Macrophilia 200 Series
- Giants in Popular Media
- Female Socialization, Male Gaze, and Paraphilia
- Asexuality, Paraphilia, and Identity
- On “Reverse Pedophilia”, GT vs SW, and Other Tangents
204: Asexuality, Paraphilia, and Identity
The intersection of asexuality and paraphilia is a tricky one, and they’re not things that most folks, aces and paraphiles alike, can even imagine come close to intersecting. It’s a difficult to explain, there’s been no organized effort to discuss the subject among other aces, let alone any academic inquiry (despite a strong tradition of studying us like animals within sexual psychology and the related fields).
This is going to be my official proposal for the introduction of paraphilic attraction to the attractions model as most commonly understood among GSRM circles.
WHY: This isn’t relevant to just me, or to just aces. Many fetishists (of the banal and inoffensive variety) are strongly attracted to traits, actions, scenarios, objects, and sensations that are otherwise inexplicable and cannot easily be reduced to a simple preference in aesthetics, just as gender cannot easily be reduced to the ownership of/desire to have certain body parts. It is informed by romantic, emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, sexual and sensual orientations, but is not them. It’s another piece to the puzzle that I feel the current model lacks and which proved to be a hurdle over the course of my own self-discovery. I imagine that introducing this term might help others who struggle with their conception of and relationship with intimacy, sexuality, and/or asexuality because of incongruities with their own lived experience with the accepted definitions.
HOW paraphilic attraction works: To speak in terms of fire-fighting, an attraction can be both an accelerant or a fuel, depending on how they mix with the others. Paraphilic attraction functions in the same way. A foot fetishist experiences paraphilic attraction to an object, which may or may not also mean sexual attraction. A physical masochist is primarily attracted to the sensation of pain, with less importance given to who is inflicting it, and may or may not be sexually stimulating to them on its own. But they are also usually capable of augmenting other kinds of relationships and orientations. Someone who enjoys seeing people wearing latex will probably be even more fulfilled if their partner (someone who they experience other kinds of attractions toward) is interested in wearing it. Someone who enjoys orgasms will enjoy them all the more if the orgasm is achieved with the inclusion of their fetish focus. Aaand so on.
A FETISH FOR SEX?
This is an idea that I saw get alluded to on a few occasions back when I still made use of the AVEN forums: having a fetish for the sex act itself. As in, the sensations aren’t pleasurable enough on their own to merit pursuing, you don’t experience sexual attraction, but you’re still having sex for more than just pleasing your partner. It’s still enjoyable in a both cerebral and primal sort of way despite the feeling of being disinterested in the actions being performed in and of themselves.
A lot of aces still watch, read, write, and draw porn. According to an AVEN poll, ~53% of aces still watch porn at least sometimes. And according to this poll, ~30% of aces who have and enjoy sex like it for reasons that don’t include pleasure or partner satisfaction. (The “other” option for question #8 might be inflated because the poll was unclear, however.)
I think I can say that I’ve got a sex fetish. I don’t have sex just because my husband wants to. I don’t have it because a libidinous itch needs to be scratched. (Not the world’s biggest fan of orgasms; I can take em or leave em for the most part.) Sex is fun, and I’m drawn to it for reasons that are mostly as inexplicable as my attraction to dudes of impossible proportions. It’s a completely cerebral relationship that I have with it, and like with everything else about the way I do intimacy, it probably comes down to abstracted and symbolic violence for me – mememto mori – and reinforcing feelings of ownership. It can be appealing along other axes of attraction as well; aesthetic, romantic, whatever.
It’s probably useful for me to define “sex” here also, since it’s so… meaningless in discussions like these. And especially since I don’t believe that sex is even remotely the only way for bodies to engage in physical intimacy of the ecstatic variety. So I guess in this context, “sex” is going to refer to oral, anal, or vaginal penetration and/or actions that result in erotic pleasure that are at least intended to build toward orgasm. That’s not exactly the definition that I use in my own personal relations, but it’s useful enough I think.
