dead yet! I’m back, after a long time trying to figure out what I wanted to talk about next, and I’m ready to go. So let’s talk sapiosexuals and sapiosexuality.

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Now, this is by no means a new word or a new identifier, it’s been around for several years now and I personally hadn’t given it much thought recently until I came across a Buzzfeed article posing the question, “Are You Actually a Sapiosexual?

I thought the little ‘quiz’ the author made for the posting was interesting, and I read through to the bottom, to hit the comments and see what people were saying. I honestly was not expecting to see all the hate and quite ambivalent attitudes people held towards sapiosexuality. It reminded me a lot of what I see sometimes when people talk about asexuality, but multiplied by ten. Actually, when Buzzfeed posted their asexuality articles and videos, the comments were pretty supporting, so this really, truly, surprised me.

Some of the things said included,

“Sapiosexual: I’m an entitled, classist, elitist rebranded as a lover of intellect!”

Wanting to be with someone who’s intelligent or educated, or just being attracted to intelligence, is not a sexual orientation. It’s called having personal preferences. Can we stop with the labels?”

classism aside (and yes “sapiosexuality” is hella classist, and usually racist too!), can we please stop with the bullshit sexual orientations for straight people to call themselves so they get to feel special?

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I had to really squint my eyes and dim the lights to find something positive to be said about sapiosexuals. So what’s with all this hatred for sapiosexuals? Is sapiosexuality truly classist, ableist, racist, elitist, and overall an incredibly shitty way of being? Is it even a sexuality? How should we define sapiosexuality?

Well, first off, I think a lot of the negative attitudes are from a place of misunderstanding, and a lot of that has to do with Buzzfeed’s ‘quiz’, which was probably taken from another part of the internet like OK Cupid’s sapiosexual ‘test’ (which lists it as a fetish and the questions are atrocious). With one of the questions being, sapioand I honestly can’t blame people for being pissed about sapiosexuality, if that’s the way it’s been presented to them. Although, I have suspicions that not everyone actually read through the questions and considered them before going on a tirade (shocking, I know), because Buzzfeed honestly didn’t fail completely (again, I’m as surprised as you are). The first question is actually very telling of what sapiosexuality actually is. sapio2Ah, here we go, ladies, gents, everyone uninterested in being bound by the binary genders, this is the definition of sapiosexual.

Sapiosexual: Someone who does not experience sexual attraction unless arousal is sparked by the other’s intelligence (though not necessarily even then).

Sapiosexual, by my understanding, is very similar to demisexuality, and could potentially be considered to be on the asexual spectrum. In my knowledge on the topic, sapiosexuals would be similar to demisexuals in that they do not feel sexual attraction at all based on appearance, and don’t experience it at all unless there is that arousal from the other’s intelligence. This is where I saw a lot of people in the comments of Buzzfeed getting lost or misunderstanding this distinction. They didn’t know (or failed to realize) that there would be an absence of attraction otherwise, and that’s what separates them from allosexuals, who could still be influenced by intelligence in their sexual attraction, but also still have that sexual attraction to physical appearance.

This tends to be misunderstood with demisexuals quite frequently, and I know it’s very hurtful to hear. “Well of course you want a deep bond with them, of course it has to be the right person, all people want that! Of course that’s attractive.” In their mind, that’s how everyone is. There is a miscommunication of missing out on sexual attraction entirely until there is that spark from the right person, the right mix, at just the right time.

The second part of that misunderstanding is that it’s not simply just an attraction to intelligence, and that intelligence doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing to everyone. There are varying attitudes and opinions on intelligence, including what it means, and what’s attractive. A personal example would be that some qualify sarcasm as intelligence but I find sarcasm to be a very low form of wit and quite rude if it’s overused. So, there are other factors that play into a person’s intelligence.

Also, like demisexuality, being sexually attracted to intelligence doesn’t mean every intelligent person qualifies for your sexual attraction, regardless of gender. As there are still heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, polysexual, and pansexual demisexuals, there are equally the same for sapiosexuals. Because, as we’ve explored time and time again, sexuality is a spectrum, and people sit on it at various points. Sapiosexuality isn’t going to be a unanimous experience for every sapiosexual.

