How can I tell if I'm asexual? Is it a legitimate orientation or am I just a seething ball of neuroses?
Sex does nothing for me. I can't orgasm (even when I attempt masturbation), so my husband doesn't go there. That's fine by me. I hate my people parts; I find them utterly icky. At any rate, I apparently perform good fellatio, so the no-intercourse thing isn't such an issue. My marriage seems fine; we laugh and share the same lefty values and cuddle on the couch. When he has needs he fondles my breasts and nuzzles me; this indicates "go down on me now, please." So I do. However, I feel nothing.
Is that normal? I'm well-adjusted otherwise, a productive member of society and all that. I'm cheerful, good-humored, and pretty too. Are some people simply not wired to be into sex? I'm certainly into love. I feel very passionate about my husband and my friends, but it's completely cerebral. If it's of any use, I'm 31, and I dislike pooping too.
So am I fucked-up? Is it OK to not be sexual? Should my sorry butt be in therapy? --Insert Name Here
After the results of a study on asexuality were published in the Journal of Sex Research in August 2004, a new sexual minority group began taking its turn on the wicked stage. Everyone from the BBC to Salon to the New Scientist weighed in on the 1 percent of the population that, according to UK researchers, "had never felt sexually attracted to anyone at all." The go-to guy for quotes and insights into asexuality was David Jay, a 23-year-old asexual from Saint Louis and the founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (www.asexuality.org).
We'll get to Jay's insights into your case in a second, INH, but first I have to say that asexuality, as I understand it, is an indifference to sex. Reading your letter, INH, I didn't sense indifference, just disgust--with people parts, with pooping, with blow jobs. There's asexuality and then there's being repulsed by sex, also known as "sexual aversion disorder," and that's a horse fucker of a different color. So, yeah, I would describe you as fucked-up and order you to get your sorry butt into therapy.
For a second opinion we turn now to David Jay:
"Show me anyone, sexual or asexual, who isn't in some way fucked-up," says Jay. "The question she should be asking herself is not 'Am I fucked-up?' but 'Do I need sex to be happy?' It doesn't sound like she does, but the question is probably worth exploring with a best friend and a six-pack."
But if you conclude that sex just isn't for you, Jay would advise you to take stock of your situation from a nonsexual standpoint. "You've got what sounds like a great husband whom you love, and great friends. Instead of focusing your energy on worrying about sex (which up to now has been nothing but boring), focus on further exploring the things that you actually find pleasurable."
And your husband's needs?
"I wouldn't be that worried about your husband," Jay says. "If he had some overwhelming need to have more sex he probably would have mentioned it by now."
Hmm, I respectfully dissent. While it's possible that your husband is content with the odd perfunctory blow job, it's more likely that he doesn't press the matter because he loves you. But he probably misses women's people parts, INH, and one day the opportunity to fuck the shit out of another woman's people parts is going to present itself and he'll seize it. And this, I think, will be the ultimate test of your asexual cred. If you don't think sex is important, then it shouldn't matter to you if your husband does this hugely unimportant thing with someone else every once in a while.
Hi. I'm a 16-year-old girl whose 20-year-old brother has a foot fetish. Normally, this wouldn't bother me. However, he comes into my room at two in the morning and slips his hands under the covers to touch my feet. The other night I woke up and he was licking my foot. Sometimes he'll rub his penis between my toes. I love my brother, but this makes me uncomfortable. He comes in almost every night, and when he wakes me up, I can't get back to sleep for at least an hour. I'm so tired in the morning, and my mom blames me, saying I stay up too late. What should I do? I've tried confronting my brother (sometimes when he wakes me up I'll tell him to get out of my room). He has to be really dense to think I don't know. I don't want to tell my mom or dad because I don't want him to get in trouble. Plus it's embarrassing for the both of us. --She Who Needs Sleep
Stop worrying about protecting your brother and start worrying about protecting yourself. He's sexually assaulting you, SWNS, and he's using your fear of embarrassment to keep you silent! You're being manipulated and abused--get angry! Tell your parents what's going on, buy a lock for your door, and if your brother somehow manages to get into your room despite the lock, scream your fucking head off.
Your brother needs help--and not because he's a foot fetishist, SWNS. There's nothing wrong with that. He needs help because he's obviously developed--through absolutely no fault of yours--a thing for abusing, manipulating, and terrorizing women. Your continued silence in the face of this abuse isn't helping you or your brother, SWNS, but making it more likely that he will attempt this with other women one day. If your brother doesn't get help now he's going to wind up in jail--or dead on the bedroom floor of a woman who sleeps with a gun under her pillow.
Finally, a lot of readers--smokers and nonsmokers alike--took exception to my advice for the woman whose boyfriend has a smoking fetish. Go to link.thestranger.com/1155 to read their feedback.
Shameless plug: Dan Savage's new book, The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family, goes on sale September 22.