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Dating as asexual is hard because it is incredibly difficult for allosexual people to understand a sexual identity that does not center sex.

I marathon-watched season five of “Bojack Horseman” in a single day because of who I am as a person. It's been a couple months since the season dropped on Netflix, but it's still on my mind, especially Todd's story. Despite the show’s issues with white actors voicing characters of color (and the, ya know, normalized beastiality), it's still one of my favorite things Netflix has ever brought to life—a guilty pleasure, more or less. One of the reasons I keep watching it is Todd Chavez. Not because he's an incredibly well fleshed out character, in fact, it's quite the opposite. Todd is a habitual couch-surfer and self-saboteur, an accidental genius who stumbles his way into various powerful, decision-making roles, a regular Captain Obvious who somehow simultaneously takes an inordinate amount of twists and turns to monologue his way to simple point of truth that everyone else in the room already arrived at eons ago. The most interesting thing about Todd, for me, is his place as one of the few asexual characters visible in the media, and his asexuality is explicitly stated. It's not something left ambiguous for fans to speculate about, the way many have done with Dexter Morgan, Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance of Sherlock Holmes, Sheldon Cooper, The Doctor, and Jessica Rabbit. In fact, Todd's most compelling storylines revolve around him reckoning with his asexuality, coming out, and navigating the dating world as someone on the spectrum. In the most recent season, Todd is dating a fellow asexual, Yolanda. When she takes him home to meet her family in episode three, “Planned Obsolescence”, it's revealed that Yolanda’s father is a best-selling erotic novelist, her mother is world-renowned adult film star, and her twin sister is a sex advice columnist. Her family is obsessed with sex. So much so that her father exclaims things like “As I jizz and breathe!” and tries desperately to gift Yolanda and Todd an obscenely large barrel of personal lubricant, a family heirloom, her great grandmother's recipe, with hopes that they will use it to have sex in the family home that night. Eventually, this absurdity culminates with the entire family covered in lube and Yolanda screaming, “I'm asexual!” in the midst of a slippery fight with her twin sister who is determined to seduce Todd. But Yolanda’s coming out doesn't happen where we can see it. Immediately after this is a time jump, indicated by a title card that reads: “One thorough but respectful dialogue later.” If only coming out as asexual were this easy and headache-free. I assure you, it is not. In the end, they break up. The only thing they have in common is their shared asexuality, Todd notes, with a sadness in his voice. He knows they shouldn't resign to dating each other simply because they are the only asexual people they know. That is not how human connection, emotional investment, and relationship-building work. Todd assures her that there is a guy for her who is smart and accomplished and impressive. “Who also doesn't want to have sex?” she interrupts. “Yeah, probably,” he responds. “...But what if there isn't?” [caption id="attachment_50218" align="aligncenter" width="800"] courtesy of Netflix[/caption] This is a fair question from Yolanda, and one that I can absolutely feel the weight of. Meeting other asexual people is not nearly as simple as meeting allosexual people. We're only about 1% of the population, as far as we know. The thing is that asexuality is still such an obscure topic to most people, to the point where some people don't even know that it even exists, there are a significant number of people who are on the asexuality spectrum but are simply unaware because of this glaring gap in discourse about sexuality and orientation. So, yes, it can be exceedingly difficult for us to meet other asexuals, and it is even more difficult for us to meet allosexual people who are interested in dating us and also willing to respectfully accept that we do not experience normative sexual attractions and/or normative sexual desires. Cultivating the kind of comfortability, intimacy, and trust with someone that I need to truly be able to enjoy sex is exhausting, especially if I have to explain my sexuality to them a dozen times in the process, and the mere thought of going through this is often anxiety-inducing. Dating as asexual is hard for a lot of reasons, largely because so many people don't understand what it is to begin with, and because of that misunderstanding, many people see it as a challenge. This, among other acephobic sentiments, unfortunately leads to asexual discrimination and sexual violence, such as corrective rape. Dating as asexual is hard because we are supposed to be a part of the LGBTQIA+ acronym, but we often aren't even considered as part of the queer community. Gatekeepers continually try to push us out, and if they say we don't belong here, then where? Dating as asexual is hard because living in a sexually repressed society that is also constantly throwing sex in our faces (much like Yolanda’s family) causes most people to view asexuality as an unnatural impossibility, even a rude position to take, unable to comprehend the fact that it is not a choice, anymore than anyone else's sexuality is. Dating as asexual is hard because it is incredibly difficult for allosexual people to understand a sexual identity that does not center sex. Dating, for us, involves nuances that the vast majority of allosexual people simply do not have to think about on the level that people on the asexuality spectrum do. Some asexual people still engage in sex acts, for valid reasons that are our own, but many of us have no desire for sex at all. For people who fall on this end of the asexuality spectrum, trying to navigate the dating world often leaves us in unsafe spaces, in which we are coerced or pressured into sex, pressured into presenting as and performing a sexuality that is not natural for us. We get accused of being “a fucking tease” for simply being ourselves and have our boundaries disrespected by people who we thought we could trust. It is true that many people experience this pressure on some level, especially non-men, but experiencing this while asexual adds another layer. In the same way that my Blackness and my fatness create additional layers to my sexualization.
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Whether you want a romantic relationship, partnership, marriage or none of the above–let your single flag fly unapologetically.

