Saturday, June 6, 2009


A recent post at Feministing illustrates the point I was trying to make about tolerance that sometimes turns into a parody of itself.

The post responds to a message from somebody who feels asexual and finds anybody's touch "absolutely repulsive. The thought of sex makes me gag a bit." The response that the author of the message gets to her post takes the idea of political correctnes to the extreme that is even a little scary. The main idea of the response is "Asexual people of the world, unite!" Don't worry about beinng asexual, it says. You can always get together with other asexual people, date them, and form yet another neat identity group.

This attitude does not come exclusively out of the desire to show the world how tolerant and accepting one is. It is also the result of a deeply Puritanical view of sex, which refuses to see human sexuality on terms of a physiological process. If anybody found the idea of eating or sleeping (also physiological processes) "absolutely repulsive", we wouldn't be as likely to dismiss this problem with a lot of well-meaning but ultimately empty words. Nobody would (at least for now, I think) suggest to form an identity group around this problem.

Another problem that the response to this post brings to light, is the deep-seated fear that many Americans feel towards psychology as a field of knowledge. While several people suggested that the author of the post look for hormonal causes of her asexuality, nobody mentioned that it might be helpful for her to search for psychological causes.


Ivan said...

This is a very intollerant post. We do exist! Please go to . Statistics tell we are less than 1% of humanity, but that is still a lot. Asexuals are divided into heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic and aromantic. Also some asexuals feel a need for masturbation (called asexuals with sex drive) while others don't (asexuals without drive). Some can even experience sexual attraction but only on themselves (autoerotic), others experience attraction on anime/characters, others even write sex stories but are not attracted by real people even when in love. Some asexuals even have/have had problems with porn addiction or other addictions.
While it's true that many asexuals have strong psychological issues with sexuality and sometimes intimacy in general even among friends, it's also true that there are many sexuals who have the same problems and there are many asexuals who don't have those problems. It's very complicated, anyway we exist and if you check on the forum you'll find out we have online and real life meetups and dating sites too. We need the internet to find a partner because we are so few and far between that for us long distance relationships are normal, anyway knowing that sex is not expected when we finally meet is a big relif and makes long distance relatioships easier than for sexuals.
I hope to have been informative enough... Best regards

Anonymous said...

Seriously? Why is this absolute ignorance of asexuality and understanding of issues for sexual minorities coming up on a *feminist* blogroll?

What next? Gay men should consider the psychological and physiological causes of finding the idea of cunnilingus absolutely repulsive (because after all, we do live in a society that tells us that vaginas are yucky and smelly)? And lesbians must be investigated biologically because it's not understandable because doesn't evolution cause all women to crave penises so they can reproduce?

Yes, you sound absolutely ever bit as ignorant and intolerant as people say those things about gay and lesbian people.

Clarissa said...

Dear Ivan, your post is indeed very informative, thank you for taking the trouble to share the informationn. I have never put the existence of your group in question and from what you say I see that there is very little if any disagreement between what you and I have to say on the subject. Good luck with everything!

Clarissa said...

Dear Anonymous! I find the rhetorical device you employ in your argument to be non-conducive to a real discussion on the subject. You ascribe to me some homophobic ideas that I never dreamed of expressing and then argue with them and condemn me for them. What next? You will accuse me of antisemitism or racism (equally baselessly)?

The bit about yucky vaginas really confused me. Which society promotes this vision of vaginas? The societies where I have lived never told me anything remotely similar about the female vagina.

Clarissa said...

I also invite everybody who repeats the word "intolerant" like some mantra to read my recent post on excessive tolerance. There, I talk about how the desire to be tolerant at all cost castrates our capacity to generate new ideas and participate in debates on important subject. This discussion is contained in one of my posts on Zizek.

Allison said...

I read the original post as well as all of the comments including yours and the responses to your comments.

Most people weren't being excessively accepting, in fact the overwhelming number of responses consisted of something like -- being sexual is normal, a low sex drive is abnormal you should get your hormones checked and/or see a therapist. The original person asking the question clarified that she had her hormones checked everything is fine. She just finds sex a huge turn off.

The idea of most of the responses seemed to be being sexual is what the majority of people are, which means there's something wrong with being asexual.

I don't think the comparison of being gay or lesbian is that far fetched. I have to ask this --

If the question had been along the lines of "I think I may be a lesbian, I find the idea of sex with men repulsive, but I've had crushes on boys in the past. And now I'm attracted to women. Could I be a lesbian or maybe bisexual?"

Would you still say there needs to be physical tests as well as seeing a therapist?

After all most people are heterosexual and being homosexual (or bisexual) is considered other. It's still physiological.

If you wouldn't give the same advice why not?

Honestly there are such variations in sexuality to begin with why is the idea of someone not wanting to have sex such a hard one to grasp?

Allison said...

I have to make one more comment about the "Puritanical" view of sex. As if Puritans were against sex.

They were against sex outside of marriage and weren't tolerant of homoesexuality but they had a very pro sex attitude. The Puritans believed sex was important and necessary to a marriage and that two people should have passion and desire, etc/. Even some of their religious writings have a passionate tone.

I don't claim to be an expert on Puritans but if you read a few books about them you will find out all sorts of things. Like there were a few women who managed to get their marriages severed when their husbands were no longer able to perform sexually.

They liked beer as well.

Clarissa said...

The common usage of the word puritanical today means sexually repressive, which is exactly what American society is. The same happens with the word Victorian, irrespective of how the actual Victorians felt about sex.

As to you parallel with homosexuality, I still fail to see how it applies. As I said, sexuality is a physiological process, like sleeping or eating. depriving yourself of sleep will be detrimental to your health. This is my firm belief and I have a right to it. Since gay and lesbian people do not deprive themselves of sex, there is no reason to believe that they might suffer detrimental effects of sexual deprivation.I find that trying to bring homosexuality into the discussion of sexless lives is nothing but a tactic aimed at diverting the conversation from the actual topic.

Anonymous said...

Why do you guys keep equating homosexuality and asexuality? These are entirely different things. I find this disturbing.

Allison said...

Comparing asexuality and homosexuality isn't the best comparasion but I don't think comparing asexuality to extreme sleep deprivation or eating disorders is better.

According to the asexual website mentioned above there are people who have romantic feelings to those of the same sex but still don't have a desire to have sex.

Plus what kind of detrimental effects do you think celibacy causes? That's not clear to me at all. I know the damage sleep deprivation and starvation can cause but what possible physical damage can a lack of sex cause?

Clarissa said...

Everybody is forgetting that this whole discussion started with a letter somebody wrote to ask for help with her asexuality. This is not somebody who is happy and content with what's happening. In my opinion, before you undergo the extremely invasive hormonal therapy, it definitely makes sense to see a psychologist. Notice how I don't go to the websites of asexual people and give them this advice. I only offer it to someone who said she wanted help and advice on this matter.

As for health benefits of sex, I know for an absolute fact that it lowers blood pressure, helps with headaches and even removes severe tooth pain. I'm not a doctor, so I only mention what I know personally. But there are tons of medical info on the subject on the internet.

Besides all this, sex is one of the best experiences available to human beings. It is simply an amazing thing. But the repressive patriarchal society doesn't want us to know that.

Clarissa said...

I also want to add that for me this is not about asexual people and the way they live their lives. I'm not bothered by them but rather by what I consider to be an alarming trend within the feminist community, which often perpetuates patriarchal and sexually repressive view of female sexuality. There are so many sources that tell women that sex is wrong and dirty. I don't think that the feminist community needs to add to that.

pretzelboy said...

