The Big, Meaningless Questions
It happens sometimes when you come out to a friend or some group you belong to. If you are lucky (or unlucky, depending on your point of view) enough to be interviewed by a member of the press, you’re as likely as not to get it there, too: The big meaningless questions.
“Have you ever had sex?”
“Do you masturbate?”
Now, as a big meaningless rhetoric exercise, read each phrase aloud repeatedly, emphasizing the first word the first time, next time the second, and so on.
OK, that was just for fun. To the point: The reasons why I usually refuse to answer those questions.
1. It’s nobody’s business but my own. If I feel I know you well enough to tell you things about my sex life and histroy, I’ll tell you. If I don’t, then under any circumstances it’s just rude to ask.
2. It shifts the focus off asexual identity and what it means to be asexual. I’m talking to you about an orientation, and you are asking me about a behavior. If I told you I was a post-op FTM trans who fancied women, would your next question be, “Wow. How do you, like, do it?” I don’t think so. The sorts of questions that you would not ask anyone else who came out to you as a sexual minority should not be asked to an asexual.
3. It shifts the focus off identity and onto behavior in another way. Some people of every orientation behave outside of their orientation for various reasons, frequencies, and lengths of times. Some asexuals are sexually active. Kinsey demonstrated that many straight men have had gay sexual experiences. Some lesbians have babies the old fashiooned way. Some sexuals are celibate. Here I am trying to tell you who I am and you want to know what I do? Get over it.
4. The fact that you are thinking about what I do or have done with my dick says more about you than whatever I do or have done with my dick says about me. Need I say more about that??? Yes? Well then: That the question arises is an indication that acceptance of asexuality and taking asexuality seriously as an orientation and seeing asexuals as people worthy of the same respect as anyone else just isn’t there yet. Such questions really are more about the people that ask them than they are about the people asked.
5. I am perfectly at home and happy with who I am, and what I have done and do, whatever that may be. But nobody likes having their personal history become the fodder of casual gossip and rumor. And when you answer questions like that after coming out as an asexual, that’s often what happens. Poeple talk, as people do, and it opens you to disrespect and derision. Thanks but, um, no thanks.
6. Answering these questions is usually a lose-lose situation for asexuals. If you have had sex or do now, of if you do masturbate, then you couldn’t really be asexual, could you? I mean, c’mon avenisti, when you tell someone that, how often do they still accept asexuality as an orientation? And if you haven’t had sex and don’t masturbate, you get the whole how-do-you-know-if-you-haven’t-tried-it crapfest. And if you haven’t had sex but do masturbate, you’re just a hopeless loser who couldn’t get any if you tried.
7. Finally, for now, there is the whole false association of sexual inexperience with innocence. Many people and some systems of thought/religion associate virginity and/or abstinence with some special state of innocnece/holiness/otherness that somehow makes the innocent superior to others. Were I a virgin, I would not want to ba associated with these thoughts or thought of this way. There is nothing innocent/holy/other about me. Were I not a virgin (Ha! Just when you thought I’d finally tipped my hand!), I would not want to be thought of as being somehow inferior. There is a whole value judgment assoicated with virginity that, to me, is completely ridiculous, and I don’t want to become mired in that discussion one way or the other.
And if none of that is enough and someone still wants to know if I’ve had sex and if I masturbate, I fall back on the Constitution: In this country we have freedom of the press and freedom of speech, and what that means in this situation is you’re free to press and I’m free not to speak.