Saturday, 16 May 2009

'Demisexuals' and the blogosphere

Catchy title, yeah? Well, consider yourself lucky I’m posting at all, with this many exams.

When I’ve had time to settle down to this blog (and taken it out of the current 'stealth mode'), I’ll find out how to put one of those lists on the side with all the blogs I read. They’ve been really helpful to me in seeking out loads of new asexual blogs.

Anyway, I was looking at my list of blogs the other day, and it surprises me just how many of the blogs are written by ‘demisexuals’.
To clarify, when I say demisexuals, I don’t use it to mean people who are sexually attracted to romantic partners, which I think the official definition is. I use it to mean everything in the grey bit of the AVEN triangle, grey asexuals, demisexuals, semisexuals, kinky asexuals, honorary asexuals, or just ‘proper’ asexuals who are so involved in a personal way in sex positivism that they find a way to apply it to their lives. Names such as ‘Edge of Everywhere’ and ‘Shades of Grey’ are on everyone’s reading list.
I can hear you pleading with me to get to the point. Maybe the stereotype of the (possibly aromantic) ‘frigid’ asexual who wants nothing to do with sex or the sex culture is just that, a stereotype? But they’re very common in AVEN. It’s just that less of them seem to write blogs.

The traditional asexual doesn’t feel they have anything to say. That’s interesting. So, putting on my best pseudo-scientific head, I thrashed out a couple of hypotheses:

1. If you don’t want to interact with sex in society, you can largely ignore it. Aside from bitching about the occasional lewd advert or film scene, an aromantic asexual won’t build up a complex relationship with sexuality. A romantic asexual who draws very strong lines outside the bedroom door will have a slightly more complex relationship with sexuality, but still largely simple. Their problems will mostly be with getting their partner to understand them. These sorts of issues are the kinds of things AVEN is really helpful for, with the emphasis on escaping the annoyances of everyday sexual society and on relationships (as a glance at the forum titles shows; ‘Asexual musings and rantings’, ‘Asexual relationships’, ‘For Sexual partners, friends and allies’). They’re not good issues to run a blog on, though.

Now take a look at the standard ‘demisexual’. They want it all, flirting, romance, physicality, platonicness, and all of it uniquely repackaged for their own brand of asexuality. Better start drawing a lot of graphs!
Suddenly sexuality is something really complex- far more so for the asexual than for the standard sexual. So we need words and diagrams to help us figure out what we want, which is something more complex than the ‘No sex, please’ of the traditional asexual, even if that’s still a recurring theme.

‘Demisexuals’ have something to say to the world, a big speech to give, an explanation of who they are. Asexuals less so. Especially since most readers of asexual blogs are already familiar with standard asexuality.

2. Or, alternately, ‘demisexuals’ are self-selected to correlate to people who think too much. Hence the blog-writing. Indeed, hence this blog.

It sounds quite insulting (or possibly quite bigheaded), but the people who identify as asexuals have to be looking off the beaten track a bit anyway. For those asexuals who want a lot of what sexuals want, arriving at the conclusion that they’re asexual indicates that they’re very introspective. Then you can get a weird alternate version of Big Fish syndrome. Having jumped from the ocean of sexuality into the rather small box of asexuality, we find that there’s still too much room for our liking, and abando it for our own, smaller boxes. Most of them hand-made.

Now, that’s the kind of mind that would write a blog, that takes intrigue in little intricacies and (no offence, most demisexuals are fascinating) finds themself a fascinating subject of academic study.

3. The final theory is, and I admit it’s quite a stretch, that there are two almost entirely separate asexual blogospheres. The demisexual or sex-positive asexuals relate more to one set, so link to them, while the other side relates more to the other. I would expect these other blogs to turn up on the AVEN or the asexual wiki blog lists, though.

But there’s still a chance that I haven’t found them, for whatever reason, or they just resonate less with me.

Any other explanations I’ve missed? I feel like there’s another one I meant to put. I may do an update of this when I remember.
In the meantime, back to the graphs.

EDIT: About 2 minutes after submitting this post, I stumbled across a really awesome and long-running aromantic asexual blog, and remembered there's quite a few out there I was already reading. I hope the trend I've been observing is real, and not just random chance mixed with my own interests, or the entire post will be a failure. Any other day, I'd feverishly tally up blogs, but tonight it's 1 AM.


