[This is a prompted Patreon post from Jared.]
Graysexuality is fascinating because we get to watch the process of a new orientation being constructed in real time.
The Asexual Visibility and Education Network defines graysexuality as the following:
Sexuality is not black and white; some people identify in the gray (spelled “grey” in some countries) area between asexual and sexual. People who identify as gray-A can include, but are not limited to those who:
do not normally experience sexual attraction, but do experience it sometimes
experience sexual attraction, but a low sex drive
experience sexual attraction and drive, but not strongly enough to want to act on them
people who can enjoy and desire sex, but only under very limited and specific circumstances
Graysexuality can be a very broad term, and it’s easy to misinterpret what people mean about it from a definition. Here are some examples of graysexual experiences people I’ve talked to have had:
- Never experiencing sexual attraction or the desire to have sex, but suspecting they would be sexually attracted to someone in the context of a committed lifelong relationship.
- Two or three brief experiences of sexual attraction over the course of their entire lives.
- Attraction to fictional characters, but no attraction to real-life people.
- An interest in masturbation, but a sense of disgust and repulsion about sex with other people.
- A desire for sex about once or twice a year.
- An interest in sex, but only if it involves a specific complicated fetish that is impractical to do particularly often.
- Thinking they were asexual for decades and then experiencing sexual attraction for the first time in their thirties and being like “…what.”
- Confusion about whether or not they experience sexual attraction.
A common critique of graysexual identity is that graysexual people are “just normal.” In one sense, this is inaccurate: graysexual experiences are not very common. Most people want sex reasonably often and are attracted to a number of people you couldn’t count on one hand with fingers left over. Graysexual experiences are legitimately far from the norm.
But in another sense this is an accurate criticism. Graysexual experiences, outside certain communities relatively recently, are viewed as part of the spectrum of normal sexual behavior. They aren’t distinguished from ordinary heterosexuals, gay people, or bisexuals. A person who has graysexual experiences may characterize himself as “low libido” or “just not that interested in sex”, but he’s unlikely to consider it an aspect of his identity.
Indeed, we can see this with people whose experiences are equally far from the norm on the other side. A person with hundreds of sexual partners who’s had anonymous sex and who prefers to have sex two or three times a day might call himself “horny” or “slutty” or say he really enjoys sex; he will not characterize himself as having a sexual orientation related to being really really into sex.
Of course, this is very similar to the experience of gender-based attraction before the invention of heterosexuality. An ancient Roman man who is exclusively attracted to men might call himself a boy lover or say he doesn’t like women; he will not call himself “gay” and consider himself to be part of a group with all other gay men, opposed to all heterosexuals.
What we’re observing here is the process of a sexual orientation being constructed.
Humans are, in many ways, different from chairs. One way in which humans and chairs are different is that chairs do not respond to how you categorize them. If you categorize a chair as “an armchair” or “upholstered” or “environmentally friendly,” the chair does not change its behavior, because chairs do not speak English and do not have any concept of categorization. If a person is categorized as a Communist or an introvert or a bisexual, in many cases, the person may change their behavior. They might get defensive of other communists; they might feel justified in their decision not to go to parties; they might go to the Bisexual March to hang out with other bisexuals; they might create a niche meme page for memes relevant to people in the intersection of the three groups.
This means that, among humans, defining a category can create the category. People who are attracted to solely people of the same gender exist no matter whether a word for them exists or not. But rainbow flags and pride marches, gay undercuts and Grindr, coming out and familial rejection, the movies and books and music that make up the canon of gay culture, gay history and gay humor and specialty sex shops– these things exist because we have the category “gay” and that we decided it was a socially important category, one that matters for how we classify people.
Graysexuality is, in some sense, borrowing importance and salience from the more popular sexual orientations. Classifying it as a sexual orientation implies that it is an important category, something that matters a lot for understanding yourself and other people.
I think most of the effects of creating this category are positive. People– both graysexual and not graysexual– can find compatible romantic partners more easily. Graysexuals are less likely to feel broken or alone. They are less likely to have sex they don’t particularly want or find interesting, because everyone enjoys sex, don’t they? Their experiences feel valid. They can find other people who are similar to them and form a culture.
