Monday, 8 February 2010

Q+A with Joy Davidson, part 4

All the disclaimers from before apply, the article is found in its entirety here, and I don’t own any copyrights, etc, and am quoting from it for the purpose of analysis.

A little mini-episode now. I quite like this brief letter as a stand-alone thing, and I think I’d like to find the time to write about something else, so I decided not to join it to the next one.

Part 4:
Chuck Writes:
Is it possible to become asexual after you've been married eight-plus years, with a child?

Yes, I think so. I think many people find sexuality fluid, and what makes sense at one time in your life can become something completely different at another time of your life.

If I was an agony aunt, I think I’d have a helicopter, which could fly around the place and drop little sacks onto people, embroidered with the words: “Context, please!!” I’m speculating wildly, but I bet he’s not dealing with someone becoming asexual. He’s dealing with someone finding out that they’re asexual, or with someone who’s becoming something else (like uninterested in sex).

Davidson Responds:
It's certainly possible to lose desire for sex in a long-term relationship, but losing desire is not the same as being asexual. People who believe they are asexual claim they have never had interest in sex.
There are many reasons why a woman would turn off to sex -- some are medical or hormonal but most have to do with the changes in her relationship. Lack of trust or feelings of anger and resentment can play a huge role. So can the inability to communicate sexual needs or have them met by your partner. Illness, depression, anxiety and certain medications can also have an impact.
Complaints of ebbing sexual desire in marriages, whether by the female or male partner, are the most common reason that people visit sex therapists. You are not alone in your frustration or sense of loss. I'd like to suggest that you look through some of the reading resources I've suggested, and then perhaps contact for a therapist referral. Best of luck!

I have a couple of disagreements with what Joy wrote here. Firstly, as I said, I think people can often change sexuality. It’s interesting to compare Joy’s answer in this section to “Can a sexual person become asexual” to her answer in the first section to “Can an asexual person become sexual”. I think it works both ways.
Also, and on a far more minor point, Contextless Chuck never mentions that a woman is becoming asexual. Joy assumes this from what she’s read. I don’t mind too much about this, since some things about the way the letter is phrased would suggest it, and sometimes you just have to guess at what isn’t there to make a good response.
I only mention it because there’s an extent to which I think it’s written with the idea of asexual men being less common, and also because it may arise from ideas about women being ‘complicated’, backhand sexism that sneaks in when you’re not watching it. Having spoken to Joy, I don’t think this is any sexism on her part. It’s just that I get touchy because this side is always reported, and the side which deals with men’s complex emotions/desires is always hushed up.
Replace all of the gendered words in Joy’s speech with their male or non-specific equivalents and you get a paragraph that is still completely true, but which you’d never see in a mainstream magazine or newspaper, and which a lot of people sadly really need to be told.
That’s it for this week. Sorry there’s not much genuine analysis of the issues going on here, even less of specifically asexual issues, but I’ll be back for the penultimate in this series next time.

1 comment:

  1. Quickie here, too ;)

    I have not the slightest recollection of why I thought this was a woman.
    It's possible the editors sent me more info than they published or simply told me that Chuck was a woman. I have a very vague snippet of memory that something like that occurred, but I can't promise it's accurate. Otherwise, I would usually have said something like, "you don't say whether you're male or female and Chuck sounds male--yet the way you mention a child sounds like something a woman might say, so here's an answer that applies either way." Or, the last possibility is that I wasn't paying attention at all to the name and drew the conclusion from the wording. No clue on this one. Not enough in the memory bank. ;) Well, there is one more option, come to think of it--a woman who calls herself Chuck might not be too interested in men, really. But that might be pushing the assumptions just a tad!

    And, yes, no context. He/she doesn't say whether he/she enjoyed sex for 8 years or had no real interest in it. Nor did I approach the question as if either was possible. Again, there may have been more to the letter than made it into the final version. Maybe the editors were running low on space so they cut parts of the question rather than editing my answer. But I don't recall specifically, and if not, this was really not my most shining moment at all!

    I think your response about fluidity and/or becoming aware later in life would have made a much better opening.