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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

3 Reasons I Need To Identify As Ace

Ace flag with a pirate-style skull and the words "Asexual Pirates are not interested in your booty." Image source.
I'm asexual, but also straight. And engaged to a man. And I do have sex with him. So, someone might ask, what's the point of identifying as asexual? Like why does it matter? Society will see me as heterosexual, and I'm not celibate anyway, so ... so what?

Here are 3 reasons:

1. To find people who have similar experiences

Having the word "asexual" allows me to search for and find information that relates to my experiences and feelings. I can find other people who are ace, talk to them or read about their experiences, and it's really helpful to know that there are people who have gone through the same things I have.

Also, the vocabulary I've learned from the ace community has been extremely helpful in understanding my own feelings. Different types of attraction- sexual attraction, romantic attraction, sensual attraction, aesthetic attraction. Sex drive and arousal are actually separate from sexual attraction. A romantic orientation and sexual orientation that don't match. Without this language, my understanding of my own feelings would be a nebulous cloud of "well I'm really really attracted to boys, and Hendrix in particular, everything about him is great, his body is great and I love to touch him, but ......... why is sex so weird?"

2. It grants legitimacy to my "naive" questions about sex

I have a lot of questions about sex, and I feel weird asking them because people will be like "you're joking, right?" For example, I heard that, for people in regular-land rather than purity-land, it's normal to have sex sometime around the third date. Is that true? I mean, even if you tell me a statistic and it's true, I need more of an answer than that because it just does not make sense to me at all. Why would people have sex after just dating for that short amount of time? And what about casual sex, where, apparently, people are going to bars and finding a stranger to have sex with just once? Is that a real thing or just a stereotype used for fearmongering about how "immoral" our culture is? And even if you tell me "yes it is a real thing," that's not good enough, I still don't get it. I'm not judging at all, if you want to have casual sex with people, go right ahead, but I just cannot fathom why. Like what is the thought process there? Not judging at all, I am really genuinely curious.

(Other "naive" questions include: Why do people watch porn? I mean, like... what's the point, I watched a little and I was so confused. On sitcoms where some character has like 4 sexual partners in 1 year, that's like, not realistic, right? That's just one of those things where they make it more dramatic for TV, right? Like would anyone in real life actually have that many sexual partners? And when people say they want sex, do they realize that sex means stimulating one's genitals with another person? They want that?)

I have so many "naive" questions, and without the asexual label, I feel really weird asking them- like people won't treat them as serious questions. People will think I'm pretending to be clueless as a joke, or to make some kind of point, or... something? But if I first inform them that asexuality exists, it's like "proof" that I really am this clueless, I really am asking as a 100% serious question. ("I grew up in purity culture" probably also works, if you're not ace but you are still totally clueless.)

In general, when people talk about sex, there's a lot of euphemisms and "if you know what I mean" and giggling, and for real, I don't know what they mean.

And on that note, this is THE MOST USEFUL sex-ed material I have EVER seen: An Asexual's Guide To ... It doesn't use any euphemisms or jokes which assume that we all already understand what sex is or why it's pleasurable. It explicitly and directly tells you what things are. Seriously. Cannot recommend it enough.

3. To improve our sex life

[content note: in this section I talk about me and my partner having sex. maybe TMI]

A few months after Hendrix and I started having sex, I thought to myself, "wait, isn't this supposed to be, uhh, pleasurable?" The biggest immediate benefit of sex was that it completely freed me from the fear I had internalized because of purity culture. Years and years of believing that premarital sex was THE DIRTIEST SIN and it would RUIN MY LIFE, and then even after I decided I don't believe it's a sin, I was still terrified. I'm so glad we started having sex and I found out it's not some kind of life-destroying big-huge-deal. But. After a few months, I realized, "oh hey, but isn't this also supposed to be pleasurable, like, in and of itself?"

Anyway, I ended up talking to 3 different doctors about this problem. (Why does it hurt? Why do I basically just like it because I'm in love with Hendrix and any activity I do with him makes me happy, but I don't feel pleasure specifically from the act of sex itself?) None of them were that helpful. They all told me "just relax" and other equally vague and useless bits of advice.

But when I found information about asexuality online, it all made sense. That's the answer, that's why sex is so difficult for me. It's because most people have this thing called sexual attraction, and I don't. And I love Hendrix and I want to have sex with him- if I didn't know these facts about my own orientation, it would be so much more confusing and difficult.

And this paragraph is going to be explicit [NSFW], but I'm going to write it because this is the secret I've discovered that has improved our sex life SO MUCH. Like, I'm just going to go ahead and say this explicitly because NOBODY EVER SAID IT TO ME EXPLICITLY AND THAT'S WHY I'VE HAD SO MUCH TROUBLE: So if you want to do penis-in-vagina sex, the important thing is that first the vagina has to open. Like, in regular life, it's not very open and so it would be incredibly painful to try to push something in. As it turns out, when people use the term "arousal", they are referring to when the vagina becomes more wet and open (or, if you have a penis, "arousal" means getting an erection). (I think? Correct me if I'm wrong on the vocabulary. As I said, I'm kind of clueless.) Furthermore, when people talk about "foreplay", what they mean is doing things to get the body aroused. See, before, I assumed "foreplay" meant "kissing and touching each other in pleasurable ways before you have sex." But it turns out it's more than that- if you're going to do penis-in-vagina sex, the foreplay NEEDS TO accomplish the task of getting the vagina to open. I had NO IDEA. Really. I thought foreplay was just about feeling good and maybe making yourself *want* sex (in an emotional sense)- I had absolutely no idea it was also supposed to include tangible genital-related bodily reactions. And that if it doesn't, then penis-in-vagina sex will be painful or maybe even impossible. LIKE THIS IS A BIG HUGE DEAL, NOT SOMETHING YOU CAN JUST SKIP or be like "eh I guess we've done enough of that, what comes next?" Like seriously, before you try to put a penis in, use your fingers and check if the vagina is open or not. Because usually it's NOT. It's only open if you're aroused enough. Sooooo anyway I figured out that if I use a sexy toy and stimulate the clit before we start actually having sex, and get an orgasm that way, it will make the vagina open and wet. And then we can put a penis in way easier. I don't know if that falls under the category of "foreplay" or not, because it's pretty much just me doing it, not my partner, but WOWWWWW that has helped our sex life SO MUCH. (Also: Use lots of lube.)

But anyway. The point is, if I didn't identify as asexual, I would have no answers to the question of "Why is sex so difficult for me? Why do I feel like I don't *get* sex?" I want to have a good sexual relationship with Hendrix, and having this information about asexuality is a necessary starting point.

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I need the term "asexual." Even though I'm straight, even though I do have sex. Without the language and concepts I've learned from the asexual community, everything would be so much more confusing. And it would be way more difficult to have a good sexual relationship with my partner.

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