TMI Tuesday: Compulsory Sexuality

Apparently, all my TMI Tuesday stuff is focused on my sexuality shifting from identifying as asexual to sexual. *shrugs* It happens. When most people think TMI they probably think of sex, so I guess it fits.

A quick note before we begin:

This was originally written much earlier in the year. This year, I’ve gone through a lot of radical shifts in regards to my identity, including my sexual orientation. Though I do at times still feel like I fall on the ace spectrum at times, I no longer personally identify as asexual for a variety of reasons, some of which I covered last week.

Further, my definitions here may be skewed and I would like to preface this that the definitions I’ve used in this piece do not and should not be taken to define everyone within the asexual community or who consider themselves on the ace spectrum. Asexual people can experience sexual attraction and enjoy sex and still be asexual. The term “asexual” encompasses a wide range of sexual and non-sexual experiences. I am not trying to police anyone’s identity and this post and the ways I’ve personally defined things within it should not be taken as a definitive guide. This is only my personal experiences and definitions.

That being said, I have left this piece originally as it was written for coherency’s sake. Editing and rewriting it to fit me now would result in a completely different post. If there is something in there that you feel really just does not belong or is extremely inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment letting me know and I will correct it to the best of my ability. It is not my intention to exclude anyone or misrepresent anyone.

 

I identify as asexual, but in practice I’m closer to what some people would describe as “semi-sexual” or maybe even just “broken.” Which I’m saying as a joke, but has been posited to me in the past. And I think that’s something a lot of asexual people face; this idea that because we don’t want or enjoy sex that there is something wrong with us, either physically or emotionally. I can’t tell you how many times my lack of a sex drive has been chalked up to some emotional trauma in my life.

[Which isn’t to say that I haven’t had emotional trauma, or even emotional trauma surrounding sex, but my erratic sex drive predates almost all of it.]

I’m getting ahead of myself.

I want to talk about compulsory [hetero]sexuality, for a second.

For those who are unaware, compulsory heterosexuality is the idea that being heterosexual is the “default” and therefore enforced option in society. Little boys’ t-shirts that say “sup ladies” on them or pink baseball hats for girls that say “I need a superhero” with a picture of Superman. Everyone is assumed straight until proven otherwise.

Compulsory heterosexuality is often the reason some people do not realize they’re gay until later in life, but say, “I kind of always knew.” This isn’t a sudden development in their changing sexuality; it’s a sudden realization that what they had previously thought hadn’t been accurate for them.

The idea of compulsory sexuality follows the same line of thinking: It is assumed that people want sex. And if you don’t want sex, it’s so out of the norm that people think there must be something wrong with you.

I have lived this experience and it’s really messed with my head. As a teenager, the concept of virginity was practically a sin after the age of eighteen. “Virginity” (in this case, “virginity” refers to penis-in-vagina sex, because all my friends engaged in hetero sex) was something to be gotten rid of—a sign that you were immature. In fact, my best friend at the time even offered to have one of her male friends “help take care of that.”

I declined.

But, before anyone gets up in arms about that, let me say this in her defense: Of course she wanted to “help take care of that” for me, because I was constantly complaining about how I needed to get laid.

I didn’t, really. But, I was the lone virgin in my friend group and my friends made such a big deal out of it that I thought I should want to “get rid of” my virginity. The idea of having sex at the time actually terrified me. This was partially due to the piss-poor sex education I received from various sources in my life, but also partially because I didn’t see the point. I was perfectly fine with masturbation to get off.

I’m still perfectly fine with masturbation to get off.

But, here’s the thing: I get what I would call “bouts of sexuality.” Usually once or twice a month (usually coinciding with my menses, but not always), I want to have sex. And I do. And I enjoy it (usually).

Which makes me wonder: Am I not really asexual?

Asexuality is commonly defined as a lack of sexual attraction, but it’s further subdivided into demi-sexual (sexual attraction only to someone with whom you feel an emotional connection to; does not describe me at all), semi-sexual (experiences sexual attraction but very infrequently; most accurate descriptor of me), and the vague “gray-A” which encompasses pretty much every variation of “not quite sexual enough to consider yourself sexual.” And of course, there is debate within and without the asexual community about whether these subdivisions are asexual enough to be considered asexual at all.

