a grey area of asexuality

Warning: This post discusses general paraphilia, fetishes and sexual deviation. There are no specific details, but if this could be upsetting for you, or is not your cup of tea, please don’t continue reading.  There are also mentions of suicide and suicidal thoughts. Again, please stay safe and exercise discretion. 


A few months ago, I came out as ace (asexual), and I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking and researching since then to figure out exactly how I feel and where I fit on the asexual spectrum.

For anyone who doesn’t know, asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction to anyone. I will assume that those of you reading this know a bit about asexuality but if you aren’t familiar with it, please read my coming out post, explore a bit around AVEN, or read this article as I think it’s a really relateable discussion on how it can feel to be asexual.

1. Grey-asexuality/ Greysexuality

grey-asexual playing card

grey-asexual playing card

Grey-asexuality is an umbrella term used to cover people who identify pretty closely with asexual, but feel that this term doesn’t quite describe them accurately. This could be because someone does feel sexual attraction sometimes, but it’s usually so rare, or of such low strength that they feel they may as well not experience it at all, or feel that they fit better with the asexual community most of the time.

It could also be because they need very specific criteria to be met, or they need to get to know someone very well before sexual attraction is possible (see demisexuality).

2. My situation

The issue I have with my identity is that I can confidently say that I do not experience sexual attraction to anyone, ever. I’m led to believe this is pretty uncommon in asexuals because, if you’ve never experienced something, how can you confidently say that you don’t experience it? But I can say that I don’t experience sexual attraction to anyone, because I experience sexual attraction to specific circumstances, situations and events. It’s odd – I believe the official term is fetish or paraphilia. (Edit: Check out this great discussion on paraphilia).

I won’t get into specifics, but the issue is, I don’t really feel 100% happy with the label asexual, because I do experience some form of sexual attraction. I also don’t really feel comfortable with the label grey-asexual though, because grey-asexuality still refers to intermittent sexual attraction towards people. My paraphilia involves people by nature, but the people are unimportant. Their age, gender, appearance, personality, etc. doesn’t matter to me at all. ( They probably don’t even have to be people – they could be aliens.) I am not attracted to the people involved, they are just required tools for the situation to occur.

According to the definitions, I technically am asexual, because I do not experience sexual attraction to anyone. Equally, I am not grey-asexual, because I don’t intermittently experience sexual attraction to anyone – I never do. But I am different from what I believe is a large portion of the asexual community.

3. Pansexuality

pansexual flag

pansexual pride flag

For a while, I identified as pansexual, because I felt sexual attraction, and the genders of the people involved didn’t matter. But the moment I discovered the term asexuality, I realised that I wasn’t really attracted to the people involved in my paraphilia, so much as indifferent. I dont really think I can say I’m sexually attracted to someone if I don’t really care who they are.

4. Autochorrissexualism

autochorrissexual

autochorrissexual flag

Autochorrissexualism is a disconnection between oneself and a sexual target/object of arousal. It may involve sexual fantasies, or arousal in response to erotica or pornography, but lacking any desire to be a participant in the sexual activities therein.

This is a category that falls under the asexual umbrella. The argument for this is that someone who is autochorrissexual experiences arousal and not attraction, as the person does not want to actually do anything with the object of their arousal. For me, this is another label that kind of fits, but for me, it focuses too much on the willingness to participate. Like before, whether or not I actually participate is irrelevant for the attraction/arousal. It is the situation that matters.

5. Why is it difficult to find a label for this?

I seriously doubt I am the only person who is in this situation. The problem is that the topic of paraphilia and fetishes is very taboo.

For many people, their sexual fantasies cannot ever realistically be realised because they would be harmful, or illegal, but that doesn’t change the fact that they have these feelings. But because the very topic is so taboo, not only can these people never realise their deepest sexual fantasies, but they now have to live their whole life repressing their desires for fear of being discovered. They have to carry this huge socially-taboo secret, and bear their own disgust and self-loathing their entire life in secrecy because of who they are and how they were born. These people are probably the ones who need most someone to confide in, to talk to, to share the burden. But they never can.

Looking back, I can clearly remember being unusually interested from as young as four years old. I didn’t link it with sex becuase I had no idea what that was, but the feeling was the same. It wasn’t something I chose – it was something that came naturally. Just like being gay, or straight, or any other orientation. I was born like this. 

Do I have a disorder? Officially, not unless my paraphilia causes me distress or causes me to harm others. (which it doesn’t).

Am I weird? Probably. But not just because of this.

Am I broken? Again, probably. But because of this? No. This is just a part of who I am and I can’t imagine being any other way because I never have been.