But I think there are negative consequences to forming the category as well. The way we construct sexual orientation in general makes claims about what is important to people’s experiences of their sexuality, but to many people in what ways their attraction is gendered is not actually a very important aspect of sexuality. (This seems like less of an issue for graysexuality– not particularly liking or wanting sex seems like it would be very relevant to nearly everyone’s experiences of sexuality.)
Labels can create a pressure to put your experiences in a box, sanding off the rough edges and the weirdnesses that make up every human experience of sexuality, instead of allowing things to be complicated. The pressure to know whether you are Really X can create a lot of angst and anxiety. People can stick with an identity that no longer serves them or describes their experiences, because they have a lot of their understanding of who they are as a person bound up with it.
Some experiences on the graysexual spectrum can be caused by medications, trauma, dissociation or simply not knowing what your sexual interests are. “I don’t need to be fixed, this is my orientation, it’s just the way I am, I can’t change” can be a double-edged sword. It frees some graysexuals from the futile search to fix a natural part of their sexuality, and allows others to explain what’s going on with their sexuality without giving a medical history or explaining trauma they’d like to keep private. But for some people sexuality is an important part of their flourishing, and a medication adjustment or a process of sexual exploration would improve their lives. (Fortunately, in my experience, graysexual communities are very friendly to people who switch to new identities.)
Certainly, however, the social construction of the graysexual identity is sociologically interesting, even as an outsider. Some person who studies the sociology of sexuality should consider writing a book on it; it’s an interesting case study in something we don’t get to see very often, the formation of a new sexual orientation.
I realise you mean this positively and kindly, Ozy, but this is unhappily close to the “Just get yourself fixed” mindset out there regarding asexuals/graysexuals. “There’s therapy nowadays, and drugs! We’re sexually liberated so you don’t have to feel guiilty or think sex is dirty! It’s normal! Just get yourself fixed!”
No thanks, I’m not broken, don’t need fixing.
Oh, and this is not you I know, but it doesn’t really help to tell someone “Oh, being gay/lesbian is okay nowadays, we accept you” when struggling with the notion that a person has never had a boyfriend. “Not interested in guys” does not necessarily mean “Therefore must prefer girls” 🙂
I understand your perspective. Unfortunately, people are quick to make reductive generalizations about what you might call asexual spectrum identities. The examples that you mention are going to be sore spots for a lot of people, because people treat them as the most likely (or only) possibilities which they’re entitled to suggest in any context. That’s super frustrating, and genuinely makes it harder to come out.
However, I don’t think Ozy made such a generalization here, nor did they claim to know what’s most likely for any graysexual individual. They just made the claim that some people benefit from not being on medication that affects their libido. As someone who used to identify on the asexual spectrum, I understand the discomfort with these claims.
But –also– as someone who used to identify on the ace spectrum, I don’t think it’s productive to push back against all claims that –some– people who currently do have a relationship to their sexuality that would change under certain circumstances (such as not being on certain medication). That seems… descriptively true? It needs to be talked about in a sensitive and nuanced way, and it shouldn’t be invoked as if you know better than any given stranger about their own sexuality, because that’s condescending and unhelpful.
I’ve been on both sides of “people downplaying or dismissing the possibility that I’m really asexual” and “realizing that I’m not on the ace spectrum at all”. I don’t regret the time I spent considering myself some flavor of ace, but I’m also in a good place with my sexuality now. I am basically Ozy’s example of “person who realized that they think sex is nice”. And I know multiple people (just in my circles) who experienced some version of this trajectory. So it’s like, worth talking about as an actual experience, even though it’s emotionally threatening and it gets used as an excuse to dismiss the experiences of –all– or –most– ace spectrum people. Which, again, I sympathize with. It’s exhausting and embarrassing when people push back against claims you’re making about your subjective experiences of sexuality. However, by talking about –my– subjective experiences of sexuality, I’m not doing that.
