Episode 16: Pervertibles (Part 1)

In part 1 of another 2-parter, we explore the wide whacky world of pervertibles!

What are pervertibles? They’re anything with an ordinary, innocuous purpose that can be pressed into service as sex toys. Wooden spoons? Great for paddling! Chip clips? They reseal plastic bags to keep your potato chips (crisps for you Brits) fresh, but also make excellent nipple clamps!

Humans are ingenious. Given enough time and creativity, there’s little that can’t be used as a sex toy.

Here’s the transcript:

Franklin: Welcome back to The Skeptical Pervert, where we take a rational, evidence-based look at sex! I’m your host, part-time mad scientist, and this show’s spontaneous-libido representative, Franklin!

Joreth: I’m your kinky, sopo, grey-ace, chicana, feminist Renaissance cat cohost, Joreth! My gender identity is “tomboy”, and my pronouns are she/her but you may refer to me as “your grace”.

Eunice: And I’m Eunice, your friendly neighborhood queer, kinky, solopoly, ace-spec, bi woman, bringing an East Asian British sense of decorum to this fabulously filthy podcast.

Franklin: In today’s episode, we’re putting the “pervert” in “the Skeptical Pervert.” Let’s talk about…pervertibles!

Eunice: So first off: what even is a pervertible? I think this might be a situation in which “you know it when you see it” is applicable, but that’s not very helpful.

Franklin: What even is anything? What even is life? What even is the world? If it’s true that all the mass-energy content of the universe plus gravitational potential energy plus dark energy adds up to zero, is the universe even?

Eunice: Eh, I reckon it’s more odd than even.

Franklin: Is zero even or odd?

Eunice: It’s either even, or not a number at all.

Joreth: That is an EXCELLENT question. At least, the original one was – what is a pervertible? As we started listing things, and I started looking around my place at things that could be perverted, and I was asked by a partner if I had a thing that we could use for a purpose that was not its intended purpose, I asked myself that very question. Like, is rope considered a “pervertible”, because it’s intended purpose is to restrain things, just not exclusively in a sexual context. And corsets – while not exclusively intended for sex or kinky play, thanks to changing fashions, they are pretty much used exclusively for sexy or kinky purposes now. So, where do we start? Maybe we should start by defining what we mean by “pervertibles” for this show?

Eunice: OK, so there’s a point in there about “it can’t be something that is already used exclusively for sexual or kink purposes”. I guess we start there? Given what we talked about in the past, that brings up an interesting connection to non-sexual kink (check out our Patreon for that behind the scenes discussion, assuming it’s up at the time of this episode going out—I have no idea when that’s going to be available, because time is an illusion etc etc)

Joreth: What even is time?

Eunice: A human conceptual trap designed by the capitalists to destroy my sanity. As are mornings, especially Monday mornings, before 10am at least.

Joreth: Mornings are definitely evil – a pox on capitalism for mornings! And, y’know, everything else.

Franklin: I was thinking about the original question this morning. Right now, I have two 3D printers hard at work making test mockups and molds for casting silicone alien xenomorph Borg Queen parasite sex toys for our upcoming Borg Queen xenomorph parasite gangbang, so am I using my 3D printers as pervertibles? On the one hand, they’re not designed to be used as part of sex, but on the other, they’re metatools–tools to make tools–which is exactly what I’m using them for. So is this a pervertible, or sex toy fabrication, or on the fuzzy edge between? And will the phrase “Borg Queen xenomorph parasite gangbang” ever stop being weird?

Eunice: I certainly hope not! The mental confusion and mild horror is part of the fun!

Joreth: So I guess we can start with “pervertibles is a spectrum”, where there are items that are absolutely definitely not intended for use for anything even remotely related to what it’s being used for in a sexual context, and things that are maybe not technically intended for this exact specific sexual or kinky purpose but … is it really not? And then everything in between.

Franklin: When you say the word “pervertible,” I think most folks imagine more “using a wooden spoon as a paddle” than “using a 3D printer to make a mold to cast a dildo shaped like the facehugger from the Alien movies,” so I suspect most of our examples will be more the former than the latter.

Eunice: See, that’s at least two steps away from the actual sex toy itself, though – you have the 3D printer, then you have the mold you pour the silicone into. Neither of those are sex toys, they’re tools you use to create sex toys, which it also has in common with practically every other sex toy in existence. Every sex toy manufacturer uses tools to create their products, and we don’t call their machinery pervertibles, do we?

Joreth: Right, so, at least for this episode, we might want to define “pervertibles” as on a spectrum, and items that are not intended for sexual or kinky play that are being used directly as part of sexual or kinky play. What about accessibility to the item? Back to the example of the wooden spoon, are we thinking household items not intended for sex but used for sex? Because with enough money, I could probably pervert just about anything the average person could think up, even if they were thinking up bizarre things to stump me.

Eunice: Hmmm, I don’t think the cost of the item should be part of the consideration – after all, the definition of ‘financially accessible to everyone’ is a really vague term, and also includes things that we might consider pervertibles.

Joreth: OK, maybe not cost, exactly, but … readily available? Something an average person could get, even if a specific person might not be able to? Or do we ignore that element?

Eunice: Who are we including in ‘average person’ here? So for example, as a Chinese person, I might well have items in my kitchen that the average mid-Western, white, older guy would definitely not consider a basic tool of cookery.

Joreth: Another good question. Maybe that person would not consider those tools “basic cooking tools”, but could any reasonably sized large town in America have a neighborhood that we might call “Chinatown” with a grocery store they could walk into and purchase it if they wanted to?

Eunice: Look, I’m just going to put it out there, ok? How the hell do you all survive without a wok? And a rice cooker?

Joreth: Don’t ask me, I have a wok! And I cook rice in a pot on the stove, but we have managed to pervert that so thoroughly that there are a thousand different styles of microwavable rice in every major grocery store, so … yeah, Americans love perverting things, for a wide definition of the word “perverting”!

Franklin: Like statistics, for example. And economics (ahem trickle-down ahem). Anyway, according to Google, the most common definition of “pervertible” seems to be something along the lines of “an object or device intended for a non-sexual function that people use for sex.”

Eunice: You know this totally reminds me of that scene from Sex and the City, with the massagers – Samantha is such #SexyLifeGoals and #NoRegrets in this, it’s fantastic.

[Sex and the City clip]

Joreth: I love that bit.

Franklin: I think the Google definition would seem to rule out tools used for making things for sex; for example, if I use a lathe to carve a wooden paddle, the paddle is a sex toy but the lathe is not, so I don’t think most folks would describe the lathe itself as a “pervertible” in that case. But who knows? I put up a poll on whether or not a 3D printer being used to make molds for silicone is a ‘pervertible,’ and right now the voting is super-close, one vote toward ‘no.’ So some people think it is, at least.

Eunice: On the other hand, I’m sure I could figure out a way to pervert a lathe…

Franklin: Yes. Yes, Eunice, you could.

Joreth: I think I lean toward ‘no’ as well – things not intended for sex stuff but used directly as a toy or accessory in sex or kink. When you think about it, basically anything ultimately used to make things for sex was not originally intended to make things for sex, but many of them, especially things like 3D printers, were used to make inaccessible things more accessible to bring them into the home. Take the first camcorder, for instance – we talked about this in our sex tech episode – VHS was used to take high end porn and make it more accessible to the average person, both making and viewing. And film cameras themselves were not originally intended to make porn yet one of the very first things we did with film was to film porn. Camcorders and film cameras are not considered “pervertibles” just because a person could use them and have used them to make sex stuff.

Eunice: Just because you might use a 3D printer to make a cooking utensil doesn’t mean you just cooked with a 3D printer. No matter how clickbaity you want to make it.

Joreth: So lathes, camcorders, exacto knives for trimming silicone, and 3D printers don’t count, to me, as “pervertibles” because they ARE being used exactly as intended, since their use as metatools does not include a definition for the purpose of the tools they create. And how many people really have metatools anyway, other than people who actually work in those industries or serious hobbyists? Compared to people who have wooden spoons in their kitchens or cylindrical vegetables in the fridge? Which brings us back to the question of accessibility.

Franklin: The three of us have some experience with pervertibles, so we thought we’d share some of our experiences with you all, since we’re nice like that.

Eunice: So we’re just not going to provide a definition, then?

