Back in June 2011 I did a blog post on sexuality and the way society labels us within it. That the need to be termed heterosexual, homosexual or bi-sexual was really unneeded and that we should just accept that we are "sexual" and lie somewhere on a continuum of attraction that can change over our lives. Well I guess this is the follow up post :-) The other night we watched a documentary on NetFlix called (A)Sexual which explored the concept of a-sexuality and the fight for those who identify with this term to be accepted and recognised. It was a great documentary and fascinating. The main guy in the film, David Jay I found quite annoying and I did not warm to at all. But the content that was explored was very interesting.
It started me thinking again about the whole issue of sexuality and what we expect and how we treat it. Really, it's at once the most amazing thing to be able to a sexual being and a blessed curse. A major part of our identity is dictated and prescribed to us by media, marketing and advertising from a very early age. The "beautiful" are celebrated and reminded of their riches of looks. The average are shown ways that they can aspire to be beautiful people too. All this happens in the guise of being accepted, desired. The sexual being.
Now don't get me wrong, I am not preaching from the pulpit here on this topic. I am as susceptible to it all as anyone. Those who know me will attest that I am vain and that I spend a fair amount of time dressing well and grooming. I do this because it makes me feel good. It makes me feel good as it makes me feel attractive. I like to feel attractive and at its heart is the desire to be attractive to other people. I might not want to do anything with them, but I at least want to know they might want to do something with me. Vain much...??
What was so interesting about the documentary (A)Sexuality was the exploration of a group of people who have no desire for sexual intimacy and so conduct all their relationships on a different level. David Jay had this amazing matrix of friendships where he spent a calculated amount of time with each individual based on the desire to develop, close relationships with many but none of a sexual nature. His reasoning was that if he could show the sort of love on a friendship level that you have in a sexual relationship, but to many, the sum total was a much stronger result. The strength of this matrix was far above what could be achieved through a one to one sexual relationship. I think that was it anyway...
Interestingly when they revisited David 2 years later, the "main" people in his life had drifted away. They had formed relationships with others (sexual) and had not kept close. I think this was the fundamental problem with David's plan. It was very based around him and demanded a lot of people who in the majority are intensely sexual. It will always be a matter of time before people form sexual relationships with others and this will dominate their lives. The majority of people in David's matrix were not a-sexual.
Of course it is perfectly possible to have close relationships with people outside of your relationship with your sexual partner. Indeed, most of us probably do this. Even I, who is notoriously good at not maintaining long term friendships, have a few select people who I regard as close friends and will always be so. One in particular lives in another part of New Zealand and I might not see for years, but I still regard her as a close friend. However, on the level that David Jay was requiring, I am just not convinced you can do it with sexual people who form relationships. When we revisited David 2 years later, he himself was considering forming a sexual relationship with someone to get the other things he craved from a close relationship.
Apart from the very interesting individuals in the documentary, and believe me they all were. A stand out moment for me was when a group gathered in San Francisco to march in the Gay Pride march. They were nervous and prepared themselves accordingly. These were people who had spent most of their lives being excluded and not accepted for who they are. Surely on the face of it, within the GLBT community they would find their home and be accepted. Surely within a community that was used to being often viewed as outside the norm, they would be accepted. Of course NO! GLBT people are still sexual and have the same trouble accepting people who state they are not. It still seems weird to them too. It made me feel sad in a way. To see people quite critical of these people who just wanted to be accepted. "I pity your soul".... was one comment.
Another interesting element was the tendency of people to mix a-sexuality with celibacy. "Oh yeah, I was a-sexual for while after my last boyfriend..." No you weren't. You were celibate and had no desire for sex for a while or at least no desire for a relationship and sex. A-sexuality is not something which comes and goes with your libido or emotional state. It is an innate sexual preference or indeed lack of sexual desire.
Lastly, the documentary also spent some time looking at whether these people had some deficiency that made them this way. Was a-sexuality a sign of something being broken. Apparently there is a high percentage link between people on the Aspergers spectrum and those who identify as a-sexual, however nothing conclusive has ever been drawn and rightly so, doctors and scientists were reluctant to make definitive statements in this area. Are they lacking a hormone, did something happen to them in childhood they have blocked out. It's common and predictable to look for an answer to things we don't understand. It's the same argument that has been played about homosexuality at times. Something broken, something that needs to be fixed.
Whatever the reason, I wonder why we feel the need to fix? Why some would feel that something should be done if the individual is happy or has no desire to have this state changed. Are we not better learning to live with what we have? However, I still do find it challenging on the level of biology. If we accept that as beings, as animals, we are naturally designed to want to reproduce. A need to keep the species going and pass on our genetic code, then how does that leave these people? Surely something is wrong if we do not want to do this? Someone put forward an interesting counter argument to this to me. They postulated that maybe we have evolved so far and there are so many people on the planet, that some of us are naturally developing not to reproduce. In all honesty it probably would not be a bad thing, however, I am not sure I buy it.
So where am I going with this? Did I say I was going somewhere with it you foolish reader? I find the subject of sexuality very interesting and amazing. I find it sad that a group of people can be so excluded or judged just because they choose to be upfront about they fact that they never have any sexual desire. I find it sad and frustrating that we as a society put so much expectation on people whatever their sexual orientation. As Paul McCartney sang.... Let it be.....