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I suppose I’m coming at it from the angle that nobody feffin’ knows about things like asexuality (spectrum) and aromanticism (spectrum). I didn’t know about this until a couple years back, and my reactions were more or less:
(1) What do you mean “asexual”? I recognise this term from biology, I don’t reproduce by budding (little bio human there for you, guys)
(2) Okay, these descriptions sound… relevant and applicable to my experiences…
(3) What the heck, you mean this is a thing? Why didn’t I know?
(4) WHAT THE HECK, THIS IS A THING! WHY DOESN’T EVERYBODY KNOW ABOUT THIS!!!!
From the age of nine, I knew I had no interest in or desire for love, romance, sex, marriage, the whole nine yards. Now of course, at those young ages, you get the adults telling you with a chuckle that you’ll change your mind when you get older.
Well, you get older. And you don’t change your mind. And gradually over time the reactions go from “You’ll change your mind” to “You’re just a late bloomer” to “There’s somebody out there for you” to “When the heck are you going to go out and get somebody?”
And then silence, because people have the uncomfortable feeling that there’s something wrong with you, but they don’t want to be rude. The entirety of the culture around you is pushing sex and love as the be-all and end-all, and dropping out of that – or not even getting into it in the first place – is just not considered. Or if it is, then it’s a psychological and/or medical problem – you have hang-ups because you were raised to think sex is dirty, or there’s a little blue pill (the long-sought pink pill for the ladies has not been so forthcoming) to fix you right up.
And then people get modern and with the times and start reassuring you that they’re perfectly fine with you being gay and you should be perfectly fine with you being gay, and if the answer is “No, I’m straight, I just don’t want to do anything about it” is right back to “pained silence”.
(If you’re ever in need of a laugh, ask me to tell you about That Gynaecologist’s Appointment. Hoo, boy).
So while it may be (and I’m making huge assumptions here) that you are in an area where people have heard of this enough to be talking about “Am I or amn’t I?”, for a lot of people and a lot of places out there, this isn’t even on the radar. And it would have been a hell of a lot more useful to me, in all the well-meaning sex ed classes etc., to have heard about “and some people aren’t interested at all, or much, in sex and romance” than the “there’s ninety-seven ways to be sexual and they’re all perfectly fine”.
I do agree with you about the danger of sticking oneself into a pigeonhole and then not being able to get out of it, but for some of us, there wasn’t even that particular pigeonhole in the rack, and it took literal decades for me to find out “hey, you mean there’s a name for this? I’m not the only weirdo loner loser out there?”
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I don’t see how this is a coherent category. Having a low libido is fundamentally different from having a fetish. And if you have both a low libido and a fetish, you don’t have to invent a new category for that. People can be/have two things.
If one person has a low libido and another wants lots of sex, but only with a person dressed up as a penguin, then they are not going to be compatible at all. Calling them both graysexual seems to then confuse more than elucidate.
Thank you – you put clearly into words something that’s been bugging me for a while. I’m asexual, and when I discovered that term it meant something like “not interested in sex”. In several online ace communities I hang out in, they’re very accepting of people who go “I don’t fancy sex with other people, for me it’s all about (some fetish)” and I don’t mind these people existing at all but we’re not compatible. I dread the day when I tell someone I’m asexual and they go “asexual? so what’s your fetish?”
For me, it is convenient to have a way to tell people something like “I don’t experience sexual desire the usual way, and this causes me to not want sex for the most part”. Then if they are a potential romantic/intimate partner I can go into more detail.
I would expect that if somebody is a fetishist and identifies as graysexual, probably that means they don’t expect most potential partners to be into that and are accepting ‘no sex’ as a good alternative to having sex with the fetish. But I don’t really know how other people use the label in practice.
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I’m graysexual, and this pleases me.
Graysexuality is intended to relieve that pressure. You have your asexual box and your allosexual box, and there’s pressure to put your experiences in one of those boxes, but graysexuality relieves that pressure by allowing things to be complicated. Of course, eventually we end up thinking of graysexuality as a third box, but I try to at least think of it as an especially flexible box that anyone can choose to use (or not use).
