Constructive Words For “Not Having Sex”?

Continued from “Let’s Talk About ‘Not Having Sex'” and “Destructive Words For “Not Having Sex”

The words I’m considering helpful in coming out and discussing not having sex in various contexts.

Asexuality – a natural or biological inclination to rarely or never feel sexual attraction. In short, the label for people who Mother Nature or God or evolution designed to be inclined not to have sex. Not an essentialistic description of entire races or genders or other groups. Not “lacking in functional genitals” or “lacking in libido” or “unattractive”. It is instead a useful term to say “I do not actively feel lust or arousal towards a person of any gender” with several labels available to give that more nuance, such as “rarely” or “in these very specific circumstances”.

Its primary use is describing “not (being inclined to) having sex” as a state of being, an orientation.

Celibacy – the choice to temporarily or permanently disengage from sexual activity. In short, the label for people who for personal, religious or other reasons decide not to have sex. This word lacks the implication “purity” has that one is better. It describes behaviour or a decision of an individual where “chastity” is more likely to be used in a judgment call. It lacks the deterministic implication that it precedes marriage.

Its primary use is in being the best candidate for a term to describe “not having sex” as choice and conscious behaviour.

Repression (when discussing sexual behaviour) – being barred from either wishing to engage in sexual behaviour or acting upon a desire to be sexually active. Can occur for an individual or in a community. Mental conditions or subconcious choices may lead to it, such as high stress or internalised queerphobia. Social limitations may include peer pressure or a criminalisation of sexual behaviour. May have neutral but, more often, a negative connotation.

Its primary use would be in describing a state of “not having sex” that is not by choice and feels more as stemming from experience/the mind/circumstances than natural/biological.

I find this third word to be more problematic… Because for others I think it may be as toxic as abstinence is to me. Plus there’s the conflation of asexuality and sexual repression that’s used to deny asexuality as a legitimate label.

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Destructive Words For “Not Having Sex”

Trigger warning: explicit discussion of Christian prejudice around sex.

Continued from “Let’s Talk About ‘Not Having Sex'” and in “Constructive Words For ‘Not Having Sex'”

I have come to find these words so poisoned by their current usage that I believe I need to give them up if I talk about not having sex.

Purity/Chastity (in English among Christians) – While these used to mean “being good and whole” and “choosing to act righteously” they are now both used foremost mean “not having sex except with your spouse”. Purity (culture) has come to describe the collective of conservative individuals and institutions that enforce this norm at the cost of personal freedom, human rights and individual welfare. I hate this perversion of two useful words, for a state of goodness and courteous behaviour. Now they’re just a verbal and mental chastity belt for the unmarried. I hate the moral stance and community associated with this word. I believe they act in direct contradiction to how Jesus would act.

Abstinence (among Christians) – If I translate it to Dutch (onthouding) and back to English I get “keeping away”. Its general use I don’t mind. In fact, I agree that it’s easier to keep away from (food, gaming, alcohol, sex) completely than to limit it, if something is harmful to you. In a religious context, I’d equate this to fasting, to abstain from something to improve your life or facilitate meditation.

I dislike abstinence when it refers to not having extramarital sex. The enforcement is always external. Parents, employers, schools, law makers and even health insurance companies are told to make younger people abstinent. They can choose their religion but not their relationships, it implies. They are helpless victims in the face of their own sex drive (boys) or predators (girls). That anything sexual is considered sinful unless “sanctified” by marriage doesn’t help with the fear-mongering.

Virginity – Virgin (maagd) meant only maiden or damsel-in-distress in old-fashioned Dutch when I grew up. When we spoke about morally correct behaviour, both in church and in school, we used the terms “sexually faithful” (to describe the ideal the church was striving for) and “sexually active” to describe someone who is having sex and a denial to describe the opposite. Emphasising it’s behaviour, not magic transformation, for good or ill.

I have found this emphasis on sex as activity and choice to be very empowering. Discussing sex as physical intimacu and what that means is a positive and constructive way to discuss biblical ideas without judging people. It’s also closer to the source material, the emphasis on well-considered and respectful behaviour in a relationship. Not an obsession with the preamble or the legal institution. It also allows for the discussion of how other people may make other choices because they follow other principles without condemning them out of hand.

A second reason I dislike the concept of virginity is because I believe it leads to superstition and false teaching.

Superstition: ‘virginity’ is an abstract, near-magical thing you can lose, akin to holiness, which elevates you above the rest of humanity. If you have it, it makes you an object to be protected or sacrificed or violated.

