Answering Google Asexual Autocomplete Questions
Hello, welcome, and thank you to our THOUSANDS of brand new subscribers! Many of you are Allosexual and have expressed that you're brand new to learning about Asexuality, so today we're answering commonly Googled questions from our perspective just for you!
- Courtney's Bon Appétit article: For Asexual Folks Like Me, Cake Is Actually Better Than Sex: How dessert became a symbol for asexual pride.
Courtney: Hello, everyone, and welcome back. My name is Courtney. I’m here with my spouse, Royce. And together, we are The Ace Couple. And hello, all of you new listeners. I’d ask where you all came from, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that I know exactly where, in fact, you came from.
Courtney: However, the fact of the matter is: there have been a tremendous number of you who have reached out to us who have asked for sort of a basic Ace 101 overview. There are tons of you out there who are allosexual — that is the opposite of Asexual. So it doesn’t matter if you are straight, gay, bi — if you are sexual, you are part of the allosexual spectrum. Welcome. And lots of you have said, you know, “I’m not Ace,” or “I am allo, and I want to learn and be a good ally, but I am very, very, very new to all of this.”
Courtney: So we’ve sort of deliberately, over the last couple of years, not done an Ace 101 episode, because, frankly, we’re not Ace 101 people. We’ve been married almost a decade. We both knew we were Asexual when we first met each other. We’ve been in and around a lot of pockets of the Asexual community. And we care so much about the nuances of Asexuality, the intersections of Asexuality and race or disability, neurodivergence, all these things that we feel are very under-discussed.
Courtney: But since there are so many of you who are brand new and have been asking, I think now is the time. And since my brain doesn’t tend to like thinking of just the basic Ace 101 topics, I’m gonna defer to Google on this. We’re gonna answer Google autofill questions today. We’re gonna answer as many as we can and see how it goes, although I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that almost every single one of the questions that Google is gonna bring up for us, the answer is probably gonna be, “It depends.” [laughs]
Royce: There’s going to be a lot of that, yeah.
Courtney: It depends.
Royce: [laughing] So is the formula going to be: read a Google autocomplete question; give a, like, two-word, quick answer; and then give a lengthy extrapolation?
Courtney: We’re gonna have to give the lengthy extrapolations, I feel, but we’ll try to keep it terse enough that we can get through a lot of different questions. So I suppose it should come as no surprise that when I type in, “Do Asexuals” into Google, uh, the very first question that pops up is, “Do Asexuals have sex?”
Royce: Are you going to say “It depends”?
Courtney: Say it with me, audience: it depends. See this was my fear about doing Ace 101 things, because the answer is always gonna be “It depends.” Yeah, some do, some don’t. Those who do have a variety of different reasons for why they might.
Royce: I guess the first thing to point out is that being Asexual or being a part of the broader Aspec umbrella could be sex-repulsed, meaning —
Courtney: I mean, let’s start with just our own sort of experiences, because you and I are in different areas of the Asexual spectrum. I am very much on the sex-repulsed side of things, so the idea of having sex is not a good thing. It, quite frankly, is disgusting when I think about myself in those situations. It’s not to be conflated with sex-negative, because I’m not saying, like, “All sex is bad. You shouldn’t have it,” the very, like, puritanical concept. And sometimes, that’s a big misunderstanding — that people outside of our community might hear, like, “Oh, you’re sex-repulsed. Like, why are you such a prude? Why do you hate sex? Why are you homophobic?” Like, those are things that you will hear. But it’s like, no, no, no, I’m not applying this to you. I’m saying, in my experience, it’s not doing it for me, I do not want to.
Courtney: So that is, like, a far end of the spectrum, and not all Aces are sex-repulsed. But then there are Aces that are just sort of neutral about it, like, “I could take it or I could leave it.” And then what really confuses some folks outside of the community is that there are actually sex-favorable Aces, who do enjoy engaging in sexual activities. And that enjoyment can come from a variety of different places. It might be that, physically speaking, the sexual act just feels good, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re attracted to the person they’re engaging in this with. Or it could be a little more psychological, like, “I am in a partnership, and I enjoy helping my partner to feel good. And so, even though it’s not necessarily doing anything for me, it’s still an enjoyable act because I like seeing my partner happy and my partner satisfied.”
Courtney: So those are just, you know, some examples here. But, like, Royce, you’re not repulsed like I am. So what’s your experience that would differ from a sex-repulsed Ace, to give people a little personal frame of reference?
Royce: Well, you mentioned drawing a line between the idea of being sex-negative, or just kind of against the idea or the concept of people out in the world having sex, and being repulsed. Which, “sex-repulsed,” I think, is a very carefully chosen word. Like, “repulsed” has meaning. You said it’s “disgusting,” was the word that you used.
Royce: I’m —
Courtney: Some people will also use “averse,” because —
Royce: “Averse” is a good one too.
Courtney: Some Aces will say, like, “I don’t literally find it repulsive, but I am absolutely not going to willingly engage in this of my own volition,” sort of a thing. So they might use the word “I’m sex-averse.” But some people might use “averse” and “repulsed” interchangeably. It’s just, that’s the case-to-case basis where if you are very good friends with an individual Ace person or if you’re engaging in some sort of partnership with an Ace person, that’s just sort of the personal nuances that you’re going to have to learn on a case-by-case basis.
