Card Carrying Asexual

Are you a card-carrying asexual, aromantic, or demisexual?  Well, you’re not one YET.  Never fear!  Now you can make your own cards to prove your identity!

These images are designed for a 300DPI print at a standard credit-card size.

Card-Carrying Asexual

Card-Carrying Demisexual

 

Card-Carrying Aromantic

 

 

 

The Prospect of Romance

[This has been crossposted from a submission to AsexualActitives.com.]

A couple of years ago, a coworker began flirting with me.  Because it went on for a while (I saw them every day and we would spend hours together due to work), I was able to determine that flirting was indeed happening, which meant I was able to start preparing for a response if a move was made.

“Well, you see…  You’re fun to talk to.  And I like you, just not that way.  I’m sorry.  I’m what’s called asexual, so I just don’t work like that.”

Then the move came.

One day, I left a book of ViewMaster reels of dissected cadavers on their desk.  (Yes, that is a thing.  I own it because I’m into stereophotography and that’s an odd stereophotographic collectible item, not because I’m into anatomy or cadavers or anything like that.  They, on the other hand, were into vintage things with a morbid twist, so I figured they’d be interested.)  And that started the process.

We were in the office, so it’s not like we could just have a straight up conversation about anything like this without everyone else noticing or overhearing, so it began on the company’s internal chat program.  While they were pouring their heart out, I kept getting interrupted by people coming up to ask questions (which happens to me all the time at work), so it wasn’t ideal.  Among the words they typed were “I’m asexual too”.

Well, there goes my counter plan.

The conversation continued throughout the day.  We went to lunch (which I later discovered was considered a “date”), where they told me that they loved me and that they already had a boyfriend and that they’d never done anything like this before.  After work, we sat in a hallway talking about things for several hours as they inched closer and started touching my arm.  As we parted that night, they gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

For some people, this would be a dream scenario, but for me, it was extremely awkward.  I don’t know what to do with this sort of situation.

Should I give a clear no, ain’t gonna happen?  But how do I do that without losing them as a friend?

Should I make something up about “I don’t date coworkers”?  Well, no, they were thinking of leaving the place anyway, so they probably would just for the chance to be with me, at which point I would have ruined both their professional and personal lives.

Should I go for it and see what happens?  But there’s nothing appealing about being in a relationship with this person.  Specifically, there’s nothing appealing about being in a relationship period.  I don’t know how to do that and I don’t really want to do that.  I wouldn’t be good at it.  Going this route would lead to me being uncomfortably pulled into things I don’t want to do pretty much all the time, and it would lead to disappointment for them, and the combination of that would probably lead to the destruction of what had the chance to turn into a long friendship.

After agonizing over it for a day and a half, I told them the truth.  That it wasn’t anything against them.  That I just didn’t see a way that a relationship with me would work, because I’m incapable of doing the things that a relationship would require.  That I’d probably feel compelled to act like I was into it, even when I wasn’t, which would be stressful.  That I couldn’t be what they’d need me to be.

It was hard to do, but it had to be said.

After this, we remained friends until the end.  Ultimately, they transformed my life, both in silly ways (The adventures of the mountain goat!) and profound (Inspiring me to go to NAAC15).  No romantic relationship required.

How I Discovered I Am Asexual

This is how I discovered that I’m asexual.

This.  This one second of a TV-14 sex scene.

It wasn’t that I was repulsed or disgusted or bored or didn’t think the actors were “hot”.  It wasn’t anything like that.

It’s a standard TV sex scene:  Two characters fall into bed, exhausted from their simultaneous orgasm or whatever, but still with enough presence of mind to make sure their naughty bits are covered.

But watch it again.  See if you pick up what bothered me.

The guy falls straight back, to the lower right of the frame.  The woman falls straight back, to the upper right of the frame.

I was utterly baffled by the physical orientation of the two characters.

If they’re both falling straight back and they had just finished immediately prior to the cut to the scene (which is what’s strongly implied), then they should be falling straight back, in parallel, with her directly back on top of him.  Or maybe side by side, with one of them rolling or sliding off.