False teaching: correct sexual behaviour is more important than any other choice you make. It may condemn you to hell regardless of anything else you do in life. It supersedes even your choice to become a Christian. So long as you only have heterosexual intramarital sex God will love you best.

If being an asexual Christian has taught me anything, it’s that I’m not a better person for not wishing to have sex. I’m an equal mess of good and bad to any other human, with my own unique failings.

Let’s Talk About “Not Having Sex”

For December’s Carnival of Aces, I wanted to consider the question: have I ever experienced burn-out in ace activities? And, well, there’s three false claims I’ve been beating my head against over and over again: having sex is wrong, queer people are evil and everyone wants to have sex.

It’s exhausting and self-defeating.

The most succesful strategies I have are:
a) to have a strong and clear conviction on the topic so I don’t feel overwhelmed in the face of others’ opinions and prejudice.
b) to express my views in a way others understand while still respecting their opinion, because both of those are important to me.

I need to define my position on this topic in four contexts. As family or friend, I have conversations about love, loneliness and longing. As a panromantic demisexual, I blog about my personal reflections in the online asexual community. These both feel safe and supportive.

I also live in more public domains. As a partially closeted queer Christian, I have a love-hate relationship with my congregation and the worldwide church. As an asexual-spectrum person I engage with a society where not having sex is a deeply strange. These are the two contexts where I want to choose my words with care to say exactly what I mean.

So let’s talk about good and bad words for “not having sex.” In separate posts, I will list the top 3 words that frustrate me and the top 3 words I find most helpful. Why “not having sex”? Because that’s basically the topic of any conversation I have in the public domain about asexuality.

After that, I want to be done running in circles of worry on this topic and at the very, very least move reflection and writing and discussion in a more constructive direction.

Tea, please

Warm tea, when cradled

Thaws my raw palms, while the fire

You stoke makes me flinch

This Demisexual Forgot to Be Proud

A (late) part 2 for my contribution to November’s Carnival of Aces.

Diving into my blog statistics provided some food for thought about how to continue it in the new year.

I had such big plans when I started. I wanted to write all about what this shiny new orientation meant to me. I discovered I wrote best by keeping it personal and reflective. It petered out when I fell in love and it felt too tender, too intimate to write at all. A shared secret, rather than mine.

I found myself posting again when being both on the asexual spectrum and Christian caused friction, compounded by me fleshing out my romantic orientation and feeling that yeah, the queer label applied to me. I also found inspiration in wishing to read and write more on these topics, finding my thoughts weren’t very fleshed out beyond my personal life.

The most popular posts I have seem to be the one that fill in the blanks on what being demisexual means, in all its varied permutations. Proactive and constructive posts, rather than reactive and fearful ones. This lines up with a personal conviction I’ve felt, that I do not wish to be defined by others and that the strongest ideals are those that stand on their own.

I recently read a plea that we need utopias, rather than dystopias, in our speculative fiction. We are confronted daily by all that can go wrong. We are losing sight of how things may go right. We’re forgetting what to cherish, what to strive for independent of the teeth-clench-fight of preserving what we most love.

It jived with what I long to do, when I started and now. I want to write about what it means to be demisexual and love it (dare to be proud). So that’s one of my good intentions for 2019.

Some good articles, since I don’t remember exactly which I read before:

Untitled haiku

Other birds have nests

Which winter will I have one

Ace feel less like ice

Demisexual Goes Meta!

The contribution to this November’s Carnival of Aces, with the blog festival itself for a theme, I’m splitting into two parts.

For this part, we’ll be diving into the part of the blog I always click away from after a glance at the shiny graph that says that yes, some people did in fact visit it. That’s all I want to know.

I find I write best when I write from the heart. Presenting that writing to an audience is pleasing, but it’s not where I get my ideas. When I’ve attended marketing seminars, about writing or otherwise, the part where they dive into ‘be in touch with your audience’ and ‘write about what people want to hear’ always turns me off.

I’ve found it more helpful to nestle into a nice-sized platform or community and then write whatever comes to me. Some of my most dearly held posts have completely bombed. Some of my casual musings have been some of the better-read posts.

With that introduction, I wanted to take a look at what this blog’s visitors read most in 2018.

To clarify: I’m just going by clicks. I’m also not going to name numbers… they’re not big, and I don’t really care. I want to look at what’s relatively popular.

1. Post: Sexual Orientation: Heterodemisexual.

My most read post is one from my first year, when I decided that yes, I was demisexual, but I mostly fell in love with boys. I’ve had a few years to feel attracted to people since and… I feel drawn to all sorts of people. Really the only rule I can discover is that their minds or appearances (or both) strike me as deeply fascinating and that hooks me. This can be a passing or enduring attraction and develop into a crush (a.k.a. romantic attraction).