It's true that the woman writing in about her asexuality wasn't overly happy about being asexual, but I think that this is because we live in a society sorely conflicted about sex and part of that is the belief that sex is essential to being happy and that everyone needs to be interested in sex. (Even if not everyone thinks this, there are a lot who do. It would be naive to think you're the only person with the opinion you've expressed.) In this context, asexuals can often feel strange, alone, alienated and broken. The woman who wrote the letter was seeking validation of her experiences from someone she saw as an authority--this is exactly what the response she got provided.

In many ways, the analogy with homosexuality isn't a very good one, but here I think there is a useful analogy: Many people upon realizing they are a lesbian or a gay man are distressed by it because of negative societal messages about homosexuality. There are two ways to try to deal with that distress: you can tell them they're right to be distressed, tell them all the many supposed "causes" of homosexuality (with no actual evidence, just "clinical observation" by heteronormative therapists), and try to "cure" them. This was long the dominant approach in psychology and psychiatry. The other option is to normalize their experiences, tell them it's okay, and help them with connect with others with similar experiences. This is now the dominant approach in the mental health professions. With asexuality, there are the same two options. However, sexual normative views still dominate, so telling them they need to get fixed is still considered a perfectly legitimate options. Many asexuals have had very negative experiences in therapy because of therapists who assumed their asexuality must be a problem, so they wouldn't believe the asexual person, or they would assume this was something needing to be fixed, hindering the asexual person from getting help with the reason they went to therapy.

Because we live in a culture that's not only sexually repressive, but also "asexually repressive" (feel free to google the term), many asexuals feel that there is something wrong with them. Many psychologists give long lists of supposed causes with no empirical support (just clinical observation)--both on a websites and in academic articles.

Ultimately, I think the issue is this: many people, in trying to make sex "normal" rather than taboo have made sex normative and sexual disinterest taboo. Yes, lots of people like sex and it can be a very positive thing in their lives. But not everyone likes sex, and it is naive to assume that sexually, everyone is the same, or that if you like sex, everyone should like sex. (I can't assume that because I like linguistics, everyone should like linguistics.) Sexual desire is a big part of what makes it fun for most people; if someone doesn't experience that, it's probably not going to be all that fun.

Hopefully this helps in trying to understand why many asexuals take issue with the sorts of views you have expressed.

Clarissa said...

As much as I love linguistics, I have never seen it compared to a physiological process.
It is impossible have a discussion where people constantly try to compare things that are profoundly different in nature. Asexuality and homosexuality, sex and linguistics, apples and pink elephants. The only use of these senseless analogies is to deflect attention from one's lack of actual arguments.

Anonymous said...

Now try substituting the word "sex" with the word "food" in the last post and you can totally go and place it at anorexic websites. :-)

Allison said...

Clarissa, I understand that you think regular sex is beneficial but you still haven't demonstrated how a lack of sex or sex drive is detrimental or even comparable to sleep deprivation or starvation.

Sleep deprivation or starvation cause serious health issues. So far you haven't put forth an example of how sex deprivation can be harmful to someone.

To me saying - sex can be beneficial is not the same as saying a lack of sex can be harmful.

Can you give one example a lack of sex is dangerous to someone's health?

Also why can't sex acceptance include the acceptance that some people just do get the same enjoyment out of it as others?

Clarissa said...

Allison, the whole system of organs in a person's body isn't functioning and you seriously ask how it can be bad foer one's health? Again, purely on the basis of my personal experiences, lack of sex makes my blood pressure go up, I start catching colds all the time. Of course, I have not experienced long-time sex deprivation, but I've seen people who have and detrimental effects were evident. In my personal opinion, there is simply no other reason for migraines than lack of sex. In my country, if you complain about migraines to a doctor, the first question you get asked is about your sex life.

pretzelboy said...

Comparing sex to eating, drinking and sleeping is also a problematic analogy. Without food, water, and sleep, you die. Without sex, not so much. Lots of people are perfectly capable of having happy, healthy, and productive lives without sex. This is simply an empirical fact. Again, not so much for food, water and sleep. Finding food, water and sleep repulsive is a problem not because they are "physiological processes," but because finding these repulsive would have profoundly negative impacts on people's lives. By equating sex with theses because it is a "physiological" process is comparing the two because of one similarity in order to ignore the vitally important one.

That's how analogies work: they're useful for the purpose of illustration by helping people to use their knowledge about one domain in understanding another. And they can be useful for the purpose of arguments because if two things are similar in some essential feature, they are likely to be similar in some other feature. The question is how relevant the similarity discussed is to the property to be generalized. In my comparison between asexuality and homosexuality, I recognize that there are a lot of differences, but I feel that they are similar in the particular area that I discussed. Again, with my linguistics analogy, in the vast majority of areas, people would be ridiculed if they said, "I like X, therefore everyone should like X" or even "Most people like X, therefore everyone should like X." Yet there is a widespread belief in our culture that sex is somehow fundamentally different, that it is okay to say "Most people like sex, therefore everyone should like sex." The reason you give is that it is a "physiological process" (could you define that?) But Everything I do involves physiological processes and viewing sex as a physiological process has the danger of ignoring that sex is lot more than just physiology. Sex is also about relationships and power and desire and pleasure; it's intimately connected to politics and culture and whether people fit into prescribed cultural norms. A fundamental assumption that you're making seems to be that everyone experiences sex basically the same. (They don't.)

Also, a big part of the question is what effects on people telling them how messed up they must be for not being interested in sex. What happens is that people wanting validation, wanting acceptance, wanting to be told that it's okay to be themselves find their experiences dismissed and trivialized, they are told that they are broken, and they go about trying to live their lives based on who the cultural tells them they are supposed to be rather than who they are. Therapists have long been trying to make get the sexually disinterested interested in sex. And they have been failing miserably--the success rates tend to be very low, but no one really knows how low because of the rarity of controlled treatment outcome studies (If you don't believe me, you can read a paper called "Sexual Desire Disorder: A Review of controlled treatment studies.") Also, the "information" given on low sexual desire tends to collapse having lost interest in sex and having never been interested in sex into the same group even though, intuitively, these are very different things with very different "causes." Also, intuitively, people who have never been interested in sex are much less likely to be made interested than people who used to be interested but have lost interest.

pretzelboy said...

the whole system of organs in a person's body isn't functioning and you seriously ask how it can be bad foer one's health?
Not all systems are equally necessary to overall health. No one really knows what the appendix does. There are some body parts that can be removed and, though it may create some loss, the person remains overall fairly healthy. For other organs, not so much. Moreover, what you're talking about isn't physiological anyway. Whether the sexual organs work is a matter of physiology, but many asexuals have perfectly functional sexual organs. Sexual desire, however, is principally psychological. I think that by insisting that sex is a physiological process, you're obscuring this fact.

Anonymous said...

"sex is lot more than just physiology. Sex is also about relationships and power and desire and pleasure; it's intimately connected to politics and culture and whether people fit into prescribed cultural norms"

so is food.

"many asexuals have perfectly functional sexual organs."

many anorexics have perfectly functioning digestive tracts.

This is fun.

Clarissa said...

I'm sorry, my friend, but if your long comment is aimed at convincing me that comparing linguistics and sex is a valid argument in a discussion, it failed to do that. A discussion constructed around such analogies does not make much sense to me.

I'm glad, though, that you and I finally agree that "Sexual desire, however, is principally psychological". This was precisely my initial suggestion that precipitated this whole discussion.

I will leave you with the following basic article on false analogies:

Best wishes!

Allison said...

Clarissa, you still haven't shown me how a lack of sex or a lack of sex drive (these being two different things) is physically detrimental to a person the same way a lack of food or sleep is.

You've given your personal experiences but that's.. just personal experiences. What detrimental effects have you seen in others that is equivalent to extreme sleep deprivation or starvation.

I can tell you all the serious things that a lack of sleep does to the body and all the serious things a lack of food does to the body but what can you show me that's is equivalent in a lack of sexual activity OR a lack of sex drive in someone who is otherwise healthy (ie doesn't have a medical condition that causes a lack of sex drive).