Royce: Compared to that, I’m very indifferent to a lot of aspects of sex. There isn’t anything about it that particularly bothers me. I think if I were to sit down with an allo person and really talk about, like, really get into the intricacies of personal experience, I think that there is something that allo people experience that I don’t experience. In my case, I think there are some times where the concept of having, like, for example, an allo partner who does get some enjoyment out of sex, being able to be a part of that experience, being able to provide something for them in some way, is fulfilling in a way, but not in a special way that is any different than, you know, any other activity we could be doing together, for example.
Royce: And I guess there’s also a part of it that I think, to me, is, as someone who is neurodivergent, on the Autism spectrum, the more I’ve thought about it for me, like, the way that I’ve interacted with people in the past, it’s various forms of stimulation can be kind of like stimming, a type of stimming. There’s something enjoyable about, you know, some physical feelings that is not the same as what an allosexual person is getting out of sex, but it can be nice every now and then.
Courtney: Yeah. We — I mean, you and I have had this conversation. I don’t know how in-depth we’ve gotten on microphone about it yet, but we have talked about, like, how some elements of kink could function more as heavy stimming for an individual person on a case-by-case basis, as opposed to something that is inherently sexual. Because we have spoken about how there are some Asexual people who are very into kink, and that can confuse a lot of people on the surface, because I think the common allo perception is that kink is inherently sexual. And to some people, it may be. There are a lot of kinky people out there that it is a form of sexual gratification to engage in kink, but it is not always the case for every kinkster, for every person who starts looking into kink as an area of interest. But there are so many dynamics. If you’re talking about, like, a dominant/submissive situation, it might not involve genitals, it might not involve sex. It might be the power play and the power dynamic. It might be elements of role-playing. If you’re getting into sensory things like scratching, whipping, things like that, like, it might not be sexual, but sometimes [laughing] it does just feel good to get your back scratched, you know? And getting into areas of, like, sadomasochism, like, that can be sexual to some people. It does not have to be.
Courtney: And something that a lot of people in the Asexual community are very good at is splitting out different elements of what does or does not make us tick, [laughing] you know? We might say, you know, “My sexual orientation and my romantic orientation aren’t the same. They don’t align.” So therefore, we’re very tuned into the fine details of what we do and what we don’t like, and we can say, you know, “I do enjoy this element of kink, not because it’s sexual, but because of this other element altogether.”
Courtney: So that’s just a brief overview of some examples of that, I suppose. I’m not gonna get into it now because this has to be its own episode. We’ve talked about making this its own episode, and it’ll come someday. But because of the sex-averse or sex-favorable being kind of similar to sex-negative or sex-positive, there are a bunch of Asexual people that are really afraid to get wires crossed there. So you’ll very often see, when engaging in Ace spaces, people will make this hardline statement of, “I’m sex-averse, not sex-negative,” or “I’m sex-repulsed, but I’m sex-positive.” And sometimes that can be the case. I’ve got something that’s maybe a hot take about the term “sex-positive” that we’re gonna have to do a whole episode about, because if I just give a little tiny bit, people are gonna get really angry without understanding what I’m saying about that phrase. But I don’t always think that that phrase has actually historically been very kind to everyone in the Ace spectrum. So we’ll leave that there for now.
Courtney: But something you’ll also run into a lot, if you follow a lot of Ace advocates, if you’re looking up the sort of Ace 101 resources, there’s a very common catchphrase that you’ll hear, where “Asexuality is about attraction, not action.” And I unfortunately think that has sometimes gotten a little overused. It rhymes, it’s easy to whip out time and time again, so I see why it has caught on and why people say it as often as they do. And in some cases, contextually, it is very true and is helpful, because the heart of what’s trying to be conveyed there is, “Asexuals can still have sex, but that doesn’t define their Asexuality. What defines their Asexuality is that they are not attracted to.” So the Asexuality implies who are you attracted to or, in this case, not attracted to, versus what are you doing with those people. It’s the attraction, not the action.
Courtney: And in certain instances, that can be a very, very affirming thing to people who are on the sex-favorable side of this spectrum, because there are instances — and I’m not gonna pretend that there haven’t been — where people have been gatekept out of the community, saying, like, “You’re not Asexual enough because you love sex.” And that’s when you start getting the really subversive people out here making Tweets like, “I’m a hypersexual horny Ace and I love having sex,” and you’ll see Tweets like that. We even covered ContraPoints, in our very first episode, making a Tweet about how confusing those tweets are. It wasn’t a great look for her to do that and say that, but that was what sort of started our conversation where, yeah, that’s not contradictory to all Ace experiences. And we don’t want to gatekeep people. We aren’t going to say, “You’re less Asexual because you have sex.” And anyone who has experienced that has unfortunately met a very toxic side of the Ace community, or very toxic pocket of the Ace community.
Courtney: However, for me and where I am on the spectrum — being on the sex-repulsed, sex-averse side of things — to me, I do see not enjoying sexual activities, not wanting to seek out sexual activities, I do see that as a very fundamental manifestation of my Asexuality. And so when people take that train of thought too far or they’re really trying to drive a point home, people will say, like, “It has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you have sex. It has absolutely nothing to do with celibacy. It has nothing to do with abstinence.” All of these things. I don’t think that’s the case for a lot of people. There are a lot of Aces out there who not engaging in sex is a fundamentally important part of their own Asexuality. And when I point that out, sometimes there are folks who are on the sex-favorable side of things who will say, like, “Well, by saying that, you’re invalidating my side of things,” and it’s a dance that we keep doing back and forth. It unfortunately, sometimes gets very, very toxic, this sex-repulsed versus sex-favorable Aces.
