A question about vocabulary

Because lately, I have seen people using words in the ace tags that are new to me, and also using words I know in ways that make no sense with the meanings I associate with them. Needless to say, this makes constructive dialogue a bit tricky.

Here I work through my thoughts and personal definitions for some apparently contentious vocabulary. I’d like it if people could tell me where their personal definitions diverge.

Repulsed: Having strongly negative feelings about the idea of having sex oneself (e.g. being disgusted at the idea, finding it repulsive). Does not have to mean being squicked or triggered by sex in other contexts (e.g. porn), although it frequently does. Does not have to mean not having a libido, not masturbating, not having sexual fantasies, not reading/watching porn, etc. Does not imply anything about one’s attitude to sex in general, other people having sex, etc.

Sex aversive: Is a new word I’ve seen that appears to cover the same ground as “repulsed”? It doesn’t really make sense to me, though, because averse is the word that means “having an aversion to”. Aversive mainly has meanings a la aversive conditioning. Plus, I’m also not too keen on the association with Sexual Aversion Disorder - so I’m not currently planning on using that word for myself.

Indifferent: Having neutral to slightly negative feelings about the idea of having sex oneself (e.g. feeling “meh”, “boring” about it). Just as repulsed, doesn’t have to mean anything about sex drive, masturbation, moral feelings about sex and sexuality, etc. Does not have to mean actually willing to have sex or consider having sex themselves.

Sex positive: Okay, I cheat, I know the difference in definitions here and am just taking the opportunity to point out it exists. This word frequently gets used as “not judgemental about other people’s sexual decisions and sexuality”, with the implication that if you’re not sex-positive you’re an arse. I personally don’t feel it’s possible to divorce it from the sex-positive movement, and I’ve had such nasty experiences with ace erasure and anti-ace attitudes there plus other issues with their priorities (embedded in “positive) that I refuse to identify that way despite having those attitudes; I call myself “sex-nonjudgemental” when I need to describe this, which I feel is more accurate, but that doesn’t seem to have caught on.

Nonlibidoist: Originally very strongly associated with the Official Nonlibidoism Society back in the day, it looks as if this term has lost its antisexual elitist connotations and is now just a word for “someone who doesn’t have a sex drive”?

I should probably also toss in that I, personally, try to use ace as an umbrella term for the ace spectrum - it was suggested a while back and I liked the idea a lot. Now, however, I worry that this is idiosyncratic and hence I’m being read as ignoring/erasing grey-a people.

There are probably others I can’t think of right now. What spurred this post is someone drawing a distinction between “sex-aversive” and “repulsed”, which really confused me. I’ll also note that it seemed as if “repulsed” was taking on a negative meaning, and that… kind of makes me angry? Because I actually identify that way under the above definition which I am *relatively certain* was widespread at one time and I feel as if people are stealing my label out from under me. Plus, it’s pretty frustrating to not have the slightest idea what is going through people’s minds when I say “I’m a repulsed ace and…”

There are just so many things.


I’ve been trying to make this argument that repulsed =/= bad on the basis that repulsed, in fact, =/= bad, and that most people have things that turn them on as well as kinks they don’t understand, and boundaries about what they feel comfortable doing with and having done to their bodies. But, more specifically?

For repulsed asexuals (not demis or grey-aces, sorry), you are talking about saying “I don’t want to have sex with people I’m not attracted to” is bad. Because by definition there are no people we are attracted to. The reason this whole thing has a word in the asexual community instead of the way it is talked amongst people of other sexualities (namely: “You do what? Ew!”) Is because we are talking about how much we are willing to do with people we’re not sexually attracted to. This word we have? Is entirely about sexual people and sexual culture.

It is entirely about how the world rejects asexual people in favor of the sexual majority.

And that’s why nobody ever calls themselves a “repulsed heterosexual” or a “repulsed homosexual” or what have you. Because sex between people who are attracted to each other is accepted as something that is logical and makes sense, no matter what the moral judgment is that comes after it.

