From the July 2014 Aces: Call for Submissions:
What do you think the best definitions are for the terms “sex-aversion” or “sex-averse”, and the best definitions for the terms “sex-repulsion” or “sex-repulsed”? Do you agree with any of the ones I provided above or not, and why? Where did you first learn about the terms and how did you come to your definitions? Are the terms “averse” and “repulsed” synonyms, or do they mean different things?
I am of the opinion that the two terms are synonyms, with the qualifier thrown in that synonyms do not mean words that are exactly the same. Though I do think they have the same meaning, “sex-averse” just has a weaker/less intense feel than “sex-repulsed”. Both mean to have a strong dislike or distaste, of sex, with “repulsion” carrying stronger connotations of actual disgust. Repulsion carries with it a physical feeling, whereas aversion can be almost purely intellectual.
These are maybe not how other asexuals see it but it’s the meaning those words convey to me.
I probably first came across the term when I first discovered asexuality, but they’re pretty self-explanatory. Sex-repulsed = repulsed by sex, sexual things, obviously. Likewise with its twin, sex-averse. It’s likely I saw them being used in conversations on AVEN or blogs and could ascertain the meaning through context immediately.
As far as the best term to use, both have their upsides and downsides. “Sex averse” comes across as less potentially judging (there are some non-asexuals that are very sensitive to anything that seems to be criticizing sex, sexual things, and non-asexuals) which makes it maybe the better term if one is looking to not offend.
Sex repulsion though, has its benefits as well. As the stronger term, with its implications of disgust and feelings of physical illness in relation to sexual things, it’s harder to challenge, harder for people to see as something that can be overcome.
Being repulsed by the idea of someone trying to kiss you conjures up images of nausea and horror. Being averse to the idea of someone trying to kiss you conjures up images of mild dislike.
I mention this only because there is the unfortunate tendency for some non-asexuals to see any repulsion or aversion to sex and sexual things as something that should be overcome, and that overcoming that aversion/repulsion will inevitably result in a better, superior, more pleasant life.
I do not think such a stance has any validity. If a person’s repulsion is causing them so much trouble in their daily life (as it does some) that they wish to overcome it, then that’s fine. However, an aversion/repulsion/personal dislike of sexual things and sexual matters should not be seen as an inherently negative thing for a person, a detractor from their quality of life. After all, many of us asexuals are sex averse or sex repulsed, and do not suffer significantly from it.
People, asexual or not, are averse/repulsed by many things according to their personal preferences, psychology, and experiences. Some people cannot stand dogs, others children, some loathe the scent of the ocean, hate train rides, can barely be coaxed to eat a vegetable, etc. Most of these personal aversions are respected, seen as minor quirks, not things to be overcome or changed.
So it should be with sex-averse or sex-repulsed people.