Franklin: I’m thinking that we might close in on a reasonably robust definition of ‘pervertible’ as we talk about our experiences, which might help illuminate how we think about them. So who wants to go first? Favorite pervertible? Most unusual pervertible? Most elaborate pervertible?

Eunice: How about we just start off with things we’ve actually perverted?

Franklin: Let’s do it!

Joreth: So I went out to eat once some Asian fusion high end hipster restaurant. You know, the kind where you pay one flat price and then they set the menu for you. And at the end of it, they gave me this little gift box. And when I opened it up, it contained several pairs of chopsticks and a little wooden spoon. And so I opened it up. And the first thing I said was, “Aww! Baby’s first BDSM starter kit!”

Franklin: Chopsticks. Oh, man. Chopsticks. I will never eat with chopsticks again without remembering the party in King’s Lynn, where my partner Bunny used a nicely polished pair of stainless steel smooth chopsticks on me as her emergency sounds.

Joreth: Ouch. They seem kind of wide for sounds.

Franklin: Actually, surprisingly, they’re not. So I had this idea in my head that like sounding is really painful, and I think a lot of people do, which is why you get, you know, you talk about sounding and so many people, like, wince and grab their nethers. And actually, no, it’s. Not if you do. It correctly, it really isn’t. Not even with chopsticks.

Joreth: Huh!

Eunice: But of course, also chopsticks are, if, you know, used in collaboration with elastic bands, also very good for nipple clamps. Which I know for certain. Bunny has also done.

Franklin: Oh man, I was having a conversation years ago about the idea that just about anything can be used as a sex toy, and the guy—I don’t even remember who I was having a conversation with. It was somewhere online, but there was a guy who was like “ohh yeah, I Bet I can name something you can’t pervert.”

And I was like, “Give me your best shot, bro. Come at me.”

So he was like, “dental floss!” And the thing that was funny about that was not only can you pervert dental floss, but I had, like, just that week used dental floss as a pervertible. And it is awesome for doing nipple torture. You wrap a bunch of turns of it around a nipple, and then hang away from it and boom. There you are.

Joreth: Yeah, like that’s not even a hard one, dude, come on.

Franklin: Right?

Eunice: And you can also do a thing with that or with thread. Like just normal sewing thread.

Joreth: Yeah.

Eunice: Which you can use in place of, like, you know, restraints. Not as a “I’m actually going to hold you still using this,” but as a mental thing. You know, ”you’re not allowed to snap the thread.”

Franklin: Mm-hmm.

Eunice: So you tie them up in a way where they have to actively maintain their own position using thread. And you say if you snap the thread, you’re gonna get punished.

Joreth: And there you have restraint play and predicament play in one.

Franklin: I did something like that a long time ago with these things that are, I think they’re called Snap and Pops. It’s a piece of string with a little cardboard tube in the middle of it and it’s filled with this same explosive that they put in whippersnappers where if you tug on the ends of the string, it explodes and makes a loud bang. And I had tied somebody up, but I left a couple of inches of slack in the rope, so that she could squirm a little bit. But then I tied those snap and pops tight between the tie down points and her cuffs. And I said, now, if you squirm, you’re going to yank on the string, and the snap and pop is going to go bang. And if you make the snap and pop go bang, there will be consequences.

Joreth: Yeah, with predicament play, you can pervert almost anything because if a thing happens, then there will be consequences.

Franklin: And of course, we all love consequences, don’t we?

Joreth: Some of us seem to!

Eunice: Yeah… I remember I had a I had these clothes pins which have a like a loop like it’s a metal hoop at the end of them, which I’m guessing they used to be attached to those, like, racks, like a circular rack. And then you clip whatever onto it, smaller items onto those. And I took them off of this rack that was broken, but now what I have is a clothes pin that I can use as a clamp that will also have a loop at the end that I can thread a thin rope through. And attach it to. So yeah, it’s it’s very handy and it’s also not so ferociously, like, tight that it will cause problems, but it’s tight enough to be noticeable.

Joreth: So that sounds like that could be used for nipple play and labia or scrotum clamps.

Eunice: Ohh, and other bits.

Franklin: I was at a mall years and years ago and there was a store that was selling polished aluminum clothespins. And so I bought a bunch of them and then I took them down to the Things Remembered that was in the same mall, which is an engraving shop that you just bring stuff to them and they’ll engrave stuff on them. And I had them engrave my girlfriend’s name on the clothes pins.

Joreth: Ohh! That sounds pretty!

Franklin: It was! They were actually quite. Lovely. They’re really beautiful. And they were…yeah. Yeah, they were fun.

Joreth: So binder clips also come with a built in loop on them in the same vein as clothes pins. You know, they’re the little black clippy things with the metal that folds one way to open and and folds another way when they’re closed. So binder clips. Chip clips, which are just basically a closed pin, but more expensive so that they can sell it to you for the purpose of just closing your bag of crisps or chips.

Franklin: Ohh, is that what those are called? I know what you mean. I didn’t know they were actually called chip clips.

Joreth: Chip clips!

Franklin: Hair clips that have all the teeth on them.

Joreth: You mean like this one?

Eunice: Yeah, the cool ones, yeah.

Joreth: Yeah, the claws.

Franklin: Yes, yes, the hairpin claws! Those are excellent, excellent sex toys.

Joreth: Yes, I am wearing one right now.

Franklin: I’m going to go there for a minute…

Eunice: Also, hair sticks! So I exclusively use metal hair sticks to put my hair up. I have tried wood, I have tried resin, I’ve tried plastics of other sorts. None of those work. I have snapped so many hair sticks. But what that means is that I can use my hair stick, which is just a long—

Joreth: Just a long metal rod.

Eunice: —rod of metal, a long rod, for a number of things! Because it is long and thin and probably slightly thinner than, say, a chopstick. It is also metal, so if you put it into the freezer…

Franklin: Ohh God Oh! Oh!

Eunice: Ohh I wish we recorded in video in that moment!

Franklin: Oh, man.

Joreth: Ooh, let’s see if I can do that! Those are also metal, so if you have a contact probe on your violet wand…

Franklin: Uggh! Now, now let’s, like, let’s…ngh. Yeah. Well, I have used a replica of a medieval battle axe with a violet wand.

Joreth: I have a picture of that!

Franklin: Yes! That was fun, because if you have the contact probe… So, I would go to play parties and I would use the contact probe and then I would hold the axe in my other hand and then touch somebody with the edge of it. And you get this pretty blue glow on the edge of the battle axe and all these sparks jumping from the blade to the person’s skin. Oh, it is so cool! And it makes a really scary sound, too.

Joreth: Yes, and I got a picture of it back with my ancient—what was it, like, a 240 by 340 pixel digital camera. And so I got a picture of the blade as it arced on the skin of the person you were playing with. It’s so awesome.

Franklin: Yeah. Oh yeah, that was a lot of fun. That was a lot of fun.

Eunice: Just, blades in general, blades in general are so usable in so many ways. I remember one time where one of my partners dripped wax on me, and then used his very, very, very sharp kitchen knives. Like this is a set of kitchen knives that he had previously used to slice sashimi on another partner’s back. Without anything in between, used it to slice…and he had find enough control that he could slice that without cutting or anything. And he used it to shave the wax off of my back.

Joreth: Wow.

Franklin: Wait a minute. I think I was there for that. Wasn’t I there for that?

Eunice: Which one of the occasions?

Franklin: This is something really familiar. I remember him preparing sashimi on—

Eunice: Yes.

Franklin: On Bunny’s back and then..yeah. Yeah. I think I was there for that.

Eunice: Yeah.

Franklin: This is all ringing a bell now. That was hot, actually, that was. I’m not usually a voyeur, but watching that was fun.

Joreth: Yeah. So any of the metal utensils—knives, whether they’re sharp or dull, forks, butter knives by themselves—create really interesting sensations, especially on delicate parts. And then you can freeze them or warm them up for sensation play. Or you can use a contact probe with a violet wand and get electrical play in them.

Eunice: Actually you mentioned freezing and at one point I was playing with someone and I realised that I didn’t have any of my usual, like, knives, daggers, none of the sharp ones available to me at that point. And fortunately the person I was playing with was blindfolded. So I went and chucked a fork into the freezer.

Joreth: Ooh!

