Saturday, November 12, 2011


Yes! This sort of relates to my last post.

It's not frequent, but I do experience aesthetic attraction. I can find people "sexy", although my definition of this might be different than that of other people's. I have no desire to even interact with "sexy" people, let alone actually sex them up. I just note their attractiveness and move on. Aesthetic attraction always makes me feel vaguely uncomfortable, but it never happened enough for me to figure out why that was. So recently, when I noticed an especially good-looking person, I tried to capture the moment. Sitting with my nonsexual attraction, I just felt sad. My exact thought was: "I'm incomplete". I know, it's melodramatic, but sometimes my mind goes there.

For sure, it's another incident of internalized asexohating, but I also wanted to talk about the tropes underlying this specific thought pattern.

The thing is, I had landed right into a cultural theme that I believe is damaging to everyone: The idea of sex (and sexualized romance) as completion. That's why we have all these baseball metaphors for sex. It's the end goal of attraction. It ties in with the magic night trope, in which "scoring" at the end makes the night a success. By finding a person sexy and nothing more, I'm messing with the script, and the idea of sex as "consummation" or "sealing the deal". But I don't think there's much about sexuality that's actually so neat and linear. We like stories, and there is no story in my random aesthetic attraction. I try to make one up, about my incompleteness, but it isn't true.

For me, part of dealing with internalized asexohating is not only having pride in being asexual, but in being able to frankly admit the aspects of being asexual that are frustrating. And most importantly, why they're frustrating. The answer never turns out to be "because asexuals are somehow inferior". As for my aesthetic attraction, I feel like it defies logic. Whether it's some innate sense of logic or a cultural sense (or whether these can even be separated), I don't know. But the truth is, a lot about sexual orientation doesn't make sense. And we do have a very limited cultural view of what is "logical" when it comes to orientation and attraction.

Random aesthetic attraction: my silent protest against the baseball model of sexuality. (*wink wink*)


Eli said...

This is such a great start to analyzing nonsexual esthetic attraction! I always wondered how I could think someone was "cute" and then just...stop. Right there. Identifying as demi helped me figure it out a little, but my experiencing romantic attraction is still a lot rarer than me observing nonsexy "sexiness." Having a way to explain that helps a lot. I bet there are lots of people who read the definition of "doesn't experience primary sexual attraction" and think, "but I think people are hot/pretty/whatever, does that mean I'm not ace?" without considering whether they just think the person is nice looking, or whether they want to sleep with them.

Ily said...

@Eli: Woot! I'm glad someone commented :) And it's true...if someone is just reading the definition of asexuality for the first time, they might be still thinking that all forms of attraction are bundled together.

In my case, even though I do think some people are good-looking, I noticed them sooo much less than my peers did. So, it did end up being a piece of evidence for my own asexuality. I can imagine how it would be more confusing for aces with more aesthetic attraction than I had.

Fellmama said...

I left a really long comment that Blogger ate. *glowers*

Ily said...

@Fellmama: I hate when that happens...*punches Blogger*

Jessica said...

I typed about three paragraphs of gibberish in reply to your post, realized they were not worth clicking the "Publish Your Comment" button, and deleted them.

But as an ace, I am always, always, always eager and happy to read your musings and ideas and conversations about ace and other matters on your blog, comments or no comments.

I'd like for someone to do a good, double-blind study about desire, sexual attraction, and social pressure. Do you feel not complete because of what everyone else is doing or because....well, because?

Eric said...

Wonderful thoughts! I often get confused about this topic as well, because my friends will wonder how I can be attracted to someone, without wanting anything further.

You put this all into wonderful perspective.

Ily said...

@Jessica: Thank you! I would like to see some of these things studied more, as well. I have a feeling that our general conceptions of "normal" are very skewed and way too narrow. I'm pretty sure that my "incomplete" feeling comes from social constructs (I can't imagine feeling that way on the hypothetical desert island), but of course, it's hard to pinpoint exactly.

@Eric: Thanks much! It's better to be confused with other people, isn't it? :)