Monday, May 28, 2018

Confusing and Weird

Heart-shaped pin with the colors of the asexual flag. Image source.
[content note: this is a post about how I'm asexual but I still want to have sex]

Three big changes happened in my life, all in the past 5 years or so:
  1. I got out of Christian purity culture. This was a really long process, but I'm all the way out now. That is to say, I believe there's nothing inherently wrong with having unmarried sex- and for me it was EXTREMELY healthy.
  2. I discovered I'm asexual.
  3. I got married. To a heterosexual man.
So I have all these confusing thoughts and feelings about sex/ sexuality/ my own desires, going in all sorts of different directions. When I was in purity culture, I had to repress so much, and now I want to do everything, just because I'm so excited about not being scared anymore. I want to try all kinds of sexual things, not because of sexual attraction, not because they sound like appealing things intrinsically, but because I spent so long being terrified and repressed. But at the same time, as an ace I want to help the ace community, I want to educate people about asexuality and the issues that we face, and that involves a lot of talking about how it's okay to not have sex, to not want sex, etc. I spend so much time thinking about that, I almost forget that actually I genuinely am interested in having sex. In queer spaces I emphasize the fact that I'm ace and downplay the fact that I'm straight and married. And I am trying to figure out how to have an understanding of consent that's inclusive of aces. It seems to me that, in a situation where your partner (that you love so much) would break up with you if you don't have sex with them, for some aces it's fine to just have sex even though you're not really into it, but for other aces sex would just be so bad for their mental health that it's just not a good idea, no matter how much they love their partner and want to save the relationship. Is there room for that in feminist discussion of "enthusiastic consent"? And I think about that a lot, but that's not even the situation I'm in; actually I initiate sex more than my husband does. (Though that hasn't always been the case over the course of our relationship.) But when I do, it's not because of sexual attraction or anything along those lines- mostly it's because I'm still stuck in that purity-culture ideology that says men "need" sex and a wife has a "duty" to have sex with her husband.

See? My thoughts on sex are all over the place.

A lot of aces are writing about how it's fine to not have sex. They live a full life without it and don't "miss" it. And intellectually, that all makes sense to me. I don't get why society automatically assumes that sex is a normal part of a romantic relationship. I don't get the connection between emotional intimacy and sex. Nothing about that is intuitive to me.

But. I actually really do want to have sex with my husband. For a lot of reasons- but not the "normal" reasons. I want to do it because for most of my life I wasn't allowed to even *think* about what sex *is.* And because everyone acts like sex is so great and I really want to know why. And because I feel a sense of accomplishment when my husband enjoys it. And for scientific research.

And also for problematic reasons, like the fact that Christian purity culture taught me that all men "need" to have sex frequently and I am a "bad" wife if I don't do it enough. I feel guilt over being a "bad" wife (even though my husband doesn't believe any of that), and a successfully-completed round of sex makes the guilt go away.

Anyway. I just got out of purity culture, just discovered I'm asexual, and just got married- so all my thoughts about sex are extremely complicated. Sex is confusing and weird.


I wrote this post for the Carnival of Aces~ This month's topic is "Nuance & Complexity."

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