Are these things sexual or asexual?

For discussion of issues pertaining to sexuality. Warning: Topics within this forum may contain frank discussion of a sexual nature.
Clarity
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Are these things sexual or asexual?

Postby Clarity » Thu Sep 17, 2009 6:57 am

BDSM (which is about emotional and interpersonal things like dominance, submission, humiliation, and so on, and therefore doesn't have anything to do with sexual attraction to another person)

Responsive desire (which seems to me to be pretty much by definition that you're not sexually attracted to your partner at the moment, but you have a sexual response and want sex once you start)

Situational arousal (which is a phrase Google doesn't know about, but which a psych student friend of mine keeps going on about--apparently it's being aroused because of the situation [I suppose a romantic or otherwise exciting one] rather than being consistently aroused by the presence of your partner and the opportunity to have sex)

Pansexuality (which many people seem to use to indicate "I'm not attracted to you because of your sexual characteristics, even though we do have sex, which I enjoy, and I definitely love you.")

I think most people would call these sexual (except for non-sexual BDSM), and probably you're more likely to start a sexual relationship with someone if you experience sexual attraction to them at some point, but here's me again struggling with the concept of what exactly is sexual attraction and how important is it in forming our sexuality and relationships.

sinisterporpoise
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Re: Are these things sexual or asexual?

Postby sinisterporpoise » Thu Sep 17, 2009 5:09 pm

I'm going to venture a guess and say it would depend on the situation

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Dargon
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Re: Are these things sexual or asexual?

Postby Dargon » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:09 pm

My thoughts:

BDSM: There could be a sexual element, it could be entirely the power-play. It depends on the people, acts, situations, etc. It could easily be either.

Responsive desire: This seems to imply a lack of sexual attraction (hence asexuality), but an enjoyment of the act. It sounds to me like it may be exclusively asexual. Actually, it might make sense for it to perhaps apply to, say, a heterosexual who is not attracted to the same sex, but might enjoy the act.

Situational Desire: Sounds perhaps fetishy, perhaps asexual in nature. This one gets iffy, because it might constitute sexual attraction to a situation. It's not directed at people, but it is still sexual attraction.

Pansexuality: This implies to me sexual attraction. Gender is irrelevant, but there is still sexual attraction, hence not asexuality.

pretzelboy
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Re: Are these things sexual or asexual?

Postby pretzelboy » Fri Sep 18, 2009 6:04 am

Here's my definitive answer of what makes things sexual: people perceive them as being sexual.

The question, then, is what causes people to perceive them as such. Partly, it's a matter of social learning, messages that people receive about what is sexual and what isn't. But I don't want to go and say "These things are sexual because society teaches us they are sexual" because I feel that would simply obfuscate things. (Society doesn't teach anything; individuals in a society teach things. And societies have lots of different individuals who believe and teach very different things. Which goes a long way in explaining the observation that "society" often teaches contradictory messages. Also, often learning happens without explicitly being taught, which means that we can't attribute learning in those case to somebody teaching some message.)

I think that people often regard things as sexual because they experience them as being sexual--they experience these things as causing to "sexual feelings" or involving "sexual activities" or as things people do for "sexual pleasure." Now, you may object to this noting that I've just gone ahead and used the word "sexual" in each of these, making me guilty of circularity and adding no clarity to the matter. This may be true, but I think that in understanding the matter, we need to recognize the lack of clarity.

Suppose someone tried to define "chair" or "religion" or "pornography" or whatever. People find it extraordinarily difficult (or simply impossible) to do these, generally. In an obscenity case before the US Supreme Court, Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964), Justice Potter Steward, in his Concuring opinion famously said (regarding defining "hard core pornography) "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that."

What is so famous about it is that you know that he's right, but it's something that a judge or justice should never actually say. But it generally fits how people's category formation actually works. We don't base our categories on strict definitions--categories seem to be based more of prototypes, overlapping features and "family resemblance" (to use the latter Wittgenstien's term.) That's often why strict definitions are so impossible to create--strict definitions aren't how we actually go about forming categories.

This might not add much clarity and precision to the matter, but I find it helpful in understanding what makes things sexual. This seems to help to explain a phenomonon that confuses many: some asexual feel that, for them, masturbation is not sexual. Many other people find this utterly bizarre. When people say that they don't feel that masturbation is sexual for them, it seems to be that they learn this concept "sexuality" from interaction with others, from messages in the media, etc. and they feel that what they exeprience in masturbation has nothing to do with that, and is, thus, not sexual. Alternatively, some asexuals who masturbate don't really think about anything "sexual" (sexually arousing?) when doing so; it's just something they do to relieve stress, help them sleep, prevent waking up with ickyness in their pants, etc. Thus, it doesn't involve "sexual feelings" and is felt as not being sexual.