But they’re not parallel.  They’re at a roughly 45 degree angle to each other, with an intersection point around the center of her chest.  That would mean their genitals are not even remotely close to one another, it’s clear that there was no mouth contact, and from a position like that, even hand contact would be awkward. I suppose they could have been masturbating together, but why would they do that in a position where neither one could see anything?

So just what in the hell were they supposed to be doing there?

I have drawn this diagram to illustrate my confusion:

bonesorientation

As you can plainly see, there’s something strange here.

No, not with the clip from the TV show.  There’s something strange in that I launched a Zapruder Film style analysis of the clip from the TV show.  I didn’t once, in all of this, think “Look at those hot people having hot sex, that’s so hot”.

And then it clicked.  That’s pretty much the way I’d always looked at sex.  A puzzle to be solved.  A curiosity.  Not a desire.  Not a need.  Not a good time.  I looked at sex differently than everyone I’d ever heard talk about the subject.  There had to be a reason for that.  That’s what led to the investigation where I discovered asexuality.

This is how that one second of TV sex scene changed my life.

You’re not alone. I’ve been there, too.

If you’re waiting to find out what it’s like to find someone hot, waiting, waiting, waiting, and it’s just not happening, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there too.

If you find yourself retreating into your shell when the conversation turns to dating or sex, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there too.

If you wanted a relationship because that’s what you’re supposed to do, not because that’s what you want to do, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there too.

If you end up in a relationship and nothing feels natural and everything feels like you’re acting in a play but have never read the script, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there too.

If you’ve had sex and found it boring, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there too.

If you went through high school without going on a single date, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you went through college without going on a single date, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you’re desperately searching for something that will turn you on, and constantly come up empty, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you looked at someone’s naked body in a sexual situation with more scientific curiosity than erotic desire, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you’ve ever been baffled by why a sex scene was included in something, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you’ve sat on the stairs alone, for hours, staring at the wall and wondering just what in the hell is wrong with you, why can’t you be normal, why aren’t you interested like everyone else is, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you suddenly realized, hours after someone talked to you, that the person was trying to flirt with you, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you’ve felt that you’re masturbating wrong, because everyone says you have to think of someone while doing it, and you never have, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you find the entire concept of sexting completely baffling, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you find the entire concept of fantasizing completely baffling and impossible to do, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you’ve ever told someone who’s trying to give you an erotic webcam show to “Go upstairs and put on a more comfortable shirt if you don’t like the one you’re wearing”, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you hear people talk about how horrible it is that they haven’t had sex for a month, and you wonder what’s so hard about it, because it’s been far longer for you and you don’t care, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you’ve ever completely frozen when someone starts hugging or kissing you, because you simply do not know how to respond, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you tried kissing and couldn’t figure out what’s supposed to be so appealing about it, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you’ve felt that people around you are just faking their interest in sex to seem cool, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you sometimes feel like you’re a failed man because your parts work, but you don’t want to use them with someone else like everyone says you’re supposed to be doing, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

If you’ve been in a conversation with a group of other people, when suddenly it turns to which celebrity is the hottest, and the only thought that comes to your mind is “Please don’t ask me because I can’t answer that”, you’re not alone.  I’ve been there, too.

I eventually discovered that I’m asexual.  Maybe that’s what you are.  Maybe not.  I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers.  I just want you to know that you’re not alone.  I’ve been there too.  Really, I have.  Sometimes I’m still there, lost and confused.  But I’ve kept going, and you can keep going, too.

If you’re there now, you can talk to me.  If you want me to say more about any of these things, just to hear what I went through, I can do that.  (I’ve already written about many of these experiences, either here in the archives, or on my site: http://www.asexualityarchive.com/)

And if you’re someone who’s been somewhere, feel free to reblog and share where you’ve been, so others know they’re not alone.   Let’s keep going together.

The Great Chicago Conspiracy

Thanks to a troll, I have discovered an amazing way to mock and ridicule people who attempt to invalidate asexuality or claim that it does not exist:

State unequivocally that Chicago does not exist.

You see, if at least 1% of people are asexual then there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.2 million people in the US who are asexual.  That means that there are more people who are asexual than people who live in Chicago.  So, pretty much any claim that dismisses asexuality based on prevalence alone can also be used to deny Chicago’s existence.  (And that 1% statistic generally believed to be an underestimate of the actual number of aces.)

