An American Asexual
An American Asexual
By J. Hughes
“That’s what she said!”
“It’s not that big!”
“I got something you’ll like, baby girl”
“I know you want it!”
“Yeah, pull it out.”
“Eggs Bacon Grits Sausage!”
These are the things that make us laugh in theaters, or sitting safely at home watching television or scrolling through TikTok. These are the things we hear in our music, woven seamlessly into our American culture along with advertisements for thinner bodies and larger butts. These are the jokes thrown at mostly women who are depicted as prudish, shy and sweet, innocent and tender and not yet exposed to the so-called glories of sex and intimacy.
So much of it goes over my head.
It took me years to finally realize what Jason Mraz’s “Butterfly” was about.
The world we live in, especially within American confines, is wildly sexual. Sex is mixed in and baked into our commercials, music and clothing. Even cartoons for children make mention of sexuality in their own not so subtle ways. A character on Nickelodeon’s “The Fairly OddParents” often refers to himself often as “sexy”. Even a certain yellow sponge on the same channel has been subjected to sexuality as a joke more than a few times.
So what does that do for me, an American asexual/aromantic woman? Well, it doesn’t turn me on.
Yes, I know what that means.
I wasn't always aware of the sex dripping from every orifice of the world. When I was a teenager, I knew I was queer but I didn't know how. I truly believed I was gay, and then bi, from ages 8 to 30. In that time, I dated a few people, male and female, and couldn't make a connection with any of them. I never felt that spark. I never experienced the rush of endorphins that I read about, or that my friends talk about when we discuss our exploits at The Cheesecake Factory. No, I am, as some would say, a robot. Or a plant, if you’re nice.
Why did it take so long? Why couldn't I just say, ‘hey, I don't like any of this sex stuff. I’m free!’?
Because asexuality wasn’t taught back then in the 1990s or early 2000s. At least not in my quiet little Connecticut hometown. My school, including my peers, recognized you if you were gay or straight. The club was literally the GSA-The Gay/Straight Alliance. It was led by a frigid, awkward, older white woman who had probably received about 5 hours worth of college credit studying the queer community, and was definitely not qualified to work with us. When I joined the GSA in my high school, I identified as bisexual, wherein I was sure I liked both boys and girls. And I did, I liked dating them. But the moment sex was part of the conversation, I was bored. Grossed out a bit, but mostly just not interested.
My closest queer friend at the time accused me of being a “faker” and a “straight poser” to get attention. She told me I didn't belong in the GSA because I didn't like watching movies about sex, or porn (we were 15). I was hurt by these accusations. I knew I was queer, I knew I had to belong somewhere, but my complete lack of a libido or interest in sex shunned me from the people who should have been there to support me.
A lack of education doomed me to a teen career of being a false queer. If schools were allowed to teach that sex education is more than just sex, then maybe more people would feel comfortable, and safer. Today’s young queers have the liberty of learning so much about themselves, and for that, I am grateful. I’m glad they get to know who they are, even if they may change their orientation one day.
As an adult, announcing or sharing one’s asexuality can be either liberating, or extremely dangerous. I am open about it with anyone who shows romantic interest in me so that they can move on faster when they decide I’m not the right fit for them. Most of the time, people accept it. The new world we live in is so sex-driven that asexuality is seen as exotic and new. I can’t lie-I relish the flabbergasted looks upon people’s faces when they understand what I am telling them. It’s funny, because how on earth can a girl not want to be fucked every night?
But the danger lies in control. I have experienced this with men. I have been told I ‘just haven’t had a good dicking down yet’ and that ‘I can give it to you.’ Other men will say things like, ‘Ooh, so you’re a virgin then?’ Even more violent are the men who say I need to be fixed and that they’ll fix me when I least expect it. That, of course, is premeditated rape. And they see nothing wrong with it. They seem to think that my unused lady parts should belong to them and that they deserve to give me something I am missing. It’s control, and it’s terrifying.
I don’t share my asexuality that often anymore with men.
For some people, my asexuality is offensive. I cannot give the world more children, which according to some people should be my main objective as a cisgendered woman. I should want to take the seed of a man and give him little boys for him to mold into his own image. I personally want little girls but I can’t bring them into this mess. Perhaps I can adopt one day, but while sex runs wild in the streets, money and safety do not.
So where does asexuality come from? Is it born with us? Or is it instilled within us after a traumatic experience?
I am trying to figure that out. I was a victim of sexual assault when I was 4 years old, trapped in my own bed, with a man I didn't know. A man who was visiting my uncle while he babysat me. A few of his friends were there, but this one decided to see what was sleeping upstairs. My only protection was a teddy bear that fell to the floor. My brain blocked it out well enough that I didn't remember the assault until I was 30, but my little body certainly remembered. My little girl parts grew into teen girl parts that bled monthly, and every time I wiped, I was wracked with a horrible shudder that made me feel sick. I figured my complete discomfort in my own body was a result of puberty, because hey, it was awkward for all of us.
I know better now.
Maybe that body memory triggered asexuality within me. Perhaps it said, “No, I will never let that happen to you again. Here, take this gift of extra weight upon your bones and be protected from the hands of man. Accept the gift of discomfort in your vagina, for it will shield you like magic from wicked hands.”
And it has.
Every asexual person is different. Some of us enjoy sex but feel no emotional attachment to it. Others engage in sexual activities with their partner but have little to no interest in it other than that. I cannot speak for all of us, and I don't want to. I wouldn't want anyone to speak for me-I’ve already been there. Faker, remember?
But as an asexual adult, I do think it’s important that I share my story and my feelings on the topic so that another questioning adult can be given some food for thought. Perhaps I can be the asexual salvation you need.
To the little girls I will never give birth to, consider your unbirth a gift.
Jessica Hughes is a teacher, artist and writer in Connecticut.
You can find her on Instagram @agirlcalled672
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