post

The Intern Investigates: Asexuality & Allosexuality

The Intern Investigates: Asexuality & Allosexuality

by: Emmett DuPont

ACE_PIC2

Sexuality, the great human equalizer, that draws towards wild, loving, delicious sex is something we all share… or something we all want to share, right? This might not be as true as most people think.

What does it mean to be asexual, and what does it mean to be allosexual? Sexuality, a person’s capacity or desire for sexual activity or feelings, is a spectrum just like all human experience. Some of us feel sexual desire for complete strangers, I mean, did you see that tinder profile? Some of us don’t feel sexual desire until we know someone intimately well. Yet others have no sexual desire whatsoever. All three of these examples of (a)sexuality have labels to describe them. So let’s break it down, I’ll bust out my funky dance moves while you read.

On one end of the spectrum are people who are allosexual. Allosexuals experience sexual attraction and desire at a level that is considered normative in our society, which is pretty subjective. The majority of people are allosexual. Allosexuals may experience sexual desire for intimate partners as well as dat hottie on the street. For people who are allosexual, sexual intimacy is usually a part of intimate partner relationships, and is often a necessary part of the connection shared with boo.

Somewhere in the middle is gray asexuality. Gray-ace  (ace = asexual), is a term that people might
use if they fall on the spectrum of asexuality, somewhere between completely asexual, and completely allosexual. For example, experiencing sexual attraction only after intimate friendships, or only occasionally. The experience of gray asexuality can be widely varied, so if a friend or partner comes out to you as asexual or gray-ace, inquire about their experiences and feelings.

Some asexual folks experience absolutely no sexual desire or attraction. Yeah, like, completely zero. Goose egg, as my grandma would say. Some allosexual people might find it hard to imagine being completely asexual, but some asexual people might find it as difficult to imagine allosexual life! Although plenty of aces don’t masturbate, some might find it to be a physical necessity, or a good way to relax, relieve tension, and get some good alone time, many of the same reasons anyone might masturbate. Some asexual folks are sex repulsed, wanting nothing to do with any sexual experience, while other aces might find that they are perfectly happy to do certain sexual acts to meet the needs of a partner. Consent is important in any relationship, and asexuals who are disinterested in sex are capable of giving consent, too!

aces

Asexuality Myth Busting!

We’ve already busted myths like asexual people don’t masturbate, have sex, or ever experience sexual attraction. But let’s do our ace friends a favor and burst four of the most common stereotypes we didn’t cover earlier!

Asexuality is a phase

Just like any aspect of life, sexuality can, and often will change over a person’s lifetime. Evolution doesn’t mean falseness. I don’t identify as asexual today, but that doesn’t mean my sexuality won’t change in the next decade. Many asexual people will identify as asexual all their lives, whereas others might experience fluctuations.

Asexuality is a symptom of abuse

This is simply not true. Although sexual abuse can change a person’s sex drive, diminished sexual activity or desire because of trauma is completely different than asexuality. Asexuality is not something that necessarily can or should be treated with therapy, and although sexual abuse and asexuality can overlap within a person’s life, never assume that someone’s asexuality is a symptom of a problem.

Asexual people don’t have healthy intimate relationships

Many asexual people date and have intimate relationships, sometimes with other asexual people, but also with allosexual people, too!

Asexual people don’t need community around sexuality

Not so, my hypothetical friend! Asexual people need community to talk about the unique experiences, joys, and struggles of being asexual in a sexual world. Asexual people often must come out to friends and partners and navigate difficult conversations, so it is important to make room for asexual folks to celebrate asexuality!

Want more information and support around asexuality?

AVEN, The Asexual Visibility and Education Network.

Find community with Pioneer Valley Aces on Facebook and Meetup!


Emmett DuPont, Sex Educator InternEmmett DuPont (they/them), Sex Educator Intern, is a first-generation college student at Hampshire College and a lifelong unschooler. Emmett lives at intersections of queerness, transness and disability, and is an enthusiastic educator around these and other topics. Read more about Emmett & their internship here.

Ask Emmett!