But it doesn’t end there…  Because denying the existence of a major American city is patently absurd (Just like, you know, denying the existence of a sexual orientation…), you can take Chicago denial to whatever ridiculous extremes you desire.  That means that just about any dismissal of asexuality can be turned into a dismissal of Chicago.

Here are just a few examples.

“Chicago doesn’t exist!”  Good for use with any form of “Asexuality doesn’t exist!”

“Statistically, you’re more likely to be from Los Angeles or New York, so let’s not talk about this Chicago nonsense.”  This is the one that started it all.  Someone was trying to tell me that statistically, people are more likely to be straight or gay, so therefore people shouldn’t bother talking about asexuality.

“Chicago sounds made up.  I’ve certainly never been there.”  This can be used in response to people who say that asexuality must be imaginary because they’ve personally never heard of it before.  Clearly, only things they’ve heard of can exist and only things they experience matter.

“One geography lesson with MY maps and you’ll understand.  I’ve got a magic map that will change where you were born.”  This one works for people who try the “Well, you just haven’t slept with me yet.” line.

”Someday, you’ll find the right borough and you’ll realize you’re from New York after all.”  This is the equivalent of “Someday you’ll find The One”:  The idea that you just haven’t explored all those options you’re not interested in exploring.

“Have you tried being from New York?  You might like it!”  Never mind you were born in Chicago…  You just have to visit New York, suddenly you’ll like it, and that’ll change where you were born.  This can be used when someone says “Have you tried having sex?  You might like it!”

“Maybe you’re not from New York, but have you tried being from LA?  Are you sure?”  When someone says “I get that you’re not straight, but have you thought that maybe you’re actually gay?”, it’s like they’re saying you have to be from New York or LA, there are no other possibilities, because Chicago doesn’t exist.

“Chicago isn’t on the map I’m looking at, so clearly it doesn’t exist.”  This is like claiming that asexuality isn’t in a dictionary or a textbook, and using that to “disprove” its existence.

“You’re just claiming to be from Chicago because you’re afraid to give directions.”   For the people who say that a person is asexual simply because they’re afraid to have sex.

“I’m sure you’ll move to New York or LA when you’re older.”  This works for “You’re just a late bloomer.”

“I thought I was in Chicago once, but I was wrong.  I was really in New York all along.  There’s no such place as Chicago.”  There are people who try to say that asexuality can’t exist, because they mistakenly thought they were asexual once.  As if their experience can be used as a way to shut down everyone else.

“You’re just saying you’re from Chicago because it’s trendy.”  There are people who think that asexuality is a fad of some sort.  Well, so’s the Windy City.

“You just don’t want to admit that you’re from LA because society hates people from LA.”  If someone says “You’re just gay but are afraid to admit it.”, try this one.

“Chicago is basically just New York anyway, just without the Statue of Liberty.  You’re not special just because you don’t have a Statue of Liberty.”  For those sadly misguided people who, for some reason, think “Asexuals are basically straight, just without the sex.”

“That place sounds cold and windy and it’s unnatural that anyone would live there.  Have you considered seeing a real estate agent about your problem?  LA is soooo warm!  I love LA!”  If someone tries to pull “You should see a doctor about that”, pull this one on them.

“There’s no research proving that Chicago exists.”  Because clearly, if you don’t bother to look for research on a subject, it can’t possibly exist.  This is especially true when someone points out that research does, in fact, exist.

“Chicago?  Like the pizza?  It’s not possible for a human to be from Chicago.”  For the “Asexual?  Like a plant?  It’s not possible for a human to be asexual” crowd.

“Two hundred years ago, there weren’t people living in Chicago.  Just New York and Los Angeles and that was that.  Everything else is just a fad.”  Because things that have been recognized more recently than some arbitrary point in the past clearly cannot exist.

“Chicago?  Do we really need another city?  Why can’t people just say they live in ‘America’?  Are they going to want a mayor next?”  We can’t let people accurately describe who they are, because then they won’t cleanly fit into my preconceived boxes.