Another problem I think that sapiosexuality faces is that the word is not only being misunderstood, but is being taken and appropriated into something it never was. “I’m like, really into smart people, I’m so sapiosexual!” is something I feel like is the current mindset of some people. They don’t see it as a sexuality and an identity, but rather as a label to use frivolously to describe their interest in intelligence. I’ve seen this done with asexuality time to time with things like, “Ugh, I hate dating! I’m going to go asexual.” Because of this, those who are actually sapiosexual are suddenly invalidated and face a lot of problems with their identity.

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Unsure if this qualifies as ‘zombies’ or a representation of sapiosexual, but I’m putting it here.

All this in mind, is sapiosexuality still classist, ableist, racist, and elitist? Let’s go back to what we were talking about earlier: intelligence is different for everyone, and I think very few people would consider education, job position, and wealth as a qualifier for intelligence. After all, Trump went to college, he’s rich, and I don’t think he sits anywhere near anything considered intelligent. I have personally met some pretty dumb individuals who have their college degrees and even doctoral degrees. So, I think for the majority this does rule out elitist and classist.

Let’s go further, is it racist? If you’re racist, then yeah, it’s definitely racist but that’s not because of your sexuality, you’re just an ignorant jackass and you need some perspective on life because you should be more than well aware that intelligence goes beyond race and nationality. Is it ableist? Again, if you’re an ableist asshole, then yeah it might be, but that’s not because of your sexuality. There are some damn intelligent autistic, depressed, manic, schizophrenic, and overall mentally disabled individuals, and if you don’t see that, that’s your problem, not your sexuality.

Lastly, if you’re not actually sapiosexual, but you are still really turned on by intelligence, that’s fine, that’s great, go get yourself some nerds, but you don’t qualify under the label of sapiosexual. Instead, you can just say that you are really attracted to intelligent individuals. Done. If you’re not sapiosexual and you’re using the label of ‘intelligence’ to actually be an ableist, elitist, classist, racist piece of shit, then you need to stop right now immediately. You’re not attracted to intelligence, you’re just a dick.

And if you are truly sapiosexual, even if you had no idea up until now or you didn’t know what it meant, then keep your chin up and stay strong. Try to educate people, and ignore anyone who wants to invalidate or hurt you. In the meantime, go find your brainy, smart, and intelligent people, and enjoy yourself.

Let me know in the comments or on http://ask.fm/AlyssaErmish if you prefer your comments/questions/concerns to be anonymous and/or hidden;

How do you feel about sapiosexuality and sapiosexuals? Did this clear a few things up and maybe change your mind? Do you think sapiosexuality fits under the asexual spectrum? Do you feel that it is a valid identity and a real sexuality, or is it something made up? Do you think the big problem is that people are taking a word and appropriating it to be something it isn’t? Feel free to write as much as you want, and ask any questions; I welcome curiosity and interest with open arms.

Have a very sexy day,

Alyssa

Questions I have for the rest of the world

Since I have what would be considered a minority view on sex, there are a lot of things I don’t understand. Since you get to ask me some questions, it should only be fair that I get to ask questions too, right? Let’s talk (Warning, mild humor ahead).

I'm confused about a lot of things.

I’m confused about a lot of things.

1. Are allosexuals really that much more likely to buy something if someone sexy is doing the advertising? What is that? Why?

2. Why are some people so offended when the topic of sex comes up? Are you uncomfortable? Is it a religious thing or a conservative thing?

3. For that matter, why do you think religion treats sex as something so horrible? The only religion I’ve seen that really has a positive view on sex is Islam.

4. Why don’t people want to teach kids about sex? Where do they think they’re going to learn it?

5. Why are some people so against porn and masturbation? Is that another religious thing?

6. Why is slut shaming a thing? Why is enjoying sex seen as something so terrible? Or conversely, why do people shame people who don’t have sex? Should we be prudes or sluts? Make up your mind.