To ask Emmett a sex, relationship or other relevant advice question for them to answer here on the blog, send us an email with the subject ASK THE INTERN.

post

‘A’ is Not Sexuality’s Scarlet Letter

Dear Yana,

I was recently discussing your column with some new friends I met through Pioneer Valley Aces, a local group of individuals who identify as aromantic and/or asexual. I wasn’t the only one of us who appreciated your witty way of reassuring those who write in that their sexuality is OK.

However, as a 39-year-old woman who has never had all that much interest in having romantic relationships or being sexually active, I don’t generally find affirmation of my identity in The V-Spot. To be honest, it can often reinforce my self-consciousness about my asexuality. Could you please offer some advice on how to feel OK about being aromantic/asexual in a highly sexualized society?

You’re so good at advising people on how to communicate about sex – could you offer some advice on how to communicate about one’s asexuality, especially with people whose worldview does not include an awareness of the wide range of “normal” when it comes to sexual desire (or lack of sexual desire)?

— A Pioneer Valley Ace

Hi PVA!

Thanks for writing in and giving me this opportunity to write about asexuality. You’re right— not many people write into a sex column asking me questions that are not sexual in nature!

Asexuality (a sexual orientation characterized by a lack of sexual attraction) isn’t new. Sexual practices and identities rarely are — rather, we find the words to describe them. David Jay

Read this week's Intern Investigation! Asexuality & Allosexuality.

Read this week’s Intern Investigation! Asexuality & Allosexuality.

launched the Asexuality and Visibility Education Network (AVEN) in 2001, which today boasts more than 82,000 members. There are far more than 50 shades of sexuality, and sexual orientation doesn’t dictate one set of feelings and actions. An asexual person may experience zero sexual attraction, or maybe every now and then they do (known sometimes as graysexual). The asexual (and sexual) possibilities are endless.

So how do you exist in a world that is so terrified of difference that it simply cannot resist a good categorizing? Find and create community. You can do this internationally with online resources like AVEN or locally via Pioneer Valley Aces (on Facebook at facebook.com/pvaces).

Find cracks in the norm and widen them. I think about this as a non-monogamous queer person in a heterosexist world who has spent time editing doctor’s forms to change my “husband’s” name to my “spouse’s” name or asking for a “couple’s” massage for more than two people. If the world isn’t designed to handle you in all your authenticity, then tailor it to fit. Make the system uncomfortable with its own assumptions. There’s no need to keep a foundation stable if it doesn’t hold you up.

In my utopian world, there are no assumptions made about sex. The new normal is to co-create your interactions with people from scratch. There are no baseball metaphors, no bases to run, and no relationship escalator to stand on…continue reading…

post

The Intern Investigates: What being a sex worker has taught me about consent & saying NO

The Intern Investigates

What being a sex worker has taught me

about consent & saying NO

by: Emmett DuPont

image by Getty Images

I’m a sex worker, and I’ve always been bad at saying “no.” But saying no has flexed my vocal cords much more than moaning loud enough for a webcam mic to pick up has. Being a sex worker has pushed me to find my voice, set boundaries, and stick to them.

Reluctantly saying “yes” when I was uncomfortable has gotten me into hot waters many times; From 9-year-old Emmett eating a fistful of crushed chili pepper “because Jessica said it would be fun, mom!”, with much more serious situations as I reached my teenage years. By the time I was 19 and set up an account on a cam modeling website, the word “no” was pretty rusty for me. I performed my first show, saying yes to everything, earning lots of tips, and feeling uncomfortable about what I was being asked to do. It wasn’t that I hated it, but a feeling of discomfort clung to me, a feeling that is familiar to anyone who has given an uneasy yes instead of a firm no; a feeling that is familiar to most of us, whether our uneasy yeses are uttered in uncomfortable conversations in the bedroom, at the office, or around the dinner table. So how do we  stop saying “…yes?” when we mean “NO!”?

Later that night, after my webcam and lace tank top were both off, I wrote a sex work manifesto. In part, it reads: “I will not do anything on cam I am uncomfortable with, or that puts me emotionally or physically at risk. I will happily and gladly disappoint my audience to uphold this. Even though this is work, my consent is important, and I will learn to say no.” The last line of that manifesto has become my sex work mantra, and my mental health, as well as my shows, have flourished because of it.  Clearly defining boundaries is something that can benefit all of us, as it gives us a solid foundation on which to build experience and experimentation. I’ve started to write little manifestoes for other aspects of my life, practicing radical consent with myself every chance I get. You’d be surprised how much knowing your own hard limits can help you the next time you are entering a challenging conversation with a family member, or starting a busy work week.