It’s fascinating to me that THAT’s what people identify with… an identity I’ve discarded. It may be, in part, because it’s also the only keyword on google that actually gets people to my blog, either heterodemisexual or hetero and demisexual. Maybe cause the majority of people seeking out demisexuality are, statistically, more likely to be heteroromantic?

2. Post: ‘They’ as a Singular Pronoun, a Cisgender Perspective

I’m cisgender, so I often feel a bit like an imposter speaking on the topic of transgender folks.

Still… this post I really loved to write.

I had a complete geek-out over the fact that as a linguistic phenomenon singular ‘they’ was a come-back of a 400-year-old bit of the English language. Plus, it feels good that this change in language allows me to be polite in the case of someone’s gender being ambiguous, whether it is because they transcend the cis binary or because they’re a stranger. Plus, call me feminist, but I like using a neutral word over defaulting to male pronouns, or female.

I keep wanting to do the same in Dutch. I’m bummed I just can’t. Likely never will, because in Dutch ‘she’ (zij/haar) and plural ‘they’ (zij/hun) are already identical in subject position.

3. Series: I want to have sex like…

I’m cheating in the rest of this list and discussing similar posts together because I don’t feel they warrant individual attention. While I didn’t write much in the series, they came from a deep desire to clarify how attraction worked for me by using pop culture to discuss it. I was also binge-watching Netflix at the time. It still resonates, maybe because it’s accessible, if people like those TV series or movies too.

4. Tagged: Carnival of Aces

While the highest-ranked post tagged for Carnival of Aces ranks fourth, in my top-twenty at least half the posts are calls to submissions, round-ups and contributions to the Carnival. They’re also the highest ranked posts in terms of visitors who clicked on links in other blogs, and who clicked on links to other blogs.

So having a theme, and writing on that theme with others at the same time helps drive traffic to and from each others’ blogs. This mirrors the Carnival’s effect on my writing process, I get prompted to think on topics outside the ones I usually think about. It’s stimulating too, I think I may post less frequently otherwise.

5. Titles containing: sexual(ity), demisexual, asexual

And my biggest cheat on this list, mostly because I wanted to share another point I noted: titles that mirror the core subject of the blog and clearly label the content, and often the posts that have illustrations, are the ones that get the most visitors. I don’t know if this is because the machines or the humans like them better, or both, but I thought it was good to keep in mind for the future,

So… that’s my very unprofessional breakdown of my blog statistics. I hoped you enjoyed it. I mostly wanted to talk about what it told me, not the numbers, ‘cause they’re not very impressive. I don’t really mind that, since I write this blog in part simply to connect to small community, and in part to express ideas swimming around in my head.

I’m very bad at pursuing the golden grail of social media, a big following. I like my little niche.

I think… lastly… what I’ve noticed is that none of the reactions and insecurities I’ve written about get read much. People seem to like the ones that stand on their own, that seek to verbalise what this orientation means to me.

Get some questions, get a book

My real-life contribution to ace awareness week… talk to my therapist.

“So… there’s this book going to come out for people who work with aces.”

“Okay. And you want me to…?”

“Read it? Professional literature?”

“Yes, oh yes, anything you have, anytime.”

“Right.”

So… this has been mentioned in various blogs you may read. The Asexual Awareness Project is writing a book. They need people answering questions to make it good. Having worked through a couple questionaires, I’m thinking they’ve got plans to follow this up with other literature for things like sexual education or material you might bring to your local LGBT centre.

So.

I wish to encourage you to do this. You’re free to do it anonymously, under a pseudonym (like me), you can do it without giving the approval for direct citation and, what I like best, at every turn they invite you to only answer those questions you’re comfortable providing information on.

But they do need people, so, if you’d like to say anything at all on the subject.

Please.

There are ace-friendly therapists and councilors and psychologists and chaplains and what-have-you out there who would benefit from a decent book aimed at them.

I’d really like to hand this one to mine.

Ambivert?

I try to write constructive posts, on this blog. Honest about my struggles but also, in the self-reflecting, seeing what is good and what might work and what gives me hope and a plan and motivation. That’s deliberate. Dutchies make a habit of complaining and it’s a good way for me to find excuses to give up and get sad.

I’m telling you this to give you some context to for the following: I’ve been telling my therapist for a year that I feel lonely. I feel that loneliness is tied to my asexuality, in part because it made me limit myself in relationships and in part because moving and joining a more conservative church served to give rise to my internalised orientation-related-phobia (Acephobia? Homophobia? Queerphobia? We need a new word here).

