Being sexy while ace

I wonder what it means to be sexy as an Ace person. I spent a couple of weeks sitting on this blog post trying to figure out what my thoughts of being sexy were. Do I think of myself as a sexy person? What does being sexy mean exactly for someone like me?

I already talked about fashion and style in a previous post where I talked about the fact that I may care what I look like but looking sexy isn’t a priority. But there’s still lots to talk about this topic.

I view myself as a late bloomer. I was definitely the awkward teenager who was more interested in reading books than partying with my friends. I spent my childhood unconcerned about my looks and didn’t pay any attention to makeup or fashion. In fact, I a viewed myself as an intellectual who was above caring about my looks. I viewed beauty standards as standards that enforce the patriarchy to oppress women. And my position was a direct rebellion to my parents, who probably care about one’s looks above all else (it’s very Trumpian). In this context, the idea of being sexy was ludicrous. I was aggressively uninterested in being sexy.

I’ve changed over the years. I still view beauty standards as weapons that are used against women but my thoughts have become nuanced over time.

I was a sociology major and political science minor when I was a college student. I was that kid who took way too many lefty sociology and gender studies classes for her own good. I feel like I should describe the state of women’s rights in formal academic language with references. But my lay person’s view of history and sociology is this:

Historically, women were powerless to determine their lives and futures. So, sexual attractiveness was sometimes a tool to achieve some kind of power over men and gain social currency among women. Additionally, being sexually or physically attractive makes people more receptive to you and your ideas. But at the same time, women were and are socially punished for not conforming to feminine ideals. I watched the women’s final for the U.S. Open where Serena Williams was penalized a game point for “verbally abusing” the referee when a man wouldn’t have been penalized for the same offense. Women are still struggling to exist in a sexist world.

I’ve personally transformed to someone who is unintentionally sexy. I’ve always been conservative in my presentation. Nowadays, if I can dress business formal all the time, I would. I think my efforts to look a certain way has the side effect of looking sexy to some people (if they’re into the professional looking women).

I think I’ve become very pragmatic about the idea of being sexy. If I can use being sexy as a another tool in my toolbox to get what I want or to make my existence in the world easier, I’ll take it. I’ve come to realize that the world is unfair and will judge you on frivolous things like how you look. But it’s never my default setting. Like, I’m never going go out in public with my cleavage showing or anything like that. I think it’s fine if other women want to, but I’ve never been comfortable displaying that kind of sexuality for myself. I want to avoid receiving sexual attention as much as possible. So all of my efforts in my style is meant to help me be taken seriously. (However, I have to say that the most provocative thing that I love to wear is backseam tights, which is at once retro, conservative, sexy, and somehow tied to fetish wear. It’s one of the few things I love to pull out during cold weather.)

There is also a racial issue with the idea of being sexy. I think some people will fetishize Asian women no matter what she looks like. So, I’ll be a sexual object to some people no matter what I do.

I think that my views on what it means to be sexy is complicated by the fact that I’m demisexual. I understand what someone means when they say “oh, that’s sexy” or “(s)he’s hot” because I can feel sexual arousal or attraction sometimes. And yet that mindset is not automatic for me so I struggle in a world where being sexy is of high importance to so many people. I don’t place a lot of value in being perceived as sexy. This means that I puzzle over women who take over an hour to get ready to go out (my skincare and makeup routine and blow drying of hair take around 15 minutes tops). And it’s not on my top 5 priorities for a potential partner either (my criterion is that my partner not be hideous or morbidly obese, which is different from requiring him/her to be sexy).

This topic makes me think that I’m trying to navigate the world the best I can. I know the world works a certain way that I don’t like but I don’t necessarily have to agree with the rules.

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6 thoughts on “Being sexy while ace”

  1. Funny thing is I came across several articles discussing powerful women pre-eighties that deliberately chose an asexual persona as part of their strategy in politics or business. I think in reaction to the mechanism you described.

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      1. I’d still like to see Dutch articles linked even if I can’t read them. I can try translating parts of them which has been really interesting with articles in other languages in the past. Plus, you never know when a Dutch speaker might come along and be a lurker who doesn’t comment but could read the articles if they had been linked.

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    1. …okay, so. I’d promised to come back to this. Unfortunately, since I did it in a surf-the-internet mood rather than in serious research mode, I didn’t make good notes, and I don’t have enough time to retrace my steps, for which I apologise. I’ve got a big deadline knocking on my door.
      So. I’m going to go for the thing that’s most important about this, which is ace Dutchies finding information and support. Here were my most fruitful sources in browsing:
      * Atria (“institute on gender equality and women’s history”) was my largest source of articles, on- and offline, particularly because I’m more interested in the women’s side of things (being one myself). It’s an extensive and carefully curated archive about EVERYTHING to do with women’s history, including queer history, located in the centre of Amsterdam. Worth a field trip. I discovered them when they gave a tour during Pride week three years ago. Part of the archive’s also available online. Here’s the English version of their website:
      https://institute-genderequality.org/
      * Google the Dutch terms, “aseksueel” and “aseksualiteit” and if you’re looking for articles, switch to the “news” tab. One of my favourite bits I found through this was in a how-to-treat-it, from a sexologist, no less. It was saying-without-saying-it that it’s not a condition to be healed, but a subject to talk about with your partner.
      “My experience, in my practice, is that asexual clients can experience intimacy, just not in the sexual sense. Intimacy in the broadest sense of the term is a subject we will explore with [your] partner. […] See which types [of intimacy] you and your partner find important and how far you want to go with each other.”
      https://seksuologie.nl/aseksualiteit-is-en-hoe-kun-behandelen/
      Overall it’s a far more positive experience surfing in my native language than in English…
      * The Dutch version of AVEN is a nice-sized community and has off-line meetings in Arnhem, far as I remember. The forum seems to be active. Here’s the English sub-forum if you want to go say hi or you’re visiting Europe: http://du.asexuality.org/index.php?PHPSESSID=5ig9ocfmo7hvhnhi5pvjdajqa0&board=4.0
      * Dutch LGBT+ centres are called COC, which didn’t have much on the way of info on asexuality. I haven’t visited them, but the representatives of the local centre did actually visit my secondary school as part of our sex ed, which helped me when I was questioning myself a decade later.
      https://www.coc.nl/tag/aseksueel
      Their international website:
      https://international.coc.nl/

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