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Sheldon Cooper, Demisexual?


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With all the talk of feminism/equalism on here recently, I stumbled across a site called goodmenproject.com and this one article jumped out at me: http://goodmenproject.com/gender-fight/in-defense-of-demisexuality/

This particular passage stood out:-

Demisexuality is about desire and arousal, not just sex and who you do it with. It's not merely that I am only interested in having sex with people I love, it's also that I feel a complete absence of desire and sexual feelings towards everyone else. Ever. What makes me Demisexual is that absence.

I posted this link over in the spoilers thread: http://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/demisexual

The description of a Demisexual -- Like an Asexual, a Demisexual would not see an attractive woman and immediately desire sex, unless, of course, that attractive woman happened to be in a serious emotional relationship with the Demisexual -- sounds rather like a certain Theoretical Physicist.

Also, Demisexuals are not aroused by pornography as they feel no bond with the participants.

Fascinating!

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I saw that over on spoilers, but I hadn't got to the link yet. Thanks for explaining it. I think you've hit on something here, and it rather neatly explains the oddness of Sheldon's sexual feelings toward Amy and lack of sexual feelings, indeed, even attraction, toward everyone else.

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This is a potentially controversial topic, and normally I’d rather a blowfly lay eggs and hatch larvae in my auditory canal than comment on it…but if it can be done civilly.

Well, let me jump up and down and scream and shout. There, back to the civility.

 

I might proffer that a more accurate term for Sheldon, given his touch-aversion and lack of sexual struggle (OOC 2-year-ago-dandruff-comment aside), might be demi-romantic. In which case, the writers need to be more consistent with his romantic attachment to Amy. One day he’s delighted to introduce her as his girlfriend, the next she didn’t make the initial cut for the tree house (which is quite grim) or he ignores her for a week to play with his new vacuum cleaner.

One thing I think we can both agree on is that the writers are consistently inconsistent. Your point about the back and forth is not isolated to Sheldon and Amy. The writers have done the same to each of the couples and individuals in the series, based on each of the quirks of each of the characters.

 

Anyway, to circle labouriously back to my point, if Sheldon changes, it will be because the writers have changed him expressly, not because it’s in any way a “natural” organic growth from his asexual orientation of the first four years. You don’t “grow out” of asexuality anymore than homosexuality, and it would be equally offensive, in my opinion, for them to suggest such a thing.

I happen to agree about your point that as an asexual, he wouldn't grow out of it organically, which is why the concept of demisexual makes so much more sense, organically to the current growth of the character, than a straight asexual, even though he hasn't formed that bond with Leonard or Penny.

 

Speaking as a quasi-asexual bi-romantic touch-phobic general misanthrope...

You forgot two adjectives between phobic and general; witty and intelligent. And, of course, you forgot the adjective and noun at the end: and general gadfly (or as I like to call it, general pain in the ass.) ;)

Hope things are going well for you count.

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Just wanted to make clear that I didn't post this in order to suggest that you can change your sexuality! You are what you are, there's no 'choice', in my opinion. My reason for posting was that I felt I'd stumbled onto the answer to Penny's question, "What's Sheldon's deal?"

My guess would be that Sheldon's misophobia plays a big part too. I suspect Leonard and Penny are too 'contaminated' by their sexual past for Sheldon to form a sexual/romantic attachment. But, it's a guess. I wonder if the writer's even know where they're taking it? What I am sure of, is that they have better 'researchers' available than myself (tapping away on my phone while I wait for my kids to finish their various extracurricular activities of an evening ;) ).

This article expounds a little further on the difference between demisexuality and asexuality: http://www.asexualityarchive.com/under-the-ace-umbrella/

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I think we are bound to find out what his "deal" is, one way or another. There is just so long the writers can drag it out without committing to him either becoming more physical with Amy or pulling the plug on the relationship. I don't think another 3-4 years of ambiguity WHILE keeping them in a relationship is sustainable. It is already becoming unsustainable. It is bad for both the characters and how they are perceived. I personally wouldn't have a problem if they somehow mutually decided to settle into a sexless relationship, or if they mutually decided to pursue a sexual relationship. But if it ends up being an unbalanced relationship where Amy gives up on her desires for him or he puts up with sex while still being ambiguous about it, it would frankly be too depressing to watch. Ambiguity for the sake of ambiguity has ruined many a show before. 

