Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Sensuous?

Firstly: I voted in Starbucks today. That was my polling place. Serious.
Secondly: Thanks for all the affirmations of my loveability. While I promise that an ego-boost wasn't what I was going for, who could resist? At any rate, friends and readers, you've proved to be a progressive bunch. Consider my hat eaten.
Thirdly: Let's talk about sensuality. It's not something I've ever thought much about. According to an article on Suite101.com,

"Frigid? Ugly? Boring? A plant?

These were the responses I got when I tossed out, "So, hey, what do you think an asexual is?" (Alright, so my friends aren't too smart.)"

(Damn straight they aren't. Where did you find these people?) Anyway, I would probably assume that a large number of people (of course, that do not read this blog), if asked whether asexuals can be just as sensual-- if not more so-- as sexual people, would answer "no".
Well, prepare for a little myth-busting.
While at The Great SF Book Swap, I picked up a book called The Psychologist's Book of Self-Tests. I do love to be quizzed, as long as I'm not being graded. So, I took a test called "How Sensual Are You?" which was created by a student for his honors thesis in psychology. Anyway, my results placed me solidly in the 50th percentile, which means I'm about as sensual as 50% of the population. The book's author, in an extremely pompous afterward to his student's test, states:

Our research did find that this scale was able to predict several elements of sexual behavior. Scores on this scale, for instance, are related to the age at which one has sex for the first time, the frequency with which one has sex, how long one's average sexual encounter lasts, and how much one enjoys touching and caressing. Nothing surprising about any of that.
--Louis Janda, PH.D.

Janda might have a PH.D., but he failed to tell us how exactly these things are related. Are we just supposed to assume that there's a positive correlation between sexuality and sensuality? For sexual people, maybe there is. But for asexuals, there definitely isn't such a correlation, which makes me think that the correlation for sexual people might be tenuous as well. For pop culture examples of sensual asexuals, take the hedonistic characters of the film Withnail and I. Or, recall Amelie, from the film of the same name, whose (a)sexuality has been debated on AVEN more than once. In one scene, Amelie describes the sensual pleasure she derives from running her hand through a bucket of lentils. At A-Team meetups, we'll joke about the fact that so many of us love to cook and eat. In fact, chocolate cake seems to have become asexuality's unofficial mascot.
We might seem like ascetics because it's so hard for some people's friends to believe that we naturally lack a sex drive-- they must think we're fighting off our urges by force of will. Not so. We enjoy the pleasures of the flesh as much as anyone else, just not- ahem- those pleasures.

4 comments:

Mads said...

I've been thinking about the whole asexual thing...and while I'm definitely not saying it doesnt exist...it is a little hard for me to understand...I guess i just think that if one hasnt has a sexual desire or whatever it is because they havent had the right guy/girl/situation or something yet....i was just wondering how you know that you'll never have a sex drive just cause you havent yet... yeeaaa

Ily said...

i was just wondering how you know that you'll never have a sex drive just cause you havent yet...
Ah, nothing I haven't heard before. :-)
Lemme break it down, three ways.
1) Sexuality is a bell curve. In the middle, you have most people with an average sex drive. At one extreme, you have a small group of total nymphomaniacs, and at the other, asexuals. The more I see, the more I'm starting to realize that everything is a spectrum. Nature just works that way.
2) Sexual people, at some point, want to have sex. We never do. If you're having sex for research purposes to see if you'll like it, you're probably asexual. As for the "right person" thing, the "right person" probably has the same orientation that you do...and asexual is ours.
3) Sex to asexuals is just like soccer to Americans. We're a little mystified by why the rest of the world likes it so much, but that's cool with us. We'd just rather do other activities. Like baseball or deep-frying things.

Does that shed a little light? (I mean duuude, you haven't climbed Mount Fuji during a tsunami yet...but for the record, so not worth it ;-)

jason said...

Hi!

I stumbled on your site while obsessively following up on my site statistics- my SO & I run SwapSF (thanks for the link!).

A few things:
- One of my favorite things about SF is that not only are we (generally speaking) tolerant of non-"normal" sexual and gender identities, we embrace them and more- we have entire communities with meetings and stuff. People are always surprising, but never weird. So: interesting (and well-written) blog.

-Withnail and I is not only my favorite movie, it's like a freaking security blanket at this point. I think it's interesting that you've tagged them as asexual. A number of my gay friends think they're gay, and have interesting arguments to back up their theory, but I think that the film was more about the loss of direction at the end of an era than it was about sexual mores. I think that, if anything, the sexuality of the pair is something the director didn't even consider to touch on. Notice the complete lack of women in the film who would be in their peer group.

- Somewhat related to the comment above, by mads: http://www.qwantz.com/archive/000311.html

Anyhow. Pretty much the longest comment I've ever written on a total stranger's blog.

//jason

Ily said...

Hey Jason, thanks for the comment!
And the Dinosaur comic is applicable because Utahraptor is indeed, asexual-- apparently, one AVEN member met the Dinosaur Comics creator at some convention, and they discussed that very topic.
And as for Withnail and I, I'm glad that someone else also loves the movie! I think that when you're gay, or A, or anything else that's not usually portrayed in film, you definitely get into the habit of "inferring" about the characters. See a really good documentary, "The Celluloid Closet", for tons of examples of this. And since this is the "pop culture and asexuality" blog, I definitely have to make some guesses :-)