Please Stop Cockblocking Us
I was with my friend Amy in her car, parked a few blocks from my apartment. We had been seeing each other for a few months, and I wanted to have a proper relationship with her, so we were having The Conversation.
She explained that she wasn’t sure if she was able to have a relationship at that point, and she didn’t want to waste my time. I assured her she wasn’t wasting my time.
“Are you asexual?” she asked.
“No, really. It’d be fine if you were. I just heard that it’s really common with autistic people. When I told my mom you had Asperger’s, she asked if you were asexual, and I said I wasn’t sure.”
“I’m not,” I said. “Believe me.”
“Well, that’s good,” she said. “I don’t want to sound like a nympho or anything, but I couldn’t date someone who was asexual.”
When Hannah and I were first seeing each other, one of her friends was concerned that I had Asperger’s.
“My ex-boyfriend had it, I think,” her friend said. “Most people with Asperger’s are asexual. He’ll pretend to be interested in sex until it gets serious, and then he’ll just stop.”
Hannah wasn’t sure what to think, so she asked Amy for her input.
“He’s not asexual,” said Amy. “We talked about it.”
There is a stereotype, for some reason, that a lot of people with autism are asexual. It isn’t true. The rate of asexuality among autistic people isn’t any higher than the rate of asexuality among non-autistics.
I don’t know where this shit comes from.
Perhaps it’s because autistics are shy and socially awkward, so our interest in sex isn’t necessarily evident.
Or maybe it’s because people are generally uncomfortable with the idea of disabled sexuality. After all, it’s not just autistics who are commonly portrayed as asexual; most disabled people are stereotyped in this way.
But for some reason, the myth of autistic asexuality appears particularly common.
I’ve only ever met one person on the autistic spectrum who was definitely asexual. And you know how I knew that? He told me.
Aspies tend to be pretty honest about this sort of stuff. They will either cheerfully volunteer information you might not want to know (hyposensitive Aspies) or respond to direct questioning (hypersensitive Aspies).
We’re open about our sexualities because we don’t recognize- or we don’t care- that these issues are taboo, and that certain sexualities and gender identities are stigmatized.
For instance, non-autistic asexual people might remain closeted because they’re aware that asexuality is seen by many people as abnormal. The same goes for people who are hypersexual. Or people who are genderqueer. Or queer in any other sense.
Autistic people don’t disproportionately fit into any of these categories, but the ones who do will tend to be open about it. Because why wouldn’t we be?
Honestly, if you people followed our lead, the world would be a better place.
I remember walking through Queen’s Park with one of my Aspie friends when he started loudly talking about how he was craving cunnilingus. For those of you who don’t live in Toronto, Queen’s Park is basically a large traffic island situated in the middle of downtown, in the middle of a university campus. It is always crowded with students, bikers, joggers, and families.
“I love cunnilingus so fucking much!” he declared. “It is probably my favourite sexual activity!” He proceeded to describe the texture and taste of the human vagina loudly, and in vivid detail.
This is the same person who once told me about getting a handjob in a public bathroom from a guy dressed as the Easter bunny.
Not all expressions of autistic sexuality are quite that vivid. Most are fairly nondescript: a classically autistic guy I know complaining about his love life on Facebook, or an Aspie acquaintance talking about how he identifies more as disabled than gay, even though he belongs to both communities. I remember another Aspie talking about how hard it was to meet people on his geographically isolated college campus, and last summer I recall overhearing two Aspie co-workers talk lasciviously about an attractive female colleague. I remember asking one of my Aspie friends out on a date, and her turning me down, only to ask me out on a date several months later.
For a community of freaks and pariahs, we can be awfully conventional. And at the end of the day, all we want- for the most part- are normal things.
You know what this stereotype about autistic asexuality is doing to us? We’re already isolated. We already have difficulty in social situations, and a hard time finding relationships, and a hard time getting laid.
This pernicious myth is making us even more isolated, and making it even harder to find whatever form of human connection we might be looking for.
My people are being cockblocked.
It needs to stop.