 

Also, it's not all about sex. A lot of people focus on the sex, but Sheldon has an issue with all sorts of physical, non-sexual, affection, even hugs and handholding. Although it is becoming increasingly clear that he adores her. That type of issue is something that doesn't fall under the 'asexuality' umbrella, but speaks of other (much bigger?) issues. And I don't think it would be fair of Amy to give up on even that kind of physical affections, just as it wouldn't be fair to expect Sheldon to go all the way if he doesn't want to. Something's got to give at some point.

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Also, it's not all about sex. A lot of people focus on the sex, but Sheldon has an issue with all sorts of physical, non-sexual, affection, even hugs and handholding. Although it is becoming increasingly clear that he adores her. That type of issue is something that doesn't fall under the 'asexuality' umbrella, but speaks of other (much bigger?) issues. And I don't think it would be fair of Amy to give up on even that kind of physical affections, just as it wouldn't be fair to expect Sheldon to go all the way if he doesn't want to. Something's got to give at some point.

 

Agree completely, Intimacy doesn't have to mean sex .

As mentioned somewhere this season, Sheldon's shares that they are being physical, handholding, hugging (even on hot days) etc.

 

I would be happy this season if they just show this several times on screen.

 

And as you mentioned, he really adores her, combine this with his statement to Penny & Leonard in 6x14 that he really really likes her and is working on his issues.

 

I personally think they already have a physical relationship (as mentioned above), they (the writers/producers) need to start showing it on screen.

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Anyway, to circle labouriously back to my point, if Sheldon changes, it will be because the writers have changed him expressly, not because it’s in any way a “natural” organic growth from his asexual orientation of the first four years. You don’t “grow out” of asexuality anymore than homosexuality, and it would be equally offensive, in my opinion, for them to suggest such a thing.

 

Speaking as a quasi-asexual bi-romantic touch-phobic general misanthrope...

 

This is the truth. Whatever the writers have planned is new for Sheldon and doesn't indicate some master plan, we know the writers never worked this way. Great post BTW! 

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It's complicated!! I think the last thing Sheldon needs is pressure; from Amy, his colleagues,the writers,fans. And the worst thing is where meddlers try to set you up, to fit in with their agenda, or the agenda of a society that believes people 'who aren't part of a couple, aren't happy'. When OCD is added to the equation, plus an IQ that means he finds most people tedious, Oh! and the Aspergers trait of not really trusting people, or being able to have real empathy with them, it gets even more complicated! They become very adept at faking it!, just to fit in! I'm not sure that labels help, as even sexuality is a spectrum, and that spectrum is six billion people wide(and counting). Again I think the character's obssession with sex is adolescent, it reflect what the writers imagine about these characters, and how they imagine people want to see the characters, but in reality I think most people by their age have come to appreciate that a relationship based on unconditional love, is paramount. Interesting topic though!

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Lots of interesting points here. Who'd have thought goggling 'male-driven feminism' would turn up such an intriguing topic.

My question to Koops, I didn' t class Amy as Demisexual because she was aroused by Zack so didn't fit the 'no interest unless there's an emotional bond' scenario, and, from the little I've read online, I thought this was the 'deal' breaker?

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Very interesting topic. Altough I know the main reason Sheldon's characterization (as every other character in the show) lacks consistency is because of the lack of consistency of the writers themselves and their regrettable tendency of sacrificing continuity for the sake of a joke (most of the times a very cheap and not so funny one), however, I agree that, in general, I think Sheldon could be very well considered demisexual, not because he is changing from asexual to demisexual (or demiromantic), but because he had always been, it's just that before Amy he had never met anyone who triggered that part of him.

 

And why would he be attracted to Leonard or Penny?, just because he is heavily attatched to them? That's not enough reason, they are very important for him, he loves them, but they are not attractive to him at all. The way it's worded make it sound like if all demisexual people, after having a ultra-low libido end up wanting to bang every person they form an strong bond with! :p

 

In fiction, as in "real life", as you say, there are a lot of factors that have something to do with people feeling attracted to someone, aside from their sexual identity.

 

I think if one thing was stated very clear by the show was that it was Amy's personality and intellect what was attractive to Sheldon and lured him to her, she had something nobody else he had met before had (maybe with the exception of Leonard's mother), then emotional attachment entered the picture (something he didn't develop with Beverly) and things got messy and complicated. The show's reality is Amy was intellectually attractive to him (the kind of stuff Sheldon finds hot, apparently) and somehow she awoke in him a fast and strong emotional attachment. It was the combination of both what did the trick. Doesn't sound that far fetched to me.

 

Now, if we start questioning why Sheldon doesn't do this or do that, in order to believe he is one thing or another, the answer is always going to be the writers' not so cleverly managed struggle to keep him being the same while advancing him and, as Koops said, to keep milking the Shamy cow.

