Category Archives: Demisexual satisfaction

Demisexual Body in Action

My contribution to the March Carnival of Aces, about physical health and bodies. Go check out all the contributions.

Explicit language about sex, though I try not to be graphic.


For twenty-five years all the landmarks of developing sexuality and romantic relationships pass me by.

I blame my impopularity, my insecurity, my anxiety, my depression.

I have a few crushes. I think those feelings are attraction.


I look at a man I have known for several years.

In disbelief I feel my lower stomach roil with heat and my groin clench. I flush.

I flee to the hallway and slide down a wall.

That was sexual attraction. Out of nowhere. Already waning.

I realise I have never, ever felt it before.

My mind explodes.


I find the word “asexual” online. I read, ferociously.

I am demisexual, I decide.

I feel highly relieved.


The general practicioner looks at me. “Are you sexually active?”



I tick the box for single on the document, on every document.


I am in Amsterdam during Pride week.

I buy a purple dress and paint flags on my hands.

No one recognises asexuality as a thing. I comfort myself with forum hopping.

Weaving through the crowds I realise the most important thing about Pride is intangible: lack of expectations.

People bring their kids to experience a place and time when anyone’s sexuality and gender can be anything and it is okay.


It is festive, but I am alone and unknown. I leave early.

On the way home I buy a black ring and put it on my right middle finger.

There, I am out.

I take a photo.


I fill out another form. Yes, I’m single, dammit.

For the first time, I want there to be a question about sexuality.


“I’ve been flirting with you for ages!”

“I honestly didn’t notice.”

“Oh my God.” Skype makes his laugh a muffled thing. “Do you like me? I mean, you were not responding, so.”

“…yeah. But. I wasn’t gonna say anything. This is online.”

“You were just gonna pine. Pathetically.”

“Well, yeah. I’m… kinda glad to be having this conversation, though.”

“Me too.”

I discover that being in love comes with heightened awareness, especially of my body in the world.

Flirting, once I’m aware, is an addictive adrenaline rush.


I feel tender, vulnerable.

I stop blogging. This is for me.


“Your vagina’s kind of narrow.”

I glare at my doctor. What part of ‘never sexually active’ was unclear?

“You never masturbate?”

I shrug. “Yeah.”

She grimaces. “This may hurt.”

She slides in the I.U.D. Aside from a dull ache, it’s fine.

Five years’ worth of birth control, installed.


Our flirting, our conversations continue.

I am shameless. I grew up in a culture open about sexuality. I see no reason to hold back.

I find my imagination has the greatest influence over my body.

Anticipation can buzz for an entire day beneath skin.

I want touch, I crave it.


The flip side, he lives in another country.

I love the attention, the banter.

I want company. I want another body, close.


The calls become explicit too, sometimes.

I delight in the celebration of body, it is so new.

I am, perhaps for the first time, interested in manly bits.

I love the touch, even imagined, even removed. Giving and taking.

I love the gaze. I love the sounds. I love the play of talk and touch and exploration and affection.


However, as it becomes more… focused, it becomes less interesting.

Reality is less without imagination fully engaged.

The more it is about just the genitals, the less my body and mind are into it.

The popping, crackling full-body fizz as we suggested, flirted, started, settles down into a low, steady buzz in my belly, depressingly familiar from masturbating.

Now, as then, orgasm is simply an end. A sudden stop to pleasant sensation, like stepping in a cold shower.

I have learned not to let that buzz culminate and tip over, but now it does.

“Did you finish?” he asks and I answer in the affirmative.

I do not fake that, but I fake how it makes me feel.

I fear he notices.

We end that call and I curl up wanting to cry.

Orgasms do not work as advertised and I want an afterglow badly.

The foreplay is not supposed to be the highlight, dammit.


When I start counting in months, I feel his physical absence acutely.

The difference with friendship turns out to be the level of preoccupation and the territoriality that comes with it.

He is a missing limb, in my thoughts but never under my hands.


We drift apart. His disinterest grows and I become stiffer the longer I want more than I can have.


I move.

I start babysitting, for some money.

