My asexual identity is seemingly full of contradictions. I am ace, but human sexuality is my main academic focus. I am ace, but I am always thinking about sex. I am ace, but I am a sex educator. I am ace, but I am kinky. I am ace, but…
…that has never felt contradictory to me.
One dimension of my asexuality means that I need a strong emotional connection with someone to experience any attraction. There’s another dimension to it, though, and that’s where kink comes in. I don’t think I could experience sexual attraction in a vanilla situation at all. Somehow, the intensity, the trust, or whatever more there is to kink, gets to me in a way vanilla sex cannot. Granted, most of my experience has remained in the realm of fantasy or what I can do by and with myself, but I almost think that makes it better. It can absolutely be physical, but the mental engagement fascinates me, and words and ideas have much more power to attract me than physical stimulation. The idea of something may turn me on, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I will desire to do anything about it with myself or others.
Something that makes kink feel more comfortable to me is that there is somehow less pressure for the scene to end in orgasm. Kink pushes at your body’s and brain’s limits in a deeply satisfying and cathartic way, one that does not require orgasm. One idea that unfortunately permeates our culture is the idea that sex is only “good” if you get to cum at the end. But there are so many ways to give and receive pleasure that do not have to lead to orgasm, and kinksters embrace that much more than vanilla folks do. In fact, one of my favorite parts of being kinky is the way it expands sexuality to include body parts and/or objects other than the genitals and the standard erogenous zones. This has to do with me being trans, in addition to being ace, but for a long time I experienced a lot of discomfort with my genitals, and being able to focus elsewhere helped me feel more okay with exploring sexuality and my body. For the few times I have had partnered sex, I felt a lot better when my genitals were not directly involved, even if I didn’t find the situations mind-blowingly awesome (there’s nothing like having sex to remind me that I definitely am asexual…). Within the context of a kinky encounter, it seems so much easier for me to tell someone to not read my lack of orgasm as me not enjoying myself or them.
And that brings us to the extent of communication which is involved. Everything that happens in a scene requires having an open discussion of boundaries, making sure there are safeguards in place if something goes wrong and trusting your partner(s) to take care of you. Therefore, communication is so much more entrenched in the culture than it is for vanilla sex (even though it really should be present there, too). For me this is super important because I find myself very complicated when it comes to sex, and there are things that I need to convey before I’d feel comfortable letting anything happen. Many people find it hard to understand how I can simultaneously be ace and also be willing to have sex, and I certainly do not approach it in the way I imagine many allo people do. So, a culture that encourages more direct conversation before anything happens only stands to benefit everyone involved.
I feel so much safer within the context of kink, even though whatever is happening might be considered risky. It comes down to control, I think, whether I’m “in control” of the situation or not. Some of my kinks are things that have been used to hurt me in other contexts. The difference is that I get to choose whether I want something to happen, how much, when, who is doing it, and, most importantly, I get to choose when to stop.
Kink can be healing. It can be mentally stimulating and emotionally rewarding. It can be sexual. And it can also be fun. There’s so much to it, and I can pick through each reason as to why I like it, as I’ve started to do here, but it’s also okay for me to just unashamedly allow myself to enjoy things just because I do. I worry that being kinky will make others think I’m a “bad” ace, but I never worry if it makes me not “ace enough.” I have spent too much time in my life feeling shame about what I like. Asexuality and kink are not mutually exclusive.
I am ace, and I am kinky.