1516999045-savage-letter-of-the-day-stamp-2018.jpg

Sponsored
FREE event on 10/22 – Gov. Locke & GOP strategist Rick Wilson discuss midterms

I'm a 26-year-old cis queer woman. My best friend has identified publicly as asexual for the past two years. She constantly talks about how since she doesn't "need" sex this means that she is asexual. She does have sex, however, and she enjoys it, which I know isn't disqualifying. But she also actively seeks out sex partners and sex. But, again, she insists that because she doesn't "need" sex the way she presumes the rest of us do, she is asexual.

I have an issue with this. I've never had partnered sex, and never really felt the need or desire for it. I'm plenty happy with emotional intimacy from others and masturbation for my sexual needs, and do not particularly desire a romantic or sexual partner. My friend gets offended if anyone questions her label, which occurs often in our friend group, as people try to understand her situation. I usually defend her to others since she's my friend, but as a person that is starting to identify more and more as asexual myself, I've grown rather annoyed at her use of "asexual" as her identifier, to the point that my resentment of this may be starting to affect our friendship. I've kept silent on my skepticism thus far because I don't want to make her feel attacked, but in the privacy of my own head I'm calling "bullshit" on her asexuality. I don't particularly want to come out as asexual myself to her given the circumstances.

Am I just being a shitty gatekeeping asexual? Do I need to just accept that labels are only as useful as we make them and let this go? Is there a good way to move on from this?

Actually Coitus Evading

Asexuality—it's a real thing:

According to Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute scientist and clinician Dr. Lori Brotto, people who are asexual—who lack feelings of sexual attraction—challenge the prevailing belief of the universality of sexual attraction in humans, and are often seen as lacking as a result. However, Dr. Brotto and colleague Dr. Morag Yule’s recently published paper in Archives of Sexual Behaviour compiled evidence across a number of studies on asexuality and found that asexuality is neither a psychiatric disorder nor sexual dysfunction as prevailing theories have suggested. “Asexuality is not an extreme version of sexual dysfunction because first and foremost asexual people don’t experience distress—they’re not bothered by their lack of sexual attraction and they don’t wish to have it,” explains Dr. Brotto, a registered psychologist and professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of British Columbia.

Asexuality—it's a spectrum:

Asexuality and sexuality are not necessarily black and white. There is a spectrum of sexuality, with sexual and asexual as the endpoints and a gray area in-between. Many people identify in this gray area under the identity of "gray-asexual," or "gray-a." Examples of gray-asexuality include an individual who does not normally experience sexual attraction but does experience it sometimes; experiences sexual attraction but has a low sex drive; experiences sexual attraction and drive but not strongly enough to want to act on them; and/or can enjoy and desire sex but only under very limited and specific circumstances. Even more, many gray-asexuals still identify as asexual because they may find it easier to explain, especially if the few instances in which they felt sexual attraction were brief and fleeting. Furthermore, an asexual person can want or choose to engage in sex for several reasons. Some asexual people in relationships might choose or even want to have sex with their partner as a way of showing affection, and they might even enjoy it. Others may want to have sex in order to have children, or to satisfy a curiosity, or for other reasons.

As for your friend, ACE, well, according to the Protocols of the Elders of Tumblr, we're no longer allowed to express doubt about someone's professed sexual orientation, ACE. So if Larry Craig says he's straight, then he's straight. (If Jeffrey Dahmer says he's a vegetarian....) So even if your friend only pulls the cock from her mouth and/or pussy off her face long enough to shout, "I'M ACE," then she's ace, ACE. Maybe in the same way Larry Craig's straight or maybe in the "gray-a" sense of ace, e.g. under certain circumstances (awake, aware, conscious, alert, sentient) she experiences sexual attraction and/or gets curious and/or decides to have sex for "other reasons." Aces come in many forms, ACE, and a person doesn't have to be celibate to be asexual or to identify as asexual. Until there's an asexual accreditation agency—which there never will be and never should be—we'll just have to take your friend's word for it.

But just as asexuality is a thing, ACE, so too is bullshit. Denial? Also a thing. Sex shame? An incredibly destructive thing that creates a lot of internal conflict. Like the guy who has a lot of gay sex but refuses to identify as gay or bi, it's possible your friend is just a messy closet case, a closeted sexual, someone who wants sex but doesn't wanna be seen as the kind of person who wants sex since wanting sex at all—or wanting it too often or wanting the wrong kind—is stigmatized. Some people twist themselves into oddest knots so they can have what they want without having to admit they want it or take responsibility for getting it. But even so, ACE, and even though it sounds to you (and me) like your friend's label is suspect, you should nevertheless hold your tongue and allow her to identify however she likes. Ask questions, sure, but challenging her label will only damage your relationship (or further damage it) and it'll make you feel like a gatekeeping closeted ace.

And when your friend starts in on how she doesn't "need" sex, I suggest you do what I used to do back in college when I had to listen to guys having tons of gay sex (often with me) go on and on about how they didn't "need" cock: Smile, nod, change the subject, and fuck 'em in the ass again. (That last item is optional.)


Listen to my podcast, the Savage Lovecast, at www.savagelovecast.com.

Impeach the motherfucker already! Get your ITMFA buttons, t-shirts, hats and lapel pins and coffee mugs at www.ITMFA.org!

Tickets to HUMP 2018 are on sale now! Get them here!