Back to the oft-hated question at hand: "Do you masturbate?" I can't know what everyone asking this question is thinking (and I don't want to), but it seems like people asking the question are, frequently, assuming one or all of these things:
- That masturbation is inherently sexual, and, relatedly:
- That if they can get an asexual to say that they masturbate, then the questioner has found a logical flaw in asexuality, and everyone just loves to find a logical flaw, don't they?
- That they're really clever to have found such a well-hidden loophole!
- People say it is. However, I think we all learned in childhood that "because I said so" doesn't really prove anything, no matter how many people say it.
- It involves your nether-regions. However, there are plenty of reasons to dig around down there, like peeing, that aren't sexual.
- Some people think of sexual fantasies when they masturbate. However, I remember reading some informational book about "growing up" when I was younger, and it mentioned that some people would masturbate and think of beautiful landscapes. And I don't know what most asexuals would think about, if anything, but it probably isn't a sexual fantasy.
- You might have an orgasm. But I don't think orgasms are inherently sexual, either. I know, someone's head just exploded on that one. But why are they more sexual than a sneeze? Just because they're caused by gential stimulation? But like we said, not everything that goes on in and around your genitalia is sexual.
Now, on to assumption #2. It wouldn't be true to say that only sexuals ask us "Do you masturbate?", because there is also an asexual-on-asexual variation. On AVEN, there is often someone asking if asexuals who masturbate are "real" asexuals. Ignoring the unnecessary elitism of that question, I think there is a better answer than "Yes", and that is, "Why does it matter?" If someone wants to consider asexuals who masturbate to be something else, perhaps autosexual, that's only a distinction being made in that person's own mind. Because to the outside world, not being interested in sex and not being attracted to anyone are the things that set you apart. In terms of how you move in society, whether or not you masturbate is irrelevant.
It's interesting too, on AVEN, how people describe their experiences with masturbation. A lot of people seem to describe it as "scratching an itch" or a grimly-undertaken chore to satisfy their directionless sex drive. However, isn't satisfying a drive usually pleasurable? I wonder if some people take the grim chore angle because they're thinking that as an asexual, they're not supposed to enjoy something "inherently sexual" such as masturbation. And even if they did see masturbation as a sexual thing, and enjoyed it, it still would be irrelevant to their asexuality, as I previously mentioned. Sure, maybe it would have an effect on their self-identity. But in the scheme of things, I don't think masturbation alone is enough to change someone's orientation. Experiencing sexual attraction could change the trajectory of your life. Masturbation, not so much, unless you get involved in some kind of freak accident during the act.
Assumption #3? Pause while I laugh for a few minutes...sorry people, but there have been many, many others standing where you stand. Just assume I've heard everything already and maybe we can move forward with a little more dignity.
And because it's just too much fun to tackle "forbidden" topics, I'm coming back next time with the pop culture angle...stay tuned. Until then, here's a picture I thought was pretty amusing:
Kinda cute, right?