Compulsory Sexuality

Originally posted on Tumblr but reposted here for archiving. Please note that my views have changed since this was written (I no longer call myself sex-positive).

If you’re following this blog, there’s a high chance that you either know first-hand or second-hand about why this social norm is so problematic, but I’ve been reading blog posts about it and decided that I want to rant about my own experiences with this and also with sex-positivity, so you get to know even more about how awful it is.

The first big thing about ‘compulsory sexuality’ is how pervasive it is. I don’t think I’ve even once heard the actual sentiment put into words (outside of the asexual community), but I was still tremendously affected by it. I think I made vague mention of how my sex-positivity could have caused me serious problems if I didn’t find asexuality when I did, but I’m going to go into detail about it more now.

It’s only been the past few years that I’ve really put my beliefs, morals, politics, etc into words. I don’t know why, but I’d just not had any interest in it (that I can remember, other than animal rights and LGBTQIA+ rights for whatever reason) before that. But when I did put my ideas into words, I found that I was sex-positive. Perhaps it was having a Catholic upbringing, although I think that the only things I heard about sex and the Church’s feelings on it were from the media and sources generally outside the Church itself, or maybe it was the mixed messages that society gives about sex. Maybe it was a mix of lots of things, but whatever it was, I realised that I was sex-positive before I even knew that there was a word for it. I felt like there was a need to champion people’s right to have sex.

When I found that word, that ‘sex-positive’ and all the feminism that often surrounds it, I got really invested in it. The idea of waiting until marriage seemed archaic and ridiculous to me, and I assumed that people who said they would wait until marriage would break that promise. I thought that casual sex, or at least exploring your sexuality, was the epitome of sex-positivity (in women, of course; men were already sexually emancipated). I believed that one day, I’d probably just go out and have sex with someone, and after that I wouldn’t look back. I fully believe that if I’d carried on thinking that way, I would have felt the pressure to have sex building up (it had already started to), until I eventually did just what I’d planned and went out looking for it. As someone who’s sex-averse, I imagine that that wouldn’t have gone too well.

Thankfully, I started questioning my sexuality and realised that just about everything I knew about sex was wrong. But it took a while for that belief to get through to me (in fact, I’m still having a bit of trouble with it). The idea that I was asexual made me feel like I finally might fit somewhere, but at the same time I felt like I’d lost something. I didn’t want sex? That couldn’t be right. I had to like sex; it was against everything I stood for to not want sex. Maybe I’d just be one of those asexuals who don’t mind or even like having sex with their partner (I don’t want to get into the ‘some asexuals like sex’ stuff right now, but this is just another piece of evidence for how pervasive and awful compulsory sexuality is). Of course, I then found out that I was sex averse, and that all went down the pan. I’m still trying to work out how to accept that I actually don’t want sex (there are positives to it, sure, but the negatives seem to outweigh those at the moment and I’m trying to convince myself that that’s okay). I don’t know how romantic relationships are going to work when I have them, because it’s pretty likely that anyone I get close to is going to be someone who’s grown up in the very same cloud of sex-positivity as me, and are possibly going to have some of the same misconceptions. Thankfully I’m quite good at keeping myself in denial of the facts or ‘crossing that bridge when I come to it’.

So yeah, compulsory sexuality is harmful. I still call myself ‘sex-positive’, but I am quite a bit more cautious with the topic than I used to be.

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