Courtney: But I compare it to other types of sexualities. I know, for example… Let’s take gay men as an example. There are plenty of gay men out there who say that being a man having sex with another man is such an important part of their sexuality. And could you imagine going to someone like that and being like, “That’s not what makes you gay. It’s that you’re attracted to men. You having sex with men has nothing to do with your sexuality.” That would be a very weird thing to say to someone, right? That would be a very weird thing to say.
Courtney: And of course, there are gay Asexual people, so that might actually be true for them. It might actually be true for some people, on a case-by-case basis. But making this flat definition that must apply to everyone’s individual, unique manifestation and then saying, “Well, no, you can’t say that not liking sex is a part of your Asexuality, because that’s not what Asexuality means.” It’s like, it’s what my Asexuality means. I’m not saying it’s everybody’s, but that is what it is for me. So that’s why I do fear that some of the Ace 101 lines that get thrown around so often are a little bit too reductive. And I think strategically, they’re important in some cases, but they absolutely do not tell the whole story.
Royce: Since this is a 101-type episode, should we go ahead and extrapolate a little bit on the gay Asexual?
Courtney: Sure, go for it.
Royce: Just with that being the first question we’ve answered here, I didn’t know if there might be any people out there who are new to this discussion who might be a little confused by that. But one term you’ll hear thrown around a lot in this community is “split attraction.” And not everyone explains their orientation using this sort of, you know, system, thought process, model, whatever you want to call it, but many Aces do. I personally can see a clear difference between how I am emotionally or romantically attracted to people, or the way that I maintain or manage those relationships, and my sexual orientation. And in the same way, here, you could have a man who is romantically involved with other men but is also Asexual. One way of saying that would be to say that they are homoromantic Asexual, gay Ace. You’ll see terms like that.
Courtney: Yeah, you’ll see lesbian Ace, you’ll see bi Ace, AroAce for Aromantic Asexual, all sorts of things. And the split attraction model is important to… know what it means and how it functions in vocabulary, because so many Aspec — or Aspectrum, meaning Asexual and Aromantic spectrums combined — so many Aspec people do use it. So if you’re going to be engaging in these conversations or observing these conversations, it’s helpful to know.
Courtney: But without turning this into an entire episode about the split attraction model, because that’s coming later, just know that while it is useful to know how it works and how to identify it, please don’t treat it as a 100% given that all Aspecs are going to use it or that all Aspecs must use it, because not everybody does. And our intention is to have a more fleshed-out series of episodes that will talk about what the split attraction model is, how it’s used, talk about the positives of it, but also talk about the negatives of it, and then get really, really deep into complicated nuances that are honestly under-discussed even within Aspec communities. But there’s a little primer for now.
Courtney: Question two. [laughs] Okay, Royce, I said every question here was probably going to be “It depends,” but this one is a very definitive answer. This might be the only one on the list where we can all 100% of us agree. Do Asexuals like Chicago pizza?
Royce: I’m going to abstain from answering that one. You can answer.
Courtney: No, of course we don’t like Chicago pizza. No Asexual likes Chicago pizza. There has never been an Ace alive, present or past, who has ever enjoyed a slice of Chicago pizza. That’s a really fun fact about our community. In fact, that’s the reason why we say Aces like garlic bread so much, because when someone says, “Do you like Chicago pizza?” we say, “No, we’d rather have garlic bread.” Too much sauce in Chicago pizza, really. Why make the dish deeper? There’s no reason for that. Asexuals don’t like it deep. We don’t like it deep, and we don’t like it saucy.
Courtney: Next question: Do Asexuals kiss?
Royce: That’s going to be another “It depends.” Really, anything of “Does this entire community of people do something?” it’s going to be, “It’s going to depend on that person’s personal preferences.”
Courtney: Yeah, every single question — except for Chicago pizza, of course.
Royce: Right. And different people are going to have their own lines, their own personal boundaries. Much like the discussion we just had a moment ago about sex-repulsed / sex-favorable / sex-neutral, some people may be uncomfortable kissing or really extend that to any form of physical contact. Personally, I can say that, I guess much like my answer before, there’s nothing special about it, it’s just an action. And it’s not negative. It’s not particularly positive.
Royce: A big part of me finding my way to understanding my own Asexuality has been slowly realizing that everything that society and all the people around me told me was not what I was experiencing.
Royce: Like, the “You’re going to hit this milestone in your life. You’re going to do this thing, and it’s going to be great, and you’re going to know the moment you’ve done that…” The first time you kiss, the first time you have sex, something like that — it’s going to reaffirm your relationship or be a source of progress or, like, a milestone in that relationship. There’s the idea that, when you kiss someone, you’ll know whether or not you love them or not, and —
Courtney: The sparks, the butterflies… [laughs]
Royce: The sparks, right. Like, none of that has ever happened for me.
Royce: Like, that’s not something that I experience. And it took me a while to realize the difference between a relationship that, like, was or wasn’t working and these social cues that were leading me in the wrong direction.
