First Proposal

As some of you already know, I’m doing my dissertation on asexual publishing, as part of the academic requirements for completion of my MA in Publishing at Oxford Brookes University (one of the leading courses on publishing in the UK😉 ).

I decided I will blog everything I can on it, in order to get as most feedback as possible, both from inside and outside the asexual community. All comments are welcome.

This is what I submitted today in order to register for the research methods seminar:

Provisional Title:

Asexual Publishing: Does it Make Sense?

Brief Synopsis (c.100 words)

Asexuality as a sexual orientation is still poorly known. It is an identity in the making. However, the asexual community is growing by the hour: Besides the 21,000 English-speaking members, the community interacts in other 15 languages and is fighting to see itself represented in a society where sex is mainstream. Publishing, as influential and powerful media, would play an important role in this quest for visibility. This dissertation aims to provide a framework for publishers to determine if asexuality is a profitable subject for new editorial proposals.

Research Objectives (add more points if necessary)

  • To determine the different audiences for asexuality-related publications
  • To determine the size of a market for asexuality-related publications
  • To determine types of content that can be considered asexual content
  • To compile a list of past popular publications that could be considered asexual but that have not been labeled as such

What resources and/or skills do I need to complete this work?

Constant and open communication with members of the asexual community, through a) the official website www.asexuality.org and, if required, b) assistance to some of the regular asexual meetings currently held in London and in other parts of the UK.

Organisation skills are also necessary to be able to categorize the different kinds of suitable readerships among both inside and outside the asexual community.

What are my motivations for doing this dissertation?

I identify myself as asexual and personally understand the need for asexual representations in popular culture.

My need

Today I had a chat with a very dear friend of mine. Among the subjects of discussion, the fact that I am asexual came up. After talking to her, I am now absolutely sure that discussing asexuality is never easy, and 9 out of 10 times that you try to explain it, even to someone you know well, people will get the wrong idea. For example, that asexuals are virgins and don’t like sex (see my article on common misconceptions).

She advised me to keep asexuality quiet until I tried sex. She argued that men get scared if you tell them that you are not interested in sex. Well, I know that. I know that (most) men rely enormously in the sexual aspect of a relationship. But I am a grown-up woman. I don’t have any reason to hide what I am just to “not scare” someone (a grown-up man???)  away.  If I was not open about my asexuality towards a guy, I would be nothing but an hypocritical. It’s like being a lesbian and not telling that particular detail to the guy you are dating. So, no, I have been and will continue to be as out of the pantry as possible (and yet “not being interested in sex” is not exactly what asexuality is about, though is close).

And given that she obviously didn’t get it, and just when I was thinking about a zillion different things I really needed to explain to her, she suddenly changed the subject, arguing that the issue had no further interest. That it was overrated, that she didn’t see how it could be as important and as discussion-worthy as I believed. That people were different, that asexuality was valid, but that talking too much about it just made it more important than it really was. That talking politics and social change were more useful.

I was shocked. I felt drown, suffocated, mutilated. Didn’t she realized how much I NEEDED to explain it?

It all comes down to happiness. Asexuality is important precisely because it seeks social change through more people being happy about themselves. A change of attitude towards “normality” and behavior, against the idea that people need sex, whatever form it takes, to be happy. Just as the homosexual community needs to be recognized as valid community, and people need to be educated about it, so does the asexual community. If there is something bad about being asexual (if at all) is the fact that people think you don’t exist. Hence our need to be talked about.

Now, let me say something about guys, interest in sex, and being asexual. First, I am asexual because, now, I just don’t feel like having sex. And I think it would be extremely misogynist from my part to date and have sex, even if I don’t want it, just to “stand a chance” of finding somebody among the population of average guys, just because guys get scared if you don’t. 

