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All the birds but us… – April Carnival of Aces Call for Submissions

Hail, brave content creators, welcome to the April edition of the Carnival of Aces. With the spring equinox behind us, Passover and Easter upon us and April Fool’s day tomorrow and everything around us blooming and reproducing… Well, no time like the present to feel melancholy. Or cheerful. One of the two.

This month’s theme’s inspired by a medieval Flemish-Dutch sentence:

Hebban olla vogala nestas hagunnan hinase hic enda thu[,] wat unbidan we nu[?]

All the birds have begun nests except me and you, what are we still waiting for?

Penned in the 1100 by a monk, probably to test his quill, it’s the oldest sample of my native language. It’s always struck a chord.

Rarely does a shift in orientation work out in a person’s life according to expectations. We wander into such wildly unexpected and unknown futures.

I think we need those stories.

So the question for this month:

How did your (a)sexual and (a)romantic orientations impact your (expected or imagined) future?

Prompts to help the creative juices flow (feel free to deviate):

  • All the (other) birds:
        • Was there a clear or typical path in life that you decided to diverge from, when others didn’t?
  • My nest:
        • What life have you begun to build since your (a)sexual and (a)romantic orientations changed?
  • Except me and you:
        • If you had to sketch a potential life or partner or relationship or family, what are some of the ingredients that make it a good, safe, peaceful and/or joyful prospect?
        • You’ve decided you do not wish for a partner and may find fulfilment in your life through alternative means, please share!
  • Still waiting
        • What expectations for your life are you uncertain about or struggling with after having discovered your (a)sexual and/or (a)romantic orientations?

To submit:

  • Leave a link to your contribution, be it post or vlog or art piece, in the comments.
  • Send your contribution to my email: demiandproud@gmail.com so I can host it on my blog.
  • Leave your thoughts on one of the prompts in the comments.

Please do let me know if you’ve contributed somehow, I do wish to honour all the awesomeness. If you have specific preferences for pronouns and/or descriptions for your submission, let me know those as well, please. Late submissions added throughout May.

Associated posts, links to be added as they appear:

 

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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.

I

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.

II

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.

III

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

I am demisexual, I decide.

I feel highly relieved.

IV

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

“No.”

V

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

VI

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.

VII

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.

VIII

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

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

IX

“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.

X

I feel tender, vulnerable.

I stop blogging. This is for me.

XI

“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.

XII

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.

XIII

The flip side, he lives in another country.

I love the attention, the banter.

I want company. I want another body, close.

XIV

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.

XV

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.

XVI

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.

XVII

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

XVIII

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.

XIX

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

XX

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.

XXI

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.

XXII

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.

XXIII

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.

XXIV

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.

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.

A Christian’s Love

Part two of the three-parter for the September Carnival of Aces.

I could write a thousand posts about future fears or current worries concerning my religion and my sexuality. I could show you a thousand shades of theology and at some point, I will get to examining helpful ways of uniting the discourses of Christianity and asexuality.

For today, though, allow me to take you to the real intersection of those identities, where personal faith meets demisexuality, in the heart. The full measure of what the greatest command, love others like yourself, does to me.

I am human. A potential for terrible sin and a potential for awesome goodness coexist inside me, wrapped in a fragile body. In order to be the best flawed mortal I can be, at any given time, I need to be able to accept myself fully, while knowing the worst of what I am. I also strive to do what good I can without crossing my limits or forgetting to enjoy it. I love myself.

If demisexual is what I am, I should discover and accept that part of myself and work to incorporate in into my person and express it honestly.

Everyone is human. Each person a creature of unimaginable complexity and incalculable worth. Each person an agent for good and evil. Each capable of empathy, of imagination, of intelligence and stupidity. Each needing other humans to love and to be loved. Each worthy of time and expense and relationships. Each both powerful and limited by society, by their own minds, by circumstance. Each an other to be loved.

Everyone should be loved and gender and sexual identities should not limit that, as they do now. We should explore all the different ways we can love and practice those that suit us.

Everything is creation. Even the smallest slice of science highlights a reality wondrous beyond our wildest dreams. As much as we say, open-minded as we are, our perceptions are limited and limiting and the greatest and scariest thing is to walk beyond them and discover something new.

