It may not have totally passed you by that we live, at least here in the affluent and powerful West, now also called the Global North, in a time of sex and gender turmoil. There is argument, and sometimes political and legal action, taking place over how people refer to themselves and perform their lives in the context of sex and gender activity and expression. This is not a trivial matter for, in fact, [besides the many lives it harms or otherwise affects] it cuts to the very heart of the organisation and understanding of civilization — if by the term “civilization” we mean the organisation of people who live in close proximity to one another in variously connected communities and societies. In recent centuries in this context diverse sexualities and gender expressions [homosexuality and transgenderism are obvious examples here] have been exposed to the light [but not to reality for it is my firm belief that they have always quite naturally existed — across numerous cultures — as expressions of a nature that exists in whatever way it is possible to do so] in ways not always, or even usually, emancipatory. Diverse sexualities and gender expressions are, more often than not, either criminalised, pathologized as “deviant” or issues of mental ill health, or both. Both sex and gender, as intellectual historians such as Michel Foucault and Judith Butler have demonstrated, have been subject to, and, in some senses, formulated by, authoritarian epistemologies of control which seek to dictate terms in order to politically coerce what is and is not allowed to exist or take place. This has the obvious corollary of sex and gender-based oppressions stemming from patriarchal power operating according to a dynamic of domination and subordination along heteronormative and dimorphic lines.

An anarchist must respond to this. An anarchist, I would argue, must in fact enter the fray and seek to define what an anarchist and emancipatory ethic of sex and gender might be [by living it out!] This is what is going on below in what I have decided to term an expression of “anarchasexuality”. This text, however, is not a dogma and will inevitably be subject both to change and to being surpassed as imagined new and better formulations emerge in interaction with others. What this text is, then, is an always preliminary attempt to bring understanding, clarity and proposed anarchist virtues and values to a contested area of life whilst utilising an avowedly anarchist hermeneutic to do so. All that said, therefore:

What is ANARCHASEXUALITY? I offer 13 suggestions:

  1. The belief that sexuality and gender:

    1. need not be fixed or stable;

    2. manifests with more or less fixity and stability in differing people;

    3. can, in some cases, be perceived as a choice;

    4. is performatively reinforced and so is neither merely “genetic” or “biological” nor entirely “voluntary” or “environmental” and so is a coalition of biology and environmentally-conditioned behaviour, proclivity and disposition, choice and not choice;

    5. is something that people can accept or reject as a matter of agency and affirmation;

    6. is in all cases subject to social, cultural and epistemological coercion and constraint.

  2. The anarchasexual is one who “sees through” the fictions of imposed sexualities and genders and regards such things as impositions of power/knowledge – especially in the case of its most obvious example, a heterosexual understanding of sex based on a sex binary imposed as a controlling and patriarchally-policed normativity. This is to say that sex, gender and sexuality types are all regarded by the anarchasexual as FICTIVELY REAL and so as voluntary human categories of thought rather than as nature’s own blueprints. For the anarchasexual, nature has no blueprints; it is a what can happen that will happen, a diversity engine, and therefore does not invite either moral or normative judgments as such, politics and culture notwithstanding.

  3. Anarchasexuality recognises the reality of physical bodies of diverse kinds, each with their own physical possibilities and impossibilities [including especially intersex bodies]. Anarchasexuality, however, seeks not to unduly pathologise bodies nor to force them into a dimorphic frame of reference or to praise some to the shame of others. If a bodily form [for example, at birth] is neither a medical danger nor causing the person with that body any pain then it should not be unduly interfered with by authoritarian third parties working from arbitrary normativities — aside from that person’s own personal choice to change [not correct] it [perhaps in later life].

  4. Anarchasexuality regards the purpose of sexuality as for pleasure as much as, if not more than, for reproductive purposes. Certainly, it in no way ever restricts sex to reproduction [as nature does not either] and sees the production of bodily pleasure as an entirely worthwhile human pursuit, one of pleasure creativity and care of the self.