Somehow there is a general perception that women are not as much into sex as guys are. As an asexual, I don’t like this particular generalization (because it disproves my fellow asexual male friends), but it kind of  validates among the people I know. It’s as if it was in the psychology of women to tie sex to love, whereas for men, sex can be a physical pleasure with no further meaning. I personally can’t consider sex at an early stage of a relationship. No, let me rephrase it. I personally can’t consider relationships at an early stage of an acquaintance. Let alone sex. It just doesn’t click. Love, or some kind of deep emotional connection, has to be somewhere. When a woman is in love, mere sexual interest from a guy is a recipe for disaster (or vice-versa). I know it.

I’ve been told that sexual interest is valid and genuine. But there… I’m clueless. For me, and for (most) asexuals, sex and love are different things. I can love even if sex is not involved. So, if someone “gets scared” if sex is not present… I become suspicious. I don’t understand it.

Just as people can’t understand me.

You know, it’s the 21st century…

I just came out to my very sexual cousin, who is also a female and who is about my age, 29.

She LAUGHED at me when I told her I was a virgin. “It’s the 21st century and you are a virgin?”

I swear I wanted to punch her soo hard… but I just explained her what asexuality was about. She’s a psychiatrist and at first she related it to some kind ot fear of sex. But I managed to explain her all the different flavors of asexuality, how some of us are repulsed, some curious, and some even sexually active.

At the end she was kind of interested.

But I have still that feeling of unease to have come out at someone who didn’t believe me and who actually asked if I was serious. That’s very, very upsetting. I guess I should become used to it.

Still it hurts, and even though she was very understanding, the whole experience left me wanting to move oceans and tides to scream the world about asexuality SOOOOO LOUD. I even twitted the whole thing…. and I am not embarrased.

Oh, well….

Just needed to get this out of my chest. This really upset me. Seriously, people can be so ignorant! You should never laugh ar someone else’s sexual orientation. After all, it’s the 21st century.

I know I’m asexual because…

It has been tried a couple of times. But as it is about our dear, wide, heterogeneous, fluid asexuality we’re talking about, doing a unique “You know you’re asexual when” list is really difficult and definitely wouldn’t represent many asexuals in many repects, if not at all.

So, instead I just made a list of the things that tell me that I am asexual. I find it is a great excercise for self-knowledge.

I know I am asexual because:

  • At 28, I had to ask what sexual attraction was.
  • I have never wanted to streap a love interest’s clothes off, no matter how in love I have been.
  • When people said “He/she’s hot” I used to think it was some kind of a compliment relating to great looks.
  • When, thanks to AVEN, I found out that it was possible to date somebody of my age (29) without having to immediately consider sex, I felt… RELIEVED.
  • When watching E! Entertainment’s Hottest list I feel… nothing. I think “Wow, they have great bodies, must excercise a lot. Wish I was like that”. Ocasionally, a nice face accompanying the body makes my heart bump.
  • When I see a big poster featuring a handsome man and a beautiful woman, both supposedly sexy, I approach it and lean… towards the woman, because I want to check her outfit out (or, when watching the DVD cover of  Mr. and Mrs. Smith I completely ignore Brad Pitt in order to check Angelina’s ass, just because is perfect and I wonderd how to make mine look like that!).
  • My younger cousins, the ones I once saw as little children, have dated and  have had sex, while I haven’t done either.
  • I fantazise about kissing, hugging and holding hands.
  • I have seen my friends getting dumped/breaking out with strong significant others, crying their eyes out, dealing with singleness, then finding new love interests who become strong significant others, then getting engaged/married. In the meanwhile, I’ve been single all along and have always felt perfectly OK.
  • When sex becomes the topic of any conversation I sigh and think “Here we go again!”.
  • When I see a scene of casual sex, I think: “No way! Do people really do it with people they barely know?”
  • When I learn that somebody had sex with their significant other soon after they became a couple, I think: “No way! Do people really do it that fast?”
  • I thought unmarried couples had sex about once every two months. I was actually shocked when found out what the “normal” frequency was.
  • I didn’t know that people begin to physically desire their significant ones at a given point of their relationships. And I learned this only because I read Annie on my mind.
  • Before I knew about asexuality, I used to picture myself in relationships involving sex only because I thought it was what I, as an adult, was “supposed” to do, or what any significant other would “expect” me to do;  not because I, physically or emotionally, needed or wanted to. Now that picture has changed.