Confronted with an unfamiliar aspect to humanity, such as asexuality in all its shades and variations, the best I can do is to discover it and understand its implications.

I am a human amongst others, in a creation vaster than I know. And I know that the best I can do, here, now, is to love others as I love myself. For those I love, it means I need to love them well. For strangers, it means I need to accept them as beings with an equal worth to myself, deserving of the same empathy, the same consideration as I, whoever and whatever they are. For my enemies, it means I can wish better for them and work to mitigate whatever evil is committed.

Loving myself, loving others, is ever evolving, always a work in progress, and always worth doing, always rewarding. I can work up hate over what’s wrong in the world or work to clear the path and appreciate that which is good and strange when it comes my way. I choose the latter.

I am mortal. I cannot do as much good as should be done. I cannot love everyone equally. I have no control over the world, over each group, or even completely over myself.

I will stumble over my own prejudice and privilege, fear others’ disapproval over my sexuality and regularly be tied up into knots over whatever mistakes I made. But when I fall, and I will, there is so much to get up for and discover.

I can love myself. I can love others. I can love all of it and it’s best life I could wish for, whatever shape it takes.

I am demisexual, and if I was thus created, who am I to tell God it’s not good? The same goes for the way others are.

A Demisexual’s Life

Another multiparter for a Carnival of Aces, this one for the September edition, about living asexuality and experience… so I wanted to share a little of my current experiences as a demisexual, and in the next two posts, about how my Christian faith and avid reading have affected my experience of my sexuality.

I identify comfortably as demisexual, as belonging to the “rarely to never sexually attracted to another person” part of the population. I have constructed a foundation. On it, I can build an understanding of my interest and behaviour towards potential significant others. I can see the consequences of my deviating desires on a personal, social, moral, intellectual and spiritual level.

Building that understanding will continue during my lifetime and beyond, since it happens within a community and orientation only now defining its vocabulary and parameters. Nevertheless, it’s boon to my mind, which demands to know itself, and to my soul, which is relieved to love itself a little more. Most though to my conscience and curiosity, pleased to understand the human condition a little better and thus improved its capacity to act and explore and dream.

I have spoken of my demisexuality to my closest family. I have spoken of asexuality to some open-minded strangers. Living life as demisexual has affected me, even in the span of a few months. I want to look at the changes it’s wrought.

AtypicalI’ve always conceived of myself as part of a formless crowd, where sexuality is concerned. The post-modern open-minded heterosexual, or something. I’m really not, now. I feel I’ve wandered out into a far field, overgrown and only crossed by a few. It’s made my exploration of my sexuality relevant beyond personal discovery, which helps to keep me writing. It’s also scary, to be other, even in a small way, which keeps me quiet for now, but also researching.

Shameless – I’ve shed the need to feel anything when presented with a sexual cue. I may or may not feel something and that’s okay. It means I feel free to act in a sexualised context as I do in any other, which will probably make me a bit weird but mostly makes me more comfortable. It also means I’m leaning more towards indifference about sex than I thought I was. At the same time, it’s allowing me to discover what I actually do like.

Aware – I haven’t felt the need to educate myself as acutely in years. Here were aspects of identity and experience essential to people’s sense of self, and I had no idea. I’m still learning and I’m loving it. All of the new words, all of the new concepts!

Lonely – The largest and most recent discovery, or more an articulation of a formerly indistinct and un-articulated desire: I want. Not sex, but I have a longing for connection and company and intimacy usually associated with sex and relationships with a sexual component. I’m still discovering how I want to fill that gap exactly.

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.

Images

http://summerskin.flight-of-fancy.net/caps/torchwood/102/Torchwood%201×02%200412.jpg
http://noisetosignal.org/images/posts/torch2_gas.jpg
http://i245.photobucket.com/albums/gg76/GadflyRage/torchwood/dayone/dayone03.jpg
http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100505163253/tardis/images/a/a4/S1Promos-0001.jpg
http://a4.l3-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/137/95861d4fd1144869b7bdbeb0390ae3b6/l.jpg
http://www.orgonebox.org/allegoric/wp-content/gallery/torchwood/torchwood-day-one/torchwood_day_one_(11).jpg

The Princess Guide to Love In My Life

a.k.a. the (a)sexuality talk for five-year-olds, a contribution for the Carnival of Aces, August 2015.