 

But, if we stick to the show's reality, again, as Koops said (I don't know why I'm still here trying to write something minimally coherent instead of quoting her whole post :p), there are plenty of excuses for Sheldon going back and forth in everything related to his love life (phobias, selfishness, pride, and a long etc.). His sexuality is just the tip of the iceberg, there are a lot of issues going on between him and a so called "normal" romantic relationship.

Edited by sarah7
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The reason I did not want to comment on this topic was because of potentially emotional reactions. I meant nothing aggressive by my previous post. I most certainly did not wish to offend or irritate anyone (although I appear to be a master at the latter), and I can assuredly state that the term “asexuality” is not being bandied around lightly, and I resent the implication that it is.

If anything, it’s asexual types that might be offended by certain beliefs on this forum. I personally find the blitheness with which people shrug off Sheldon’s earlier characteristics in favour of that which suits their personal mythology or “ship” equally disturbing. Not saying anyone on this thread does, but there are certainly members out there who are fixated on contorting Sheldon to fit the kissy-wissy love-womble or Darcyfied sexpot that they’ve dragged in from fanfiction, and don’t give a damn about his character continuity or early incarnation.

 

The problem with any sort of discussion about these characters is that they are not, of course, real humans. We are all constantly saying this. I think, therefore, before these conversations become unhelpful, that we should remind ourselves of the fact that NO amount of psychological deconstruction works for characters whose personalities fluctuate depending on who’s writing that day. EVERYTHING, absolutely everything that Sheldon does is an artificial construct. Therefore there is no psychological truth determinable by his actions. Particularly when these “truths” are constructed in hindsight. We can interpret all we want, but none of these interpretations will be the “correct” one, because we’re not dealing with real people. 

 

Koops ol' bean,

 

If I understood your post correctly, you were saying that asexuality has many variations, and whilst Sheldon may outwardly fit the asexual profile, it is possible his disinclination towards sex has other origins, and you believe this is further evidenced by his increasing attraction to Amy. (obviously that's a gist inside a nutshell there)

 

This is perfectly reasonable interpretation. I disagree only with the last aspect, in that I don’t think his increasing fondness for her is sexual in nature.  It is possible for a person to have an appreciation for another, even a romantic, aesthetic one, without it being sexual. Hence my tentative suggestion of demi-romantic. Able to feel romantically inclined, but only after establishing an emotional connection. (This may partially also explain his rather smitten behaviour with "Princess Panchali". I just re-watched that. Good lord!).

 

He doesn’t enjoy extended or intimate physical contact and only responds when people prod him on the matter. And he doesn’t respond enthusiastically. It’s possibly for him to have emotional baggage AND be asexual, surely.

 

As for my “misconstrued idea of 'asexuality' and own personal projections” (which I presume was directed at me, or people like me) I don’t think my ideas about what is essentially my own sexuality are particularly misconstrued. I’ve spent a certain portion of my thirty years of life thinking about them. I’m not sure if recognising that a fictional character has similar traits to oneself necessarily results in or qualifies as “projecting”

 

But enter Amy into the equation and suddenly sex becomes an option and he has to start "working on it", playing hackey sack in the basement to cope with every day social interactions,

 

I mentioned the hacky sack in my post. This is entirely your interpretation. The purpose of that joke was to highlight the discrepancy between what Raj and Howard thought Sheldon was doing (ie, something of great import) and what he was actually doing (something rather ridiculous). Amy is completely irrelevant to the scene (and to what you mentioned in the spoiler). If you wish to interpret it that way, that is your prerogative, but you can’t cite it as proof that Sheldon’s struggling with his sexual urges. I’d lay a wager it wasn’t the writers’ intention.

 

And to dismiss all the comments that hint at the fact that he might have *some* degree of interest in sex, or at least masturbation, as OOC, is conveniently hiding one's head in the sand, imo. There are just as many hints to that (masturbation in the pilot, test-tube baby with Amy in 4x01 - which involves masturbation, 'a cross we all must bear' and using Kohlinar to suppress it - arousal, fully functional and aesthetically pleasing genitals - again, masturbation, daydreaming about Amy's shoulders, citing only his issue with physical contact as the reason they are not intimate when confronted about it, hinting at the fact that he is now interested in intimacy when he had never been before - demisexuality) as there are that he is 'asexual'.