Common misconceptions

After having come out on my personal blog, a friend of mine replied with the classic “You haven’t found the right one” line and “Asexuals are just frustrated people who haven’t been able to have sex”. I wonder when, oh, when did I say being asexual had anything to do with not having a significant other nor not having sex? And When did I say asexuals wanted to have sex in the first place? People clearly don’t understand.

So I decided to compile a list of common misconceptions. I’m sure that after reading it, skeptics or confused people will be even more confused, but at least they’ll start pondering.

Here is a list of what DOES NOT define asexuality, along with my attempt to explain why they are misconceptions:

1. Asexuals are virgins

Many asexuals have had/have sex, many times and with many different people, but don’t find it is particularly appealing by itself or find other things more intrinsecally exciting.

2. Asexuals are repulsed by sex

While it is true that many asexuals are uncomfortable with sex and intimacy, that is not the case of all, and this particular trait definitely does not consitute a definition for asexuality.

3. Asexuals want to have sex and they’re just frustrated people because they haven’t been able to have any

As asexuals don’t experience sexual attraction, sex is not something they are desperately seeking. Sexual people who have high sexual urges have real trouble understanding this. If you can’t conceive how a person does not want to have sex, it just means one thing and one thing only: you are very sexual, and that’s great! But please, don’t judge other people just because of how you feel.

4. Asexuals don’t want to have sex ever in their life

Some asexuals wouldn’t mind having sex, it’s just not something they are desperately seeking. Given the right conditions (right time, person, place) some romantic asexuals would even find sex very appealing. On the other hand, yes, some asexuals don’t want to have sex ever. But note this is just the case of some and does not consitute a definition for asexuality.

5. Asexuals are degendered/don’t have sexual organs

Seriously, what?

6. Asexuals can’t enjoy sex/can’t have orgasms/erections

Asexuals can have orgasms and erections just as sexuals do. They can enjoy sex just as sexuals do.

7. Asexuals don’t fall in love and/don’t want to have a significant other

Romantic asexuals fall in love and most want to find a significant other/have already a significant other. Aromantic asexuals, on the other hand, don’t.

I am the biggest romantic asexual🙂

8. Asexuals don’t have a significant other

Many asexuals have significant others, both sexual and asexual.

9. Asexuals couples don’t have sex

Asexual couples can have sex and some do. It’s just nothing they need.

10. An asexual can’t have a significant other that is sexual

An asexual/sexual couple is something that poses challenges, but it’s not impossible.

11. When an asexual finds a significant other that attracts them sexually, that is the proof that asexuality wasn’t real

This is called demisexuality, which can be considered part of asexuality. Some prefer to place it in a gray area between sexuality and asexuality. Demisexuality is defined as being sexually attracted to somebdoy only when a strong relationship exists. It does not disprove asexuality, as this is something that happens to only some former defined as asexual, and it never becomes “full” sexuality (being attracted sexually, indistinctively of the person triggering the attraction).

Asexual, or my coming out post

This is a transcription of my coming out post. It’s the only article about asexuality there is on my website, which I think is pretty much the introduction to and the reason of this blog.

* * *

I’m asexual. And I’m perfectly OK. I’m healthy. And I’m sane. And I live a happy life. Yet there is a problem with being asexual: As asexuality is known only poorly, it is often misunderstood and very often misjudged. And it is so diverse, so different from person to person, so wide and so fluid (just as any other sexual orientation) that taking a single testimonial (even if I’d love to give mine!) as a definition would lead to a constrained generalization.

So, yes, I will tell you how I have experienced asexuality, but before I do that, I’d like you to see this:

I like this video because I feel it is a good summary, a good introduction to asexuality, and also a good example of how the traditional medical/psychological community approaches the subject. Medical professionals tend to try and «fix us» explaining that we most likely have some kind of trauma, or are ashamed, or are afraid of intimacy (well, if you make a living by counseling people about their sex life, how inconvenient would it be that potential clients find out there’s actually nothing wrong with them?).

