Thursday, 13 May 2010

On shallowness

So there's this idea, one of those sorts of ideas you see out of the corner of your eye, one of those ideas that just builds up as millions of tiny words, said or unsaid, and it looks something like this:

"[Romantic] asexuals are so pure and innocent. They can be attracted to people without all the shallowness of sexual attraction. They're an inspiration to us all."

Ok, so, in some ways, I'm the reverse of a romantic asexual. An aromantic grey-a. But seriously? When do I get to be an inspiration?

There's a girl at college who acts nervous around me. Either she thinks I'm terrifying or she fancies me. And that made me realise- I've never felt that way. When I have a crush, I never feel scared of the other person. I just feel admiration for them. Because, get this:

I am unable to form that sort of deep attatchment to someone*
*although I can do deep friendships.

Every feeling I get is shallow. Every crush, sexual or demi-sexual urge, everyone I've stared at in the street, has been just a nice collection of body parts, clothes and mannerisms to me. I appreciate people cold, like a photograph, and I just cannot comprehend the world of people being heart-stammeringly, sickeningly, burningly in love with another actual Person. To have a crush on a conciousness, rather than an image.

I am entirely, 100% shallow. And I love it.

I'm a good feminist boy, but I wince whenever a feminist sees sexual attraction (from a man to a woman) and labels it 'objectification'. Don't get me wrong, I think objectification exists. But using it as a synonym for sexual attraction? Well, that's just forcing straight men to deny their sexualities in a way which would be bigoted if you did it to any other orientation. The heart wants what it wants and so do other organs.

I always thought asexuals could do something about that. I looked into myself, and I saw that my attraction was clean. Geometric. Shorn of the complex and centuries-old ideas of 'bad' and 'wrong'. It was nice and innocent and so, so shallow. Without being corrupt.

But it seems like we might be part of the problem. However we present ourselves, especially the romantic asexuals, there's always going to be that little part of people's heads that beatifies us without our consent. You can see it in people's righteous anger when you out yourself, assuming that you think you're above them. Because sex is bad and wrong, and we've escaped it.

So I try to be dirty. I take everything clean and innocent, everything unsullied by the constant war of the virgin and the whore and fire it at the world, to show that we're not saints. We're not children. We are not better, nicer, higher. We understand the biology, maybe better than you. We make jokes about it, maybe wittier than yours. There is no innocent asexual because there is no guilty sexual. If I'm asexual, and I'm like you, then you can't be bad. And all that phyical attraction? All the stuff most asexuals lack? Is fine. It's who you are, and it's really not worse than the deep stuff.

I am shallow. And shallow is good.


  1. We understand the biology, maybe better than you.

    Yes indeed. As part of my YA-montage-of-self-realization I read every book our local library system has on sex (and especially those "This is how you have sex. Wear condoms" written for teens), and, being a member of various very sex-positive and open feminist websites, I know rather a great deal about sex. And still I have no interest.

    (I wish I had more to say, because I really enjoyed this post, but ... alas. I do not)

  2. Rebekah, I really like the idea of the knowledgable, unflustered asexual stereotype. The expert outsider. And (again, sex-positive and feminist websites be praised), I always seem to be the one who says things like "Encouraging people to carry around only one condom with them is not safe," "Don't use scarves for bondage. They tighten and restrict circulation" and other little bits of sex-positive trivia. Stuff I'm now genuinely surprised most people don't know.