Asexuality and Rape
IMPORTANT: Read this first. This post will be talking about the impact of the rape culture on the asexuality community and will be based on the y’know fact that rape and coercion towards sex are as common as they are in reality. This means if you desire to spend the comment thread whining about how rape isn’t all that common or other rape apologist lies, your comment will never make it.
Okay, that out of the way, this post has been a long time in the coming. I’ve been wanting to talk more about asexuality and this is an issue that has been bugging me for years now. There has been a long conversation in the community and outside of it on the question of “Are Asexuals Oppressed?” Rather, do asexuals face discrimination or the effects of bigotry yet?
And well, the answer is no big surprise. No, there is not much of an active resistance to asexuality because the bigots don’t really know we exist and most resistance we do get is from assumptions or presentations within the LGBTQ community (assumed to be gay because of lack of interest in opposite sex, assumed to be gay by same-sex relationship or strong friendship, seen as trans or intersex or genderqueer by presentation, etc…).
And well, I have little to say about that. It’s a disgrace, it should be amended and conversations with psychologists have been mostly positive, but the narrow focus has allowed a far more subtle and interconnected problem to receive little to no acknowledgment.
That problem is how asexuals are exceptionally prone to the outskirts of the rape culture when they interact with and date sexuals. This is especially true of romantic asexuals.
Now what I mean by this is not that they are especially prone to forcible rape and the types of rape we most focus on when discussing rape, though these occur far too often and can affect asexuals just as much as sexuals.
What I mean are coercive rapes. Those where one’s autonomy and free choice is put to intense pressure and manipulation in order to force a technical consent, which is nowhere near the gold standard of mutual enthusiastic consent or informed consent. This can occur in many forms:
– Using alcohol to try and remove ability to withdraw consent
– Stating that whether one’s partner loves you or not is wholly dependent on whether or not they put out.
– Wearing down resistances to no so they accept to shut you up.
– Lying about the effects of sex without desire in order to manipulate a partner into giving sex.
– And using cultural memes towards how sex is owed to your partner to exact sex from an unresponsive and not-enjoying-it partner.
As well as many others.
So the question may be, how is this an asexuality problem rather than a sexual problem or a feminist issue?
Well, it is those latter, but it is also an asexual problem, because 99% of the world is sexual and awash in cultural narratives towards how sex is owed in a relationship and away from earnest examination of sexuality and relationship structures.
In short, asexuals in relationships can find themselves highly prone to being coerced into sex they would not have agreed to otherwise, because of sexual society memes about how sex is owed in romantic relationships.
As an illustration of this is the Asexual Relationships forum of AVEN, where every day or two, there’s at least one more heart-breaking post of someone being coerced by their partner or societal messaging that they owe sex to their partner.
In fact, I didn’t even check before making this post and sure enough, heartbreaking example number 1 was in the 5 most recent posts:
I want to have sex with my boyfriend. if I don’t think about what sex is actually like. you know if I don’t actually picture it…. then I can think of it in a romantic way. but when I read and actually see sex in a real way then it looks so horrible and awkward and strange that the thought of it makes me want to cry.
I am torn. I want to have sex with my sexual boyfriend. I learned to enjoy kissing in my own way. will I learn to enjoy sex? I had to force myself to kiss for a long white. but sexual acts makes me feel dirty thinking about me doing it. but it would be great if I could actually have sex!!! I am confused I don’t know what to do has anyone ever compromised before???? my boyfriend isn’t demanding sex but I know he would like it.
By poster Angel_eyes. Now before anyone jumps on hir or assumes I’m singling her out, ze’s just one of a thousand like hir. And this is hardly constrained to one sex, asexual men have posted similar tales of pressure from partners and expectations.
The point is that this problem is pernicious. A surprising number of asexuals have stories in their past of being coerced into sex they didn’t want or engaged in reluctantly to “try and find out if they really were” or engaged in entirely on the demands of a sexual romantic partner.
And a lot of it stems from the same rape culture that feminists talk about and a general ignorance of and resistance to a model of sex centered on mutual enthusiastic consent.
And asexuals may just be another victim of this idea that “yes should be a default” in a committed relationship, but they are one especially prone to it. Not only are they ones for whom the default is usually no, but they are usually ignorant about the “accepted rules” most sexuals use to navigate the rape culture.
They have no interior sexual desires to gauge against the sexual request against them and little cultural narrative on how to have a conversation about sex that’s mutually respectful.
That and sexuals’ refusal to have conversations about sexuality and sexual desire leads many “expectations” being highlighted in relationship and little models available for rejecting it.
Not to mention that the idea of a singular model of a romantic relationship as a committed sexual relationship can cause inherent tension as sexuals desiring sexual release can feel resentful and trapped by a lower-libido partner and thus increase pressure on them to “meet their needs” rather than discussing relationship ideas and models to find what works best for both partners if anything.
For romantic asexuals especially, the problem of coercive rape is a point where the passive bigotry of silence and ignorance about the reality of asexuals has put many into a very bad situation that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.
It’s not just the DSM IV, it’s also susceptibility to coercive rape or as Angel_eyes and many others have put it “compromising on sex” for no reason other than our messed up sexual and relationship mores.