I finally managed to meet up with B this afternoon, and told him I won’t be playing with him again. There were a few reasons, but what it ultimately comes down to is some major incompatibilities. One of them is regarding sex, and his inability to see things from my point of view.
There’s a brilliant and very detailed post over at Prismatic Entanglements titled ‘How to Have Sex With an Asexual Person’, and if you have an asexual friend or partner who you would like to have sex with, I urge you to read it – several times – and take it all in. It doesn’t describe my attitudes and experiences exactly (but then I’m into BDSM, and kinky people often do have somewhat different attitudes to sex than non-kinky people), but it’s close, and it will certainly provide a good conversation starter even if your friend or partner doesn’t closely identify with it.
One of the most critical points Elizabeth makes in her post (at least for me) is this:
“We are embedded in a culture that tells us we should have sex, that we owe it to others and that others expect it from us.”
I pointed this out to B. I stated as clearly as I possibly could – and I can be pretty clear when I want to be! – that, even though I knew he wasn’t pressuring me to have sex (well, not much, anyway), I felt that constant pressure from society that says I should have sex with him.
“I don’t think that’s true.”
Which made me pretty angry, actually. Who the fuck do you think you are to try and tell me what I feel? You’ve just told me the way asexuals experience the constant expectations of society that everyone should want and enjoy sex – that everyone must experience sexual attraction because, if you don’t … well, you know, there’s something ‘wrong’ with you – is all in our imagination. Telling us our feelings are invalid is the same as telling us we don’t exist. It’s erasure.
I didn’t argue the point with him, although I probably should have done. I knew I wasn’t going to see him again, so I felt like I’d be wasting a lot of energy on a very hot day, and I just couldn’t be bothered. I’m less inclined than I used to be to get into arguments with people who aren’t interested in understanding my point of view.
So, there’s one thing. If you are hoping to have sex with an asexual, you’d better make damn sure you’re listening to what they’re saying and accepting that their experiences are just as valid as yours even though they are probably not the same. We don’t all experience life in the same way. Deal with it.
If you start questioning the validity of the asexual person’s experiences, don’t expect to be getting down and dirty with them any time soon – or ever, in fact. This might just be me, and I’m sure it doesn’t apply to all asexuals, but once someone has behaved in ways that make me uncomfortable around them regarding sex, there’s no going back. I’m never going to develop any desire to do sexual stuff with them. It’s too late. That bridge has been burned.
Which brings me on to the second thing.
Now, I don’t really blame B for this because what he did is probably fairly common (he’s the second out of 5 kinky play partners I’ve experienced it with). We hadn’t done enough communicating before we played – we hadn’t done enough communicating before we met – and that was as much my fault as it was his, but I’m not certain how much difference it would have made if I had made my boundaries clear up front because there have been times when he hasn’t seemed to ‘hear’ my communication.
I was lying face down over his lap at the end of our play session, relaxing and winding down, when he slipped his hand between my legs, pointed out how wet I was, and started to finger me. I roused myself enough to tell him not to do that, and he stopped.
Which should have reassured me. At least, I told myself it was reassuring. I now had clear evidence to support trusting that he’d stop when I told him too. That was a good thing, and it should increase my confidence and trust.
But it didn’t. The fact that he’d done it in the first place had already damaged my trust.
In her blog post, Elizabeth says:
“If you wordlessly initiate a sexual encounter with an asexual person without ever having any discussions where you pull apart those cultural expectations beforehand, the weight of them will still be pressuring that encounter.”
And that’s how it is for me.
In fact, many years ago, the first time someone started fingering me when I was over his knees, I didn’t stop him. I just froze, in the way asexuals so often do, because I didn’t know what to do. He’d crossed a boundary, and I felt shocked and violated.
Contrast this with the way LJ and I sat at my kitchen table, with our clothes on, and talked about sex. It was safe and unthreatening. Boundaries and limits were discussed and agreed on, and I knew he would never do anything I hadn’t agreed to in advance.
This is critical. If you want to have sex with an asexual, talk about it first. If you’re not willing to talk about sex, you’re not grown up enough to even be thinking about sex, never mind having it.
I’m not really blaming B for the way things have gone. Like I said, being incompatible sexually was a part of it, but it wasn’t all of it, and I’m not going to blame anyone for behaving the way society has conditioned them to behave when they don’t know any different. But that doesn’t change the fact that I was feeling awkward and uncomfortable because I felt under pressure to have sex.
And this is how asexuals feel. All the time.
Under pressure to have sex.
If you want to have sex with an asexual, your goal needs to be to relieve some of that pressure, not add to it.