I’m a materialist so I think every orientation has a “cause”. But usually the causes are very complicated and it’s not that useful to identify what they are. What possibly makes graysexuality different is not just that it might have a cause, but that it might have a “simple” cause that is easy to understand and influence. I think that’s something we need to make peace with, giving people space to work on underlying issues, but we should also maintain skepticism that the causes are really so simple as they appear.
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That’s an interesting perspective. I definitely agree that in many cases, it’s very hard to determine the –cause– of a given experience. Some other people in the comments brought up the possibility that external causes might shape their experiences of graysexuality, and that that’s okay. I think in general, ace spectrum identities and communities affirm that if you don’t fulfill the assumptions people hold about “normal” sexuality, you’re actually fine and you have no obligation to change. And I think hearing that message feels valuable to a lot of people, even if they know that whatever factor influenced (or maybe influenced) their sexualities. So it’s probably useful and good for some people to identify with graysexuality even if they e.g. have been on SSRIS that decrease their libido. They still legitimately have the experiences they say they have, and they can often gain from communities that focus on having a good life without being into sex or sexually active.
Even in cases where I’m not sure that it’s the best self-concept for a particular person, I’m not going to get condescending in that person’s face, because 1) that’s really rude and 2) literally what do I know. That type of comment generally made me feel bad, rather than spurring me to do whatever self-reflection I needed to recognize I’m not asexual.
All this talk of boxes seems a bit strange to me because my experience with this term is very much a spectrum thing, so that it has made sense to me to say, “I was probably always on the end of greysexuality that’s close to typical sexuality, but since my depression got worse I’ve been closer to full ace.” In my experience the community is very much about fluidity, blurry borders, and so on, such that talk of “boxes” feels 90% like an external imposition by outsiders who don’t quite understand what they are talking about. Which is to say, I think I agree with you?
Another way of looking at it, maybe, is that it’s a trashbin taxon and that that is a feature, not a bug.
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That said, I’ve noticed more gatekeeping behaviours in the ace/aro community, esp. The Asexual’s feud with AVEN over the definition of asexuality, so maybe the categories are reifying in ways I find distressing.
There’s a systematic trend of ace & aro terms initially being defined very broadly and vaguely, and then later getting interpreted as being more specific in meaning. Many examples are listed here, although some of these are quite obscure.
Graysexuality has the advantage of being 13 years old (Ozy’s article may give the mistaken impression that it is newer), so it’s a bit resistant to being shoehorned. But it’s still an easy mistake to make. Like, if you meet two people who are graysexual and they tell you two similar stories you might not realize that the identity encompasses a lot more than that.
I suspect that the fact greysexuality‘s definition requires the idea of a spectrum would probably make it hard to overlimit as well.
An interest in sex, but only if it involves a specific complicated fetish that is impractical to do particularly often.
This used to be a near-verbatim definition of paraphilia.
I consider it mildly plausible that my antidepressants may have eaten my interest in sex, given that I remember having more of a concrete interest in sex as a young teenager. However, since my antidepressants have given me the ability to act on things instead of lying in bed feeling alternately sad-numb or angry-numb, I don’t really care what hypothetical sex drive I might have otherwise had.
I’m also happy to just call myself “queer” and get into the details if people express an interest, because “queer” covers everything from “girls PRETTY” to “my gender is ‘not a guy’ but otherwise pretty wobbly, you may continue to use she/her for me though” to “sex sounds weird and gross, no thanks”. It’s a very useful word that way.
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This makes an excellent point regarding Identities, as applies to orientations. Like, basically, “I am x” feels wrong, deeply, even when x would be fairly accurate as a description. Society seems to disagree with me, and has been bathing in a pool of ‘x’s for a while, now.
BTW, personally, this applies to gender, too, among other things. I wouldn’t try to rephrase gender explanations to use verbs other than ‘am’, because that would get a bit weird, even by my standards. Maybe if I somehow wind up on a tour of Google and get asked gender identity-related questions, I could try out “I have a <organ>, and [do/do not] have gender-related dysphoria,” but when else would one be in such a situation, anyway?
Perhaps “if you act on the assumption that I am x, you won’t go terribly wromg”?
“Humans are … different from chairs.”
(To return to the topic at hand, excellent post.)
What if your fetish is people sitting on you?