Because when I thought long and hard about what I’d want for asexuality in the future, and for my own demisexuality, the best answer I could give was “explain it well to a kid, even if it’s just one.” This is written as a demisexual female adult speaking to a female child, feel free to adapt to other genres, sexual orientations and/or genders.

Questions that may start this conversation:

“Aunt, why don’t you have a boyfriend?”

“When are you going to have babies?”

“Mommy says you’re single. What’s single? Why are you single?”

Your gut reaction may be to wave off the question or give a short answer. It could be a good opportunity, if you have time and the relationship, to teach the child(ren) a little bit.

Step 1: Romantic/sexual love

You’ve got different kinds of love.

You love your mom and your dad. You love your friends. Some you play with every day, some only at school.

Then there’s the kind of love that makes you want to share your whole life with someone, like your mom and your dad, or a prince and a princess who live happily ever after.

Here’s room to discuss whatever questions or associations pop into the kid’s mind, which might be none, and might be myriad and most likely entirely out of the left field. It’s good to ground the concept of a relationship in their frame of reference, e.g. people they know or movies or series they’ve seen.

Right, so I’m a girl, like you, who can love people in different ways.

Step 2: Sexual orientations

As a girl you can love boys, then you’re heterosexual.

As a girl you can love girls, then you’re lesbian.

As a girl you can love boys and girls, then you’re bisexual.

As a girl you can love no one like that, then you’re asexual.

If a princess wants to marry, they usually marry a prince.

Sometimes they want to marry another princess, or no one at all.

Sometimes they love a prince first, but then a princess.

Here, again, it’s good to pause and answer questions, and maybe explain concepts they’re struggling to grasp. I’m choosing to reference Storms’ model here because it lets itself be divided into four relatively easy to grasp categories.

Step 3: Asexual life

I’m asexual, sort of, so I won’t love anyone like that, except sometimes.

Sometimes, when I’m really good friends with someone, I can fall in love with them.

Asexual people are a little special.

Some of them will marry and have a family.

Some of them only want to kiss, sometimes.

Some of them will live alone and have friends and family.

Some of them just want to live together with someone.

So they can live together like your mom and dad.

They can also live together like really, really good best-friends-forever.

So they can live together almost like a normal prince and princess, except maybe they don’t kiss.

They can also live together like two princesses who just really want to go on adventures together.

I’m handwaving the difference between romantic love and sexual attraction, and between having a relationship and marriage. The older the child, the better these distinctions can be made, but for a younger child, I just really want to get down the basic possibilities: who you can love, how you want to spend your life together with someone.

Here’s room again for questions, adapt definitions as appropriate to fit the audience too. But I do think the steps are important, especially this last one. Don’t forget that they did ask a question:

4. Answer their questionprincess merida

I don’t know what I’m going to do yet.

I’ll know when I meet someone.

Then we’re going to be friends first.

And then we’ll see.

For now I’m a perfectly good princess without a prince.

Further reading

Storms’ model

Image

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.

Far More Intimacy Before Sexuality

Oscar Wilde photo.

Oscar Wilde made us more prudish in our friendships, imagine that.

Remember how sexualities were defined in the nineteenth century? And homosexuality actually became a thing, and then a criminal thing, and then a controversial thing, and then a semi-accepted thing? Well, before it was a thing at all, friendships were apparently much richer and more varied than afterwards.1

I do not know what species of platonic relationships we lost, in first becoming aware of and then liberating our sexual drives and orientations, but we forgot. We’ve replaced them with history about uptight prudes and romance novels about grand forbidden passions, sexual love. As enjoyable, as those are, the Victorian era’s become the straw man to our sexual revolution and individualism.

Dare we imagine that they had friendships that satisfied them in ways only our sexual and romantic relationships do? Dare we imagine that they had family and community close enough to them that outside of sexual attraction, they were not unsatisfied? Dare we imagine that even today, we have such relationships, with best friends and close family and more? Relationships with people we cannot define because their existence and the words for them have been retconned?

Further reading

1. “But Were They Gay? The Mystery of Same-Sex Love in the 19th Century” kept poking at me. Article in the Atlantic by Jennie Rothenberg Gritz.

Asexual, Aromantic, Agender

Ace Film Reviews

Asexuality goes to the movies

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Genderweird

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!