Saying “no” is a constant learning process, and it hasn’t been an easy one for me. It requires staying present for every moment, not just during my shows, but during all of my life. It requires checking in with myself frequently, asking “is this okay with me?” and being nonjudgmental about my true answer. I’ve learned that I’m happy to give my viewers a place to talk about their kinks, let them hear someone (me) say “Cool, that’s not what I’m into, but it’s not hurting anyone, so I’m glad you found something that turns you on!” And in the process, I’ve learned about kinks I never knew existed (Belly buttons? Words that start with J? Blinking?). However, no, my Hitachi does not go inside anything, end of conversation. As I teach myself how to say “no,” I teach my thousands of followers how to hear, and respect my answers, and together, we create a little world in which we are happy to live, a world I can replicate anywhere I go as long as I listen to my own truths.

Image credit: https://scontent.cdninstagram.com

Image credit: https://scontent.cdninstagram.com

In every show, I am not only modeling my rockin’ bod, I am modeling consent, communication, and respect. I still make mistakes, forget to check in with myself, or don’t speak up when I wish I had. But part of my process is compassion, understanding that I will make these mistakes, and being gentle on myself when they happen.

Porn is something we often consume in shame, not proud of the choices we make in private browsing. Before I started making porn, I didn’t think about where my porn came from, and I certainly didn’t pay for it. I want to produce porn that my viewers can be unashamed to watch and happy to financially back, and that means porn that is created with consent in mind.  If you like watching porn, consider checking out live cam modeling websites, where the performers usually set their own hours and are paid by your generosity, and if you have any concerns, you can ask them directly.

Anyone can watch my show anonymously for free, but the financial backers of my show are, mostly, white, straight, cisgender, heterosexual men in their 50s and 60s. I am eternally grateful that they are willing to put their money into a sex worker who often lectures them about how penis size is nothing to be ashamed of, a sex worker who takes the show on the road and into the bathroom to show the proper washing of sex toys between scenes, and above all, a sex worker who is learning, day after day, how to take a deep breath and say “No, that toy is not butt safe, so no, I will not do that, and I’m not sorry.”


Emmett DuPont (they/them), Sex Educator Intern, is a first-generation college student at Hampshire College and a lifelong unschooler. Emmett lives at intersections of queerness, transness and Emmett DuPont, Sex Educator Interndisability, and is an enthusiastic educator around these and other topics. Read more about Emmett & their internship here.

Ask Emmett!

To ask Emmett a sex, relationship or other relevant advice question for them to answer here on the blog, send us an email with the subject ASK THE INTERN.

post

New Pornographer Interested in Sex Ed

Hi Yana!

I saw your TEDx talk in Vienna and was copiously taking notes. The content was an eye-opener for me. I had never thought that both of our basic information sources about sex [school-sanctioned sex education and online pornography] are running their very own twisted agenda.

I started working in the porn industry six weeks ago — hey, the money is fantastic! — and my consumption of porn has gone way up as a side effect. I’m an animator on 3D animated porn shorts, so any porn clip is not only watched, but dissected frame by frame for all the details in body mechanics. (Yeah, it’s a tough life.)

What I wanted to ask you ever since that talk is: What resources can you suggest for filling that gap that both sex ed and porn leave?

I guess before your talk I would have let Google answer that question, but after your talk I’m somewhat weary of online sex education. Any books, videos, or online resources you recommend?

— Pornographer Across the Pond

Hello, PAP!

Thanks for such a great question and for your kind words. As someone actually working on porn sets,

Read this week's Intern Investigation!

Read this week’s Intern Investigation!

I’m so glad that you in particular attended the talk and are thinking about these things.

For readers who haven’t viewed my TEDxTalk yet, here’s the CliffsNotes version: Sex education is failing us hard. So, very naturally people — especially teens — are turning to Google and therefore often mainstream online porn to learn about what’s really going on with this whole sex thing beyond STDs and pregnancy risk.