Jicragg
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Re: Are these things sexual or asexual?

Postby Jicragg » Sat Dec 05, 2009 6:35 am

Clarity wrote:BDSM (which is about emotional and interpersonal things like dominance, submission, humiliation, and so on, and therefore doesn't have anything to do with sexual attraction to another person)

The thing with BDSM is there's so much to it. There's the sexual element of it but then there's the lifestyle of it such as identifying as a dominant or submissive and living your life according to those beliefs. I've done some research into it and it's a rather lovely way to live. If you're a submissive you can (depending on the situation) learn and grow with the help of a dominant. It's a trading of roles. The submissive mostly does things such as house chores and becomes more stable and able to look after themselves but want the guidance of a dominant. The dominant would take over money, jobs, socialising and such - of course in a balance, for example if the submissive is tempted to social when they have work to do the dominant would take over and the submissive agrees to that so it isn't bad - and trains the submissive.
As for the sadism and masochism I believe it's possible to take part in those activities - for example: whipping - without it becoming too sexual. I view it as a step upwards from giving and receiving massages. Many would say massages are sexual but a lot of the time they aren't. If the submissive is a masochist, that's the cliche but it does differ, a whipping would be their reward for being good and obeying the dominant, etc.
It is a very emotional relationship when done correctly.

Mage
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Re: Are these things sexual or asexual?

Postby Mage » Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:30 pm

Do you think that, by the strictest definitions, one could say that pansexuality is the opposite of asexuality?

So by the strictest definitions I mean:

asexual: one who does not experience sexual attraction
pansexual: one who experiences sexual attraction to people of all genders and sexes

I was thinking that pansexual, more than any other sexual orientation, might be considered an opposite to asexual since people of other sexual orienations (hetero, homo, poly, or bisexual) experience exclusive sexual attraction and therefore could also be said to "not experience sexual attraction" though it is around people of specific genders.

At the same time, being pansexual doesn't mean that one is sexually attracted to everyone, just that one could potentially be sexually attracted to anyone. So it might not really be a true opposite since everyone is excluded from being sexually attractive to an asexual, and pansexuals are not necessarily "hypersexual" or whatever.

I'm not attached to this line of reasoning at all, but I am curious what other people think.
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pretzelboy
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Re: Are these things sexual or asexual?

Postby pretzelboy » Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:07 pm

"Opposite" is a rather vague concept that works best for terms that come in pairs (and many words are felt to be contrastive pairs): black and white; hot and cold; short and long, etc. In other contexts, "opposite" is more problematic, for example in the square of opposition. What's an opposite? contraries? contradictories?

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Dargon
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Re: Are these things sexual or asexual?

Postby Dargon » Fri Jul 02, 2010 7:21 pm

In a vein similar to pretzelboy's opposite works better when things have clear definitions, and work in a clear spectrum with definite ends or a binary manner. Black is defined as the color resulting from complete light absorption, and white complete reflection. Those are simple.

If we use AVEN's definition, which I am a fan of "not experiencing sexual attraction," the clear opposite would be "experiencing sexual attraction," or simply "sexual." If we expanded the definition to be "no sexual attraction towards either gender," the clear opposite would be "sexual attraction towards both genders," or bisexual. In the end, it comes down to how "asexual" is defined, and how complicated the definition is.

pretzelboy
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Re: Are these things sexual or asexual?

Postby pretzelboy » Sat Jul 03, 2010 8:27 pm

I guess in my last post my link to the square of opposition was a bad way to explaon myself. Cold is the opposote of hot. If something is hot, its not cold. But if its not cold it may or may not be hot. It could be in the middle. Is the opposite of cold hot or not cold? That's the ambiguity in the term opposite.

Is the opposite of not experiencing any sexual attraction experiencing any or a ton? For "opposite" is it the intensity that matters? Or simply existence? Or how many genders it is directed towards?

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Noskcaj.Llahsram
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Re: Are these things sexual or asexual?

