The theme for July’s Carnival of Aces is “Sex-Aversion and Sex Repulsion”. I am going off a little to the side of this topic and talk about being sex-indifferent because, as someone who is sex-indifferent, I have much more to say about it.
NOTE: When I say I am sex-indifferent, I mean that I am neither sex-averse/sex-repulsed, nor am I sex-favorable. As is evident in this post, sex is such a loaded matter that true indifference is nearly impossible.
I sometimes encounter the implication, both inside and outside of ace communities, that sex-indifferent aces are okay with having sex, being in sexual relationships, or that of course the sex-indifferent aces are having sex. Once in a long while I see this sentiment expressed more explicitly. Even in the call for submissions, sex-indifferent aces are grouped with sex-favorable aces as one of two groups. Why? As a sex-indifferent ace, I feel like I have nothing more in common with the sex-favorable aces than I do with the sex-averse/sex-repulsed ones.
If I say that I am indifferent to playing tennis, would you assume that I am going to get a tennis-playing partner anytime soon? Or ever?
You see, all activities have some kind of cost. Time, for example. I am not going to live forever, so most people would understand that, if I say that I am indifferent to tennis or feel that tennis is pointless (and when I imagine myself having sex, my reaction is ‘that would be so pointless’) that I probably would prefer to do something which I actually like and do not consider pointless. Sure, if one of my tennis-loving relatives asked me to play with them, I might oblige, but it has been more than ten years since I have played tennis.
Of course, time is not the only cost of sex. There is the risk of sexual-transmitted infections. And the risk of someone getting very emotionally hurt, especially since, as a very sexually-inexperienced asexual, there is a lot I do not know about navigating sex, and my partner would be at high risk of emotional hurt as well (for example, if it is obvious that I am not enjoying myself and they take it personally). To me, sex is not worth that much, and I have ruled it out except for the few specific situations in which the benefits might justify the costs/risks.
On top of that, I am romantically-averse, which deserves a post or two in itself, but for now I just want to make the point that sex-indifferent people may have other aversions which might interfere with normative romantic-sexual relationship.
Now to answer the question in the title … I think the assumption that sex-indifferent aces are open to sex/having sex/etc. is an expression of compulsory sexuality.
I did not grow up in a culture of of compulsory tennis-playing, so if I say that I am not interested, people understand that I probably do not want to play. But under compulsory sexuality, if I do not have some kind of obstacle like sex-aversion/sex-repulsion, then of course I am OK with participating in sex … huh? I am aware that compulsory-sexuality is very harmful to sex-averse/sex-repulsed people and that people who push compulsory sexuality do not in practice give sex-averse/sex-repulsed people a pass. The point I do want to make is that, under compulsory sexuality, you need a *reason* to opt out of sex rather than a reason to opt-in in the first place, and the assumptions made about sex-indifferent aces are made because we have not provided a reason for opting-out.
Recently both the sex-repulsed and the sex-favorable have been talking about the ways they feel uncomfortable in ace-spectrum communities. I do not feel uncomfortable as sex-indifferent ace in ace communities, but I hope that in these discussions people will make it clear that many sex-indifferent aces do not want and are not participating in sex.