Courtney: Mhm. Well, to even take the sex-repulsed idea further, there are some people, Asexual or otherwise, who are completely touch-averse. And I honestly hear conversations of touch aversion a lot more often in neurodivergent communities than the Asexual community itself, which is probably an oversight on the Asexual community itself. Because some Aces absolutely are completely touch-averse, so they aren’t even interested in holding hands, they aren’t interested in kissing. But then there are also some sex-repulsed Aces who say, “I’m not repulsed by kissing, I might even like kissing, but as soon as…” You know, everyone has their own line and boundary, just like allo people do. Aces’ might be crossed a little faster than average. But I know some sex-repulsed Aces who say, like, “I love kissing, but as soon as, like, people are naked and genitals are involved, no, thank you.” So it’s different for everyone.
Courtney: I know, for me I’m much more of a little peck kind of a person. Like, I have never understood the appeal of just, like, sitting and making out on a couch. It sounds so boring and horrible to me, and I don’t understand it. And I knew from past relationships of mine with allo people that, you know, people do like kissing, they do like making out. And I learned at one point, like, the only way I can really handle a kiss for any length of time is [laughing] if teeth are involved — like, if I could bite someone else’s lip, I’m like, “This is kind of interesting.” If we’re just, like, lips and tongues and swappings, [makes sound of disgust], no thank you. Which, actually, I was so embarrassed, but the first time you ever kissed me, I just, like, bit your lower lip, and I was like, “Oh God, we haven’t talked about that. I am sorry. Is that okay that I just bit your lower lip?” [laughs] Because that was, for me, just, like, a reflex. I was like, “Okay, kissing is happening, bite. Time to bite.”
Courtney: But, like, we as a couple, we don’t make out. We really don’t even kiss on the lips all that often, maybe once in a blue moon. But I honestly, as far as kisses, I think kisses on, like, the forehead or the neck — I think those are more interesting than lip-to-lip kisses, personally. I’m not repulsed by most kissing in the same way. Although I kind of… I guess I have complained about TV shows that have extended makeout scenes that are just very, like, too much saliva mouth sounds. That does really, really bother me. [laughs] But me personally, I’m not that repulsed by kissing, but if it turns into actual making out, it’s boring and not good — like, I’m not getting anything out of it.
Royce: I second boring. I feel like, in my experience, it’s just never done anything to me. In past relationships with allos, I’ve… Well, this might be more of just a, like, social anxiety response, but I’ve generally just been sitting there thinking, “Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing? Am I supposed to be changing things here? Like, are they leading? Is the expectation on me? Like, what is the plan here?”
Courtney: “Is this doing it for you?” [laughs]
Royce: Well, “Is this the appropriate amount of time? Are you waiting for me to switch to something else? Like, we didn’t discuss the rules here.”
Courtney: Have you ever — I am astonished, I don’t think I’ve ever asked you this before, but have you ever dated someone with, like, lip and tongue piercings, and was that ever an anxiety point for you, [laughing] the first time kissing that person?
Royce: Ummm… an anxiety point? Like…
Courtney: I don’t know. Like, “Am I going to hurt you if I move this in the wrong angle?” Or…
Royce: Ohhh. You know, I don’t actually remember. I’ve dated people with piercings. I think the only time where I was, like, concerned about, like, whether or not messing with a piercing would hurt someone were nipple piercings.
Courtney: Ohhh, nipple piercings, mhm. Fascinating. Don’t think I heard that story. But, I mean, I have dated allo people with, like, lip and tongue piercings, and after the initial, like, “How am I supposed to maneuver around this thing?” Umm, turns out, like, tongue piercings: that’s just a new thing to bite. Like, if you want to make out, I’m just going to bite your tongue piercing. Your tongue is mine now. I control it. [laughs] Got it! Probably not what they had in their head while trying to make out with me, but [laughs] a little insight into a very specific Ace mind.
Courtney: Question four: do Asexuals date? I’m halfway inclined to say no, because we didn’t really date. We just kind of jumped right into “We’re life partners now.” [laughs]
Royce: Define “date.” I was going to say, like, “Hi, hello from two people branded as The Ace Couple.”
Courtney: [laughs] Yeah. See, this is another one where it’s all personal preference. Some Aces want to date and actively go out of their way to. The complicated nuance — because the simple answer is, well, some Aces are also Aromantic — but Aromantic also kind of has the same, like, parallel vocabulary as, “I can still not be romantically attracted to you, but maybe I do still want to date, or I do still want a partnership” — whether that be a queerplatonic relationship, is something you hear in Aspec communities quite a lot, where overall we try to not establish a hierarchy of, like, romance is the pinnacle, ultimate relationship that is above all the others. But there are AroAces out there who are happily single, want to stay single their entire life, do not have any interest in dating. But there are even some AroAces out there who do date or do engage in partnership. So that’s, again, something to just know that there’s diversity, and you’re gonna have to go on a case-by-case basis when meeting a new person, whatever they willingly disclose to you, or if you’re in a comfortable enough relationship, close enough to them that you’re able to ask.
Royce: There’s going to be diversity in the person themselves, from a person-to-person basis, and in the nature of relationships. One thing we occasionally talk about is how, if you go back out to heteronormative land, there is, like, this hierarchy of relationships.
Royce: Which ultimately always ends in a monogamous marriage with children.
Courtney: Which is romantic and sexual and, yeah, as you said, exclusive.
Royce: Yes. And —
Royce: There are a lot of different kinds of meaningful relationships that a person can have, and they don’t necessarily need to be sexual or romantic.
