ambergris: (Default)
So when my sister's so-called relationship turned to shit, the only thing which kept me going through the endless hours of listening to her rant and rave and cry on my shoulder was: I will never have to go through that again.

Because the unrequited love thing I specialised in when I was younger? Was not fun. It was soul-sapping, confidence-eroding misery. It was a constant reinforcement of all the stuff I believed about being unattractive, and boring, and generally worthless. (That said, any contact I have with other people tends to reinforce those perceptions. I didn't become AvPD by accident.)

Most of the time, I have to work at being grateful that I'm single. I know perfectly well that I'm such an extreme introvert that I NEED to be alone most of the time, but I live in a world where I am constantly told that I should be striving to find somebody (anybody) with whom to share my life, and that if I happen to be bad at sharing then I must be immature and selfish. This sort of thing seeps into your brain and most people never even question it.

But enduring hour upon hour of angst, I finally believed the things I keep telling myself. That nothing, nothing is worth putting yourself through that level of suffering. It is just insane. And if that makes me immature and selfish, well, all the better that I am not in a position to inflict my selfishness upon anyone else. There are worse things in life than being lonely.
ambergris: (Default)

Your result for The 3-Variable Sexuality Spectrum Test...

You scored 27 Heterosexuality, 6 Homosexuality, and 67 Asexuality!

You are moderately interested in sex to asexual, but do not appear to be interested in either gender.

The higher your score in asexuality, the less interested in you are in sex.

Take The 3-Variable Sexuality Spectrum Test at OkCupid

ambergris: (Default)
So I bookmarked this AVEN thread, because it echoed some of what I was thinking.

Basically this. If you're going to be an advocate for asexual visibility, you are going to be more helpful if you are a sane, healthy, happy, productive, fully-functioning member of society. If you don't give anyone the getout clause that you're broken.

The trouble with this is that most people, regardless of orientation, are damaged in some way. We live in a broken world. Dysfunctional societies produce dysfunctional individuals more often than not.

And me? I'm nobody's postergirl. I can't even say for sure whether I qualify as asexual. It could just be a symptom of my AvPD; if social contact is too much for you to handle, sexual contact is going to be even further down the agenda. It could be the depression. It could be the meds. It could be that I want a positive label just so I don't have to be broken; the same way I deconstructed virginity out of existence, so I wouldn't have to be one.

Or. I could simply say: this is where I am, now. This is how I feel, now. It wasn't how I felt in the past, and it may not be how I feel in the future, but that does not negate how I feel now.

And it doesn't matter exactly how or why I got here. I'm still here.


Mar. 18th, 2010 04:56 pm
ambergris: (Default)
I explain about spectra. I explain how, just as you have your basic straight/gay continuum with the bis in the middle, so you're also going to have a scale of intensity, with the asexuals at one end and the highly sexed at the other.

She gets that. But she still says maybe I just haven't met the right person yet.

I explain that the number of 'right people' is related to where you are on the scale. Up at the top there are hundreds, thousands even, at the bottom there's none. While I'm not at the zero point, it's extremely unlikely that I will encounter another 'right person', even if I wanted to.

And I don't.

But she still says I shouldn't write myself off.

My family are always telling me not to write myself off. I don't understand how admitting that I'm unemployable, or saying that I can't imagine ever not being single, constitutes 'writing myself off'. Don't I have an intrinsic worth independent of any that might be assigned to me by potential bosses and partners? Does it really make me a lesser person if I can't get validation from others? Isn't it more empowering to try and get by without it?

I can't remember a time when my reality wasn't being denied by those around me. Don't be silly, of course you have friends. Shut up, you're not fat. You're not suicidal, you're just lazy. Maybe you just haven't met the right person yet.

I know they only do it because they find these truths too painful; but when you refuse to accept what somebody is, you're telling them that what they are is unacceptable.

It doesn't help.


Mar. 13th, 2010 12:03 am
ambergris: (Default)
I found a semi-recent photo of the object of my demi-affections and it is wreaking havoc upon my freshly-minted asexual identity.

That is all.
ambergris: (flowers)
So tomorrow I am going to the chemists with my sister to get her the morning-after pill.

I never thought she would need the morning-after pill. I thought she was like me. I assumed that, like me, she would see out her twenties virgo intacta.

I should know better, by now, than to assume anything about anyone.

This happened all the time when I was younger. There goes another one. They'd giggle out their revelations about pain and awkwardness, all of which were oddly unsurprising, all of which failed to produce the shock or curiosity they were seeking, failed in fact to provoke any emotion in me beyond there goes another one.

People always think I am innocent, and people always assume I will be judgmental. But I was never anything like as innocent as I looked -- I read too much, absorbed too much, for that -- and I grew out of judging other people's sexual behaviour about the same time I grew out of judging my own. It was a lot like embracing atheism, actually; once I'd established where I stood, other people's positions made no difference to me anymore. I didn't scorn people's belief in God; I was merely baffled by it. I don't condemn people for having one-night stands; I'm just puzzled that they do.

