Charlie Stone is an author and journalist who has worked for the BBC, several national newspapers in the UK and international media.
Ace Week – to raise awareness of asexuality – has been hijacked to sell erotic lingerie, showing how pointless the campaign is. Instead, how about a week where all the tiresome talk about sexuality and gender is banned completely?
I have a confession to make. It is massively important and deeply personal, yet of absolutely zero relevance, really, to anyone else.
But that’s the point, you see: it’s all about ME. Me, me, me! So, listen up. In order to make myself feel more comfortable in the world, I need everyone else to know the single most important thing about my entire existence, and that is… my sexuality.
Here goes. Ready?
I’m straight. A heterosexual male. I’m super sorry, I know that’s terrible and I am probably hugely damaged and hiding something deep and dark and I’ve been lying to myself my whole life. But, there it is. I have never, not once in my entire existence – not even drunk, nor as a confused teenager raging with hormones – been tempted to have sexual contact with anyone other than a genetic female.
I have never, not once, fancied another man. Nope. Never. Men, to me – sexually speaking – are hideous creatures (and that includes men masquerading as women), and it never ceases to amaze me that females don’t just throw stones at us.
Lots of my mates are men and, honestly, I’d really rather not see any of those dudes naked. Ever.
Yet I do have male friends who fancy other men. And I have female friends who fancy other women. And I know people who have a foot in both camps. And… I really, honestly, don’t care. It’s simply not that interesting.
Good for them. Fill yer boots, guys and gals. Enjoy yourselves. But if I’m not one of the parties actually involved in a specific sexual event, then what the hell has it got to do with me?
You may have missed it, but last week was is ‘Ace Week’ – formerly ‘Asexual Awareness Week’. Asexual. First off, it’s only a word, so let’s all get on the same page and see what the dictionary definition is (when not referring to plants): “not having sexual feelings toward others.”
Not so, it seems, for Yasmin Benoit, a ‘British Model & Award-Winning Asexual Activist’. To Yasmin, asexual means… a reason to sell sexy underwear under the dim phrase “This is what asexual looks like.” Err? Isn’t sexy lingerie supposed to titillate yourself and your lover?
“I teamed up with @PlayfulPromises for the first EVER asexual-themed lingerie campaign! I’m so proud to make history as an openly asexual model. I’m proud to be asexual. I’m proud to represent all of you. Let them know that #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike!” said Yasmin.
For #AceWeek2021, I teamed up with @PlayfulPromises for the first EVER asexual-themed lingerie campaign! I’m so proud to make history as an openly asexual model. I’m proud to be asexual. I’m proud to represent all of you. Let them know that #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike! 💜 pic.twitter.com/5x1fAiKmmp
— Yasmin Benoit, MSc (taking a lil break) (@theyasminbenoit) October 24, 2021
The campaign, of course, sparked something of a Twitter storm.
Some wag actually tweeted a photo of a potato under that “this is what asexual looks like” claim – which is, of course, scientifically correct.
And as another Twitter user pointed out, apparently desiring and enjoying sex these days doesn’t actually make one any less asexual. Err? Righto. I’m a vegetarian, but I love a nice juicy steak.
Thread Warning. A @PinkNews video about ‘asexuality’ confirms we live in a world in which words and definitions have lost all meaning. The hosts state even if you enjoy and desire sex, it doesn’t make you “any less asexual” before promoting their ‘asexual’ lingerie brand. (1/4)
— James Esses (@JamesEsses) October 28, 2021
Yes, yes, Yasmin and the ‘asexual community’ – I get the broader point: asexuality can look like anything. But, so what? None of this has anything to do with sexuality or gender, if you ask me. It’s got everything to do with sales and marketing.
There’s a fortune to be made in this gender and sexuality obsessed culture we now live in. And, by its very definition, you can sell this asexual s**t to anyone. It’s a marketeer’s wet dream: “You’re saying we can flog sexy lingerie to people who feel no sexual attraction? Awesome!”
Dress up as you please; I don’t care. Here’s the thing, though: if the most important fact about you is your gender identity or sexual preference, then I’d suggest you need to get out more and start developing more interests. Get a hobby, boys and girls.
That applies to ‘you’ and ‘they’ too, of course – those of you who don’t feel like being bound up in a binary world. Just don’t impose your non-binary obsession on me. I’m really sorry, but I’m way too busy with my own life to have any role at all to play in YOUR search for identity, your utter self-obsession.
Anyone who has had friends of a different sexual persuasion than themselves soon moves on to more interesting pastures for conversation – unless, that is, they bleat on about it all the time. And if they do, they’re not much fun to be around.
There’s an infinite number of genders and types these days. What started out as a movement to protect the rights of gays and lesbians has morphed into an unwieldy, wobbling alphabet soup of a concoction.
Today, we’re up to LGBPTGQIAAA+. That’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, genderqueer, queer, intersexed, agender, asexual, and ally.
If in doubt, it seems, just slap some letters on the end and join the rainbow. How long before we’re at LGBPTGQIAAAABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ? Oh, and don’t forget the ‘+’, of course.
Then there are ‘all’ those gender types. Many of these overlap, but here’s some more to add to the mix: two-spirit, cisgender (you match what you have in your underwear), non-binary, gender neutral, agender, pangender, third gender, blah, blah, blah…
I really can’t be bothered to unpack all that, because it’s dull. Plus, anyway, you can be all – and none – of the above. It means everyone and everything, basically. So, therefore, it all means precisely nothing. It’s just gas. Rainbow-coloured gas.
So from now on, if anyone should happen to pull me over for a nice chat about gender or sexuality – this has never actually happened in real life, it’s only an internet thing – I will tell them that I identify as a SUP.
Yeah, I know, that’s a new one. But there are new ones almost every week. SUP means “SHUT UP about your bloody sexuality and/or gender identity.” The fact you babble on about it all the time is merely a symptom of your own self-obsession. You need to do something else to make yourself more interesting.
Go play darts, go rock climbing, knit mandalas, learn to play the banjo, supercharge mopeds, breed butterflies or whatever, but SUP! Shut up about your f**king sexuality! We can even have a SUP Week, during which talking about gender and sexuality – other than with your partner(s) – is banned. During SUP Week, everyone wears a rainbow mask with a zip through it.
I have no idea what, if any, of this alphabet soup translates into when it comes down to real-life sexual acts, but I suspect it’s very little. That’s because you’re not being dope or hip or Gucci or rad or awesome or cool or whatever the latest term for ‘very good’ might be. You’re just being BORING.
And nobody wants to go to bed with a bore, even if it’s just to go to sleep.