Thursday, December 14, 2006

#13- Fun Times Flipping the Script

No real news this week. There's some info on a useful exercise that I went through recently, a followup on last week's discussion and some very cool quistions that CJ sent in:

Please note that this is meant facetiously, and in no way should be used that human sexuality is unnatural or unhealthy— for most people it is natural and healthy. The purpose of these questions is to challenge the assumption that all people inherently are or should be sexual.

1) What do you think caused your sexuality?

2) When and how did you first decide you were sexual, and why did you make that choice?

3) Is it possible that your sexuality is just a phase that you will grow out of?

4) It is possible that your sexuality stems from a neurotic fear of dealing with people and not just their bodies, or from a neurotic obsession with physical bodies, or worse, an inability to see past a body?

5) Sexuals have histories of failed asexual relationships, not being able to deal with close personal non-sexual relating. Do you think you may have turned sexual out of fear of emotional intimacy?

6) If you’ve never had a really intimate relationship with someone without all the messy things that happen when you mix in sex and bodily fluids, how do you know you wouldn’t prefer that?

7) If sexuality is normal, why is there such huge spectrum of sexual attraction, drive and desire?

8) Sexuality and sexual activity can be indicative of hormonal or psychological problems, and even brain damage. Have you considered getting your hormones checked or having a psychological assessment?

9) Many people who have been sexually abused while children or teenagers act out sexually and become very sexual later in life. Were you abused as a child or teenager? Is that why you are sexual?

10) To whom have you disclosed your sexual tendencies? How did they react?

11) Your sexuality doesn’t offend me as long as you leave me alone, but why do so many sexuals try to seduce others into that orientation, or seduce them all?

12) If you should choose to nurture children, would you want them to be sexual, knowing the problems they would face, all the complicated things they would need to deal with in their relationships and lives?

13) Most child molesters, rapists and abusers are sexual. Do you consider it safe to expose your children to sexuals? Sexual teachers, particularly?

14) Why must sexuals be so blatant, making a public spectacle of your sexuality? Can’t you just be what you are and keep it quiet?

15) Sexuals always assign their relationships such narrowly restricted, categories of “friend” or “partner”. Why do you cling to such unhealthy and limiting relationship categories? Why can’t you just love?

16) How can you have a fully satisfying, deeply emotional experience with another person when you are preoccupied by sex and what your bodies are doing? How can two people actually be intimate if they are constantly seeing and treating each other as sexual objects, or trying to get sexual fulfillment?

17) Sexual relationships have total societal support, yet divorce and messy break ups continue to cause sexuals profound distress. Why are there so few stable sexual relationships?

18) Since sexuality and problems that stem from it are so painful for so many people, techniques have been developed to help sexuals change. Have you considered trying hormone or aversion therapy?

20) How do sexuals ever concentrate when they have to deal with the constant bother of sexual attraction, sex drive, and spending time and energy pursuing people for sexual relationships?

21) A disproportionate number of criminals and other irresponsible types are sexual. And there are so many types of self-destructive, abusive and oppressive behaviours that are sexual in nature. So how can sexuality possibly be normal and healthy?

22) So many sexual people are only willing to be emotionally intimate with someone if they are in a sexual relationship. Why are sexuals so emotionally frigid?

23) Maybe you only think you’re sexual because you haven’t met the right person. Do you think you’re only turning to sexuality because you are desperate and emotionally unfulfilled?

24) There are so many physical risks involved with sexuality, including STI’s and unplanned pregnancy, not to mention the emotional risks and frustration especially in long-term committed sexual relationships. Why would anyone want to be sexual?

25) Why do sexuals need to be validated by having someone else desire them sexually? Why are they so insecure?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

#12- Is Sex Magic?

I had a big debate with my friend cowboy over sexuality and whether it was unique. This is someone who knows and respects me, but we disagreed pretty fundamentally on the nature of sexuality. To her sex is a sort of fundamental experience, it attains a level of emotion and a level of connection that nothing else can.

Now to me this idea seemed a little demeaning, because if sex allows access to this uniquely sexual universe of emotion then there’s a whole universe of intense feeling that I just don’t have access to. I’ve heard similar things from my other sexual friends as well, that there’s nothing in the world like sex, that it’s a whole other level of connection with someone. We see this a lot within the sexual binary- the idea that certain intense emotions and intense relationships only happen when sex is involved.

So if my friend is right, and she does really experience a ton of enhanced emotions only around sex, then one of two things is true. Either I’m just not experiencing a whole level of humanity, or I’m experiencing stuff without sex that my sexual friends aren’t.

Is it that sex involves some special neurochemical cocktail that unlocks a secret part of human psychology, or that it involves a set of emotions and desires which my friends keep reserved for their sexual partners and I spread around my community? Probably both, but it’s important to keep in mind.

There’s no debating that sexuality does a lot of chemical things to the brain and that a lot of those chemical things that it does to the brain have an affect on relationships. What I haven’t seen much research on, and I’m not an academic expert in any way, is whether the things that sex does to the brain are unique and if so how unique? Are there chemicals which are released only during sex and if so how much do those chemicals have an affect on thing that matter in relationships: how we feel about people, how much time we spend together. Are sexual people basically just tripping on a bunch of chemicals that we’re not?

On the other hand, how much is it about sexual people giving a type of meaning to sex that we’re not? To a sexual person having sex means that you have access to a particular kind of sexual relationship where all kinds of interesting things can happen. There’s the possibility of forming a family, there’s the possibility of being committed to someone for the rest of your life there’s the possibility of even dating them, with all of the things that that means. When you don’t have sex, for most sexual people, that isn’t a possibility and the kind fo relationship that is possible when you have sex affects how you emotionally feel when you have sex because that sex means something. If having sex lets you give yourself permission to feel a certain set of things for people then you limit those emotions to a particular subset of relationships in our life. As asexual people we’re in a tricky position because we can’t use sexuality as a system to limit where we feel things and how we’re vulnerable. We can use other systems, but we’re forced to feel things at times when sexual people aren’t forced to feel them, because sexual people limit a lot of their emotions to relationships where they have sex.

If sex is magical for sexual people then for us that magic is taken out of sex and distributed somewhere else. That means that we are feeling things in relationships that a lot of sexual people aren’t going out of their way to feel and experience. This puts us in new territory that is potentially interesting to sexual people. A lot of the reason why sexual people get so worked up about sex is the magical emotions that are associated with it, and if those emotions could happen without sex then it might make them a little easier to deal with.

Here’s one way to think about it: when asexual and sexual people form relationships what do sexual people do with those “extra” sexual things that they feel, and what do we do with the “extra” nonsexual things that we feel? How incompatible REALLY are the sexual things that they are feeling and the nonsexual things that we are feeling, which gets back to the core question I was asking Cowboy- is sex unique? Is it magical?

This is an interesting question, because I know a lot of sexual people who seem extremely hesitant to ask it. Seriously examining the mystery around the uniqueness of sex is taboo to a lot of people who pride themselves on not having taboos. It’s where a lot of our modern concept of virginity comes from, the idea that you need to try it (or maybe try it again with the right person) in order to even participate in the discussion. I am reminded of this every time the topic of my experimenting with sex comes up around my friends, many of whom still jump at the fantasy that I will undergo some epiphany and fall in line with the established norm.

If our community is going to survive in the long term, if we are going to carve out a place for ourselves that is rich with possibility then there are a lot of tricks that we will have to pull off. One of these tricks is going to be getting a lot of sexual people out there to start questioning their assumptions, to start asking themselves why they limit so many of their strongest emotions to the realm of sexuality and to start imagining what would be possible if they didn’t.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Asex 101

Here is the lecture, view the powerpoint at:

#11- Asex 101 Lecture

I’ve recorded the lecture that I gave a few months back so that we can use it as an educational tool. This weeks’ podcast is just a huge news update, since there hasn’t been one for so long.


We left off on September 26 with Podcast 10, here are the headlines since then in vague outline forumat

Talk at University of Delaware a Success!

My computer broke : (

Montel, Keith Ablow, Tyra Banks, Daily Telegraph All At The Same Time

Minor Site Downtime- Sketchy in Restrospect?

Montel Filming Goes Great

-Power Asexuals Get Bagels, Conquer Planet, Kick Butt on Camera

-Montel Williams Allright but Kind of Mysogonistic

-Joy Davidson Defends All That is Pure from the Asexual Hordes

-Attacked us on lack of academic cred. Accused us of recruiting, etc.

-Counter: Asexual health

My Computer is Fixed, yay!!

Start updating AVEN, go to make cookies and… Nov 10, 6PM site goes down

- Why this happened: ignorance about asexuality

o NOT explicit sexual discussion going on AVEN

- Takes a week to get a new server and get back up. I’m really stressed out the whole time, about doubled my computer knowledge through trial and error and redangel.

Next up: Montel, finishing the book proposal, code updates and PT elections. If anyone needs me drop me a line, but those three things are what I’m focusing on.

Check out the lecture!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

#10- The Masturbation Paradox

Good times with the NCSF, a lecture update, visibility blitzing, and some more on community based intimacy. Hold on ‘cause this is Episode 10: The Masturbation Paradox.

Recently the asexual community has been receiving a lot of press. From 20/20 to the View to the New York Times, a lot of people seem fascinated by the previously boring topic of not having sex. As a community, we’ve had to put together a sort of public relationships strategy. Generally speaking we try to steer the interviews towards more emotional topics- relationships, coming out, fulfillment and other life experiences. Talking about arousal and masturbation makes the discussion clinical, about our bodies rather than our lives, while talking about emotional topics highlights our humanity. It invites audiences to empathize with us rather than clinically dissecting us. But inevitably questions keep on coming. Do asexual people experience arousal? Do they masturbate? Do you? How can someone masturbate and call themselves asexual?

It’s high time we gave them a good answer.

Asexual masturbation is something of a paradox. Ask almost anyone, and they’ll tell you that it’s a sexual act. It involves sexual arousal, sexual pleasure, often times it even involves orgasm. It makes up a significant chunk of the sexual activity that happens in the world, and is a vital part of the sexuality of most sexual people. If sexual desire is just the desire for sexual pleasure, then masturbation is by far the easiest way to act on it. No long courtships, no emotionally complicated relationships, no fancy clothes and pick-up lines and alcohol, just a little free time and (usually) a private place.

In a sense, the desire to masturbate is the purest form of sexual desire out there. If you genuinely, truly, JUST want to get off then there’s no reason to involve all of the complexities of other people. Pure economic logic tells us that if you put in all of those long, grueling hours for sex with a partner you’re looking for something more than an orgasm that’s just a broom closet away. Partnered sexuality is adulterated with all sorts of nonsexual egos, expectations and emotional needs which take turns either enhancing or detracting from the Good Stuff. Unpartnered sexuality is easy, direct, to-the-point and pure. If sexuality is just the desire for sex, then people who only masturbate should feel like the most purely sexual people on the planet.

They don’t.

Rather inconveniently, people who masturbate and don’t have sex with other people tend to call themselves asexual. We can’t say this universally, but currently the asexual community is the only place where these kids of people have gathered together to talk about it in any number. These people don’t identify with sexuality at all. Unlike most people, who consider masturbation sexuality and sexual desire to be central motivating factors in their lives, people who only masturbate tend to think of their sexuality as nonexistent. They spend their time hanging out and sharing an identity with people who experience no sexual arousal at all, or who experience sexual arousal and are never motivated to act on it. These people relate to one another’s experiences, use the same terms to describe themselves, struggle with the same problems and swap the same strategies to tackle them, and they do it all in a community founded by someone who masturbates and calls himself asexual. What’s going on here?