7. Sexual liberation movements really took off in the 60’s and 70’s and then suddenly lost a lot of ground, and now that generation seems to be the one that didn’t want to teach anyone about sex. What happened?

8. Do you think sexual liberation is due for another movement soon? Do you think this current generation is more sexually liberal, conservative, or is no different than the previous?

9. Why is any position besides missionary seen as something scandalous in popular media?

10. Is missionary even the most intimate position?

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11. Why is it that sex is considered to only be penetration? Oral sex is still sex, isn’t it? Where do we draw the line at what is or isn’t sex? Is outercourse still sex? Is frottage still sex?

12. Is that why people still think lesbians can’t have sex?

13. Why are people so quick to label, “gals being pals” when ladies are dating or flirting, but when guys are just being even remotely friendly, they’re automatically gay and together?

14. Why is ‘gay’ still an insult?

15. Why is ‘experimenting’ seen as something bad? Why are people that are questioning bullied?

16. Why are there unnecessary sex scenes in movies and tv? I came to watch a movie about war, why is there sex? Is it a shock sort of thing? Is it a tool to bring attention back when the movie gets boring?

17. For that matter, why is there unnecessary romance? Why did the last Avengers movie have to have the one female character be smitten with another character? Was it to appeal to the female audience? Because, literally every girl I know that likes Marvel was really upset that there was romance involved. And that it wasn’t between two men. But that’s another conversation.

18. Why aren’t there any asexual or aromantic celebrities? You’re telling me there’s 17 million of us and not one of us had the ambition to be famous?

19. Why isn’t there queer representation in media or books? Or if there is, why is it suddenly scandalized?

20. Why is queerbaiting a thing? If you’re going to give gay subtext, just go ahead and give all the gay.

While some of these questions are all in fun and jest, I really do wonder about a few. If you have some answers or conversation starters, I’d love to read a few in the comments! As always, you can contact me anonymously at http://ask.fm/AlyssaErmish

Have a very sexy day,

Alyssa

Let’s get up close and personal with the asexual

Hey there, friend. May I call you friend? We’re going to be getting really personal today, so I hope I can consider you a friend in the meantime. If you’re not comfortable with getting into personal things, you should probably move on to the rest of the blog. I’ll see you next time, we can still be friends.

Anyways! Today, I’m going to be doing something a little different, and I’m going to be talking about myself, and my personal experiences and feelings as an asexual. Two things before we dive in, I’m an overly honest person most of the time, and I’m going to get real with you in this post. Also, these are my personal experiences and feelings, but they may not directly translate for another person who is asexual. We’re all different!

Hi, I’m asexual

Look, there we have an asexual in their natural habitat. Fascinating.

Look, there we have an asexual in their natural habitat. Fascinating.

If you’re new here today, yes, I’m asexual. The short version is, I don’t experience any sexual attraction to any person, regardless of gender. I experience a lot of other attractions, but it’s never been anything physical, or sexual.

Well, what attractions do you experience?

The attractions I feel are romantic, emotional, sensual, and aesthetic, and I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to differentiate each one from another. Romantic attraction is wanting to impress them, feeling giddy, and happy, and tingly around someone. Emotional attraction is feeling really connected to someone; bonded in a very close way and understanding each other through your experiences and emotions. Sensual attraction is the feeling, the desire to touch someone, listen to their voice, and be physically close to them. It’s wanting a hug, a touch, a kiss, to run your hands or theirs all over each other, for that person only. And aesthetic attraction is the draw you get from a person’s appearance. You want to stare at them, you could look at them for hours, any time you see them, you’re kind of blown away by their appearance, their body, the way they move. If you could draw them, or capture them on film, you would in a heartbeat.