Oh, I can imagine being a person who believes in God, and I can imagine being a person who has sex with strangers. I'd be a pretty crappy writer if I couldn't. But I can't imagine me as one of them. It's just not how I'm wired.


Feb. 28th, 2010 07:22 pm
ambergris: (Default)
I don't know why some people think shouting at a depressed person is an appropriate way of dealing with an admittedly exasperating situation. Seriously, what do they think will happen? Depressed person will leap to their feet declaring 'yes! you're absolutely right! I am a lazy good-for-nothing, but now you have been so good as to alert me to the fact, I am going to stop! I am now going to get dressed in my smartest clothes and reward you with a cup of tea before going outside and magicking up a fabulous life for myself!'

It seems to me far more likely that depressed person will merely snivel a bit.

Some people are so miserable and powerless in their own little lives that making other people suffer is the only source of joy they have. I learned this at school.

I am perpetually afraid of becoming one of them.

losing it

Feb. 19th, 2010 02:44 am
ambergris: (Default)
If you poke around Scarleteen for a bit you will find plenty of cogently argued explanations of why virginity is an inherently heterosexist and patriarchal concept that makes zero sense in twenty-first century Western culture. If this site had been around when I was, say, nineteen, it would have spared me several years of figuring this out for myself.

Instead, the label of virgin was a millstone around my neck. Oh, it's not that it was something that was generally known or talked about. That was partly why it was a millstone. Part of me wanted to be out, to be visible; to point out 'hang on, we still exist, and it would be cool if you acknowledged our existence beyond groups of American teenagers wearing silver rings.' But mostly, I thought it was nobody else's freaking business. It seemed odd to be defined by something you hadn't done. I mean, there are so many things I haven't done, most of them having far more impact on my everyday life than not having had sex. Like driving a car, or smoking, or getting a full-time job, or buying a house.

I was possibly groping towards a concept of asexuality when I wrote, some years ago: 'I am a virgin in the same way that other people are straight or gay'. Obviously this statement makes no sense because you're not comparing like with like. 'Virgin' isn't a sexual orientation, it is a statement about something that you haven't done. Our culture is sort of hazy about what exactly it is that you haven't done, but it's generally assumed to be penis-in-vagina penetration (or vagina-around-penis envelopment, to be slightly less androcentric).

But then, I don't think I was trying to make a statement about my orientation. I didn't have issues with my orientation. I was straight. This was slightly disappointing for a young feminist who'd read enough 70s-era theory to believe that the practice of penis-in-vagina sex might be inherently oppressive (as well as aesthetically unpleasing) yet also wished to maintain her liberal credentials by being totally cool with all shades of sexuality. Sadly, I just didn't fancy girls. I thought girls were cool and breasts were pretty and nearly all women were much nicer to look at than nearly all men, but the idea of kissing them left me totally cold.

So, boringly enough, I was firmly on the heterosexual side of the spectrum. But I did wonder whether my eternal virginity might qualify me as queer. It was certainly a marginalised state that I didn't feel able to talk about, one that might lead people to judge and discriminate against me, one that wasn't 'normal'.

I was looking to define myself by what I (wasn't) doing, rather than according to who I was. My orientation itself was basically irrelevant. Did it actually matter to which sex I was attracted, when the fact that I wasn't having sex, had never had sex, and would never have sex had more impact upon the way I saw myself and the world around me? The aspect of my sexuality which put me in a minority was, unsurprisingly enough, a lot more influential than the one which put me in a majority. And the only word I could find for it was 'virgin'.

The trouble with 'virgin', apart from the fact that any definition of the word falls apart as soon as you look at it, is that a virgin is what you are before you have 'sex'. It assumes a before and after that doesn't exist for everyone. About the only thing the label has going for it is that it doesn't imply a deliberate choice the way that 'celibate' does. Nor does it suggest you didn't have a choice, the way that identifying as asexual might. It leaves the question of volition wide open.
ambergris: (Default)
I went through a period, about ten years ago, of identifying as incel, and one thing sticks in my mind; somebody remarked that most involuntary celibates are trying to end the 'celibate' part, but others are trying to eliminate the 'involuntary'. Well, the thought of not being celibate was sort of horrifying, since I was only attracted to one (uninterested) person and couldn't contemplate sleeping with anyone else. I didn't even want to be attracted to anyone else.

I didn't equate this with asexuality or demisexuality, by the way. I equated it with True Love.

So I thought, right, I'll work on the voluntariness, and since I'm horrified by the thought of not being celibate I'm clearly most of the way there already.