I’ve been telling my therapist I’m lonely… not just in the kinda-wanting-company sense. But often physically craving company and getting an itchy skin because I wasn’t getting my dose of affectionate touch that week and having a broken record in my head mournfully crooning about wanting a good conversation.

Even though I do have company and I do have a supportive family and I do have friends… It wasn’t enough, by a long stretch.

We’ve tried different things. Finally screwing up the courage to go out and try dating. Seeing if I needed to do volunteer work or get a hobby and just have a low-key way to meet people. Journaling to dig up the details about how my brain works, especially given my orientation, and my prejudices and self-image.

It’s lead to some great stuff. I’ve gotten to know myself a lot better and figured more about how I do relate to people and what I would want out of a relationship, friendship, familial or romantic.

We didn’t get to the core problem, it seemed. It kept cropping up.

Finally, one session, after I was done laying out what I wished to dig into that time, she regarded me very seriously and asked, “Are you sure you’re an introvert?”

“Yes?” I said, because she has a habit of prodding at my beliefs until I have to re-examine them myself. “I mean… I crave time alone after a day around people and I’m good at entertaining myself.” And it made it easier to deal with not having many friends and a good excuse for sitting somewhere with a book by myself.

“But you keep telling me you need to be around people more and… well… you light up every time you tell me about a gathering or a meeting you went to that you liked. It charges you up even remembering the event.”

“Well….yeah. They are fun. But also hard.”

“Mostly when you’re not comfortable, right?”

“Right.”

“And when you are at ease…?”

“Best feeling in the world.”

“Hm-hm.”

I need people. As an instinctive, emotional social creature I need people. Far more than I was actually granting myself.

Having practiced with just being around people more in places I’m comfortable for low-key activities with few expectations doing things I find interesting… I have to say, this craving was far broader and far less discriminating than I thought. Yes, I’d like to date, but I don’t need to. Yes, I’d love to have good friends, but a mellow chat with someone I’ve just met is also great.

I was starving for company. Just because I was kinda quiet and socially awkward and also, yes, needed a measure of reflection, I thought I was a hell of an introvert. I’m really not.

I’m not sure whether I’m an ambivert or just a very quiet extrovert…

Just, I want to encourage you, if you’re asexual and you’ve been feeling lonely and you think it’s because you don’t have a ‘love life’… I encourage you to try other things too, you may be surprised by how many things can be satisfying and stimulating.

List of stuff I tried to start:

  • Do some work in a local cafe a couple of times a week, instead of at home.
  • A few free or low-cost events (lectures, plays, workshops) on topics I liked.
  • Take a little more initiative in meeting up with friends.
  • Take the bike more and say hello to every single person I make eye contact with (and get either responses or hilarious faces).

Featured image from:

https://keydifferences.com/difference-between-introvert-and-extrovert.html

 

 

 

An Ace Anthem

A Carnival of Aces contribution for October, theme “Asexuality and Poetry”.

PLEASE volunteer to be a host for the Carnival, if you’ve got the time! They need people!

Grace –

  1. a source of good things
  2. having a pleasing quality
  3. mercy, respite

 

An Ace Anthem

Hold fast to blessings, being ace
Thinking, without sex, what love is there?
Each one we claim grants our hearts grace

Loneliness? We’re not doomed to face
Going alone we don’t know yet where
Hold fast to blessings, being ace

Think of affections you can trace
The friends, all people for whom we care
Each one we claim grants our hearts grace

Each passion in our lives we chased
When we brightened our lives with some flare
Hold fast to blessings, being ace

Yes, we must custom design our place
In the lives of loves we wish to share
Each one we claim grants our hearts grace

Fills life to bursting, stand amazed
If courage fails you, you I dare
Hold fast to blessings, being ace
Each one we claim grants our hearts grace

Queering Closeness

Thoughts on the intersection of aromantic and polyamorous experiences

The Dancing Trans

A nonbinary dancer navigating the complexities of dance and society

A Space For Me

Sometimes, I have a lot to say

God Be With Us, Asexuals

Through the bible in 3 years as queer.

The Realm of Asexual Possibility

Ace reviews of five seasons of The X-Files

DemiConsensual: Gender, Sexuality, and Feminism in the Modern World

Making sense of all things gender, sexuality, identity, and feminist in our current culture.

Asexuality New Zealand Trust

Educating New Zealanders about asexuality.

The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project

Advocating for asexual and aromantic spectrum people in DC, Maryland, Virginia, and beyond.

Aceing It

Just an asexual college student navigating through life and sharing the ups and downs. Occasional rants included.