Recently, Dan got a letter from someone who called themselves Not Sexual, Not Asexual. In other words, NSNA is a gray-A like me, though he used the phrase "minimally-sexual". Savage's response:
Why not go find another minimally sexual person? You’ll be doing your minimally sexual self a favor, you’ll be doing your future minimally sexual partner a favor, and you’ll be doing all normally sexual persons everywhere a favor by removing two minimals—you and your future partner—from the dating pool.The central theme in Savage's responses to asexuality is that people with different levels of sexual interest should avoid dating each other if possible. Sexuals should date sexuals, asexuals should date asexuals, and minimally-sexuals should date minimally-sexuals. I think Dan thinks compromise is really difficult because he's always getting letters from people who are having trouble compromising. I think compromising is much easier than he makes it out, perhaps because I myself feel happy with a wide range. But that is another discussion.
As Dan has said himself in the past, this requires that people be upfront about their asexual orientation. Well let me tell you, that is sort of what asexuality is about. I don't even know what purpose an asexual identity serves if you don't even think your partners need to know about it.
Maybe some demisexual or gray-A people wouldn't say, but only if they feel that their orientation only affects their experiences outside of a relationship. Do I have any asexual readers who want partners but would not tell their partners? Why?
And yet, Dan gets all these letters from people who feel dissatisfied with the level of sexual activity in their relationship. Is it because asexuals and minimally-asexual people are somehow hiding themselves and infiltrating the "normally sexual" dating pool? Obviously, the majority of cases have nothing to do with asexuality. But let's imagine a few common scenarios involving asexuality.
- A sexual and asexual person date, but the asexual person is not aware of their own orientation. This leads to problems with sex in their relationship. This problem could be avoided if asexuality were common knowledge.
- A sexual and minimally-sexual person date, but unexpectedly run into problems with sexual compatibility. This problem could be avoided if the asexual spectrum were common knowledge, and the couple knew to be aware of differences from the start, and what problems this can create for both parties.
- A sexual and asexual date, but the asexual is hesitant to come out. This problem could be avoided if asexuality were not seen as shameful or invalid.
- A minimally-sexual person is open about their orientation, but runs into sex-related problems in their relationships anyway. This problem could be avoided if society accepted asexuality to the degree that it created effective dating spaces and other social structures for people on the asexual spectrum to find optimal partners.
And yet, that's pretty much what Dan Savage suggests in the next line:
Unless you’re more interested in sex than you let on, NSNA, and you find the idea of a normally sexual partner appealing because a normal might be able to help you build your confidence and learn to enjoy sex.NSNA said that he lacked confidence, but Dan kinda took that and ran with it. But that's not nearly as bad what Dan's readers are saying:
I just didn't think the guy sounded like an asexual. When you cite lack of confidence or stamina as your reasons... that's a mental/physical health issue. [Cue the defense that they are not attacking asexuals as a group, just one person who did little more than claim to be minimally-sexual.]Of course it is true, at least some self-identified asexuals are "wrong" about themselves. But this fact is trivial, and doesn't need reinforcement. Instead it is over-reinforced, brought up whenever an asexual says the least bit about themselves. If they mention a lack of confidence, that's what it really is. If they mention being young, that's what it really is. If they mention being old, that's what it really is. If they mention having past trauma. That they're asocial. That they're female. That they're religious, or used to be religious. That they're depressed. That they have a disability. And if none of the above are mentioned, there must be something, and you just need to quiz them to find it.
You seem to think that "asexuals" are some kind of oppressed minority. Bullshit. Victorian prudes are plenty empowered in our society. [Asexuals = victorian prudes?]
I am not denying that there are real, honest and honorable asexuals out there who really think that sex is boring as all hell and don't want anything to do with it--those people deserve respect and dignity--but I'm sure that there may also be some young, inexperienced people out there who are reaching a little too eagerly for a label to put on themselves so they can shoehorn into a community. [This person does not appreciate the sheer amount of self-doubt that is involved in identifying as asexual.]
A lack of confidence or stamina aren't necessarily reasons to give up on sex. I'd advise him to get in touch with his body through exercise, and to get evaluated for depression. Not to pathologize people who are actually asexual or minimally sexual, but I'm not sure NSNA truly belongs to that group. [Yay for armchair psychology! Anything other than taking self-identity seriously!]
It's okay if people wrongly believe they are maladjusted sexuals, but God forbid that they wrongly believe that they are asexual!
I'm getting mixed messages here. You should say that you're asexual upfront so we can avoid you. Also, don't kid yourself, you're not really asexual.