That being said, I was extremely worried as a teenager that I was broken. I knew only what society and the media had taught me – people with unusual sexual interests were bad. They were scary. They were dangerous. I had unusual sexual interests, therefore, I was bad, scary and dangerous. I knew I would have to repress my desires – probably forever – and I knew from tv that people who did that inevitably slipped up one day and spilled the beans, or went crazy and took out their repressed desires on someone else – hurting them in the process. I was utterly terrified that I would end up like that. I actually sat down and promised myself that, if I ever felt like I was going to hurt someone because of my paraphilia, I would kill myself to make sure I never could. But I was still scared that I wouldn’t see it coming – that it would sneak up on me and I would hurt someone before I knew what I’d done. I was scared for my parents finding out that I was a monster, some horrible freak. I was deeply and truly afraid of myself and I seriously considered committing suicide to save the world from me.

It was actually a speech at a school assembly that pulled me through that low. The principal stood on the stage and told us that all our lives we’d been learning, and it was kind of like a loan. We’d been given all this knowledge for 15 years of our lives, so that when we came out of school we could use it to put something back into the world and make a positive difference.

At first, I was angry. I was furious! I had something unfinished, a debt unpaid, that I’d had no choice in. I hadn’t signed up for anything, and no one had told me. But after I thought about it a bit, I realised that if I was willing to check out of the world in order to prevent something bad,  it meant that I was passionate enough about what happened in the world to be able to make a positive difference. I could confidently say that I wanted to make a positive difference in the world, so I decided that was what I’d do. Once I’d repaid my debt and added something good, I could revisit my debate about whether or not to check out. And that’s how I made it through.

So I can understand why people don’t want to talk about these things. It’s a painful and a scary topic to approach. But we can’t help what we are and how we work. Being unusual does not automatically make us dangerous. What can be done about it though? I don’t know.

6. Asexual Fetishists

asexual furry

asexual furry flag

I literally just came across this discussion with an asexual sneeze fetishist who describes their experience as very similar to mine. So it seems that asexual fetishist is a term that, theoretically, is in use and describes my feelings. (Yay!)

I can see why it’s taken me so long to come across this term though. It’s not exactly something that I would be comfortable openly identifying as.

“Hi everyone, I’m Q and I’m an asexual fetishist.”

-silence-

Yeah. It’s accurate, but… kinda crude. So I guess for now… I’ll stick with asexual-not-disclosing-more-info. That was a long rant just to arrive back in the same place that I started… Thanks for reading all the way through if you made it this far!

What are your opinions on the topic? Have you experienced something similar or related? I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Q

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6 Comments

  1. I applaud your courage in talking about the whole issue of sexuality, for most, it’s a discussion they’re not confident enough to join. Although I identify most with Pansexuality, I despise labels and see sexuality (like gender) as a lot more fluid. I’m glad you’re learning more about yourself and your own sexuality – we are all unique in our own ways and equally wonderful.

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  2. Interesting post!

    I personally find sexual fetishes fascinating, but have never engaged in any of the ones that I feel would appeal to me. So, unfortunately, I don’t know that I can contribute to this discussion.

    You’ve definitely given me some food for thought, though 🙂

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  3. You’re definitely not alone. I also have, throughout my 40 plus years, mostly been fetish in my grey asexuality, in that sexual arousal and attraction almost always requires deep pity or sympathy to work for me, and, I’m drawn to sickly people with various illnesses which have evoked my intense sympathy in the past, (I also only *feel* attractive and lovable when I’m ill). However, being like this is traditional in my family, and as a teen I knew it was a popular thing in the past, (my favourite novel was Camille), and, as an adult I met close friends who are the same, even though they describe themselves as heterosexual, so, I would not say it’s ever made me feel as extremely alone as you describe, and the only way it’s worried me is how to factor it in in to deciding if I was lesbian or bisexual when I was young, when it had nothing to do with people’s gender, or my intense crushes on and need for feminine women to be devotedly close to. Where I come from, it is quite the thing for women to seek out alcoholic n self medicating, deeply wounded men, but in the lesbian world I explored, it was as a great taboo for women not to present themselves as strong, which was a huge problem for me. I too wondered if I could describe myself as pansexual when that word appeared, and tried it out for a while, but eventually rejected that because of there being a reason why gender isn’t important to me sexually, which, it seems isn’t the case for most people who identify as pan, plus because romantically I’m not attracted to all genders, and I’m mostly interested in romance, and have to have romance for anything to work for me, when it seems most people who use the label pansexual are also either pan-romantic, or much more sexual than I am. I agree fetishes are not talked about much, but from my point of view with my fetish, as outlined above, it’s the non hetero folk who seem nonplussed and nay-saying and invisiblising. Hetero folk seem to understand and exploit what is called the sympathy shag for a woman, and so on. And, where people don’t understand the why, it’s still not a prob in some cultures, like mine, where women are ideally supposed to be sympathetic and caring, and alcoholism is normal, and so on, so there aren’t significant social disapproval problems occurring with a woman who is always nursing people and certainly not one who always has an ill and damaged man.

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