Children, I discover, like touch, especially when they can dictate it.

Since touch has always equaled affection in my family, it is very, very easy to love the kids.

I also discover babysitting can stop from one day to the next.

The first time it ends I cry for several days on the couch, I simply think I am sad.

The second time was longer, much worse, and I realise how much more territorial I was over kids than even a romantic partner. Even when I knew they were not mine.

I am preternaturally aware of my womb for several months.

After the third time is bad, so bad, I swear off babysitting.


I fill out another form. I tick single, and no, for sexually active.


A year in my new town, I finally feel comfortable to start touching the people I have come to know.

A hug, a supporting hand.

I do not realise just how much it relaxes me until I am asked what’s made me so cheerful.


I meet my new doctor.

“I am not sexually active, no. I am on the asexual spectrum.”

She gives me a weird look at my wide, wide smile.


Two years seems to be the mark for me to be settled enough to start feeling attracted to people.

A grinning woman, oozing charisma and feminity, makes me weirdly cheerful and want to stare like a creepy stalker.

At the coffeestore, to make it more cliche.

No flush, no buzz, though. No desire to touch.

Oh, oh. Aesthetic attraction, I realise. For a real, live person.


I meet a young woman, single.

She is going to be a foster parent.

It is a revelation. Many ways lead to Rome. I need not take the most common one.


My anxiety hits me over the head again, out of nowhere.

My sex drive remains. I still feel the occasional attraction, mostly aesthetic or romantic, once even the flush of sexual.

I blamed all the wrong things when I was young.

I am demisexual, and it is simply my nature, not a symptom.


I have tried to cover all the feelings that relate to my body and are encompassed by my demisexuality.

This is not a complete account, I have chosen to include the first (or only) time I felt or acted on certain attractions.

I decided to leave out times when that attraction was not directed at a real person but a fictional character, especially since sexuality seems to function very differently in imagined and real scenarios.


Questioning the partner selection process


The starting point: a TED talk by Helen Fisher on romantic love that is part of my reading up on sexuality.

I perk up five minutes in.

“I began to realize that romantic love is not an emotion. In fact, I had always thought it was a series of emotions, from very high to very low. But actually, it’s a drive.” (5:27)


My notes, based on what she says –

Three drives – three parts of the process

  • Sex drive – to notice – select people to have a relationship with from a crowd
  • Romantic drive – to focus – exaggerated attention, behaviour and emotion towards a specific person
  • Attachment drive – to remain – a stable bundle of affection, attraction and behaviour towards a person to whom one has committed.

(May trigger in any order – important later)


I hesitate, then make a second list.

  • If sex drive not(/rarely) triggered – asexual? – alternative selection process?
  • If romantic drive not triggered – aromantic? – alternative method for focusing on specific person(s)?
  • Attachment drive – independent from either


In the first flush of ideas of what it could potentially mean, the sweeping click-click-click of possible patterns, I dream big. Research statements for bold, new discoveries.

Attachment drive independent becomes –

The potential succes of relationships that asexual and aromantic people start is entirely independent from their romantic or sexual orientation.

Sex drive / romantic drive not triggered becomes –

Asexual or aromantic people formulate alternative methods to select and court potential partners from (zed/allo)sexual or -romantic people.

Alternative methods perhaps implies –

Asexual or aromantic people use methods to select and focus on partners similar to those they use to select and notice people to form other sorts of relationships with.


As I am writing reality trickles back in.

2018, not 1998.

Not Terra Incognita. Just new to me.

I sigh and go to add questions to my subjects-to-read-up-on list.


Demisexuality means this: sex drive may trigger simultaneously with or after attachment has formed.

This is why I may be dismissed: these drives do not necessarily trigger in order for anyone.

Attachment may come before sexual attraction for anyone. Romantic feelings may come before sexual attraction.


Asexuality: sex drive exists, but is irrelevant.

This is why I dislike being dismissed: I have been sexually attracted, in passing, to only half a dozen people in my lifetime. Other feelings, however, I have felt far more often.

Alternative methods are developed.