Eunice: And managed to build them up to thinking that this was a really sharp knife I was using on them. Because it’s frozen, it felt to them like it was a genuinely sharp implement.

Joreth: Yeah, once you start bringing in the psychology and you can twist up all of their sensation receptors, then you can make one thing feel like something completely different.

Franklin: Yeah, butter knives will feel like razors if you freeze them first. It’s really weird. I have no idea what’s actually going on there biologically with all your sensory apparatus, but that totally works. Yeah.

Eunice: And I have a letter opener. It’s beautiful. Like, it’s got a Marino Glass handle, and it’s just gorgeous. And I use that. It’s not going to cut anyone. But it feels really sharp and it has really, really good control, because as a letter opener, all the weight is on the back.

Joreth: Right.

Eunice: Very, very much designed to have all of your weight on the back in the palm. So great sense of control. And it feels a lot sharper than it actually is.

Joreth: And that’s helpful, when you can have something that feels more dangerous than it really is. And that’s one of the tricks with perverting things, because you can either use something that is…because it’s not intended for that purpose, it’s actually really safe, or you can use something because it’s not intended for that purpose, it’s actually really dangerous.

Franklin: Yeah, generally probably want to lean towards safe than dangerous. No chlorine trifluoride in the bedroom please.

Joreth: Right!

Eunice: Out of all of the people that might possibly have such substances in their bedroom…

Joreth: [Laughs]

Eunice: I was going to. Say I could only think of you as…no, no. No, I think actually knowing the people we know possibly there might be more than one person that could have accidentally just forgotten…I don’t know how you would, but forgotten this.

Franklin: Eunice, you and I have somebody in our shared social circle who would be more likely than me to have chlorine trifluoride just lying around.

Eunice: Actually, yeah, you’re right. Yeah, ignore what I said. Carry on, carry on.

Joreth: So, but speaking of, like, pervertible things that “not intended makes it more dangerous,” don’t insert things into the anal cavity without a flared base, please.

Eunice: Yes.

Franklin: Oh God, yes. You become a story in somebody’s comedy routine or some website somewhere about “oh, you’re not gonna believe what somebody came in the hospital today with up their butt.”

Eunice: The the whole, if anyone’s ever heard the Wet Ppots…
Joreth: Yes!

Eunice: Wet Spots have a song that they called PSA and it’s the first line of the chorus, I want to say, is “don’t stick a fish up your bum.” That feels like a story.

Franklin: Yeah, that, that definitely seems like it has the ring of “yeah, somebody did this and it ended badly.”

Eunice: More than somebody, I imagine. I bet there’s more than one person.

Joreth: In fact, I think we could probably play that first line for our listeners.

[Snip from The Wet Spots, “PSA”]

Franklin: But yes, nothing in your bum that doesn’t have a base on it. You can put things in other orifices without bases, if you’re careful.

Condoms are fun to fill with things and play with. You can make dildos out of ice, of course, by filling a condom with water and then putting in the freezer. It tends to get little lumpy and misshapen or flat if you do that. And of course, water expands when it freezes, so it will bulge. So what you actually do is you fill a condom with water and you tie it shut, and then you take cardboard tube, like a toilet paper tube, and you hang the cardboard vertically inside the tube and that will keep its shape.

Joreth: You hang the condom inside the tube.

Franklin: Yes. And if you boil the water first, you drive all the air out of it so that the water turns out clear when it freezes, instead of being all cloudy like most ice cubes are, and it looks really cool.

Joreth: Yeah. So you can do that with condoms, with water and make it cold. But you can also use condoms—non-lubricated condoms—to do that with heat as well. Remember, Franklin, when we tried this?

Franklin: Yes!

Joreth: I think this specific grain that we used was buckwheat, but you can use rice or barley or any number of grains and then you microwave it for a few seconds at a time until it’s as warm as you want it. And you fill the condom with it, and then…

Franklin: Important safety tip: a few seconds! They warm up really fast, so you don’t put it in there for a minute. You don’t put it in there for 10 seconds. Do it for two or three seconds at a time until it’s, you know, nice and warm.

Eunice: Just also a reminder, don’t try to use the grains afterwards! I know theoretically it has been inside a condom and therefore, but don’t. Just…just don’t.

Joreth: Probably best not to. But yeah, if anybody has ever had a microwavable heating massage thing that you can buy at any drugstore, I guess. It looks like a long sock and it’s filled with something bumpy. And if you don’t know what that bumpy stuff is, it’s a grain. It’s probably buckwheat is the most common. So that’s all we’re doing is we’re taking this thing that you buy from the store and you’re just making it yourself with condoms.

Franklin: And Speaking of foods, I have one word and I’m sure from the expressions on both of your faces, you know exactly where I’m going with this: tapioca. Oh my God. You can pervert tapioca and it is awful.

Eunice: I think this one is one in which you will probably have had more personal experience than any other person. In this way.

Franklin: Yes. You take the little tiny tapioca balls and you prepare them just so that they’re squishy, and then you mix them with Lube and they feel like alien eggs. And it is horrifying.

Eunice: I’m really gonna enjoy that Borg Queen xenomorph gangbang.

Joreth: Yeah, that’s gonna be fun. Ovipositors everywhere.

Franklin: Ovipositors everywhere.

Eunice: And there’s the slime and the ovipositors and the sticky lubey stuff in every orifice. You’re welcome.

Franklin: There’s an ovipositor for you! And an ovipositor for you! And everybody gets an ovipositor!

Eunice: Except Franklin, because Franklin will be the target of said ovipositors.

Franklin: Jesus, God, what have I gotten myself into?

Joreth: Now for the audience listening, if you are going to use food in any sort of insertable fashion, please wash very carefully afterward.

Eunice: Also, for anyone who is the owner of a, you know, vulva, please do not put sugary items up there.

Joreth: Yes.

Eunice: Yeast infections are not fun. Do not put tapioca up there either. Cause that also counts.

Joreth: Yeah.

Eunice: It is a starch. Do not put that up there. Anything sugary. Syrup, do not use syrup as Lube. Do not any of these things, trust me.

Joreth: Don’t use honey.

Eunice: Don’t use oil!

Franklin: Does tapioca have sugar in it? I have no idea what tapioca is.

Eunice: Tapioca is a form of starch, and starches are just sugars.

Joreth: Don’t use oil!

Eunice: Don’t use oil. Your vaginal areas can clean, but not oil. It is not designed for cleaning of oils, it will just get icky.

Joreth: Keep the food products mostly to the mouth and the anal region. Try to keep them away from vulvas and vaginas. There are a couple of exceptions, but mostly because these are not terribly messy or starchy items. Like, say, ginger root.

Eunice: Yeah.

Franklin: Ooh, ginger root is a fun one, yes. Take a nice fresh piece of ginger—it has to be fresh—and carve the skin off of it, and then carve it into a butt plug or a dildo, and then watch the fireworks!

Eunice: Oh, and don’t use lube, because lube could, like, seal it away from, you know, your mucous membranes.

Franklin: Yeah, well, it doesn’t work if you. Lube it up first.

Eunice: Yeah, don’t use lube for that. Actually, God just talking about food and insertable food reminds me of our episode that was talking about sex toys through history, and, like, the bread and stuff, right?

Joreth: The breadsticks!

Franklin: Oh, the bread, yeah! Special breadsticks that are used to bake dildos. That is such a bad idea on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to start.

Joreth: You know, while we’re on the subject of things not to put near a vagina, no starchy things, no sugary things, no yeasty things, no porous things in either. Like try to keep the porous stuff away. Again, certain exceptions apply, like ginger root, but if you intend to use it again…like, you know, the food stuff, you’re not gonna use again, but if it’s an item you’re perverting and you want to use it again, don’t use porous things because you can’t clean them very well.

Franklin: Or if you do, seal them first. Like, there’s a whole cottage industry in making wooden dildos.

Joreth: Yeah.

Franklin: Which is cool and all, but you do not want to use them, or at least you do not want to use them more than once, if they are not properly sealed. And apparently there’s a whole hobbyist scene about this, because of course there is.

Joreth: Right.

Eunice: What did they used to seal them?

Joreth: I assume a polyurethane.

Franklin: It’s been a long time—like, this has never been something that I was really into. But I remember stumbling across a forum for this on the web and I think they said that polyurethane and acrylic are both non porous and also body safe.