 

None of the things you mentioned are at odds with being asexual. I said in my post “Both asexuals and demisexuals are capable of…er…being infected with an alien parasite, let’s say, without wishing to involve another person.” I was being “coy” and perhaps should have said “capable of being sexually aroused”. Apologies if that was unclear. (And a bit naff)

 

To re-iterate, one dandruff daydream 2 years ago aside, I’ve never seen any signs (yet!) that he’s sexually interested in Amy (or any other human being), thereby supporting the demisexual proposition. Or rather, if we're going to count the slightest things, there’s just as many signs he’s sexually interested in Penny or Leonard, given his mildly pathological obsession with Penny's nether regions, panties, promiscuity etc (not to mention the boob fondling, peeking, hugging, sleeping in her bed, and all that malarky), and the degree to which he lets Leonard touch him, essentially GROOM him like a pet, fiddle with his cattywampus zippers, talks to him during skype sex, and, in White Asparagus, essentially inserts himself into the relationship. White Asparagus also contains a scene of Sheldon gently holding Leonard’s hand and admiring his stitches…I generally think he should just propose at that point…    

 

I was merely commenting, at end, that the writing for the character is rather arbitrary, and that IF they go from Mr “I find the concept of coitus ridiculous and off-putting” to Sir Shags-a-Lot, THEN I think I have the right to be offended. Intellectually, anyway…

 

I’m sorry you’ve had to write about this over and over again. It is tiresome to have to keep reiterating an opinion (or correct a fallacy). It’s one of the reasons I moved over to Paradox. Most of my time here was being spent writing Brothers-Karamazovian-lengthed defences of a hypothetical construct. Sometimes to people who didn’t understand the concept behind the word hypothetical. I’m not saying there aren’t any idiots at Paradox. I'm sure there are.There are idiots everywhere. They have a glazed-eyed strangle-grip on the world. But at least over there the concept of hypothetical is etched into the walls.

 

I see I’ve written another Dostoevskian post. I tell you, if Dostoevsky had had access to internet forums...he probably would have turned them off and got back to work on his novel. In a manner not resembling a time-wasting bastard…(nice try Wally)

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@Count, Something I've just started thinking about, is a character a person? If an actor spends months in character, is that then their identity. If the character's life is a construct of other people's lives. I know when I read a book in first person narration, I feel like their thought,stories, become part of me for a time, and some stay permanently, I'll feel emotions relating to the author's story. I think each of these characters, in TBBT are related to by different people, for personal reasons. If an android robot is given all the same thoughts, memories,emotions,etc, as a human can it have a 'psychological truth'? Just something I'm thinking about, I find all our ramblings add to those thoughts. I'm not sure in the moden era, post internet, there is such a thing as a seperate identity. Also I think if we don't see sexuality as fitting into specifically defined categories, it becomes less fixed, part of a flux, and may shift slightly dependant upon; context(maybe era or day), influences, willingness to see the self imposed(from church and state) shackles!  Blah blah  P201004061101251115117144.jpg  I'm probably channeling dead French philosophers, but AREN'T WE ALL JUST CONSTRUCTS!!!!!!!!!!

Edited by gaqo
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I repeat, every day's a school day Queenfisher! Never heard of a Sapiosexual, just as I'd never heard of a Demisexual before I stumbled upon it this week. http://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/sapiosexual

I think, were we labeling, this one's a fit for Sheldon, and Amy too. Perhaps this answers the question I posed to Koops about Amy's sexuality as, ultimately, it was Zack's intellect that turned her off?

I must say I agree with Count Wally, that currently Sheldon should be classified as Demiromantic (and that's the only time I'll ever connect him to the word 'romantic'). His 'working on it' suggests the writers will take the Demisexual route eventually. It's just too much of a comedy goldmine to let go and I feel a mixture of intrigue and dread. It's a make or break situation, could be mindblowingly brilliant and, equally, could destroy Sheldon as we know and love him.

Like Koops, I'm happy for the relationship to go either way. Either have Amy move on to someone who meets her needs, or have a sexual awakening for Sheldon (I don't want to see Sheldon 'perform' out of duty with no enjoyment on his part, there's no joy in that). As long as they stay true to who these amazing characters are, I'm happy.

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@Count, Something I've just started thinking about, is a character a person? If an actor spends months in character, is that then their identity. If the character's life is a construct of other people's lives. I know when I read a book in first person narration, I feel like their thought,stories, become part of me for a time, and some stay permanently, I'll feel emotions relating to the author's story. I think each of these characters, in TBBT are related to by different people, for personal reasons. If an android robot is given all the same thoughts, memories,emotions,etc, as a human can it have a 'psychological truth'? Just something I'm thinking about, I find all our ramblings add to those thoughts. I'm not sure in the moden era, post internet, there is such a thing as a seperate identity. Also I think if we don't see sexuality as fitting into specifically defined categories, it becomes less fixed, part of a flux, and may shift slightly dependant upon.

