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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Sex is Like an Inside Joke (Thoughts from an Asexual)

T-shirt showing silhouettes of 3 elephants and an AT-AT. Image source.
[content note: I'm going to mention me having sex. If that's TMI, maybe don't read this one]

Back when I was in Christian purity culture, sex was an intriguing secret. They told us that it's totally the greatest feeling ever and everyone loves it, but that we weren't allowed to know any details. No, information was dangerous. It would be temptation. Penis goes in the vagina- that's all we're gonna tell you. And try not to even think about that too much- if you think about it, you might start to desire it, and if you desire it, you might go watch porn or masturbate or something horrifically sinful like that, and then you'll probably become addicted to sex and it will ruin your life.

The church's message was this: You're not allowed to know what sex is, but it is the most amazing and powerful thing, meant for a husband and a wife, and... yeah it's just THE BEST. And I believed it. I was sure I was going to love sex so much, after I met that godly guy that God had planned for me, and after marriage we would totally have sex every day.

It was a secret, a mystery. I wasn't allowed to know what it was, and therefore I was endlessly curious. But then, finally, after I got out of those purity-culture beliefs, I watched porn for the first time. It was shocking at first- "Oh! That's what a penis looks like! Oh my!"- but after a few minutes, I was like "... what's the point of this?" Okay, I watched porn. Now I know what genitals look like. Now I know what sex looks like. (With the obvious disclaimer that porn isn't realistic at all.) And it wasn't that interesting.

Actually, I continued to stare at the screen, baffled by a completely new and unexpected question: "Why on earth are people so obsessed with this? It's just naked bodies. Whatever."

I don't get it. Turns out sex was only interesting to me because it was a mystery, because it was taboo and I wasn't allowed to know what it was. When I finally found out what it was, I was like "oh, okay" and not really interested any more.

Or maybe I could say sex is like an inside joke. Starting around high school, kids would get kind of giggly every time someone said the word "hard." As I said, I wasn't allowed to know any details about sex, but I tried to put some of the pieces together based on what kind of bizarre things people would inexplicably laugh at. Apparently, "boner" is something sexual. I wonder what "oral sex" is- is it kissing? (Purity culture makes a big deal about how kissing leads to sex, and really it's best to not kiss until the wedding day- in that context, it's totally plausible that "oral sex" might mean kissing. [Note: Ahem. It doesn't.]) Apparently sex has something to do with something that is "wet." Also there are "balls" involved somehow. And apparently people yell each other's names? I guess?

It was like an inside joke that I wasn't part of. Nobody ever explained to me why it was funny when something was "hard" and "wet."

You could say sex is like a fandom. It's like if I said "I sense a disturbance in the Force" and people laughed because, hey, we like Star Wars too. Sex is like some fictional world that everyone is a huge fan of, and they like to make references to it as much as possible. In this fictional world, sex is a magical amazing thing that makes you feel good and solves all your problems. People like to imagine that it's real- just like the Harry Potter fans who go around telling people "I'm a Slytherin." It's not real, but it's fun to pretend. (Or, rather, my feeling that "it's not real" has a lot to do with the fact that I'm asexual.)

Everyone's making references and jokes about it, and I feel like I never saw the movie. Like if you'd never seen Star Wars, but you can figure out it has something to do with a "force," though you're not really sure what that is. Spend enough time in the fandom, and you're able to make those same references and other people will love it- even though you yourself don't get it at all. You have no idea what you're actually talking about, but other people seem to enjoy your jokes. So okay.

Then I finally did have sex, and sure, it's good, but it's not like... that good. Not really good enough to explain why everyone seems so obsessed with it. I don't see why sex has the biggest fandom. It's certainly not as good as Star Wars.

And now I see sex as a hobby. You know how, if you're dating someone who's really into board games, and they always want you to play board games with them, so you do, and it seems weird at first but after a while you end up liking board games too. It's like that. My partner is into having sex, so I've gotten into it too, and it's enjoyable, though if it were totally up to me, I would choose to spend my time on a different hobby instead.

And I find it very weird that sex is such a popular hobby. Sure, I guess it feels good, but, really? It's not like, that good.

A mystery, an inside joke, a fandom that I'm not part of, a hobby- that's what sex is to me, as an asexual. But other people describe it as a "need," as an essential part of a romantic relationship, as the highest expression of love. I really don't get it.

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