As for personal experiences I've never had a migraine in my life or high blood pressure even when I've been celibate. And I know people who regularly have sex who also suffer from migraines. So while those those things may be true for you it's not the same across the board for every person.

I really don't understand why sex acceptance can't include acceptance of those who don't want to have sex of have a very low sex drive.

Clarissa said...

Allison, I have never in my life encountered such a strange way of organizing a discussion as people are demonstrating on this topic. You say that my personal experiences mean nothing and in response give me ... your personal experiences.

Now the conversation has really come a full circle with you accusing me of lack of acceptance. Am I going to other people's sites in order to criticize their asexual lives? Am I actively seeking anybody out in order to say anything to them on the topic? Obviously not.

Within the framework of this discussion I have been accused of fat-shaming, homophobia, intolerance and ignorance. Note how I don't use such terms to address my interlocutors.

By the way, heightened irritability and aggression are the result of sexualfrustration.

Clarissa said...

Forgot to mention that I was also accused of promoting rape and forced marriages. Then I stopped reading for fear of finding out that I sacrifice christian infants, too.

And these are the people who accuse me of intolerance. People who react to a simple opinion with a string of insults.

It would be sad if it weren't so funny.

pretzelboy said...

In responding to your post (and your comments), I'm trying not to be offensive. Name calling and insulting people are generally ineffective ways of convincing anyone of anything. I'm sorry if I've done that. The reason I joined the conversation is largely because I linked to your post on my own blog and felt that I shouldn't simply criticize from afar.

The reason I responsed as I did is largely to promote acceptance of asexuality. (Yes, acceptance.) In your post, you basically said that telling an asexual person that they should accept themself was derives from a Puritanical view of sex and a fear toward "psychology" (vaguely defined to give a general sense of authority, yet having nothing to do with any of the research on asexuality done within the field of psychology) by which you mean that people who don't experience sexual attraction shouldn't accept themselves, they should view themselves as broken, needing of getting cured, and needing to be pathologized.

It's precisely these sorts of sex-normative attitudes that keep asexuals silent, make them hesitant to come out to their friends (yes, come out). If they can expect to hear the kind of response on the article you commented on, they may feel safe enough to tell people close to themselves. But if they expect to have their experiences dismissed or be told how messed up they are (as you seem to suggest), then they're just going to hide their feelings, thoughts and experiences and pretend to be just like everyone else, even though they're not.

Also, I have a particular interest in asexuality in academia, and asexual students in your class are likely to feel ostracized and feel that they need to keep silent as you demean them. I do not think this is at all your intention, and yet it seems to be a real danger.

p.s. You say that my personal experiences mean nothing and in response give me ... your personal experiences. Actually, you're using your personal experience not to communicate what is normal for you, but to generalize that what is normal for you must be normal for everyone. (i.e. you're using your experience to pathologize asexuals.) One person's experience cannot be legitimately generalized to everyone. However, a single person's experience can legitimately be used to refute a claim that "everyone is like X." If even one person isn't, they claim is invalid.

Allison said...

I offered my personal experience to counter yours since you seem to think that's enough "proof" that a lack of sex is bad for someone.

You're main argument through this is sex is physiological and that a lack of sex (or sex drive) is on par with sleep deprivation or starvation and so a lack of sex is bad for people.

Yet you can't come up with one example of how this is true, except to say that migraines are related to sex deprivation and I did offer a counter to that, again only my personal experience but the only thing I have.

The other thing I want to know is why can't sex acceptance include accepting those who don't want to have sex?

That's not far off the topic at all and I haven't accused you of anything.

Although by your last sentence it seems you are saying I'm argumentative due to a lack of sex or sex drive.

I don't think it's argumentative to ask for proof of such an assertion.

Clarissa said...

It is very tiresome to have some statements ascribed to me that I never made and then to be condemned for them.

I have never said that anybody is "broken." You came up with this word. I have never said that anybody needs to be pathologized.You came up with this word. I never said that anybody is "messed up." You came up with this word.

Do you really fail to see that you are arguing with your own projections?

I feel that I've been as understanding as possible but it's getting to be really annoying to be accused of saying some stupid things that I never even said.

I have to ask you to kindly refrain from coming back until you learn to argue with what people actually say and not with what you think they might have wanted to say.

pretzelboy said...

If you feel that I’m misinterpreting you, I would like clarification on what I am misreading. Here is my reading of the facts. On, there is an article you are responding to. In it, a writer writes in commenting on how she is 20 and stopped getting crushes on people when she was 10 or 11. She had boyfriends, none of whom she was attracted to. Because of this, she thought she might be a lesbian (there is, btw, common among asexuals because our in our culture, there is an assumption that if you’re not straight, you must be gay), but she realized that she’s not attracted to girls either. She doesn’t like touching, doesn’t want to have sex, and doesn’t find stimulating herself very interesting. She thinks she might be asexual but wants assurance from an authority, and she wants advice on how to deal with her mother who is putting a lot of pressure on her to date even though she doesn’t want to. The advice columnist writes back telling her that asexuality is an identity, and like any identity, you have to figure out for yourself what makes most sense for yourself. She tries to reassure her that there’s nothing wrong with being asexual, though encourages the writer to the possibility that the future may bring unexpected things, gives her some advice about her mother, and gives her advice for how to accept her asexuality and to connect with other asexuals.

Basically, the article encouraged self-acceptance and encouraged the person to find others with similar experiences. You responded to this by saying this response is political correctness taken to the extreme. Why? Because there is something wrong with not being interested in sex. You compare it to not being interested in food, water and sleeping. How am I supposed to read this as meaning something other than there is something seriously wrong with not being interested in sex? You say that telling this person to accept her asexuality is seriously wrong. Instead, she should look for psychological “causes.” (The only reading of that that I can find is (psycho)pathological cause for why she has this serious problem. (You probably wouldn’t tell someone that they need to try to find a psychological cause for liking monopoly, for example.) In your comment Nobody would (at least for now, I think) suggest to form an identity group around this problem., you seem to be rather critical of forming an asexual identity. Yet on (the site mentioned in the article) we find precisely that. It would be safe to assume that people identifying as asexual have reasons for doing so. I don’t see how you article can be read as anything but discouraging self-acceptance and pathologizing asexuality. If you see some other way of reading it, I would like to know how you intended your post. And given the strength of response, I think it should at least be clear that your article is open to a very anti-asexual reading, even if that's not what you intended.

Clarissa said...

1. I think there is a psychological reason for everything, including liking monopoly.

2. I think that forming identity groups around anything is dangerous for those who do it.

3. I have not used the word "psychopathological" you did. Once again, you are projecting.
4. You are not misinterpreting. You are lying. I have never used words like broken, psychopathological, etc. to refer to any one. You should either prove that I did, or take all of your unfounded accusations back.

I'm asking you again, as politely as I can, to please stop ascribing your words, thoughts, and terminology to me

pretzelboy said...

The issue has to do with what someone explicitly says and what they imply. (In language use, much of what is communicated is done through implication.) Most of the not-so-nice things I accused you of saying are not explicitly said, but I felt that they were implied, and I think that many (possibly most) people in reading your post would also get those interpretations.

Another blogger recently posted a response to the same article in feministing. I feel that it expresses my thoughts much better than I have been able to do here. So I'll link to it and make that the end of my comments on this post. Don't you realize X is unhealthy?

Allison said...

I'm intrigued by your opinion that identity groups are dangers (does this include things like feminists or Democrats or just things like pro-ana ?_

But really I want to know what you bases this opinion: I quote "In my personal opinion, this is akin to saying that a woman has a right to starve herself to death."

How is not having sex the same as starvation?

NancyP said...

