Further to my last post on the subject of invisible tapirs, I had a fascinating conversation this week with a couple of allosexual friends who are always happy to talk tapirs with me. The subject: aesthetic attraction.
CW: brief discussion of sexual assault (under the text break)
One of the commonest questions I get around asexuality is, But what does it feel like?
What does it feel like to be asexual? What does it feel like to not experience sexual attraction to anyone at all?
Imagine living in a world where almost everyone hallucinates tapirs. Most of the time, this mass delusion doesn’t cause any problems – people know the tapirs aren’t really there and can usually just enjoy or ignore their visions without it causing problems, apart from the odd embarrassing mishap. So to an outside observer, everyone’s walking around day-to-day just as if they weren’t seeing phantom ungulates around them – only everyone knows that everyone else sees them too, right?
Now imagine you’re one of the 1% of people in that world who doesn’t see tapirs. In fact, you don’t even know what a tapir looks like.
You know there’s something other people experience that you don’t, but you have no real idea of what it is. The best you can do is make guesses based on the way people around you talk and act around the subject of tapirs – and tapirs just aren’t talked about all that much.
In fact, the subject of tapirs comes up so rarely that it’s easy to forget everyone else is seeing something you aren’t.
Something I’ve become really aware of, as an asexual person in Western culture, is the weird way that sex is both hyper-visible and constantly hidden away.
I’m hardly the first to comment on this unhealthy dichotomy in our society. But it takes on a different (though equally damaging) significance from the point of view of someone who’s completely uninterested in sexytimes.
Happy Asexual Awareness Week, folks!
This week is the perfect time for you to learn more about asexuality – by attending an event if there’s one near you, or simply by checking out some of the great ace content that’s available for free online. Here are my top picks for anyone who wants to immerse themselves in ace:
While some asexual folk are in relationships with other aces, there aren’t that many of us around (~1 in 100 people, statistically speaking). That means, for most of the ace folk I know who are in relationships, their partners are allosexual – they feel sexual attraction.
In my first post in this series, I promised to talk some more about the specifics of how Ben and I have made our own ace-allo relationship work. Last week I went off on a bit of a side-track about the nature of love and attraction, but for part three of this exploration I want to delve a bit further into our story.
Love is one of those sneaky, slippery concepts. Most people would tell you they know what it is, but ask someone to define it and things get a lot more complicated.
Case in point: I would have said I have a pretty good handle on what love is – after all, I’ve been in love with the same person for twelve years. And yet in my world, love and sex have nothing to do with each other. It’s still maddeningly strange to me to realise that some people think them inseparable.
What does it even mean to love, or to be in love? How can we be so confused about this?
Recently, I’ve found myself in conversations with two different friends – one old, one new – both of whom had been identifying as demisexual and both of whom were coming around to the idea that they might actually be at the far end of the asexual spectrum, like me.
That in and of itself wasn’t a big surprise – exploring your sexuality can be a lifelong process, and it’s never too late to grow in your understanding of what your body wants or doesn’t want. What shocked me in both cases was the reason they had been holding on to the label of demisexual long after beginning to suspect it didn’t fit them: they thought being asexual would mean the end of any hope for love.
This started out as an entertaining tidbit that arose from my recent tour of Versailles (“hee hee, royal sex ed”), which I was originally going to tack on to the end of my last TWIL post. But, as sometimes happens when I try to turn “this cool thing I heard” into “this well-researched and hopefully accurate information I’m willing to share publicly”, the real story turned out to be much more complicated – and, in this case, of much more personal interest – than I had expected.
So today I delve into the historical mystery of: why did it take Louis XVI and his queen Marie-Antoinette seven years to consummate their marriage?
N.B. the following, as well as several of the links included, discusses sex and may be considered NSFW.
I know, I know, I said I was going to post about Louis XVI. He can wait a week.
Last night we had dinner with Ben’s Hungarian relative (we call her that because “mother’s cousins’s ex-wife” is too much of a mouthful) and her Dutch partner. Both of them speak excellent English – they have to, since she doesn’t speak Dutch and he doesn’t speak Hungarian – and before and over dinner the conversation roamed through all sorts of interesting subjects, from personal to political.
And, at one point, we had what I’ve come to think of as The Talk.