I’m finally here. This is a review of the first part of Part 2 of “Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality”.This is only the first part of the chapter. I felt that the chapter was too long for a single post (and I had stayed up late last ngiht planning it). So here goes.
Part 2 of the book, titled “Asexual Experience” basically explains, quite indepth about the role attraction and libido plays in asexual people’s lives. She started an introduction into romantic orientation (I’ve wrote about it briefly here and http://https://asexualityinasexualworld.wordpress.com/2014/05/05/1127/. (In the book, though, Decker explains it a lot better and a lot more in depth than what I did). I won’t rehash all the terms.
She made one interesting observation; that asexuals face some treatment that wouldn’t be really deemed acceptable by most people toward others. This includes trying to tell people how they feel instead of letting people own their onw feelings, and asking overly personal questions (about masturbatoin, etc). I can’t help but feel annoyed by that (luckily, I haven’t experienced such events myself). Why is it OK to disrespect asexual people in a way which would be frowned upon if done to anyone else? Seriously. Again, both Decker and I both plead the non – asexual community, please be respectful to asexual people you come into contact with, like you would anyone else. Rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t say something to people in general (like personal questions), please don’t ask us those same questions. I get you probably mean well, but I’m begging you, please don’t.
Another thing that is oftne dismissed is the love that an asexual feels and that love is so intertwined with sex, however, sex without love seems OK (at least in certain circles. I can kind of debunk the love = sex myth using science (in layman’s terms – in truth, I’ve barely got a scientific bone in my body). On the BBC3 documentary: “How Sex Works”, they showed a couple who just got together to examine the brain activity of the participants. What they actually found was that different parts of the brain were activated when the participants were shown sexually appealing stimuli (that were not their partner, like a model, or whatnot), as opposed to being shown a picture of their partner. When shown a picture of their partner, the part of the brain that (I’m guessing) signals romantic love lit up. Now, this is just my conclusion, but to me that seems to scienfitically indicate that erotic/ sexual attraction and romantic attraction are different on a neurological level.
And yes, love that asexual people feel, whether romantic, platonic, queer platonic (controversial term I know, I’ll explain later I promise. Please don’t attack me), or other forms are affection are real to asexual people, as it can be for anyone else. We’re not all “loners” or “psychopaths”, or whatever, frankly, offensive term you can come up with. Like anyone else, asexual people are a varied group. Some are romantic (see link above), some are social butterfles (like me), some enjoy close friendships, some have aromantic partnerships, some prefer their own company…. I think we get the picture, don’t we?
There was quite a funny quote describing what it’s like for asexual people who may experience fleeting sexual desire by “Tom” from the Asexuality Archive:
For some asexual people, the thought “I would like to have sex with that person” could seem as unexpected as “I would like paint that person blue, cover them with twigs and dance around them in a circle all night.
Don’t know about anyone else, but I found that to be quite an amusing analogy.
She wrote a specific part of the book about aromanticism and how their relationships are affected. So, aromantic is someone who doesn’t experience romantic attraction to anyone regardless of gender. This is not exclusive to the asexual community. You can be heterosexual, but atromantic, or anything else (my guess is that this would be somewhat rare). Non – aces with mismatched romantic and sexual orientations can be frowned upon too, as sex and romantic love is so often linked. Non – aces with mismatched sexula and romantic orientations can too, feel confused, isolated and shamed for how they feel.
She goes on to talk about aromantic asexual relationships. Of course, many aromantic people have family and friends that they can bond with. Some have a non – romantic but committed partner, some have intimate relationships that seem “mor than friends” but are not labeled as “romantic”. These relationships are often referred to in asexual circles as “queer platonic”. Now, understandably, this term has been heavily criticised, particularly from members of the LGBT community, because of the term “queer” often used to mean “gay” or another non – heterosexual orientation (however, someone wrote to me on Twitter explainning that sex workers sometimes use the term “queer (or the letter Q) for themselves…. hmmm).
What confuses things even more in asexual circles, is what’s deemed romantic? If it’s not commitment (since aromantic people can have rather comitted relationships), if it’s more intense than traditional friendship than what is it? I think that each person should be able to decide for themselves (or work out for themselves), what a relationship or even feeling actually is. Let them explain it in THEIR terms if they want. Then, maybe sometimes they don’t know…. yeah, it’s complicated.
Another thing. The above paragraph hints that partnerships aren’t easily defined just by looking at them. A same – sex couple isn’t automatically a gay or even homoromantic couple. Same with opposite – sex couples. A thought to ponder.
Orientations are not always as simple as aromantic or romantic. Some are somewhere in between (grey romantic) or ocurring at times when an emotional bond is already established (demi – romantic). My understanding of demi – romantic, is that they don’t experience “love at first sight” per se. That’s just what i thnk (I’m not demi – romantic myself, if you are and would like to explain your experiences in the comments section, got ahead. I’d love to learn about it from first – hand).
This is all I’ll write on this post. In the next post, I’ll continue with reviewing the chapter (probably Friday).