Courtney: Yeah. I mean, I’d love to talk about this at length in a future episode. But in, like, polyamorous communities, you’ll hear the concept of, like, relationship anarchy. I think Aspecs are the best relationship anarchists out there. [laughs] A lot of us are naturally wired toward at least some level of relationship anarchy, and that’s sometimes whether or not we’re even polyamorous or if we are monogamous. Like, Royce, you and I are monogamous, but not all Aspecs are. In fact, like, when I met you, I had kind of given up on dating because I had gotten comfortable and safe and happy being alone, and there was also just a deep frustration in dating when nearly everyone who ever courted me was allo and with that came certain expectations that I wasn’t too jazzed about. So when I sort of turned off any and all desire to date, that’s when I found you, and we got married, and, as they say, the rest is history. So funny how that works out sometimes.
Courtney: But there are also, sadly, some Asexual people who do want to date, they do want some type of relationship that dating might lead to, but are just afraid to do so or feel like they aren’t allowed to do so because any romantic relationship would require sex or any monogamous relationship would require sex. And that can be really hard. It doesn’t have to be that way, but as someone who has been there and knows a lot of people who have been there, that is a very natural way to feel at certain points. But it’s possible. And if that’s you, I hope that you will find what it is that you are looking for and find happiness within it.
Courtney: Alright. Well, the next question we pretty much already covered, but it says, “Do Asexuals like kissing?” So that’s different, because the first question was “Do Asexuals kiss?” But I think we covered whether or not they like it within answering that, so.
Courtney: Here’s a goofy one, though. I’m going to be curious to see what your gut reaction is to this, Royce. Do Asexuals feel lust?
Royce: I mentioned earlier where it would be helpful for me to articulate some of these lines if I like, sat down with an allosexual person, then got into, like, very detailed descriptions of what we actually experience, because that’s where it’s hard to find precisely where the difference is from person to person until you actually start talking about how you experience the world around you, and I would need a clear definition of “lust.”
Courtney: That’s the thing. I literally just googled the definition of lust. Because this is one of those words where I have 1000% been in a room full of Ace people talking about, like, “What is lust?” Because certainly not all Aces — #NotAllAces — but for a good number of us, we’ll hear a word like “lust” and be like, “What does that feel like? Do I know what that feels like? I don’t think I know what that feels like.”
Royce: Well, a pretty common Ace experience is being around a group of other people who are fawning over some attractive person, whether they are in-person with them, in their group, or a famous actor or musician or something like that, and not getting it.
Courtney: Mhm. Well, and the thing is, too — and let’s break this down definitionally. So in googling the definition of lust, we have: “Very strong sexual desire.” But that’s the noun. The verb — like, “to lust” — is: “Have a very strong sexual desire for someone.” And I suppose my personal association is, like, it is directed at someone in particular. Like, you are lusting after the very hot actor, or this person you’re attracted to, or even your own partner or someone you want to be your own partner. And this is where…
Courtney: The word “desire” gets so much more complicated when we’re in the Aspec community, too. Because to make the “It’s about attraction, not action” line even more complicated than it already is, there are concepts of attraction — like, who are you sexually attracted to? There are some people who say sexual desire is distinctly different from sexual attraction. So they’ll say, “I might desire to have sex, not because I’m attracted to that person, but just because I want to have sex.” So to those people, attraction and desire are two different things. But also for a lot of people, attraction and desire do go hand in hand. If you’re attracted to someone, you do desire to do that activity with them.
Courtney: For me and my experience and my place on the Ace spectrum, I do not have the attraction; therefore, I do not have the desire. To me, those two things are pretty much one and the same. But knowing that some people split them out, I can extrapolate that there are certainly some Aces out there who may feel a, quote, “very strong sexual desire” in whatever specific circumstance does it for them, and if they define that as lust, that’s fine. That could be a thing. But I’m sure also some Aces will read the verb definition saying “have a very strong sexual desire for someone,” and they’ll say, like, “Well, if it’s very targeted at someone, then that does sound a lot like attraction.”
Courtney: And so, it’s kind of… I don’t know. I mean, everyone’s kind of going to have their own associations with what that word means and what that feels like. And that’s when I’m just going to have to ask people on a case-by-case basis. If an Ace comes up and is like, “I feel lust,” I’d be like, “Alright. Explain that to me. What is your experience with lust? What does that mean to you, and what does that look like in your experience?” Because, also, like, similar, we have here, “To be consumed with desire for or to find sexually attractive or to find sexy.” So I know there are tons of allos out there who are going to inherently think that lust requires sexual attraction, and maybe that alone is going to make certain Aces say, like, “Well, that’s not what I’m feeling, then.”
Royce: Yeah, my interpretation, my connotation for that word, was much closer to sexual attraction. I hadn’t really considered it being used as more of, like, another word for something like “libido.”
Courtney: Breaking out our pocket dictionary for words. [laughs] I see where you’re going with that, because very strong sexual desire on its own — if that’s how you’re defining it, and it’s not directed anywhere — that does sound like it could have some overlaps with the definition of libido. And some Aces have a libido, some Aces don’t. Because then there’s also — to add… How many wrenches have we added to this conversation already, and do we need a bigger toolkit? So then there’s arousal, which is, like, the physical stimulation, you know, the arousal. Which, some Aces might feel arousal as a result of a particular act, but that doesn’t mean that they felt lust or desire or attraction toward another person, but the arousal could still be a pleasurable thing. And it’s just complicated. It’s so very complicated.