So, after that, let me say that I am asexual because of three main reasons:

1) I am not heterosexual
2) I am not homosexual
3) I am not bisexual

I am 4) Asexual. Asexuality is a sexual orientation… that defines the lack of sexual attraction (although I don’t feel I «lack» anything).

I do, however, have a romantic orientation: I’m hetero-romantic… asexual. I fall in love with men, but I have never, ever, experienced any kind of sexual attraction (the desire to engage in sexual activity) to men. Nor to women. Nor to both. This doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy sex, or that I despise it. I just have never felt the need for it. And that is OK.

The funny thing is that, I learned this only two months ago. Being 29, I had always identified myself as heterosexual because… well, I liked men. Did I?  Euh… not in the way most women do.

My crushes have always felt only in my stomach, and ultimately, in my broken heart😛 But apparently, most people feel them further down too (and I was actually shocked when I found out). Actually, that’s what defines what your sexual orientation is: Which gender is the one that produces you that feeling down there.

But at school you are never told that!!!

I guess that in sexual education classes they assume that by the words «sexual attraction» everyone understands what they’re talking about. Well… some of us don’t. I always believed I was «sexually attracted» to men because I fell in love with men… except that I never felt anything sexual about it!

It’s complicated. We are all different. But I know that from the moment I knew I was asexual, I have felt a lot happier. I have always wanted a romantic relationship, but I always thought that, in order for that to happen, I would have to ultimately have sex at some point, because it was the «adult» thing to do. Because it was what I was «supposed» to do. But since sex is something I have never wanted, the issue of its importance in romantic relationships had always felt as an enourmous pressure. Now that I know asexuality exist, and that I know a lot of people identify as asexual, I feel… relieved! Truly, deeply relieved.

And I can’t but smile at all the asexual pride we have adopted: An asexual is called an Ace (for the pronounciation of the English word asexual). And we use a lot of emoticons of cakes, because it is said that between sex and cake… an asexual would rather take cake. And we are all asexy!

It’s been said that 1% of the population of the world is asexual, but I’m sure that number is higher. It’s just that people don’t know that asexuality, as the fourth sexual orientation, exists, and they define themselves by their romantic one. Just as I used to do.

The good news is that there are already popular asexual characters on TV, literature and film. It’s just that the label hasn’t been put officially on them. Check out some of my favourite ace moments, from very popular characters I’m very fond of:

Sheldon, from The Big Bang Theory, as The Clueless archetype*:

Amélie (specially from 2:20 to 2:59), from Le fabuleux déstin d’Amélie Poulin, as The Cupid archetype*:

So… that’s pretty much it.

Want to learn more? I believe there is no better way than AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network) itself. Check out the forums. Either if you are sexual or asexual, you are always welcome to share experiences, advise, and above all, ask questions about asexuality and participate in an open debate. But please, be nice.

Please, feel free to share this blog. The asexual community needs as much visibility as possible. Believe me, this will make a lot of people happy. Thank you!

*As proposed by David Jay (@davidgljay) in Asexuals on the TV Screen

What’s in a kiss?

It just hit me.

I had never thought it like this, but I now think that, as with sex, I don’t feel like kissing random guys. I would only kiss when loving somebody, expecting a whole romantic story afterwards. Contrary to a lot of people (your average sexual person?), who will be more than willing to kiss without really wanting anything else out of it, just because kissing feels great and it is fun (what? it isn’t unless you have feelings!).

I had a very painful experience with a sexual guy. We kissed. He did it for the sake of it, and never cared about it afterwards, whereas I did it because I loved him.

I really didn’t feel the butterflies in my stomach I thought I was supposed to feel. The whole time I was thinking… Is this it? Is this all that it feels like? It was kind of weird and definitely nothing I would have done if I didn’t care for the guy I had in front of me. Turns out he could perfectly have kissed a totally random girl.

Oh my god. Could this be an expression of demi/asexuality vs. sexuality?