So What's the Deal with Asexuals?
Asexuality is an orientation people seem to be familiar with, but don’t have a full understanding of what it is. I found myself curious of the history behind asexuality and what it actually means. The Asexuality Visibility Network is able to deliver, defining asexuality as:
“ An asexual person does not experience sexual attraction – they are not drawn to people sexually and do not desire to act upon attraction to others in a sexual way. Unlike celibacy, which is a choice to abstain from sexual activity, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who we are, just like other sexual orientations.”
My findings cleared up a few common misconceptions about asexuality. Here is what I found:
1. Asexuality has nothing to do with forming romantic bonds.
Coming from a society that closely links sex and romance, it perpetuates the myth that asexuals or “aces” are not interested in romantic bonds. If we separate the desire for sexual gratification from a need for intimacy, then we can see that aces can be in a romantic relationship.
This directly challenges the idea that aces are aromantic, or don’t experience romantic attraction. Yes aromantics exist, but they are not the same. Psychology Today explains, “It’s important to emphasize that asexuality does not mean aromantic, though for some individuals the two co-exist (zero sexual and romantic attraction).”
2. Asexuality is on a spectrum and there are different identities.
Asexual people exist in many forms and like any other demographic, no two are alike. The spectrum of desire for aces include; Repulsed Asexuals, DemiSexuals, Gray Asexuals (or Gray Ace). The Asexual Archives writes this:
“The ace umbrella encompasses asexuals, as well as people in this gray area. Some people, known as “gray-asexuals”, experience sexual attraction infrequently or not very strongly or possibly aren’t quite sure whether or not what they experience is sexual attraction. One subtype of gray-asexuals, known as ‘demisexuals’, can experience sexual attraction only after developing a close emotional bond with someone.
Repulsed Asexuals, refers to those literally and physically turned off by the idea or action of sex. They do not like to engage in anything of a physical nature and do not get aroused. The Asexual Visibility and Education Network’s Wiki page explains it as:
“Repulsed is a term used by some asexual individuals to indicate that they find sex disgusting or revolting, as in, "I'm a repulsed asexual" or simply "I'm repulsed." Some repulsed asexuals take this to mean that they are repulsed by the idea of engaging in sex, while others take it to mean that they are repulsed by the idea of sex in general.”
3. Asexuality and Celibacy are not the same.
Celibacy is “the state of abstaining from marriage and sexual relations” according to Oxford dictionary. People can practice celibacy for religious, cultural reasons or being away from a romantic partner for an extended period of time (i.e. long distance relationship). Celibacy can also be the result a break up or emotional trauma.
“Sex with somebody you like as expression of intimacy, and not as a substitute for it, is just about as hot as it gets.” Writes Laura J. Williams in her Buzzfeed article “7 things I learned after a Year of Celibacy.”
When describing celibacy, the desire for sex may be present, however there is no outward action taken to fulfill that desire. In a private discussion a celibate acquaintance of mine said, “I haven’t had sex in 6 years, the want is there but I don’t believe in having meaningless sex with any woman. Exchanging energy is serious.”
According to Lesbionyx readers and followers of my Instagram here are what some asexuals had to say:
“I am a sex repulsed asexual who’s currently questioning my romantic orientation. One misconception is that non-asexual identifying people feel ‘ace’ after a break up. Taking a break from a relationship to heal does not automatically change your sexual orientation. Yes sexuality can be fluid, but that is not what asexuality is [to me]”— * Loren E.
“I think it’s a misconception when people tell me I just haven’t met the right person and that I’m not really asexual. I’ve even heard I am a waste of space because I am not attracted to people sexually.”— * Brittany (asexual lesbian)
In listening to these readers give their insight it does evoke in me the same feelings that one receives upon coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. I know it is because our society is so sex obsessed. It is strange to some hearing that some people choose to function without sexual relations. In order to educate and understand asexuality, I encourage you to educate yourself, talk to asexuals. Also realize it is very much okay to support something that does not directly describe you. It’s okay to support freedom of identity.
Check out this Buzzfeed video to see what these aces had to say about asexuality: