My Rant for Sexologists (read “For sexologists” first)

***I think WordPress changed something in their settings because this page went missing for a little while (like a year.. apparently) but I’ve fixed the settings and now it’s back. 6/16/2012***

I can’t count the number of times that I have heard misguided and misinformed statements from other sexologists (in person, in videos, in articles etc) about asexuality. So, from one sexologist to another, let’s get a few things sorted out:

(In case it’s unclear, the tone of the following statement is “FED UP”)

But no one is asexual! That would mean they don’t have a sexuality and everyone has a sexuality!” — No one is claiming to not have a sexuality, you are claiming that they are claiming to not have a sexuality, and you’re doing that because you haven’t bothered to talk about it with anyone who’s actually asexual. the “A-” prefix which indicates “no” or “none” doesn’t refer to the existence of a person’s sexuality but instead works the same way the prefixes for other orientation labels work, ie “homo-” indicates that you experience sexual attraction to people of the same gender while “A-” indicates that you don’t experience sexual attraction to others at all. The label is not an effort to describe the PERSON it is to describe their ORIENTATION. To say that people who identify as asexual are claiming to not have a sexuality you are being willfully ignorant and intentionally trying to use a very literal interpretation of the word which you (should) know damn well isn’t how the word is used functionally, just like you know that when a person says they are asexual you know they don’t mean they split in half to reproduce- you’re just swapping one wrong definition for another. I’ve heard people do this trying to be funny and let me tell you: IT ISN’T! So Stop!

As sexologists we all know how fluid a person’s sexuality can be. A person could identify as a lesbian until they are 40 years old because the only sexual attractions they experience are to other women (so they identify as a lesbian) and then maybe when they’re 40 they meet a man and, for the first time, feel sexually attracted to a man! Does this mean that they were actually bisexual all along? Does it mean that they have to identify as bisexual now? It doesn’t mean they HAVE TO identify as anything and it doesn’t mean that they were hiding anything from themselves or from others for the first 40 years- it just means they never met a man they were attracted to. They could still identify as a lesbian who just happens to be sexually attracted to one man in particular and as sexologists we will understand that.

As sexologists we understand that for the vast majority of people their sexuality is much more complex than the clear-cut labels we try to use to describe them. No one would tell that woman “See! All those years you were just lying to yourself!” or “Glad you finally matured and are interested in sex with men like normal people!” And yet I hear obnoxious statements like that about asexuals all the time!

Labels are not meant to DEFINE a person, they are meant to DESCRIBE a person. The whole point of labels are to help people communicate the basics about who they are and/or what they are looking for in others. Is it possible that everyone could be sexually and/or romantically attracted to everyone and anything? Yes, absolutely. Should we all just identify as pansexual regardless of who we currently want to have a relationship (or casual sex or whatever) with (even if we don’t want a relationship with anyone right now or ever?). That seems like it would make the process of finding potentially compatible partners A LOT more difficult. The labels we use to describe ourselves are meant to help us attract the type of partner(s) we’re looking for and present our sexuality to others in an extremely abridged way (often just 1 word!) to help the others figure out if we might be what they are looking for in their partner(s), too!

The labels we use to describe ourself can only ever be our best guess based on our past experiences. Who the hell are you to tell someone else how to translate what they’ve felt (or haven’t felt) into a label, or worse, to tell them that they label they are using is wrong? So if they haven’t experienced sexual attraction to men, or to women and you’ve decided that they can’t be asexual then what sexual orientation are you going to make them? Since you’ve decided that they are incapable of deciphering their own feelings and now you are going to decipher that person’s feelings for them and decide what their sexuality ACTUALLY is, what sexuality will you give them? And where do you get off making that decision?

You just think you’re asexual because you haven’t matured yet.” — Freudian much? Could someone’s levels of interest in and desire for sex change over time? Yes, we know that they do change in most people- sometimes just a little and some times a lot. Does the fact that a person’s sexuality can change over time invalidate what they have experienced and are currently experiencing? No, of course not. Stop acting like the potential for a person’s sexuality to change means that they aren’t “mature”!

