Content warning: This one talks about sex & stuff.
[This is part of a series on opportunities for ace activism. See the masterpost here.]
So, this topic is admittedly a weird one, and it’s one of the more nebulous subjects I’m covering in these posts. I don’t really know what the problem here looks like, exactly, but it’s something I’ve seen come up here and there. Or maybe it’s that the problem is clear, but I don’t have a sense of what solutions would look like? I’m not even sure what I should call this topic…
So anyway, the general idea of this problem is that there are a number of aces who are interested in doing sexual things of some kind, but don’t really have a way to approach or navigate that world. The standard ways and the common advice don’t always work here.
How do you safely find someone who will accept your level of interest or disinterest and respect your boundaries when you might not even know what those boundaries are yourself? How can you find someone willing to take part in a “test drive” or be willing to follow a strictly scripted scenario? Things like one night stands or hook-up apps are largely built around the premise that all parties involved have a generally equivalent desire to proceed with at least a common baseline of activities, and refusing to take part is sort of a breach of etiquette.
Or there are aces who really enjoy sex of all forms, but who don’t do the romantic relationship thing, but also don’t feel comfortable with the fling with a stranger thing, either.
I have seen many aces who are into nonsexual kink, but haven’t the faintest idea how to approach getting into in-person activities. They’ll often get blindly directed towards websites that aren’t an exact fit, and left without support.
I’ve seen complaints from people who are super interested in buying sex toys or kink gear, but are super turned off by all the other stuff they have to wade past in stores that sell it, whether online or not.
So much of the language used when talking about sex can be completely alien to many aces. That ranges from basic instructions to advanced tips, from toy reviews to relationship advice. Even just talking about what something is like can be wrapped in words and phrases that have no meaning.
There are even asexual sex workers out there.
And on top of all of this, there’s a cascading crush of stigmas and misconceptions and expectations that all slam down on asexual people who might be interested in sexual things. You’ve got the puritan side, which says that sex is bad, so you’re bad if you’re interested. You’ve got the free love side that sex is good, so you’re bad if you’re not interested enough. You’ve got the non-aces who think that an asexual person who has sex disproves the entire premise of asexuality, and you’ve got the ace people themselves who think that they’re making all asexuals look bad by having sex. And so on and so on.
Anyway, all of this is to say that there a problem here. Probably a number of problems here. And I don’t have the foggiest idea how to tackle them. (Ace meetup group field trip to a sex club? Cherry 2000 style sex robots? Legalized/decriminalized/destigmatized prostitution with an a la carte menu? I don’t know. All my ideas sound like plot starters for bad movies.) But it’s clear to me that there is room here for some ace activists to start dismantling and reshaping this area, to build spaces or come up with best practices on how to approach it.
The work of Xan West might be something to look into. They were doing work around kink, and aceness among other things, before their death.
I like the idea of safe space ace club meetups where they come together and honestly talk about how these things make them feel and openly talking about their sexual related experiences and how those were handled. Maybe coming together and talking about these things will help aces find some answers and/or solutions to certain problems many aces face here. Maybe the field trip idea could work in a sense…it could help the aces in the group find the words to describe how they feel because it’s so extreme of an experience. An asexual feelings forum that also takes field trips from time to time.