American And Sexless: And This Is A Good Thing?

sexless ted rall
Written by Ted Rall

When did being sexless become a good thing? Here’s Ted Rall on the strange new cultural meme about no sex being something worth striving for.

ted rall interview with bernie sanders ted rall talks to bernie sandersaNewDomain — Sex didn’t used to be bad. 

I remember when sex was celebrated — and when the lack of sex was nothing anyone bragged about.

If you had told me in 1978 when I was 15 and my homeroom teacher’s son lived on a commune in Tennessee with a rotating sleep schedule (“If it’s Tuesday, I must be spending the night in Stacy’s four-poster on the second floor”) that in the 21stcentury Americans would be more prudish, I would have called you names. Yet that’s exactly where we are.

Take gays. In the 1970s, gay people scandalized straight America with The Village People, gay pride parades and crazy bathhouse sex. Now gay people wear Brooks Brothers and enlist in the military.

And now, on the straight side of the orientation ledger, intellectual elites go on and on and on about how not having sex is a Really Good Thing. That discourages those of us who like sex from having any, or keeping silent about it when we do, which no doubt fails to set the slutty example that might counterbalance the New Asexuality.

Do not doubt what I am saying. This is how far things have gone: the LGBT community has gone, within the last few years, to LGBTQ (“questioning”) to LGBTQA (“asexual”).

There is even an Asexual Movement dedicated to informing the public and defending the interests of those in the asexual lifestyle.

I reserve the right to change my mind about this, but at this writing I find the idea of asexuals needing a place in the spectrum of sexual orientation silly.

Asexuals, by definition, have no sexual orientation. From a sexual perspective they do not have a “lifestyle.” They are to sex as I am to football fandom — null quantities. An asexual person no more needs a place in a discussion about sexuality than I need a football jersey that declares me a non-fan of any football team.

Asexuals and malsexuals (my term for people who dislike sex) currently rule the cultural roost in the nation’s high-end media outlets.

Scarcely a week passes without an influential site posting/publishing/whatever-we’re-calling-it-now a piece about sex gone terribly wrong. My favorite recent example is from an article in Salon titled, “How anal sex ruined my relationship,” in which a woman consents to butt sex, the guy breaks up with her anyway — because once you agree to do something you secretly didn’t want to do but didn’t tell your partner in order to maximize resentment points, he is supposed to fall hopelessly in love with you and propose marriage.

Also in Salon:

’I have never turned heads’: What it’s like when you’re not the object of desire,” about a woman who claims to have made peace with the fact that her younger, prettier husband never initiates sex because she’s older and uglier.

Don’t forget XOJane’s “I Shared My Girlfriend With Her Husband and It Really Sucked.” As a self-described “monogamist lesbian,” did she think there was a chance of a different outcome?

And (in Salon, again, where some editor clearly hates sex): “How I cured my ‘sexual dysfunction’ without a pill.” (Tag line: “I hated sex, but I didn’t need ‘pink Viagra.’ I needed to understand intercourse — and my own body — much better.”)

“I had coitus without complaint. It felt like being punched on the inside, as if there was acid on my partner’s member because of the burning,” the writer shares. Yay.

Then there’s Neil Strauss, working both sides of the dollar-a-word sex-writer racket. (Disclosure: Ideological double-dippers, like Clinton hater-lover David Brock and Democrat hater-lover Arianna Huffington, are peeves.) A few years back, Strauss scored a bestseller with The Game, a transparently ridiculous advice book telling guys they could get laid, mainly by being mean to women. Now he says he’s a reformed sex addict and feels really, really awful about all the orgies he used to attend.

In the new book: The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships, Strauss describes cheating on all his girlfriends. Message: monogamy and fatherhood rule! It’s hip to be square.

This week it’s The New York Times, whose “Modern Love” column is widely read, in part because it is awful to an epic Tom Friedman-esque level. Ali Rachel Pearl is a woman in her 20s who is on Tinder and never has sex.

Why does Pearl not have sex? She does not say. She does not even guess. The hottest clue is the fact that she is not willing to drive from Los Angeles to Long Beach because it is “too far to drive for sex.” Ali, if you’re reading this, 45 minutes is not too far to drive for sex, especially when you haven’t had any for two years.

This makes me think that she does not really want to have sex. Probably this is because she had her heart broken by a dude, and she is in her 20s, and she sounds depressed. She teases and is teased: “There is a man I sometimes love, a writer and lead singer in a hard-core punk band, who constantly declares, ‘I don’t have sex,’ and ‘I don’t do love,’ in the same moment that he sways closer to my face, nearly but not quite giving one of us the opportunity to make a move.” That is all.

It isn’t much.

Yet Times readers love her essay. “Haunting and sad”! one commenter says. Another: “Thank you for this refreshing article and reminding me know that there are many of us out there.” These are typical. So is the practical advice: “The writer’s priorities seem well placed: Pursue the Ph.D., not the hookup.” I wasn’t aware that you had to abstain in order to earn a doctorate.