  1. I'm uncomfortable with your use of demisexual. The first (and less important reason) is that I see it as a highly technical term and that "Gray-A" seems to be the most commonly used term for what you're referring to. Secondly, there is the issue of identity. Some people in the gray area between sexual and asexual identify as gray-A or something like that, but some don't, feeling that such terms are divisive; they don't like others imposing such labels on them if they don't adopt that label themselves. Sexuality is a spectrum of sorts, and it's simply a fact that some people are more asexual than others (in some ways), but we have to be careful how we talk about it because we're all in this together and talking about who's more asexual than whom doesn't seem constructive.

  2. I see what you mean. I'll try to cut down on my use of the word demisexual in this sort of context in future, but in this case, I just needed a word for that grey area- grey-A may have been better.

    And I agree, it would be horrible to have a community in which the 'more' asexual people and the 'less' asexual people were antagonistic towards each other (maybe in a similar way to biphobia among the gay community, and just as unproductive), and I'm so glad we don't have anything like that. But to pretend that the asexual label doesn't apply to some very different kinds of people would be a mistake. I've seen this so often on AVEN, a sex-negative thread where an indifferent asexual says they don't feel accepted and that they're not proper asexuals, and vice versa. So I think it's useful to think about the voice the asexual community is presenting to itself.

  3. I'm so grateful you used the term demisexual. After months of dating frustration (trying to figure out how my sexuality fits in to the dating scene, which seems so dependent on primary attraction), I came across this term just yesterday and am soaking up everything I can find about it.

  4. I have only recently come to associate myself with the term demisexual. There's a spectrum of individual differences even within these sexual subcategories. The study of how we're each unique genetically, and how that also affects how we each react to others and our environment in different ways, is part of my degree field of psychology-neuroscience.

    Demisexual suits me pretty well, especially where I sit today. I've been married before, though I must admit, unhappily both times. I couldn't keep either of my husbands satisfied in the sex department, and just couldn't care about it as often as they did. At times I was completely repulsed by the thought of sex in any form, and felt it had no place whatever in my life.

    Since becoming single again, I've gone through very brief periods of being very open to, and passionate for, the experience of sex, while 95% of the time remaining completely celibate/ autosexual (for literally 3-4 years at a time.) This fits with Sexual Anorexia (Google the work of Dr. Patrick Carnes) and I do have an extensive sexual abuse history as a child, as Sexual Anorexics often do.

    Today, I find I think of men mostly above the waist, as fellow humans. I want them as platonic friends. I do find some of them attractive, but even when they find me attractive also, I've no real desire for anything sexual to actually happen with any of them.

    I do dream of falling in love and having sex, but with someone I've already known a very long time and who has won my trust first as an indispensable friend. I think this fits reasonably well with demisexual.

  5. I tend to regard demisexual as the best representation of my sexuality. I appear asexual untill a bond is formed. I'm not attracted to total strangers. The analogy one male coworker once gave of 'imagining you had access to the most handsome male modles in the world, wouldn't you mess around with them?' had no effect on me. That picking people out at random based on looks thing that most people do is completely beyond me. Even "establishments" where you can purchase human company is beyond my personal scope of understanding and comfort, regardless of the attractiveness of the merchandise.
    Then I go from that to calling my now recent ex, who I knew from work for five years prior to seeing each other, (and unfortunately didn't bond with me the way I did him) in a state of thinking "omfg! why aren't you answering your phone??!! I'm over HErE aLL Alone! YOU'RE The one That's missing Out!!" He was a big, tall guy who decided not to hurt me by actually completeling the act since he didn't feel the same way about me emotionally that I did him. I'm actually torn because of his decision. We'd known each other for so long that I felt comfortable with him and gradually began to feel physical attraction for him, but I know he didn't return my feelings, so I'm grateful he didn't COMPLETELY use me because I would NOT have liked that feeling of abadonment afterwards. ...but he was pretty thick, and from what I hear that's what feels best, so I have some residual frustration about not being able to.. say experience him, but that directly goes back to the desire of wanting him to stay and bond with me. They're almost inseparable with me.

    I also had VERY strong sexual desires as a teenager. A "normal" person might think I'm repressed, but I just feel no need to act them out with total strangers. In fact, I'm veritably celibate. I don't know about the official definition, but the way I sum up my sexuality is, if I love someone, I'm going to be sexually attracted to them, and vice versa. Or inversely if I don't love you, I won't be sexually attracted to you, and again vice versa.

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