If you’ve never heard of the word ‘ace’, when someone self-identifies their sexuality, it may catch you off guard. ‘Ace’ is shorthand for ‘asexual’, which can mean two radically different things. Biologically, asexual refers to an organism that can reproduce by itself (often referred to as ‘budding’) and we’re quite sure no human can do that! Sociosexually, on another hand, refers to someone who prefers to not have sex with another human.
Asexuality has some easily dispelled misconceptions. For starters, someone who is asexual isn’t practicing celibacy or abstinence. Those would be behavioral, or depend upon someone’s actual choice to live without having sex with others. Another easily dispelled misconception: asexuals don’t identify on the heterosexual-to-homosexual spectrum. Instead consider that asexuals with libido do indeed find others attractive, but don’t necessarily want to be with that person. There is also the misconception that all asexuals have zero sex drive, or libido. We can consider asexuality to apply to two cases: someone who has zero sex drive—or libido—or someone who indeed has a sex drive, but doesn’t engage in sex with others.
Let’s also toss into this the premise that human sexuality is fluid, rather than fixed. Any one of us can have high interest in one sex/gender for years at a time, completely switch interests, have periods of pansexual interest, and/or experience frequency of no sexual interest in others. So it’s entirely reasonable that any one of us can find ourselves experiencing definite asexuality at some point and wondering just what are our options.
Masturbation is a libidinous asexual’s best friend. We have the drive, the interest, but we’re not interested in sharing it, experiencing it, demanding it, negotiating it, or flat out wanting someone else in our libido adventure(s). We are totally okay with being solo when it comes to sex, and yes, masturbation IS sex: it’s just sex with yourself (by definition). One of the great elements of solo sex is that there is no pressure to feel or do anything from anyone else: we are in complete control of our eroticism.
Having complete control over one’s eroticism can be erotic unto itself. Want to edge yourself and never orgasm? That’s entirely our control! Want to abstain for days at a time and then explode in multiple orgasms all in one day? Control! Want to orgasm daily, on a schedule? Still our control! If the intersectionality with submission and dominance seems startlingly convenient, it’s a pleasant reminder that asexuality has just as much dimension as any other sexuality in terms of its diversity.
It’s also the 21st century, so manufacturing and digital technology are incredible supporters of asexuality. Devices that would have been significantly dangerous in prior centuries have been entirely replaced with wonderful safe (and often easily cleaned) ‘toys’ that compliment the solo sexual explorer. Masturbation sleeves are relatively affordable and offer differences in sensation. Tenga eggs are one-time use masturbation sleeves that each have a different textured interior: they are relatively inexpensive and really change up the sensation of jacking off. Some masturbation sleeves even are more ‘fixed’ with a plastic tube, ala Fleshlight, and that provides different dynamics (due to simple changes in self-controlled air pressure) than a sleeve alone can provide. There are different cores for these and each provides a really different intensity: one is more silky and feels like a slick pleasure ride, another is more ribbed and feels like an intense massage, while another is more studded and feels like intense aggression in your hand. One of the great advantages of any type of masturbation sleeve is that one can choose a simulated body part or a neutral design, based on interest. It’s great to have some neutral designs (those that don’t resemble a mouth, anus, or vagina) for sleeves because it puts the attention more on the sensations in supplemented masturbation and removes the focus on ‘which sex/gender might I be interested in?’ The neutrality can be very freeing, and allow us to enjoy the eroticism without social commentary.
Even masturbation sleeves, like the Cobra Libra II, include vibrations that focus on different parts of the phallus. Cockrings, too, can contribute to eroticism by maintaining a healthy erection for hours at a time. They can be paired with vibration packages, as well, to create a really different and welcome ‘buzz’ that can stimulate more than just the penis itself.
And then there are the variety of insertable toys. These can be two separate types of toys or toys that ‘offer’ both in one. Butt plugs are one type of insertable, and they let us have something to squeeze down on, internally, while masturbating. Orgasms (and edging! Oh gods the edging!) are wildly more intense when an appropriate toy keeps those anal muscles open just right and that squeezing intensity can make even the most silent orgasm become one of gasping and groaning pleasure. Having a butt plug with a flared base is essential because who REALLY wants to end up in the emergency room and explain how you got that stuck up in there?
Prostrate stimulators (yes, also with a flared base of some form!) also prop open the anal muscles, but they also let us nudge the prostate as much or as little as we want. Something like an Aneros can be left in unto itself and it will hit that nub (or g-spot) each time the anal muscles clench, which is incredibly erotic and can feel like a wavy-smooth rollercoaster ride of erotic intensity. Prostate toys like this also have handles that let the solo sexual pull or push as they like, giving more control and variance to the roller coaster ride. Some prostate stimulators come with vibrators, some with vibrator add-ons, and like the cockrings and sleeves we talked about earlier, add another level of hot buzz to jacking off.
Then there are vibrators and dildos, sometimes considered the ‘default’ of insertables. Dildos, like butt plugs, can help us squeeze down and clench which lets us intensify the pleasure both while stroking and while orgasming. They can hit the prostate, but usually dildos are longer and/or thicker and are used to feel more penetrated or feel more pressure on the anal muscles to increase intensity. Vibrators, on the other hand, can be a great tease on any part of the body and because they come with so many speed settings, every masturbation session can be different. Unlike all the other toys, vibrators arouse all sorts of nerve endings in our skin, and remind us that our skin is one big erotic playground. Vibrators can feel like one of the best tools for asexuals, because it lets us literally take the sensation exactly where we want it, to try our new sensations, and really get a sense of how we like our body being touched. Then there’s the whole option of penetration with vibrators: there is so much control in how deep, to what angle, with or without thrusting. . .there’s just so much variety available that it’s no surprise just how ‘valuable’ a vibrator can be when masturbating.
What better to round out the eroticism of solo sex than the choice of lubricant. No lubricant gives us the most direct physical contact, the most biofeedback, and the most immediate feeling. It’s almost primal in its simplicity because this requires nothing but our hand and our dick. We don’t need a setup or a situation, and we can do it anywhere. There’s no money involved or potential feeling of awkwardness when shopping at a Lovers or Castle or Sexworld (Minneapolis!) for lube. All the toys we’ve talked about, on the other hand, as tools in the asexual’s pleasure chest, work best with lubricant and there are three main types: water-based, petroleum-based, and silicon-based. Water-based lube tends to be stickier, can be flavored (yeah, more variety!) and the jelly-like quality of it is really fun to play with. For silicon-based toys, water-based lube is the only lube. Petroluem-based lube (KY Jelly, for instance) is thicker and last a lot longer than water-based lubricants, and works really nicely with prostate toys because this type of lube mimics the oils our cells use to lubricate our body (especially our anus). Silicon-based lube is the slickest of all three types, typically lasts the longest, tends to cost the most, and If you want silky-smooth solo sex sessions, this is the type for you.
When it comes to an asexual orientation, whether long-term or short-term in one’s own sexuality, it’s great to know that when it comes to masturbation we have a lot of options for self-stimulation. Our options are incredibly safe, incredibly private, and help us stay connected to ourselves and what we enjoy. If you’ll excuse me, talking about all this has me really turned on and I’m going to enjoy some solo sex myself.