This post is for the June Carnival of Aces.
As a general rule, the asexual community especially on Tumblr is very sex-positive. There’s no contradiction between thinking that other consenting adults should be free to engage in what sexual activities they choose to, and not being interested in sex for oneself (though some asexuals are).
In fact, if we celebrate everybody’s right to choose what they want to do about sex, we should also celebrate the choice to not have sex. It’s the choice that’s important, not the sex.
As people who, by and large, choose not to have sex (again, some asexuals do), a number of asexuals have found that the sex-positive movement within feminist and queer spaces is not always ace-friendly or a safe space for asexuals. Almost invariably, this is because some sex-positive activists have forgotten the key point I made above about choice.
Asexualité-s sur Tumblr argues that there are two kinds of sex-positivity. One respects choice and autonomy, including the choice not to have sex. The other is an “I’m freer than you” attitude that depicts more sex as always better and less sex as always worse. This kind of attitude can lead to accusing asexuals of being repressed or abnormal and suggesting that asexuals need to change their sexuality in order to be acceptable.
Sidneyia, in a post preserved by writingfromfactorx, identified this second kind of sex-positivity as actually being sex normativity (in the same sense that we talk about heteronormativity). Once we understand that this form of sex-positivity is actually serving to enforce a particular standard on everybody, we can begin to correct the ways of thinking and talking about sex and sexuality that end up shaming or excluding asexuals.
Jo at A Life Unexamined takes a similar approach, using the term compulsory sexuality (a topic I’ve discussed on this blog) and she presents a feminist analysis that looks at the larger question of when sex may actually be a negative thing for some people and the factors in our society that support this. This post touches on issues of rape and other sexualized violence and I highly recommend reading it if you are interested in exploring these questions.
Along similar lines, queenieofaces links sex-positivity to the question of consent. If all sex is good or sex is always good, then shouldn’t everybody want to have sex? This is where sex normativity/compulsory sexuality can go dangerously wrong.
The Radical Prude discusses her actual bad experiences with sex-positive feminist groups (writingfromfactorx brought up similar issues in her comments on sidneyia’s post). This isn’t just a theoretical discussion but the existence of sex normativity/compulsory sexuality within sex-positive spaces is actually harming people.
Finally, Asexual Cupcake argues that sex is a morally neutral activity that may be positive or negative depending on context - just like most other activities people engage in. They point out that many asexuals do not particularly enjoy sex in and of itself or even are repulsed by the idea of sexual activity, and it is just as valid when asexuals state for themselves that sex is not fun or good as it is when allosexuals state for themselves that sex is fun or good.