[Sidebar: I have never felt more excluded from any community as much as I have the asexual community. Its elitism has been second only to fandom.*]

I’ve always felt “not asexual enough” to really identify as falling within the asexuality spectrum, and it’s only recently that I’ve been actively embracing the term. Even this has been with great hesitance and over analysis, though:

  • Am I really sexual, but the depression has just been messing with my sex drive? (It’s a definite possibility. Depression is an asshole.)
  • Am I really sexual, but just have a low sex drive in general unrelated to my mental or physical health? (This is where the semi-sexual stuff starts coming into play.)
  • Related: Assuming I am “just” semi-sexual, is semi-sexuality asexual enough, or am I appropriating a label which does not apply to me? (This gives me so much anxiety.)

Most recently, I’ve started wondering about these very important questions:

  • Am I asexual, but I just think I’m experiencing sexual attraction because of compulsory sexuality?
  • Are my “bouts of sexuality” just a result of twenty-some-odd years of thinking I had to be a sexual person?
  • If I hadn’t had the notion of sex crammed down my throat since I could watch TV or read magazines, would I experience any kind of sexual attraction at all, sporadic or otherwise?

I’ve been thinking about this more and more, because I’ve noticed a trend in my sexual attraction: I’m only sexually attracted to the unattainable. Fictional characters, usually, but occasionally the famous actors and actresses who play them.

It is a cold day in July when I find myself sexually attracted (and I mean really sexually attracted; not just aesthetically attracted or romantically attracted) to a person in the real world. And even then, these are usually people I see only once in passing who I would never actually talk to because of my anxiety. So, it’s entirely possible they fall under the “unattainable” category, as well.

I have sex, but I don’t enjoy it like I used to. When I first started having sex, it was a new and novel experience. I got to try all these things I’d read about or seen with someone I trusted! Fun! Exciting! Whoo!

But, I realized something the other night, after I had sex with another person for the first time in about three months: I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t feel fulfilled, afterwards. Not even in the “experiencing closeness to another person and giving someone I care about pleasure” sort of way I typically do.

I just felt… gross. And remorseful. And a little guilty.

There are a whole slew of reasons this might have occurred, but up until recently they all centered around me and some unseen problem I felt I had. Whether it could actually be considered a problem is debatable, but let me tell you something:

It gets exhausting always being “the weird one.” There’s nothing inherently wrong with that “just being how your body is,” but damn if I don’t just wish I could function in some kind of easily defined way—not even the cultural norm, but just in a way where I had somewhere I felt like I belonged, even if it is as a small subsect of people.

Looking at my confusing (baffling… mystifying…) (a)sexuality from the perspective of compulsory sexuality doesn’t give me any definitive answers. But for once, I can feel like there’s an actual reason why my body and mind are doing the things they’re doing beyond “just ‘cause.”

And that’s a start.


Again, I would like to reiterate that this was originally written much earlier in the year. My identity and my views (and even my definitions) have changed. They’ll probably continue to change as I learn more about myself. Which, I’ve been doing a lot of introspective thought, lately, so more change is very likely. The words I’ve used above, the definitions and experiences are meant strictly to apply to only me personally. Please, do not try to apply my experiences to all people who identify as asexual.

*Particularly in regards to the asexual community being exclusionary/elitist: This absolutely does not apply to everyone within the ace community. In fact, I have met so many wonderful, open, and accepting people who are part of the ace community since writing this post. It’s all a matter of perspective and where you look.

Thank you for reading.

I love you all.

3 thoughts on “TMI Tuesday: Compulsory Sexuality

    • I feel so old, now lol! Back when I was coming of age, we didn’t separate sexual and romantic. I think it’s great that these terms exist now for people who feel they fit, but there’s so much it’s confusing to an old queer like me lol!

      And kudos to your daughter for knowing herself so young. And kudos to you for (I assume) supporting her. If I had tried to identify as anything other than straight at thirteen, everyone would have told me I was going through a phase or was too young to know better. It’s nice to see that things are changing, in that regard.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I had a lot of questions for her — and I’m an old liberal hippie chick! My daughter seems quite happy with her choice, and I support her in it (don’t have to worry about all the things related to teens and hormones!). The boys are all sorely disappointed because she’s very comfortable in her skin, knows herself, and has one boy she’ll “hang out with” — but he knows she’s asexual and aromantic and respects it. He’s held a torch for her for 3 years (she’s now 17).

        Be who you are. Don’t let anyone every try to convince you otherwise.

        Liked by 2 people

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