Sunday, September 6, 2009

Things Asexuals Like: Doubts

This post is going to be a strange amalgamation of "Things Asexuals Like: Overanalyzing" and the last post, in which this one was promised. Anyway, I hope to make something more than no sense whatsoever.

Asexuals like to doubt asexuality, either their own, or in general. Is asexuality really so awesome that we have to constantly wonder if it, or us, are "real"? (Okay, maybe it is.) As weird as it is to quote myself, here's something I wrote on Apositive:

Did anyone here ever NOT wonder if they were a "real" asexual? I ask because it seems so pervasive, and yet I can't remember ever doing this...Maybe this is just my personality, because I tend to get VERY into things and I've always been pretty insusceptible to "peer pressure". It's very hard to just BE asexual. But since asexuality is an orientation, presumably like any other, it would then follow that most of us will, indeed, be asexual forever and no matter what. If this isn't the case, then there is some fundamental difference about asexuality. We're always like, "yes, but what if we find that we're not asexual in the future?" No other orientation that I know of thinks like this-- it's exhausting, really.

Granted, I see the doubting because I have access to places where asexuals are doing it. Outside of the asexual community, it is fairly taboo to talk about questioning your sexual orientation unless it's with someone you know and trust very well. In our culture, indecision or anything resembling it is seriously frowned upon. For instance, I never told anyone that I "might not be straight"-- I went directly from identifying as totally straight to identifying as totally asexual. Maybe everyone doubts. But there is just something about asexuality that makes it seem more ephemeral than other orientations. Why does it sound so strange (at least to me) to say with certainty that I'll be asexual forever and no matter what and until the edge of doom, when I blindly assumed as much about my former heterosexuality?

As the great Josef K would say, It's Kinda Funny. Even at times when I really wished that I wasn't asexual, I knew somewhere in my heart that it wasn't a throwback to heterosexuality I was after, it was an ability to find love as an asexual person. It was always the world I really wanted to change, but that's such a monumental task that of course, at times I get gripped by a desire to be someone else. My heterosexuality largely existed in the background, like a program you're not aware is running. But my asexuality has totally taken over my consciousness and has changed my life in multiple ways. So maybe it's not that asexuality is more ephemeral, it's that it's actually more in-your-face. Of course you'll entertain doubts about something in the process of constantly analyzing it-- as, like I've said, we are wont to do.

I have one theory as to why we tend to doubt our asexuality. I think, among other reasons, it could be because at this point in time, there are no people who have identified as asexual for their whole lives. Either we came out rather young and have most of our asexual lives ahead of us, or we came out later in life after identifying as something else. Sure, there are probably a few older people who found the word "asexual"despite the odds and went with it, but it's hardly an entire generation of asexuals. Out of everyone currently identifying as asexual, there are probably only a small handful of people who have been out for, say, over 10 years (which is not very long anyway). Maybe we doubt because, simply enough, seeing is believing. I can only wonder what the next generation of asexuals will think about all our doubts.


Espikai said...

I love the "Things Asexuals like" posts. :)

Funny, I was actually just working on a post about Questioning and the stages of doubt my sexual identification went through. Personally, I've also felt like my asexuality has become a major part of my life, but I've also seen aces say that they don't particularly care about it or think about it daily. In my experience, though, most heterosexuals don't tend to ponder their orientation in the same way many LGBTQIAA+ folks do. While I don't think the media has a complete monopoly over our self-image, I think that if asexuality gains more visibility and recognition, the doubting and overanalysis may decrease somewhat as acceptance grows. Maybe. I dunno, I'm not much of a grand theorist.

heidi said...

Mmm, I'll bet that other orientations do doubt - specifically, any orientation that isn't heterosexual. Because, really, heteronormalcy makes everyone else not normal.

SlightlyMetaphysical said...

I think a large part of the reason we doubt that we can be asexual forever is that a lot of asexophobes have started to criticise us for shutting ourselves off, so we make sure we aren't.

Also, as the first orientation that started on the internet, a large number of asexuals are in that flexible/questioning teenage age bracket.

Oh, and there's all that stuff about 'late bloomers' that doesn't really apply to other minorities.

And all the people who call themselves asexual, either because they're in denial or in the closet, and then come out as gay.

Ok... asexuals like overanalysing? Check.

Raymo.E-J said...

Asexual doubt is a matter of confidence: confidence in oneself in the face of the future, a community, new relationships, and whatever else arises as a challenge, be they psychic/mental anxiety/disorder/confusion, or social or resistance to intimate physicality. (You, for example, have great confidence in yourself as a complete being, and you have worked out and incorporated your asexuality to a sure steadfast, correct?)

When we begin to deal with these challenges, doubt plays an important role, by raising red flags. The more red flags that arise concerning a particular subject or experience, the more attention is needed in said area.

As a condition, the youth of the asexual community offers little to no depth of consciousness; and when there is historical perspective it's usually in the form of pathologized arbitration or medicalization of a this our awesome, asexual, human condition. I, for one, am one of the unlucky people who have internalized the school of thought that pathologizes asexuality. I repeatedly approach my asexuality as though it is a culmination of experiences floating somewhere out in space, disregarding it as a way of being, who I am and how I experience life and love.

