This is #67 of a series in which I read correspondence between me and people who have questions, comments, or–more often–misconceptions about asexuality.
This one is about someone who said my book’s descriptions of negative reactions to asexuality can’t be taken seriously because I don’t give statistics on how many people this affects and don’t quote studies proving how and in what ways we are harassed. The commenter also accused me of misrepresenting the content of the academic resources I did quote from and said the citations were “cherry picked.” I explain why this comes from an inappropriate place and holds us to an unreasonable standard.
This is #39 of a series in which I read correspondence between me and people who have questions, comments, or–more often–misconceptions about asexuality.
Here I share someone’s opinion on sex in relationships: namely, that they have a right to expect sex 2 to 3 times a week unless otherwise agreed. If asexual people want to negotiate otherwise, they say, that is fine, but if they do not explicitly tell their partner(s) how little sex they will be getting, this is a violation on par with not paying your bill at a restaurant or refusing to use the toilet in your shared home. Nice!
Why We Need Mental Healthcare Without Asexual Erasure – And How to Get There
«The first person I told was my therapist. Big mistake.
She immediately responded by telling me that my asexuality would go away as I got older (I was 18 at the time). She also said that she thought that my lack of interest in sex was probably “just a symptom” of my depression.
I argued and told her I didn’t think it would go away. It was true that I’d been experiencing depression since long before puberty started, but it just didn’t feel like a symptom to me – it felt like an identity.»
«One partner thought he could make me sexual, so he pressured sex when I didn’t want it, and I gave in because I grew up in a world where sex is considered an obligation in relationships.
It wasn’t until I felt validated and assured in my identity that I gained the ability to talk about my sexuality safely and openly, making my relationships healthier because I was able to communicate more honestly and (assuming a respectful partner) ensure my needs were respected.
If my therapist had actually supported me instead of denying my own self-wisdom and understanding, I might have gained those tools much earlier in life.»
Read the whole article here.
Asexuality and Rape
«That problem is how asexuals are exceptionally prone to the outskirts of the rape culture when they interact with and date sexuals. This is especially true of romantic asexuals.
Now what I mean by this is not that they are especially prone to forcible rape and the types of rape we most focus on when discussing rape, though these occur far too often and can affect asexuals just as much as sexuals.
What I mean are coercive rapes. Those where one’s autonomy and free choice is put to intense pressure and manipulation in order to force a technical consent, which is nowhere near the gold standard of mutual enthusiastic consent or informed consent. This can occur in many forms:
– Using alcohol to try and remove ability to withdraw consent
– Stating that whether one’s partner loves you or not is wholly dependent on whether or not they put out.
– Wearing down resistances to no so they accept to shut you up.
– Lying about the effects of sex without desire in order to manipulate a partner into giving sex.
– And using cultural memes towards how sex is owed to your partner to exact sex from an unresponsive and not-enjoying-it partner.
As well as many others.»
«And asexuals may just be another victim of this idea that “yes should be a default” in a committed relationship, but they are one especially prone to it. Not only are they ones for whom the default is usually no, but they are usually ignorant about the “accepted rules” most sexuals use to navigate the rape culture.»
Read the whole article here.
“And Now I’m Just Different, but There’s Nothing Actually Wrong With Me”: Asexual Marginalization and Resistance
«In response to a direct question about whether they had ever felt stigmatized or marginalized as a result of their asexual identity, more than one half of the interviewees answered “yes,” more than one quarter answered “maybe” or “in some ways yes, in some ways no,” and around 20% answered “no.” In addition, all the interviewees described at least one negative experience attributable to compulsory sexuality. Here I offer a typology of these negative impacts of compulsory sexuality: pathologization, isolation, unwanted sex and relationship conflict, and the denial of epistemic authority. It is important to emphasize that what follows should not be taken as direct evidence of marginalization, stigma, or discrimination but as the interviewees’ interpretations of and narratives about particular life experiences.»
«In response to a question about their relationship history, almost two thirds of interviewees reported that social norms about sexuality and relationality and the invisibility of asexuality had negatively affected their interpersonal relationships. Ten interviewees (all female) described engaging in consensual but unwanted sex as a result of social pressure and pressure from a partner.6 Explaining why she had engaged in what she considered consensual but unwanted sex, Marcie, 19, said, “there’s not a lot of visibility for asexuality so when you’re young and you don’t really know that that’s a genuine orientation that you can embrace…you have all of society telling you, ‘You should want to be doing these things….’ So, it tended to get a little sexual but I was always trying to avoid that.” Christine, 21, described the following experience:
The guy I lost my virginity to, I had been in a relationship with him for about a year and I guess I just felt like, well, you know, I need to do this…And everybody was like, ‘Oh, you were raped and that’s awful.’ And like yeah, I guess. I should have said no. I could have said no, but I didn’t. I thought that this is what everybody did in their free time, and so I was trying to be like everybody else.
It is important to note that, according to a substantial body of research, a significant percentage of both women and men report engaging in consensual but unwanted sex for some of the same reasons as those given by the interviewees in this study (e.g., Gavey, 2005; Impett & Peplau, 2002; Muehlenhard & Cook, 1988).7 Thus it is possible that the system of compulsory sexuality negatively affects asexually identified and non–asexually identified people in some of the same ways.»
Read the whole article here.