People tend to think that growing up asexual in a conservative Christian home is simple. Your parents don’t want you to have sex, you’re not going to have sex. Simple.
When in fact, it still fucks you up, just in a much subtler way.
Conservative Christians are actually obsessed with sex. It’s no wonder, because sexual feelings are a natural part of the human experience for many people. You have to work hard to do away with something that is a natural part of you. You have to shove it into a little box and every time it slips out (cause it will, you’re human) you have to shove it back in. And then beat yourself up for letting it slip out.
It becomes this mystical force that will ruin your life, unless you let it out at the right time. When there’s a ring on it and not a moment before. Unless of course you’re attracted to the same sex, and in that case, Never.
Everyone knows that puberty is when sexual awakening starts. And if parents want to nip it in the bud they have to stay on top of that shit, and this is the time when most teenagers start considering sex. If you’re a “normal” sexual individual starting to get those urges, you have to sneak around your parents boundaries to pursue or even learn about this stuff. Your parents know that, and are waiting around corners to catch you with promise rings and pamphlets about STDs and passages in the Bible that say “don’t have sex”.
When you’re asexual, you’re watching all this from the outside. You see your peers sneaking round corners, and you don’t really care. When you were twelve your parents said “don’t have sex!” and you said “Ok!” and went back to drawing dragons. Nothing has changed since you became a teenager. But your parents are watching you with hawk eyes, and they’re even more frustrated when they see you showing no interest in sex at all. EVERYONE has sexual urges they have to curb, so you must just be really good at hiding it. So they watch you closer and closer and closer. You saunter round the corner your peers would be sneaking round, and your parents pop out and scream “Were you having sex!?” and you scream “No?!” because you were startled by this ambush and the idea of sex that couldn’t be farther from your mind but they take your vehement denial to be a sign of guilt and they keep pressing and pressing and pressing…
It gets even weirder when you’re assigned female. Cause you can say “I don’t have sexual feelings at all” and your mother will say “you’re a woman, of course you don’t. No woman does.” But they’re still waiting round those corners for you to slip up and do the sex. And they give you this picture of the future that “you’re a woman and you don’t want sex, but men NEED sex they NEED IT SO BAD so it’s something you’re going to have to do to keep your man happy”. If you’ve got a somewhat progressive mother she’ll add, “don’t worry, you’ll love it you’ll have so much fun once you’re married” to keep it from becoming a creepy lay-back-and-think-of-England thing, but it still becomes this thing that people will do TO you. You don’t need to have feelings at all on the matter, it’ll just happen.
Not to mention there’s the idea that marriage is the highest of achievements cause like, God is both male and female so when a male and a female marry they are basically the closest to God they’re ever gonna get. It’s ultimate happiness AND you FINALLY get to have the sex that’s been denied you and how on earth does a kid tell their parents they don’t want what is, for them, the greatest prize in this life?
All these messages are weird as fuck for an asexual kid. You don’t really care about this mystical force, but your parents, your pastor, your church peers, are always shoving it in your face as something awful and wonderful. So you get the idea that it’s something super important you never got the memo for. Just like in mainstream society, where sex is the Best Thing Ever, no one believes you when you say you don’t want it.
All of this has, for me at least, led to severe anxiety surrounding the topics of sex and marriage. It may be different for other people, but I think it’s safe to say that things aren’t simple for any of us when it comes to a heteronormative, sex negative and yet sex obsessed society.
“Over the years I tried to numb those feelings, to forget them, to pretend they didn’t bother me. Didn’t work. There are some things in life you can never completely walk away from, as badly as you might want to.”
That image of Joan of Arc burning up in a fire burned inside me like a new religion. Her face skyward. Her faith muscled up like a holy war. And always the voice of a father in her head. Like me. Jesus. What is a thin man pinned to wood next to the image of a burning woman warrior ablaze? I took the image of a burning woman into my heart and left belief to the house of father forever.
From The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch
Alone: for the first time I understood the terrible significance of that word. Alone without a witness, without anyone to speak to, without refuge. The breath in my body, the blood in my veins, all this hurly-burly in my head existed for nobody.