No! Life without zest is no life at all. There is no zest without sex. The new sexlessness is a plague masquerading as a movement.

Ali, what you are experiencing is not normal or OK, much less to be celebrated. See a therapist.

What would really be refreshing would be a piece about how awesome sex is. Especially sex of the wild, kinky, outré variety. In which everyone involved has a great time, no one gets hurt, and no STDs are transmitted.

This happens zillions of times a day, and you’d never know it from reading The New York Times or Salon.

But no editor wants that.

For aNewDomain and the new Skewed News, I’m Ted Rall.

Cover image: AttractGetWomen.com, All Rights Reserved.

8 Comments

  • Hi Ted,

    Brian Langevin here – proud asexual activist. I’m writing to let you know that this article has the potential to do a lot of harm to individuals in the asexual community. I’m not concerned for its impact on the ace movement itself, as the asexual spectrum is certainly not going away.

    I am, however, very concerned for the countless aces, and especially youth, who may indeed be very impacted. Many aces have indeed been told to see a therapist, and many therapists have treated asexuality as a psychological disorder.

    You may not know this, but young aces are far more likely than heterosexual people to be victims of bullying and violence – especially homophobic and transphobic violence. Their suffering is very real, but they aren’t suffering from their asexuality – they’re suffering from individuals who abuse and attack them on a daily basis.

    And what happens when these young aces come out to their parents, and are told (because their parents read your article) that asexuality needs to be treated, and that their identity is not valid?

    Aces have been left with trauma because of acephobic bullying and violence (I know because I’m one of them) and aces have completed suicide because of the same (I know, because *I was almost one of them*).

    Ace identities are valid, and asexuality is a legitimate sexual orientation. To argue otherwise is misguided, inappropriate, and incredibly harmful. I ask that you please reconsider your article before it causes any further damage.

    I am always open to conversation if you would like me to help you further understand why the asexual spectrum is valid and what asexual identities actually are.

  • I can’t even form a legitimate response because of all the ignorance in this post. Please, please do some research. Talk to asexual people. See what it’s all about before writing posts like this. This post and the ideas it contain have the potential to do real harm.

  • Hiding behind the word “satire” does not excuse this kind of deliberately hurtful attitude. If you want to write a celebration of sex, then write a celebration of sex! You don’t have to attack and belittle an already constantly attacked and belittled group of people while doing so.

    I am asexual. It took me years to discover that there was a word for how I felt and that there were others who felt the same way. Before I used the word “asexual” to describe myself, I used the word “broken”.

    You say it’s the same as not being a football fan. While that trivializes the sexual orientation of more than three million people in this country, it is at least partially a valid comparison. Being asexual in American society is a bit like not being a football fan, if you’re not a football fan at the Super Bowl when it’s 4th & inches in a tied game with 5 seconds left on the clock in the Fourth Quarter. EVERYONE around you seems like they’re screaming and raving about this thing that’s so amazing and great and wonderful, and you’re just there, like, “Huh?”

  • Another asexual activist here: I suggest you look at Brian’s and Thomas’s responses as they are both well educated and prominent activists.
    I think you don’t understand what Asexuality truly is. Asexuality is not sex negativity. In fact, aces are some of the most sex positive people I have met. What we push for is acceptance of all forms of sexuality. That includes kink, polyamory, BDSM, sex between people of all genders, etc. We just want people to know that sexuality isn’t compulsory. We want people to have as much or as little sex as they want.
    I agree completely with Brian’s point about this harming young aces. Before I knew about asexuality, I thought I was broken. I became extremely depressed and felt that there was something fundamentally wrong with me because I wasn’t like everyone else. I didn’t know that it was possible to be asexual. Finding the community probably saved my life. It has given me a purpose to educate and embrace those going through what I went through. We need a place in discussions of sexuality because otherwise, we are assumed to be broken. Asexuals experience discrimination as Thomas alluded to. Many of us are also queer or transgender in some way and experience harassment for that. We are not a fad or a plague. We are a group of people fighting for inclusion because without it, a large portion of the community will fight depression, suicide, and harassment.

  • Having a named concept and visibility of asexuality is important because there are a lot of us — 1% of the population, according to research — and we need to know what we are. Believing that there’s some unspecified thing that’s “wrong” with you and that you’re alone isn’t a way to live.

    Speaking of which… “Life without zest is no life at all. There is no zest without sex.”

    Really? Wow. Because I’m asexual, and I could’ve sworn I had things in my life that made it worth living. I have my career as a civil rights attorney, and my advocacy on the side against institutional abuse. I have favorite music, books and shows that remind me of the kind of person I want to be when I start to lose my grasp on it. I have many hobbies, several of which are self-taught. I have friends and my community who value me. I have two cats who I mean the world to. And I have my (also asexual) partner, with whom I create characters, worlds and stories with, with whom I share the things I care about and vice versa, and who I can be supportive to and find support in.

