Asexuality & Porn: Meet the Aegosexuals

Asexuality does not mean having no sexuality at all. It is often assumed that if you are asexual, then you are likely to be repulsed by sex. Sure, there are asexual people who are repulsed by anything sexual, but there are those who are quite the opposite. There are many asexual people who enjoy masturbation, who have kinks, those who still engage in sexual activities with other people for their own pleasure, and yes, asexual people who enjoy pornography and other erotic material.

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Aegosexuality

I have learned through my own experience and by listening to others that consuming sexual content can be a different experience for those on the ace spectrum, but it is not uncommon. In fact, the phenomenon is common enough in the ace community that there is a word for it, ‘aegosexuality.’

Aegosexuals are aroused by sexual content but do not necessarily have the desire to be involved in the activities themselves. While allosexual people (those who are not on the ace spectrum) are more likely to fantasise about themselves in sexual scenarios and use sexual content – like pornography – to stimulate those fantasies. For aegosexuals, it is quite the opposite. Aegosexuals are more likely to find comfort in fantasies because they would not want to be involved; the distance between themselves and the content is essential.

Keeping the Distance

“A lot of people may not understand how a person can be sex-positive and engage in explicit material while also being asexual,” El told me on Twitter, “I have no problem ‘getting off’, but I’m not interested in doing it with another person. And I’m not interested in doing it as ‘myself’ either.” This turned out to be a very common theme. Sarah expressed her appreciation for the idea of sex as an “intense physical and emotional connection between people who already love each other,” but while she loves the idea of that intimacy and finds it “intensely enjoyable,” she doesn’t want to partake in it herself.

“I need a degree of separation between myself and the act in order to enjoy porn,” another aegosexual explained. While they did ‘project’ themselves onto one of the participants as “mental foreplay,” they were attracted to the sexual acts, not the people. Even having the actor look at the camera – “at me” – crossed the line. Similarly, Christina said, “I don’t have erotic fantasies involving myself, but there are certain kinks/fetishes that make me aroused… Erotic material allows me to get sexual satisfaction without getting physically involved in any sex practices, which is the perfect match for me.”

“I’m very comfortable with sexual fantasies as long as I’m not included! If I’m involved or can even feel like I’m involved by proxy, it makes me uncomfortable or just kills any momentum,” another aegosexual told me. Leon describes themselves as being “adverse” to having sex in real life. Trying it “further cemented the fact that I’m aegosexual. I was better off reading smut, sometimes listening to audio porn, even watching porn than actually doing the real thing.”

“Trying to connect to it as another person specifically doing that act *to* me, it gets very uncomfortable. Imagining the thrill is all I really want,” explained another user, “I guess it’s kind of like enjoying watching extreme sports, but not wanting to do it yourself?” I can attest to that.

Different Strokes

This sexual content does not just have to be ‘hardcore’ pornography, it could be any kind of content that has a sexually stimulating effect. As with the allosexual population, different content works for different people. The aegosexual experience is no different. Many of those I spoke to preferred either videos or erotic fiction with a range of themes – from homemade videos of queer couples, to movie sex scenes, fictional monster-human pairings, and BDSM. Some of those I interviewed also expressed an interest in the increasingly popular type of audio porn.

Jay, a 28-year-old biromantic ace, discovered audio porn while searching for pornographic stories, and she ended up preferring it. “I tend to listen to ones that are less focused on telling a story, and more focused on the sounds of someone experiencing sexual pleasure. Being a woman myself, I particularly like listening to female voices. When I hear a woman get excited, my body responds as I want to feel like her,” she explained. Aaliyah P., on the other hand, enjoys hearing a “roleplay scenario” between herself and the voice actor. Audio porn is her escape from the “skinny, white bodies, and very young women” who appear all too often in porn videos, as well as the fetishisation and racist depictions of black actors in pornography. “It gives more room for imagination,” Leon told me, an opinion the others also echoed.

More Than Physical

What I found most interesting in the conversations I have had, was learning about the different ways that pornography was used by other aegosexual people to enhance their sexual experiences. When you are a sex-adverse asexual person with a libido, it can be difficult to know how to channel your undirected desires effectively. “As an aego, I do have a sexuality that begs to be expressed. As an ace, that’s not going to happen without a healthy dose of fictional erotica,” Claire articulated. While, for Aaliyah, porn simply sped up the process of “cleaning out the pipes,” for Maria, it’s a way for her to “explore” her sexuality without needing a partner: “Porn helps me to understand and normalise different types of sexual expressions.” Porn has also become a learning experience for Jesy, “It helps me understand what desires others feel. It’s more about seeing/hearing/reading the emotion or feeling behind it in general.”  

Daniel explained that while he himself does not want to experience sex, seeing the eyes of the performers become profoundly alive in those rare, genuine videos helps him experience “a sense of longing and wonder that is mostly absent in real life.” For Daniel, that moment alone is something he considers worth experiencing “for it’s own sake.” Other aeogsexuals also opened up about the mental health benefits they have gained from consuming explicit content. For Gerard, who is autistic and has ADHD, porn helped him to relieve stress. He also said that it gave him a “higher self-esteem or at least a moment of self-appreciation for I am able to pleasure myself without a partner.”

Jonathan is an aegosexual transguy and a survivor of sexual trauma, who now creates pornographic art. “I can put characters in situations and scenarios similar to what I went through, but they can take back control or they can have a happy ending. Really, the opportunities are endless, and I absolutely love hearing from fans or clients that my content has helped them or made them feel happy.” For 47-year-old Lisa, porn helped her to stop feeling like there was something wrong with her. Masturbation is the only way that she can truly be pleasured, and it took her many years to learn that ‘softer’ pornographic scenes were the only thing that turned her on. “I’ve never shared this with anyone until now, so I hope my experience will help someone else not feel like something is wrong with them. I am happy to have found a community where I fit in and don’t feel alone. I can be myself without fear of judgment. I am me, and I am proud!” 

For Christine, the detachment and the “inbetweenness” of watching porn makes it the place she feels “the safest and most comfortable to feel sexual pleasure and to just be myself.”  

That is my motivation for writing this article. As an ace person (aegosexual or not) it’s common to feel like you are not experiencing sexuality the right way, even within your own community. But everyone experiences sexuality in a unique, complex and multilayered way. The ace experience of pornography can be a complicated one, but it can also be a liberating one, and there is nothing wrong with that.

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