Life is pretty stressful right now, and if you're like much of the rest of the world, you've turned to the Internet for solace.
Some of us find escape in video calls and games, others in Netflix and music, others in endless scrolling. But if you're looking for a new, relaxing, visually stimulating way to ease your frayed nerves, perhaps consider watching videos of slime, soap-cutting, or any other form of "oddly satisfying" content.
The world of "oddly satisfying" content is large and undefinable. There are thousands of different types of content optimized to satisfy and relax you—from ASMR to binaural beats to zit-popping, the list goes on and on. The Reddit thread "oddly satisfying" is a hotbed of these types of posts, as are YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
For the purposes of this article, we'll stay away from auditory ASMR, instead focusing purely on visual content. This is your invitation into the safe, magical, fanciful world of colorful paint, billowing slime, and deliciously skilled workers doing their jobs well.
If asexuality were a more widely known, understood, and validated orientation, would people like Underwood have such a difficult time accepting their lack of interest in sex?
America has had a problem with Colton Underwood's sexuality since he became "the world's most famous virgin" in 2019.
While a reality TV show like The Bachelor is no place to find enlightened social commentary, the series' first virgin lead put the concept of virginity under public scrutiny. What is virginity? Does it even exist? In reality, it's as much a social construct as gender. Still, we seem to agree that women have the right to be as (in)experienced as they want, but if a 28-year-old man (and former pro-football player, no less) is still a virgin, then he must be gay, right?
As Underwood told Entertainment Tonight while promoting his book, The First Time: Finding Myself and Looking for Love on Reality TV, he's been plagued by rumors about his sexuality for years. "Even now, I still battle gay rumors when I'm with Cassie, but that's how it was for me as a young kid in grade school and high school," he said. "I can deal with them now."
- The New Bachelor Has Been Cast - Colton Underwood. - Popdust ›
- Why Colton Underwood Wasn't Truthful on "The Bachelor" - Popdust ›
- The Bachelor's Colton Underwood's Virginity Is a (Bad) Joke - Popdust ›
We like you, but your genitals gross us out.
If you've watched BoJack Horseman, read recent Archie comics, or been rejected by someone who says they like you but your genitals gross them out, then you're familiar with asexuality—but probably not as familiar as you think.
A 2019 poll found that 76% of those surveyed weren't able to accurately define asexuality, despite 53% of respondents asserting that they could.
And that's fine. I can barely do it after years of research, and according to modern definitions I'm a full-fledged "heteroromantic" "asexual," which, according to Dr. Google, places me among an estimated 1% of the population who are incapable of feeling sexually attracted to anyone, regardless of gender or sex. Or, as Stefani Goerlich explains in sex-therapist-speak, "Whereas heterosexuals are sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex, and homosexuals are attracted to folks of the same sex, asexuals are [sexually] attracted to nobody."
- What Does It Mean to Be on the Asexual Spectrum? ›
- What to Know About Being Asexual - Health ›
- Everything you've ever wanted to know about asexuality - INSIDER ›
- Asexuality: How To Tell If You're Asexual, The Invisible Orientation ... ›
- Am I Asexual? - What Asexuality Means, Definition, and Signs ›
- "I'm an asexual woman, and this is what it's like not to feel sexual ... ›
- 10 Things you need to know about Asexuality – LGBTQ Life at ... ›
- What Is Asexuality? - What Is Asexuality ›
- LGBT, Asexual Communities Clash Over Ace Inclusion | HuffPost ›
- Asexuals Shouldn't Be Excluded From Queer Spaces, Especially Pride ›
- We Asked Asexuals About Their Relationship to Pride - VICE ›
"I like sexy girls, I like sexy guys. I like sexy in general, you know?"
Sexuality is confusing, especially if you turn to the 21-year-old "wannabe mogul" Bella Thorne for explanations.
While appearing on Good Morning America to promote her new book, Life of a Wannabe Mogul: Mental Disarray, she declared, "I'm actually pansexual and I didn't know that. Somebody explained to me very thoroughly what that is." The actress continued, "[Pansexuals] like beings. You like what you like. It doesn't have to be a girl or a guy or a he or she or they or that—it's literally, you like a personality. You just like a being."
The LGBTQ+ term has become more common since 2018, which was deemed "the year of the pansexual," with Merriam-Webster spotlighting the orientation on their Words of the Year list. It was thanks, in part, to singer Janelle Monáe coming out in a Rolling Stone interview in April, when she explained, "I read about pansexuality and was like, 'Oh, these are things that I identify with too.' I'm open to learning more about who I am." Soon afterwards, searches for the term spiked—and continue to do so, as we keep turning to Dr. Google to understand non-heternormative identities.
