Sunday, December 9, 2007

I Wanna Be-e-e Hu-u-uman To-o-o

Taken from Feministing, with respect:
(Emphasis is mine.)

Check out Violet Blue's interview with Staci Haines, author of Healing Sex: A Mind-Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma.

She asks the hard questions.

VB: Why is rediscovering sexual pleasure important for survivors?

SH: Sex is a normal and healthy part of being human. Having good sex — where you feel pleasure, intimacy, intensity and longing — is one of the most powerful experiences anyone can have. Not having that can be as detrimental as sex can be powerful. Oftentimes, people who have been abused avoid sex so it doesn't bring up feelings about the abuse. To heal, they have to go toward, and eventually through whatever triggers memories of the abuse — that's where freedom is.

I know that this is targeted towards abuse survivors. I am not one, so perhaps I don't have the right to comment. If not...that's unfortunate. Because I'm tired of being told what is and isn't integral to "being human". Saying that sex is part of being human sounds all nice and warm and healthy and progressive-- unless you're asexual. Then it just sounds creepy. Because throughout the ages, there have been quite a varied list of requirements to being human. Among them, being white, male, part of a religious majority, able-bodied, heterosexual, and so on and so forth. Some people are apparently adding "sexual" to this list, and it would scare me to think that A-s are on their way to becoming objects, like the long line of dehumanized humans that have come and gone again and again.
I'm sure that evoking this dismal alterna-future wasn't Staci Haines' intention. I'm sure she is actually a nice, warm, healthy and progressive person, and I'm sure that for many survivors of abuse, these are important things to hear. But all language has power, and language that seems innocuous to some can be dangerous for others.
Let's not forget that at least 1% of abuse survivors were asexual to begin with. While I know that
Healing Sex isn't marketed towards that tiny minority, I'd like to think they at least get a footnote somewhere. I don't want to think that these women would be getting advice that isn't good for them, just because they are such a small group.
And that's all I have to say about that...for now, of course. In the meantime, everybody check out Feministing-- it's bang-on. Also, this post just makes me think of that song in
The Jungle Book movie where the animals are singing about how they want to be human--you-u-u! I wanna be like you-u-u! I wanna talk like you, walk like you, lalalala dodododo etc. Unfortunately for me, my cats don't have those doubts.


Anonymous said...

As an asexual (aromantic hetero-asexual) who has always been this way, sexual assault a few years ago pushed me further into weird relationships - I prefer male companionship but would panic if things were getting serious. I did have sex not too long ago for the first time and while I still very strongly identify as asexual, I needed to know that sex with someone I trust can be a non-threatening thing. I may never have sex again, but it put trust and physical intimacy into perspective for me. /ramble

Ily said...

Hi there, thanks for the comment. Really, just the person we needed to hear from! :-) I'm glad you found some way to trust again. I'm indifferent to sex now, but I bet that if I were assaulted, I would begin to fear it, and fearing it is never good. I think there are probably circumstances where having sex would make a lot of sense for an asexual, and it would be interesting to discuss that further sometime. That's not what I was opposed to-- just the "part of being human" thing. That's kind of sketch. But yeah. Now I'm rambling for sure. :-)

Anonymous said...

The implication that asexuals are somehow less than human really bothers me, too. People have done it in the past with gays and blacks (just a couple examples), and I just don't understand why society has such a desire to always have a group of people to alienate. Years from now when asexuality is slightly more accepted as homosexuality has been (I hope that happens anyway), they'll just find someone else to pick on. Maybe it goes back to the whole "belittle someone else to make yourself feel better" thing, but I don't really get it. Everyone is different, but in the end, people are people. We're *all* human. Why should something like sexuality (or skin color, or religion, or anything else) really matter?

Personally, I've always found the "sex is natural and healthy" mantra a bit narrow-minded, not to mention annoying, because it's *not* natural and healthy for everyone. When I was with my ex, I always felt vaguely strange afterward--not really guilty or ashamed (I don't think there's anything wrong with sex, and I'm all for sexual freedom; I just don't *personally* have any interest in it) but just kind It just didn't feel right to me, and doing something that I feel compromises who I am definitely does not feel "natural and healthy".

Ily said...

You're right, people always do this. I have no idea why. Do people feel this huge pressure to be "human enough" and therefore take out their stress on others? No clue from this corner.

Anonymous said...

mm. I was very strongly sexual person until a bad experience at the beginning of the year. Now I just feel like I no longer want sex. I don't feel remotely traumatised, or frightened or unhappy about it, and I find the idea that someone would want to 'heal me' insulting. I don't feel threatened by human contact...I happily hug my kids and friends. I don't feel like I'm damaged, or missing out on anything.
I just don't want sex. It literally feels like my body has said, well, that was awful, and turned that part of me off. If it stays like that for the rest of my life that is actually fine by me.
It not just the sex drive that has disappeared, or that I want sex, but can't bring myself to get close to anyone. It's actually ceased to be 'a meaningful drive'.