There are a lot of people of all different sexualities who don’t like various sexual acts. Nobody should try and force them to like it, especially not without their permission. I stand behind that general argument and will continue to do so, because it is a sound argument with solid logical underpinnings.

But on a micro level, singling out repulsed asexuals because we’re not willing to have sex with people we’re not attracted to? You disgust me.

It occured to me yesterday that this is exactly it. The reason sexual people don’t identify as repulsed/indifferent/etc. is because they are not generally expected to have sex with people they categorically aren’t attracted to in the way asexuals are, and if they refuse to have sex with people they categorically aren’t attracted to that doesn’t generally make their experience of their sexuality very different. That is, if a straight person says “nah, not having sex with anyone of my own gender”, that doesn’t have massive knock-on effects in terms of their likelihood of finding a romantic relationship or w/e. Whereas, due to being repulsed, I completely dismissed romantic relationships as an option for ages, and there’s a lot of what indifferent and/or aces who enjoy sex say that is totally alien to me. As a result, it can be an important distinction for asexuals, because it actually carries useful information beyond “ew, sex”.

Although I could see situations where it’d be a useful categorisation for sexual people as well, for instance heteroromantic homosexuals or homoromantic heterosexuals. But for most of them I suspect there’s just no point.

Another note on being repulsed



There are lots of things in this world I do not like, to varying levels. Asparagus. People who don’t use their turn signals. Spiders. Toothpaste of any flavor other than green. And many, many more. Nobody’s suggesting I go to a therapist checked over my burning hatred of tomatoes. Why should sex be any different?

Especially because, no one takes issue when I say “I hate tomatoes” and leave it at that. I don’t have to say, “Well, I can’t really swallow them very well, and the choking usually gives me the shakes, but if they’re very, very finely chopped or pureed like in a sauce then that’s okay, although I don’t like the taste either, so if the insides with the seeds leaks onto something I can’t really eat it, and the look of skinned tomatoes makes my stomach turn, particularly cooked ones, but I can handle them whole and even bring myself to cut them for you (although I find it super gross).” No, I just say “I hate tomatoes”!! You don’t need that much detail! You don’t care about that much detail! So why is my sex life any different?

As long as I am not going around smacking tomatoes out of people’s hands before they can bite into them or trampling tomato plants while twirling my mustache, how can my hatred of tomatoes possibly be offensive?

This right here. Seriously, what the fuck is it with the whole “repulsed is an intrinsically offensive term” bullshit? 

I am getting really tired of sexual people expecting us to cheerlead for their sexualities all the time when they can’t, in general, be bothered to understand or respect ours. It is possible to be repulsed by sex without, in fact, judging other people for having it or enjoying it! I for one am repulsed by bacon—the texture and smell both are utterly repugnant to me, to say nothing of the taste. One of my best friends loves bacon like it’s going out of style. It is utterly possible for me to go “ewwwww, bacon is disgusting” without judging my friend for loving it; my friend, likewise, is capable of hearing “bacon is disgusting” rather than “you are disgusting for liking it.” 

Why is this so hard to extend to sex? Why can’t people hear the words “I think sex is gross” without imagining the implication “I think you are gross, too?” I hate things my friends love all the damn time, and I love things that people I know think are disgusting and vaguely icky, like peanut butter and fluffernutter sandwiches; doesn’t mean that they think I’m disgusting. More for me! 

This forever and ever and ever.

Honestly, I think that when people get omgsooffended by the term “repulsed” it says a lot more about their issues than it does about mine. If you can’t hear “I am repulsed by the thought of having sex” without taking it as a personal attack? I respectfully suggest that you might have some problems with sex and sexuality you might want to take a look at and stop getting all over innocent bystanders. Because I for one am getting very sick over having to bend over backwards for the people who find the idea of someone, somewhere, going “ew, sex :/” offensive.