I was never interested in sex. In my head, it was a “grown-up thing to do” and I’m not proud to admit that I would silently judge other teenagers who did it. But before I knew it, I was a “grown-up” and I still wasn’t interested in sex. I figured I was asexual, but something kept me from embracing that label fully. Asexual people, I thought, were supposed to be repulsed by all things sexual. Hence the name, right? But I liked reading erotica online. I liked writing smut fan-fiction. I liked the concept of BDSM, of being a submissive, of certain kinks. How could I be asexual, then?
Exploring online forums and reading other people’s experiences led me to realize that I was not the only person who liked the idea of kink but didn’t want to have sex. Interacting with an online community of asexual people taught me that someone could enjoy being tied up, but not want sex. Someone else could be into pet play - they might have an easy time slipping into “puppy-space”, acting like a pet and the entire session could be non-sexual. A lot of people enjoy the headspaces that come along with being a dominant or being a submissive and sex doesn’t play a part. Turns out, kink has nothing to do with sex. There’s no rule that says if you’re kinky, you must also enjoy sex. And while that might seem trivial, it was life-changing for me.
There’s something quite appealing about the kink community for me, as an asexual person. BDSM stands on the foundations of consent. “Limits” is a very common term. Someone’s “hard limits” or “soft limits” refer to things they’re completely unwilling to try, or things they might be uncomfortable with. Safewords are meant to end a session immediately. The traffic light system is another way people express their consent - green might mean they’re good and having fun, orange or yellow may mean that their partner needs to slow down, and red means they must stop. Consent is important and maybe it is this importance that is placed on consent which makes the BDSM community seem somewhat more welcoming to asexuals like me than non-kinky, allosexual relationships. Because an allosexual dominant may not understand asexuality in its totality, but they will understand if I say that one of my hard limits is penetration. Somehow, those boundaries and rules are easier to explain and establish in a relationship that is based around boundaries and rules. After all, BDSM is supposed to be a safe, consensual exploration of our desires. So why should anyone ask me to try something I do not desire to do?
Over the years, I developed my own language to help me come to terms with my sexuality and to explain it to others. I often said that the arousal I feel “is in my mind, and not in my body.” That phrase helped a lot of people understand what I was saying. That, to me, I was chasing the fuzzy, foggy feeling I felt when I would slip into a submissive headspace. That I experienced arousal, but I didn’t need for it to culminate in the high of an orgasm, didn’t need to be touched. I think it only takes allosexuals by surprise for a moment, when I confess all of this to them, but in my experience, people have mostly been understanding. And sometimes, they’ve even related to me. A lot of people have admitted to not enjoying penetrative sex as much as they think they’re supposed to, but liking other things. It’s this mindset that everything is foreplay leading up to the “real” act of sex that I take issue with. What if all of it was equally important? What if we could do one thing and not have the pressure of it having to lead up to another?
Maybe it’s time we start looking at various aspects of sex as choices and options rather than following a strict, set notion of what we must do. Do heterosexual relationships necessarily need to involve penis-in-vagina sex? If someone likes to give oral, but doesn’t like receiving it, is that not okay? In a world where we’re constantly trying to expand the definitions of gender and sexuality, we should also realize that people experience desires differently. I may not want to have sex in its strictest sense, but that doesn’t stop me from getting aroused when someone uses a certain word or a phrase.
Desires manifest themselves in a billion ways. Sure, we may have labels and micro-identities today to name some of them, but that’s only a small step. The larger goal is to recognize that every person will experience desire differently; that there is no “right” way or “wrong” way. As someone who has finally embraced herself as a kinky asexual, I can tell you that much.