Postby Noskcaj.Llahsram » Tue Jul 06, 2010 5:13 pm

I always thought Pan sexuality was sort of a linguistic crock; assuming no err on my part; Pan is ancient greek for "All" & using sexual in the usual sense of 'being sexually attracted to' , which is ludicrous no one is sexual attracted to all, to every stone, every bird bud, areoplane, cave, star, moon, etc ad nausea. Now if we lived in a world with more than one intelligent species I could see it as short hand for sexuality not restricted by species (which is a term we will totally need if we live long enough, someone will want to bang an alien). but I think there exist enough and more apt prefixes, even including undetermined and none of the above, that get across any particular twists that your own sexuality has
What is love? Well, you know that feeling you get when you've been locked in a tiny dark space alone for a year? It's kind of the opposite of that.

pretzelboy
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Re: Are these things sexual or asexual?

Postby pretzelboy » Fri Jul 23, 2010 6:17 am

Noskcaj.Llahsram wrote:I always thought Pan sexuality was sort of a linguistic crock; assuming no err on my part; Pan is ancient greek for "All" & using sexual in the usual sense of 'being sexually attracted to' , which is ludicrous no one is sexual attracted to all, to every stone, every bird bud, areoplane, cave, star, moon, etc ad nausea.

To apply some linguistic analysification to your comment, what you're dealing with concerns "domains of quantification."

1) I invited 10 people to the party and everyone came.

In this, the most natural reading of "everyone" is that it means all of those 10 people invited to the party came to the party. (Everyone is a universal quantifier: For all x such that I invited x to the party, x came to the party.) Suppose that in some context or other, someone says (2) or (3).

(2) Nobody plays that game anymore.
(3) Everyone likes chocolate.

For (2), it is quite possible that the person doesn't mean nobody in the world, but instead they mean nobody among their friends. What set we are restricting the meaning of "nobody" or "everybody" to take quantification over is important for the meaning. Note that in (3), the most natural meaning does seem to be "everyone in the world" (or at least, all of the important/relevant people).

Anyway, getting back to pansexuality, you are assuming that "all" has to take quantification over EVERYTHING (human or otherwise.) I think the intended meaning is that it only takes quantification over all genders.

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Noskcaj.Llahsram
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Re: Are these things sexual or asexual?

Postby Noskcaj.Llahsram » Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:55 am

pretzelboy wrote:Anyway, getting back to pansexuality, you are assuming that "all" has to take quantification over EVERYTHING (human or otherwise.) I think the intended meaning is that it only takes quantification over all genders.

I will concede that that is probably what most people who take up the mantle mean, but just think they could have coined a better phrase, as it stand it leaves no where to expand, prefix wise to.
What is love? Well, you know that feeling you get when you've been locked in a tiny dark space alone for a year? It's kind of the opposite of that.

clouded_perception
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Re: Are these things sexual or asexual?

Postby clouded_perception » Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:12 pm

Clarity wrote:BDSM (which is about emotional and interpersonal things like dominance, submission, humiliation, and so on, and therefore doesn't have anything to do with sexual attraction to another person)

...

Pansexuality (which many people seem to use to indicate "I'm not attracted to you because of your sexual characteristics, even though we do have sex, which I enjoy, and I definitely love you.")

I think most people would call these sexual (except for non-sexual BDSM), and probably you're more likely to start a sexual relationship with someone if you experience sexual attraction to them at some point, but here's me again struggling with the concept of what exactly is sexual attraction and how important is it in forming our sexuality and relationships.


Well there are a fair number of asexual people in BDSM. My brother (who is not asexual) informs me that he thinks there's a lot more people of alternative sexualities into BDSM, particularly those inclusive of more than one kind of partner. I think he's wrong -- I think that not only are people of non-hetero sexualities simply more likely to participate in such communities (since they're already "outside the norm", what's there to be afraid of now?), but that people who are almost completely heterosexual, homosexual or asexual are more likely to be open to taking other partners if they're into such things because the scenario itself provides sexual excitement.

What I'm saying is, I don't think these things are inherently sexual or asexual, but for people so inclined I think they open up more possibilities regardless of orientation.

Pansexuality, of course, is a difficult one, since many people define it differently. I think pansexuality is a type of sexual attraction in the form that I commonly encounter it, but I've also met pansexuals who seem asexual or demisexual (I've never quizzed them on the matter) and simply use pansexuality to indicate their general openness to all genders.

clouded_perception
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Re: Are these things sexual or asexual?

Postby clouded_perception » Sat Apr 30, 2011 8:13 am

disjointed wrote:given that some promote fluidity rather than definate I am finding it harder and harder with all the sub groups and then sub groups of sub groups to point another in the right direction to be sure


I think our overall sexuality model is probably flawed, but being neither psychologist nor sociologist, I don't have the information or skills to suggest a better one.