I'm probably channeling dead French philosophers, but AREN'T WE ALL JUST CONSTRUCTS!!!!!!!!!!

Your post put me in mind of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel 'Never Let Me Go' which addresses whether clones have souls (there's a film with Keira Knightly, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield too but the book's better). Should warn you that it's a depressing read though. It also put me back on a vegetarian diet (I started eating meat during my pregnancies) due to the questions it raises!

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Your post put me in mind of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel 'Never Let Me Go' which addresses whether clones have souls (there's a film with Keira Knightly, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield too but the book's better). Should warn you that it's a depressing read though. It also put me back on a vegetarian diet (I started eating meat during my pregnancies) due to the questions it raises!

I'll add that to my list. I've got a few suggestions from people on this forum, queuing up. I have read at least one of his novels. I find the subjects of 'identity' and 'sexuality' fascinating, and of course we have to constantly reassess ourselves as the world changes around us. I suppose characters like Sheldon add to that! I've just been reading about the redefinition of 'self'; from 'the epistemological error of Occidental civilization'(Gregory Bateson), to a cybernetic systems view(ie: dismantling the ego-self). I'm sticking to my belief that labels/categories are restrictive and demeaning, and that the Buddhist approach; transcending categorization, seperateness, alienation and fragmentation, is a more helpful viewpoint.  

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General question: If a real person like Stephen hawking appears in TBBT, is he Stephen Hawking or is he playing a character Stephen hawking? What is the difference between the two? On shifting sexuality,1. a woman is living with her boyfriend. He asks if his male friend can stay for a while. She has sex with both, seperately. She discovers she is pregnant. When she returns home, she finds both men in bed together. She takes a knife to them, and is sent to prison. After a while she enters into a relationship with another woman.2. Macho American servicemen in London during the war, would enjoy relations with Quentin Crisp. He explained that he was a man, and they said it was irrelevant; they enjoyed his company, they were away from home, and no one would ever know. (1 is fiction from the film Lion's Den)(2 The Naked Civil Servant)

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I'll add that to my list. I've got a few suggestions from people on this forum, queuing up. I have read at least one of his novels. I find the subjects of 'identity' and 'sexuality' fascinating, and of course we have to constantly reassess ourselves as the world changes around us. I suppose characters like Sheldon add to that! I've just been reading about the redefinition of 'self'; from 'the epistemological error of Occidental civilization'(Gregory Bateson), to a cybernetic systems view(ie: dismantling the ego-self). I'm sticking to my belief that labels/categories are restrictive and demeaning, and that the Buddhist approach; transcending categorization, seperateness, alienation and fragmentation, is a more helpful viewpoint.  

 

Interesting.  I admit I find Eastern Philosophy more relevant to my own thinking than the epistemology that has arisen from 'the book’; however, I can’t embrace Buddhism due to the link between karmic punishment and disability.  Similarly, I rather like the Baha’i faith’s idea of global equalism and unity, but not enough to commit to it.  I’m just happy towing the agnostic line (perched here on my fence).

 

As far as sexuality is concerned, I can only answer from my own experience, and categorically state that I no more chose my own sexual orientation than I did my eye colour.  The two examples you give above would both be categorized as bisexual I guess, if you sought to label them.  Are you Freudian in your thinking on sexuality?

 

As you’re compiling a reading list, I wonder if anyone’s suggested Iris Murdoch’s novels to you?  ‘The Sea, The Sea” is a masterpiece (which also touches on Buddhism incidentally) on self-delusion which may appeal to your interest in the ego self.  Likewise, ‘The Philosopher’s Pupil’, with its blatant Platonism and Dostoyevskian characters might appeal.  Although, if you read too much Murdoch you do get a sense of deja vu, I’m guessing her circle of acquaintances were ‘eclectic’ only in a philosophical sense; she should've got out more! :)

 

There should be a 'book club' thread on here! :)

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General question: If a real person like Stephen hawking appears in TBBT, is he Stephen Hawking or is he playing a character Stephen hawking? What is the difference between the two?

Stephen Hawking is 'playing the character' of 'Stephen Hawking the theoretical physicist' in the Big Bang in my opinion. We all have different 'roles' we play according to what we're doing, where we are and who we're with. We are the parent, child, spouse, sibling, employee, boss, friend, enemy, lover; we are never constant.

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