It’s tempting, though ultimately pointless, to try and correct this situation. You could crash into the asexual community wielding badges of scientific, medical or imagined authority and demand that all of the masturbating asexuals pack their bags and truck off to a conceptually consistent set of terms. Not only would this be wrong (because it would deny masturbating asexuals their right to self-identity) and pointless (because there’s no way to create a division in the community if masturbating and non-masturbating asexuals don’t see one), it’s a textbook case of changing the facts to fit the theory. To make sense of this paradox, let’s take a step back to our ideas about sexuality and sexual desire.

In the asexual community, asexuality is about more than how you feel about sex. There is no litmus test, no way to examine your own internal wiring (or lack of wiring) around sexuality and scientifically state whether or not you are asexual. Asexual identity is viewed less as a label and more as a sort of toolbox. If the word “asexual” works, if it helps you understand yourself and describe yourself to other people, then you pick it up and you use it. In the asexual community you meet people with all sorts of tips and tricks in their toolboxes on everything from coming out to nonsexual flirting, and you swap and experiment until your asexual identity has evolved to perfectly fit your lifestyle. In the asexual community identity is constantly evolving and changing as people pick up new terms and ideas and send old ones off to be recycled.

Why do most people in our culture identify more strongly around their race and their gender than around their eye color and their blood type? Is it because race and gender are more biologically relevant? Of course not. Most people are made to think about their gender and their race on a daily basis, and about their blood type a maximum of a few times a year. Most of us are forced to think about our race and our gender- and about the problems which arise around them- almost constantly. As we grapple with the problems put in front of us we create tools to address them. How we use these tools begins to shape our lives, we being to feel a common bond with those sharing our struggle and before long we find ourselves embroiled in a full-fledged identity. More than mere labels, identities that matter come equipped with a full set of ideas, terms, and collective wisdom that can let us take on even the most daunting of challenges.

What if sexuality is about more than just liking sex? What if sexuality, like asexuality, is a sort of identity? Any sexual 8th grader can tell you that sexuality is fraught with emotional hazards. Starting young, most people devote an intense amount of time and energy to figuring out how to happily fit sexuality into their lives. They swap ideas and tricks, experiment, and fill up a personal sexual toolbox chock-full of the skills and knowhow required to gracefully deal with a wide range of sexual situations. If our examination holds it’s people’s identities, their “toolboxes” and not the contents of their underwear which serve as the locus of their sexuality. When someone kisses their boyfriend they think about it with ideas and terms from the sexual toolbox, and the experience feels “sexual.” Swap kissing a boyfriend for kissing a mother and, oedipal complexes aside, people think about the situation with tools and concepts from another, nonsexual toolbox.

In this scenario it’s easy to see why masturbation is so sexual for so many people. Arousal and orgasm by yourself feels a lot like arousal and orgasm with another person, and it’s no surprise that people use very similar concepts and terms to describe the two. Once you’ve spent those hard adolescent years feeling out a place for sexuality in your life, it’s no surprise that for most people masturbation fits nicely into the picture.

But think back- was masturbation really the cause of all that frantic, awkward adolescent identity-building? It is, after all, just a matter of some spare time and secluded corner. Masturbation is easy, far too easy to spark the development of a full-fledged sexual identity. At the end of the day sex is simple, it’s the relationships where it happens that are complicated. From High School cafeterias to Sex and the City people are struggling with the complicated things that happen when you mix sex with other people, not the fairly straightforward things that happen when you have it by yourself. If relationships are the name of the game, kids who only masturbate will feel out of place in conversations about sexual intimacy and right at home with people exploring complicated emotions and relationships without sex. Without a sexual identity to contextualize it, masturbation would become nothing more than an amusing pastime, a momentary distraction unrelated to the complicated and daunting task of living in as an asexual person in a highly sexual world.

The important lesson here isn’t about masturbation or asexuality, it’s about the nature of sexuality itself. Is sexuality as simple as a raw biological desire? When (and if ) we feel it, are we feeling what all other people feel and have felt through human history? Or is sexuality more complicated? Is it an identity: a frenzy of ideas, problems, strategies and (often contradicting) desires unique to each person at each time in their lives? Either definition is valid, just make sure to choose the one that’s most useful.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

#9- Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Asexual?

This week’s episode has a computer update, a roundup of the response from the rebroadcasting of 20/20, a shout-out to the new AVEN Wiki and a good old-fashioned discussion about identity.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

#8- Relationships with sexual people

Today’s show includes some updates about the action on campuses, a couple of major press hits, and the sad, sad state of my computer. All that, of course, and a little topic I like to call:

Relationships with sexual people

Most of my close relationships are with sexual people. Because I do the whole community based intimacy things none of these are really Relationships with a capitol R, but it’s still worth noting. I have been able to do a lot in my relationships without sexuality ever entering the picture (or at least without it ever becoming unmanageable.)

The key for me has been to get comfortable blurring that line between friendship and romance. It’s a catch 22- for sexual people, a romance without sex is extremely limiting. Romantic relationships are, after all, where they are supposed to play out their sexuality, and asking them to engage in one without sexuality is asking them to mute an important part of themselves. The alternative, as many of us are all too aware, is asking us to mute a part of ourselves and go through the motions of sexuality for the sake of our partner. The relationship is forced to morph itself around a fundamental incompatibility, our ability to tolerate sexuality and our partner’s ability to tolerate going without it must be stretched painfully until they can find some happy meeting place. It works, if a Montague and a Capulet can build a relationship then surely so can a sexual and an asexual, but it ain’t necessarily pretty.

For the record, this is NOT how I do things. Maybe it’s the AVEN-lavender blood coursing through my vanes, but the thought of an arrangement so centered around sexuality makes me shudder. If my years of asexual escapades have taught me one thing, it’s that every time it’s about sex it’s never REALLY about sex. Let’s dig a little deeper.