As a former default-heterosexual, I found doubt very helpful. Every time there is doubt it means I am still holding onto something and do not understand why I feel the way I do about something. Ughh, I am being vague again... I think what I am trying to say, in simpler terms is. I may have been, and may continue to be, a false positive heterosexual. All my relation-ships from my earliest memories through my teen years until now (I am 20) were internally asexual but experienced externally (if that makes sense) as sexual and polarized. I still cling to some of my heterosexual tendencies and patterns of thought even since 3 years ago when I "found" (yay, I'm Saved!) the asexual community and have become invested in attempting to reconnect with my true, unadulterated, self the "honest I". I think that is what doubt leads to: It leads to us really attempting to figure out our sexuality, to reassure ourselves that we are not just wagon-jumpers willing to delude ourselves into alter-normative safe havens for our introspective natures.

And yes, asexuality is that awesome. I want so badly to properly claim my asexuality!

Espikai - I totally agree that doubt will increase. Asexual introverts/introverted asexuals may find the community less a safe space to explore their lack of sexuality as general public social consciousness of asexuality increases. RED FLAGS OF DOUBT GALORE!!!

Ily said...

Raymo-- I'm surprised that you're only 20. You seem to have done so much thinking, I would have assumed you were much older. Sorry if that sounds funny...anyway, I'm not sure what it means to be a complete being or not. I don't think I need anyone else to complete me, but I also don't like being isolated.

I really enjoy writing the "things we like" posts, too. I wonder how much I'd ponder asexuality if I didn't have this blog and all the stuff I do with AVEN. The reason I started the blog in the first place was because I pondered it so much, however that was a few years ago. So I don't know.

Someone wrote on Apositive that bisexuals tended to doubt a lot also, and I can buy that. Yet another thing we have in common with them.

Anonymous said...

It make so much sense how much we struggle with doubt when we realized that we are only in this generation more publicly/collectively emerging from pathologization.

I love your hopeful last sentence of your post. Hopefully the next generations will roll their eyes at us for being so silly, and go on being their fabulous selves- neither pathologized nor idealized.

KC the MoUsY spell-checker said...

That's interesting... I've never really doubted that I was asexual.

Then again, I also knew about asexuality before I thought about my own sexuality, so when the question became more relevant, I just knew.

heidi said...

Raymo - "I may have been, and may continue to be, a false positive heterosexual. All my relation-ships from my earliest memories through my teen years until now (I am 20) were internally asexual but experienced externally (if that makes sense) as sexual and polarized."

...this! But I'm 24.

Siggy said...

I tend to think of it mathematically. The prior probability of me being asexual is roughly 1%. If there's just 1% of the population who are "late-bloomers", even by my age of 21, then I have a 50% chance of being wrong. There's more to it than that of course (insert all the usual arguments against late-blooming here), but my point is that the odds are tougher to beat than they are for gay and bisexual people.

This is all fine with me, because I deal in doubt all the time. Doubt is my friend.

Himmel said...

Oddly enough I never questioned whether I was asexual or not. Before I was aware of asexuality, I just thought that most people didn't want to have sex.
After I found out asexuality existed, then I identified with that and have never questioned it. Like you, I had problems with wondering if I could find love as an asexual, but it was never a desire to change myself or hoping/wondering if I would ever become a sexual person. While I'm aware that some people do, and are allowed to, change their orientations as it suits them, it's not something that's going to happen to me.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Heidi ~Mmm, I'll bet that other orientations do doubt - specifically, any orientation that isn't heterosexual. Because, really, heteronormalcy makes everyone else not normal.~

Before I identified as asexual, I identified as a *lazy* lesbian. And my friends who were just coming out and questioning their sexuality had a few "just checking" hetero encounters. Other queer identities now have a stronger community to support them. So it makes total sense for us to be more doubtful, when a lot of us are trying to figure it out on our own.

Ily said...

That's funny because I was definitely a "lazy" heterosexual-- lazy and extremely picky.

heidi said...

"lazy heterosexual" sounds like an AWESOME new orientation/movement - for the people who just aren't motivated to find the other unexciting people out there! (or something) ...I just need to watch more Sarah Haskins (regardless of gender and orientation, she's hilarious and pokes fun at the media).

Ily said...

Ha, I like Sarah Haskins. "You know what women want? YOGURT!"

heidi said...

my unemployed @$$ just listed every vid I could find - but 2008 is so sparse? there are definitely some vids that were posted out of order, but... =)

Cassidy said...

I'm currently bisexual, but possibly asexual, but I can tell you that YES all other sexual orientations go through doubt and sexual self awareness, thinking things like, "Am I really straight?" "do I still like guys, or just girls?" the asexual community is underappreciated and not very well understood, but one thing across all orientations is that SEXUAL (or lack thereof) ORIENTATION IS FLUID. Some people at first are like, "I really like penises" and then later decide, "you know what? Vaginas are pretty awesome! They turn me on." its not that you were really into girls the whole time, its just that orientation is fluid, and you ended up liking girls instead of guys.