If one chooses to try for a relationship. If. Or it happens accidentally.



I am amatonormative, (and heteronormative?).

Aware, but still stuck with these trappings.


Progress. Not answers, but some questions to ask.

  • How do I select anyone I wish to know better from among strangers?
  • How, from that point, do they become friends or a potential partner?
  • What makes that difference for me?
  • How do I become territorial or obsessive over people for a time?
  • What emotions/attractions/behaviour/thoughts overflow if one person preoccupies me?
  • What does attachment look like for me (if I have enough data to say)?
  • What are my alternative methods?
  • What are others’ alternative methods?
  • Do we see a difference in our brain, do we have something that lights up instead of the regular instincts?


I begin and discard several blog entries entitled The Three Drives.

I know too little yet, about brains, about sexuality in brains.

About myself.


What questions do I elect to answer first?


Also progress, no need to go back and edit impersonal “we” and “you” back into “I”.


I think, therefore I am.

Demisexual. Questioning. Discovering.

Delighting in it.

Sexually-liberated-modern-woman self versus demisexual self


I read a book on feminism, women and desire, femininity and sexuality. Another. And another.

My head gets stuck, thinking. I confuse several people with my doubts, speaking of it.

What does it mean, I wonder, I ask the page. For a demisexual. Or cross out demi and insert whatever applies.

Sexual freedom on the asexual spectrum. Liberated. How? What does that even mean?

I realise, exactly that.

Freedom, to be a complete individual with honest desires. No more and no less than what I am.

A shape of desires unique to me. To explore.


The freedom to explore. The myth – until I believe it, until it is fact – that I am worth an exploration. A sort of Grand Tour of the sexual world in words… until I come home.

Where I belong, with words and language that I shape.

To word the shape of myself, this new thing.

Take a bucket list. Cross out what I – only I, not what-I-should-be – don’t want to try. Keep what I do want.

The freedom, to edit later, how I worded myself first. To evolve, too, in the shape of my desire.


The desires I have, not what-I-should-be.

Should. A standard. A standard that is meaningless, if the world still assumes humans are all sexual.


I am free to deny. Liberated to say no. Or maybe. Or a little bit. Or very rarely, with that someone I meet once in a blue moon.

Maybe, in a few years, I’ll desire you that way. I will not desire you now. This is okay.


I am free. Yet.

It is a freedom that is an ideal, itself a desire. A freedom that takes years, to reshape myself gradually after that first break from being sexual.

A freedom that can be lonely, because “no, nothing, thanks, I’ll sit here, quietly” can be easier than a full reshaping of the self until it can be said: “This, this is what I do want.”

To dare say.


But, I want. I want to word myself positively. I want to be free. I want to speak in desires.

I want more than to simply say: I want no sex, I seldom want sex, I want sex very rarely with maybe this person in that circumstance.


I feel I am bursting at the seems with want. For a full partnership, for love, for a future.

Sex, the thing unwanted, seems paltry.

I do not want to live defined by that.


So, I attempt words. I try to reshape the self. I strive for the positive, for the wanting.

The freedom to desire only what I want. No more, no less.

The freedom for words, for actions, unpunished. Room to speak. Room to grow.

The desire for acceptance, for fulfillment.


A life in freedom.

A self free to desire.

Desires freely worded.

Freely denied, too.


A freedom that only invites and does not demand.

Isn’t that desirable?

I can unite my desires and my freedom. I will.

I want to, to reconcile these, and have words.

I Want Your Love (No Regrets)

Got Valentine on the brain.

I do not want your naughty bits
I don’t want any sex
I do not want your dirty talk
No beast with the two backs

I do not want your nakedness
I do not want you bare
Unless you wish to sunbathe too
Unless you wish to share

I do not want your fondling
I do not want your touch
Unless you lack attraction too
Want cuddles just as much

I really want your loving, though
I really want your heart
I really want to love you too
I really want to start

I really want to share a life
I really want your mind
I want to know just what you think
Return that trust in kind

I really want to know the joy
I really want to court
To buy the roses down the street
Cook food that you adore

I want your love and no regrets
Society can fuck off
To love you, honestly myself
True love, so help me God

Demisexual Physicality

For my contribution to January’s Carnival of Aces, I hope to explore how my sexuality impacted my view of my physical self. Sex and gender feature obliquely. A person is much more, and I hope I can delve a little into those deeper layers.

