Captain Heartless raises some really good points in his comment on “The Problem of Having Sex without Reciprocating Attraction or Desire”. One of the points he raises is that consent to sex is often confused with pleasure / desire / attraction. In other words, if someone does not express sexual attraction, desire, and/or pleasure during sex, the other partner(s) might feel that the sex is not mutually consensual, even if the sex was chosen by all parties.
The meme of only ‘enthusiastic consent’ being ‘real’ consent does not help, but I do not think that the meme is the origin of this issue. On the contrary, I think this meme itself came from a deeper cause.
In American culture, there is this ideal of sex being spontaneous and wild. You do it when you are hot and in the mood, and you have let go of your inhibitions. Sex is not supposed to be planned. As Captain Heartless says in his comment “… it seems a lot of partners want to believe sex is a natural and spontaneous thing where you get to see the ‘real’ person, instead of having to actually get to know me in all contexts to find a real me.”
What if sex is planned? What if someone pursues sex for a purpose other than satisfying desire or submitting to attraction? What if, instead of giving into a primal urge, sex is a calculated move?
If someone has the notion that people have sex because of primal urges, and it is revealed that someone who is not being motivated by primal urges is having sex anyway, they may mistake it for being non-consensual.
My gosh, I think I have discovered that asexual-umbrella people and sex workers have something in common. Both are groups which, when they consent to sexual activity, are often doing it for a reason other than being sexually attracted to or experiencing sexual desire for their partners.
Of course, the fact that some people generally only experience responsive sexual desire, and not spontaneous sexual desire, also indicates that sex sometimes starts with conscious choice, not by being overwhelmed by desire. Hence the stigma of only experiencing responsive desire which I mentioned in the previous post.
And if it is recognized that sex is made by conscious choice rather than irresistible desire, that makes it harder for the parties who consent to it to evade the responsibilities which come with sex.
In my previous post, I said that the problem was the expectation of reciprocation of attraction/desire/pleasure, and the potential pain which can come when that expectation is not met. As I ponder this issue more, I find that there are more and more angles. Somebody choosing to have sex without the attraction/desire also clashes with the worldview some people have.
So, what does this mean for asexual-umbrella folk? It can mean many things, depending on the situation. However, it generally means that some people are going to be displeased that we do not have the spontaneous sexual attraction and/or desire, whether we consent to sex or not.
For me, this is all support for my personal ‘sex is way more trouble than it is worth’ position.
As I have said in the comments to the previous post, the fact that I have no sexual experience makes it easier in some ways to discuss this since I can do so without revealing things which are too personal and I do not risk offending the sexual partners I’ve never had. However, there is a limit to what I can contribute, and I hope that people with more experience with these issues, like Captain Heartless, will continue to make this conversation better.
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