I don’t doubt that something like it exists. Asexuals get erased all the time in our society, and are regularly treated as though they are mentally or emotionally defective. Not enough people know that asexuality even exists, and I see well-meaning people on my dash bring up the “debate” over whether or not asexuality is a “real thing”. That is something that needs to change.
But we need to really think about how we’re framing the conversation. Because being considered “sexual” is not the default, not for every sexual person, and definitions of sexual privilege which gloss over this reality bother me. Not every sexual person is considered worthy of the sexual impulses they do have, and only certain objects of one’s sexual desire are considered socially acceptable.
A lot of us sexual people have had to fight for the right to be considered sexual beings.
When I was twelve years old, I got the sex talk from my grandmother. She sat me down, and very seriously told me that I should refrain from dating, “like the Americans do”. She told me that women are supposed to rise above the base sexual interest of men, and warned me to never be seduced by a man, no matter how charming he seemed. And then she told me about her sex life. About how painful and grueling it was to have to think about sex, about how she hated doing it when she was younger, how she gritted her teeth and got through it, “so that she could have children”.
Is my grandmother asexual? Perhaps. But I doubt it. There’s too much negative socialization going on, right from birth, to assume that my grandmother was anything but massively repressed. Women raised in patriarchal, rigid societies, are socialized to be ashamed of their own bodies and their own desires. A woman in control of her own sexuality, a woman who likes to have sex — nothing scares a male-dominated society more.
Asexual is what she wanted me to be. Asexual is what all the women in my family were supposed to be; without desire of our own, but allowing our husbands to do what they want to us when duty calls. Women who failed to meet these ridiculous standards were punished, with intense ridicule and shotgun marriages.
Is it any wonder that I thought that I was a freak because I masturbated? I thought it was only something boys did, and I was sure that I was a disgusting pervert. We just don’t talk about the sexual desires of girls. The wants and desires of boys are celebrated in our culture, but female sex-ed is all about the negative consequences of sex — its a careful cost-benefit analysis meant to convince young girls to keep their legs shut. A girl is left wondering; why would anyone WANT to do this act in the first place?
Sex happens in the dark, its a private act, but a lot of terrible things can happen when we don’t talk about it. Shame about one’s sexual existence can destroy your relationship to yourself, and leave you vulnerable to sexual assault. Convincing a woman to be terrified of her own body is the greatest tool that misogynists have working against us.
Any kind of non-normative sexuality is threatening to the patriarchy, and not just female sexuality. Gay men can be considered acceptable in mainstream society, only as long as they don’t talk about what happens behind closed doors. Trans people have similar problems. The price of mainstream acceptance is far too often a denial of one’s sexual self.
So, no, I don’t think its as simple as saying all sexual people have “sexual privilege”, and leaving it at that. There are battles surrounding sexuality that are still being fought on a very fundamental level. Sweeping all this complexity into one umbrella is profoundly unhelpful.
Edit: I’ve addressed some common objections here.
There’s an argument for sex positivity in there, for my anon.