What do sexual people mean when they say that they “need sexuality?” Science has yet to find a negative thing which happens to people when they don’t have sex, aside from the general theory that wanting anything too much and forcing a denial of it is a problematic behavior. When sexual people don’t have sex in their lives they in theory (though not always in practice) get cranky, and cranky people are no fun to be in relationships with. It may be useful to stop thinking about sexuality as a biological drive, and start thinking about it as a sort of identity. For most of you listening, asexuality is an important part of who you are. It’s a sort of toolbox of ideas and definitions that you use to think about yourself and your relationships, describe yourself to people and just go about your day without getting hopelessly lost and confused. (Which is not to say that most of us haven’t been there.) I’m saying, what if sexuality is the same way? What if sex and the desires that they feel around it are so integral to the way that sexual people think about themselves and their lives that asking one of them to suddenly live in a world without sex would be like asking one of us to live in a world without AVEN.

(Not to compare AVEN to sex, y’all already know which is better.)

So sexual people need sex for more than endorphins, they need it to understand and explore themselves. The important thing to realize is that we don’t need to be the arena of their exploration in order to be close to them. We don’t even have to help, all we have to do is avoid standing in the way. Sexual people are just as capable of nonsexual intimacy as we are, they’re just not as used to exploring it.

So how do you avoid standing in the way? Point out the facts. Unless your partner is gung-ho about exploring sexuality with someone who’s inexperienced, disinterested and bored, their relationship with you probably is not the arena for their sexual exploration. If you’ve never had sex play down the virgin card. Virgins swoon over the world of erotic possibility that their first time has unlocked, you would look at your watch and ask if there was anything good on TV. And not to bean-count, but does your partner REALLY have anything lose from a relationship with you? If they go from looking for sex, intimacy, and companionship to just looking for sex, then aren’t they better off?

This is, admittedly, where it gets tricky again. As I’ve noted in earlier podcasts I’m a ho, most of my friends are hoes and none of us has THAT much trouble separating intimacy from doing the nasty. Not all of us are so fortunate. For some people sex, intimacy and companionship can not be so easily separated. This is NOT because once intimacy and companionship enter the picture immutable sexual desire gets dragged in with it. (See Exhibit A, in which sexual people have been forming intense nonsexual relationships with each other throughout all of history.) It’s because when intimacy and companionship are served up with cake and AVENfries, sex is left a la cart. Your partner can’t get close to you because they’re saving themselves for a sexual relationship which rides in on a unicorn that shits rainbows.

In times like these that it’s useful to point out the flawed logic of “saving oneself.” The whole really fantastic thing about love is that you never run out. Love is a verb, not a commodity- when you love more you get better at loving. And unless looking for that all-encompassing sexual relationship is a 40-hour-a-week endeavor (in which case PLEASE stop them), there’s no reason that they can’t make that relationship better and richer by seeing just how far they can take their relationship with you. And who knows? Once they’ve had themselves a nice, big slice of AVENcake that unicorn may seem like more and more of a fairy tale.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

#7- Intimacy Basics

Media Machine:

Doctor Doctor

Further developments with one of the UK documentary companies

Interview with SF state

News: Web Week!

Asexual Underground Myspace

Viva los AVENistas on Facebook

In this episode I’m going to talk about some ideas I’ve been kicking around about intimacy. I’ve been thinking a lot about the distinction between “romantic” and “nonromantic” people that we tend to draw here. You’ll have to listen to get the full scoop….

Thursday, August 10, 2006

#6 - The Trendy Asexual's Guide to Experimenting with Sexuality

Check out the new AVEN chatroom!

Media Machine:

Reporter from SF State

Spanish news website

Potential documentary on the science of asexuality!



Ghosts (sparking a cool discussion discussion!)


DJ Presents:

The Trendy Asexual’s Guide To Experimenting with Sexuality

A little under a year ago I gave a talk at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. The room full of grad students and professors didn’t quite know what to make of me at first, but by the end of the talk they were blown away by the work that we in the asexual community are doing. One woman was so impressed that she invited me to play on her Ultimate Frisbee team, and we got into a habit of hanging out after practice to talk shop.

During one of these discussions she said something that got me thinking. She said that condom use in teenagers was directly proportional to amount that teenagers expected to have sex. When they knew sex was coming they had the foresight to plan ahead and be safe, when they couldn’t envision themselves having sex but somehow got caught up in the moment, high-risk behavior got a whole lot more likely.

That got me thinking about the community on AVEN. Though only some of us are actually having sex, most asexual people experiment with some form of sexuality in some way. That I’ve seen we don’t really talk about that experimentation much, but it seems like the more openly we can address the topic of asexual people experimenting with sexuality the more we’ll be able to do it on our terms. We don’t find sexuality addictive or intoxicating the way that sexual people do, and that makes it slightly less ugly a prospect, but there are still a lot of very real emotional, relational and medical risks involved in experimenting with sexual dynamics. With forethought and we can minimize those risks. And whether you foresee yourself dealing with sexuality in the future or just want to be prepared, knowing how to safely and purposefully approach sexuality is something that even the most sexually averse of us should know how to do.

**Disclaimer: A small percentage of experimentation with sexuality involves gooey fluids. This type of experimentation, though it can be worthwhile under certain circumstances, it will not be the focus of our discussion today. If you think that there is a chance that the experiment you are planning may involve Gooey Stuff, it is extremely important to familiarize yourself with its safe handling. After reviewing several sites, I recommend Wikipedia for a comprehensive, asexual-friendly view on this topic. (I’ll include a link with the show notes on **

What do I mean by “experimenting with sexuality?

Gooey fluids aside, sexuality is a social thing. It’s about a certain way of thinking, acting, and feeling which comes very naturally to most people and seems alien to us. Experimenting with sexuality is a little like dressing in drag. It’s about taking on, playing with and complicating a social performance that most people take for granted. It can be fun, exciting, educational, and can cause the sexual people around you to question their assumptions. Experimenting with sexuality does not necessarily mean having sex, it means doing things which most people consider “sexual” even though you aren’t. This could include flirting, telling dirty jokes, or allowing sexual tension to develop in a relationship.

In my experience experiments with sexuality always follow a set pattern. Knowing the pattern can help you plan ahead, decide when it’s worth bothering to experiment with sexuality and approach sexual experimentation with a sense of purpose.

