Asexual Perceptions of Allosexuals (or why naming people is the first step to stereotyping them…)

This Guardian article was the first time I’d noticed sexual people (I prefer this term to ‘allosexual’ i.e. ‘sexual’ and ‘asexual’ as adjectives rather than nouns) respond with indignation, as bewildering as it was in its intensity, to being identified as ‘sexual’ people i.e. as a distinguishable group rather than humanity as such. But inevitably, when we designate a group, particularly when using a noun, the possibility exists that we falsely attribute a homogeneity to that group which doesn’t exist. Which the post  reblogged above insightfully elaborates, in terms of both consequences and curing it, in the case of asexual people’s perceptions of sexual people:

However, by talking about allosexual people as if they can’t help but need sex all the time constantly and can only think of relationships as sexual, we are only perpetuating the problem. It teaches us that if we ever want to be in a relationship with a person who is allosexual, we will be forced to have sex, since they can’t live without it. It makes us more likely to distrust or push away allosexual folks as friends, zucchinis, or partners, since we are believing these ludicrous assumptions society teaches us. It makes us discount the experiences of allosexual people in non-sexual primary relationships, accounting that they won’t last, since a sexual person cannot live without sex.

This totally erases allosexual people who abstain from sex for whatever reason. Allosexual people at least have their own experiences to know that they are not constantly craving sex. However, many of us don’t have these experiences, so we allow what society teaches us to become our main archetype for what allosexual people are like.

So how do we fix this? We need to not make generalizations or assumptions about allosexual people. We need to realize that, like us, they are human and their sexualities exist on a wide spectrum. We need to look at the beliefs we have about sexuality and allosexual folks and critically examine where those come from and how society, the media, and we are contributing to them. We need to not shame people for being allosexual, and accept their sexualities as part of who they are, and realize that does not make them a better or worse person. We need to openly communicate with our romantic, sexual, platonic, and queerplatonic partners about what their sexualities mean to them and talk about how that interacts with our own. We need to listen when allosexual people call us out and tell us we are making assumptions or contributing to the false conceptions of sexuality that our society teaches us.

Most importantly, I believe we need to have discussions with our allosexual friends about their experiences. This will help dispel many of the misconceptions some of us have about allosexual folks, as well as open communication and create allies. There’s an entire wealth of information to be shared and explored. We merely need to talk about it!

One of the things that fascinates me about the asexual community is quite how diverse it is (in a range of different ways) without the extent of this difference undermining the collective identity (i.e. the ‘umbrella’ definition). In fact the difference is, in a superficially paradoxical way, the condition which secures the commonality. But it stands to reason that much as ‘asexual’ works discursively by negating the ‘sexual’, bringing an opposing point of identification into language around which a relatively heterogeneous array of subjects can converge, so too might this be true of ‘sexual’. It’s just that until we identify ‘sexual’ people, as a distinguishable sub group (albeit a very large one) rather than human beings as such, the discursive opening which allows the articulation of internal differences (i.e. the range of what it is to be ‘sexual’) is foreclosed and there’s no basis for reciprocal articulation of the ways in which we differ in spite of our commonality of being ‘sexual’.

The Asexual Agenda

HEY. I’m calling you out, ace community. I’ve seen something prevalent in our community, and I think it’s time that it needs to end.

The way we talk about and portray allosexual folks is often almost a caricature. We often speak of them as if they are constantly horny, unable to abstain from sex, and unable to experience love without needing sex. We sometimes act as if we are superior because we are able to pursue our interests without ‘all that sex business’ getting in the way. We often suggest that our friendships are more important to us, or even that allosexuals will always choose a sexual relationship over a platonic or queerplatonic one.

We need to stop this. This is detrimental to many people. It erases the experiences of allosexual folks who are in queerplatonic relationships, are celibate, are aromantic, or are in mixed relationships with asexuals. In addition…

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3 thoughts on “Asexual Perceptions of Allosexuals (or why naming people is the first step to stereotyping them…)

  1. Thanks for this. Where could a non-academic get access to your article on asexual communities you list in here? Interested in the context of my own writings on the maturing (physically/sexually and politically) of gay communities in Latin America. Thanks…

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