I’ve been lucky enough to experience each one of these attractions separately, so I could think and tell them apart. Many people have a very difficult time separating them from sexual attraction, and indeed, if I read each description without context, they can certainly have a sexual edge or vibe around them. And that’s why it’s so hard to figure out that you’re asexual sometimes, because we see these attractions as part of sexual attraction, when they’re not. I thought, for such a long time, that having crushes and being aesthetically or sensually attracted to someone meant I was sexually attracted to them as well. When I finally was able to break it down and analyze it, I realized I had no idea what sexual attraction felt like, because I had honestly never experienced it. I can read about it, listen to descriptions of it, have a vague idea of what it feels like, but I have never experienced it.

What’s your romantic orientation?

My romantic orientation is really complicated at this time, and I don’t really know how to explain it to anyone. I guess the easiest way to label it would be somewhere around heteroromantic or aroflux, but neither one really fit, which is fine, it doesn’t need to be defined, it doesn’t need a label, but it might make things a little easier, you know? I know I get crushes, on men, but not often; I haven’t had a crush (a serious crush) for nearly two years, but when I get crushes I want to be around that person all the time, I want to laugh with them, flirt with them (though, I’m really, really horrible at it), and have them notice me as someone special and significant. I feel really giddy, and stupid, and I can say really, incredibly stupid things to them that I would never in a million years say, because I’m so blinded by how hard I crush on them. It’s, frankly, embarrassing.

But then, that’s kind of it? It feels like an elementary school crush. I don’t really want to kiss them, I don’t want to go on really romantic dates or do anything that would typically constitute as a ‘date’ for most people, and I certainly don’t want to have sex with them. When someone actually starts staring at me with that ‘far off’ look and tries to whisper sweet things in my ear, or hold my hand, I get really uncomfortable and embarrassed. I want their company, I want to cuddle with them, I want to fall in love, but I don’t feel at all comfortable with what would typically be labeled as ‘romance’. Whether that’s because of a romantic orientation or because of my own discomfort with myself (see: self hatred), I’m not entirely sure. And I’ve never really had a chance to figure it out because I am inept at flirting or discerning when someone is interested, and I haven’t had an actual, literal date to go through and figure it out. It is, to be quite honest, something that really bothers and worries me.

When did you realize you were asexual?

The day I realized something was different about the way I felt.

The day I realized something was different about the way I felt.

I can’t honestly pin it down to one moment, but rather three. I had three different moments of realization and acceptance on different levels from each other. The first, I was 16 and at a festival sort of deal with a friend. There was, as there always tends to be, a very angry Christian man on his soapbox, yelling at the crowd. He’s yelling in people’s faces, about how they’ve all lusted, and he’s being very dramatic, pointing at people, “You have lusted! You have lusted! You-” and he points and me, and I’m just laughing my ass off, like the idiot that I am, and I’m just like, “This guy’s a sucker, I’ve never lusted! What a moron.” And I turn to my friend, and being the poor, guilty Christian that she was, she looked really ashamed and guilty about it, which totally shocked me. So that was kind of a, “Huh.” sort of moment for me. I really thought no one had lusted.

Truly, I had played the game I thought everyone was playing, to pretend to want and be interested in sex, but I had never really thought anyone my age was actually interested in sex at all. I really thought they were lying, or weird, and it frustrated me every time I got into a conversation about it. I had friends all the time, telling me about their sexual escapades, and every time I would, out loud, express how uncomfortable and weird it sounded, that I wasn’t interested in any of it at all, thinking that somehow, they would open up and go, “Yeah, me too, but…” or something along those lines. Every time, they just kind of got this bewildered expression on their face and moved along with the conversation, like I had never even said anything. All the time, I would hear, “Man, I’m just so horny today, you know?” and it was like, “No? I’m never horny, I’ve never been horny, I have literally no idea what you’re talking about.” Or we’d talk celebrities, “They’re just so hot, I get turned on every time I see them!” “Yeah, ok? Sure?” I never felt what other people were feeling, and it didn’t really hit me until that moment, with a guy yelling about how horrible I am for lusting, and then realizing I never have. I think I felt the way a lot of queer people do, that you know it, deep down inside of you, even if you can’t place it. You know that you’re not straight, even if you can’t immediately say, “I’m this!” That’s the way I felt. Something was a little off. I always assumed eventually it would all click into place, and I would feel what everyone else seemed to be feeling, but at the same time I knew that wasn’t right either.