This whole ‘asexual’ thing is just the product of abuse/hormones/societal influences blah blah blah” –We are ALL the product of our experiences, our hormones and societal influences. The unique interaction of these things is what makes us DIFFERENT from each other. Being different doesn’t inherently mean you’re BROKEN.

Abuse certainly has a major impact on a person’s emotional/psychological/sexual development, but it isn’t necessarily going to change who they are sexually attracted to. There are certainly plenty of people who were sexually abused and still grew up experiencing sexual attraction to either men or women or both. A common myth among people who are homophobic/bigoted/misguided/idiots is that people are GAY because they were abused as children. This requires the assumption/belief that everyone must start out straight (like them) and then somehow something terrible and traumatic happens to them and then they are broken in some way and turn out gay and need to be fixed so they can experience the joy of male/female sex- you know, the way god meant for it to be. Similarly, this idea that a person must have been abused to turn out asexual implies that that everyone must naturally just want to fuck their brains out (like you do) and they started out on that developmental path and then they got BROKEN in some way and now they don’t have an interest in sex and need to be fixed so they can experience the joy of being just like you…. well, gee, thanks, how thoughtful. As sexologists it is your duty to have a better thought process than the religious nut-jobs who want to cure people of their sexualities…. but most of you fail.

Everyone is effected in a variety of ways by their hormones and the changes in their hormones over time, that still doesn’t invalidate how they feel and for most people, even if they could take a pill to change their sexuality most people wouldn’t (unless they’ve given in to being mocked by peers and being told by “experts” that they are not okay the way they are- even if they “think” they’re happy) – would you?

Again, we are all influenced by society, yes… what the hell is your point? Are you “only” straight or gay or transgender or cisgender or however you identify because of societal influences?  Is that WHY you are gay? How do you know it isn’t? How would you feel if I told you that the way you feel and the way you identify isn’t valid and you’re just confused and I know better than you and I can tell that really you’re just influenced by a bunch of factors that you haven’t realized yet but I can help you OVERCOME all these influences and FIX you. I wouldn’t say that.. because that’s BULLSHIT and you shouldn’t be saying it to people either.

People who masturbate aren’t really asexual! They’re self-sexual!” –This statement (which I’ve heard a lot lately) brings us back to the label issue. Asexual in this context is an ORIENTATION label, it isn’t meant to describe the person, it is meant to describe their orientation. As sexologists we all know that an orientation label is meant to describe who a person is sexually oriented towards and does not necessarily describe their behavior (with themself or with others), to claim otherwise is willful ignorance.

7 Responses to My Rant for Sexologists (read “For sexologists” first)

  1. Aho. Nothing to fix, nothing change. We learn, not as we “should” but as we must! And the more we leave labels and judgments out of it, the better for all concerned (that would be all of us!) Thank you, Dallas. Namaste.

  2. Beautiful rant. Thank you. You’ve expressed so much of what I feel on a daily basis and really really want to shout at some people.

  3. Anonymous says:

    A common line used by atheists is “Everyone is an atheist with respect to some gods, we just don’t believe in one more god than monotheists.” I think a similar explanation would work well for asexuality – speaking to a monosexual (to use an outdated term), “you’re asexual with respect to [women/men], I’m the same way, just asexual with respect to [men/women] as well.” (I suppose you’d need a different line for dealing with bisexuals. maybe “you know how you’re asexual with respect to trees? I’m the same way, but with humans as well.”

  4. Eden says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this rant. It’s definitely what Sexologists (or experts on “sex” or so they think) need to hear. As an asexual, its really pleasing to finally see someone that actually understands that it is simply an orientation, it does not describe the person as a whole. Wonderful job on this! Sharing this on my twitter. 😀

  5. B says:

    Perfect post!!!

  6. I love this takedown. Thank you.

  7. Pingback: It’s foggy today: how BDSM and sex can be emotional self-medication in a cruel world « Maybe Maimed but Never Harmed

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