Throughout the course of the semester, we have learned about and discussed a wide variety of sexual orientations and how western culture has normalized a sex and gender binary. We traversed through the LGBTQI alphabet soup, learning how each identity has to navigate through society and the common dangers they face by merely existing as an unconventional body. Homosexual bodies, particularly gay men, are learned to be feared from a young age through the existence of the “fag discourse” perpetuated in schools. Bisexual individuals are also often viewed as predatory and dangerous because of their refusal to cooperate within the straight/gay binary that society has constructed. Further complicating sexual binaries are transgender individuals, whose by definition identify as a gender different to the one they were assigned at birth. Intersex individuals, who were born with ambiguous genitalia, can fit into any one of these categories, or none at all. Completely removed from the sexuality spectrum in which all of these other identities exist is asexuality, which can be defined as a lack of sexual drive. Since around the 1960’s, when sexuality shifted from a behavior to an identity, heteronormative attitudes have emerged and worked to confirm heterosexuality as the “correct” form of sexual identity while marginalizing all others.
One of the preoccupations with a heteronormative society is to scrutinize the identities of non-hetero people. A clear example of this can be seen among the bisexual population, where the straight (and sometimes gay) populations discredit the “bisexual” identity. Some claim that bisexuals are just “gays in denial” or straight, but “going through a case.” For some, that may be the case. For others, not at all. The bottom line is that it really should not matter what someone identifies as. Everyone has their own definition of their own orientation, and it is ignorant and presumptuous to simply say that one’s identity is “incorrect.”
One identity that has come under considerable scrutiny for lacking a clear definition is asexuality. In the documentary (A)Sexual, we are introduced to a number of people who identify as asexual, but very few of them conduct their romantic and sexual activities in the exact same way. Some maintain a long term romantic partnership devoid of sexual interaction. Some acknowledge that they do engage in some sexual behaviors, but prefer to do so without the presence of a partner. Because asexuality itself seems to be a spectrum, people are very hesitant to accept someone’s identity as an asexual body because it differs from their own prototype of an asexual in their mind.
One of the most important and lasting lessons I have learned this semester is that people will attack and scrutinize the legitimacy of a sexual identity far more than any other personal identifier. Because heteronormative constructions have deemed “straightness” the norm and every other identity as degenerate and ultimately “abnormal”. This dichotomy has allowed those who identify as “straight” to incorrectly assume privilege and marginalize others. The only person who can declare someone’s sexual identity is that individual. We must end our preoccupation with accusing others of having “false” identities if we truly want a just world.
This Sex and Society course has taught me about extremely important issues, mentalities, and trends regarding sex and its connection to society. I believe that the societal construction of binaries and stereotypes is the most important concept because it crosses all sexual boundaries and has a major impact on groups in society. We learned that society often creates binaries to categorize certain groups and apply stereotypes to these groups. Binaries allow people to easily apply certain stereotypes and narrow-minded opinions to groups of people, and this often leads to discrimination or systems of hierarchy. Ever since I learned about this concept, I have seen it reoccur constantly in readings and discussion. It seems that it is almost human nature to mentally categorize certain groups as one and the same, leaving little opportunity for the genuine acceptance of authentic and distinct personalities.
The documentary Asexual was a great source of information to understand what being asexual really means. Before this documentary, I didn’t really understand what it meant or how common it was because it is not discussed in schools or in the media. I feel like it is not well- known, even in the LGBTQ community, which was shocking. When a group of people that were asexual went to the Pride Parade, people at the parade did not understand what it meant to be asexual. The show The View, had David Jay (the main character in the documentary) on the show to discuss his experience as being asexual. He explained what it meant to not be attracted to either sex or sexual intercourse and also discussed the lack of community that he has as support. The hosts of the show started asking questions by trying to get a general understanding of what the term even means. In my opinion, these questions were helpful because a vast majority of society do not know what it means to be asexual. One of the hosts asked; “Is it a problem?” which is a valid question for someone that has a hard time understanding, but is definitely not polite toward someone that is asexual. On the show, they joked about being asexual and not wanting to have sex because to most, that’s impossible to feel. She then jokingly asked; “Then why do you have to organize?” Because it is such a foreign concept to people, they don’t understand why people are that asexual and why they are calling attention to it.
The same host that asked the above questions also asked if he was repressed or if he was afraid to face sexuality. I was also wondering this because what if it takes the right person to feel that sexual drive and desire with? Throughout the documentary, many asexuals described their experiences of having sex and not having sex. Their stories are astonishing because it is such a different concept. Can you think of anyone that doesn’t want to have sex at some point in the life? I thought that this documentary was very necessary to fully understand what asexual meant and the importance for others to understand and spread the word. There is over three million people that are asexual, according to the documentary, so it is necessary that those people do have a community to turn too.
In the clip, you can see how important it is for asexuals to have an outlook or a community to explore their questions about their sexualities, especially when they first realize it. The hosts of the show ask the questions that I believe are the questions that everyone wants to know and David Jay does a great job explaining what its like. It sounded like he was describing his “coming out” in a similar sense as if someone was gay, lesbian, queer, or transgendered. I even found it interesting how he described that he can still have a normal relationship with someone just without the sexual part. As in, he still has to build a connection with someone just like any type of relationship, the only thing that is different is the sexual attraction. He finds personalities more attractive than looks or bodies. David Jay also explained in response to one of the hosts of The View that being asexual is an orientation even though they can choose whether or not they have sex. What do you think? Do you think asexuals have a choice in how they feel or is it an orientation? David Jay compared having sex with someone as an asexual is like a gay man having sex with a woman before he comes out. He really put into perspective how difficult it can be living as an asexual person but also explained the importance for people to understand how they feel. However, by the end of the documentary, he explained how hard it is to have a relationship without sex and realized that he would have to give in some times. He discussed how this is how to maintain a strong relationship with someone and that for him to get what he wants, he is going to give what his partner wants. Do you agree with this? Do you think David Jay and other asexuals should succumb to the pressures of sex just so that they can have a healthy relationship? I think it would be very interesting to see how well someone could fake this act, to do something that is not so desirable for them, but just to make someone else happy. It also still shocks me that the LGBTQ community rejected the asexual group at the Pride Parade in the documentary, because it would seem as if they would accept anyone. What do you think about this?
Sex. How do you have it? Does it involve intimacy? How might you categorize it? Are all parties involved interested in having it? For some people, sexual desire and sexual intercourse are not appealing and do not factor into romantic relationships, if they have them. Continue reading
People have always resisted ideas which fall outside of socially constructed binaries. It makes us feel uneasy to not be able to categorize everything in our lives into neat, separate spaces. One half of this binary is typically viewed as “good” or “acceptable” while the other is “bad” or “deviant”. What about nonconforming individuals? People who are outside of the binary all together? Most people think sexuality is fundamental humanity as illustrated by this House clip. Indeed, if it is a large part of our human identity, then it must exist, right? For people outside of the realm of sexuality all together, challenging this binary based on the existence of sexuality can cause dis-ease among those who fit and thus encourage a search for the “reason” behind asexuality.
What does it mean to be “Asexual”?
The film (A)sexual is a documentary by Angela Tucker that was assigned for class and it was an interesting film because a lot of people in our society that never heard of this term before including myself. This is a documentary about asexual people around the world revealing their experiences in life. So what exactly is being asexuality in our society today?