Honestly. Sex is not obligate. Food, water, sleep are obligate. You don't eat or drink for extended periods of time - you die. No exceptions. You don't sleep for extended periods - you become unable to accurately perceive the world around you, due to hallucinations. I believe that there is a rare dysautonomia that results in chronic severe insomnia and eventually death, though the physiology may be complicated (I am not a neurologist, I just stumbled across this info while doing some neuropathology reading).

There are nuns out there pushing 100, still mentally sharp after 70 or more years of (presumed) celibacy.

I fail to see what is wrong about telling the young woman that she has the right to not have sex and not feel guilty about not having sex or not wanting to have sex. It's her body. If she doesn't think that lack of sex is a problem for herself (as opposed to a problem for her parents), then there is no reason to push the woman into psychological counseling. If she gets to the point where she wants to be sexual with someone but doesn't have enough libido to initiate or respond, then that's a problem that could be addressed with a medical and a psychological exam for inhibitory conditions. A current asexual status may be a psychologically healthy adaptation from a sexual baseline, for all we know of her situation. She may be simply too busy and too tired to want sex, if she has to work full time and go to school (or other situations).

All that aside, there may be an issue not with sex but with physical contact - obsessive fear of germs? presence of Asperger's (autism spectrum) syndrome? body image problem? neurologic hypersensitivity? Still, she's an adult and she needs to make her own decision regarding seeking or not seeking medical or psychological evaluation.

The Sinister Porpoise said...

Clarissa, it is this attitude that keeps many asexuals from realizing that they simply have no interest. In a society drenched with sex, we get subtle and not so subtle messages that there is something wrong with people who don't want it.

You are fiercely defending your position because you LIKE sex, we get it. I grew up in the repressed environments you describe, but repression does not equal a lack of desire. I was repressed and have no desire.

But you're also missing the point, the reproductive organs of many asexuals work just fine. This post has gotten undue attention simply because you have a gut reaction that something is wrong with asexuals and they should seek help. If you want me to seek out psychiatric or physical help for lack of attraction, please let me know where I can mail my medical/psychiatric bills to you for payment.

Anonymous said...

This girl is probably upset because society tells her that hse must want sex. Try posting you're asexual on a forum. I have- I've gotten the worst responses. You get anything from beign called a plant, getting told you'll learn to love it, I've even seen people who say asexuals need to be raped! If everyone told you you were abnormal and wrong for being who you are- how happy owuld you be? I'm guessing not very.

This girl can try to find a solution, yes. But if she is asexual, then trying to fix herself will be about as succesful and make her about as happy as a gay man trying to turn himself straight.

I'm asexual and married, to another wonderful asexual. We're very happy. We're also both virgins. And there is nothing physically, mentally, etc wrong with us. It's just another sexual orientation- just like any other.

keir said...

You seem really uneducated about asexuality. It has nothing to do with celibacy, as many asexuals do engage in sex. Asexuality is defined as not being sexually attracted to anyone. Some of us have normal sex drives, some rather low, but the point is that we don't feel sexual attraction towards people.

I have tried sex. I just don't find it interesting and I just don't care about it. I define myself as homoromantic; I'm a female who likes girls, I just not interested in sex, and don't get "turned on" by people. My sex drive is lower than "usual" but it's there.

Sex isn't needed for survival. Eating and sleeping are, so I can't see your comparison. Is it wrong that I'd rather masturbate than engage in sex with another being?

Do you really know anything about the asexual community?

Anonymous said...

With regard to lack of sex being detrimental to life, I give you two words:

The Pope.

Not asexual, but certainly celibate, and quite healthy.

Clarissa said...

Dear friends, I'm going to respond in tis thread one last time because this is getting a little repetitive. After that, let's considered it closed.

Ivan (first comment here) said that asexual people represent less than 1 percent of humanity. However, anorgasmic women represent a lot more than 0,5 percent. This happens, in my view, because society tells women that sex is not crucial, not necessary and is less important than other things (namely, being in a relationship). Many women betray their sexuality and live sexually unfulfilled lives as a result. As a feminist, I'm bothered by this.

You are right when you say I don't know anything about the asexual community. That's why I didn't go to any asexual site to express my opinions. I went to a feminist site which promotes what in my opinion is a limiting view of female sexuality. This view of sexuality promotes a deeply patriarchal way of life. And that bothers me.
As for the Pope, I also have two words for you: compensatory mechanisms.
Thank you for participation. I now consider this discussion closed.

stained.cats said...

You're leaving out male asexuals, though. They're about half of the community...

Daniel said...

"It is also the result of a deeply Puritanical view of sex..."

A Puritanical view of sex would be something like "Sex is wrong." Saying "It's not wrong to not like sex" is not the same. It's actually more of a live-and-let-live attitude; you can like sex or you can dislike sex, and both are okay.

"If anybody found the idea of eating or sleeping (also physiological processes) "absolutely repulsive", we wouldn't be as likely to dismiss this problem with a lot of well-meaning but ultimately empty words. Nobody would (at least for now, I think) suggest to form an identity group around this problem."

That's because you need to eat and sleep to live. If you stop eating and sleeping, you will die within a few weeks. However, you do NOT need sex to live. You can go your entire life without ever having sex and still be perfectly healthy. This comparison makes no sense.

I don't think it's taking "political correctness to the extreme" to suggest that one should tolerate something which doesn't harm anyone, such as asexuality.

Marika said...

Besides all this, sex is one of the best experiences available to human beings.

In YOUR experience. YOUR experience is most assuredly not MINE. It is probably not ANYONE ELSE'S but yours (much like mine is not anyone else's but mine) and I would highly suggest you stop trying to shove your mindset on other people under the extremely faulty pretense of whatever batshit definition of 'feminism' you're going by. If you honestly are out to make a statement about patriarchal definitions of sex, then I am pretty damn sure you would never have worded your post to include "identity groups" and a terribly SILLY comparison of sex to food.


Erbs said...


I highly suggest that you research more about asexuality. I don't mean to sound rude at all, but I think that maybe your article could benefit from a more educated perspective. I would appreciate it greatly if, after doing research on sexuality, you did a follow-up post. I would love to read it.


Clarissa said...

For those who feel the need to participate without reading what was said previously, I repeat: this discussion is closed.

I'm always ready to discuss anything with calm, reasonable, and polite people (such as pretzelboy, Allison, and more recently Erbs).

Those, however, who come to repeat things that have been discussed 100 times, or those who are so enraged with the fact that somebody somewhere dared to have an opinion do not interest me as interlocutors. Coming here to scream "batshit," "SILLY" and "LEARN" in capital letters is not, in my opinion, an acceptable way to engage in a discussion. I don't even want to imagine what would make people want to seek out blogs of those with differing opinions and to engage in such public fits of hysteria. Curiously, these are always the same people who scream "tolerance above all".
If there are still people who fail to understand that for me this is not about the asexual community, I can't help you.

Once again: the discussion is closed until the participants start behaving in a way I find more acceptable.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. I'm on the queer_rage community, a fantastic community- or it was a fantastic community, until all these emo 15 years olds started going on about how they were asexual and why wouldn't anyone believe them? Er, because not being interested in sex is a common sign of many psychological problems? Also, lots of people are slow to develop. Declaring you're asexual at 15 is going to make you look pretty silly in a few years time when your sex hormones kick in. They're wanking about this now, and I want to tell them they really should talk to someone about that, because they're not healthy, but the mods only care about the asexuals and go into freak out mode if anyone touches the asexual whiny babies.

Hezaa said...

In response to Anonymous: Please educate yourself about the asexual community. Most people on AVEN and other asexual websites are adults, many of them over the age of 30--most of them are much older than 15 years of age. David Jay, who founded AVEN, is currently 26 years old and still asexual.