"Alexa: Are you pansexual?"Nexis Uni data
Merriam-Webster defines "pansexual" as "of, relating to, or characterized by sexual desire or attraction that is not limited to people of a particular gender identity or sexual orientation." As for Thorne, she simply says, "I like sexy girls, I like sexy guys. I like sexy in general, you know?
Well, that's not all there is to pansexuality. Despite being coined by Sigmund Freud in 1914, the word wasn't used to describe a sexual orientation until the 1980s. Of course, there have been individuals all throughout history who have loved regardless of "labels and boundaries." Then the sexual revolution and free love subculture created enough activism and visibility that pansexuality was given its own letter in the queer community's "alphabet soup": LGBTTQQIAAP (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual).
And we get it: That's a lot of representation, a lot of separate politics, a lot of colorful banners, and an uneasy responsibility not to possibly offend anyone if you don't know the definition and history of each letter. Luckily, that's what the Internet is for.
The foremost questions that come to mind when discussing pansexuality are usually: "How is that different from bisexuality? Says who? And does it really matter? #LoveIsLove" While that's fair, as with most words attempting to describe the immeasurable gamut of human behavior, the meaning of the word is complicated and weird and constantly in flux. But it's mostly about intent. Generally speaking, that's how we end up with so many synonyms in the English language when they all mean the same thing. We mainly adapt new words to assimilate the history of that word into our culture. We can call someone "funny" or, let's say, "comical." But "comical" is a boring direct descendant from the Latin word comicus (a writer of comedy, a comic actor, or comedian), whereas "funny" is an odd colloquialism from the good old American South in the 1800s, which denoted anything from a "tingling sensation" to "mental hospital"—which makes the word not only more diverse but also hilarious.
The point is: "Bisexual" creates the clear distinction that someone is attracted to two genders (usually cisgenders, indicating individuals who identify as the gender they were assigned at birth). The problem is that excludes any non-cisgender individuals. Growing awareness of trans, nonbinary, and genderqueer identities and the discrimination they still face today (both legally and socially) gives the inclusivity of "alphabet soup" grave importance.
Rolling Stone points out that there's plenty of debate about the necessity of a pansexual orientation within the LGBTQ+ community itself. Some agree with the Bisexual Resource Center's Gabrielle Blonder, who says, "I personally like the historical aspect of it. It's the label we've fought for recognition under for decades, and it's the most widely-known label. Language isn't a static entity, and words can change meaning over time...I believe the term bisexual has morphed into a different meaning than it originally was." Similarly, Ethan Remillard, 22, who came out as bisexual in his early teens, bluntly stated, "I identify as bisexual because I like f**king dudes and romancing girls. But I don't claim pansexuality because trans[gender] girls and boys are the same as their cis[gender] counterparts."
While that's true, others acknowledge that they do respond differently to trans and genderqueer individuals as a form of respect for their separate expressions of gender. Daniel Saynt, founder of the private club NSFW, says, "I've definitely met attractive trans and non-conforming individuals, but the feelings I have [for them have] never been sexual in nature." Saynt adds, "It's more of an appreciation for who they are, what they represent, and just a desire for them to find happiness regardless of identity."
Ultimately, "pansexual" doesn't just include trans, nonbinary, and genderqueer individuals as valid subjects of sexual attraction; it signals that they're attractive because of their specific expression of gender(s), not despite it.
As RuPaul's Drag Race alum Courtney Act told Attitude, "It's important to acknowledge bisexual, pansexual. We have such a rigid idea of what heterosexuality is, and that's problematic. We have such a rigid idea of what gay is, and that's also problematic." So Bella Thorne may be the latest high profile figure to discuss pansexuality, but she joins a growing cohort including Janelle Monáe, Panic! At the Disco frontman Brendon Urie, Miley Cyrus, Orange is the New Black star Asia Kate Dillon (who also identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns "they/their"), and teenage trans-activist and reality star Jazz Jennings.
More importantly, up to 25 percent of Americans identify as not "completely heterosexual," and at least 4.5 percent of U.S. adults identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. It's true that the mouthful of acronyms in the LGBTQ+ community is clumsy, always changing, and difficult to grasp, but so is human behavior. Language is still trying to catch up with today's enlightened reality that gender is a social construct, sexuality is fluid, and everybody can get it on with anybody (or no one, if that's what they prefer), as long as it's between two (or three, or five, or ten) consenting adults.
- Bella Thorne Comes Out as Pansexual: 'You Like What You Like ... ›
- Bella Thorne Comes Out as Pansexual - PAPER ›
- Bella Thorne says she is 'pansexual' and opens up about ... ›
- Bella Thorne comes out as pansexual in Good Morning America ... ›
- Bella Thorne says she's actually pansexual, not bisexual - CNN ›
- Bella Thorne comes out as pansexual, talks about her struggles ›
- Bella Thorne is pansexual: What does it mean? GLADD explains ›