Here’s how to turn sex into something useful in six easy steps:

Step 1: Imperative –Why experiment with sexuality? Because we live in a sexual world, where a whole range of thoughts, activities and feelings are arranged in a hierarchy around sex and sexual relationships. Take kissing. Unless you’re kissing your grandma, touching your lips to someone else’s is generally considered a sexual act. Now, touching your lips to someone else doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to have sex with them, but do it for long enough and everyone will look at you funny and wonder why “more” isn’t happening. In the sexual world things like kissing, flirting, dating, talking to people at parties, and dancing are all considered part of this sexual hierarchy: even though they look and feel nothing like sex, each one is inexplicably chained the desire to boink someone.

When we experiment with sexuality we’re slapping on camouflage facepaint, sneaking into sexual territory and cutting those chains. If you try out kissing, like it, and figure out a way to work it into your life without porking anyone, you’ve taken a step towards a more asexual-friendly world. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Step 2: Dismissal- What’s the first thing I do when something in the sexual hierarchy catches our eye? Generally speaking I ignore it. Experimenting with sexuality can be a lot of work and a huge headache, and I’ll only go through the trouble of venturing into sexual territory if it seems worth the effort. Nine times out of ten it’s not- there’s nothing wrong with experimenting with sexuality, but there’s also no reason to if it doesn’t seem worthwhile.

Step 3: Confusion- I want to be clear: experimenting with sexuality does NOT make you any less asexual unless you want it to. There are a lot of things to be confused about when you’re skirting the sexual/asexual boundary- your identity isn’t one of them. Experimenting with sexuality could bring up parts of yourself that you didn’t know existed, but it won’t change who you are.

Identity aside confusion is a natural part of any venture into unexplored territory. Remember: the asexual community has only been around for a couple of years, experiments which mix out-n-proud asexual people and traditional sexual activity are pretty new territory, and there’s no telling what could come out of the reaction. Accept that not everything makes sense- that’s why you’re doing the experiment in the first place.

Step 4: Experimentation- With all that confusion it’s hard to have a clear plan, but the clearer you can have the better. I like to try and think of it in terms of green, yellow and red- things I’m interested in, things I’m willing to let happen and things that I’m not down for. (e.g. I’m INTERESTED in hitting on people at this party, I’m WILLING to let people think I’m sexually interested in them if that’s how they interpret it, but I’m NOT DOWN for letting anyone take me off into a corner.) Once you’ve set you’re boundaries, go ahead and jump in. Don’t expect things to feel natural- sexuality is a performance, and it may take you a while to learn how to play the role (maybe longer than most sexual people, since you won’t have your own sexual desire to act as a compass.) Be curious, try different things, see what works, what seems interesting and what doesn’t. Remember this is like drag- by a little campy and have fun. Once you’ve gotten your bearings, don’t be afraid to break out of the usual sexual script.

Whether you’re at a party or alone with someone, whatever experiment you’re doing will probably involve other people. Sometimes it’s impossible to keep everyone fully informed at all times, prefacing a flirting session with a disclaimer about how you’re asexual and this is just a test might kill the mood. You won’t be able to engage in clear, open dialogue all the time, but you should communicate as openly as possible the second other people start getting seriously invested in things.

Step 5: Reflection – Now it’s time to let all of that confusion sort itself out. Every time I’ve experimented in any way with sexuality I’ve enjoyed at least some part of it, but usually not the “sexual” part and usually not in quite the same way as sexual people seem to. As I turn the experience over in my head I’ll find a way to separate all of the parts I’m not interested in from the parts I am.

Talk things out in a place where you feel safe doing so. What did you like? What didn’t you like? What seemed easy to fit into the rest of your life and what seemed tricky? Maybe the experiment brought out parts of yourself you weren’t aware of, maybe it didn’t. If it did, take the time to figure out how they fit in with the rest of your life.

Step 6: Reinterpretation – Finally, the fun part. Now that you’re figured things out, you’re got a new tool in your asexual repertoire. Once you’ve separated the stuff you like from that big, ugly hierarchy of sexuality you are free to do it on your own terms. Once you’ve sorted things out in your head you can come up with clear, concise language to communicate with any sexual people (or asexual people) who might be left scratching their heads. Once everything works and makes sense, make sure you post about it on AVEN. Asexuality is still new territory, and we need people like you to blaze the trails.

A little homework in lieu of a question of the week: when I was researching safer sex sites for the disclaimer I came across the site for Planned Parenthood. Now I usually have a lot of respect for Planned Parenthood, but the wording on their site is unfortunate:

Their section on safer sex opens with the unfortunate phraseWe are all sexual — from birth to death.”

Waddaya say we see if we can get them to change it? Drop them an e-mail at Be respectful and polite- we’ll get a lot more accomplished that way.

Peace in the middle east.

-DJ Danjerous

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

#5-History Lesson

I’ve got another long show for you this week- 22 minutes of edge of your seat asexual action. The latest and greatest news as always, discussion of some of the great reader mail an overview of AVEN history, starting with some of the pre-AVEN organizing of the asexual communities on the internet. Definitely check it out.

(Sorry for the short show notes- I need to get to bed!)

As always you can e-mail me, The question of the week: What does the asexual community mean to you? And if you feel up for it: Where do you see the asexual community going in the future?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

#4 -Confessions of an Asexual Slut Part 2

I’ve got a great show for you this week, I go over Chinese asexual marriages, asexuality and abstinence, and of course the second chapter of Confessions of an Asexual Slut.

Got a great e-mail this week, here’s an excerpt:

I find it interesting that people find defining asexual relationships, more difficult to define than sexual (or potentially sexual) ones. Although I no longer believe that it is important to wait until marriage to have sex, I was raised with that belief, and stuck with it for a long time. Because of that, I never saw sex as the defining element in a relationship, because, if you're going to abstain until marriage, like asexuals, you need to find something other than sex to separate your romantic relationship, from all the rest. But maybe it's not that simple. Before AVEN, I assumed that I didn't want to have sex, because I was waiting. It didn't exactly occur to me that the ease of abstinence, might be caused by lack of sexuality. Do you think that for those abstaining, the desire for sex with their partner, replaces actually having sex, as a way to separate friendships from romantic relationships?

