One of the most common ace-hate comments is:
“You’re not asexual, you’re just sexually repressed.”
And the typical reply of vocal asexuals is:
“No, we’re not sexually repressed, we’re asexual.”
It is true that many asexual people are not sexually repressed, and that asexuality exists in humans regardless of the presence of sexual repression.
But why insist so much that asexuals aren’t sexually repressed? Is sexual repression such a bad thing that we need to distance ourselves so much from it.
I think that when sexual repression is not causing distress, it’s fine to be sexually repressed. In some situations, it might be a good thing. Let me give you an example:
[Content note: reference to child sexual abuse]
Let’s say someone is sexuallty attracted to children. They understand that sexually abusing children is wrong, so they never want to interact sexually with a child, but the very fact that they know it’s wrong makes them very uncomfortable with the sexual attraction they are experiencing. So they decide to repress their sexual attraction – and succeed! They can now go on about their life without being constantly bothered by their sexual attraction to children, and even better, no children are hurt. Even though there are other ways to handle this problem (such as ‘ageplay’ – having a consenting adult pretend to be a child during sexual activity) I fail to see anything wrong with this type of sexual repression.
That particular example is extreme, but I think sexual repression might be helpful in many situations where someone is experiencing unwanted sexual attraction.
When most people talk about how bad sexual repression is, it’s implied the sexual repression is applied externally by society, not a tool being willfully used by an individual. However, even when sexual repression is being imposed by social pressure, it is bad … because of what?
Here’s the answer: sexual repression is bad when it causes distress/unhappiness. Then the distressed/unhappy person is entitled to addressing the problem. However, when sexual repression is not causing distress/unhappiness – even if the sexual repression is caused by external social forces – there is no need to “stop” the sexual repression.
Hey, I sound just like the people who say that sexual repulsion/aversion is okay as long as it does not cause distress. That’s probably because my mind absorbed their rhetoric and substituted ‘sexual repulsion/aversion’ with ‘sexual repression’. In my opinion, the arguments for accepting sexual repulsion/aversion work just as well as for accepting sexual repression.
Saying that all sexual repression is bad and need to be released is an expression of compulsory sexuality. If someone didn’t think that all people ARE REQUIRED engage in sexual behavior (i.e. compulsory sexuality), I can’t imagine why they would insist that all sexual repression is bad.
And it is because of the compulsory sexuality behind “sexual repression is bad” arguments that I think maybe, instead of saying ‘asexuals are not sexually repressed’ we should say ‘sexual repression is irrelevant to the validity of asexuality’.