First, words

Being demisexual means, to me, that my lust or arousal is triggered very rarely, and always, only, within the context of a pre-existing significant emotional connection, whether the person on the receiving end is real or fictional. On a day-to-day basis, this means I experience the world stripped of all sexual connotations and subtext, the way we imagine only a child can. I know it’s there, the same way I know the planet is round. As an intellectual point of interest only.

Physicality, for the purposes of this post, is the sense or experience of the body. Body image. The experiencing of sensory input. Bodily contact, movement. The material part of myself.


Here’s where sexuality and gender played the biggest role.

As a woman I often saw – see – my body in third person. Subject to the approving eyes of others, which made shopping a harrowing experience when I let the insecurities get to me. I wasn’t particularly aware of it, until a large part of those doubts disappeared.

Redefining my sexuality meant I wasn’t obligated to feel love or lust like others anymore. There was a new normal that gradually asserted itself.

What I didn’t expect was for that ball to bounce back. I stopped imaging my own body as attractive or sexy. It became a (much less sexual) collection of all the features that remained. Healthy, tall, cold or hot, numb or sensitive, tired or brimming with energy.

Other people’s view of me became just that, somebody else’s problem. I sloughed off much of the fear and worry with losing that objectivation. My physical person turned into a tool to experience myself and the world as it was.

If I still step outside myself it is with much more enjoyment. My wardrobe is far, far more varied. Dressing myself has become an exercise in gender performance* or practical consideration or deliberate presentation.


The asexual community was really good for me when it came to deconstructing concepts such as relationships and attraction, how these aren’t simple, how these aren’t the same for us. How they might be different for each individual, in fact.

Thing is, I don’t have much to go on. I don’t feel attraction often, I haven’t a big history of many relationships that I cannot sort into easy categories like “friends” and “family”. So beyond some self-examination and speculation, it’s not a productive place for me to go.

However, I do have a fully functioning body. What’s that doing, then, if it’s not feeling the lust other adults do? Cause I certainly don’t feel frigid, or like a mind in some earthly prison. I am much happier now than I ever was with my body, in fact.

Turns out it’s just… experiencing the world. Sunshine on skin. Fresh food for tastebuds. Physical exercise for stretching muscles and losing energy. Good music for the ears.

I was grounded in my senses like any other human being. It should have been self-evident, perhaps, but it was a revelation. Because once I knew, I could do it more deliberately. And the world is a fantastic place. Who knew?


I feel I have been told: being asexual means you’re less happy because you cannot experience that ultimate completion of the ultimate connection between human beings that is the sexual act for expressing romantic love. Accepting asexuality, or demisexuality, means that – on some level – you will be alone. I feel I have been told a lie.

We probably cannot fulfill – and must redefine – some societal expectations and our normative role, within our cultures. True. We will probably need to be braver to find what we seek, and seek longer than the average Joe. True.


I cannot love more or less for having redefined myself. I do not seek less affection from my peers and my family and my community.

In fact, I seek more. I find more. Because, get this, I finally know what I want. Having my world stripped of all the illusions that came with thinking myself heterosexual, means a haze of confusion that isolated me from others is gone.

For example, I feel (fear?) that I’m rarely going to have a sexual or romantic partner. I also know I want physical affection. Just because repeated experience tells me I feel better for having it. So I dare to cross some of those lines that my individualistic society draws, and hug, and touch, within the context of all the platonic relationships I have. What I find if I dare is, most people respond, often smiling, in kind.

I know that I want to feel good things, and together with someone. So I simply go do stuff I like, and bring some company. Intimacy and shared experience achieved.

And yes, that’s simplification, but the lesson I am learning remains, which is, I want stuff from people, together with people, and often they’re simple, about touch and company and intimacy, and there are many ways to get those things. And because it’s all about finding ways to love people and be loved, this journey of discovery is in and of itself enjoyable.


