The Ambiguity of “Hooking Up”

There’s a stranger in my bed

There’s a pounding in my head

Glitter all over the room

Pink flamingos in the pool

I smell like a minibar

DJ’s passed out in the yard

Barbies on the barbeque

Is this a hickey or a bruise

—Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)

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(A)sexual

We live in a country today that is obsessed with putting people into groups and bases everything on things found in media to determine their culture. This movie looks at many different people who identify as asexual. What exactly is asexual/asexuality? The actual definition of asexuality is “the lack of sexual attraction to anyone, or low or absent interest in sexual activity. It may be considered the lack of a sexual orientation, or one of the four variations thereof, alongside heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asexuality). My own definition of this term after watching the film would be that there are people who are not interested in having sexual intercourse or acts with people of the same or even opposite sex.

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Asexuality: Why?

Asexuality: Why?

For one of the assignments of class, we were asked to watch the documentary “(A)sexuality.” This documentary focused mostly on David Jay and his journey in identifying and creating Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN). The documentary uses him almost as the instructor, as it shows him in different interviews being interrogated about asexuality and its definitions and components. An asexual person is described by this organization as a person that does not experience sexual attraction. The documentary aims to use different examples and situations in which this sexual orientation can be explained. The documentary is beneficial in the way that it does this. It shows various instances in which the person describes his or her own personal identification of their sexuality and even describes it further to try to better explain it. I found that the characters presence at the pride parade and the interviews shown in this documentary was effective in expressing the way that others perceive asexuality and their lack of understanding for it. I think a limitation of this documentary was that I personally didn’t feel that I had a universal and shared definition or explanation for asexuality after watching it. I was still confused at whether these individuals felt that asexuality was something that was a biological shortcoming or whether or not they truly felt it was a choice. I wish that the people they interviewed were clearer in addressing that factor.

 

This assignment connected to our assignments relating to the LBGTQI community. The most relevant connection I made was to the panel discussion we had with the Office of LGBTQI Life here at Vanderbilt. Some of their personal stories really resonated with my curiosity and reflection of this documentary. I think this discussion gave me a better sense of how personal sexual orientation is and how much if can vary per person. Asexuality, being a sexual orientation, that is seen as “abnormal” in this society is similar to the LBGTQI community in that they both recognize that they are considered “abnormal” in society and are aiming to create a better understanding and acceptance for all sexual orientations nationwide. This assignment was different from the discussion in that none of the individuals identified as asexual but I think the connection was more so, for me, about how you don’t have to necessarily define your sexuality in terms that make sense to others. It is a personal aspect that is not so black and white. This main idea for me connected in both assignments or discussions and topics.

 

An example that I would use with this assignment in particular is this image that I came across on the Internet:

 

This example really stood out to me because it related to my reactions from the documentary. This person in the image is identifying as an asexual but also as a hetero-romantic young adult. This really connected to my response to the film in that I felt that the film did not necessarily leave the viewer with a strict idea of the sexual orientation other than the fact that they do not experience sexual orientation. Some of the individuals claimed that they had relationships with other individuals but it was one that was romantic and emotional and did not find it pleasurable or necessary to participate in sexual acts in order to progress their relationship or obtain intimacy. This, I would think, might be a hard concept for other people to understand because in terms of what we consider to be “normal” as a society, sexual experience is a natural part of an intimate relationship. It is considered a stage that the relationship reaches where sexual experience seems natural or even part of our biology. The fact that she claims that she is also “extremely awkward talking to guys” also addresses something in the film that I remembered.

Many people outside of this sexual orientation seemed entirely confused at the idea of asexuality and for example in the View interview, were quite rude in interrogating David Jay about his own personal experiences. I think that since most people cannot fathom this idea of not experiencing sexuality, they assume things that they think best explain this. Asexual individuals throughout the film even addressed this idea that other people predict that they are simply “inexperienced” sexually and don’t know what they don’t like sex. They assume that maybe that had a dangerous or extremely negative sexual experience from the past that has turned them off from sex altogether, like sexual assault or rape. Another assumption made is that the person is simply lacking social skills or is just awkward at interacting with others and therefore finds it easier to not engage with other people. I found this interesting because I have personally witnessed heterosexual people using these examples to “explain” homosexuality. I find this interesting that some people try to find “reasons” or the “causes” for this sexual orientation rather than accepting them as part of society.