Clarissa: Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that feminism involves respect of others' sexual choices, such as the respecting the choice to engage in vanilla sex, bondage/BDSM, etc. Doesn't this include respecting the choice not to engage in sexual relations (for whatever reasons)?

The Sinister Porpoise said...

Clarissa, your entire attitude is one similar to a person who told a Mormon friend of mind that he needed to drink alcohol in order to fully enjoy life. Obviously the person who said that enjoyed drinking, but the statement showed a complete lack of respect for the Mormon acquaintance's belief system.

Instead of trying to say people haven't read it when they have, it's time to accept that your points simply aren't valid. If you want to continuing sounding like the Pat Robertson of sexual fundamentalism that's your choice, but it just makes you look bigoted and intolerant.

Clarissa said...

I just checked out the queer_rage community and it's a great place! Thank you so much for telling me about it!!

Hezaa: as I have repeated many times already, having "respect" for me does not mean not daring to have or express an opinion. It's actually very disrespectful, in my view because this attitude infantilizes and belittles the group in question.please read my most recent post on Quashing Dissent.

Clarissa said...

Sinister Porpoise, if you had in fact read what has been said, you would know why I don't take this screaming about intolerance seriously.

belledame222 said...

Mm. -Having- read most of the comments as well as the OP and surfed around, I've saved most of my commentary for my own spot.

I'll just point this out here:

1) You title the post "Asexuality"

2) You make a number of pronouncements about asexuality

3) Some people who -are- asexuals, i.e. "people who have direct experience of the thing you are making sweeping pronouncements about" come in to correct you on some the things you've said, courteously enough, in fact, especially at first.

4) You then proceed to -not- directly engage any of their actual points, merely either congratulate or scold people for their "tone"

5) And then say, "for me this is not about the asexual community."

Can you see how some people might find this just a wee tad problematic? Take it rather personally, even? Get aggravated?

If I write about about "Ukrainian immigrants," make a whole lot of sweeping and frankly patronizing pronouncements about what it's like in the Ukraine, what it's like to be an immigrant from the Ukraine, all the while admitting that I've never been there and don't have experience of being an immigrant, just make some rather generalized boilerplate based on my interpretation of someone else's theory, and then some Ukrainians come in to correct me, and then I say "for me, this is not about the Ukrainian/immigrant community," what does that make me? Reasoned? Civilized? A free thinker? Engaging in honest discourse? You think?

belledame222 said...

and that's without even the whole pathologizing bit. Which, by the way, since you were wondering, -is- a good parallel with the gay/lesbian/etc experience: i.e. most of us have direct experience with having been pathologized and disprespected for our sexuality (yes, "sexuality" includes "lack thereof," in fact) even when said sexuality is in fact none of anyone else's business, isn't harming anyone else, and in fact the people who say or imply they're lecturing us/attempting a "cure" "for our own good" clearly do -not- have our best interests in mind, but rather their own agenda.

Shain Neumeier said...

To both Clarissa and Anonymous 5:40 a.m.,

I think the main problem I have with all of this is that people who are not me are trying to tell me what I and people like me should be and disguising it as what we "are" and are refusing to accept, or what we should want by saying it's what any functional person would really like. It's unfair, and frankly condescending, to say about people that the puritanical patriarchy has brainwashed them into not wanting sex (I find this a bit antithetical to feminism anyways - isn't it the belief that women ARE smart and capable enough to make their own decisions about their bodies?), or that they're immature and will grow out of it. If someone happens to eventually want or at least like sex, or if the benefits of having it outweigh the costs for them at some point for whatever reason, then great. But at the point that someone is coming out as asexual, I can think of no way in which it helps anybody, you or them, to invalidate the conclusion they've come to about themselves.

As far as the argument that sex is good and even necessary for one - If I may, I'll accept, but revise, the food comparison. I would say that asexuality is a little like having an aversion to a food that most people like and/or that's very good for people. Would life be better for someone who couldn't stand the smell of bananas or the texture of salad if they could eat these foods without throwing up? Maybe. But if, as things are, they get sick if they try to eat these foods, the health benefits might not be worth the costs of trying to learn to like them. So let them use their multivitamins or whatever other compensatory measures to make up for any lost nutrients, or choose to do nothing at all. It's no one's business to tell them what they need or should want in case like this.

Likewise, maybe it's true that one gets headaches and irritability from not having sex. But you know what? I'd rather stock up on ibuprofen and get some hobbies that allow me to vent my anger in a productive way than let someone do things to my body that I'm uncomfortable with. I can imagine that someone will want to jump on me for that description of sex, but that's how I see it. I'm simply uncomfortable with invasive physical contact, as I am with a number of other sensory experiences, and sex falls under the category of invasive physical contact. I get emotional fulfillment from others through a lot of things, like watching movies, making up stories and having good debate, but sex just isn't conducive to trust or love in my mind. This is abnormal, but, as it does not interfere with my day-to-day or overall functioning, it's not by definition disordered. Such is the case with many asexuals, whether or not they're repulsed by sexual contact as I am. So who is anyone else to tell us that we should be otherwise?

If I'm unhappy or unhealthy because I'm not having sex, I'll see an actual psychologist or doctor about it, and work something out that makes me better without making me uncomfortable. All I want - and, I think, what most "aces" want - from people who are not being paid for medical advice is acceptance and the belief that we are capable enough to define ourselves as makes sense to us.

Shain Neumeier said...

Sorry if I've double-posted - my computer was being strange.

Clarissa said...

I may hate everything you have to say about the Ukrainians but I'm ready to die for your right to say it. :-)

Clarissa said...

Shain, this was about somebody who's unhappy. The advice was to see a psychologist before pumping herself full of hormones. With all due respect, please pay attention to what you are commenting about.

belledame222 said...

Um, thanks, but we're just blogging here; I don't think the subject of anyone needing to die for anyone else came up, did it? I mean, no one said "you must not keep saying what you're saying about asexuals or I'ma call the Law on you," have they?

And, it seems to me Shain's paying rather better attention than you are. Yes, we get what the original comment was responding to. You title the post "asexuality," you make sweeping generalizations about whole groups of people including (I assume from the comment) Shain; you are not listening when Shain says that sometimes neither the advice to get hormones -or- see a psychologist is solicited or useful, and indeed has found such injunctions (which your post certainly comes across as yet one more of, not just to the original questioner) frustrating and deeply unhelpful at best.

Clarissa said...

Belledame,what "points" am I supposed to engage? That what I expressed is MY opinion? Never claimed otherwise. The weird analogies between sex and linguistics? Sorry, too weird. Shrieks about intolerance? Responded to that many times over. Sex is not as crucial as eating or sleeping? Respectfully disagree? I should only offer advice to someone who's unhappy with their asexuality? That's precisely what I did. That some people who came here are happy with their asexuality? Good for them.

Which points except hysterical shrieks of batshit and silly have not been addressed?

And excuse me for not welcoming rude people in MY blog.

belledame222 said...

I mean, yes, you certainly have the -right- to say whatever the hell you want; but that doesn't mean you also have the right to control other peoples' reactions to it. You can of course do what you did here and avow your refusal to engage anyone who doesn't approach you with the proper "tone," but, you know, while you have the -right- to do such things, it doesn't necessarily mean you're contributing anything -useful- or indeed intellectually honest to the discourse, such as it is. Mostly it just comes off as defensive. Which defenses quite a lot of people recognize from quite a lot of different contexts; the words vary a bit but the song remains the same.

belledame222 said...

Um, how about everything Shain just said, for a start?

btw, the only person currently coming off as "hysterical" is you. Yeah, people are rude on the Internets. Especially when they're aggravated by people saying ignorant things about their own experience and then not owning what they're doing. It happens. Where's the substance, here?

belledame222 said...

And, sure, yep, your blog, your rules. I maintain the same policy at my own place, where I've responded to a number of the points in more detail and as much rudeness as I care to indulge in. Free speech and all. :) Anyone else commenting here feeling frustrated is welcome to come on over.