I think all identities are labels, but not all labels are identities. I’m “heteroflexible”, which is potentially a useful piece of information for people on OkCupid, but if I were to post on Facebook about my orientation on some sort of Heteroflexible Awareness Day I would feel like an absolute tool, because it’s an utterly insignificant part of my daily life and I’ve never suffered even the slightest discrimination due to it.
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I’m aware there are people who think that I should identify as bisexual instead of heteroflexible, because doing so would promote acceptance and visibility for bisexuals. But I just can’t do it; it’s far too incidental an aspect of my sexuality for me to base my identity around it.
This touches on a lot of the stuff I was talking about in my comments on the autism post. I remember having mixed feelings about the term “demisexual” when it first started being used, and “graysexual” seems to be…kind of a similar thing? But more all-encompassing. Like, “hey all you people who don’t fit into existing categories, we invented this vague bucket category for you.” And I guess some people want that, but some part of me always bristles at the thought that I should have to check a box at all.
In some sense I think there are as many sexualities as there are people, so there’s no limit to how many categories we can come up with. I suspect there will always be new terms. But they will be more about redrawing and redefining boundaries, as opposed to discovering anything legitimately new about human sexuality.
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Demisexual and graysexual have similar histories, both originating on AVEN circa 2006. But where demisexual has been defined by a specific narrative, graysexual has eschewed any clear narratives. This comes at the expense of marketability (imagine how a traditional journalist might write about graysexuality).
It’s sometimes said that demisexual is a subset of graysexual, although I’m not sure if most demisexual people also identify as graysexual in practice.
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I certainly would not go around creating an identity of “I’m asexual/graysexual/whatever” though again I can see the political usefulness of it; gay rights activism would not have gotten anywhere fast without getting people to adopt identities as “I’m gay” rather than “my sexual interests encompass having sex with men”.
If people are trying to tightly define it and checklist it and gatekeep it and tie it down, that’s terrible.
But on the other hand, until it does become a more recognised thing in the culture at large that “some people are not interested in sex, some people are not interested in romance, this is not a medical problem that needs fixing so they can be ‘normal’ whether that be pills for low libido or therapy about your parents giving you hang-ups”, then creating an identity for people is a useful tool.
(And I do think “low libido due to medical or psychological issues” is a different matter; that would be where someone did have a ‘normal’ sexual urge, suffered a diminution of it for whatever reason, and wants to remedy this, rather than “never was particularly interested and don’t care to change that”).
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Yeah, I recognize there is a lot of practical value in identity categories as far as politics and social acceptance. I think in an ideal world people would just be more chill about accepting everyone as individuals and not expecting anyone to conform to some artificial concept of normality in the first place, but barring that, it’s useful to have a category that at least kind of describes what you’re like so you can say “I’m X” and people go “oh okay” instead of constantly asking when you’re going to get married and have kids.
But I think the gatekeeping and identity policing is an inevitable side-effect of that visibility. Like, as soon as bisexual awareness started going up, people in the LGBT community started complaining about trendy faux bisexuals. And now there’s a big debate about whether ace/aro people should “count” as queer or whether they should be welcomed into queer communities.
A lot of my aversion to categories in general is just not wanting to deal with all that.
Expecting people to conform to certain expectations is often necessary to be able to actually be able to have certain things, though. If you invite a bunch of people to play sports on a field, but some turn up with the expectation to play American football and some want to play soccer, you won’t end up with a fun game if everyone just acts on their own preferences. It only works if you actually make an ‘intolerant’ decision for one type of game, where those who want the other kind of sports have to do that elsewhere.
Similarly, gay bars tend to only work well when the visitors are mostly gay and act gay. If you have a lot of heterosexuals around who want to play the PIV game, you get conflicts.
And if you want to have a forum that is primarily dedicated to the issues of asexuals, you can’t just have a lot of non-asexuals come in and talk about their issues, without the forum no longer serving the purpose.
Labels are often an implicit or explicit claim about one’s behavior, needs, desires and such; as well as what things will be accommodated. An American football field has different dimensions, lines and goals than a soccer field. Soccer players who want a field know that they can’t just demand that the football field be changed for their needs, because it is a field labeled as a ‘football field’ and not a ‘soccer field.’