So, jump forwards in time, to incident number 2. I’m 18, I’m depressed, my life is falling apart, you know, the usual. I was really, really into Michael Jackson at the time (don’t get me wrong, I still love his work) and I was reading an article about him and people’s opinions on his relationships. It seemed that, a lot of people held the opinion that his kids couldn’t possibly be his, because he was, by all appearances, asexual. That was the first time I stumbled across the word. What the hell does this mean? So I looked it up, I got a few websites and short, kind of vague definitions (asexuality had only just started picking up steam and recognition) and it was like the sky opened up. I wasn’t weird, I was this, I was asexual, and other people felt this way too! That was all for about a minute, then enter depression, doubt, anger, self loathing etc. I wasn’t asexual, I couldn’t be asexual. I liked guys, so there was no way I could be asexual! How stupid was I? And I didn’t look up anything else about it, because I was so scared to be something I assumed was bad, was broken or weird. Like my depression, it became a dirty secret that I couldn’t let anyone know. I pushed it to the back of my mind and ignored it as best I could.

Not that I could escape completely. It nagged at me, and when I finally got away to college and felt like I wouldn’t be discovered, I searched a little more about it. Every time I thought about it it was a tug of war in my mind, like literally everything else, “I am, I am not, I am, I am not…” I didn’t have the resources or anyone to help me make up my mind. I just knew, I wasn’t really interested in anyone that way, and that would have to do in the meantime. The only thing I could do was talk about it with a few friends, who were about as knowledgeable on the subject as I was. Not to their face, of course, God, no one I would have to look in the eye and be terrified of the shock, or terrified of rejection that I had no doubt they would feel. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t help much to talk about it.

Three years later, and incident three hits me. I come across the word again, but this time it has a really long explanation. It has resources, chats, opinions from other asexuals. I was in an emotionally safe place, finally, to face my fear of whatever the hell this was. So I looked up everything I could, I absorbed knowledge and everything made sense at last. Yes, I am asexual, no it’s not weird, yes I feel these things too! I poured over all sorts of information for days, to confirm it. And from there it was like, I just had to tell someone, I had to tell someone the good news. I had to be out, just a little bit. I was so excited to just feel like I was normal, that this wasn’t something alien, that it even had a name. I came out, to just one person, and it was terrifying, but I don’t think I could have kept it a secret from the entire world. Just the idea that one person knew, was good enough. I could finally, accept and say absolutely, I am asexual.

So are you out?

It is standard asexual custom to wear a dead animal on your head when you come out. No it isn't, don't do that.

It is standard asexual custom to wear a dead animal on your head when you come out. No it isn’t, don’t do that.

I am not currently ‘out’ to most people. I have no problem telling anyone that cares to ask what my orientation is, or if I’m straight, but it’s not exactly something I need to go around telling every person I come across. I’m still new to this, and I’m very afraid of judgement and people in general. I look for acceptance and validation for myself, and I couldn’t bear it if someone decided to be rude to me because of my orientation, or if they wanted to get into an argument with me about it. Because of that, I’m not out to my family, and I’m not out to most of my friends. Unless it comes up in conversation, or I feel like it’s something I need to address, I don’t think I’ll ever really be ‘out’ to everyone I know. I say it a lot, but it’s really no one’s business to know what I’m not doing.

So you’re ace, so what? What changes?

Well, like with any other orientation, some things don’t change, and other things are just more complicated. Like dating, not that I have many prospects, but I have to decide if I want to try to take allosexuals or try my luck and attempt to find another asexual. Because I have more of a neutral reaction to sex, I have the option to choose either. I don’t exactly need sex or have any interest in it, but I can’t necessarily say it’s something completely off the table. It just wouldn’t be something frequent or something I wanted, which I feel like would be confusing and frustrating for an allosexual partner, but there are ace/allo couples that have made it work before. A complication, but not an impossibility.

