It's not about the act

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Nathan
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It's not about the act

Postby Nathan » 25 May 2008, 08:02

Most people on Apositive seem to agree that asexuality is not simply about whether or not somebody has sex, or enjoys sex, or even about whether or not somebody can want to have sex. It's about sexual attraction, and whether sexuality is a part of somebody's life and a necessary aspect of intimate relationships. The media like to portray asexuality as “Here's somebody who doesn't want sex.” Even many asexual people say something like “Asexuals don't experience sexual attraction, and don't want to have sex,” again making it about the act. But asexuality, as I understand it, is about more than some particular act, or group of acts – it's about not interacting with people along a sexual framework, and not desiring and requiring sexuality (note the -uality, the whole sexual mindset) to be a part of close relationships in the way that sexual people do. Thing is, it seems that sexuality, too, is about much more than the act of sex, even though wanting sex is a main part of the common description.

In David Jay's podcast #18, he interviews sex-positive sexuality-education advocate/activist Nora Dye, who biked across the country talking to sex-education folks. She says that “There's this sort of assumption, or belief out there, that when I said sexuality, people thought [I meant] sex. And that's not what I mean at all! The physical act of having sex is such a small part of sexuality for almost everyone – I mean, I haven't met anyone for whom that's it, that's the end of their sexuality is the physical act of having sex.”

I used to assume that people do sexual things simply because they are enjoyable, and the significant other happens to be the person to do them with. Sex, though, is not merely another way sexual people want to be intimate, an extra part of a relationship. Say there's some sexual person who thinks/acts/feels just like any other, but simply isn't able to do the physical act of sex. It would be far easier for another sexual person to have a relationship with that one, who still is sexual in every way except for the particular act, than with an asexual person who says, “Sure, I'll do whatever, just not have sex.” What those partners actually do would be pretty similar, but the asexual person wouldn't have all the little accompanying thoughts, interactions, and understanding of, well, having sexuality.

My sense is that being a sexual person is about moving through the world in a sexual way with sexuality an integral aspect of daily life, close relationships, and sense of self. It's true, sexual people do want sex, but it seems that should be thought of as more of an expression of a person's sexuality, which permeates all aspects of a relationship, than their final goal in itself. I think that in order for asexual people to create fulfilling relationships with sexual people, it is necessary to understand how sexuality ties into a sexual person's life.

Much of the asexual talk, it seems, is about what asexual people don't want to do (“I don't want [____], simple as that”), rather than about all the things that both sexual and asexual people desire in common. And I think that to find those commonalities requires a broader understanding of how sexuality is a part of most people's lives. The slightly more useful asexual talk is about how people feel, but even the idea “I don't feel sexual attraction” is almost meaningless without an understanding of what “sexual attraction” is to a sexual person, and what role sex plays in their life and relationships. I'd say, even, that in order to understand asexuality, it is necessary to understand sexuality.

Karl
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Re: It's not about the act: the blog post

Postby Karl » 25 May 2008, 09:30

That looks great to me!

Dame du Lac
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Re: It's not about the act: the blog post

Postby Dame du Lac » 26 May 2008, 09:46

I think its a really though provoking piece. It gives a good idea of how an asexual thinks in relationships and how sexual people are perceived by asexuals who recognise that sexuality is more than just the sex. Plus it reminds me why I am on the borders of asexuality and sexuality so will say something useful to others like me.

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Re: It's not about the act: the blog post

Postby Karl » 26 May 2008, 15:04

Well if there's no other suggestions in the next couple of days then I'll post this on the blog for you.

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Nathan
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Re: It's not about the act: the blog post

Postby Nathan » 26 May 2008, 15:36

The Apositive Admin wrote:Well if there's no other suggestions in the next couple of days then I'll post this on the blog for you.


Sounds great. Thank you.

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spin
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Re: It's not about the act: the blog post

Postby spin » 27 May 2008, 11:19

Looks great. Put it on up, Admin!

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Re: It's not about the act: the blog post

Postby Karl » 27 May 2008, 23:38

Would anyone care to suggest an illustration for this post?