    The idea that none of these things or anything like them would matter to someone because they aren’t sex is kind of sad — both for the person themselves and for the people (and animals, as applicable) around them who they see as having so little value by comparison.

  • Uh yeah…Hey Ted. You’re a dumbass. Asexuality isn’t something people “strive” for, and it isn’t a fucking movement in which we’re out to recruit people to “follow us” into a realm of sexual “purity” and chastity. It’s a sexual orientation. You know, like heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, pansexuality and so on? I never “chose” to be asexual. I wanted to have kids and get married. But it wasn’t in the cards for me. Sometimes some gay people wonder what life would be like had they been born straight. I will forever wonder what it would be like to be straight, or gay, or bi, or pansexual. You’re just another uneducated person in this field of study who needs to educate himself before shooting his mouth off and treating us like we’re a cult, or a monastery or a nunnery or some shit like that. I’m tired of being erased or made into a damn joke by people like you and the idiots who made “The 40 Yr Old Virgin.”

  • Sir,
    If you want to have sex fine. If not, fine. I am a 25 year old, cis-male asexual. I assumed that I was more mature than others my age as they were dating in high school and I simply didn’t. When I found out… It was so clear that I could no more refute it then I can refute that water is wet or that my knee hurts. I didn’t ask for this. When I found out I went to a therapy because of how much stress I was suddenly under as all my assumptions about everyone changed. He worked with me to “prove” one way or another that I was and the tests shows there is nothing wrong with me.

    I have come out to many people, but the one I remember best was my father. He didn’t believe me. He told me that he couldn’t conceive of such a thing and thus I had to be lying to myself. That this was an attempt to hide from other people and responsibilities.
    For the last 5 years I have never once mentioned it around him. To this day I watch every word because of how badly it hurt for my father to say that. I love him and I can’t be myself around him. So I’ll say to you what I wish I could say to him.

    I’m not lying. Asexuals do exist. We just don’t care. We’re fine and happy as we are. Life is more than sex, its about friends and playing Shadows Over Camelot and teaching Gram Settlers of Catan and helping someone through a problem and good food. If sex is a critical part for you fine, but my life is in no way worse than yours because I’ve never had it than yours is because you’ve never sat down to make a Werewolf character.

    I don’t seek to be better than you. I want you to understand that the phrase “She’s hot, right” makes no sense to me at all. To understand that I don’t get why every movie needs a romantic subplot. I don’t talk about asexuality to make myself feel better but so you can talk to another asexual and not hurt them. And maybe one day, if we explain it enough, a teacher can explain to kids about us, so they… I don’t have to spend 8 years of my life wondering why everyone is insane or if I am broken in some fashion.

    Because you all seem messed up to me. Break ups over sex. Adultery. Sex related crimes. Failing a class because you have a new SO. They don’t make sense to my brain and I want you to understand that. I want to teach you, not make you ashamed of that. So maybe you won’t try to get me to explain my sex life. So you won’t shame me for being a 25 year male old virgin. So you’ll not roll your eyes.

    Maybe you’ll dismiss this or not read it. That’s fine. I did my best. I wrote much more than I expected to. I had to write it after I read your article though.

    Mindsword

  • Hi Ted, don’t worry about the “asexual activists” most of them are still unsure what an asexual is. If correct information was used, your story would have stopped within the first couple of lines. Most asexual’s do have sex, most of their partners are sexuals.

    Asexuals are not sexless, they are people who simple do not experience sexual attraction

    The orientation thing? I suspect you have been hanging around Aven which might explain which your article is incorrect. When I realised I was Asexual I did feel it was an orientation but very quickly felt it was not. I keep asking the question within the community but very few are comfortable answering. Me being straight is my orientation so how can my asexuality be as well? It’s almost as though some are saying we should have two bites of the cherry. When you dip two toes into the orientation all you get is trench foot. My orientation is straight, my asexuality is a very important but small part of who I am.

    The LGBTQA…the A started of as Allies which I think is fair, but some of the “asexual activists” dey be funny people, got all hissy and insisted the lgbtqa had no right to use it’s own name how the lgbtqa wanted too and it now must mean Asexual, can you imagine the same “acrivists” tolerating the lgbtqa telling asexuals that there definition is wrong and they need to change it lol.

    Lastly, Again if you have used aven as your source I can understand why your article is littered with innacuracies. Most will be Jay Z or starbuck asexuals…semi demi mocha lattie or 99 labels but asexuality aint one, you get me! they do make me laugh but to understand those, look at asexualities online makeup. Most will claim to be asexual of somekind between 16-26 (college and uni time) three quarters will be female and most will leave caiming to be asexuals once they finish higher education.

    So please when you judge asexuals do not judge them on Aven asexuals…most of us are not “activists” but just everyday people, doing every day things, of all ages (not just one demigraphic) and are no different from sexuals with the one very important for us difference of lacking sexual attraction

    Try contacting us, we don’t Bite 8-)