Courtney: Because the thing is that I think a lot of allosexual people take for granted is that a lot of people just sort of lump all these things in with another. They assume that, you know, lust and libido are going to be in line with attraction, are going to be in line with desire, and all of those things are what’s going to cause the arousal, and it’s all just sort of lumped into one package, and it all goes together.
Courtney: And so, like, I mean… assuming allosexuality is also a spectrum, if we say, like, on the far end of the spectrum, an allo person has all of these things in a neat box, they all go together. There are some Aces who just don’t have that box. They don’t have any of the things that go in that box. But then we’ve got people in different areas of the spectrum who might be, you know, pulling things a la carte, like, “I might have this but not that,” and just sort of do it all piecemeal, you know? Did that make sense? I hope that made sense.
Royce: I guess the comments will tell. I followed.
Courtney: Mmm. This one might be for you to answer: Do Asexuals have wet dreams?
Royce: So, a part of your last answer, you were talking about how the sort of physical manifestation of libido as arousal is something that someone may or may not have. That is less conscious or controllable than I think a lot of people give it credit for. And as far as I’m aware, at least, a wet dream, or — [laughing] I went to look up what the more technical term for that was — a nocturnal emission. I feel like that falls under the same category.
Courtney: Here’s maybe a very ignorant Ace brain question: Do wet dreams… is that specifically only for people with penises? ’Cause I feel like that is the only frame of reference I have ever heard people talk about it in, but while maybe that’s more obvious, it seems like it wouldn’t be true. I mean, anything in my life that I’ve ever heard like, “Oh, it is only this sex that experiences this and not any of the other sexes” I realize is bullshit. So that seems like something that society has misled me about, but I guess I haven’t Googled it. [laughs]
Royce: It is a thing that anyone can experience. It is not gendered. And I think that it is more talked about… it’s mentioned more frequently when boys are growing up, if you’re thinking about how, like, split and gendered sex ed is in schools.
Courtney: Yeah. Well, what sex ed? I certainly didn’t have any sex ed. [laughs]
Royce: Now that I’m thinking about it, it’s kind of like, you know, young girls are, at some point in time — hopefully before it happens — are told that they may at some point get their first period.
Royce: Hopefully. And so, when it happens, you’re not confused. And I think that for young boys, it’s the same thing of, like, “This could happen.” And not really knowing what’s going on or understanding what happened, and potentially just waking up with a wet spot in the bed and thinking that you may have wet the bed somehow —
Royce: There’s a lot of negative connotations with hitting puberty and having something like that happen, but I think the reason why it’s talked about in a gendered way is due to ejaculation.
Courtney: Yeah. And it does give the vibes of… Because, I mean, I say I had no sex education; I had a shred of it. And I’ve talked about this in past episodes, but, like, there was definitely a single day where the very binary — they’re like, “Boys go to this room with the one male teacher we have in the entire school and all the girls go to this room with the school nurse.” And we just had, like, a single day that was basically like, “You’re changing bodies!” And past that, the actual health classes were just like, “Sex is scary, because look at all of these photos of the worst possible examples of STDs and STIs,” and you know, just scare the hell out of everyone.
Courtney: But yeah, it’s probably as a result of that where it’s like, I’ve only heard the phrase “wet dreams” used in that very specific, like, young boy coming of age way. So that’s interesting. But here’s also ignorant Ace brain question: Are those always the result of a sex dream? Because that’s also what I’ve always heard is that, well, you have a sex dream and then you have an orgasm while you’re sleeping. I don’t know any way they could possibly even study that. So even if they say that, that’s probably… [laughs]
Royce: I pulled up the Wikipedia page for nocturnal emissions while we were talking to just look through this, because I had my own experiences, but it’s one of those things that I just realized no one ever talked about in detail.
Royce: Like, you know it’s a thing, but you don’t, like, go to school and talk with your friends about this stuff, and the teachers hardly taught anything, so.
Courtney: Yeah, sounds about right.
Royce: From what I understand, some people sleep through them and might not even, by the time they wake up, remember what the dream is. Some people wake up during the orgasm —
Royce: — which is my experience. Every time that’s happened, I’ve woken up.
Royce: Which, interesting. It’s always also been — like, I haven’t woken up in the middle of the night. It’s always been, like, when I was about to wake up anyway.
Courtney: So it’s really just an internal clock.
Royce: [laughing] An internal alarm clock.
Royce: I think… I think it’s safe to say that they wouldn’t always need to be sex dreams, just because of variability in people, but I think they always have been in my experience.
Courtney: Mmm. See, ’cause that’s an interesting thing. Because if a sex dream makes it a lot more likely that this thing is going to happen, there are some Aces who have sex dreams. I have never. Never once in my life have I had a sex dream, and I know there are some other Aces out there that haven’t. And in fact, I’ve also seen questioning Aces ask questions like, “I don’t actually want to have sex with people, I’m not interested in this, but I have sex dreams. Can I still be Asexual if I have sex dreams?” So that is a question I’ve specifically seen. And the answer is yes, of course, if anyone listening happens to be asking that same question.
Courtney: Because then we also can get into more nuanced, variable places in the Asexual spectrum where we get into microlabels that don’t get outside of Aspec communities very often. But probably the most-discussed microlabel under Asexuality is aegosexuality, and there are a lot of people that identify with that. Because aegosexuality might mean that you can enjoy the concept of sex. You can still fantasize. Sometimes this might manifest as watching porn or writing or reading fanfiction or fantasizing about fictional characters or just theoretical situations might be enjoyable, even arousing for you, but you may have no interest in putting yourself in those situations or participating in them yourself. A lot of people feel that way.
