I am asexual. This is not a token of biological discourse, according to which I am a decently sexed female homo sapiens sapiens body. I utter this the way one says one is heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pomosexual : as a statement of sexual orientation, or lack thereof. You may prefer the word nonsexual. I do not mind. The fact is that I am over 25, and that I have never felt sexually attracted to anyone, man or woman, and that I have never fallen in love with anyone either. The perfect ice queen.
Now, unless you are used to weirdoes, you should start experiencing a serious feeling of distress, and an urge to rationalize the freaky phenomenon I am putting under your nose. “Does she have strong moral objections against sex, wishing to stay pure, maybe waiting for marriage ? Is she a men-hating repressed lesbian ? Has she been sexually abused as a child ? Is she so hideous or odious that she cannot get anyone to share her bed ? Does she suffer from hormonal imbalance ? Is it because of her vegetarian diet ? Perhaps she is just unlucky and hasn’t met the right person yet.” These are the kind of questions rational people would ask. However, often all I get is an aggressive reaction of denial, the very possibility of asexuality foreclosed by the worn-out call to “Nature,” to “hard-wired instinct” as the engine of and to reproduction as the end of life. Since I do not feel like unleashing my deconstructionist wrath against such loathsome heterosexist naturalizations (culture enforcing “instinct” ! How ironic !), I’m going to give a try to the previous questions.
1. “Does she have moral objections against sex ?” No, I don’t. Asexual is not antisexual. Not only I am very liberal, but I champion an hedonistic view of life. Since sex is considered as a most important - if not the most important - source of mutual pleasure and joy for human beings, I hold sex between consenting individuals as a highly moral activity. (By the way, where did you get that strange idea that being a virgin makes one pure ? There are more ways to ethical misbehavior than those related to sex.)
2. “Is she a men-hating repressed lesbian ?” No, I do not hate men. Nearly all my friends are men. Honestly, if I am to be guilty of sexism, it is towards heterosexual women. I find it difficult to believe that I am a repressed lesbian, for I would love to be one. I hope that if someday my sexuality awakes, it’ll be directed towards lesbians. (Now you might feel confused. Welcome to my mind.)
3. “Has she been sexually abused as a child ?” Not that I can remember. When I was 7, the pre-teen daughter of friends of my parents once demanded that I “make love” to her, that I caress her body, her genitals, her anus. What I didn’t like was being threatened into doing it, not the act itself. Before and since then I have often been forced to play mild sexual games - caresses, kisses - with people who didn’t understand that I have no interest in such games. If this is the extension of the “sexual abuse” I have been subjected to, then it is the nonrespect of my asexuality that made them kind of abusive, not the reverse.
4. “Is she so hideous or odious that she cannot get anyone to share her bed ?” I am neither beautiful nor socially brillant, but I am no monster either. More than a few smart, kind and/or cute men have fallen for me, unfortunately for them.
5. “Does she suffer from hormonal imbalance ?” Maybe. But I am my body, and I would not consider tinkering with my hormones more ethical an attempt to change my behavior than, let’s say, trepan my skull or whip my ass. Without trying to picture the kind of madness that such a gross bodily alteration is likely to trigger. (Alan Turing in memoriam.)
6. “Is it because of her vegetarian diet ?” I was asexual way before I became a vegetarian. And by the way, I know more than one sexually hyperactive vegetarian.
7. “Perhaps she is just unlucky and hasn’t met the right person yet.” That’s my last hope. Where is s/he ?
So, what does it feel like to be an asexual in a very sexual culture ? Well, not good. I am a happy eccentric, but my asexuality I don’t accept well. Pressure to conform to the norm of a fulfilling sexuality is extremely strong : everywhere, in conversations, in the streets, in artworks, sex pervades the semiosphere... most of it meaningless to me. Yes, I do identify as queer : even homosexuals and bisexuals, in my milieu, are more respected than I am - only transsexuals get more frowned upon than I do.
That said, let’s add a bit more confusion.
First point, I crave mammalian warmth : I enjoy hugging and cuddling friends who know that I want nothing more than warmth and tenderness, especially in Winter !
Second point, I do not know how to give myself sexual pleasure, but I did give a try to mutual masturbation more than once, and for me it works for a very short one-shot moment. It means that my body isn’t dysfunctional, and has helped to describe my asexuality in more accurate terms : i) I have nothing sexy to think about, no sexual object to focus on, and ii) although it is pleasurable (well, in fact a bit too intense and painful to me), once it is done I don’t feel compelled to do it again : the addictive dimension of sex is absent. Both intentionality and drive are lacking.
Third point, I am sometimes troubled by people I find beautiful, charismatic, or bright. But not enough to approach them. Shyness or lack of motivation ?
I try hard to struggle against my asexuality, but it’s all very artificial. Too often my efforts go against my “nature,” turning into a nauseating disgust towards bodies, including mine.
Yet I feel so lonely. Like a child who never knew her mother, but aching for motherly love still. (I leave this last sentence to wandering psychoanalysts.)