Joreth: Yeah, I assumed it was a polyurethane.

Eunice: Makes sense, because obviously, of course, internals, your vagina is a little bit acidic.

Joreth: Little bit.

Eunice: Just a tiny bit. So yeah, I just wanna make sure that it, you know, totally reminding me of that whole…was it Tumblr, I think?

Joreth: I think it was.

Eunice: Right? A Tumblr thread about, like, don’t fuck the rock.

Joreth: Don’t lick the—what was it? The—

Eunice: Malachite?

Joreth: Malachite stalactite! Yes!

Franklin: Malachite, yes.

Eunice: Do not insert the malachite.

Franklin: Oh, oh God. People actually try to make things out of malachite. Yikes.

Joreth: Yes. And we’ve said this before on another episode, too: No jade eggs. I don’t care what you…no. I care very much what Gwyneth Paltrow says. Whatever she says, do the opposite, which means no jade eggs.

Franklin: Yes! Do not put jade up your hoo ha, that is bad for you on multiple levels.

Eunice: And if you want that kind of sensation, steel eggs exist and are a lot easier to clean.

Joreth: Yes, much better.

Franklin: You know, actually, to be fair, I say that I was never actually into wood, but I have used a nightstick as an improvised dildo. That was a lot of fun. I had a partner tied down and happened to have a police night stick, and it was actually during a threesome, if I recall correctly. And my friend had a nightstick, and we had her tied down, and that was a lot of fun.

Eunice: I feel like that would be really great in combination with those, like, really bright desk lamps that you can use and create like a interrogation scene, right?

Joreth: Oh yeah, yeah! You’ve already got the nightstick.

Eunice: Yeah, just, like….

Franklin: Yep, Yep. I did an interrogation scene once, and one of the things about the an interrogation scene is that you want the person who’s the submissive partner in the interrogation scene to have some sort of information that you genuinely want to get but that you can verify afterward. And so what we did was we just used a deck of cards. She drew a card at random, she looked at it, she put it back on the top of the deck, and then my goal in the scene was to try to get that card out of her, and her goal was to make me believe that it was a different card. And it was something that was verifiable, so we could go back later and say OK, who won? And she actually won. She had me completely, utterly convinced it was a card other than what it was. It was…she did a really good job. Wow.

Joreth: Wow!

Eunice: Hmm. I mean, there’s also lots of ways you can use a deck of cards for these sorts of things, right? I recently saw a really interesting article from JAMA I think about using a deck of cards to randomize like the hierarchical status of people, when you’re in a scene, So the card you draw defines what level of status you are in comparison to each other. So, you know, someone who draws a two is going to be in a very different position related to someone who is a 10 versus someone who is an 8 or a jack, for example.

Joreth: Hmm. So yeah, you can gamify a lot of these things. You know, games of chance, consequences or responsibilities, or activities that need to be done depending on the luck of the draw dice.

Eunice: Dice!

Joreth: Dice.

Franklin: Dice. Dice. Oh my God.

Joreth: And we also turned Apples to Apples into a strip game.

Franklin: Yes, strip Apples to Apples is actually kind of fun. And I say this as a person who is not an exhibitionist.

Joreth: Yes, I don’t really like getting naked in front of groups of peoples, but strip Apples to Apples is one of the very few games I will actually play.

Franklin: Hmm. Dice man. I have permanently been…like, my psychology has permanently been altered so that metal 6 sided dice get me hot.

Eunice: You’re welcome!

Joreth: Yes, conditioning. That’s another thing, listeners, that if you use a particular thing often enough, you can condition someone.

Franklin: Yes, you can. Oh, that’s a nice, excited die you’ve got there. Oh, my God, I’m getting hot. Just thinking about it.

Joreth: So if you wanted to turn something into a scene or get somebody aroused and you get them conditioned with something first, then you don’t even have to do the thing. You can be out in public and they could see the item, you could show it to them, they could feel the item, or whatever. And instantly you’ve got arousal or terror, which is also arousal.

Eunice: I remember, Franklin, when we…I think we went around…I think it was Boston? And we went around all of these different, like, churches and things. And you rolled the dice at those churches. We had some really fun, filthy conversations in some of those churches.

Franklin: Oh, my God. Yes. Yeah. Standing in old North Church talking filth with you and sexting at the same time with somebody else was, uh…yeah, that was an interesting experience. And rolling dice there. I think I have photos of the dice, in fact. They’re filthy! They are filthy photos!

Joreth: Now, Speaking of conditioning, something that’s really easy to condition somebody with is bamboo fans. Like folding fans. You want to use something like bamboo or metal. You can do it with the plastic, but you have to do it lightly cause the plastic tends to break. But when the folding fan is closed it makes a really good impact weapon, so striking poking… So anybody who is into impact play, you can use it on them, but then the sound it makes when it opens, that’s a very distinctive sound. So if you associate that sound with the play that comes with it and you condition them to that sound, then from then on, all you have to do is open a folding fan and make that pop sound and you’ve got them in the right mindset for it.

Franklin: Mm-hmm. I could totally see where that would work. And it’s an unusual enough sound that you’re not going to hear it, you know, just randomly going around every day.

Joreth: Unless you’re a dancer.

Franklin: Oh, oh, oh, that’s bad. Oh my goodness. Oh, there’s a whole…wow. Ooh..

Eunice: Yes, I think Franklin has volunteered for another round of conditioning.

Joreth: Yeah, I think so.

Franklin: I don’t actually remember volunteering. I’m not sure that was what just happened there.

Eunice: That sounded like interest!

Joreth: That sounded and looked a whole lot like interest.

Franklin: Interest and volunteering are not necessarily the same.

Eunice: When it comes to you.

Joreth: You know, I have been identified in, like, I’ll go to a city I’ve never been in before and you know, I’ll go to live music events looking for other dancers. And people who have never met me because I’m not in that scene will come up to me and ask me to dance and they’ll tell me that they recognize me as a dancer because I have a folding fan in my back pocket. So if you condition someone to folding fans and you’re a dancer, you can condition them for things happening in public quite frequently.

Franklin: Oh my God.

Eunice: Yep, practically every dancer I know carries a folding fan. I carry a folding fan with me around everywhere.

Franklin: You two are terrible!

Eunice: Yeah. You’re welcome! So I have a folding fan in my bag. I also have a folding fan here that I leave just by the side of my desk the whole time. Because of course.

Franklin: Because of course, yes. Why would I expect anything else?

Joreth: Yep, and this fan that I’ve got, this is in my daily backpack, the one, like, I’m not intending to go anywhere in particular, it just has my general necessities. It also has this folding fan.

Franklin: Normal people carry around things like pens and pencils as general necessities.

Eunice: I mean, I carry those around as well.

Joreth: Speaking of pens and pencils, those can also be used.

Franklin: Well, Eunice has some very fancy pens that I used on her during the orgy…not in King’s Lynn. Where were we? Lincolnshire! Lincolnshire, when we started our first porn novel together.

Eunice: Yeah, fountain pens are lovely things. Fountain pens, those glass dip pens, anything that you can use to write on skin is going to be lovely because it feels a lot like the scratching sensation you get with some, you know, knives or daggers or whatever, but then you are also writing on the person’s skin.

Joreth: Which is a fetish in itself.

Franklin: I have always thought yes, I have always thought it would be really, really interesting to write in graphic detail on somebody’s body what you would like to do with them, or what you would like them to do with you, but using one of those pens that leaves invisible ink that only shows up under a black light. So, and then you could like, go out and go to dinner or something. And they’ve got all of this incredible filth written all over their body. But they don’t even know what you’ve written until the end of the evening when you get the black light out.

Eunice: So I actually had a thing at one point with one of my partners and his other partner where we would write things, notes to each other, on bits of skin that he couldn’t see. So like on the back of the neck just below the nape of the neck, and things like that where he couldn’t see it for himself. So we would leave notes for each other, and like, suggestions… That’s a lot of fun.

Franklin: That is hot. That is hot. Yes! Goodness.

Joreth: You could also write things with edible stuff, back to the food, so you could write notes on each other using, y’know, chocolate syrup, caramel, strawberry, butterscotch. I don’t know, what else comes in syrup? You can draw.

Franklin: And all kinds of loops and spirals and paths to follow with one’s tongue.