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Re: It's not about the act: the blog post

Postby Karl » 04 Jun 2008, 14:32

k... it's up

individual
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Re: It's not about the act

Postby individual » 29 Sep 2009, 03:24

Nathan, you make a lot of sense. I think, deep down we all know what we really are, what we really like and what we really want. I also think some people have a hard time coming to terms with what they are.

I think if one needs to discuss and debate endlessly, what asexuality is or isn't, then they don't really have much of a clue as to what asexuality really is. If they were truly asexual, they'd know what it is, other asexuals would feel the same and there'd be no need for trying to work out what it is and what it isn't.

People also like to complicate matters by throwing in relationships, marriages, having sex. I'm what you'd probably categorize as an asexual romantic. I'm a 42 year old male who's been in a de facto relationship with a (slightly) sexual female for 18 years and we've got a 14 year old daughter. I love my life partner/friend and I love having someone to come home to. Someone to comfort me when I'm sad. Someone to share the good times with. Someone I know very well who comforts me, cares about me and best of all, snuggles up to me on cold nights. I've never been interested in having sex but that's how you get a child. Also, when you're in a relationship with a sexual person, marriage is a bit of give and take. Sometimes, in relationships, we've got to be flexible, even if it means doing something we don't want to do to make your loved one (occasionally) happy. But just because I (luckily, very rarely have to) have sex, doesn't make me a sexual person. It makes me a giving person. I don't do it by choice for sex sake. I don't desire it andd I never initiate it. I do it for my wife's sake and I don't enjoy it. It is not my intention to have sex. It is to make her happy. Just like when I scratch her back. I don't do it because I enjoy it. I don't do it because I'm into back scratching. I do it to make her happy. Give and take.

As far as your sexual dilemma is concerned, the answer is: It's all in the intent. It's that simple. If your intention is in the end, to get your rocks off - if your thoughts, feelings, desires end you up having sex or you get some form of sexual gratification from your intended actions, then it's sexual.

If you never think about sex. If you never want sex. If you never initiate sex, from blatantly asking for it right down to the slightest look or touch. If you don't feel the urge to carry out self-sexual acts, then you're pretty sex free. That's asexual.

Abstinence is no indicator. Abstinence simply means not having sex. If it's forced abstinence, then you're just another sexual person forcing yourself to not have sex but if your abstinence is purely the result of not wanting sex, then there it is. No true intent.

I do believe that sexuality is fluid and that through the course of a person's life, their desires (and/or lack there of) can change. I do believe people can become asexual just as some straight people can become gay.
As you grow older, your desires change. Your thoughts change. How you view things changes. I'm not talking about a drop in libido. I'm talking about a shift in attitudes and desires. Food for thought.

Some people like to proclaim themselves as asexual but they can't leave themselves alone. That's not asexual but they want to be, so they say, "Hey, it's alright for an asexual to masturbate", because it allows them to continue masturbating (something they can't deny is part of them and something they can't stop) and be asexual at the same time. It's like gay and lesbian Christians. The Bible categorically states that homosexual relationships are forbidden but these poor people can't help what they are and they also want to be good Christians so what do they do? They ignore the parts that don't suit them. If you masturbate - if you have any sexual feelings, thoughts or desires, (whether or not you act upon them is irrelevant) you're not asexual.

asexual is 'not what sexual people are'. It's being not what sexual people are (or what they do or what they think). If a sexual person does it, and you do it, then you're not asexual. With hetero, bi, gay and lesbian relationships, they're all part of the same scale. With asexuals, we're off the scale. We're not even on the same page. So, anyone who says they're mostly asexual with a little bit of self (or other) masturbation thrown in, they're fooling themselves. They're wannabes.

That's my 2 cents for now.
I'm going to bed (to sleep).
I'm good in bed. I can sleep all night!

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AFlyingPiglet
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Re: It's not about the act

Postby AFlyingPiglet » 03 Oct 2009, 09:56

Individual ......... I kind of get the impression that your definition of Asexual is very different to my own. Quite a number of Asexuals do masturbate though - it's to do with their libido rather than being attracted to anyone - sexually, romantically or otherwise. I seem to recall hearing somewhere that some interviewer was rather smug to hear that David Jay (webmaster of Aven) masturbated - in their mind, that made him a latent sexual - they just couldn't separate masturbation from sexual attraction!