Clarissa said...

May I ask what's keeping you in the blog of a hysterical, defensive person who has nothing to contribute? :-)

As for what Shain said, I repeat (for the 20th time): initially, this was about somebody who was unhappy and wanted advice. I think hormonal therapy is dangerous, so I proposed a less invasive way to deal with what was making her unhappy.

belledame222 said...

If that were the only thing you'd said in your OP here, you would not be getting the responses that you're getting, from Shain or from many, many others making similar points. People are responding to the bits where you snark at the idea of "tolerance," of your dismissal of the (perfectly sound) advice that yes, being asexual doesn't mean you can't be in a relationship or have companionship, or indeed of the idea that "asexual" is a legitimate, non-pathological identity in the first place.

Sara Brooks said...


I wandered into this thread late, but I wanted to take the chance to say something: for me, asexuality was the last stop on an identity search from hell. When I started dating and didn't have any physical attraction people, I thought I was broken, lost, or confused. I spent years in therapy, and did over a year of hormone treatment. I had my hormone levels tested many times and had doctors tell me that I should be working just fine.

But I don't work like other people work when it comes to sex. Does that put me in a new identity group? Sure. The planet is big enough for another new identity group. My asexuality is a part of who I am, but like many other people, I am made up of much more than my (lack of) sex life.

Hope to see some asexual-positive posts on your blog soon, Clarissa.

Sara Beth

belledame222 said...

As for why I've continued to engage: partly because I like the adrenaline stimulation of frustrating conflict with people who said things I find aggravating as much as 99,000,000,000 other people on the Internets. Partly out of a faint, irrational hope that the penny might drop despite all evidence to the contrary. Mostly, however, out of a desire to leave evidence that other people aren't this willfully ignorant/obstreporous, and maybe save a few flat hardwood surfaces from further dents.

but you're right, there is a point at which even such becomes redundant, which point I've probably long passed.

Clarissa said...

I'm sorry, where did I say that being asexual means you can't be in a relationship?? I need a direct quote please, not your projections.

As for tolerance, many people use this concept in order to shut up everyone around them. I have written about it at length and I don't want to repeat myself. I highly recommend Zizek's book Violence for a profound discussion of tolerance. This philosopher says it a lot better than I do.

Clarissa said...

Sarah Beth: good for you! That's exactly what I think all of us should do: undertake a journey to figure out what and who we are. For many people, part of this journey would be talking to a psychologist. And this is all I suggested.

Clarissa said...

Belledame: I have never called anyone "pathological" either. This is why it is so hard to be in this discussion. People ascribe to you statements you never made and then argue with these statements.

belledame222 said...

You don't have to use the term "pathological" to "pathologize" something. Everything you've said here demonstrates your belief that asexuality is a condition that -must- be a problem and needs a "fix" of -some- sort, okay, psychological in this case rather than hormones, whatever: you're still prescribing a "fix" rather than even entertaining the idea that it might -not- be a problem in and of itself. That's what "pathological" -means.-

As for the "difficulty in having the discussion:" well, yes, discussions involving subjects one is not familiar with are often difficult, particularly when you have an investment in hearing something other than what someone else more intimately familiar with the subject at hand has to say.

belledame222 said...

When you say this, Clarissa, direct quote:

The response that the author of the message gets to her post takes the idea of political correctnes to the extreme that is even a little scary. The main idea of the response is "Asexual people of the world, unite!" Don't worry about beinng asexual, it says. You can always get together with other asexual people, date them, and form yet another neat identity group.

is what I was referring to wrt relationships. What exactly is the -problem- with saying "Asexual people of the world, unite, don't worry about being asexual, you can always get together with other asexual people and date them?" Why is this overly "politically correct" and "scary" ffs? What, in short, exactly, is your problem with this advice? Whom do you imagine you're serving by saying your interest is -not- with "the asexual community" (after titling your post "asexuality," no less)?

belledame222 said...

I mean, you read the original post. The author is pretty clear that she's comfortable with herself; her main problem is being "harassed" by other people to conform and get a boyfriend. She's not been abused, she's not having physical difficulties. She's just not interested and wants to be left alone to do her thing. In light of -not- being left alone to do her thing, she's wondering what she needs to do to stop the harassment. So what do you offer? More hectoring, more suggestions that there -must- be a problem that she's been pretty clear she doesn't, in fact, have. Whom are you serving?

belledame222 said...

For many people, part of this journey would be talking to a psychologist.

Again, that's -not- all you suggested in your post -here-; far from it, but never mind. You mentioned psychology? Excellent; I'm in school for a degree in counseling psychology right now. You know what the first thing we learn in my school is? Meet the client where they're at. That means, do NOT impose your own agenda on the person presenting the problem. Which is what you did in the OP here. You seem highly invested in -not- believing that asexuality is a legitimate identity or healthy way to live; so, you actively get in the way of people who are telling her (from experience, yes, not just out of some idea of "tolerance," a meaningless term if there ever was one) that yes, it's a legitimate identity and can be a perfectly fine way to live. It's about the other person, not, you, you know?

And for damn sure if someone came into a psychologist's office questioning whether she were asexual and the psychologist answered with some boilerplate about Puritanical society and expressing disinterest in "the asexual community," it'd be pretty clear to me that -at minimum- that's not a psychologist that would be helpful to that client, and probably needs some more time in supervision and training, frankly.

belledame222 said...

And yes, "repulsion" as opposed to simple lack of interest would be something I'd want to explore eventually; but, you know, it doesn't necessarily mean what you think it means. Maybe there -is- something else she might want to uncover that's getting in the way of her functioning one way or another. Maybe she's neuroatypical in some way and touch is a problem for her for sensory reasons. Maybe she's just -not interested-, and constantly being harangued and harassed has created a feeling of revulsion in much the same way that people trying to cram a food one was previously indifferent to down one's throat would do. Who knows? Point is: going back to the same damn refrain she's all too familiar with, i.e. "there's something WRONG with you if you don't want sex?" Not. Helpful.

Or I mean, maybe I'm wrong and the author'll come around to say, "hey, I didn't believe it the first 500 times, but now that YOU'VE said it, suddenly a light went on, and I'm now on the path to recovering my sexuality!" And/or any of the people ID'ing as asexual who've posted here to say what I've been saying here only better. I'll wait.

belledame222 said...

Oh yeah: identity searches can be made more or less difficult by other people along the way. I'm not asexual, but I'm queer, and yep I sure do recognize a lot of these arguments; the words (and thesis) are slightly different, but the tune's quite familiar.

Clarissa said...

Belledame: I am not a psychologist and this person is not my client. I just suggested she see one. So the rules that apply to psychologists have nothing to do with me.talking about what happens in a psychologist's office is a waste of time in this context. As you might have noticed, I didn't post my comment in anybody's office, I posted it in my blog. :-)

If you believe that everybody who sees a psychologist is pathological and needs a fix, I can't help you, this is just too weird a conclusion to draw.

If you want to know what I feel about ANY kind of collective identities, I wrote a whole post on that. And I don't have energy to repeat it here, not even for you. :-)

As to "whom are you serving?" - thank you for making me laugh, I really needed it in the midst of moving and packing. :-)

Clarissa said...

Belledame: I'm glad we finally agree. There may be any number of reasons for this person's experiences. Suggesting she explore them is not offensive. But I believe that telling her - before any of these things have been explored - go sit in this category box we have ascribed to you before ever laying our eyes on you is dismissive. This is the attitude of "now we've named it, let's forget she exists." And I believe that this cannot be helpful.

belledame222 said...

If you believe that everybody who sees a psychologist is pathological and needs a fix

Now, why would I possibly say or think that? Where would you get that from anything that I've said?