Eunice: And I think at one point Bunny drew like various things with, you know, the stuff that they used to write on cakes, the…

Franklin: Oh, the little icing pen things.

Eunice: Yeah, like that. You used to write on cakes and they they come in a tube and she did a a galleon on my thigh once, I remember that. But also if you’re of a certain disposition, you could probably water down wasabi a little bit, and use that.

Joreth: Yes you could.

Franklin: Ohh, that…mmm, I’m gonna have to say no to that one. Oh, my God, that sounds intense.

Joreth: You could finger paint with it. You could water it down a little bit and use a paint brush and and paint with it. It’s a pretty green color.

Eunice: Yeah! And, I mean, you can also use similar things that are hot like deep heat and stuff. At one point I had this very interesting scene with someone where, let’s just say he was at the point where he no longer wanted to orgasm. It was no longer fun for him. And I told him, one more. Like, he gets to rest after he does one more. And when he said I really can’t make it, I was like well, You have a choice. You can do it, or I can do it using deep heat as lube.

Franklin: Jesus fucking Christ. Yeah, no.

Eunice: I did not mention I didn’t actually have any deep heat in, but he never realized, because he’s like “No, no, no, no, no, definitely not. I will definitely get in.” So yeah, he made it. He took a while. He made it.

Franklin: Oh God, that sounds awful.

Joreth: There are lots of products that can create a heating or a cooling sensation on the body. It’s not temperature heat, but it feels the same way. You know the body’s receptors respond that way.

So I just recently tried waxing for the first time. I got a Brazilian wax and one of the things you’re supposed to do is use an exfoliating soap or a scrub, a light one, to prevent ingrown hairs. For those who don’t know, an exfoliating scrub is a lotion or a cream that has little little tiny granules of something in it. So it’s a little bit abrasive. That way you kind of scrub off the very, very top layers of skin. And by layers, I mean like cell layers, not layers layers. So if you can scrub off some of the top layers of skin, particularly dead skin, then the hairs don’t grow under it, it’ll grow through it. So not knowing what to get and also being on a budget, I found a really inexpensive facial scrub that was meant for sensitive skin. So I was ”sensitive skin, it’ll probably be fine for the genital region, then.” What I didn’t notice was that this facial scrub for sensitive skin had a quote-unquote “cooling” effect on it. Refreshing cooling effect. So…

Franklin: Uh oh.

Joreth: I’ve got it all over me, and I’m scrubbing, and then I’m standing in the shower for a moment, soaping the rest of me up, and suddenly everything got very sensitive and cool and tingly. And that’s a sensation I was not expecting right now!

Eunice: Yeah, and I mean, you can do the same thing with, like, minty stuff in general.

Joreth: Toothpaste, tea tree oils, like all different kinds of things that have that sort of sensation with. And that’s how the urban legend came about for giving a blowjob while sucking on an Altoid.

Eunice: Huh. I have never tried that.

Joreth: I haven’t either, because it sounds like it would also be scrapey, but that’s why that urban legend started. I don’t know of anyone who has actually tried it, but that is the purpose of it. The Altoids are such strong mints that however it feels in your mouth is probably close to how it’s going to feel on the genital region when you give them oral sex.

Eunice: I also don’t like the taste, so I just, I don’t, I don’t like that stuff.

Joreth: I don’t either.

Franklin: I have never tried that and I’ve I have perverted an Altoids tin without using the Altoids in it. I don’t like Altoids, so not only did I not think to use them for oral, I just actually got the tin of Altoids and threw the Altoids away because I wanted the tin. Because it was…

Eunice: So what I’m hearing is that Altoids would be a good punishment tool.

Joreth: There you go!

Franklin: I am not hearing that at all. I am pretty sure that I actually didn’t say anything even remotely like that. We should put up a poll to see if our listeners heard that or not too, because I’m pretty sure that nobody except the two of you.

But I wanted the tin because I wanted to make a vibrator that would run and shut itself off and run and shut itself off for random periods of time at random intensities. You know, just at random intervals. And so I did it with a teensy, which is a an Arduino compatible very, very tiny circuit board. And the teensy microcontroller and the field effect transistor and the battery all fit perfectly inside of the Altoids tin. I was looking for a case for it and I happened to be at a store and like I was checking out and there’s the Altoids right there. And I’m like cool that case is exactly the right Size! And I got the Altoids and threw them away.

So, we got to this point in the recording and realized we are even bigger perverts than we thought, because we’ve barely made a dent in the list of pervertibles we brainstormed for this episode. So we made it two episodes, because of course we did, for double the perversion! Come back next time for even more perverted pervertables!

Eunice: And in some cases, some items we unperverted just because we happen to have more kinky items on hand than most people…

Franklin: Because who among us hasn’t used a sex toy for something prosaic?

Franklin: Thanks for joining us on this episode! Find us on the web at skepticalpervert dot com, or on Amazon or Libsyn or Spotify or Apple Podcasts or wherever you go for your podcasting goodness. If you liked what you heard in this episode, why not spread the love? Do you have something you’d like to hear us to talk about? Email us at contact@skepticalpervert.com. The Skeptical Pervert is copyrighted by Joreth, Eunice, and Franklin. Editing is done by Joreth, and the website is maintained by Franklin.

Joreth: And remember… anything can be perverted if you’re creative … or sadistic enough

Eunice: Or are Franklin enough? Or maybe that should be “have access to a Franklin, and a bit too much free time, and are easily bored.”

Franklin: I’m sure I have no idea what you mean. On a technical note, if any listeners hear an irregular hum in the background of this episode, it’s the 3D printer hard at work on a mold for a silicone facehugger gag, which I bring up for no particular reason.

Joreth: Sure, Mr. Type 2 and Type 3 Fun, you have no idea what we mean.

Eunice: Do you even do type 1 fun anymore, Franklin?

Franklin: That’s a ridiculous thing to ask! Of course I do Type 1 fun! Just…not usually in my sex life.

Joreth: Hmmm… I think citation needed here.

Episode 15: Asexuality!

After fixing a problem with garbled audio, we’re back!

Greetings, listeners! It’s been a while—a family emergency called Franklin away, but we’re back with a new episode, just (barely) in time for Asexuality Month!

In this episode, we talk about the many flavors of asexuality. We chat with Kitty about the broad range of attitudes, drives, and behaviors that fall under the asexuality spectrum, which, when you get down into the weeds, is really more a three-dimensional graph than anything else. Turns out asexuality is complicated; who knew?

Transcript below.

Franklin: Welcome back to The Skeptical Pervert, where we take a rational, evidence-based look at sex! I’m your host, part-time mad scientist, and this show’s spontaneous-libido representative, Franklin! 

Joreth: I’m your kinky, sopo, grey-ace, chicana, feminist Renaissance cat cohost, Joreth! My gender identity is “tomboy”, and my pronouns are she/her but you may address me as “Grand Empress Of The Region Of Myagencia, Joreth, first of her name”.

Eunice: I’m Eunice, your friendly neighborhood queer, kinky, bisexual, solopoly, ace-spec woman, bringing an East Asian British genteelness to a sometimes filthy podcast. (Lies, all lies, I’m just as filthy as the rest.)

Kitty: And I’m Kitty Bound, a part time neko, teller of tall tales, demisexual poly cat. My pronouns are she/her, and you can call me Kitty.

Franklin: Today we’re talking about asexuality, but before we get there, Eunice made an observation about premises we’ve taken for granted in this podcast but we’ve never made explicit. 

Eunice: OK, so if you’re the type of person to listen to a podcast about sex and skepticism this will probably seem very very basic and fundamental to you, but we forgot to lay this out at the beginning so that’s exactly why we wanted to say this: axiom number one, objective truth and reality exists. Axiom number two, that we can find out what this objective truth is, even if we, as in the human race as well as individuals, don’t have that information right now. And axiom number three, that this is an inherently good thing to do.

Joreth:  There’s so much to discuss about the premises of science and skepticism, so many things that are just fundamental to the process that it’s easy to not realize that we haven’t stated it explicitly.  So we’re going to state this explicitly and we’re going to explore it more on our Patreon, and it will be one of our free Patreon episodes so anyone can listen to it.  So go check out our Patreon page, linked from our website at skepticalpervert.com!

