An Alternative to Sapiosexual: Noetisexual

Updated Definition and Expansion:

Michon Neal
Oct 28, 2016 · 5 min read
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Noetierotic— ability, and sometimes desire, to be erotic with someone who’s noetiscape I have explored, regardless of gender or sex

Noetisexual— only consider being sexual if mentally connected, not attracted to you; it’s possible because I trust you, a physical expression of what’s going on in our minds; I’m attracted based on access intimacy, shared perspectives, and the ways your mind works or the ways you create and hold space for me or others, or to the shape of your mental landscape; my experience of attraction is different due to my neurodivergence

Noetilinking — sharing and cocreating noetiscapes; building worlds together, expressing oneself fully with another in ways not limited to or by sexuality and romance. I want to know you (your noetiscape) in particular from my unique perspective, and sex may be one of the ways in which I come to know you, in that it can reveal aspects of your beliefs and cares, but sex isn’t required or necessary, simply a possibility

The colors — Black relates to the hidden, the secretive and the unknown. It relates to how the way one’s mind works is ambiguous, a mystery.

White relates to the openness that one is looking for; to learn more about that mystery that is one’s significant others’ mind.

Tan is for the stability in a closeness between people who have an attraction to the others’ mind.

Sapiosexual tends to have limited and generally ableist connotations.

So I created noetisexual because it’s both more accurate in describing myself and leaves room for neurodivergence, disabilities, and intelligences other than the Eurocentric and eugenicist version.

Noetisexual — It’s a mental attraction rather than a purely "intellectual" one. It’s loving the shape of their mental landscape and wanting to explore it. It’s falling in love with the way they think, their unique mental make up. It’s loving their creativity, their ingenuity, their silliness, their humor, their emotional intelligence, the way they use words, or the way they make mental space for you in their minds, and more.

It’s being attracted to the way their minds work — not how their brain functions — rather than simply one ill-defined facet of it. Noeti can serve as a prefix in itself: noetisexual, noetiromantic, noetisensual, etc. Noetilinking,the general experience, is not a sexuality per se; it can be a type of attraction like sensual or emotional are types.

This has been updated and further clarification added below for those who need it. Since apparently folks are unfamiliar with my personal context and the implications of this term as it was presented in a Tumblr likening it to sapiosexual. So in the interest of clarity:

This term is not about fetishizing mental illness or neurodivergence — attraction to a disability or mental illness, much like race, is not a legitimate thing. This definition is not about the brain or the ways mental illness affect it, though it leaves room to acknowledge that cognition, capability, and awareness is not identical across people or even within the same people across time. It is not about the brain and it’s basic functions. The brain is the equipment; the mind is you. It’s simply about connecting to who someone is rather than their physical attributes or the racist and ableist construction of intelligence.

It’s about intimacies shared and appreciated between people with similar challenges, values, experiences, or goals. It’s about caring about who a person is in their totality, holding space for the broken or misaligned or traumatized bits without demonizing or elevating them. It is holding their mind and person with reverence and care and acknowledging them as is, without distortion or belittling or idealizing them. It is simply, “I See you” and I like/enjoy that.

It’s specifically inclusive of natural human variation, whether that be in ability/disability or neurodivergence or gender or sex. It focuses on the core of a person, not a fetishized or maligned aspect.

In case you have to question my credentials, I have mental illnesses, chronic illnesses/disabilities, and am neurodivergent. I live as a Black disabled autistic afab. I have lived experience with and formal study of the Brain and Mind, of the histories of genocide, medical trauma, intergenerational trauma, mental illnesses, queerness, racism, neurodivergences, disability, and more.

Update: So I believe I know where some of the disconnect is arising from. The majority of folks simply weren’t engaging in good faith and were simply being obtuse and racist and generally unhelpful.

This is frustrating, but not unexpected whenever a Black person creates anything. These people simply want the word — and likely me — to just not exist.

I also think some of the actual genuine confusion arises from laymen, a bit ironically, not grasping the difference between the brain and the mind, which was my literal major (Brain and Mind Studies).

A good shorthand is that the brain is the quantitative, while the mind is the qualitative. The brain malfunctions and is prone to errors and it’s functions distorted by the classifications of disorders and illness and intelligence. The mind is how you deal with what you experience, with what you have to work with, with the way your consciousness fills and creates in its own unique way — though not always helpful or beneficial or anything. But people are treating them one and the same. They are lumping personality disorders and mental illness with the totality of identity and function. They feel wretched or useless and so how could anyone find that beautiful without being twisted?

Part of the problem with this language is that it is not mine. It inherently carries racist colonizing harm from hundreds of years of erasing Black and indigenous people and our creations. We may have had correct or more accurate language and concepts before, ones not weighted in inborn hatred and delusion and despair. Instead, we are left with this inefficient harsh and traumatizing tongue, to attempt to approximate ways of being few white people will ever truly genuinely grok. I doubt also that they could ever fully understand the sorrow and the violence we’ve undergone and continue to be subjected to, without any acknowledgment, reparations, or restorative attempts from them.

The height of privilege inherent in denying the brutalized our space and our creations, inefficient as they may be while we are still trapped in our kidnappers’ basement.

So, I’m going to keep creating, because often we must continually make our own space in a world actively erasing everything we are, more severely than you may ever realize.

Michon Neal

Written by

Integrated Non-Monogamy, Metanoiac Alethiology, aro love terms, cuil fiction, & more; Speaker; Sensitivity Editor Cuil Press.

Michon Neal

Written by

Integrated Non-Monogamy, Metanoiac Alethiology, aro love terms, cuil fiction, & more; Speaker; Sensitivity Editor Cuil Press.

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