“Chicago means ‘wild garlic’.  It can’t be a place!”  Words, like “asexual” or “Chicago”, can only mean one thing.  Despite the fact that “like”, “can”, and “mean” can mean multiple things.

“But your accent!  You can’t be from Chicago!”  Useful when someone points out some characteristic and uses it to dismiss asexuality, such as “You’re too pretty to be asexual”.

“You took a trip to New York that one time, so you can’t be from Chicago!”  Similar to the absurd claim that “You’ve had sex, so you can’t be asexual!”

Now it’s your turn!  Try turning any ace invalidation into a ridiculous statement about the Second City!  It’s fun and easy!

Special thanks to everyone who took part in that thread a couple months ago and suggested a bunch of these!

Asexuality in the DSM-5

DSM-2 DSM-1

Asexuality is OFFICIALLY not a disorder, according to the APA.

The images above are from the DSM-5, which is the latest edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  The DSM-5 is a really important book.  It is used by doctors and mental health care providers around the world to diagnose mental disorders.

The DSM-5 explicitly and clearly recognizes asexuality, and says that if a person is asexual, that they should not be diagnosed with Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder or Male Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder.

This book reaffirms that you are valid, your feelings are real, and that you do not have a disorder for feeling that way.

Anyone who claims otherwise is wrong.

They do not know what they are talking about.  You can point them at this book as proof that they are wrong.

 

Full Reference:

On page 434, in the section on Female Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder (302.72), at the end of the “Diagnostic Features”, it reads:

If a lifelong lack of sexual desire is better explained by one’s self-identification as “asexual”, then a diagnosis of female sexual interest/arousal disorder would not be made.

On page 443, in the section on Male Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (302.71), at the end of the “Differential Diagnosis”, it reads:

If the man’s low desire is explained by self-identification as an asexual, then a diagnosis of male hypoactive sexual desire disorder is not made.

Certainly, this is a vast improvement over what was in the DSM-IV.  Not only was there no asexuality exclusion there, but “interpersonal difficulty” was one of the diagnostic criteria for HSDD.  That meant that even if you were fine with being asexual, you could still be diagnosed with HSDD if someone else had an issue with it.  Additionally, the description of “Lifelong Generalized HSDD” was very similar to how people describe asexuality.

But this is not enough…

There are problems with what’s in the DSM-5.

  • “Scare quotes”:  One of the most noticeable issues is that in the section for FSIAD, the word asexual is in quotation marks.  This has the unintended side effect of delegitimizing asexuality in the minds of the reader.  They might see asexuality as a real thing, but have more doubts about “asexuality”.
  • Self-identification:  As written, these exclusions require that the patient say “I’m asexual” for them to apply.  That’s fine for those of us who know who we are, but what about those who don’t?  You can’t self-identity as asexual if you’ve never even heard of asexuality.  And there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people out there who are in that situation.  I’ve personally heard stories of people who have gone through “treatment” for HSDD.  It didn’t work and made them miserable.  Only afterwards did they discover that they were ace.  Self-identification only works when there is widespread awareness.  Psychiatrists need to be proactive in this regard.  Certainly, a psychiatrist should never “diagnose” someone as asexual, but they need to be providing the tools and information for their patient to make that determination on their own.
  • Asexuality is not mentioned in the Desk Reference version of the DSM:  The DSM is a thousand page, 3 lb. monster of a book.  Because of this, there’s an abridged variant, that only contains the diagnostic criteria.  Unfortunately, there’s no mention of asexuality in the diagnostic criteria for either disorder.  The asexuality exclusion is located in a different section of the text.  That means that if someone just looks at the diagnostic criteria in the Desk Reference, they’re not going to see it.
  • Clinically Significant Distress:  Part of the diagnostic criteria for these disorders is that there must be “clinically significant distress”.  But…  Repeatedly being told that you’re broken can cause “clinically significant distress”.  Wondering why you’re so different from everyone else can cause “clinically significant distress”.  Being pushed to fix something when there’s nothing wrong can cause “clinically significant distress”.  None of those are signs that you have a disorder, those are signs that the world around you has a disorder.

One more thing…

I would like to make it clear that I am not saying “We are valid because we’re in this book.”  We are in this book because we are valid.