Franklin:  So, back to Asexuality! What is it? What does it mean? Do ace people hate sex? Can you be horny and still be ace? 

Eunice: Well firstly, AVEN, the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, defines an asexual as: Someone who does not experience sexual attraction or an intrinsic desire to have sexual relationships (or the adjective describing a person as such). 

Kitty:  Wikipedia defines asexuality as “Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others, or low or absent interest in or desire for sexual activity.”

Joreth:  Those definitions only open up the floor for more definitions.  Everyone seems to have their own ideas on what each of those words means, and many people have a lot of assumptions that others share those ideas.

Eunice: It does feel a bit lacking, doesn’t it, even just for the personal experience of the people in this conversation!

Joreth:  So if the definition of asexuality is “someone who does not experience sexual attraction”, that leads us to the question of “what is sexual attraction” then?  Wikipedia defines it as “attraction on the basis of sexual desire or the quality of arousing such interest”.

Franklin: And that leads us to “how are sexual attraction and sexual arousal different?” And “can you feel attraction without arousal? Can you feel arousal without attraction?” I think a lot of folks assume if you’re asexual, you have no sexual desire or interest at all, which isn’t what I’ve observed from people who self-identify as ace.

Eunice: Actually, maybe that’s a good place to start. Who here identifies as somewhere on the asexuality spectrum? And how does that work for you?

Kitty: I realized several years ago that I’m demisexual, which is considered to be on the ace spectrum. And once I figured out that I *could* feel sexual desire *for another person*, and the circumstances where that was likely to happen, it works pretty well.

Franklin:  Huh. I had no idea demisexuality is part of the spectrum. That surprises me a bit, to be honest.

Kitty: I think the reason why the prefix “demi” was chosen was because while we do feel sexual attraction and desire for other people, it’s rare and pretty much never based on the same criteria other people use. At least, from what I gather from talking to allosexual people.

Franklin: I feel kind of conflicted about that. On the one hand, I don’t generally find people sexually attractive until I get to know them. On the other, it seems pretty weird to think of myself being anywhere on the asexuality spectrum, given that I have such a strong spontaneous libido that being horny is part of my background emotional state, especially when Joreth and Eunice have me on a schedule of daily edgings. When I try out the label of asexual, it doesn’t seem to fit.

Kitty: I also have a strong spontaneous libido, and a high sex drive. Which was reeeeealy frustrating for me growing up because there was nobody I wanted to act on those urges with. And I think that’s what separates asexuals from allosexuals. As a demisexual, an emotional bond is a must for me to feel attraction, but not every strong bond results in that attraction. Does that make sense?

Joreth:  I’m not sure the emotional bond is the defining element for asexuality, but it does seem to be the defining element for demisexuality.  I have been tentatively identifying as “on the ace spectrum” or “grey ace” for a little while now.  I’m still trying it on, seeing how it fits, and if it’s really separate from my identity as someone with a responsive libido, which we discussed in episode 6 on Responsive Libido or Responsive Desire.  The short version, for those who are just joining us, is that I do not experience physical sexual arousal spontaneously.  Sexual activity of some sort has to start happening first, and then my body, like, “remembers” that we like this and becomes aroused.  

But I also have a hormonal cycle where, at different times of the month or year, I am more or less responsive to said sexual activity.  Sometimes, no matter how pleasant the activity is, I just do not experience the physical sexual arousal state of lubrication, increased blood flow to the genitals, ability to orgasm, nerve sensitivity, etc.

And just to make shit even more complicated, I am totally not “demisexual”.  I can experience sexual attraction (although without an arousal state) for people without having any kind of emotional connection to them at all.  My newest boyfriend, for example.  We had seen each other at parties for years, but thanks to the pandemic, I have been off the social scene for several years now.  I went to one of my first post-pandemic (are we really post-pandemic?  Maybe peri-pandemic?), anyway, I went to a party, saw him from across the room, and BAM! I was hit with an instant sexual attraction.  But no arousal state.

Eunice: And I’m an interesting mix of demisexual, which in my case means the thought of someone being a potential sexual partner doesn’t even occur to me until I’ve already gotten to know someone, plus I have a responsive libido, plus I have a low libido. Which combination means that if I don’t deliberately set out to go have sex every so often, my body forgets that sex is even an option. I actually have had sex sometimes when I don’t really feel aroused or interested just to get to the point where the next time I have sex, I will actually be aroused before we get too far into the sex.

Joreth:  I do that!  I keep telling my partners that a whole bunch of quickies is better for me than marathon sex, because I might not be into the sex the first time, but having had sex at least once, I will be more into the sex the next time.  So doing it, like, half a dozen times over a weekend is much better than doing it for 7 hours in one night (true example).

Kitty: The idea of just looking at someone and finding them sexually attractive is *so weird* to me. I find a lot of people physically and aesthetically attractive. But the thought of smashing squishy bits together never crosses my mind.

So, going forward, I think we need to distinguish between asexuals who have low sexual *attraction* (like myself and Franklin), and those with low sexual *arousal* (like Joreth and Eunice.)

Eunice: That’s a great point! I like to think of it on a point graph, with the sexual attraction on one axis and sexual arousal on the other axis. And where we sit on that graph can vary day by day, hour by hour, or even moment by moment.

Joreth:  I like the idea of two axes.  I tend to think of most elements of humanity, particularly of human sexuality, as less of a spectrum and more of a color wheel.  I think that’s fairly compatible with the X and Y axes … maybe I should create a combined graph like this?

Franklin: I have been thinking about this since we first started talking about this episode, so I’ve started working on a multi-axis asexuality wheel. Maybe it’ll be done by the time this episode airs?

Eunice: If it is, we’ll link to it from the show notes. Actually, before we continue maybe we should take a few big steps back and go back to a question Franklin asked earlier. How are we even defining sexual attraction and sexual arousal here?

Joreth:  This is very tricky, and we may need to come up with definitions *for the purpose of this discussion*, knowing that other people may use the terms differently, and that certainly research will be defining these terms in a variety of ways.  It’s interesting, because as we talked about what the axes should be and what they are called, I think we revealed more about our own personal sexuality based on our assumptions about those labels.

Eunice: So we’ve come up with some definitions that we’re using in the context of this discussion. This will undoubtedly be infuriatingly incorrect to many, many people, don’t @ us, just run with it for now, ok? 

Kitty: Firstly, sexual arousal: here we’re talking just about the purely physiological readiness for sex – how horny you are, basically, disconnected from the person (if any) it’s directed at. 

Eunice: And if you’re strongly responsive-libido like I am, that statement probably sounded as weird to you as it did to me. Next up, we have sexual attraction, which is the desire to want sex with someone. This isn’t the same thing as being physiologically ready for sex, but sometimes you just need to tell someone to get started without you and you’ll join in once the old engines start firing, you know? Think of this as the mental readiness counterpart to the previous definition.

Franklin: Emotional distance, for this purpose, is the extent to which you need to feel an emotional engagement with someone before you find them sexually desirable. High emotional distance means you can shag someone without knowing them or feeling emotionally connected with them, or perhaps might need to not even know them at all; low emotional distance means you need that emotional connection before you hop into bed (or onto the kitchen table or wherever—we aren’t judging). With only one or two exceptions in my life, I don’t have sex until after there’s some kind of engagement on an emotional level. If I don’t know you, if you’re a stranger to me, I don’t want to have sex with you. I might find you aesthetically attractive, maybe, but I’m still not likely to be attracted to you, if that makes sense. For most of my life, the average length of time between when I met someone and when we became lovers was a bit over three and a half years; nowadays, it’s longer. I don’t have sex with strangers, and in fact have turned down opportunities for sex with people I don’t know well, because that emotional connection wasn’t there.

Joreth:  Yeah, how important is feeling connected on an emotional or interpersonal level to one’s sexuality?  My emotional connections are completely separated from either my attraction or my arousal state – as in, they might overlap, but they often do not and are therefore independent variables, which I think is kind of a confusing concept for some of my cohosts to grok.  I love that, as we continue to talk about how we experience these three criteria (and what those criteria are), we continue to discover that we are all each in our own categories.  We have some things in common, but none of us are the same labels.

Eunice: Oh, that’s cool, we all share each of our labels with at least one other person, but it’s a different person for each label. So anyway, to wrap up the definitions, for the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to consider asexuality to be any time a person is at the low end of any of those three axes.