A common issue with ‘tolerance’ is that people with different needs who are allowed into an environment that is not tailored for them, often start agitating for chance that benefits them and harms those who originally designed the environment around their own needs. Usually, these outsiders claim that they are insiders (because otherwise their demand to have access to this environment that is intended for insiders would be absurd).
The logical response is then label-policing. The person who demands that the environment is changed (too) significantly, is called a fake. If there is significant entryism, people have to do this or the environment will be changed by the entryists to no longer suit them.
Another purpose of labels is to allow far easier judgments. A popular claim by people is that they don’t want to be judged, but this is mostly delusional. If you look at what nearly all people actually want, it is correct judgments, rather than incorrect ones.
For example, if no one judges you, you will end up friendless, partnerless, jobless, etc. Waiters will approach your table at inappropriate moments. People will say the wrong things to you at the wrong time. People will make sexual overtures when you send strong signals you don’t want it and won’t when you send strong signals of interest. No one will offer you a job, since they don’t expect that you can do the work they need to be done. Etc. Only by being judged and by judging can people interact for mutual benefit effectively.
A complication is that many labels can only really be communicated well by example, because they refer to something that is very complex. In turn, this means that policing who calls themselves by a label influences how people perceive that label and thus how people judge you. Stalin had a strong effect on how people perceive communism, for example.
So if you want to be judged differently (or for others to be judged differently), policing labels works.
The only way you can avoid dealing with the complications of human communication and interaction in general is to become a self-sufficient hermit.
I think that it is not realistic to think that there is some way to avoid all this and still get what you want (unless you want to be a hermit).
There’s a big difference between “let’s get together at a specific place and time to play this specific game” (or even a community based around discussing, say, a TV show) and communities that are based around amorphous social concepts of identity. The latter feeds into us vs them mentalities a lot more than the former, and the latter also is based around a much more essentialist worldview. Anyone can join a soccer game and play, provided they’re willing and able to follow the rules, but identity communities are not based around rule-following so much as judgements about whether someone fits into a category.
And inevitably, in my experience, much of that community’s energy will be consumed by group members negotiating boundaries, arguing about who does or doesn’t count as X or what X “really” means. Whereas if there’s a community based around, say, discussing Marvel movies, you probably won’t see a lot of argument about who does or doesn’t count as a true Marvel-movie fan. Maybe there’s some of that, but the bulk of discussions will probably just be about the movies.
I recognize that identity factions are an inevitable part of human society, to some degree. They’ve always been around, even if their form has changed. But I don’t think “become an entirely self-sufficient hermit” is the only alternative to playing that game. You can also choose to spend your time with other individuals who don’t really care that much about labels or community membership. Or you can only hang out in communities that have very relaxed policies about that sort of thing.
I think that human beings intuitively know that there is a very strong relationship between identity and being allowed or prohibited from doing things, which is why they are so eager to fight over identity, especially if there seems to be a cultural threat around.
I also think that you underestimate the extent to which cultural norms are intertwined with identity and identity thus determines the norms.
I think that communities that “don’t really care that much about labels or community membership” typically have their gatekeeping sorted or don’t need gatekeeping due to lack of interest by people with incompatible cultural norms.
I guess a lot of this depends on how you’re defining identity. If “identity” is the entire realm of everything that humans do or think about, then sure, culture is defined by identity (at that point you could use the words culture and identity almost interchangeably), but also at that point, I think you’re using the word so broadly that it becomes meaningless.
The way the word identity is typically used has a more specific definition, and it has to do with how much a particular self-concept becomes something that a person organizes their life around.
Like, considering the question of whether “atheist” is a social or political identity, I’d say it is for some people but not others. There’s a whole atheist community out there with its own norms and values, and if someone is very involved in that community or blogs extensively about the subject and engages a lot with others in that sphere, then it becomes a part of their identity. But there are other atheists who just don’t have any religious beliefs, and it’s not something they spend a lot of time thinking or talking about. So (unless you define the term identity really broadly) it’s not an identity thing for them.