Flirting, even, seems to be a foreign language class that I missed out on. Without an ulterior motive, with an almost naive perspective, it’s something I’m very bad at. My world is unconcerned with sex, and as a result I simply get a different experience, a different perspective on everything. The positive aspect is that I get to see people for their good qualities, without something physical getting in the way. I get to prioritize other things when I’m getting to know someone, and see them without being distracted. I can focus on other types of attractions, goals, and desires.

It makes for a very honest interaction with people. I’m either going to enjoy your company and enjoy talking with you, hanging out with you, or I’m not. It’s that simple. There’s no lingering thoughts of, “Well, but the sex is good” or “I just want to have sex with them”. I’m infinitely more interested in talking with a crush and learning about them as a person, hearing their thoughts, than I’ll ever be in taking them to bed. I feel like there are hundreds of ways to express love and passion that don’t require sex, and I feel like a lot of people don’t see that. So many people have difficulty separating sex out of their life, their interactions with others, so in some ways I’m very fortunate and in other ways I’m not.

Fears and struggles

*Asexual struggles do not typically include climbing the Great Wall.

*Asexual struggles do not typically include climbing the Great Wall.

I am, as many asexuals are, perpetually worried that because of my orientation, I will never find someone to be with. I worry that, if I find an allosexual to be with, they won’t understand how I feel, and they won’t want to be with me, or that they will want to be with me but it will be too frustrating or difficult for them. I worry that I’ll never meet an asexual man in my entire life and that I’d never in a million years have an opportunity to see what that relationship would be like. I worry that somehow I’ll be accidentally outed to everyone I know. I worry and doubt nearly everyday whether or not I’m right and I’m really asexual. I worry that someday it’ll ‘click’ and that it’ll turn out it was actually all in my head. I worry and stress over my future and what impact this has on my life.

Not just my life though, I worry about other people too. I think about asexual men, and how they feel they need to be hypermasculine and horny and want sex, but don’t. That they won’t recognize what they’re really feeling. I think about asexuals in marriages that are just figuring things out, and how confusing and terrifying that is. I worry about asexuals being bullied by their parents, their peers, the rest of the queer community and even other asexuals. I worry about asexuals in danger of corrective rape, or asexuals who are sex repulsed that force themselves or are forced to have sex. I worry and concern myself with a lot in the asexual world, and that’s why I’m writing this.

Closing thoughts

Everyone has a different experience, different emotions, different thoughts in life. I mostly wanted to share mine, not just because I wanted to be honest and open and share my experience, but for other people who are questioning themselves in orientation or otherwise. I also wanted people to understand what I feel and experience as an ace, as opposed to an allo. Yes, it’s the absence of sexual attraction, but it’s a lot more than that too. No, it’s not the same struggle as being trans or gay, but it’s still a struggle. My experience is something that a lot of asexuals have gone, or will go through, and I want that to be understood. That’s why I’m sharing this, even though it’s not something required, it’s not something expected of me. I want to communicate that I’m human, and I’m normal, and that my experience is valid and that if other people are feeling the same way, that that is totally ok. I want to put my story out there, because for several years I thought I was alone and abnormal, and the only one feeling this way, and I don’t want other people to think that they’re alone or broken.

Let me know in the comments or on http://ask.fm/AlyssaErmish if you prefer your comments/questions/concerns to be anonymous and/or hidden; what is your own experience? Feel free to write as much as you want, and ask any questions; I welcome curiosity and interest with open arms.

To any and all aces, I love you, you’re beautiful, and I’m here to talk with if you need to.