As for your comment on Christians ...... Some Christians (who consider themselves Evangelical) do accept what the Bible says, but they use their brain and work out what it says, rather than rejecting it - they certainly don't have the pick and choose theology you are suggesting. They see what it says in the context of its day and see its relevance for today (which can be radically different from what it says at face value). Also, it depends what translation of the Bible you are using - some translations are 'better' than others (shall we say) - I cannot overemphasise how 'different' the translations are. You seem to be making a sweeping statement about what Christians believe. I personally accept every part of the Bible and I know Gay and Lesbian people who also accept every part of the Bible too, and also believe that God blesses and accepts Gay Unions, based on what the Bible says - How they interpret what the Bible Says about Gays and Lesbians may be radically different, but they certainly don't reject some parts of the Bible and accept other parts of it. I also know of others who (because of their Sexuality) have turned their backs on God.

I don't know where your sources on this issue come from - any reasonable source will present to you the different points of view and leave you to make your own mind up, rather than telling you what to believe. I am sorry, but I find your comment about Gay and Lesbian Christians rather glib and offensive (and I am Aromantic and do not, and have never considered myself as Lesbian) but I am an active Christian and Local Preacher. I don't care what people believe (whether they be Pagan, Christian or whatever), so long as they have considered the matter thoroughly and thoughtfully and anyone who has, doesn't generally make sweeping statements! (she says - making a sweeping statement !!!)

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wintermute
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Re: It's not about the act

Postby wintermute » 30 Oct 2009, 16:41

individual:

You seem to be equating masturbation & sex with sexual attraction. I'd be interested to find out why - it flies in the face of everything I've known and experienced so far in my life. It's perfectly possible to do an act that you have no particular taste for any number of reasons, not least of all to satisfy someone else's needs.

I also don't really think asexuality should be an idealogical position, although I can see why some people might mistake it for abstinence.
Cicero wrote:"Neither can embellishments of language be found without arrangement and expression of thoughts, nor can thoughts be made to shine without the light of language"

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Moggie
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Re: It's not about the act

Postby Moggie » 03 Feb 2012, 12:54

From Nathan's post: “I don't feel sexual attraction” is almost meaningless without an understanding of what “sexual attraction” is to a sexual person, and what role sex plays in their life and relationships. I'd say, even, that in order to understand asexuality, it is necessary to understand sexuality.

This is what i'm trying to understand: what is "sexual attraction" [to a sexual person]...i can't get a clear answer from anyone, so that I will know if I have ever experienced it or not.

ASIC

Re: It's not about the act

Postby ASIC » 29 Apr 2012, 09:35

Moggie wrote:This is what i'm trying to understand: what is "sexual attraction" [to a sexual person]...i can't get a clear answer from anyone, so that I will know if I have ever experienced it or not.


Does it help to describe it as "physical attraction"? -- a response to someone not just because you like them or because they are beautiful, but to the excitement of their sheer physical nearness: so that just brushing accidentally against some totally non-sexualised part of their body produces the same sensation as winning a million pounds or undergoing a narrow escape from death? :D

(My knee-jerk response is that if you don't know if you've ever experienced it or not, you probably haven't -- most people seem to find it pretty unmistakable.)

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peep
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Re: It's not about the act

Postby peep » 14 Apr 2013, 17:37

ASIC wrote:Does it help to describe it as "physical attraction"? -- a response to someone not just because you like them or because they are beautiful, but to the excitement of their sheer physical nearness: so that just brushing accidentally against some totally non-sexualised part of their body produces the same sensation as winning a million pounds or undergoing a narrow escape from death?


I really like this definition of physical attraction. I have felt this way on (rare) occasion about men (I'm a woman). However, this excitement and attraction did not make me want to have sex with them. Instead, it made me want to make them a special person in my life... such as a boyfriend or husband.


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