There’s an “asexual” in my class and one in the Pride group where I work.
It’s easy to be snarky. There are so many snarky things to say about asexuals:
- Asexuality isn’t a sexual orientation. There are gay men who don’t want sex, lesbians who don’t want sex, bi people who don’t want sex and straight people who don’t want sex. Asexuals know they have an orientation apart from “asexual;” that’s why they invented the words heteroromantic, homoromantic et al. It isn’t necessary to create a new identity every time someone wants or doesn’t want something.
- Asexuals aren’t an oppressed minority. No one who might hire you or rent you an apartment can tell whether you like sex or not. It isn’t stamped on your face. Maybe your asexuality manifests in your being perpetually single (though it needn’t), but being single is something everyone, gay, straight or bi, is at some point (and often over and over again).
- Because of all this, asexuals who join the LGBTQ+ movement look a lot like just another flavor of straight person who inexplicably seems to crave queer cred.
- Almost every “asexual” I’ve ever met has changed their mind within a few months to a couple of years. It’s almost as if they were going through the perfectly normal experience of not being tortured with constant arousal and/or finding other things in life to prioritize.
But goddess love ’em, in the end I believe asexuals are reacting to a toxic sexual culture.
They are mostly young, mostly female, and mostly heterosexual. The messages they’re receiving from society in the age of social media and “sex-positive” wokeness are absolutely nauseating to anyone with a shred of decency at their core. The males in their age range are completely unsuitable for having sex with. It’s always been a challenge for women to find caring and reciprocal partners, but female pleasure doesn’t even seem to be on the collective radar anymore.
Not having sex under these circumstances is the most rational response a woman can have.
Here’s what a sexual culture that’s toxic to women looks like:
- This video of a bunch of inexcusably clueless and selfish men tee-heeing about how they can’t be bothered to make their partners orgasm.
- Porn that’s more violent than ever and more ubiquitous than ever.
- A cultural stigmatization of “kink-shaming” that has bafflingly come to mean that committing cruel and unusual sex practices is preferable to questioning cruel and unusual sex practices.
- An atmosphere where a high school teacher friend of mine found a girl crouching under and chained to a boy’s desk, surrounded by a number of other boys, in the middle of class. When questioned, the boys insisted they were all having a consensual BDSM relationship.
- A world where Teen Vogue advises teenage girls (who have probably never even had decent “regular” sex, see point one) on how to take a dick up the butt. It was bad enough when boys, patriarchy, movies, music and porn were doing that, but now trusted adults posing as sex educators are doing it too.
- A world where a teen magazine wouldn’t be caught dead teaching boys (much less girls) to perform cunnilingus well. Where’s all that sex-positivity now? Oh, right. It was only ever male-orgasm-positivity after all.
Who can blame a young woman for feeling turned off in a world like this?
The problem is that “asexuality” is a short-term and individualistic solution to a systemic problem. My classmate writes poetry on her “mixed-orientation” relationships, whereby men pressure her for sex and she resists it, and the whole thing is presented as some interesting journey of divergent souls finding a middle ground in a complicated world.
My classmate believes that unenjoyable, coerced sex is normal, and that she’s the unusual one. The “other.” The one whose “identity” requires naming. The one whose quirk requires working around.
It would be better for her soul, and for the soul of society, if she could embrace and thereby spread the absolute normalcy of not wanting to make oneself available for abuse.
But that’s too much to ask of a young woman. It’s easier to take on a quirky identity than to understand that almost every male around you is broken.