And no, insisting that she -must- be asexual wouldn't be suave either; you on the other hand seem to be deliberately trying to steer people away from the identity, which, once again, you are making pathological. -Asexuality-, that is. The condition which other people are trying to tell you -is not necessarily a problem in and of itself.- Really, this isn't that complicated. As for what you feel or don't feel about collective identities: not really interested, you know, but how's about you just don't take on any, then? I mean, if it's the individual you're so concerned about, you do have to leave room for the possibility that other people might want to form groups all on their ownsome, on account of their needs are not yours.

Which general concept seems to be not really landing here.

belledame222 said...

and you know, taking on an identity is not exactly like setting it in stone. There's no literal "box," you do know that, right? No one was saying that if you say today "hi, I'm asexual" that that means you've just bought a one-way ticket to the convent, or indeed that you can't ever have sex or tomorrow go "damn, I guess that wasn't for me."

belledame222 said...

I am not a psychologist and this person is not my client. I just suggested she see one. So the rules that apply to psychologists have nothing to do with me.

Funny, when you throw down something like "the deep-seated fear that many Americans feel towards psychology as a field of knowledge," one tends to assume that you might at least have enough investment in the subject to have the faintest idea of what you're talking about.

Clarissa said...

Telling someone they might want to see a psychologist does not equal you yourself behaving like a psychologist.If I suggest someone read a novel by Juan Marse, should I mimic his lifestyle or know anything about the process of creative writing?

Yet again, you are the only person here using the words "pathological" and "fix". It's getting very annoying having to repeat this again. Don't you see that you are putting the words "asexual" and "pathological" into the same sentence with a scary regularity? You are the only person here who needs this discourse for whatever reason.

About forming groups: people have a right to form any group they want and I have a right to have any opinion I want about their groups and express it freely in MY blog.

Surely you have noticed that I haven't visited one single blog in the asexual community to say anything whatsoever. I'm just sitting quietly in my own space, publishing my opinions. How is this not leaving space for the needs of others?? I have left the rest of the internet free and clear of my presence for those needs.

Now in order to avoid the 1000th circle of who pathologized what, I propose that you present your point of view in a couple of brief sentences, like a kind of a statement of principle. Maybe that could move the discussion further along. Because for now, to tell you the truth, I have real trouble understanding what point you are trying to make.

Anonymous said...

Once again: the discussion is closed until the participants start behaving in a way I find more acceptable.

Wow. Really? I have to wonder if that's the strategy you use in every debate where it is made clear that you are obviously wrong... rather than apologize for your closedmindedness, you simply deem everyone speaking to you unworthly. Very, very mature. Sarcasm, by the way, since you seem to take everything at face value.

This isn't about a group, or pathology, or food, or migranes or anything else I've seen blabbered on about here. It is about the simple fact that everyone is different. Some people desire sex. Some do not. Some people are white, some are black. Some put on pants one leg at a time, some sit and put on both at a time. But no matter what a person's choice may be, anyone -- ANYONE -- that criticizes without personal expierence and understanding is being closedminded and offensive. If you ever expierence the desire to be asexual, then you will understand it and THEN you may speak freely about it. This is in the same way that I cannot justly blabber on about being a black man, as I am neither black nor male and should I choose to do so, no matter what I say, its very likely to come off offensive to someone that IS.

If you do not believe in a particualar life choice, such as asexuality, that is fine. You don't have to. But you shouldn't go around running your mouth off about it simply because you don't agree with it. And yes, while you may have the freedom to do so, others also have the freedom to defend their beliefs... it seems you are only willing to recognize this freedom of speech that you are so willing to die for only when it is coming from your own mouth.

You cannot claim that something is wrong with being asexual simply because you don't understand it. Asexual people live happy, normal, healthy lives. Naturally, anyone living as an asexual that is NOT one, would be unhappy. That goes without saying. But that does not mean that there is something wrong with the whole of asexuality. And whether or not you meant to say that, that is what your post seems to come off as saying.

Honestly, I think you need to take a step back, swallow your pride, and look at what has been said here. You are missing a very easy to understand point.

But then, as I've seen, quite a few people have come here and stated similar things in the calm, mature fashion that you so seem to desire. And you have ignored and snubbed them. So I honestly don't expect you to pay this one any attention either.

Clarissa said...

The difference between you and I, Anonymous, is that I believe that I have an absolute right "to go around and run my mouth off" about anything. Your idea that you can't talk or have an opinion about what you haven't personally experienced is the most preposterous thing I have heard in a while. So one can't write a book about life in the Roman Empire, can they? It's definitely not something that we can possibly hope to experience any more.

The idea that the experience of a black man should be so alien to a white woman that she can't hope to understand it is so ridiculous and racist that I don't even want to address it.
Maybe before wiritng long posts people should think about what they are trying to say. Your whole premise that we shouldn't speak about what we haven't experienced doesn't stand up to any scrutiny.

Also, the comment that you quote happened 40 comments and several days ago. As you see, the discussion hasn't ended. So your outburst looks ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, let's not get carried away with the argument for the sake of the argument: I hope everybody would agree that, unlike asexuality, being a black male cannot possibly be a result of hormonal imbalance, psychological problems or childhood trauma...

A guess what is going on here - I mean several asexual people trying to police the blog of somebody whom they perceive as "anti-asexual-minded" - is just a part of the work these asexuals do to accept their own asexuality. In other words, something which could actually be admired, except it is difficult to admire
a) faulty arguments (see above)
b) misuse of the concepts of "tolerance" and "acceptance". I am wondering if Clarissa's opponents are ready to be responsible for all those people who's asexuality is medically or psychologically determined, but who will be misled by "acceptance" arguments.

Clarissa said...

Exactly, V.! This is an identity that's extremely loosely defined (see comment 1 by Ivan). As a result, a hated Other becomes all the more necessary. This is why people prowl the internet desperately searching for reasons to feel offended and persecuted.

Anonymous said...

It's not loosely defined, it's defined as not experiencing sexual attraction to anyone. How is that any more loosely defined than 'experiences sexual attraction to men but not women' or any of the other orientation definitions?

Do you think pansexuality is loosely defined as well? If not, why not, because it's defined as just the opposite of asexuality: 'experiences sexual attraction to all genders.' Asexuality is experiencing sexual attraction to NO genders.

If asexuality is defined loosely I don't see how that's a fair criticism when EVERY sexual orientation is defined on the same basis: whom you're sexually attracted to, and whom you're not.

Clarissa said...

Come on, you really don't see how organizing an identity group around something you don't do is different from organizing an identity around something you do? What's easier to prove: a negative or a positive? :-)

Anonymous said...

---This is why people prowl the internet desperately searching for reasons to feel offended...

Clarissa, taking into account your attitude towards certain NY Times reporter :), you should not really take the above-cited stance. :) :) For the sake of consistency...

Clarissa said...

Funny. :-) You have to agree, though, that (for now) it is easier to find NYTimes than my blog. :-)

Anonymous said...

'Come on, you really don't see how organizing an identity group around something you don't do is different from organizing an identity around something you do? What's easier to prove: a negative or a positive? :-)'

Does that mean you retract your position that it's loosely defined?

Now you seem to be arguing that it's simply not worth defining, which is quite different.

If it's not worth having a definition for anything involving what you don't do, feel or have, then do you think the same about the terms heterosexuality and homosexuality, as these mean that you do feel attraction to one sex AND that you DON'T feel it to another? Surely it makes sense only to call yourself 'sexual' then, if who you're NOT attracted to doesn't matter, as who you don't feel sexual attraction to is 'a negative' too.

Do you see the problem with this? Heterosexuals call themselves hetero and not just 'sexuals' because there are many contexts in which it is important to communicate clearly who someone is attracted to AND who they're not.

