A Little Bit More

A unicorn named Charles responded to my last post. My reply swelled into something post sized. Exactly the size of this post, in fact.

Asexuality, as used by humans, is defined by a lack of sexual attraction - not a lack of sex drive

It's an interesting distinction, which I admit hadn't occurred to me. You're saying that asexuality is a directionless sex drive.

But if that were true - if asexual people want sex but don't want sex with any type of other thing - then there would be three possible outcomes:

(1) Having no sex of any kind at all, leading to a great deal of frustration and transferal of sexual energy to other pursuits.
(2) Masturbation as the only sexual outlet, with or without inanimate 'toys', as sex that at least doesn't involve other people.
(3) Without any preference for one gender over another, or indeed any other preference, but with the continued presence of a sex drive...a kind of omnisexuality. Albeit one shaped and channeled by cultural norms, social milieu, and personal idiosyncrasy.

Self-described asexual people do have sex with other people and themselves as you write, however they may feel about it, so (1) and (2) are out. Which leaves only (3) - sexual drive that could in principle go anywhere.

Sex drive is the feeling or compulsion to engage one's genitalia in some kind of activity usually coded sexual, usually for the purpose of orgasm

That astonishingly pretentious way of writing is duly noted. Describing common ideas in uncommon language doesn't give you uncommon insight.

So asexuals who have a romantic orientation[...]

There are certainly plenty of men who love women but prefer to have sex with men, or love men but are attracted to a very few women, and any other permutation you care to think of.

As you say, some asexuals will love, and others won't. And those who do will find it changing over time, just as it does for the rest of us.

asexuality has nothing to do with gender identity, as you seem to think might be a possibility

What I suggested was that one man might be using the term 'asexual' in that way, not that is was common or correct.

Those who want to be/feel they should be "sexless" are generally called neutrois.

I'm sure there are many terms for the many permutations of gender identity, physical gender, sexual attraction, romantic attraction and personal preference. Neutrois is one I'd forgotten about, together with Pangendered, Othergendered, Nullgendered, and other terms which a quick google search provides.

I don't think multiplying the vocabulary and filling up every shade of each dimension on the chart with several contested synonyms is helpful.

Finally, overrigid notions of gender, sexuality, love etc. are obviously inaccurate and a source of suffering to those who try to live within them. But that's true whether there are two overrigid notions or a hundred.

Positing a hundred to escape the confines of two does not actually solve the problem. I'm not saying that you, Charles, are doing that, but it is always a danger.

But hey, what do I know? As far as I'm concerned I'm uncomplicatedly male, I like to suck cock and don't have the patience for a relationship.


  1. Let's start with full disclosure, shall we? I am asexual, aromantic, lacking a libido, vaguely female identified, and in many ways far too pretentious for my own good. That said, I must say that I find some of your conclusions somewhat problematic.

    A great deal of the discourse in the asexual community is devoted to separating libido and sexual attraction. This is both a useful distinction to make and a way of ensuring that people stop questioning our existence on the basis that some of us masturbate or enjoy having sex. Some asexuals have a sex drive, some do not. Those who do may choose to satisfy it by masturbating or by having intercourse, just as sexual people do. In some ways, I suppose, your characterization of asexuality as "having a directionless sex drive" is applicable to libidoist asexuals. However, libido and attraction are not the same thing, and, as I said, it's something of a priority of the asexual community to make that distinction, if only to keep people from either invalidating us completely or falling into asexual elitism. (Which is the notion that only non-libidoist repulsed asexuals are "true" asexuals.)

    Also important is the separation of romantic and sexual orientation. You touched on that, and you're quite correct that they needn't match up even in sexual people.

    On the subject of gender identity, I think there's a difference between offering up a technical term for an identity and trying to deliberately crowd the field with words. If you choose to explore the asexual community more, you'll find that one of the things we do is get very into the technical, because the things we're dealing with are fairly abstract, nebulous concepts, and especially when one is trying to describe something one does not experience, it's safest to be as technical as possible.

    Also, a great many people (myself included) find great comfort in labels and in meticulously defining every bit of our identity. Having the words creates a kind of shorthand, so that I can call myself a non-libidoist panplatonic aromantic asexual genderqueer cisgirl and expect to be able to make myself at least vaguely understood by many of the people with whom I communicate. (Or at least those with a working knowledge of queer vocabulary.) The problem is less the labels than the people who insist on rigidly sticking to said labels and seeing them as end products instead of tools to be shaped and personalized.

    I apologize if I come off confrontational. That honestly wasn't my intention. Hopefully that all made some kind of sense.

  2. You don't seem confrontational. But neither do you seem to disagree with me much.

    Being sexually attractable and being the kind of person who wants to have sex are easily separable. As are:

    * Aesthetic attraction
    * Romantic attraction
    * 'Personality' attraction
    * Desiring romantic closeness
    * Desiring friendship
    * Desiring an orgasm

    And I believe you'll agree that even the most usually unlibinous person can occasionally be turned on by this one person, or that specific combination of circumstances and characteristics.

    But I think there are two things to remember.

    (1) People change, and their tastes and self-definitions change.
    (2) For everybody - no matter how common or uncommon their personal makeup - all the things I mention above and more are interwoven. Indeed, they bleed into each other.

    Liking a person emotionally tends to make sex with them more enjoyable, even if you're not sexually attracted to them. A hug can be both sexual and fraternal at the same time simultainiously satisfying different needs.

    I can define myself as an undominant thirtysomething british gay man, but the precise expression of each of these attributes depends on...the other attributes.

    You might say: People are gestalts, and emphasising the individual elements can mean losing sight of that.