 

The question or idea that I find most reflective would be to ask how we use other sexual orientations to reinforce the “correctness” of our own.

I would also add the question of how we as a society deem our own sexuality and I would challenge the reader to think about how we define our personal sexuality and in terms of how it relates to biological or environmental terms.

Do you believe that biology or evolution define what we view at normal in our society, for example heterosexual as being the standard sexual orientation?

Do you think that asexuality should be included as a sexual orientation that falls within the LBGTQI community?

Asexuality

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/?ui=2&ik=388aa75ab6&view=fimg&th=149160aa42bf0faf&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&attbid=ANGjdJ9-lccC4yLgJOOfNpeF9VnNq0AiNyY08pHv3ZDpJB0qpeu1J-uxK00y52RwSA2R609zcjsyoAXvZ_mnNUe45fu-K2ZiddrG1dl531s3D2XgDOX5xt6lQzei7X0&ats=1413414123297&rm=149160aa42bf0faf&zw&sz=w1256-h501

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.

http://youtu.be/6kPfLYuQlL8

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?

(A)sexuality

Asexual is the lack of sexual attraction to anyone, or low or absent interest in sexual activity. The documentary (A)sexuality gives many examples of why, how, and when people consider themselves asexual. I found it really confusing to follow all the different stories. All the people who were interviewed told how they are perceived through the world and the many stereotypes they get categorized in.

Many said they have no sexual desires for either sex. One guy said he likes the sadism and machoism (S&M) part of BDSM, but doesn’t like the actual act of intercourse. This is similar to 50 Shades of Grey. Grey used BDSM and he had plenty of sex but he never really had any sexual attraction to someone until he met Ana. Would he be considered an asexual who was cured by “love”? In the film, the researched said that many were born this way. They knew from birth about these unknown sexual attractions that didn’t seem normal. But in the interviews, some asexual people said that they made the decision to be asexual after a bad relationship. It’s confusing to me because I feel like asexuality is a mindset. When you don’t desire something and don’t long for something, it doesn’t make you a different. It is considered someone’s personal preference. These people aren’t considered gay or lesbian, they just don’t desire sex. LGBTQI community doesn’t support asexual because they don’t feel as though asexual people will help their community grow or mean anything to them. Normally that is not natural because it’s natural to want sex, even just to reproduce.

1% of the US Population is asexual. Not many people have heard of the word asexual and many won’t understand what it is. Asexuality can be very contradicting. Being asexual isn’t very natural. An older woman was telling her story of when she decided to become asexual. She said that she has had plenty of sex, a lot in fact, and but she still doesn’t have desire to have intercourse. Once she stopped having sex, she said she didn’t wish to have intercourse anymore. She didn’t miss the physical touching. This is ironic because in the film, the researched explained how most, almost all, asexual people are inexperienced with sex. They lack desire for sex because they never had it or their first experience wasn’t what they expected.

Asexuality is a choice. I feel that those who categorize themselves as asexual just want to be different. It doesn’t make you much of a different human being because you don’t long for sexual attractions. The reasons I believe people decide to be asexual is because they are running from love, had a horrid experience their first time, or they just don’t desire sharing their body. I have a bad relationship and I become asexual for a week. So, once I’m not mad at the world again, then I become un-asexual?

Asexuality is thought of as a disability says Thomas J. Gershick in his “The Body, Disability, and Sexuality” article. It is explained to be a mental sexual disability. It’s not that “they” can’t do it but rather have a mindset to not want to do it. Asexuality is being described as a mindset, therefore, making it a mental problem. It also explains that asexual people is “one who needs others to care for them.” I strongly agree with asexual being firmly a mindset. Being asexual isn’t normal but what it normal? Who is normal? What perfect person can we use as an example to define what it means to have normal sexual desires?

Here is the link to a YouTube video of a little boy name Joe who decided to never fall in love.

 

 

In this video, Joe decides to not fall in love. He has no sexual desires for anyone and doesn’t expect to. He had decided since 2nd grade to never fall in love with anyone. Joe is 14 years old in the video. His mindset is to not fall in love with anyone and with this mindset, he focuses on not having sexual desires for anyone. In the video it shows him being very happy with his decision and his life. “I don’t love my parents. They are nice people.” When he said this, I immediately thought back to the article when it said “asexuals are one who needs others to care for them.” The video shows Joe’s interactions with his family and I feel that there is a disconnection between him and his parents. His mom said that she tells him that she loves him but does she show him that she loves him? I saw no interaction between his father and his father was never interviewed. Joe did say that his only instance of falling in love and maybe having sex would be in another world. A world where he and his partner can fight monsters.