Joreth:  So, like, I would be low arousal, moderate distance, and bimodal low-high attraction, perhaps?  I like sex, I frequently want sex but also just as frequently don’t notice I haven’t had sex, I can have diverse sexual partners with connection or with emotional distance, but I just can’t. get. aroused. without a lot of work.

Kitty: And I am high-arousal, low emotional distance, low attraction. I can be turned on by a stray thought and a stiff breeze, but there are very few people I want to have sex with, and the one thing all of them have in common is that I have a deep emotional connection with them.

Franklin: I’m like Kitty: I get aroused if the wind blows, if the sun shines, if the moon rises. Sex? I’m horny pretty much all the time. But there aren’t a lot of people I want to have sex with. I think the difference is I can be attracted to people without that connection, though of course that doesn’t necessarily mean I fancy a shag.

Eunice: And I would be…low arousal, low attraction, low distance. I’m not going to be up for sex, mentally or physically, unless I’m emotionally very connected already. Oh damn, three for three, I’m kinda screwed for the whole sex thing, aren’t I? And not even in the fun way.

Joreth:  So that would put us all on the asexuality spectrum somewhere, which may surprise a lot of people.  I know that many of my friends and followers are surprised to think of me as ace because of how often I talk about sex or how often I *seem* to have sex, and I know Franklin was surprised to think of himself as possibly ace because of how often and easily he is aroused.  So what are some other myths about asexuality?

Franklin: Defining asexuality along the three axes we’re talking about, the most obvious myth is “asexual people don’t feel sexual arousal,” I think.

Kitty: Followed closely by “asexual people never have sex.”

Joreth:  How about “all asexual people are actively disgusted by sex”?

Kitty: I’ve heard that one, too!

Eunice: Yeah, this is such a powerful one—I still struggled to think of myself as ‘actually’ ace for a long time because I’m not sex repulsed, and I enjoy sex when I do get around to having it. But I’m definitely demisexual, and strongly so. It’s just that for a long time, I bought into the societal myth that all women naturally don’t want sex except with people they’re emotionally connected to, so I was just quote-unquote ‘normal’ in my lack of sexual attraction. Learning that my experience of sexual attraction was pretty far outside the bell curve was a real surprise.

Joreth:  I think the fact that we are struggling to accept the label “asexual” for ourselves only shows that these myths are pervasive and effective.  Somewhere, in our own brains, resides the kernel that “true asexuality” requires an active “a”, an active not-sex whether that’s not feeling physical arousal, choosing not to have sex, or being repulsed by sex – which ARE all forms of asexuality but not the ONLY forms.

Franklin: Also, that asexuality is not one thing, or even a spectrum. It’s a fuzzy cloud in three-dimensional space, with soft and vaguely-defined boundaries. There’s a lot of different traits and experiences that might reasonably be put under the fuzzy umbrella of ‘asexuality.’ I personally still feel a little weird applying that label to myself, though I think one might be able to make an argument that it can, in some ways, fit.

Kitty: And on that note, if any of our listeners think they fall on the low end of any of these criteria we’re using, but don’t want to identify as asexual–you don’t have to! Like a lot of other labels, this one can be handy, but it’s not mandatory.

Joreth:  So this brings up a related issue, which we are planning on discussing in a future episode – the subject of kink and sex!  Some people insist that kink and sex are either literally the same thing or inextricably intertwined, and others (like myself) see them as categorically different things and therefore able to be done separately.  So, in this context, that means that there are kinky asexuals.

Kitty: A lot of kinky asexuals! A good portion of my local kink community identifies somewhere on the ace spectrum.

Eunice: Honestly, most of the asexuals I know have the filthiest minds and the kinkiest desires. Definitely not calling out anyone in this chat, riiiiight?

Kitty:I have no idea what you’re talking about! Yes, that was totally sarcastic.

Franklin: I’m sure I don’t know what you mean. There is something kind of ironic about ace people having the best sex. Though I suppose it’s kind of fitting: if sex isn’t something you need, like an itch you constantly have to scratch or you can’t function, then perhaps you can plan it out better, make a real production of it?

Eunice: Well, all of my initial experiences of kink were nonsexual. A fact which blows the minds of many an allosexual person. Wait, did we explain what the term allosexual means? Just means ‘not-asexual’, FYI.

Kitty:  Sex becomes so much more than “Tab A into Slot B.”

Franklin: “It puts the tab in the slot or else it gets the hose again.” 

Joreth:  Well now I have conflicting wants.

Eunice: Both? Both. Both is good. Hey, I’m bisexual, making me choose is biphobic.

Joreth:  If I could choose between things, I wouldn’t be poly.

Kitty: Amen.

Eunice: I know you meant that as “I wouldn’t be a poly person if I knew how to choose” but my brain legit heard that as “I wouldn’t choose to be poly” at first and my world almost flipped 180 for a moment. Phew. That was almost a weird place. Didn’t like it.

Joreth:  I wouldn’t be poly if I could choose between things is definitely the meaning I intended.  (yes, I said “things”, kinda like how I refer to my kink partners as “toys”, as in “if you break your toys, you can’t play with them again”).

Franklin:  It puts the tab in the slot if it wants the hose again. But seriously, when you say “nonsexual,” what does that mean? I hear people talk about nonsexual kink, by which they mean penises and/or vaginas don’t necessarily play a starring role in the shenanigans, but it’s still a sexual experience. So do you mean non-sexual in the vanilla, “oral isn’t really sex” way, or non-sexual in the sense of no sexual component to the experience?

Joreth:  And that’s the real question, isn’t it?  What is sex?  This is a question that trips up … well basically everyone.

Eunice: Including us, sometimes, hence our hesitation about applying the term ‘asexual’ to ourselves. If you don’t have a good sense of what ‘sexual’ means, how do you know when you’re ‘asexual’?

Kitty:If I get wet and horny being tied up, does that mean bondage was sexual? Or since nobody’s genitals were involved, was it a nonsexual activity?

Franklin: Speaking personally, I think the answer is ‘yes.’ You don’t necessarily need to put a tab anywhere near a slot for something to be sex. A lot of folks who engage in semantic hairsplitting about how to define ‘sex’ seem…unnaturally fixated on that which is betwixt their nethers, and so lost the forest for–oh, look, squirrel!

Joreth:  Yeah, most of my kink is … I was going to say non-sexual but I think … non-arousing? Is the better word for it?  That whole “I’m grey-ace” thing.  When I top someone, I can mix sex and kink because it’s for them, but pain shuts off my pleasure centers so I can’t experience pain and arousal simultaneously, and topping requires a lot of thought for me so that shuts down my sexual arousal as well, although I will be emotionally and intellectually “aroused”, or really into what I’m doing.  Although I do have a couple of kinks that are explicitly sexual, like my consensual non-consent kink and my used-and-ignored kink.  But a lot of what people *think* of as “kink” or see at the dungeons – flogging, impact play, etc. – is not sexually arousing to me in the slightest.

Franklin: Mm, now THERE’S a semantic can of worms. If we do something, Joreth, and it gets me hot but doesn’t get you hot, is it sexual or non-sexual? Or sexual for one of us but not for the other? And honestly, I’ve many times had what is clearly and unambiguously tab-in-slot sex when I haven’t been aroused…is that then not sex? Is arousal a defining characteristic of sex?

Eunice: I certainly hope not! Given the number of times I’ve had sex when not actually physiologically aroused, but still enjoyed it, because it was fun and playful and connective. Mind you, I differentiate between sexual and sensual. They’re both about pleasure, but in very different ways. 

Franklin: And just to add even more weird ambiguity, I’ve had plenty of sex—often with you lot!—where I wasn’t aroused and didn’t Type 1 enjoy it at the time, it’s Type 2 or Type 3 fun. And I would still call that sex. (Side note, you are all terrible people.)

Eunice: You’re welcome!

Kitty: It’s a mix for me. Most of my kinks make me want to fuck like a mink–can I say that? But lately I’ve been topping for a number of activities that are very satisfying and absorbing, and yes, arousing in a non-sexual way.

Joreth:  And that, I think, is why it’s totally not a contradiction at all to be both kinky and asexual, even the actively turned-off kind of asexual – because of this wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey sort of separation but interconnectedness? between physiological arousal, “sexual” acts, and “kink” acts.

