I’m hosting the December 2014 Carnival of Aces; the theme is ‘Touch, Sensuality, and Non-Sexual Physical Intimacy’ – learn more here. This is my submission.
I’ve only hung out in corners of the asexual community where it is okay to not be having sex, and not having romance is mostly okay in these corners as well. However, there are some people who are very vocal about how much they love cuddling and touch and all that, and though I know there are at least a few people who actually don’t like touching other people very much, they tend to be so discreet about their non-enthusiasm that I had to pay attention to notice them.
I think this emphasis on sensual activity partially comes from a desire to validate our intimate relationships. If sex is not happening, how can we *prove* that these are important relationships? CUDDLING, of course!
It’s not just the asexual community which heavily emphasizes hugging, cuddling, and other forms of non-sexual sensual interaction – in fact, I have felt this emphasis far stronger in the schools I have attended (except middle school) and in my family than I ever have in ace spaces.
The result of having a set of people being very vocal about how much they are into touching people, with much less discussion of *not* wanting that kind of activity, has given me the impression that ace/aro-spectrum people are very cuddly, even though I know that is sometimes not true. And I have found very little discussion of bad experiences with touch or not wanting touch.
Speaking of bad experiences, I recently travelled in South Korea, and many Koreans who I didn’t know touched me without warning, let alone with my permission. All of this felt non-sexual to me. But being non-sexual did not make this touch okay. I did not have these kinds of experiences in Taiwan, Hong Kong, or Japan, so I conclude that Korean culture has something to do with this. All of the Koreans who touched me without permission were middle-aged and older, so this might be a generational thing. None of them seemed to understand why I objected to what I did, and sometimes they would touch me again even after I had expressed my displeasure.
It got to the point that I became very guarded around Koreans over the age of 35.
I’m fine with the vocal people being vocal – if they love hugging, cuddling, caressing, and so forth, why not talk about it? I don’t want them to be less vocal. I do want to open a discussion about non-sexual touch which is not entirely good, so that people who have negative feelings about touch know they are not alone. In particular, I want to affirm that physical intimacy is no more required than sexual or romantic intimacy.
An evil fairy will make a guest appearance in the next post.