Think about your earliest ideas of being single–was your association negative? Did it carry undertones of loneliness, sadness or undesirability? By your definition, did singleness somehow equate emptiness or incompletion? If that was your understanding, you weren't alone. When I was a kid I remember hearing adult men associate singledom with heavy-set women (insert major side eye) who ate ravioli from the can with their bare hands, while crying over romance films and soaking their cats with their tears. The same men that shamed single women were not only single themselves, they were actually celebrated for it. I learned quickly that it was indeed a man's world. I grew up believing that every man was a prince, and a woman needed approval from a prince to be considered a princess. As young girls lead by the Disney dynasty, media never taught us to imagine our lives without a man at the helm. It was suggested that unless a prince became your savior, you were destined to be nothing more than a dusty damsel incapable of living a meaningful life. Cinderella's slippers weren't good enough; her worth was contingent upon her ability to fit into the slipper more palatable to the prince. Snow White's prince made out with her and took consent-less ownership of her body while she was sleeping–but that was okay because he claimed her. I'm sure they lived happily ever after.
Related: 10 THINGS EVERY INTERSECTIONAL FEMINIST SHOULD ASK ON A FIRST DATE

Welcome to #AskCam, a column where sex and intersectionality are not divided but welcomed together.

  Dear Cam, How exactly do I address consent in casual relationship settings? If I'm in a longer-standing relationship, I'm not embarrassed or ashamed to talk about literally any topic....but if I go on one date with someone and I'm not vibing them then they kiss me or grope me or touch me in some way that my body is adverse, I get uncomfortable and can't find the words to defend myself in the moment. Sometimes it's because I shut down, other times I just prefer the out that I can ghost them and use that as a way to avoid the in-person confrontation. If I don't know the person at all, I'm fine. You creep on me at the bar or catcall me I'm telling you to your face to not sexually harass me, but it's this weird in between where I almost feel a sense of either guilt, or obligation, or fear that clouds my ability to speak out. -Casual Consent   Dear Casual Consent, I think your question is an increasingly important one. There's so much conversation lately about the ways that desirability, consent, and autonomy spill over into our everyday (*ahem* sexual) lives, and I think that we don't really allow much space for navigating these things in ways that are free of confusion and awkwardness. When I first read your letter, I immediately thought that this wasn't so much a question of consent itself – you already seem to have a firm grasp on that – to me, your question speaks more about boundaries. Boundaries are a tricky thing in itself – for women and people who have been conditioned and socialized as femme folks, we've been brought up with this idea that other people's needs should come before our own. Empathy and compassion for others are admirable traits, but because conversations about autonomy and boundaries weren't accompanied, the message that most of us received was that what we want and need aren't as important as our partner's wants and needs, whether they identify as cis-het men or not.
Related: HOW SEXUALITY IS CRUCIAL FOR INTERSECTIONALITY: AN INTRODUCTION

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