We live in a society that depends on a normal. Because of this, anything that deviates from this perceived normal should somehow be fixed, returned to normal and anything that deviates is inherently wrong or abnormal. But what is normal?
When I first came out to my mom as asexual, her initial response was, “You know that one day you may end up feeling differently.” This response frustrated me, for multiple reasons. She’d said the same thing when I came out about a year ago as gay, both times implying she knew how I felt better than me and she also implied she wanted me to “end up feeling differently.” In an attempt to tell me what she’d already told me many times, that sexuality is fluid and labels are too restrictive, etc., she immediately invalidated me. It’s something aces have heard since we started talking about our identity, the idea that “maybe you haven’t found the right person yet” and when we do, it’ll change. I was trying to express to her how I felt at that time, which I still feel now, and her response, though it may not have been intentioned that way, said to me, “Maybe one day you’ll change to fit how I view you.” Her assumptions about me came from an idea that people are by default allosexual  and one day I might become allosexual. Now there are people who find that person or persons they have sexual attraction to after initially feeling ace, but she discussed it in a way that disregarded how I felt at that time. This wasn’t purposeful, but that message was still behind her words. This is because she was making an unconscious assumption, without realizing it. This is because of an oh so frustrating thing called compulsive sexuality.
I don’t believe many people have heard of the term compulsive sexuality. I personally see it a lot, but I frequently search out asexual content; except I only hear about it when I search out asexual content. Compulsive heterosexuality, though not always referred to by the term is very commonly talked about in LGBTQ+ spaces. A very simplified explanation is the idea that the default is straight, anything else is inherently wrong. Everyone is assumed to be straight until proven otherwise, hence a reason to have to come out. Compulsive sexuality is quite similar if you switch straight with allosexual; everyone has sexual attraction until specifically proven otherwise. What is normal is to want sex; what is abnormal is to not. Some people even like to take it as far as saying that wanting sex is a primal human desire everyone has, no matter who it is directed towards. But sexuality is more than just some ‘primal desire,’ it’s political.
Sex defines ‘impurity.’ Sex is encouraged for some, while shamed in others. Sometimes, while pushing from compulsory heterosexuality, compulsory sexuality is pushed. Many arguments for gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. rights argue that everyone has the people they love, why not let people love the people they love? There is so much importance in that sentiment, people will love who they love and we shouldn’t be stopping that. If you’re in love with the same gender as you or nonbinary, you should be allowed to marry. But, the argument that “everyone has people they love,” when specifically referring to sexual attraction asserts that everyone has sexual attraction. That idea has shaped so much of our society. “Sex sells” is a saying that assumes that everyone wants very sexual things. Though sex does sell, this idea feeds into the oversexualization of so much of our society. Movie and television covers, commercials, music, all of these are pushed to be more sexualized by producers, creators, and so much of our society. An individual might want to present themself more sexually and that is fully up to that person, but when it is pushed by society itself, it becomes integrated. Many religions have this idea that you should wait for sex until marriage and it will be hard but worth it. In this situation, people are shamed when they choose sex before marriage, but it is still viewed as an inherent need. Not only that, but there is this idea that a sexless marriage is a failing one when it’s possible both partners find intimacy in other ways that they are comfortable with. There is nothing inherently wrong with a relationship that either has never had sex or rarely does, but because of our society’s views of sex, it is a common belief that it is. The politics of compulsive sexuality also lead into this idea of virginity.
Virginity is a social construct. The belief that this is not only true but that we should be removing virginity from the social consciousness has become more prevalent in recent years. This idea of virginity comes from this idea that everyone will eventually have sex and that it shouldn’t take you that long. The majority of people tend to believe that if you haven’t lost your ‘v-card’ by the end of college, you’re a loser and the earlier you do, the cooler you are (though obviously not before a certain age). But all this ever does is pressure many people into situations they are not comfortable with, but convince themselves that they should be, so it’s okay. But in the end this all leads back to compulsive sexuality. Virginity is a very prevalent social construct that is enforced because of compulsive sexuality. If society didn’t believe that sex is necessary, that we will want it starting at puberty, and that it will be the best thing we ever experience, virginity wouldn’t exist. Sure, the first time is probably something special, but this idea of someone taking virginity the first time and taking away their innocence only exists because of compulsive sexuality. So many of the things we tie to sex would no longer be tied to it. However, much of this is still so commonly unknown.
Asexuality is referred to as “the Invisible Orientation.” I hate this term. It’s only invisible because of how sex is so inherently tied to everything. Not only that, but it implies that normally you can see someone’s orientation, but for aces you can’t, but sexuality is not visible on a person, therefore asexuality is not different in that way. Asexuality is also seen as something unknown, which it is. It is more likely that someone will not hear of asexuality unless they meet someone asexual, or become part of the LGBTQ+ community. This stems from compulsive sexuality, this stems from the assumption that ace people are abnormal, sick, confused, or just a late bloomer. I’ve personally talked with someone who I’ve outright told I was ace and was uninterested in sex. He implied that I wanted sex and told me that maybe he’d be different. This is not a unique experience among aces, as I have heard many stories about people being told they need to be ‘fixed’ from being ace as though attraction worked that way. An ace sibling of mine was outright told that being ace was “wrong” and “people don’t work that way, everyone wants sex.” Asexuality is a nuanced discussion, and there definitely are aces who want sex, but they still live in a world where they are viewed as inherently wrong for not having sexual attraction.
I am not unloveable. I am asexual and aromantic, but I am not unlovable. I’m not broken, I don’t need to be fixed, I’m not abnormal. At the beginning of this article I asked a question, I asked, “What is normal?” Though I focused on compulsive sexuality, I’d like to try and answer this question. Except it’s difficult. From what I see, normal is allosexual, but then going farther, gay or bi is not the normal, no, straight is. But what about a trans allo, straight person. Society says they’re not normal. So fine cis, straight, allosexual. But the standards go farther than that. You can’t be too skinny, but not too fat either. You should be able bodied and neurotypical. You should be smart and strong, but not too strong or too smart. Better not be too tall or too short and skin tone too, though people refuse to admit it, white is what is considered ‘normal.’ So what is normal? All of these standards and what are we left with? Nothing. So what can normal even be? Normal would then just be a standard we hold ourselves to that doesn’t exist. Normal is a standard that enforces oppression. Because of these standards there are systems in place that enforce the ‘standard.’ Ideas like compulsive sexuality and compulsive heterosexuality are enforced in that way. I’m not abnormal because I could only be abnormal if normal existed. Normal is a social construct we choose to believe in to feel safe, but it’s not real. What is normal?
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