I’m sex-repulsed—not only when it comes to the idea of engaging in sex myself, but also as far as seeing sexual content in films, reading about sex, or hearing sexual references. While encountering these things doesn’t make me physically ill, and my level of tolerance does depend on the context and purpose and how explicit the material is, in general I have a strong aversion to all sexual content.
Because of that, when I’m watching or reading something I like to know beforehand if it contains any sexual material. Film ratings are great for this; I can see before I start a movie that it’s rated R for sex, and factor that into my decision of whether to watch it or not. If I do watch it, I’ll know what I’m in for and can be prepared to fast forward the sex scene(s) or look away. Even when I can’t avoid the content or choose not to, just having that mental preparation makes a big difference.
In my time in the ace blogosphere and Tumblr, though, I’ve come across sexual images posted on ace blogs with no warning beforehand. I’ve seen recommendations of ace-friendly or -relevant media that I’ve happily sought out, only to be startled to find that it contained sexual content. And… I’m kind of tired of that. While, in my experience, blog post-type writing by aces does tend to carry sufficient warnings about mentions of sex or anatomy (and I really appreciate that), I don’t feel that ace spaces are entirely safe for sex-repulsed people.
I write this wondering if I’m asking for an unreasonable accommodation—is this just an individual quirk that I should deal with on my own? You can’t have content warnings for everything anyone could possibly dislike or be bothered by. But in ace spaces—spaces for people who don’t experience sexual attraction, many of whom are sex-averse or -repulsed—I am surprised that warning for sexually explicit content isn’t more of a thing.
And, I think it should be. Sexual content is everywhere in western society, and apart from movie ratings, it’s not warned for at all. There’s nothing I can do about that but deal with it, but after having to deal with it so often, one reason I turn to ace spaces is that I expect them to be a refuge from sex-saturated mainstream culture. So it’s really disappointing when they just repeat the same patterns.
I’m not asking that all sexual content be removed from ace spaces; I’d just like to see a note mentioning it before graphic images, or in parentheses after a recommendation, or on the homepage of a website. Putting up warnings has so little cost; it just requires a little extra time and doesn’t take anything away from those who are interested in or like sexual content. It would be such a small effort to make to help ace spaces become more friendly to repulsed and averse aces. I feel like anyone who’s ace themselves should be fully on board with that goal.
I strive to make this blog a safe place for sex-repulsed and -averse aces, so I always mention if there’s any sexual content in the media I recommend and will put content warnings before posts containing sexual material (if I ever write any). But if you ever feel that I haven’t adequately labelled something—which applies to trigger warnings, too—just let me know and I’ll fix it.