Courtney: So I think a lot of people who identify with the label of aegosexual have probably been through the process of, like, “Oh God, can I be Ace if I like this situation or I fantasize about this thing?” It feels very reminiscent of the question “Can I have a sex dream and still be Ace?” Yes, absolutely you can. But yeah, on the other hand, if it is a lot less likely for you to have a wet dream if you do not actually have sex dreams, then maybe there are Aces out there like me who don’t have sex dreams, who don’t have wet dreams. So, again, it depends.
Courtney: Do Asexuals get married?
Royce: Is this another “Hi, hello, we are The Ace Couple”?
Courtney: Hi, hello, we are The Ace Couple. We’re gonna be celebrating our 10th anniversary this year. [laughs] That is one where, if you don’t know all that much about Asexual marriage or political implications about Asexual marriage, I am going to encourage you to go listen to some of our past episodes. We have added some YouTube playlists over the last couple of weeks, so if that helps you to find episodes of certain topics, we’ve got an Ace Politics playlist that talks about some things like how we got married via common law and what that means, and how there are quite literally Republican lawmakers and religious right-wing lobbyists and organizations who are actually trying to make it so that, quote, “platonic marriage” is not legal. In fact, depending on the certain legal frame of reference that you’re thinking of, there are some people out there who do legally think that marriage and consummation, or a sexual relationship, is required. They are one and the same thing. You can’t separate the two. So we’ve had an episode about marriage consummation laws and what that can mean for Ace people.
Courtney: And, of course, I made a playlist, because we reference it a lot, our four-part series on religious political discrimination against Asexuality. That is just its own playlist so you can go see, boom boom boom boom, all four of those episodes in the correct order. Please do listen to them. Because not only do we get into, “Here are the 83 organizations who are opposed to platonic marriage. Here are their actual religious and political ideologies about marriage,” and we get into some of the legal precedent about Obergefell versus Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage in this country, which is good and we’re glad we have that all over the place, but the steps they took to get that legalized may have actually created more legal complications for things like platonic marriage, for things like polyamorous marriage, for that matter. So please, please do. I hope that piqued your interest. Go listen to those things. Aces can and do get married if they want to, but there are probably more legal complications to it than you probably give it credit for.
Courtney: Do Asexuals feel pleasure?
Royce: Define “pleasure.”
Courtney: This is one of those ones where… I hate that the word “pleasure” sometimes has a sexual connotation to it, because I’m sure that most of the people typing that in are using “pleasure” to mean “sexual pleasure,” and I don’t like that. I also don’t like when people use the word “intimacy” to mean “sex,” because there are so many ways to be intimate that aren’t sexual, so it’s one of those.
Courtney: Um… I don’t know. I mean, I guess I’d answer this question differently since we’re doing the Ace 101 thing. I feel like we’ve already covered it: some Aces do, some Aces don’t. Like, even when it does come to arousal, when it comes to physical sexual acts, some Aces like the way they feel, some Aces don’t — it’s not pleasurable, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But the word “pleasure” kind of implies good.
Royce: Yeah. It’s a term that, one, is overloaded and has a lot of definitions, but is also being narrowed to mean one specific thing in this instance. And it’s also kind of a vague thing. Like, you could get… Sometimes it’s hard, as an Ace, to really get deep into these conversations, because you have to start talking about things, like, very scientifically, and then people look at you funny.
Courtney: Mhm. Yeah. [laughs]
Royce: We talked about kissing earlier, and it’s like, that doesn’t mean anything to me, it doesn’t do anything broader for me. Sometimes it’s kind of awkward. But if you get into it, like, yes, lips do have a higher density of nerve endings than other major parts of the body, and so, yeah, they can be sensitive to touch, and that can feel good sometimes. But there’s something different between what I personally am experiencing in that moment and what a lot of allosexual people report to experience in that moment.
Courtney: Mhm. Yeah, this is a thing where, like, if someone in person — like, out in the wild — learned, like, “Oh, you’re Asexual” and just asked me, like, “Do you feel pleasure?” Like, I would absolutely willfully not answer that in the sexual way. I would be like, “Lots of things in my life bring me pleasure. Yes, I get pleasure when I’m tending to my bonsai. I get pleasure when my spouse and I are taking turns reading a chapter of a novel aloud to one another. I get pleasure when we’re painting our toenails. I get pleasure when we’re playing video games or board games.” Like, I would just list all the things that bring me pleasure in my life. Because I have a very happy, rich, fulfilled life. I have a million and two hobbies. I have had 842 very fascinating careers [laughs] or jobs in my life. I have weird stories for days that I can pull out.
Courtney: So, yeah, I do feel pleasure. I don’t feel sexual pleasure, which I think is the undefined, implied question here. But I kind of resent the very notion that this is implied to mean sexual pleasure, because I don’t want that to be the default form of pleasure or, on the hierarchy, the highest form of pleasure, which a lot of allonormative society does see it as. So yeah, I’m gonna do an intentional subversion of that. Lots of things bring me pleasure. What are the things that bring you pleasure, Royce? We’ve all got a bunch of goofy little hobbies.
Royce: I’m just gonna shorten that to hobbies. There are a lot of them, and they’re changing constantly.