I’m not saying it’s inherently bad or wrong for people to derive pleasure from having defined identities. I just prefer not to, as much as possible, and I think it’s important for people to know that they have the choice to just be what they are and not have to construct a narrative around it. The narrative is optional.
I guess this is the point where some people might say, “check your privilege, you only have the option to not organize your life around it because you already live in a culture that’s pretty tolerant toward queerness and atheism and all those things. Not everyone does.” Fair enough, if you live in a culture where those things will result in imprisonment or death then it necessarily becomes more urgent to change that. But the end-goal of any form of activism is to make itself unnecessary. And I think just living a normal, non-identity-politics-driven life as an atheist or a queer person can itself be a powerful force for normalizing those things.
In this context, I would define identity as a set of rights and obligations, both inter- and intrapersonally.
For example, in relationships one partner has an idea of what rights they have (like getting one’s birthday recognized) and what obligations they have (remembering the birthday of the other). However, if the/a other partner don’t believe they have this obligation, there is a conflict. They in turn may claim rights that the other doesn’t feel obliged to.
For the relationship to work, the what each person feels obliged to and demands has to reasonably match the obligations and demands of the other.
Similarly, if you want to have a community, the members of the community need to have a reasonably matching sense of their rights and obligations. Of course, communities usually have fewer expectations than relationships.
However, one often also defines an identity to oneself. For example, a vegetarian may feel a strong obligation to oneself to not eat meat.
It seems that a common cause or at least contributor to get PTSD is that one violates strong obligations of a core identity. For example, the Jew in Auschwitz who steals food from a fellow inmate or who works in the Sonderkommando to survive, but whose core identity of a good person obligates self-sacrifice over such behavior.
A lot of people have a bad intrapersonal identity, which can take many forms, including a savior complex.
Telling those people that they “have the option to not organize your life around it because you already live in a culture that’s pretty tolerant toward queerness and atheism and all those things” probably misses the point that their self-identity is wrapped up in activism. It’s usually not going to be effective to tell them to get rid of their self-affirming identity as an activist, because without it, they will lack self-esteem and such. It’s probably going to work better to steer them to different activism, so they preserve their savior complex, but apply it better; or steer them to a relationship/children so they get a new significant identity as a partner/parent.
PS. People need a narrative.
Vanessa Kosoy said:
This was an interesting read, and the observations regarding advantages/disadvantages of creating a category are very accurate IMO.
One possible issue with “graysexual” that categories like “gay” and “bisexual” do not have as much is, where is the line between graysexual and allosexual? A priori I would guess that the level of libido forms a continuous spectrum from “hypersexual” to “typical” to “asexual”, and where exactly on this spectrum “graysexual” begins is unclear. Unless the distribution is actually multimodal, but I don’t know whether we have any evidence of that? Of course “bisexual” for example also has borderline cases, like someone who is e.g. attracted normally to men and only very slightly/rarely attracted to women, but overall it seems to be a more well-defined cluster.
“An interest in sex, but only if it involves a specific complicated fetish that is impractical to do particularly often.”
This…. really really really just sounds like having a specific complicated fetish that is impractical to do particularly often rather than some kind of pseudo-asexual identity.
it kinda feels out of place with the others.
Also re:, in general I can’t help getting an eye-roll feeling.
A little bit along the lines of “ah, I see the Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912’ists…. have schism-ed ….again.”
“now they’re the the Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912 reformists and the Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912 traditionalists”
“wait, news just coming in, the Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912 reformist have just split into the Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912 reformist traditionalists and the Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912 reformist liberals….”
Reblogged this on Random Me.
I really was expecting *graysexuality* to be about the sex lives of old people.
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Reblogged this on We Shall Be Heroes and commented:
I’m rebloging this because it’s the first time I’ve found something that really feels right, since that time I found out demi-sexuality was also a thing. Asexuality didn’t seem to fit for me, and I knew that gray-asexuality seemed to be a thing, but graysexuality seems a lot more fitting in my mind. And I do fit at least two of the types of experiences mentioned.
I really feels right the way someone experiences an epiphany.
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Autism Candles said:
Reblogged this on Autism Candles.