I clicked that so fast and my goodness do I recommend. The zine is on etsy for download (£.75 / $1.19) or in print (£1.50 / $2.38 plus shipping). It’s word-processed so very legible (and I believe screenreader friendly), and a whopping 55 pages (dang for a zine!). [If you can’t afford it or access it because online payments, send me or the creators a message, please! It’s important to me.]
Content includes lots about compulsory sexuality, abuse, trauma, consent, internalized pressures and -ism’s; some thoughts about aceness and deminess; being non-monogamous but not often interested in seeking out new people and defaulting to one partner who has lots of other partners; a little bit about sexual pain, and disorders, and sex therapy and “no goals” and how achievable that is in our society.
It’s good at particular piece trigger warnings about rape and non-consent and self-harm and drugs, but the whole thing is pretty heavy content.
Now, having described it, I want to talk a little about what I’m drawing from it (as I sit here processing my first read-through).
So much of this brought me back to my own experience in the queer/poly scene. Even as someone who was out as (later grey-) asexual, I was…expected to either skip the sexy social events (which, let’s be real, were all of them, even things I didn’t expect would be like the queer leadership retreat’s musical chairs bonding activity) — or to participate / fade into the background, be as unnoticeably ace as possible, as encouraging and validating as possible. Never to express being uncomfortable, because that would be oppressive and repressive.
Blech. Whoo sex-positivity.
Next: that terrifying sinking feeling, that question “what do I really want from sex?” and finding a vast hole for an answer, in therapy with “no goals” around sex but that really just means no spoken goals which means compulsory sexuality as unspoken and there.
Recently I was asking myself, “how will I know when I’m ready to have sex again?” It has been transforming into, what does readiness mean, why do I want that, why should I take all those risks again — and also acknowledging, right now I don’t see those whys but that could very possibly change, fluctuate, again, and I would like to be ready.
And confronting: a huge reason why I wanted sex, both now after traumatizing experiences, and initially before I ever had it…was, to build positive associations with it?
Now: to get the bad taste [of trauma] out of my mouth.
Before: to get the bad taste [of compulsory sexuality, acephobia, religion repression queerphobia transphobia, dysphoria, fear, bullying about virginity and desirability and sexual activity, fumbling teen experiences and unexpected triggers] out of my mouth.
The zine has a piece about, having sex, with people you’re attracted to / into / want to have sex with, but it being…not what you want. Sex that you don’t want. And how incredibly, utterly disorienting that is.
Figuring out that line between disillusionment / disappointment (“it wasn’t what I wanted” ?) versus… non-consent (“I didn’t want it” ?). Fuck, I’m not wording this very well.
Especially for folks like me, greyness, being actually attracted to people and acting on it…to have it go wrong. Because how do you negotiate from a position of hardly-ever-please-be-my-exception-oh-please? How do you negotiate from wow-I’m-head-over-heels? So vulnerable and so easily led, coerced, into doing something you don’t actually want. Something not consensual.
There was also a really good line, about how sexual desire / attraction, doesn’t always equate to… not even action, but, desire to act, or desire for a perfect situation to happen so one could act, even.
Important, I think, to reemphasize, in how folks can come to identify with demi, grey, and aceness, for reasons other than a sexual attraction / desire framework. Because if you don’t really want to manifest your attraction / desire — not for religious/moral/ethical / celibacy reasons, but because you just, don’t want to, aren’t driven to, it’s not important to — well damn, that sounds acey to me. At least in my more inclusive dreamworld it does.
Not so much about aceness, but trauma: the idea that being dumped, instead of left, is still them being in control, exercising their privilege and power, and that’s why it can hurt so bad. Ouch.
There’s a great section on polyamory / non-monogamy, on wanting to be free to pursue new attractions/interests, and not feeling compatible with monogamy…but also, because spoons and energy, and because intimacy and the funniness of attraction/interest (and, I think relatedly, ace-spectrum feels), not often seeking or finding new people.
And yeah, that often ends up, with one partner who is yes, core functional level of non-monogamous, but manifested functional level not that many people, perhaps just one… and that other partner who seeks many, many people. And yes, that is very tiresome, makes support difficult, can feel very imbalanced.
I’m so glad and fortunate to be with someone else who has a similar non-monogamy style to me. Who also wants us to be open to pursue interests, maybe talk about them with each other when we have the spoons, but we’re also not out hunting or seeking, just existing. Knowing it’s an option, a very probable one at that, but that there’s no time crunch, and we’re building us and our mutual support.
The zine wonders if it’s ethical to wish for that, for similar styles and levels of energy/seeking out other people. Hell yes, but damn it isn’t easy or well understood as a criterion.
Last but not least, the word “craysexuality.” Ohhhh I love that. For so many brains reasons. What a good zine.