I’m REALLY GLAD someone brought this up!

There are lots of parallels beween asexuality and abstinence, haven’t been able to find many people into abstinence to talk about them with. I’ll start by getting the incompatibilities out of the way- abstinence is a moral code, asexuality is about doing what makes you happy. In abstinence you HAVE TO have sex in marriage, even if you’re miserable. The overlap is, I think, more interesting. Both abstinent people and asexual people, at least when they’re young, are out to enjoy life without sex.

There are two ways that abstinent people can go about this. They can make their life about building up to sex, OR they can party with the asexual kids and then worry about enjoying sex when the time comes. Both asexual and abstinent kids are facing at least some social pressure to use sexuality to validate themselves.

Confessions of an Asexual Slut, Part 2

(I’ve watered this one down a little bit)

No offense to all my sexual people listening in. Seriously, you all know I’ve got nothing but love and I know you know I know how to share it. See I’ve gotten to know the sexual human being intimately, I’ve gotten to see you all inside, backwards and upside down and I’ve drawn myself a little conclusion: sex kinda makes you a prude.

Now it’s one thing to lick the inside of each others' faces or play table tennis with bodily fluids, but when it comes to actual balls-to-bone unadulterated nonsexual intimacy half of you are afraid to so much as show a little ankle.

Let me be perfectly clear here: when I say "intimacy" I'm not talking about when you stare into each other's eyes by candlelight and then "just" cuddle. I'm talking about vulnerability, about seeking out the most sensitive areas of your being and seeing what you can do with them. Now in my experience if you can do that, if you can really do that it’ll more intense than any sex they've had in their life, because at the end of the day the sensitive bits in your pants are, at best, just a cushy metaphor for what's happening deeper down.

Now I wanna talk to all my asexuals out there, ‘cause I want to back up and take a look at the big picture. Now I love ‘em, but sexual folk come prepackaged with an annoying inclination to pretend that we asexual people don't exist. They start out denying the existence of our whole population, and when they get over that they like to deny our existence as potential partners. Some of the other theory dorks from the community and I like to chalk this up to what we call the "sexual/nonsexual binary," the idea that pleasures, desires and relationships which are "sexual" are somehow different than pleasures, desires and relationships which aren't.

You can do a quick experiment to see what I'm talking about. Start telling someone about a close relationship that you're in, and create genuine ambiguity about whether the relationship is "just a friendship" or "something more." They'll start getting fidgety, eventually they'll interrupt you mid-sentence and demand to know if you and the party in question are bumping fenders, the same way they would if you started talking about a newborn baby and failed to mention the specifics of its genitalia.

Why? Because most sexual people can't think about relationships in any serious way without thinking about sex. To them capitol-r "Relationships" are in one category, "friendships" are in another and sex is the line that separates the two. They take one look at my (not unattractive) asexual ass and lament the fact that we will never be able to cross that line, writing me off as safely unable to reciprocate whatever desires they might feel.

It's almost kind of cute.

We covered this back in part one, but I reciprocate more desire than the barmaid at the Lusty Sailor Tavern on Whore Island. See, sex is never just about sex. Anytime anyone feels a sexual desire for me there are plenty of dirty little nonsexual desires just below the surface, struggling to get out. Desires for things like validation, safety, intimacy, power and release. They can pretend that these desires don't exist, that their need for sex is pure and untarnished by nastines like vulnerability. But repressing a desire will only make it stronger, and strong desire is just what this little barmaid likes.

Here’s the dirty little secret: By itself, sex is always boring. I’ve never known a sexual person, not one, who enjoyed sex simply because they like it when the penis goes in the vagina. At bars, clubs and drunken college parties people cruising for one-night stands are simply bubbling with nonsexual energy- they want to show off to their friends, they want to prove themselves, they want release, they want to be close to someone without worrying about the inconvenience of keeping them that way. New couples are practically overflowing with the need to be affectionate, to make each other happy, to create intimacy and to avoid it, to assert and give up power over one another. Everyone who has sex has it for a reason. What’s interesting is when people STOP having a reason to have sex. When they’re not looking for anything, when everything in their relationship has been figured out and hums along of its own accord sex drops right out of the equation. It’s kind of like a bucket of water- the fluids are only gonna slosh around when something’s shaking the handle.

All my asexual slutlets out there, listen up and listen good. Next time someone starts hitting on you or starts complaining about how much they need to get laid look at them out of the corner of your eye and squint. See past the sex, past the anxious horniness and the stress about bodies and the pent up tension, and get a good look at what’s shaking that bucket. Call it out. See what happens.

Thanks for checking us out! As always send questions or comments to If you like the show, please subscribe.

Question of the week- how do you hit on people? Interpret that however you like.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

#3- Love, Commitement, and Polyamory Weekly

After a rough bout with the Atlantic I am back in town and asexual love is officially back in business. I'm gonna try something new this week. Rather than posting something here and reading it on the podcast I'm going to use this space as a kinf of show notes, letting the audio hog all the glory.

That's 'cause this week I'm making up for lost time, with not one, not two, but three all-beef patties of love from the asexual underground for a whopping half our of edge-of-your-seat asexual action. We sparked a discussion on the hit blog Polyamory Weekly, and I'll be going through to talk about their discussion. Check it out.

If you have any questions or comments, don't hesitate to e-mail me at

Friday, June 30, 2006

Out of Office Reply

I'm taking a vacation far away from the wild internet this week, so there'll be no podcast. Hold on tight though, I've got something good cooking for when I get back.