Thinking of myself as incel, in retrospective, was a continuation of the passive, victimised role I had assumed in relation to my sexuality throughout my teens. This narrative basically went: I am fundamentally unattractive, nobody will ever want to sleep with me because I am flawed and they are shallow, this is how things always have been and always will be, and it is up to me to accept it.

Now, a lot of teenage girls have low self-esteem, but the majority nonetheless manage to engage in some degree of sexual activity during their lifetimes, so I don't think we can attribute everything to that. People with low self-esteem do have sex. Ugly people have sex. Shy people have sex. Even people with social anxiety have sex (though admittedly I have no clue how they get to that stage; I suppose they just get targeted by pushy people?) But obviously I was a special snowflake, unique in my utter undesirability.

What I tended to overlook was that, although it was true that nobody of the opposite (or any) sex ever indicated that they found me attractive, I pretty much repelled any such approaches before they could occur. I gave off 'leave me alone' vibes because 99.9% of the time, I actually did want them to leave me alone. I'm not sure I had AvPD at that stage (I'm only self-diagnosed now), but I certainly had some degree of social anxiety. I never socialised outside school -- I had a small group of friends, but they had mostly evaporated by the time I left -- and I was bullied, so if anyone had been interested (which I sincerely doubt, since I had the worst hair ever) they couldn't have admitted to it without being ostracised.

In my entire seven years at secondary school, I had three crushes, two of which were on teachers, and only one of which could be characterised as actually finding the person sexually attractive. It never occurred to me that I might have a low sex drive or have other anxieties about sex. I just thought every other male at my school must be ugly, or stupid, or both. Usually both.

Like most eighteen-year-olds, I thought college was my second chance. Even if the boys were ugly, at least they wouldn't be stupid. I might fall in love with somebody who would love me for my mind, and the relationship would follow its natural course.

I suppose there might be, somewhere out there, some asexual eighteen-year-old boys who love women for their minds, but the asexual eighteen-year-old boy I stumbled upon in my third day of residence wasn't one of them. Well, I say he was asexual. I don't know that he was, or that he would self-define in that way, but he was certainly somewhere on the spectrum. Like, a few weeks in, we had this drunken conversation about how the idea of sex was kind of gross and really not aesthetically pleasing, but I thought everyone secretly believed this because it was so obviously true. And he didn't date, or get off with random people when drunk, and had approximately two celebrity crushes, and I, in my blundering, inept way, clearly terrified the life out of him.

This being the same person upon whom I was still fixated three years later when I decided I was incel, I believed I wanted to sleep with him. Well, I did want to sleep with him. Whether I would still have wanted to sleep with him once matters progressed beyond the hypothetical is a question that will remain forever unanswered. My crushes were always on people who were safe, you see. Even the boy I crushed on for four years at high school was a Christian who proudly declared himself celibate. (At fourteen, I was unimpressed by this; wasn't everyone celibate at our age? You have to remember this was the early nineties, and I hung out with a lot of Christians.)

I could not imagine ever getting drunk enough to swap bodily fluids with a stranger. Or an acquaintance. Or a friend. Inevitably I would throw up long before reaching that point, and besides, I did not want to. There was only one person I wanted to kiss.

Here's the demiromantic thing. I have never had a crush that was instant. It was always: this person is nice enough, but not physically attractive. Or even: this person is really annoying and ugly. If I think someone looks good from the get-go, I just feel indifferent. It's as if it trips a switch in my brain: they're out of your league, nothing to do with you, move on.

But anyway.

Before I went off on this historical digression, I was going to say that identifying as incel wasn't right for me, and it wasn't right for me because I was trying to blame the rest of the world for the fact I was still a virgin rather than accept my own role in this. It was about me not owning the choices I had made on the way there. It was about me being Patience on a monument, a martyr to my unrequited love. It was about me being that uniquely undesirable snowflake.

And I was seeing a lot of bitterness directed against women, which troubled me although/because I knew I'd been guilty of similar bitterness against the whole tribe of men. I knew I was one of those snotty, shallow bitches who wouldn't look at these men twice, so I kept my mouth shut mostly, hypersensitive to the prospect of anyone hitting on me. Once, somebody suggested that I 'just had a low sex drive' and I automatically thought: yeah, well, you're just saying that because you don't believe women can be incel.

After the incel period, I called myself a 'non-practising heterosexual', which didn't require as much agonising, but also didn't really resonate with me, because it's not an identity, as such. It's just 'heterosexual' plus an adjective; it suggests a temporary, intentional state of affairs and fails to acknowledge adequately my difference from the norm.

So what tempts me to identify as asexual, now, is that it gives me some agency but not too much. It's not exactly saying 'this is my choice'. Celibacy is a choice. But it's not as if I had the opportunity to have sex and turned it down. It's more that I evaded being given the opportunity. And why would I do that, if I wasn't somewhere on the asexual scale? That's what I'm trying to figure out.


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