During Cannonball Bingo, I read The Sound of Stars in which a character identifies as ace or maybe demi-ace. The use of ace as an identifier was unfamiliar to me and a google search later brought me to the definition of ‘ace’ being a shorthand for asexual. My initial thought was that was interesting as I hadn’t been familiar with the term but then ‘ace’ got tucked away.
Then I read Narfna’s review and had the realization that asexuality was something I needed to look further into because of how parts of the review seemed to click, so I ordered the book. I’ve been struggling, looking for answers, and for the first time, something seems to fit. The human experience is largely regarded as a mostly universal experience but what Chen looks at in her book is how much society shapes expectation of that experience, in particular regard to the desire for sex.
Compulsory sexuality is a new concept for me but as Chen lays things out it becomes apparent how baked into our society is the assumption that there is a baseline desire for sex that is the same for everyone. That if you don’t share the same desire either you haven’t found the correct partner/sex act or are still repressed from previous thinking of what is appropriate. The result is that if one doesn’t have the same drive for sex, there must be something wrong or defective with the person. This thinking is incredibly harmful on so many levels. Personally, it has had me chasing a ‘solution’ for a ‘problem’.
Doing away with compulsory sexuality also means doing away with hypersexualization and desexualization. Many voices are needed. No more being thought strange for not wanting sex, or people being shocked if you do. We should ask people what they want and not be surprised, no matter the answer. And we should tell them that no matter their answer, we will work to make sure that life can be good for all.”
This is a good book for anyone wondering if they might be somewhere on the asexual spectrum. Just as with other aspects of sexual identity, there are many ways to be asexual and Chen shares the experiences of aces to help paint a broader picture. It is also a good book for anyone looking to expand their knowledge of sexuality and how it intersects with society.