I hope I have been able to give you a glimpse of how discovering my sexuality has had – by and large – a positive impact on how experience my body, in relation to itself, the world and others. I am very curious to hear how your sexuality has impacted you, on this and other levels.

It’s a subjective experience, and one that evolves, but I do believe it’s a significant one. For me, at least, it’s meant a lot to have an ace spectrum along which I could (re)define myself. It’s given me back my body in ways I didn’t even know I’d lost it. I hope it’s helped you in some ways too.


*I hope I’m not overstepping any bounds here, but I feel that, even being a cisgender female, there are days when I am, if you will, more or less feminine (and in Dutch female and feminine would be the same word, here (vrouwelijk)). It plays a significant role in what I put on in terms of clothing, jewelry, make-up, hairstyle, how I walk, and yes, sometimes even influences my choice of activity, or is influenced by my choice of activity perhaps, I’m not sure. The biggest deal – for me – was how much of this remains once sexual subtext/connotations were taken out of the equation, and it’s all the more enjoyable for it.

What sexiness is

So after reading up on sexiness… This post and all those it links:

I realised, I’m unaccustomed to thinking of myself as sexy, and as nice as it is to be appreciated that way… it’s made me rather self-consciousness. Especially since I rarely consider anything visual sexy myself, as in causing the buzz in my mind and lower body that’s a precursor to desire or causing attraction.

So,  as celebration and affirmation, here’s a list of what I find sexy.

Minds. Interesting bubbles of humanity. I could be delighted by them and revel in them all the livelong day.

Acts-ideas-agents. The trifecta of the body’s input, the mind’s input and the heart’s input. Done right, any input that works on all three levels and is contextualised as “sexy” can get really intense. Charged.

Sensation. Touch. Just. Works.

So, considering all that, am I sexy? All of the sexiness I perceive is based in interaction, preferably the reciprocal kind. It’s rather hard for me to consider it a personal quality.

Although… If a person is the source of much of it… It does tend to get associated with him. So, perhaps, after being sexy with a person for a while they become it, by association.

Freedom for a Demisexual

Contains non-graphic mentions of sex and desire.

I desire, more to the point, I desire someone.

It’s neither the easy, mostly romantic crushes I’ve had before. It’s not uneasy romantic-and-sexual attraction I have little experience with or even just fumbling around because I think I feel something. I want this to go somewhere.

The difference is huge. Like trying to go down the highway in fifth gear instead of first. Where before I rarely wished to go up the ramp to speed down that road, I want to now, because I feel I could just hurtle along at close to a hundred miles an hour. Sixty should not be a problem. All just because I want this now, with a person. It’s an odd sensation, and in and of itself enjoyable.

Being at this point, I can also say: I am so very glad I explored my identity.

I have words for what I want in a relationship. I can explain how I want to fulfill my desires, how they arise and how they are best satisfied. I can do this in relaxed late-night conversations because I possess the language and lack the shame.

No, I haven’t talked sexual identity. That’d need a load more trust on my end. I am still in the closet to most people.

Still, it’s good, with a specific partner, just to be able to trace out a road map of what I want with them. What I’ve wanted in general. How it matches their desires. What I’ve done and not.

At once the freedom to have sex and talk about it and the freedom to not have (had) it when I don’t want it.

You’ll notice I have omitted gender. ‘s one of the biggest adaptations I made to how I think of relating to another person in any context. Gender plays a role, to some degree, but like sexual attraction comes secondary to who a person is, for me.

The same goes for the divide between a platonic, romantic and sexual relationship… These relationships have become less… other… from each other. Rather, they act on bunches of different levels, and which levels they operate on develops. Depends on the person, the progress of the relationship, the desires of both (or several) people in the relationship.

Yes, the current one happens to be of the opposite gender, the next one likely will be. But honestly, when it could be one month or five years before I desire another this intensely, and I can’t even know whether I’ll desire them romantically or sexually or both or on another level altogether… The categories are… less relevant.

I do not… lack anything, as I was afraid I would.

