I am sex-repulsed & sex-positive. The two are not contradictory.

JUNE 25, 2017: ASEXUALS march, holding I AM ASEXUAL AND I EXIST sign, at 2017 Toronto Pride Parade.
JUNE 25, 2017: ASEXUALS march, holding I AM ASEXUAL AND I EXIST sign, at 2017 Toronto Pride Parade. Photo: Shutterstock
Tyler Stevenson
Tyler Stevenson

Asexuality is a wide spectrum full of people with different ideas about sex. Here are the three predominant attitudes about sex that asexual people tend to hold:

  1. Sex-favorable: “Sex-favorable means that an individual may be open to experiencing sexual activity,” according to the Resource Center for Sexual & Gender Diversity at UC Santa Barbara. A sex-favorable asexual person may enjoy sex for many reasons, such as feeling closer to their partner, pleasing their partner, or enjoying the physical sensations related to sex.
  2. Sex-indifferent: This means that an individual may be open to experiencing sexual activity occasionally or only in certain situations. They may not experience physical or emotional pleasure from these acts, but they do not feel distressed by them.
  3. Sex-Repulsed‒ These people are generally not open to any sexual activity. They often find the act of sex to be disgusting and feel that it causes distress. They may be distressed by the sight of sex on TV or in a movie, or they may just be repulsed by being asked to have sex. The levels of disgust and distress will vary for each individual.

I fall into camp number three. I am a sex-repulsed asexual.

In a culture that promotes sex as being the greatest thing in the world, commodifying sex in everything from burger commercials to reality shows, my opinion on sex stands in direct contrast to society in general.

I’ve always been personally disgusted by sex. The idea of sex turns me off. It’s not even one particular thing about sex that grosses me out. It’s everything about it. In no way could I ever envision myself participating in anything remotely close to sex. Even before I understood that I’m asexual, I felt put off by sex. 

Growing up as a teenager, I felt like an alien due to not being a wild and crazy teenager like in the movies or on TV. Because I was a homebody who didn’t like parties (and still am), I felt estranged from the rest of my peers and kept very few friends. 

One day during senior year, a group of kids in my choir class had a free day, and the conversation spontaneously veered to sex. It just blew my mind. They all began talking about what they’d like to do sexually, what condoms they used during sex, and what they thought about different sexual topics.

Meanwhile, I just sat there completely stunned because I didn’t know anything about the subject. I was just shocked that people were actually having sex because it was the last thing I ever wanted to do.

Another day during that same year, I told my friends I would have gladly had a vasectomy because I didn’t want to have sex. I told them that I could be abstinent forever because I didn’t ever want to have sex. My friends looked at me as if I had grown a second head.

I always said that I would go to my grave as a virgin because I would rather do just about anything other than have sex. 

That is a major reason why I never tried dating or relationships: I knew that sex would be expected of me. Whenever people asked me if I was interested in dating or had a crush on somebody, I either manufactured a fake crush or used the “saving myself for marriage” defense.

It also acted as a repellent for those who seemed interested in dating me. A blessing of sorts.

Some people may be asking: how can someone be sex-repulsed and sex-positive? Allow me to explain.

I love songs about sex (sometimes). I will sometimes watch a movie with a sex scene (if it’s not too excessive). Sometimes romance in books is okay to me.

When it comes to songs about sex and romance, sometimes the melodies are mellifluous. They have a pleasant sound to listen to or sing along with. A good melody is a good melody, no matter what the song is about. As long as it’s not degrading to people, I’m genuinely okay with it. So I can appreciate a great music composition, even if it is about sex.

What makes it even easier to appreciate said song is that the song doesn’t involve me in any way. I don’t like sex, but as long as someone looking for sex doesn’t involve me (and is consensual between all parties), go for it.

That is my viewpoint regarding sex. That is the line for me. 

Here’s another analogy. I love Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts are among my favorite foods. I can eat Brussels sprouts whenever. However, I know that some other people think Brussels sprouts are disgusting. I respect their opinion to not eat Brussels sprouts even if I don’t share their opinion. We just agree to disagree and move on.

It’s the same thing with trivia. I love playing trivia. It’s my favorite hobby. However, I know that trivia is not for everyone. They don’t shame me for being a trivia geek, and I don’t shame them for not being one. 

It’s the same way with alcohol or coffee. I don’t drink coffee. I don’t drink alcohol. I’ve never been interested in either. I have friends who like coffee and alcohol, though. I don’t cast aspersions on my friends for it, and they respect my personal choice to not drink them. 

We respect each other and continue being friends. It’s actually just that easy.

Yet, society, for some reason, just doesn’t have the same respect for sex repulsion.

Society pedestalizes sex and assumes everybody likes it. In the process, sex-repulsed people are treated like nobodies for dissenting.

Many times, sex-repulsed people are castigated as being “prudish,” “frigid,” and not sexually “liberated.” We are told that we simply “haven’t grown up” and become “adults” (because apparently being an adult means having sex). We are often told that our views on sex are “immature” or “childish” and that we just need to “get over our feelings” for the sake of “maturity.” 

I and many other sex-repulsed aces often get told dismissive notions when we mention our sex-repulsion, such as:

  • You need to get laid!
  • You can’t know you don’t like it if you’ve never tried it!
  • You just haven’t met the right person yet.
  • You’ve just never had me in your bed!

I and other sex-repulsed aces get dismissed as people who need to be “fixed.” We are told that we have no choice but to put out if we ever wish to have a romantic relationship because no one would ever want to be with us if we don’t. We are told that because we don’t want to have sex and find sex off-putting, we are somehow alien or inhuman. Sex-repulsed people are often told we’re boring or uncool because we prefer to exclude sex from our lives and we believe we can live full lives without it.

That’s what bothers me most.

Our feelings as sex-repulsed people are rarely taken into account, from purity culture circles to sex-positive circles. 

Sex is my yuck. It just is. I’m sex-repulsed. 

However, I  am still sex-positive for everyone else. I don’t object to other people having sex if they wish to. I just want people to recognize that there are certain people who don’t want to have sex because they are repulsed by it and that it’s okay and valid if you don’t have sex, now or ever.

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