Asexuality Before AVEN

This is my contribution to the September Carnival of Aces, hosted this month by Ace Film Reviews. 

The title of this post makes me cringe. It is difficult enough, isolating enough, to be asexual in the twenty first century with the online community that aces have. I once read somewhere that asexuality was the first orientation to be “born online”. Obviously, the orientation existed before there was a proper label put to it, there are just so few asexuals that meeting another in one’s everyday life, particularly someone who experiences asexuality the exact same way, is a rare thing for many people. I believe that asexual aromantics in the twentieth century – the first half of the twentieth century in particular – would have registered that there was something different about them. With the veiled, almost secretive attitudes that surrounded sexuality before the sexual revolution, I believe heteroromantic aces would have just assumed that they were straight. Homo/biromantics most likely would have adopted the labels of bi/homosexual, and, while still finding something of a community, the fit would have been mismatched and alienation would have persisted.

Dan Savage says in the documentary (a)sexual that asexuality is taking a step backward from the sexual revolution, and that aces are simply people who are afraid of intimacy. How someone who founded a nonprofit dedicated to helping queer people could be so ignorant is beyond me, but that is a topic for another post. If I am not mistaken, the sexual revolution was about freedom of sexual expression, and logically, that would extend to the choice to not engage in sex at all. Sadly, I do not feel that is the case. In my view, the sexual revolution switched society – American society in particular – from being nearly fearful of sex to being obsessed with it. The world is slowly becoming a safer place for others under the queer umbrella term, yet the assumption that everyone wants to/should have sex makes things substantially more difficult for ace people.

An example of an asexual person from the twentieth century completely oblivious to their identity is my grandmother. According to my mother, she never enjoyed intercourse and viewed it as something necessary for childbearing and pleasing her husband. She adored my grandfather and appreciates romance, but dirty jokes go right over her head. If we are watching a film together and things get sexual, she is the first to push fast forward. I can’t help but wonder how having the term “asexual” exist in her younger years would have affected her. She adores her family and definitely would have still married and had her two children, that much I know. She thinks that being gay is a choice, and I’m immensely curious if knowing that her non-sexual idiosyncrasies are actually an orientation all their own, knowing she could never change what sets her apart, would change her views.

I believe that modern day feminism assists asexuality, as if focuses on the idea that a woman can do/not do what ever she wants with her body and acknowledges that men are as affected by toxic masculinity as women are, yet I feel that the sex positive feminist of the late 1970s and early 1980s were incredibly harmful to the idea of a person – in particular, a woman – happy without sex. I want to keep this post compact, I will do a part 2 about the sexual revolution and feminism in regards to asexuality in the future.

Being asexual can be incredibly alienating – many of us don’t know anyone who we regularly, physically  interact with in our everyday lives who is also ace, and the ignorant, at times hostile attitude that many zedsexuals have toward asexuality can make coming out nearly impossible in most situations, but 21st century aces have it infinitely better than earlier generations. David Jay, you are my hero. Thank you for calling out into the void of the internet and bringing us together.


Insert random picture here:


This human and this duck have nothing what-so-ever to do with asexuality or queer issues, but it was too cute/ whimsical not to share. May we all find someone, romantic or platonic, who gets along with us as well as these interspecies pals get along.

Until next time,

Keep oooooon Aceing It!


2 thoughts on “Asexuality Before AVEN

  1. This was a great exploration!

    It sounds like you might want to consider having a conversation with your grandmother now about asexuality! It’s not too late to potentially help her with knowledge of asexuality, judging by the need she still feels to fast-forward through sexual scenes in media. I’ve met ace women around age 60, multiple ace women at that age, and they certainly appreciate knowing finally where they fit and why it was so hard to fit in earlier. It sounds also though like her misguided views on other LGBT issues make that complicated for you.


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