But then mainstream porn paints a picture of sex that is limited to heterosexuality, penis-in-vagina penetration, and flawless and predictable mutual orgasm without any conversation about how this happens. If you’re a loyal reader, you already know that conversations about sex are crucial for practicing consent and having great sex.

Online porn, our new sex educator, teaches us what roles we should fit into during sex, what kinds of sex are “normal” and “abnormal,” and that sex needs to be wordless in order to be hot, sexy, and pleasurable.

So, PAP, what can you do to manage this deficit? The first is to work for and support pornography companies with ethical missions…continue reading…

post

Do Your Kegels!

Hi Yana,

I’m a young undergraduate student and yet I’ve been having issues with bladder control. I’ve been wanting to explore doing more Kegels and have heard of these kegel balls you can get. Do you know anything about that? I want to get a good brand/the right material because, obviously, it’s going in my vagina.

— Kegel Kid

Hi KK,

I’m sorry to hear that your bladder isn’t doing what you need it to do — that sounds really frustrating.

First thing is to get checked out at your doctor. Struggling with bladder control at your age is unusual and deserves some attention.

Secondly, many people unfamiliar with the experience of G-spot ejaculation can confuse vajaculation with pee and/or bladder problems. The G-spot’s close location to the urethra can easily confuse our bodies and brains, telling us that we are actually peeing rather than releasing vaginal ejaculate.

If your bladder issues arise consistently during sex, it might be worth doing a little research about the G-spot (my old columns and website have plenty of information on this topic). If you’re having bladder issues in other everyday ways, then return to step one: visit your doctor.

“Doing your Kegels” is a drive-by piece of advice that became really popular a handful of years ago (I’m tempted to blame an episode of Sex and the City). It’s also the piece of advice I give out the most that leaves the phrase “practice what you preach” ringing in my ears the loudest. It’s something we all can/should do more — no matter our gender or genitalia.

Kegel exercises (named after yet another modest doctor who discovered them) work out your pubococcygeus (PC) muscles, which stretch along your pelvic floor and contract during that little thing called an orgasm. The easiest — but maybe not the sexiest — way to locate them is to stop your urine-stream while peeing. The muscles you use to do this are your PC muscles and interrupting your stream may be considered a Kegel exercise. Once you’ve mastered how to contract them, you can practice in places other than the pot — just make sure you’re actually flexing your PCs and not simply clenching your butt cheeks…continue reading…

post

Genderqueer & Breaking the Binary in Bed

Hello Yana!

I’ve had a lot of difficulty telling partners that I’m genderqueer and that I use they/them pronouns. It definitely comes into play as soon as sex gets involved. Maybe part of what I’m asking is how can I and my partners break traditional gender norms in the bedroom? But I also want to know how I can discuss gender with partners who might be new to the concept that gender is a spectrum not a binary?

— GQ Cutie

Dear GQ Cutie,

As genderqueer identities and the singular, gender-neutral pronoun “they” become more commonplace (this year the singular “they” was named 2015’s Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society), this conversation will crop up in more people’s sexual and romantic lives.

Sam Dylan Finch wrote an article for EverydayFeminism.com called “8 Tips for Coming Out as Non-Binary,” which includes a helpful four-sentence formula Finch says will help. 1.) State what you are not. 2.) Say what word(s) you use to describe what you are. 3.) Clarify what the word means to you. 4.) Tell your partner why this is important.

In my genderqueer coming out, I explained it like this: 1.) Even though you may see me as a woman, on the inside, I’m not a woman and I’m not a man. 2.) I’ve been using the word “genderqueer” to describe my gender, 3.) which means that I don’t identify with either. 4.) Identifying as genderqueer has made me feel so much better because being seen as a woman made me feel so distressed and unhappy.”

Of course, gender identity is much more complex than four steps, but Finch urges that the initial goal isn’t to flawlessly educate your partners, but rather to invite them into a conversation.

Cool, so we have a gender. And then we have these bodies. Bodies that come heavily into play when it comes to sex — in both pleasurable and complicated ways. What to do?

By design, binaries only give us two restrictive options. They assign us roles to play in sex; stereotypically feminine roles are indirect and submissive while masculine roles are directive and wordlessly all-knowing…continue reading…