-Seher Dareen –
In this generation of rising alternative sexualities and increased expressions of what it is like to be a human, an interesting concept that arises is autosexuality, or, a relationship in which a person is attracted to themselves. They could also be people who are attracted to others, but only respond sexually to themselves.
A Guardian article succinctly discusses autosexuality – it is different from autoeroticism and simply getting yourself off. An autosexual is someone who is sexually attracted to themselves, is romantically involved with themselves (autoromanticism), could end up investing in themselves when it comes to the idea of a marriage, and would partake in marrying themselves (sologamy).
If this sounds absurd, Ghia Vitale, an autosexual writer from New York, shows how normal it can really be.
In her article on Medium, she speaks of her experience in finding the love of her life – herself. “Being attracted to yourself might not be considered ‘normal’, but autosexuality and autoromanticism do exist. I always go home with me,” she writes, “and nothing could make me happier.” She got engaged to herself in 2017, and plans to get married soon.
It is important, though, to point out the fact that autoeroticism and autosexuality don’t fall under the realm of narcissism. By itself, autoeroticism does not indicate a personality disturbance, but simply refers to a particular sexual practice and is a form of self-love. Dr Leon F. Seltzer, a psychologist and author, speaks about how multiple people accept themselves as their sexual objects, and some can take it as far as to be in love with themselves, which is a stronger and more enriching emotional experience.
The term ‘autosexual’ was coined by Bernard Apfelbaum, a sex researcher, who theorised that a person is unable to attain any sort of orgasmic pleasure in the company of their partner. This term was used in the scope of his research, which tried to understand retarded ejaculation.
Through this origin, one may feel that the context of autosexuality is null and void, since it arises as a way of explaining non-climactic behaviour. Yet, there are different ways to interpret this way of leaning. Like Ghia says, it might not be a normal orientation, but it does exist, and variations of defining one’s needs and requirements from a relationship have always been questioned.
The concept of alternate sexualities and free love has been around for ages, and has been a concept entwined with feminism – as a movement that worked towards abolishing state and religious control over personal relationships, in order to leave people free to interpret their relationships out of binaries and heteronormative standards. Since the late 18th century, leading feminists, such as Mary Wollstonecraft, have challenged the institution of marriage, and many have worked for its abolition. The famous poet William Blake, compared the sexual oppression of marriage to slavery in some of his works, such as in Visions of the Daughters of Albion (1793).
Having a different understanding of what works for a person, specifically, is a great way to change the heteronormative lens through which we view relationships. It encourages situations built on trust and helps define what people really want and in what way they would want it, to be fully satisfied with life. And if loving yourself is a viable option for you, then it is safe to say that we are pretty lucky to have it as one.