We Are Whole
As a cis questioning woman, layers of internalized gender norms, privilege and trauma inform my exploration of sexual identity. I continue to attempt to explore the interplay between these layers, however, not in a deterministic way. Our many identities shape our experience and identification with asexuality in complex ways.
I wanted to feel your arms around me, but I didn’t want this.
How many times have I heard a voice asserting that my “no” or hesitation to a sexual act, touch or situation is wrong or unnatural? Countless.
I’ve been left to scramble pieces together and solve the mystery of my sexual desire not fitting inside what we consider to be normal and heterosexual. Did I need to wait longer for an emotional bond? Probably, but even then it sometimes wasn’t enough.
I have a fear that emotional bonds are a means to an end for whom sex is more important. Sexual desire was, in my experience, often not explicitly stated until action was initiated. This is problematic for respecting consent and preventing trauma, as well as for providing space for all sexual identities.
The elephant in the room is sexual desire. It has to be hidden because it is taboo. We have to talk about it in the “right ways” and not too much or too little. Can we ask for it to be satisfied without shame in a clear manner? Desire is dangerous. It is latent power that must be tamed to achieve power. Desire can be removed at any time, so let it be mine, some may think.
“You do not want me, but I want you.” “Why are you so frigid?”
I paint a picture that the patriarchy envisions. If you have no or little sexual desire, how can you be controlled? Heterosexual relations can and do fall outside of the frame of this problematic image, but I am want for examples in my own life. I am shamed for not expressing sexual desire, yet still in a perverse way, attracting those who want it from me.
If I have no desire, I still find myself falling squarely into the patriarchal vision. I’m still playing the feminine role appropriately. Desire is to be coaxed out, but never seen or voiced. No matter how much I say “no”, it is assumed it is there somewhere, or that I have been severely abused, I’m religious or repressed.
“Who hurt you?”
To think of a “no” to sexual activity in relation to a sexual identity seems to fall totally outside the realm of cognition in a toxic hetero scenario, let alone as springing from basic bodily autonomy. Loving other women rarely a consideration, even less so, having rare or no attraction for any gender.
I find myself craving the attention and care women often give to sexual/romantic bonds. I find myself questioning why women so often hurt each other in our friendships and casual relations. Is it because we internalize misogyny and weaponize it against ourselves because deep down we feel we are not worthy? Constantly to be questioned and evaluated? Never whole?
Our sexual and romantic relationships are overbearingly important as adults in wider society. It decides for us if we are worthy of raising children, sharing financial burdens, receiving tax breaks, days off, invites to social events, and the list goes on.
What I desire is closeness and intimacy, which could be neither romantic or sexual though I am not always repulsed by either. What I am repulsed by is the templates we find ourselves fitting into, regardless of how much they hurt, to achieve general acceptance. Our understanding of romantic and sexual expression needs to include full respect for all levels of sexual desire. Assumptions and a lack of dialogue on the wide breadth of human sexuality and identity hurt us all. The universe is plentiful, yet we limit ourselves so harshly. We are silenced.
I do not see asexuality as limiting, rather as opening new realms of possibilities.
Thanks to discovering asexuality, I see “no” as whole because we are whole.