I got the following message from a listener a few days ago:

I just listened to the second podcast - I found it really interesting - and that it really spoke to me and my problems/concerns with identifying as an asexual. I think that I struggle against labelling myself, and remain hopeful that sexual attraction will happen for me someday (unlikely as I am 23...), b/c I want to have a relationship like the ones my sexual friends enjoy just without the sexual part. You know - that one relationship that you value above all others...I gathered from what you said, that you don't think that's necessary or, maybe, even possible with an asexual relationship. Let me know if I've misinterpretated what you said, though...

Interesting thing though that I wanted to share with you - an observation I have seen from watching my friends and my behaviour when we are out. If we go clubbing or something and have a little too much to drink - most of my friends will end up (or will want to end up) fooling around with someone on the dance floor or going home with them... I, on the other hand, end up meeting complete strangers and having the most bizarre, philosophical conversations...

weird, eh?

I wouldn't go so far as to say that committed partnered relationships aren't possible for asexual folk, a number of us seem to be doing that just fine, but I do think that we're forced to think about commitement in a few ways that most sexual people are not. There is a lot to admire about straight-up partnered intimacy, but it's also far from the only way to do your business.

...the conversations that you talk about being a case in point. Functionally the conversations that you're having and the hooking up that your friends are doing may be very similar- both give you an excuse to meet new people, go through all the fun parts of getting to know them, and then spend a good deal of time just letting yourselves be vulnerable and exploring one another.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

#2- Confessions of an Asexual Slut, Part 1

Time for Episode 2. You can catch the latest news from the asexual world and hear a reading of this week's article by listening to our latest podcast. If you like what you hear, go ahead and subscribe.

I’ve come to the realization recently that I got ho tendencies. I mean this in all but the classic sense, having been literally (if nonpenatratively) in bed over the course of the past month with more individuals than I have enough fingers to count. If, as the asexual community has been wont to posit from time to time, one can get just as intimate without sex as with it, then hot damn do I get around.

Really though.

One of the quirks of being asexual, I’ve found, is that classifying and prioritizing relationships becomes a mite tricky. Though not all sexual people choose to employ it as such, sexual activity can serve as a neat marker of importance, something that, for better or worse, is saved like fine china for the really special occasions. The same cannot be said of, say, intellectually intense emotively reflective discussion, which is more my bread and butter. I’ll have an interesting discussion at the slightest suggestion, and will get intellectually intimate with anything that has a pulse.

Is that so wrong?

For all the wacky rules we’ve managed to cook up about sex, there seem to be relatively few about actual down-to-earth intimacy. If someone I’m interested in, say, has a boyfriend, the rules about nonsexual messing around are vague at worst and nonexistent at best. Not interested in my gender? Not a problem. Juggling two relationships at the same time? Always room for more. Even I’m disturbed by what I can get away with.

Not that it started out this way. Even I was a naïve and inexperienced little asexual once, which is not a fate I would wish on anyone. From the moment that we begin to learn about sexuality it is made abundantly clear that it is NOT an optional endeavor. As far as our eventual happiness is concerned, finding a good sexual relationship is up there with having a job and owning things. And just as it is our sworn patriotic duty to get good grades and know what sorts of things to buy, we must start on our toilsome journey to eventual committed sexual bliss.

This is not what you want to hear when sex seems about as natural and fun as doing your taxes. The message is a pretty bleak one: without sex our relationships won’t matter. No matter how good a friend we are or how close we become to someone, they will eventually privilege their (sexually) significant other over us. Passion, romance, and falling in love are all things that require sexual activity, which means that for us asexuals they flat-out won’t work. All that we can ever be is friends, with a big fat “just” slapped on for good measure. We can either try to force ourselves to start liking sex, or give up on the possibility of our emotional lives ever getting interesting.

Needless to say my emotionally randy self was less than pleased with this prognosis. I didn’t know precisely what nonsexual intimacy was or how it worked, but I wasn’t about to sit around virginally waiting for it to walk up and invite me to coffee. It wasn’t long before my close friendships started to look and act like dating, and it wasn’t much longer until they broke away from that and started to act like something else entirely.
Relationships, I realized, can be fun, in much the same way that I imagine sex is fun for sexual folk. New types of pleasure started popping up all over, and it seemed like there would never be time to explore them all. They ran the gamut- from the intellectual to the physical, from the deeply empowering to the utterly frivolous. Anyone who thinks that the word “pleasure” has a sexual connotation needs to get out more.

I liked pleasure, and so long as I had a willing partner I could do it however I wanted, whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted. My life, contrary to what I’d been told in middle school, had most certainly gotten emotionally interesting. What to DO with it all was another question entirely. With all that pleasure flying around, more and more relationships were pushing that “just friends” barrier, and raising a whole host of questions in the process.

I was all too familiar with the quant little distinction between “friendship” and “dating” that all the sexual kids had so much fun with, but had never been entirely certain how it applied to me. With so many types of connection gumming up the picture there was no way I could draw that clear a line- was deep trust more important than hanging out and having fun every day? Should I give the person I cuddle with some special status over the one who finishes my sentences?

As it turns out, the language of the sexual world was poorly equipped to deal with a loaded asexual social calendar, so I had to start making my own. What does it mean to be “more than friends” without the nookie? For me it all came down to the three T’s:

• Time- Check your dictionary, the word “date” is mostly about time. Time makes relationships, and the relationships that matter are the ones that I make time for. For me, becoming involved with someone means that we play a significant role in each others’ day to day lives.
• Touch- Sex aside, there’s a lot of fun that two people can have with their bodies. Cuddling, dance, basketball, sparring; the majority of my closer relationships involve some sort of physical affection, and many also involve working up a sweat.
• Talk- If I really want a relationship to get out of hand, I acknowledge that it exists. I’ll tell someone how I feel about them, I’ll talk about what I want from my relationship with them and I let them do the same.

When I see someone I’m interested in, these are the three things that are on my mind. They’re what I gossip about to my friends, how I think about my relationships progressing- my own asexual answer to the base system.