I am free to be demisexual, and to me it works like this:

I am attracted to another person, in their entirety. My mind will run ahead of my body. Fantasy, before act. Friend, before lover. Mental as well as emotional as well as physical connection. When it comes, the attraction is intense, and the configuration of desire which I feel and express is unique to each person and each relationship.

A Reader’s Fantasies

Be warned, somewhat explicit stuff. Third part of the three-parter for the September Carnival of Aces.

A big part of my (sexual) identity’s always been what I read and imagine. Basically, all of the stories I consume and produce, all of the worlds I’ve lived in, however fleetingly. They allow me to be more than what I am in my daily life and experience more than what I’d be into in actual fact.

The first twenty-five years of my life I did not feel sexual attraction. I wasn’t actually sure of or interested in this fact until after I did experience it and became aware I hadn’t before that point. A large part of it is a rise in confidence and emotional comfort. I do believe this is due to my demisexuality, that emotional well-being affects whatever capacity for a sex drive I have and attraction I can feel indirectly. Crudely put, if I cannot put myself out there, I cannot let others in well enough to form the emotional bond that precedes sexual attraction.

I did have a very rich fantasy life. I read far and wide. I imagined all sorts of scenarios. What drew me to them, I think, was the idea of being that close to a person, a craving for physical sensations and new experiences. They did a little for me, sexually, but never gave rise to more than mild arousal.

It has deeply affected how I experience sex now that I do have a libido. Physical stimulation’s mostly window dressing. I depend almost entirely on mental stimulation. I can and have masturbated fully clothed in public without moving an inch while others presumed me to be staring out a window, bored. I’m also far more easily attracted to fictional characters because they give rise to a deep connection almost immediately, especially if they’re the point of view character.

On the other hand, discovering demisexuality and experiencing sexual attraction to a handful of real-life people has started to affect what I wish to read and fantasise about. I no longer crave the idea of being close to people now that I can be for real, even if it’s platonically. The physical sensations seem less important and few concepts are new or stimulating anymore.

Instead, I’ve started to retrace what I could be attracted to in real life. Romantic relationships rich in emotional intimacy. Ensemble stories that explore friendships and being part of a group. Crushes in which the sexual component is small or comes later or even not at all, to see what in the range between platonic and highly sexual I’d ever be interested in.

It’s made for an interesting change in reading material. It’s also made for interesting fantasies that, were they movies, probably wouldn’t even shock a five-year-old. They arouse less, but engage my interest in far more areas at once, which suits me better.

I Want to Have Sex Like… Torchwood, Day One

Trigger warning for mentions of sex acts, including non-consensual ones. Also, spoilers ahoy!

Torchwood teamI have a few movies and TV series I want rewatch to write posts for this series. Something in them taught me more about attraction and love. Today’s subject is not on that list. I was happily surprised by it when I rewatched an episode recently.

Torchwood was a nice change of pace from Doctor Who, its parent series. Cardiff a nice change from London, in characters’ accents and setting. The intergalactic conman and his team a nice change from the madman in the box and his single companion. It didn’t leave much of an impression then, but I have to say I’m liking it better now.

The series was hailed as an important step forward for queer representation in mainstream media, mostly because of the character Captain Jack Harkness and its actor, John Barrowman. Its fans were stoked to have a canon slash pairing. The series was meant to go into all the adult themes impossible in Doctor Who and its other spin-off, the Sarah Jane Adventures.

The story

The first episode introduces the team of secret agents that clean up after an space-time rift running through Cardiff, which spits out intergalactic junk. Gwen, newbie with empathy. Owen, cranky doctor. Toshiko, tech whiz. Ianto, sassy butler.

The second episode, Day One, dives right into the first adult theme, sex. I’d written it off as a mediocre attempt at an overdone cliché: a femme fatale alien to shock the prudes in the audience and titillate the rest. And yes, there’s some of that, but it offered a surprisingly nuanced view of how attraction and sexuality works. I wanted to pick out and examine those newly-discovered good bits.