Have a very sexy day,

Alyssa

Protect the cishet aces?

cheer_if_youre_queer_print-r265dcd632d9c44178b4a543c647638b5_wvk_8byvr_512The blog post I am replying to today is here:
http://theasexualityblog.tumblr.com/post/124321779566/corzhazi-theasexualityblog-ageoldscream

Ok, first off, I want to let it be known that I’m replying to a blog that doesn’t reside within the confines of wordpress; sorry! Second, I completely, totally realize that places like tumblr can be a messy, chaotic place with some people needlessly arguing with one another. I get that. That doesn’t mean it’s not also a fantastic place for discussion, debate, and controversy. Keeping that in mind, let’s go ahead and tackle this beast.

This whole argument is nothing new, not by a long shot, and it frequently causes unrest and tension in the LGBT+ and aro/ace community. This particular argument starts when an asexual blog suggests that cishet (cisgender, heteroromantic/heterosexual) asexuals and aromantics submit their stories that show that they experience discrimination like anyone else. Of course, the next person to post does nothing but immediately prove this point when they automatically argue against it. They claim anger at,

“the recent insistence on (fuckyeahasexual) (and your (blog)) that cishet aces are queer/that queer is an umbrella term and totally okay to use…acting like cishet aces need to be protected from criticism and anger when they claim a slur that doesn’t belong to them is laughable.”

Not that this person is claiming that cishet aces require no protection at all, but rather, “they don’t need protection because they’re cishet, they need protection because they’re ace.”

Now, at this point, I can see what they’re saying and where they’re coming from. Cishet asexuals and aromantics do not need protection specifically because they are cishet, but because they are asexual/aromantic. And because the term ‘queer’ has in the past been used as a slur against gay and trans individuals, and is in the process of being reclaimed by those individuals, there are some who would not want the word to be used.

However, as the next person points out (and I definitely agree with them),

“…the term has since become synonymous with LGBT/MOGAI community. As members of the LGBT/MOGAI community, cishet aces should have the same terminology available to them that all aces have. “Queer” became the alternative to “straight”, and since “straight” implies “cis-gender, heteroromantic, and heterosexual”, a cishet ace should not be considered straight, because they are not all three.”

So, while the word ‘queer’ can specifically apply to gay/trans individuals, it is more commonly being used now, as an alternate term to LGBT+ and MOGAI (both are mouthfuls to say, to be completely honest).

And now for the second part. Do cishet asexuals and aromantics really need protection? In my opinion, yes, 100%. Because there are people that will argue that cishet asexuals do not belong in the LGBT+ or queer community, that they’re not allowed to call themselves queer and be included in safe spaces. Cishet asexuals and aromantics will be told that, “No, you’re definitely straight”, despite evidence to the contrary, and their identities will be ignored if they’re in a relationship. They will be shunned from activities like PRIDE, because they show up with their het partner, and ‘blend in’. Cishet asexuals and aromantics, because they don’t appear, ‘Queer enough’ for some of the community, will be erased, denied, and shunned, and told that their identity isn’t real, and that it’s all a mental problem.

Do cishet asexuals and aromantics have it as hard as some of the other queer community? No, not necessarily. But then again, one depressed individual doesn’t have it as bad as another, and that doesn’t devalue either one’s struggle. The point of the LGBT+ or queer community is to provide support. All asexuals and aromantics, and anyone in the queer community should have support, regardless of gender, sexual, or romantic identity, if they do not identify as ‘straight’. There is enough hate and discrimination in the outside world, I see no reason to gatekeep and not include people that feel just as lost and unsure as the rest.

Get in the zone, autochorissexuality zone! Wait-

Auto what?

autochorissexualI have for you today a new word. I’m going to go ahead and guess the odds of you having heard this word, as well as knowing what it means, are very slim. Autochorissexuality. Quite a mouthful of a word, isn’t it? What does that even mean? Well, here’s the basic definition,

Autochorissexuality: The disconnection between oneself and the target or object of arousal. May involve sexual fantasies or arousal in response to erotica or pornography, but lacking any desire to be a participant in the sexual activities.

