Follow me if you will, as I tumble behind Alice down into a rabbit hole of staggeringly strange terminology.
I wish I could take credit, but I heard this Healthline article referenced while listening to one of my regular podcasts. It’s titled, 46 Terms that Describe Sexual Attraction, Behavior, and Orientation. Yes, dear reader. You read that right. There are 46 terms to describe the different types of sexual orientations. They are categorized alphabetically, which I found ironically hilarious, but there are so many that I can only offer a few here. Feel free to click over and educate yourself, if your brain can withstand it without turning to mush. The article begins by explaining why this really matters:
“Sexuality has to do with the way you identify, how you experience sexual and romantic attraction (if you do), and your interest in and preferences around sexual and romantic relationships and behavior.
Who your sexual or romantic partner is at a given moment in time doesn’t necessarily define this part of who you are. Sexuality can be fluid — changing in different situations for some, and over the years for others.
Observing patterns in sexual and romantic attraction, behavior, and preferences over time is one way to better understand your sexual identity or romantic orientation.”
Okay, then! Who’s ready to take a tumble with me? Let’s go!
- Allosexual: A word and category describing those who experience sexual attraction. Use of this term helps to normalize the experience of being asexual and provides a more specific label to describe those who aren’t part of the asexual community. [In other words, every person who was ever attracted to anyone, ever. Got it.]
- Allosexism: This refers to norms, stereotypes, and practices in society that operate under the assumption that all human beings experience, or should experience, sexual attraction. Allosexism grants privilege to those who experience attraction and leads to prejudice against and erasure of asexual people. [So: discrimination against asexuals, who immediately become a victim class. Got it.]
- Asexual: Asexual identity or orientation includes individuals who don’t experience sexual attraction to others of any gender. Also referred to as “aces,” some people who are asexual do experience romantic attraction to people of one or multiple genders. [I’m getting confused because I don’t easily relate to the idea of being romantically but not sexually attracted to someone. That usually means affectionate friendship to me. But I guess that’s just my allosexual privilege talking].
- Aromantic: A romantic orientation the describes people who experience little or no romantic attraction, regardless of sex or gender. [Sounds like asexual to me, but maybe I need to just keep reading].
- Autosexual: A person who’s sexually attracted to themselves. Someone’s desire to engage in sexual behavior such as masturbation doesn’t determine whether they’re autosexual. [Okay. Now I’m resisting the urge to laugh out loud, but that would be allosexist of me].
- Autoromantic: A romantic orientation that describes a person who’s romantically attracted to themselves. Those who identify as autoromatic often report experiencing the relationship they have with themselves as romantic. [You know, on the days when I think I look really cute, I resemble this. I think I’m starting to get it!]
Those are just a selection from the A’s, and there are quite a few here I’ve never heard of, so we’ll move on to other letters of the alphabet now *snickers*. The next category is D-L.
- Demisexual: On the asexual spectrum, this sexual orientation describes individuals who experience sexual attraction only under specific circumstances, such as after building a romantic or emotional relationship with a person. [Ben Shapiro quipped that this used to be called a woman]
- Demiromantic: This romantic orientation describes individuals who experience romantic attraction only under specific circumstances, such as after building an emotional relationship with a person. [Is it just me, or does this feel redundant?]
- Graysexual: Graysexual is a term used to acknowledge the gray area on the sexuality spectrum for people who don’t explicitly and exclusively identify as asexual or aromantic. Many people who identify as graysexual do experience some sexual attraction or desire, but perhaps not at the same level or frequency as those who identify their sexuality as being completely outside of the asexual spectrum. [I admit to being thoroughly lost with this one. Thoroughly.]
- Grayromantic: A romantic orientation that describes individuals whose romantic attraction exists in the gray area between romantic and aromantic. Many people who identify as grayromantic do experience some romantic attraction, but perhaps not at the same level or frequency as those who identify their sexuality or romantic orientation as something other than asexual. [Hmmm. I’ll leave this for the reader to untangle. I’m finding myself short of pithy retorts.]
- Gynesexual: A term used to communicate sexual or romantic attraction to women, females, or femininity. [straight men?] This term intentionally includes attraction to those who identify as women, female, or feminine, regardless of biology, anatomy, or the sex assigned at birth. [ Mea Culpa. This bit explicitly excludes straight men]
After this they have heterosexual and homosexual, but they explicitly muddy those waters too. I’ve had enough of D-L. Oh wait! I just saw another one that is worth staying with D-L for one more definition:
- Libidoist Asexual: A term used to describe an asexual person who experiences sexual feelings that are satisfied through self-stimulation or masturbation. This label acknowledges that, for some people, acting on libido or sexual feelings doesn’t necessarily involve sexual behavior with others. [Is it just me, or does sound really similar to autosexual?]
Okay. Now I’m done with D-L.
You know what, I’m done with all of this. My head hurts.
Have a lovely day, if I haven’t ruined it.