ARCsexual: Averse, Repulsed, Conflicted

Sex aversion and repulsion are not widely known topics. They’re generally rolled up with frigid and prude, as negative traits of people who try to insert themselves into the lives of everyone around them. To be averse is no different from any other orientation. It’s no different from disliking basketball—people simply don’t go to games, don’t play. There’s no movement to ban the sport. It’s personal conduct. At most an averse friend won’t want to hear every dripping detail of your sexploits, they may not want to watch explicit shows with you—the same as someone who isn’t interested in your sports obsession.

Aversion does pose a few problems for the people who feel that way. Sex is everywhere, in most ads and most media. It’s hard to avoid it. It’s not easily discussed, because the frequent mention of “sex” gets flagged as mature content in most safemode filters. Usually that’s a great way to run a safe filter, but in this case we’re talking about not liking it; we aren’t splattering gore everywhere. This is no different than talking about LGBT/MOGII topics. This problem prevents people from finding information about themselves. It makes it seem that it’s unacceptable to not like sex, that there’s something wrong with you if you don’t like it. If you do find resources, most of them are directed at trauma survivors with the intent of “fixing” said repulsion. There’s very little for anyone else, and most of that still carries that “you’re broken” message. This isn’t acceptable—there’s nothing wrong with these feelings unless you personally decide you don’t want to feel that way.

There’s some good information in the asexual community. Obviously, though, that’s specialized and not applicable to everyone—it’s possible to feel sexual attraction (be allosexual) and feel repulsion. The common terms are averse, repulsed, and conflicted, differentiated by how you experience this aspect of your sexuality.

New terms and a community built specifically for this are needed.

To describe the general experience of being averse/repulsed/conflicted, or anything that would fit under that umbrella, we settled on arcsexual, made from the acronym of those words. This is a bridge between the old terminology and the new we’re creating. Outsiders can recognize this as a part of sexuality and community members can use it as an easier explanation when they’re not comfortable getting into nuanced details. This can be used much in the same way as other orientation terms, to be mixed as desired: arcbisexual, a person who is bisexual and has some form of arcsexuality; arcdemisexual, a demisexual with arcsexuality; arcasexual, an asexual who is also arcsexual.

That covered the initial necessities. While it made sense to use the -sexual base there, creating new words with it to describe arc had problems. Attraction and repulsion are not extreme points on the same linear scale; they are two separate emotions with their own scales. Mashing two feelings into one term would make it impossible to tell whether it’s meant to convey attraction to or repulsion from its modifier: femmesexual could be attraction to the feminine or repulsion from it; asexual could be indifference to sex or lacking the feeling of attraction. There’s too much overlap.

Using some form of -sex wouldn’t work because that would require terms like antisex, which are already widely recognizable with negative connotations both within and outside feminism. Sex positive and sex negative are also well-defined and thus unusable.

We decided to create a new suffix: -carnal. Having a new term fixes the confusion and nicely allows a spectrum within arc. Carnal was chosen because it’s wide enough to cover all sexual situations, whether overt or implied, but can also be personally defined as narrowly as wanted.

The final piece for this initial structure is to define a term for being “all in” excited for sex, as opposed to completely averse to it. This prevents the issue where “all in” is the implied default, just as straight is the implied default sexuality. A term for this allows us to say that a person can be allo and still have other feelings, that they’re not necessarily “all in”. We have chosen “procarnal” for this.

In sum, we have the following basic structure:

  • ARCresources: tumblr blog focusing on sex aversion/repulsion/confliction.
  • arcsexuality: the general term for a person who feels averse, repulsed, or conflicted towards sex
  • arcflux: your arc feelings fluctuate for whatever reason.
  • -carnal: the suffix to describe your arc feelings
  • acarnal: indifference to sex
  • anticarnal: sex repulsed; a strong visceral reaction of disgust, negativity, etc.
  • procarnal: “all in” for sex
  • discarnal: sex averse, opposed to the idea; “not at the dinner table and not while I’m around”.
  • eriscarnal: sex conflicted. Comes from the Greek goddess of discord, Eris.

More terms will show up on the Terminology page of the ARC blog as they are used.