Do you think Joe has a mental disorder? Would you consider him asexual? If he had more love from his parents and interactions from his father, do you think he would have this mindset?

The (A)Sexuality Spectrum

The film (A)sexuality was mostly about the conversations from people who do not experience a want or need for sex. The people in the video talk about how there is no specific group for them to fit in because society has a harder time seeing how they live such a “limited life” because asexuals love to have sex with themselves more than other people and some are capable of sexual arousal, but still have no interest in sex, and the LGBTQI community has problems accepting them because they feel this group of people have nothing to fight for. Because only one percent of America’s population has admitted to being asexual, it is rarely talked about and almost unheard of to some communities. In reaction to this, they are treated as homosexuals are treated by everyone else. People will say: “Apparently there is something “wrong” with them,or “they have hormone problems”, or even “they have just had a traumatizing experience”. Even when bought to psychologists, asexuals are probed for signs of sexual distress, anxiety, alienation, and suicidal thinking.

In society, there always has to be a reason that someone is the way they are. Either it’s a disorder or a traumatizing life influence. I agree with this up to a certain extent. I do not feel like everyone is born the way they are, but I do feel like just because someone makes a lifestyle choice, it does not have to be considered a disorder. I also do not agree that it has to be a traumatizing event. Although events such as that do happen and change a significant amount of people, it could just be the influence someone grew up with or how the person views certain aspects of life just by seeing and experiencing. Not everything is bad, but somehow people think of reasons that make other things bad because it is not what the majority of people are.

In the film, there was this old lady who kept having sex multiple times (50-60) in order to find an interest or reach her epiphany, but it never happened. From my point of view, she kept trying because that is the way it is “supposed” to be. The stigma is that a woman is supposed to obtain sexual gratification from a man, but even though she may not have been married, she kept trying to force herself to fit into what society thinks. In relation to that, I found it interesting that even though one is asexual, they can still can still be sexually aroused, but have no interest in sex. For example, some asexuals like to participate in Sadism and Masochism (S&M) for sexual stimulation, like the practices in 50 Shades of Gray with whips and floggers; however, the difference is that asexuals do not participate in intercourse afterwards. One guy mentions, ” It makes it hard for people to form close relationships without sex.” When he said that, I immediately thought about how the hook-up culture is set up. If you compare the web of relationships shown in the video and a web of relationships from someone you know who is engage in the hook-up culture, they look almost identical. They probably look almost identical because it seems as if being asexual could be a form of the hook up culture, only without sex. They believe no one is going to take the relationship seriously without sex, so they talk to multiple people, and the web grows. Also, in the article, “The Body, Disability, and Sexuality” by Thomas J. Gershick, it talks about asexuality as a disability as it did in the movie by describing it as “a problem solely in the individual, not in society”. It talks about how people with sexual disabilities are considered to just be asexual, and because of this, they are denied sexual health information; however, they are still perceived as sexual beings.

Here is a link to a graph of the asexuality spectrum:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/19/asexual-spectrum_n_3428710.html?1371648467

This graph really opened my eyes in explaining asexuality and how there are different spectrums within the spectrum. Since only one percent of America is asexual, this type of information is not spread or well known, so I found it helpful in explaining what asexuals really like. It also introduced a new term to me, which is a demisexual, someone who only feels sexual attraction to someone they have developed a relationship with. It also laid out what romance orientation and asexual orientation is. This graph by no means completes the entire spectrum because there are always deviations to labels; however, it is a starting point to understanding what it actually is.

Even though this graph was exciting to look at because it laid everything out for me that I did not understand, it truly made me feel as if all sexualities cannot be labelled and remembered. There are so many different things that people like, and so many labels that people ascribe to that even though learning about them could be helpful, it just creates more chaos the more it grows. Labelling is okay, but too much of anything is just never good.

Did this graph help your understanding of asexuals? Do you think that asexuals should be considered as people with sexual disabilities? Why can’t they be just be people who want to be celibate? Is there a difference in celibacy and asexuality, or do they tie into each other? Do you think labelling sometimes gets out of control?