Finding a balance between sex repulsion and sex negativity?

Questions and discussion about sex and sexuality in political or community beliefs, principles, actions, policies, experiences, messages and media.
brungerbulb
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Finding a balance between sex repulsion and sex negativity?

Unread post by brungerbulb »

My brother (older than me by a year) is sex repulsed. It’s pretty easy to see from the way he acts; he covers his eyes when two people do as much as kiss. I don’t really think his aversion to sex is a problem in and of itself, if I had to cite a concern about it, it would be to make sure he knows it’s okay to pursue romance without sex, since I feel like he may think it’s expected of him as a Christian. I’m not sure if he even experiences romantic attraction, but from what he’s said he definitely thinks he will have a wife someday. Anyway, that wasn’t really my main issue. What I’m really looking for clarification on is where exactly his sex repulsion ends and his sex negativity starts, since he’s very blatant about both aspects of his character, and I want to make sure I’m not stepping out of line when I try to correct him on certain things.

I think a lot of it comes from his Christian values. For instance, he refers to any type of polyamory as “getting cucked” no matter how the people within the relationship define it, and he is against premarital sex (which is genuinely bonkers to think about), as well as most pornography and sex work. I think I’m pretty safe in defining these beliefs as political, debatable ones, but it goes a little further than that. He is also absolutely disgusted by anything he considers “the female body”. For reference, he has no issue making jokes about penises and balls and all that, and is even alright with mentioning his own for the sake of a joke. He also walks around with nothing but a pair of underwear quite often inside our house. He’s been able to decouple his own anatomy from sexualization, but he does not afford others the same opportunity.

I remember specifically, once I was joking around with him, he would mention one part of his own genitals very comfortably, to which I would respond with one of mine, and he would comically gag and cover his ears and pretend to retch. Then during one round, he said, “urethra” and I laughed and said “urethra” in turn. He then got confused, because he thought I didn’t have one. Apparently, he thought I peed out of my vaginal canal. I ended up asking mom to clear things up, and what happens next honestly really confuses and angers me to describe. She got very— I think I’d say concerned with him, and seemed a little disappointed, and she pulled up a diagram on her device to show him. He did not, not, not, want to look. He hid his head and covered his eyes like a little damn kid. It disgusted him so much. He thought he was looking at something dirty, and mom was upset with him for this, she said that he “needed to know this”, and that it was important.

I hate my mom a little for doing what she did, since from his perspective she was forcibly showing him sexual imagery he didn’t want to see: sexual harassment, basically. But I also hate my brother for thinking of my own body, natural as his, is something sexual and disgusting. Why does he get to have all the funny jokes, be an object of comedy while I’m one of disgust and ridicule? He turns away from any sort of cleavage in clothes, while I know that if a man were wearing the same thing, he would be perfectly alright with it. I feel like he doesn’t have the heart to humanize bodies other than his own; perhaps that’s why he has such a negative opinion of fat people, too, he sees their body as a sign of decay, or something.

But I don’t know. I know it’s more important than anything that he gets his own space to confront sexuality on his own terms, but I don’t know if it’s wrong of him to stretch the definition of “sexuality” like he does. Is his knee-jerk reaction defensible? I mean, he seems to understand that it’s people’s right to kiss in public, and that in turn, it’s his right to look away. But he doesn’t apply that same logic to bikinis and toplessness other such displays.

I know embracing asexuality is an important part of sex positivity, and demanding that people compromise their boundaries is not good for mental health. But I feel like he just overreaches sometimes. It reminds me of people who are disgusted of gay relationships, thinking it’s amoral and refusing to acknowledge it, because they truly are uncomfortable with them. They shouldn’t be, I don’t think it’s right of them to judge that way, and yet they still don’t want to see it. It’s important for him to understand aspects of sex better so that he knows how to support people who need it, but what the hell am I supposed to do when even the concept of a vagina squicks him out?
Sam W
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Re: Finding a balance between sex repulsion and sex negativity?

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi brungerbulb,

I will say that his lack of knowledge about bodies unlike his own, and his oversized reactions to the idea of those bodies, isn't that uncommon for fifteen year old cis guys. A lot of sex ed is still very segregated by gender, if it's given at all, and what most people describe as women's bodies are still very much viewed as objects of either sexual gratification, disgust, or mystery. That doesn't make it any less frustrating to deal with, but it does mean his reactions aren't all that rare.

A big distinction between sex repulsion and sex negativity is the very thing you're seeing, which is how we react to the existence of sex lives and experiences outside our own. To be sex repulsed is to know sex just isn't for you and that it triggers intense, negative feelings for you, but ideally understanding that there's nothing inherently bad or gross about the sexual things other people get up to. Sex negativity is more about judging other people, and starts from the standpoint of sex being inherently bad or dirty. Plenty of sex negative people have sex themselves while judging others for their desires or actions (and often judging themselves on some level, which leads to shame). Does that difference kind of make sense?

Too, if he's growing up with a lot of non-progressive, Christian messaging around sex, that may be fueling his reactions as well. If those messages posit sex or desire as sinful or dirty, then it makes sense that he'd feel discomfort (or feel like he needs to show discomfort) around sexual things.
Sam W
scarleteen staff/volunteer
Posts: 8273
Joined: Mon Jul 28, 2014 9:06 am
Age: 31
Awesomeness Quotient: I raise carnivorous plants
Primary language: english
Pronouns: she/her
Sexual identity and orientation: queer
Location: Desert

Re: Finding a balance between sex repulsion and sex negativity?

Unread post by Sam W »

I also want to add that something you could do in this instance is talk with your brother about where these ideas are coming from. You, and I, are making some guesses about what's motivating his behavior, but the truth is only he can really know what his reasons are. So, you could ask him if he's reacting these ways because of what he's heard in religious spaces, how he just sort of feels deep down, or if he's been hanging out in internet spaces--like incel spaces--that encourage some of the opinions he's expressing.
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