The astute of you will note that in this setup “monogamy” is a somewhat shady concept. It’s kind of hard to be sexually committed to one person when you don’t have sex. Town bicycle that I am, I tend to favor communities over individual connections, never letting one relationship overshadow all of the other things I’ve got going on. I wind up thinking not in terms of boyfriends or girlfriends but in terms of networks, entire communities with which I am in some way intimate. Why hang on by a single rope when I can settle down in a spider’s web of connections enforced by a few particularly strong threads? I have every intention of raising children, why not build them a village?

Conventional wisdom is that none of this will work. The people I’m involved with could all wind up dropping me for someone they can sleep with (in the usual, penetrative sense), my solid social networks will disappear into neat bundles of monogamy, reachable only in polite passing company. But conventional wisdom has been proven wrong before. As my relationships begin to move from talking about emotions to talking about commitment, as my friends begin to get married and don’t fall off the radar, the likelihood that I’ll wind up alone seems slimmer and slimmer. Surprisingly enough, the sexual people I am involved with feel just fine (and even a little liberated) taking their intimacy à la carte. Though they’ll certainly experience sexual frustration from time to time, there’s no particular reason for them to direct it at me. It turns out that when everything else works, sex just isn’t as important.

Love’s a funny thing. In a world where sex is overcrowded with expectations, guidelines, layered meanings and predefined scripts, an intimately active asexual such as myself is faced with a vast expanse of open, unexplored territory. If you want, we can head back to my place for coffee and talk about it.

Call me.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

#1- You don't wanna ML...

If you like, you can listen to an audio recording of this week's episode here.

Welcome to the first-ever episode of Love from the Asexual Underground, here with a perspective on love, sex and romance from the rapidly growing asexual community. Because this is our first show we’re going to go over some of the basics. Love, what is it and where does it come from?

My housemate, Eli, hates the phrase “making love.” If you say it around him he shudders in mock disgust rolling his eyes and declaring that this house is not the place for that kind of filth. The second a scene starts to get a little…sensual, the moment those violins start playing he’ll get up in a huff and exit the room. “Oh God.” He’ll say, “they’re totally gonna ML.”

So what exactly does it mean to… ML? If love, as the Care Bears taught me so long ago, is the most powerful force in the universe then how do you go about making it? Maybe it’s just me, but the very notion that each of us has the power within ourselves to make love seems completely preposterous. If each and every one of us can really make love then why does it seem to be in such short supply? There must be some catch. Does the process require some raw materials? Or is making love like printing money, which drops in value for every dollar you mint? I’m confused.

Let’s back up. Does everyone really have somewhere deep within themselves the power to make love? Well… no. Some people, like me, are asexual. Asexual people, according to common knowledge and most experts in the field, cannot ML. Love, it turns out, is manufactured through a sort of chemical process which engineers and people in the industry refer to as “sex.” Asexual people, for the most part, do not have sex, and therefore can not generate a steady supply of love.

As you can imagine, this has turned into quite a hot political issue in the asexual community. Love, as the Care Bears pointed out, is a major source of power in the world. Long before money was invented as a system to organize power, people were motivated to do things because of the relationships they had with one another. The ability to make love meant the difference between survival and comfort in a strong community and starvation out in the cold. As humans it was our ability to form relationships, our ability to make love, which allowed us to find strength in greater and greater numbers, create cultures, teach our young about the tools we had built, and eventually, some say, dominate the globe. Even though money allows us to organize, gather together and wield our power it is ultimately love which leads people to buy products, swear oaths, flee dangers and march in the streets. Even today those with the ability to make a great deal of love and distribute it on a massive scale wield a sort of power stronger and less tangible than those who can merely make money.

As an asexual person my inability to make love seems almost too daunting to comprehend. If the ability to ML has given human beings the power to define our world, if making love has for all intents and purposes made us human, than what does it mean to be without it?

According to my housemate Eli, many people who are not asexual are also unable to ML. This is because love is made, distributed and consumed in exclusively in a special place called a romantic relationship.

A romantic relationship is a structure, like a factory, a contract, or a legal system. People who are not asexual construct romantic relationships so that they can have a place to ML. Once they are able to successfully construct a romantic relationship, sexual people are able to manufacture love and truly become human. Though all sexual people have the capacity within them to make love, the creation of these structures is an expensive, difficult and hazardous process, requiring advanced training, very precise materials and a lot of dumb luck. For this reason many people, even people who are not asexual, often find themselves unable to make love, and will go without it for long stretches of time. Like many other practices of modern industry, modern love-making has left some with an overabundance and others with scarcity. Like scarcities of food, water or civil liberties, these scarcities and the systems which produce them often create discontent among members of the populace, like Eli.

Eli has a girlfriend named Ana. Together they have built a structure called a romantic relationship where they engage in the chemical process known as sex. Because they find it distasteful, however, Eli and Ana do not make love. And even though they do not make love, both of them report that love is produced in their relationship. Because Eli and Ana find the process of making love distasteful they have adapted, and discovered new ways to introduce love into their lives.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Making love without MLing? Surely there must be some alternative explanation for this freak instance. ….but no! Since the mid 70s, researchers around the globe have documented isolated cases of love being produced outside of the industrial ML process. In 1982, Georgi Papov discovered the first love-outputting reaction outside of the context of a romantic relationship in Nyovosebersk. In 1996, under controlled laboratory conditions, a team at the University of Indiana actually managed to produce a romantic structure which created love without the use of sexual chemistry.

The asexual community, which is unable to ML using standard industrial practices, has been at the forefront of research into alternative sources of love. As we speak, the top asexual minds from around the globe are engaged in around-the-clock research, testing alternative structures, distribution systems and chemical processes. Successful field-test are underway for romantic relationships which function entirely without sex. Clinical trials are currently being arranged on a type of love produced without sex or a romantic structure.

Given the importance of love-production to the economies of both the developed and the developing world, and with countries like the US in what many are calling a “love shortage”, the emergence of these alternatives could have far-reaching consequences.

Every week we’ll be tracking the latest developments in the global love industry, as well as posting breakthroughs and research updates from asexual researchers around the world.