Courtney: Well, we get pleasure from our all-Ace D&D group. We play D&D every Monday with a group of Ace friends. The only horny bards allowed at our table are tieflings. [laughs]
Courtney: Alright, I’m flipping the autofill to “Can Asexuals” now, because I imagine most of these are pretty much the same question, just phrased a different way. But we have a couple of slightly different ones here. “Can Asexuals fall in love?” Yes. Hi, hello from The Ace Couple. [laughs]
Courtney: But can Asexuals have crushes? We can and we might call it that way, but — gosh, I feel like it’s been so long since I’ve actually heard people throw around the phrase “squish,” but that used to be a lot more common than it is now, but I still see it from time to time. Some people in the Aspec community used to try to draw a separation between a “crush,” as what an allo person would experience when they had a desire to, you know, get closer, go to the next level, whatever that means with someone. And so some started saying, like, “Well, I don’t have a crush, I have a squish.”
Courtney: And I would say that that also — some folks have and do use that also in very different ways. I’d essentially say a squish is like a platonic crush. But the word “platonic” can mean slightly different things to different Aspecs, because there are some people who will only use the word “platonic” if they think it is implied to be Aromantic and Asexual, so, like, that is fully platonic. I know some people who will use the word “platonic” to only mean Asexual, so they could still have a romantic feeling, but if it’s not a sexual feeling, they’ll still consider that to be platonic — which can be a little confusing because, you know, the allonormative world has an idea of what “platonic” means. But since we so often conceptualize different types of attraction and different types of affection as being distinctly different or splitting them from one another, you might get some variance in how that’s used.
Courtney: But yeah, I like that: a squish. So some people might use “a squish” for, “Well, I desire a queerplatonic relationship with that person.” Or they might mean it like a friend-crush. Like, maybe this is someone who doesn’t want a romantic relationship, doesn’t want a QPR, nothing like that, but they have a strong desire to have a really strong bond of friendship with someone. They might call that a “squish,” so it’s like a friend-crush.
Courtney: And some people have and do call their queerplatonic partners “zucchinis.” Very, very specific Aspec word there. “If you have a squish on someone, you want them to be your zucchini,” [laughs] could be one way to use that word in a sentence. Although I feel like Zucchini is also going out of fashion. More often, I just hear people say, like, “My QP.” Like, “My QP” for “queerplatonic.” Some people might say, “My QPP” for “My queerplatonic partner,” and I feel like I see that a lot more often than “zucchini,” but some people use them interchangeably.
Royce: Which, for anyone curious, there isn’t any deeper meaning to the word “zucchini” being used in that context. It kind of caught on just because of its absurdity. It was a random word that was used to describe something that is difficult to describe.
Courtney: It’s really cute. I also like, um… Because if you think of all the pet names that are really common, like, allo go-tos, you have, like, “Honey” and “Sugar,” and we’re just like, “Nah. Vegetable!” [laughs] Silly, silly, silly little insights to Aspec culture.
Royce: Well, that’s probably enough Google for today. Before we end, Courtney, do you want to explain to everyone why you were trolling Chicago earlier?
Courtney: [laughs] There was a Reddit user… And this was so funny, and we all had so much fun with this that it even got to us, who are not Reddit users. We don’t have a Reddit account, but these got, like, screen-shotted, shared around all kinds of Ace circles. There was a Reddit user called AlfredoSauceOn who just went to, like, presumably all of the major “asking questions” subreddits and asked the same question over and over and over again. They just asked to, like, r/AskReddit, r/Questions, r/Ask, “Do Asexuals like Chicago pizza?”
Courtney: And this was just the funniest thing. So of course, these screenshots are getting shared around. People are debating [laughing] whether or not Aces like Chicago pizza. But then they switched tactics. I think they actually started going onto some Ace subreddits and then asking, like, “Asexuals of Reddit, do you like Chicago pizza?” [laughs] And it’s just nonsense. Actually, like, going there, you’d also see people who would, like, tag this user and be like, “Well, any progress? Do Asexuals like Chicago pizza?” And they just respond, “I don’t know anymore,” [laughs] just silly nonsense things.
Courtney: And it appears that this user’s last actual post — not talking about comments, necessarily — was, “The Asexuals don’t like Chicago pizza, so I got them Portillo’s instead,” with a photo of just like an empty food container. And so I guess that’s the answer: Asexuals don’t like Chicago pizza. And honestly, why would we? It’s the worst kind of pizza.
Courtney: But that thing about the garlic bread that I said — I have to correct the misinformation. The garlic bread absolutely is a thing. “Do Aces like garlic bread?” It’s become one of our newer community food symbols, but it’s sort of an extension of one of our oldest community symbols, which has been cake. I wrote an article about the history of cake in the Ace community for Bon Appetit, so I will link that in the show notes if you want to read it. And it does give a little nod to a more recent iteration of that, where garlic bread was brought in, but essentially with the same, like, “Cake is better than sex. Garlic bread is better than sex,” kind of a thing. So we’ll also very likely do a full episode talking more about the history of cake in the Ace community. And we might even just do a general episode with a bunch of different Ace community symbols and just little Ace culture things. So many things we can talk about; so little time. But it’s okay, we release an episode every single Wednesday, so we’ll get there eventually. We have the time.
Courtney: So if you all made it here this far, please go ahead and give us a like, comment, subscribe, rating, review, five stars — whatever it is you do on whatever platform it is that you are consuming us on. “Consuming us on”? Oh, that sounded terrible. Why did I say that? Don’t consume us. And don’t consume Chicago pizza. Goodbye!