Written for the August 2014 Carnival of Aces. For whatever reason whenever I write big things I have to give them song lyric titles, so check out this cool song which is the title track of a cool album by a cool person.
Trigger warnings: slightly graphic descriptions of rape, sexual self-harm. discussion and mentions of heteronormativity [including acephobic ideas and amatonormativity], cissexism, rape culture, victim blaming. If you know me offline and feel that knowing about my sexual history will change our relationship, don’t bother reading this.
I’m a “bad” rape victim.
A Model Rape Survivor doesn’t know her attacker. My rapist is essentially a stranger to me, but that night was not the first time I had met him. She is dressed modestly and cannot be held responsible due to those clothing choices. I wore one of my shortest dresses and no bra when I walked into his apartment. She’s virginal and chaste, only doing the appropriate sexual things with appropriate people. I considered myself a virgin at the time, though I’m sure other people might disagree, but I’d gone to his place to mess around in the first place.
She fights back against her attacker, she makes it clear to him that she knows she’s being raped. I don’t know if I chanted ‘no’ loud enough for him to hear and after he pulled out the first time I didn’t leave and when he pushed back in the second time I didn’t physically fight my way out from underneath him and I kissed him goodbye. I wasn’t 100% sure that he’d raped me until he made an innuendo about my ass as I left the bedroom.
In some ways I can squeeze myself into the narrative society repeats: I’m a cis girl, I was raped by a cis man, I filed a police report, I entered therapy.
But I’m black, my rapist was white, I didn’t press charges, I didn’t start therapy until ten months later.
And I’m asexual.
When I first realized I could be in the asexual community back in 2011, I fit pretty closely within what a model asexual should be. I wasn’t quite there because I was depressed and identified as demisexual, but I proudly proclaimed that my sexuality wasn’t due to trauma and that being asexual didn’t mean I wasn’t a freak who couldn’t fall in love. I felt romantic attraction strongly and thought sex could be beautiful and wanted to get married to a man and give birth to children. I talked about how awesome sex was for people who were into that.
The Unassailable Asexual plays into heteronormativity by forcing allosexuals to accept them as a different shade of ‘normal.’ Sure they don’t experience sexual attraction, but they’re still human and pretty darn similar to everyone else.
Unrelated to my asexuality, I was a major asshole in 2011. But even as I moved past from my more problematic mentalities, before the trauma I felt like the model of what good diversity in the asexual community would look like.
It’s 2014 and my rape was barely a year ago. I’m asexual, not demisexual. I don’t experience romantic attraction anymore. I have no intention of pursuing deep relationships with men in the future and grow more and more attracted to women and non-binary individuals as time goes on. I don’t actually care if I get married or not. I want to adopt kids but the thought of being pregnant almost makes me want to cry.
I hate sex.
I’ve had “good” sex. I’ve had sex more than one time with different people. I’m not sex repulsed. I absolutely hate sex.
Sexual activity is fake vulnerability. It’s a way for me to have some sort of control in the nightmare, a way for me to prove that I’m not completely useless, a way for me to punish myself.
The Unassailable Asexual talks about sex as a beautiful and important part of life. They play up the fact that it’s okay to have sex as long as it’s consensual and make sure to be vocally sex-positive.
Sex is my form of self-harm, my tool to become absolutely numb. I have no desire to speak positively about sex even though I’m very aware that sex can be a good thing for some people. I was sex-negative before my assault and become less apologetic about it as time goes on.
A Model Rape Survivor works to be comfortable and enthusiastic about engaging in heteronormative sexual acts. They don’t let their rape from stopping them from being sexually healthy.
I’ve never enjoyed having sex and I’d be okay never having sex again. I don’t think I can have a healthy relationship that involves sex. And I don’t really care.
I’ve moved further and further away from what the Unassailable Asexual is and further away from who the Model Rape Survivor should be. And there’s no turning back.
Trauma impacts every aspect of one’s existence. My trauma was sexual, so it does follow that my orientation and sexual attitudes were. And outside of the asexual community, I’ve never had very much hope that people would understand that my lack of desire for sexual relationships with men is not something I really care to fix. Ever.
But people don’t approve of people like me in the community either. A former friend was massively offended that people were using requiessexual as an orientation because in cir opinion, asexuality caused by abuse was a symptom, not as an orientation. Ce apparently spent a lot of time fighting to have cir asexuality be considered a legitimate orientation, constantly insisting that it wasn’t because of the past abuse in cir life. People who identified as requiessexual didn’t deserve to be in the community and were making cir life harder.
Though I identify primarily as asexual, I am requiesromantic. I spent the day that I saw cir posts crying because finding ‘requies-’ as a concept had erased months of frustration, months of feeling like I wasn’t enough, months of being up at night feeling wrong.
Figuring out identity in the aftermath of trauma is hard enough without people insisting that your identity is not allowed.
It was hard enough for me to come out as asexual spectrum before the assault, but it’s even harder now because I feel like bad representation. I feel like I have to prove myself as a real asexual, have to prove that it wasn’t caused by my rape even though it’s been solidified by it. And if I really was demisexual back in 2013, if I really knew I didn’t experience sexual attraction, why did I go to his apartment to fool around? Why did I let him finger my ass? How did I let him rape me?
The Unassailable Asexual and the Model Rape Survivor all hang out in a rocking club called Rape Culture run by the awesome corporation called Patriarchy. Very few people fit either profile and the insistence of society to hang onto these ideal people is toxic and destructive. For those of us inside the community, we need to work harder to end the gate keeping and end the attitudes that make the Unassailable Asexual the only voice to listen to.
And for people outside the community, it’s time to stop seeing us as monolith that’s only acceptable if we fit your ideal.