When we get a form to fill in that asks for our orientation, what do you propose that people who don't experience sexual attraction write down? 'Asexual' makes perfect sense to me. That's just one example of why it's just as important for asexuals to have a word defining their orientation as it is for people of other sexualities.

How can we discuss any issues smoothly if we don't have nouns for the major concepts within them? That's why languages include words for 'nothing'. 'zero' and 'none'. It's very hard to conceive of a world in which 'negatives' aren't deemed worthy of their own nouns. We couldn't use the decimal system, for one thing.

Clarissa said...

I'm sorry but who asks you to fill in forms about your sexual orientation? I've never seen one in my life. Isn't it illegal to ask such things in questionnaires?

I don't know about you, but I would absolutely refuse to answer such questions.

stained.cats said...

I'm just wondering why you don't address male asexuals and asexuals who are sexually active...

Clarissa said...

stained.cats: if the question is for me, the only people I was trying to address are the feminists who don't think that a struggle against patriarchal stereotypes that repress female sexuality is a worthy feminist cause. For some reason, some people decided to interpret it as my attempt to question the existence of the asexual community. Which is, once again, NOT what I'm trying to do.

Anonymous said...

WOW, isn’t it truly fascinating that this post received more responses than any other post here? Why is that? Maybe if you folks went out there and got some, it would help release some of the anger you seem to have bottled up. ☺ Just a comment – please don’t crucify me!

Clarissa, one of the comments addressed to you said: “If you ever experience the desire to be asexual, then you will understand it and THEN you may speak freely about it.” I am confused! Do some people DESIRE to have a lack of desire?

Guys, you argue that lack of sex has no effect on one’s emotional or psychological health. Well then how come this asexual group seems to have so-o-o-o-o much pent up anger and tension?

Just a thought……. hi hi hi

P.S. Make love, not war!

Anonymous said...

'I'm sorry but who asks you to fill in forms about your sexual orientation? I've never seen one in my life. Isn't it illegal to ask such things in questionnaires?

I don't know about you, but I would absolutely refuse to answer such questions.'

Don't know about where you're from, but here some organisations collect that sort of information so that they can monitor the level of diversity among their employees or clients, especially public sector organisations, who have to have official anti-discrimination policies and make sure minorities know that they can expect to be treated fairly. As long as it's kept confidential I don't mind that they ask, personally.

For another example, there are dating websites and agencies in which your sexual orientation is obviously VERY relevant, and most people would want to know
beforehand if the person they were going to be matched with was not expecting to ever be sexually attracted to them. There are one or two asexual dating sites and agencies too, because as you can imagine, asexuals' romantic relationships can become very troubled when they try to date sexual people, just as it can when a gay person tries to date a straight person, however emotionally close and connected they may feel.

Then there are sexuality and orientation research studies in which it's important for the scientists to know which genders/sexes the participants report being sexually attracted to, AND which they report not being sexually attracted to. These studies are sometimes designed to be of random samples of the adult population in a given area, so excluding people from it because they don't fit into any of the categories defined in the study would spoil the validity of any results: the sample used wouldn't be random anymore.

So I stand by what I said: having a term for what we're calling asexuality is no less important than is having a term for any of the more commonly defined sexual orientations.

An analogy here is vegetarianism: that also is a term for what people don't do. I'm sure you can appreciate why it's so much more convenient to have a word for 'vegetarian' instead of everyone having to describe the concept every time. It's convenient to have the word 'asexual' too, once the people you're talking to know how you're defining it. Otherwise you'd have to say 'I don't experience sexual attraction to anyone' every time, and that actually seems too graphic or personal in certain situations, just as having to say 'I experience sexual attraction to men/women/both' would often feel too personal to say if we didn't have the words 'straight', 'gay' etc.

Anonymous said...

"Besides all this, sex is one of the best experiences available to human beings. It is simply an amazing thing. But the repressive patriarchal society doesn't want us to know that."

So is heroin, you simple-minded bint.

Anonymous said...

The feminist wave has crested, and now all that's left are a craven bunch of populist loonies who think there's a grand patriarchal conspiracy to oppress femininity, by denying them sex, no less!

You people are batshit crazy. You need to stop coming up with anti-patriarch conspiracy theories if you want people to take any of your other crazy theories seriously. You've achieved equality, and now all that's left is for the oppressive old farts are thick cavemen to die and leave the world to us. But that's not enough, is it? No - you thrive on conflict, and you're inventing enemies, left right and centre.

Clarissa said...

And now the real crazies have appeared. The last two comments demonstrate how miserable some people are in their sad lives.

RilianSharp said...

I was reading through the comments, and I've decided to share the fact that my dad is not interested in food or eating, yet he still eats because he feels hunger. It works out great for him, because he never overeats or even has the desire to.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to your blog, so I was looking at the posts that you've highlighted in your banner. This post stunned me because you treat asexuals with the same attitude that you found offensive in the way others treat people with Aspergers or Autism. Instead of giving asexuals the live and let live response that you would like to receive, you give them the response that there's something wrong with them and that they should seek treatment for if they don't like something that "everyone" likes. Even though I'm not asexual, I can understand why asexuals got upset with you.

Clarissa said...

You need to read more carefully, buddy. Every time a person asks me for advice on how to deal with the effects of their autism, I don't tell them to find a community of similar people and just sit there. I always give concrete, practical advice on how to deal with the issue. Just like I did in this case.

This entire thread started in response to a person saying she suspects she might be asexual and asking for advice. I think that dismissing such a person with a "go sit in our ghetto" rhetoric is as wrong as dismissing an autistic in the same way. Do you disagree?

Anonymous said...

The way I read it, the advice you give presumes that asxuality is the problem to be solved rather than the way other people react to the asexuality is the problem to be solved. As best I can understand it, your practical advice is, "See a doctor and a therapist to see if they can fix you."
Also, I'll admit that I originally didn't read the Feministing article (BTW, the link is out of date and the link is currently at Now that I've read it, it does have practical advice, other than sitting around with a bunch of other asexuals, even if the tone of the advice is condescending.
In practical terms, the Feministing article suggests
1) For an asexual interested in dating, many asexuals find it easier find a degree of intimacy that's mutually satisfactory with another asexual than for an asexual dating a non-asexual. But there aren't a lot of asexuals around, so finding other asexuals is hard. Dating sites, meet up groups, and the like can help you find them.
2) Your mother doesn't seem willing to let questions about you sex life go, so a white lie about how busy you are may be a better way to get her to shut up for now than trying to explain your (a)sexuality to her before you're comfortable with it yourself.

Clarissa said...

Everything you say in this comment has been responded to a gazillion times, so I don't see the point of repeating it.

You asked why I treat asexuals and autistics differently. I told you that I don't. And I would advise both these groups to resist prying relatives not with childish "white lies", which is completely ridiculous in an adult, but by putting such people in their place. Then, I'd suggest to both groups of people to analyze how their sexual problems and their autism have been exacerbated by an intolerable home environment.

I firmly believe that my advice is a lot more respectful than Feministing's condescending coddling of people who ask for advice.

Pen said...

I rather liked your treatment of this specific issue. It's much better than all the articles I've seen promoting the formation of an asexual gender identity group. I have to wonder, though: why were the authors of the previous comments so against the possibility of an environmental cause of asexuality (or any type of sexuality, for that matter)? Is it such an unusual idea that it must be dismissed at all costs? Or were they just afraid to concede a point from which they felt they had already leached all plausibility?

Clarissa said...

Because that would devalue their newfound sense of identity. In order to be at all valuable to a person, an identity needs to be inborn, God-given, something that other people cannot get in the process of their lives. People see any threat to their identity as an attack that has to be repelled at all costs. I dared to undermine it with my questions and this is what happened.

However, I can't say that I'm unhappy about this discussion because it attracted many people to the blog when it was still very new and quite unknown.