Ok, as per usual, we have the basic, textbook definition, but what does this mean? What this word means, at its simplest core, is that there are people who can be aroused by, and enjoy sexual things like pornography and erotica, but don’t picture themselves as a part of the situation and have no desire to be. They see the situation from a 3rd party perspective and never in the role, position, or part of one of the participants. For people who are autochorissexuals, it’s a lot like watching TV, whereas others may visualize themselves as a character or actively partaking in what is happening. Ultimately, the person is either repulsed, or neutral to engaging in the same sexual activity in real life.

tumblr_nii251P9fn1qcpwkd_og

Some people are sex repulsed, some are neutral, and some love it. People that experience autochorissexuality tend to be repulsed or neutral.

But, I’m going to be honest, I’m not really here to tell you what autochorissexuality is, so much as I’m here to talk about the debate behind it. Because, man, oh man, there’s quite the debate.

Firstly, what you should know about autochorissexuality is that it is a term coined by Dr. Anthony Bogaert, a well-known researcher on sexuality, in a report done on the phenomenon. He found what many in the asexual community have found, that a fair amount of individuals that do not experience sexual attraction to people, experience arousal to sexual activities that they are not involved in. Unfortunately, Dr. Bogaert believed that this phenomenon was something to be classified as a paraphilia. So, already there is a lot of controversy in the name. A large portion of people who do experience this do not call it by its originally coined name, and instead refer to it as aegosexuality. This takes away the negative connotation (of the feeling being something mentally wrong, not that paraphilias are necessarily wrong) and also provides a more manageable word. Those who do use autochorissexual instead of aegosexual have either no qualms with the previous negative connotation, or feel that they are claiming the word as a positive label (as words like queer and twink are being reclaimed).

Further controversy is in the phenomenon itself, rather than the word. A debate is currently taking place in whether or not this is a new experience of sensation, or just a rebranding of another phenomenon. Some argue that this is akin to lithsexuality, in which individuals experience sexual attraction, but it fades or goes away completely when the feeling is reciprocated. Another side argues that this is voyeurism, a type of classified paraphilia which is classified as the sexual interest in or practice of spying on people engaged in intimate behaviors, such as undressing, sexual activity, or other actions usually considered to be of a private nature. The argument in favor of autochorissexuality says that the experience is a mix of the other two, but cannot separately be defined by either word.

The last bit of controversy is the argument of, “Do we really even need this word?” Autochorissexuality isn’t a sexual orientation all on its own, but rather falls under the umbrella of gray-asexuality. Some believe it is pointless and actually insulting and ridiculous to further label one another, as it would never be an identity you would introduce yourself with. However, for those who do fall under autochorissexuality, the label can be quite freeing for them, as they were previously confused or invalidated in their asexual identity because of their feelings. The largest argument is that this is something many people feel. They feel there’s no reason for a specific word for the phenomenon, simply because it is something so commonly felt. Of course, as complicated as sexual feelings are (it is difficult to describe personal sexual feelings and experiences, and know whether or not others are feeling the same) we have no real way of knowing if this is a common feeling felt by many over the sexual spectrum, or if it is something uniquely experienced in the asexual community. Does it need a label? I would say, it’s all up to the individual. Some don’t need labels of any kind, and that’s fine, but others love labels and find security in them. Whether or not someone else agrees with the label, others have all right to label or identify as they see fit.

Aromantics want none of your romo

Aromantics want none of your romo

The last interesting thing about autochorissexuality, is that, like other orientations, there is a romantic counterpart for the aromantic and arospectrum community. There are individuals who identify as autochorisromantic or aegoromantic, and while they may fantasize about romantic relationships, falling in love, experiencing things with a partner and being a couple, they can, like the sexual reciprocate, be completely opposed to these things in real life, and ultimately feel these things from an outside perspective. However, it does seem that the romantic counterpart is less common.

Let me know in the comments or on http://ask.fm/AlyssaErmish if you prefer your comments/questions/concerns to be anonymous and/or hidden; What are your opinions? Do you feel this is a necessary or frivolous label? Do you think many people feel this way, or is it something exclusive to few? Feel free to write as much as you want, and ask any questions; I welcome curiosity and interest with open arms.

Have a very sexy day,

Alyssa