sex but offline  

Illustration by Ben Steele.

By Jackson Machado-Nunes

you’re typing am i asexual quiz into the search bar but you’d rather just be playing your DS or something. something that doesn’t involve questioning the deepest parts of yourself like you feel like you’ve been doing for years. at this point, you’re pretty sick of having an identity to discover at all, but if you’re not doing this you’ll just be worrying about something else anyway. 

you’re thinking about how society is a time-bomb, one that’s gone off about 10 times this decade already. you wouldn’t have to even think about being asexual if the world wasn’t so obsessed with making everything about sex and intimacy. that’s an unfair statement, sex and intimacy should totally be up for exploration in the media, #sexpositivity, but why are we all expected to love it? you’d rather just register your disdain for being asked to put your penis into a person and move on, rather than thinking about all the pretty characters from Euphoria or Sex Education that love having sex and wondering if you’re just trying too hard to be different. you feel every voice inside you begging for another perspective. something about all big discoveries about your identity needing to be encouraged by Buzzfeed or Harper’s Bazaar first, like the time you thought about switching over to almond milk.  

you haven’t clicked on the quiz yet, and you’re nervous to. nervous because it will give you an answer, and nervous because whether it says yes or no you’ll just acquiesce to the opposite anyway. what you want to do is pick up your phone to a notification from YouTube about a new Smosh Pit video – omg, Shayne Topp came out as asexual? I’m just like him! But no, it’s silence all around you except everywhere that it’s so freaking loud. you hit the link from ProProfs that claims: With this asexual test, you will get the answer to your question, am I asexual?  

maybe you’re a robot. maybe if you bang your head hard enough into the wall a troubleshooting guide will come out and show you how to reset your brain, or at least detail the components of your model and tell you what’s going on in there – like one of those Furbies with likes and dislikes, some like apple sauce, some do intermittent fasting.  

maybe you’re just procrastinating. again searching for online validation, like when you were in high school on Omegle looking for 40-year-olds to want you more than they wanted their wives. you think about all the times you’ve enjoyed sex, sexting, things like that…and it’s just never been sex that you were looking for, not really. you wanted to be a pleaser, or just to feel pretty, or sexy. it’s like everything just wants to dawn on you all at once or something. you’re asking yourself if anything you’ve ever really done has been for you. something tells you that you’re not just a sensitive person that needs to acclimate to sexual liberation. maybe you’re just defective.  

there’s something about sex that makes you feel not a part of it. like it’s a club and you’re not invited. like you’re always behind your own eyes, counting down the seconds until His breath catches and you’re suddenly not there for any reason at all. your first complaint about sex to your friends was that it feels like it just goes on forever. maybe that just means you’re bad at it, but you’re not sure. 

the tricky thing is…you kinda like the thought of it alone. you like the idea of it when you can be this perfect being in your mind. sometimes for men that remind you of sitting alone every day watching the pretty people not bring lunch to school, you can convince yourself that it feels good to do what they say. but then again, you also kinda like that powerful feeling of not enjoying a second of a guy’s time. like you have better things to do than get some guy off after a hard day of making short films about frustration and being so incredibly intelligent. 

you go through the quiz and wind up not being asexual, but, nice try. are you just trying to pick up labels like Thanos and those infinity stones, or do you really think you could go the rest of your life without sex?  

well, maybe there’s a quiz for that too. 


Jackson Machado-Nunes is a Meanjin based non-binary writer in their final semester of undergraduate study. Follow their Instagram @deku.of.dune for outfit updates, and poetry off-cuts.


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