Torchwood Day One GasIn it, a rock falls to Earth, Gwen throws a chisel and on accident releases a cloud of gas from it while the team examines it. The cloud possesses Carys, a twenty-something leaving a tear-filled voicemail to a married boyfriend. Carys becomes a succubus who roofies people with sex chemicals and dusts guys the moment they climax. The team needs to catch her before she kills again.

Sexualised society

“Yeah, that’s what it can feel like,” I thought. A club scene that’s a platform for casual hooking up, complete with voyeuristic manager. A walk through streets with posters full of sexual objectification. A guy cheating on his wife with a younger girl. All of it presented as both normal and alien and on the edge of disturbing. That’s so totally how freaky sex’s presence can be, if it does not excite you at all. Society’s mostly harmless, but sometimes it can exhibit sex the way a haunted house exhibit ghosts.

Torchwood Day One OrgasmTo this world travelled an alien, basically as a sex tourist. Except that the humans dying in orgasm are more like a hit from a powerful drug, the way she describes it. Each time it’s less powerful, so she escalates, as a serial killer or an addict would. The alien breaks down Carys’s body slowly, the way an unending high or hormonal imbalance would.

In sharp contrast stand Gwen and Jack. Gwen with her domestic boyfriend she’s on a date with at the start of the episode, and whose phone call quite literally helps her get over the alien’s thrall. She symbolises the majority’s experience of a good sex and love life. She’s challenged in this episode. Jack, on the other hand, represents a much broader view of sexuality, in dismissing his colleagues as “you people and your quaint little categories” and flirting with everyone for fun or profit.

Objectification and consensuality

Gwen’s questioning of Carys turns into a Katy Perry moment, when she enters the cell to help and is kissed instead. The alien stops when she realises Gwen’s the wrong gender for the succubus’ deadly sex drug hit. This overriding of people’s sexuality continues in a later scene, when a guy proclaims he’s gay before being consumed by the alien anyway. The alien’ roofie power works, regardless of gender and orientation.

Another interesting twist is that it’s not a guy who’s committing sexual violence, but a woman. A woman who is herself a victim of the alien possessing her. It’s made clear it’s not okay, for example by the delivery guy she pulls into her house who’s not into it, and later the guys at the fertility clinic when she first approaches them.

Torchwood Day One GazeAlso present is the dismissal of the non-consensual aspect by the presence of the male gaze, first in the questioning of the night club owner who viewed Carys and her first victim. Owen even comments “he’d love to go like that”. Later by Owen and Jack drooling over Carys french-kissing Gwen before Toshiko points out they should really rescue her. They’d have been too late.

And this is where it gets good. When Owen teases Gwen she slams him into the wall, grabs him by the throat and demands he stop it. She makes it clear that the kiss disturbed her not because it was with a girl, but because it was a non-consensual act, just like it was for the possessed Carys.

So this one episode manages to address several aspects of sexual violence. That going against a person’s orientation’s not the most important reason to be angry it happens nor a protection against sexual violence. That it happens to men, which is as bad as when it happens to women but generally dismissed. That the male gaze, when in play, glosses over whether consent happened and can do much harm, even when, in Owen’s view, he’s just poking a little fun. And most importantly, that the victim is often treated as object, rather than a person, the way Carys is during this investigation.

This last message gets a ham-handed treatment. Gwen lectures the team about losing their humanity and attempting to profile Carys as if she’s in a Criminal Minds episode. As a result, that message is the most clear and the least palatable. I like the way the rest is handled better.

Sexuality and sexual freedom

Rather than attempting to say sex is right or wrong, the episode attempts to point out the right and wrong ways to have it. One’s represented by the alien representing Carys, in all its deadly sexual violence. The other’s represented by Rhys and Gwen, as a regular couple in an established relationship that makes a good counterbalance for this new, demanding job she’s taking on. It’s also represented by Jack, who likes to kick 21st century hang-ups about sexuality in the teeth with flirting and racy comments, all the while respecting people’s actual limits and being quite the gentleman at times.