PARAPHILIA WITHOUT LIBIDO
Do you feel the urge to masturbate whenever you see someone pretty walk down the street? When you get a hug from a friend? When your crush tells you about their day? No? Well, if those kinds of attractions can exist independently from sex drive, then so can paraphilic attraction. Not all pleasure is erotic pleasure – things can be pleasurable to the touch, to the ears, to the tastebuds, and even to the brain. Wikipedia describes pleasure like so:
Pleasure describes the broad class of mental states that humans and other animals experience as positive, enjoyable, or worth seeking. It includes more specific mental states such as happiness, entertainment, enjoyment,ecstasy, and euphoria. The early psychological account of pleasure, the pleasure principle, describes it as a positive feedback mechanism, motivating the organism to recreate in the future the situation which it has just found pleasurable and to avoid situations that have caused pain in the past.
Duh, right? Of course, laid out like that it’s obvious – yet how often in our casual interactions do we equate all forms of pleasure with sex and eroticism? The Asexuals Involved in BDSM blog has recently wrapped up a week of guest posts about what being ace and/or non-libidinous is like, and I highly recommend it for folks having a hard time wrapping their head around the fact that paraphilia does not preclude libido or sexuality.
BUT WHAT DOES THIS ALL HAVE TO DO WITH MACROPHILIA
Well, it should come as no surprise to you, having read all of the essay up until now, that the fantasy of being in the presence of giants or tiny people need not be sexual in order to be thrilling in a deeply-felt way. Just as children can form obsessions that end up becoming foundational to their identity as developing human beings, sometimes these obsessions carry over into adulthood and continue to produce that same awe-inspired fascination. Being exposed to the focus of the paraphilia produces a knee-jerk reaction the same as being addressed by name.
Which brings me to…
PARAPHILIA AS IDENTITY
If concepts like “homemaker” or “bread-winner” or “husband” or “wife” are sources of very real identity for people who participate in the wider Western overculture, then concepts like “giant” and “tiny” accomplish the very same for those of us within the comparatively small, sub- sub- sub-culture of macrophilia.
To use myself as an example, imprinting happened around 5 or 6 years of age: I caught a vintage Disney short, The Brave Little Tailor, on TV, and unknown to me, a switch went off. Movies like Thumbelina and Fern Gully fast become favorites, but the identity forming in my psyche didn’t become apparent until I started having major growth spurts. Being able to reach things on high shelves seemed distantly unsettling; I felt a sense of loss when my parents and other family members couldn’t pick me up anymore; rooms and furniture I once remembered as being enormous eventually grew smaller and plainer; and as soon as I started to outgrow my twin bed, I knew I’d lost something very important to me and was never going to get it back, even though I didn’t really know what that something was.
For me, approaching puberty didn’t just mean slowly developing secondary sex characteristics and the onset of menstruation (none of which I was thrilled about either), but in a way, I was also undergoing a “slow growth” transformation not unlike what can be found in growth process fetish material. Do a google search for “slow growth GTS” and you’ll know what I mean. They key here, though, is the feeling of growing past what was reasonable and normal to me, resulting in a feeling of “overcompleteness” once I was done, which is how sufferers of Body Integrity Identity Disorder/xenomelia explain their feelings of not needing a full set of limbs. Needless to say, I feel that those of us who “identify” with a smaller size might fall under the BIID umbrella.
Having a fetish identity need not always translate into body issues, though. As identities of every sort are socially constructed (from orientation, to gender, to race, etc.), it’s important to remember that an identity simply functions to situate you in relation to others. To use myself as an example again, I feel that “small and cute” more adequately conveys my gender and orientations than almost any other label available to me, and I have never been able to put into words how this is. (I have tried, though.) In terms of the kink and leather community, the fetish identity often functions to fix one’s place along a constructed hierarchy; usually this translates to an hierarchy of two partners, but sometimes it can be successfully situated within larger groups, whether temporarily during events, or more permanently, like within a leather household.
Next up, the last piece of the essay: “Reverse Pedophilia”, GT vs. SW, Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, and a few other things.
(Wow, I’m actually going to finish this, it looks like. Neat.)