Eunice: For me, I can be non-aroused physically, and also not thinking about sex, but very focused and present—in the mindful sense—during kink. Especially when I’m topping or domming. That experience of being very present and in the moment, aware of my own self and my surroundings, conscious of the direction of my attention and thoughts, and the sensations in my body, but not interested in sexual activity, that’s what I think of when I’m talking about it being non-sexual.

Joreth:  Same.  There’s a thing called “subspace” that most people familiar with kink have heard about, which is sort of a floaty, internally-focused mental state that some people who are receiving some form of kink activity experience.  But I find that I go more into, like, a meditative state of hyperawareness of myself, my partner, and the moment – of being present and aware like when I meditate, which is the same state I am in when I dance, interestingly enough.  And that’s also what I mean when I say that I am “intellectually or emotionally aroused” – I am focused and intent on the moment, the activity, and the participants.

Franklin: Since this is the skeptical pervert rather than the other kind of pervert, we should look at the research!

According to the Williams Institute, 1.7% of adults self-identify as asexual. An overwhelming majority of ace-identifying people in their survey, 87%, were assigned female at birth, and there’s a strong correlation between identifying as ace and identifying as non-binary—72% of self-identified asexuals they surveyed identify as non-binary.

The study doesn’t attempt to define “asexuality” but looks at people who self-identify as asexual, and the study’s authors hypothesize that more women than men self-identify as ace at least in part because men are socialized to have and seek sex, so there’s greater social stigma for ace men than ace women.

Joreth:  So, in our previous episode on libido / arousal, we discussed how there is a difference between a person with a responsive libido, with *low* libido, and a person with a sexual *dysfunction*.  Since we are discussing how responsive libido may include one on the asexual spectrum, we should look at asexuality and sexual dysfunction – are asexuals just people with a sexual dysfunction?

Franklin: I like this quote from a study on asexuality:

Asexuality isn’t a complex. It’s not a sickness. It’s not an automatic sign of trauma. It’s not a behavior. It’s not the result of a decision. It’s not a chastity vow or an expression that we are ‘saving ourselves’. We aren’t by definition religious. We aren’t calling ourselves asexual as a statement of purity or moral superiority. We’re not amoebas or plants. We aren’t automatically gender confused, anti-gay, anti-straight, anti-any-sexual orientation, anti-woman, anti-man, anti-any-gender or anti sex. We aren’t automatically going through a phase, following a trend, or trying to rebel. We aren’t defined by prudishness. We aren’t calling ourselves asexual because we failed to find a suitable partner. We aren’t necessarily afraid of intimacy. And we aren’t asking for anyone to ‘fix’ us. (Decker, 2015, p. 3)

It’s way too easy to pathologize any sort of sexual behavior outside the middle of the bell curve as ‘dysfunction,’ even if it doesn’t cause harm or distress.

Eunice: And that’s the main thing the study highlights, right? The presence, or lack, of distress is what differentiates between asexuality and sexual dysfunction. If the person isn’t distressed, then there’s nothing wrong with their low or non-existent or different relationship with sexual desire and attraction. Of course, now I’m remembering that we came across Hypoactive sexual desire disorder, which included the distress of the partner at not getting sex as one of the criteria, and quite frankly, I’m still angry at that. 

Kitty: I would be too! I don’t think there’s any other disorder that’s defined even in part by how *other people feel about it.*

Joreth:  There’s another study that I looked at that compared 2 types of people – 42 self-identified asexual people and 25 heterosexual women with Sexual Interest / Arousal Disorder (SIAD) – and how they responded to 3 different components – 1) visual attention to erotic cues, 2) implicit appraisals of sexual words, and 3) explicit appraisals of sex.  It’s a small study, probably counts as preliminary, but it seems to indicate that the women with SIAD respond differently to visual cues and appraisals of sex, indicating that there is a cognitive difference between asexuals and people with sexual dysfunction.

Eunice: I’m really curious to know how I would respond now.

Franklin: I’d love to know your implicit appraisals of sexual words, Eunice, considering that you,err, write porn.

Joreth:  Same, I’d like to know how I would respond too!  According to the study, people who experience desire naturally, and people who feel as though they *should* experience desire, basically, someone with a *disorder* who does not experience desire but feels as though they *should*, both respond similarly to the various activities that tend to instigate arousal – looking at porn, for example.  Asexual people – those who feel a lack of desire as a “natural” part of their existence, do not tend to be interested in things associated with sex, such as images or words, indicating that, regardless of level of physiological arousal, allosexuals with a disorder have a sexual *attraction* while asexual people do not experience sexual *attraction*.  And Grey-Aces kinda confused their results.  Which is consistent, I think, with our subjective observations of asexuality.

So, that means that attraction and arousal are separate things, and it’s only a disorder if you feel that something is wrong with your lack of desire, like maybe a sexual version of body dysmorphia – you lack the arousal because you maintain the attraction, so the lack of arousal feels *wrong* to you somehow.  If that lack of attraction does not feel “wrong”, if it just feels like what it means to be you, then it’s not a disorder, it’s somewhere on the asexuality, er, cloud.
Franklin: Speaking of the asexuality cloud, we took a stab at representing asexuality on that three-dimensional graph we mentioned earlier, which you can find on the Web site at the skeptical pervert dot com. Asexuality covers a broad range of different sexual behaviors, which we plotted along axes of arousal, attraction, and emotional distance. Asexuality may occur when sexual attraction is low, sexual arousal is low, and/or sexual distance needs to be low.

Blank asexuality graph to put yourself on the chart (without 0-point markers):

Joreth’s placement on the chart (low arousal, moderate distance, and bimodal low-high attraction):

Franklin’s placement on the chart (high-arousal, low emotional distance, mid-low attraction):

Eunice’s placement on the chart (low arousal, low attraction, low distance):

Kitty’s placement on the chart (high-arousal, low emotional distance, low attraction):

Franklin: So, the takeaways from this episode:

  • Asexuality is a wide umbrella. There’s tremendous diversity in the people who call themselves asexual.
  • Asexuals aren’t broken. Asexuality isn’t a disorder.
  • Asexuality doesn’t necessarily mean being sex averse. While some asexuals are sex averse, many are not.
  • Asexuality doesn’t necessarily mean you never have or want sex.
  • Asexuality is not chastity. Chastity is primarily about sexuality activity, asexuality is primarily about sexual desire.
  • Asexuality is a continuum with a lot of shades.
  • Attraction (the interest in having sex or wanting to want sex) and physiological arousal (the physical state of readiness for sex) are separate, but often connected, things.
  • Some asexuals have sex. Sometimes kinky sex!

Joreth:  If you feel that you have a lower interest or attraction or desire for sex than others around you, you may want to check out the vast universe of asexuality to see if one of those labels feels good to you.

Eunice: Also, and I know that as a grey-ace therapist myself I’m obviously biased, I would really suggest that if you are distressed about your lack of interest or attraction or desire for sex, find a decent therapist, specifically one who is aware of and acknowledges the difference between asexuality and sexual disorder. It’s worth the effort, I assure you!

Kitty:A therapist who understands the difference will be more effective at helping you find the right therapy for your situation.

Eunice: Good advice that applies in many other areas too.

Franklin:  So that’s this episode! The Skeptical Pervert is copyright Franklin, Joreth, Eunice, and Kitty. Find us on the Web at skepticalpervert.com. If you’d like to hear us talk about something, email us at contact@skepticalpervert.com. Editing is done by Joreth, and site maintenance by Franklin. And if you like what you hear, spread the love! We also have a Patreon, which you can find linked to from the website.

Kitty:  And remember, being asexual, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy torturing Franklin!

Eunice: Is there a queue? Should we invite folks to take a number? Are we instigating some kind of system is what I’m asking.

Joreth:  As long as I’m in that line somewhere … first could be fun, but so could going last … hmm, should we create a logarithmic calculator of some sort to organize the queue?

Eunice: I think there’s probably an equation out there somewhere for the position in the queue that will bring one the most benefit. Enjoyment? Satisfaction?

Joreth:  And bring Franklin the most … experience?

Eunice: Hey Franklin, I need help finding an equation!

Franklin: I suck at maths. And besides, you lot are terrible people.

Eunice: You’re welcome!