Another article making it’s way through the online and especially Twitterverse is this one entitled Young, Attractive, and Totally Not Into Having Sex http://www.wired.com/2015/02/demisexuality/?utm_source=digg&utm_medium=email . The article chronicles the way that some college co-eds self-identify sexually. One considers himself a “heteroromantic demisexual.” What the heck is a “demisexual?” Good question. According to the article, “most people who describe themselves as demisexual say they only rarely feel desire, and only in the context of a close relationship.” Conversely, “gray-asexuals (or gray-aces)” are different in that they “roam the gray area between absolute asexuality and a more typical level of interest.”
Demisexuals, gray-aces, according to these students, it mainly depends on the day. “So although labels are a big part of it, demisexuals and gray-aces don’t get too caught up in the lingo. They tend to be pretty comfortable with the idea they might change. A few months after that Friday at the outreach center, Genevieve realized she is more of an asexual than a gray-ace, and Sean now isn’t sure if he’s demi or ace. “Every single asexual I’ve met embraces fluidity—I might be gray or asexual or demisexual,” says Claudia, a 24-year-old student from Las Vegas. “Us aces are like: whatevs.””
Got those terms down? Well, that’s not it. There’s more. A colleague of mine asks– “a patient told me he’s seen over 120 girls on Tinder who define themselves as “sapiosexual. Any thoughts or experience with this?” According to Urban Dictionary (of course the most reliable source on these things– joke), http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=sapiosexual , a sapiosexual is “one who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature.” Apparently, sapiosexuality is the thing on Tinder these days.
So many terms. So many ways to identify. So many sexual self-identities. Another colleague chimes in–
Virtually all of the new nomenclature for various sexual subgroups strikes me as more about identity politics than about any new insights about sexuality. I’m all for people exploring their sexuality and conceptualizing their feelings and behavior any way they like, but it seems very post-internet-tribal to think that everyone has to have a special label for their thing. People now calling themselves “demisexuals,” “asexuals,” etc. used to say “that’s my thing,” which was quite sufficient. If virtually every single person becomes a sexual orientation of a small enough number, we can get rid of the concept of sexual orientation. If that’s the case, let’s just say that out loud.
More cynicism from others follows:
There’s a contemporary phrase that applies, among other things, to the proliferation of identity labels: “special snowflake.” The Urban Dictionary defines special snowflake thusly: “A member of that newly-adult, me’er-than-me generation which expects attention and praise just for being themselves.”
I like that term (“special snowflake”). It is so much more exotic than simply stating “I’m my own person…”
A cynical friend uses the term “yanabus” an acronym for “you are not a beautiful unique snowflake”
These folks may have a point to some extent, but I find it all about way too cynical. In my mind, if people are comfortable enough to openly and honestly discuss their sexuality, that’s a good thing. I’d rather people searching for their own sexual identities and in-groups then be bogged down into silence due to a general societal air of sex negativity. Identity politics may be annoying to some, but it is often an essential and important step in the right direction.
Since this is my blog, I’ll give myself the last word and end with my own thoughts on the subject:
Identity politics have always been instrumental in human rights, civil rights, and sexual rights movements. I don’t think it is something to be so cavalierly dismissed.