Demisexual: When a Word Cuts you in Half

On language that normalizes endemic disconnectedness

Whenever a buzzword is trending, hopefuls attach themselves to it limpet-like, hoping for some lucrative loops on the viral roller-coaster of internet fame and fortune.

As demonstrated by Trump, words and slogans no longer even have to mean anything to be on everyone’s lips and under everyone’s fingers.

So when I get an email out of the blue with “You might be a demisexual!”, the enthusiasm contained in that one exclamation mark foxes me.

Am I supposed to jump for joy at a word that just cut me in half?

The etymology of ‘demisexual’ feels unwieldy, reductive, punishing to me. Why subject anyone’s sexuality to such an uncharitable word?

The words we use to talk about ourselves affect perception. Why would anything that suggests you might be ‘lesser than’ belong in your vocabulary?

Human sexuality is a spectrum. Your place on it varies and changes as you keep learning about who you are, what you like, how you like it, and with whom. The more you experiment, the deeper trust, the stronger the bond with a fellow human.

And this only happens when you can communicate effectively with another person. What if the root of the problem wasn’t what we call ourselves?

In a lowest common denominator culture in thrall to the pursuit of fame for its own sake, we have echo chamber hives instead of conversations and spirited debate. Herd mentality birthed the anti-intellectualist climate we live in.

And words that mean nothing keep us trapped in it.

Dan Savage — a sex columnist and podcast host — isn’t buying whatever ‘demisexual’ is selling either. “We used to call people who needed to feel a strong emotional bond before wanting to fuck someone people who, you know, needed to feel a strong emotional bond before wanting to fuck someone. But a seven-syllable, clinical-sounding term that prospective partners need to Google — demisexuality — is obviously far superior to a short, explanatory sentence that doesn’t require Internet access to understand.”

In the age of people as products, brands as personas, and performance artists playing characters, there’s no telling what’s authenticity and what’s marketing anymore.

True to the self-serving, grabby capitalistic monsterhood we live in, ‘demisexual’ is yet another word that indulges the cult of self and sells up an upgrade by declaring to the world that we are, well, half special perhaps?

Is ‘demisexual’ another cover-up for our inability to connect? Buzzwords are always clues about our attempts to make sense of ourselves and one another but they can also become an instant identity to those lacking perspective or a strong sense of self.

If only we expanded as much time engaging into conversation and getting to know one another as we do selling our own reality back to ourselves with ghoulish self-helpery, alternative facts, and bullshit buzzwords, we’d be too busy enjoying a thriving sex life to come up with half-baked concepts.

‘Demisexual’ helps normalize endemic disconnectedness. For me, that’s reason enough never to use it.

I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor now based in the Netherlands. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.

Written by

I write possible・ 💌 khe@tuta.io ・ 💛 https://ko-fi.com/kittyhannaheden

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store