The first episode sets up a mutual romantic crush between Jack and Gwen. He’s the romantic, mysterious hero for her. She’s the symbol of humanity and empathy for him. For Gwen it coexists uncomfortably with her relationship with Rhys because monogamy. For Jack it coexists comfortably with his later relationship with Ianto but goes unfulfilled. I’m somewhat unclear as to whether they are sexually attracted to one another. I’d say yes on Gwen’s end, on Jack’s end I’m not sure… I’d say it’s a platonic crush which actually makes him a little uncomfortable, seeing as how he’s mostly sexually attracted to people and rarely on an emotional level, and the last time it ended badly and he got a case of eternal life out of the deal, after which he’s had to watch people he loved die without him. Guy’s got some issues.

Team lunchOne scene, a team lunch, neatly captures the reactions people can have to a non-standard sexuality like Jack’s, which is either omnisexuality or pansexuality. Gwen, as the newbie, is shocked to be talking about it. Owen speculates he’s gay, because he’s not straight and dresses in period military clothes. It’s a rather binary and stereotypical view. Ianto appears dismissive. Tosh comes closest, declaring he’s shag anything gorgeous enough. The conversation’s short and treated as exchanging gossip between colleagues which is where the topic’d come up.

Sex is not special

In short, sex is treated as a power for good and for harm, that occupies people’s attention and really, that they obsess over too much and have too many hang-ups over, when you really don’t have to. If Carys is taken as a representative of all that’s bad in sex, it’s to say that consent and respecting a person are important. Gwen’s the representative of sex as part of a relationship and a healthy work-life balance most people attempt to have. Jack’s a walking challenge to current sexual morality. So far, so good, but also pretty typical.

One line that seemed bleak last time now struck me as powerful, even hopeful.

“Travel halfway across the universe for the greatest sex, you still end up dying alone.”

Gwen kisses JackIn other words, it’s not special, not worth all the grief. It’s underlined by Gwen giving Jack a chaste kiss as a thank-you, not sexual but meaningful. For Gwen, it’s a momentary break from her traditional monogamy. For Jack, it’s connecting physically and emotionally to a person in a way he rarely does.

It’s a small little moment that tied all the themes in the episode into a neat bow for me. That sex isn’t meaningful, but the connecting of two people is and yes, sex might be one of the means to that end. As a person on the asexual spectrum, that’s what made me love the episode, not just enjoy it.

It’s a view of sex that helps if you aren’t having it or don’t desire to have it at all. After all, if there’s one way to connect people, there’s plenty of others to choose from as well. It’s also a view of sex that helps if you are having it, but don’t necessarily feel any attraction. It’s still, meaningful, as long as it helps you connect to the other person.


Far More Intimacy in Liberty

Shhh, I am dreaming.

The Dam in Amsterdam

In the shadow now, but where will we be in the future?

Of a time after we’ve restored the actual relationship to its proper place as the thing that is defined by itself, rather than by some of its probable features, sex, romance, marriage, children…

Of a place where we have no limits to how sex and sexuality works in our minds, and only enough rules to moderate our behaviour by what does not harm others…

Of a culture in which the full variety of friendships and platonic relationships, from quick and companiable to deep and lifelong has been restored and accepted and verbalised…

Of a community in which we can relate as easily to God and other people as we wish, without narrow hoops to jump and big blind spots that hide so many of us…

Of people who are alright in their relationships and can find what intimacy they wish, without restriction or misunderstanding, having the words to communicate what they wish…

I dream of opening the door to the full variety of relationships we could have, that asexuality hints at by its existence. because through asexuality we are crossing out the word “essential” before all of the features we thought intimate relationships should have and replacing it with “possible”, and adding a whole host of features we have forgotten, all of the attractions and intimacies asexuality has barely started to (re)discover and name.

Asexual, Aromantic, Agender

Ace Film Reviews

Asexuality goes to the movies

Prismatic Entanglements

dew-covered spider web of metaphorical condensed thoughts


An autistic, asexual, gender neutral person exploring life beyond the gender binary.

Reflective Ace

Reflections on identity and other stuff

Beauty In Bundles

Reviews, beauty, random musings, oh my!