This post is for the July Carnival of Aces being hosted at From Fandom to Family. This month’s topic is “Sex-Aversion and Sex-Repulsion”.
The first thing you may notice in the title is that I’ve used Sex Adversion. I consider this term more accurate to describe my reaction to sexual situations. Though repulsion would probably be usable as well. The main reason for this is I’m only tend to react when confronted by a sexual situation that is directly confronting. I have to be somehow connected with the situation for it to become an issue. (Though I have found there are times when it can be more general and not as direct but the reaction is much much weaker).
So how do this relate to the title and stress responses? These responses took hindsight to realise what they actually where as they weren’t what you would normally think of as stress responses. (I may also be completely wrong as I’m not an expert in this area but regardless they are similar). The stress responses are usually looked at as Flight and Fight however there is also Freeze. This one is normally forgotten but is probably the most confusing as it is hard to understand, a UK rape and sexual and abuse survivors site also has a page for it. The most confusing thing about the Freeze response is that it makes you feel really relaxed but can also leave a gap in memory.
To put a more personal description I’m going to describe my first (and only) experience at a strip club. For context at this time I didn’t know about asexuality at the time (I would read about it a couple of weeks later) but was questioning my sexuality.
The first stage performance I had a friend convince me to sit in one of the chairs around the stage. He then moved a short distance away. When I realised this I panicked and he moved over to reassure me then moved away again. I relaxed realising I wasn’t going anywhere. This reaction though was an attempted Flight response but was unsuccessful and the reassurance alleviated any further attempt.
During the performance the stripper, now with nothing on, sprayed shaving foam on her cleavage and indicated for me to move up to the stage to remove it. I shook my head to indicate it wasn’t going to happen. The next thing I know my face is between her cleavage. I have no recall of the time (including at the immediate time) between me shaking her head and her coming down off the stage. I was also more relaxed afterwards, the threat had passed.
The stripper did apologise later, which was unexpected but didn’t help. It made me more confused. As I’m in a strip club questioning my if I’m gay now, a lap dance seemed like a good idea…
Thankfully I had very little cash on me so it was a short one. I basically found it an intellectual exercise in anatomy and discovering what a lap dance involved (in short: it just seems ridiculous and boring). I have no memory of it after the first about 30 seconds, once I’d gotten my bearings on the situation. I only consciously started processing again when the situation changed. I do remember walking out of the room was the most relaxed feeling I have had in a long time. This really left me confused.
Looking at these situations from a stress response perspective actually puts them in context as attempts to escape an uncomfortable situation. It also put a couple of other less confronting situations in perspective. I had the same mental blank out and relaxed response before the first time I made out with someone. I also dismissively responded to a question about who I liked without consciously processing the question first, despite have a crush (now considered a squish) on the person but they where in a sexual posture and a more powerful position (standing in front of me whilst I was sitting).
In all of these situations the reaction was not how I thought I would react which made me more confused about my identity. However once I realised these responses to the above situations, it made me realise I might be sex-repulsed and more pieces started falling into place. This could be considered one of the breakthroughs in how I identify myself.
I also consider my sex-adversion to be separate to my asexuality but at the same time partly linked. I’m confidant that I could get past it but it would take time and effort and would require somebody with patience and awareness to help. But at the same time I don’t see myself pursuing that path as, despite the curiosity, I don’t view it as worth it. It would also then require reassessing my identity, which I can already find enough to question as it currently stands.