I remember back in my first grad school program in the early 00s, we explored the idea of whether or not something can exist outside of language. And yes, of course it can objectively, but if there’s no language to describe it, does it really exist? What does it mean to exist? Does it mean simply to be, or does it mean to exist within a communicable language?
I’m not here to answer philosophical riddles. What I do know is that the indescribable is part of why language evolves – because we start to gain understanding, and as that happens, we begin to describe our experience and what we’re observing, and eventually we have a language for it.
I’ve been on a bit of a personal quest, the past few years, to crawl out from under blankets of pathology and the idea that there’s something wrong with me to accepting that I’m wired a bit differently. Namely, that I’m on the asexual spectrum. And I’ve been slowly describing to myself what that means and how it manifests in my life.
All aces are different (thus the ‘spectrum’), and one of the things I really appreciate about queerness and queer communities is people giving voice to what their particular experiences are, and the increasing understanding of niche categories. I know some people are uncomfortable with all the labels, but I personally love that we have more and more words to describe experiences. (I’m an analyst/researcher by trade…it warms my little qualitative heart to be able to properly describe things.)
I fall specifically into the aegosexuality category. This isn’t a widely known subcategory, but essentially a-ego means without self – it describes people who experience arousal in some way in response to erotic or sexual materials or activities, but don’t want to be part of any sort of activity themselves. Many aegos will fantasize, consume erotic content, and masturbate, but we don’t see ourselves in the scenarios we imagine. It’s more like we’re observers in our own fantasies. The players involved may be fictional characters or celebrities, or just faceless bodies. In some cases, it may simply be the aesthetics of the materials we’re consuming, or a scenario.
Whatever goes on in an aego’s mind, the hallmark of aegosexuality is experiencing sexual arousal alone, with our own internal or external stimuli, without another person present. Like any asexual, some aegos may indulge in sexual acts with other people at times, some won’t.
In addition to my aegosexual brain, I also experience aesthetic attraction. I do respond to certain stimuli. Many asexuals do. And that sometimes makes things more confusing, especially if you’re in the aegosexual category, because you know that you can and do experience arousal of some sort, but when other people get involved, things suddenly don’t quite work the same way.
For a long time, I thought something was wrong with me. Now I have a word that describes what I experience.
People who chafe at labels and categories have their reasons, but for me, having words and categories and definitions makes me feel validated. There’s nothing wrong with me. There’s not a problem here that needs to be treated or solved.
Now that I have this language, and this understanding, and have found online communities of people who are like me, I just feel so relieved. Because I wasn’t just feeling pressure from social norms and therapists to treat something that was never a disorder to begin with – I was also putting a lot of pressure on myself. Trying to conform to a certain role. Not understanding how I could be philosophically sex positive but get easily freaked out by the actual thing. Not understanding why I could go to certain places in my own head but not with other people.
That pressure and frustration has dissolved, and I feel like I’ve been freed from something that I didn’t realize was binding me. Initially I felt a bit odd about it, and fully embracing it took time. Not because I was unwilling or struggling, but because the label and the language was new, and I was used to masking and preforming and getting frustrated with myself. That wasn’t something I let go off all at once.
Now, I’m content. This is simply my wiring.