  5. Anarchasexuality, in a current mode of political and social existence, looks forward to a time when gender expression of any kind by any person is politically and socially more uncontroversial, a matter of personal formation, self care and health [i.e. wholeness], and stands for such an opinion in the present. However, it also does this without ignoring that sexuality and gender are sometimes things which thrive on pushing boundaries and so require resistance to push back against, as a yang to normativity’s yin. Ethical transgression of norms is therefore not to be regarded as a sin whilst control of sexuality and gender by retrograde political forces is always to be resisted.

  6. Anarchasexuality recognises a wide spectrum of sexual tastes and proclivities and multiple ways for human beings to create forms of physical pleasure between themselves consensually or whilst otherwise at play. Aside from the stipulation that they not cause harm that is undesired by one participant or another, it refuses to pass any judgment on such sexual expression or define any sort of “normal” in order to exclude some form of expression or other from a wholly imaginary idea of “acceptability” or “normality”.

  7. The anarchasexual is not ashamed of either sex or the body and sees no issue, for example, with something like public nudity. Sexual and body shaming, and harassment of people on such a basis, should become things of a restrictive and hypocritical past.

  8. Anarchasexuality is not based on the idea that gender, where it is acknowledged as a separate category of thought to biological sex [as it should be], is something which either simply does or must follow biological body type. Anarchasexuality fully recognises the reality of “feminine males” or “masculine females”, for example, as evident in the biological world and sees no reason to restrict such designations to animals as if human beings were not themselves part of the great chain of life. It should, in this case, then go without saying that anarchasexuality has no issue with transsexuality or transgender [and non-binary and genderfluid] people [whatever their other cultural designation] and sees them as a natural and valuable part of the human community in all cases, part of a manifestly evident natural human diversity of existence and expression.

  9. Anarchasexuality believes in evolution in multiple facets and so in the usefulness and necessity of biological, social and cultural DIVERSITY. Everyone need not be the same and, in fact, it will be better for us all in the long run if we are not. Diversity helps everyone and should be cherished and protected as valuable in itself.

  10. The anarchasexual is one who believes that social problems of appropriate spaces for different kinds of people are things that people should be able to peacefully work out for themselves without needing to demonise or attack those of differing sex or gender expression since people, however they describe themselves or appear, are, in any way you can name, more fundamentally the same than they are different. Human beings, in fact, are a sexual and gender diversity of the same thing and this is too often forgotten or ignored. So, we should all be able to take a shit without getting in each others’ faces since basic privacy has been a thing people have so far managed to grant to each other for thousands of years.

  11. Anarchasexuality is the belief that human beings are sexualised beings but not that human beings must be compulsorily, arbitrarily or authoritatively sexualised nor that each person articulates sexuality in either the same way or to the same degree. [Asexualities are, thus, also both evident and fully acceptable.] Fundamentally, anarchasexuals believe in an egoistic freedom for people to define their own sexual and gendered path and regard Self ID as necessary to achieve this in a social context.

  12. Anarchasexuality recognises that the ability to openly embrace yourself as a sexual [or asexual] and gendered [or agendered] human being entails immeasurable health benefits in terms of authenticity towards and of oneself. As such, it always aims to support and encourage people [including in terms of medical and health care] to find the sex and gender expressions which promote their own self-actualisation and full bodily and psychological health within a community situation which is usually both necessary and desirable.

  13. Anarchasexuality is, in the final analysis, sexual revolt against the imposition of sex and gender oppression from within an anarchafeminist understanding of the world that seeks to neutralise and decentralise patriarchal power and its effects, whatever their source. It is accepting of sexuality and gender expressions people may want to use to describe themselves but insists that all such terms and terminologies are human inventions that describe rather than necessarily explain human existences in sexed and gendered ways. This is to say that the anarchasexual regards human language and thought as fictive and descriptive rather than as a tool of domination or inscription of reality and seeks to use such things to emancipate and innervate human lives rather than to oppress or coerce them. Therefore, the anarchasexual conclusion must that be that so long as sex or gender is classified as normatively binary in human thought [in PHND terms] then women [of all kinds], those who may be described as “not-men”, and those of diverse sexualities will always be subservient to heterosexual, cis-gendered men as those imagined at the apex of an imaginary sexed and gendered hierarchy. A revolt against the imagined normative categories of gender and sexual expression is therefore seen as vital to the destruction of such patriarchal power and the increase of individually sexed and gendered freedom.