What is Asexuality?
Asexuality is a sexual orientation, like heterosexuality or homosexuality, etc., but instead of being sexually attracted to men or women, asexual people are sexually attracted to no one. This doesn’t mean we all hate sex or avoid it, it just means we don’t find people sexually attractive.
The Importance of Identity
When I was a kid, sexuality in general was rarely discussed. Asexuality in particular was never a term I heard mentioned outside of a biology class discussion about amoebas.
The first time I ever saw asexuality spoken of in a non-biological way was on Tumblr. I was 29 and I’d already had a ten year-relationship go up in flames that ended in divorce when I found an immense masterpost on gender and sexual identities. Included was a definition for asexuality–someone who does not experience sexual attraction to any gender.
The word stuck in my head, but it wasn’t until months later when I was doing research for a book that I found the Asexuality Archive. Within the pages of this site, I found a description and a checklist that took the brief definition I’d read months before and helped me realize how strongly I identified with this label.
More importantly, knowing this label existed began to mend an aspect of myself that always felt somehow wrong or broken.
That is the importance of identity.
Because this orientation (and yes it is an orientation) is something I wish I’d known about when I was a kid, I want to share as much information about asexuality as I can and spread awareness of the issue as far as it will go. Despite the blatant over-sexualization that pervades the media in our society, you are neither alone nor broken if you cannot understand the hype or appeal of sex. Whether you identify as asexual, demisexual, or somewhere in the gray area between the two, you are not alone. About 1% of the population is in that gray area with you.
Why does it matter?
If we’re not having sex with anyone and not being denied legal rights or social standing, what does it matter if people talk about asexuality? A young girl named Erika posted an amazing article on Tumblr talking about exactly this. In the piece (titled About Vocal Asexuals), she says,
When a person says, “What’s the point in even coming out as asexual, whose business is it that you don’t have sex,” I think that you aren’t considering the social implications of not desiring sex.
An asexual male (I’m not going by personal experience) never engages in ‘locker room talk’ and is accused of being a virgin (remember, for men, that’s an awful condemnation) or being gay (which in most social groups can be really damaging). He doesn’t say, “Look how hot X or Y is,” or, “There’s a person in my class/work/neighborhood I want to get into bed.” Guys around him are complaining about blue balls and their girl/boyfriends not putting out, and he can’t really relate; sure, that sounds pretty awful, because for his friends sex is enjoyable and desirable, but he doesn’t like sex, he’s not like them. It’s isolating.
An asexual female is a frigid bitch, and if she’s pretty, she’s a cocktease. After explaining myself, I have personally been asked by a random guy hitting on me, “So you’re just going to let your awesome rack go to waste?” I once tried to explain to some coworkers that I have never enjoyed sex – yes, I’ve tried it – no, it’s not because “no one’s gone down on me properly.” They told me, in all seriousness, that this was the worst thing they’d ever heard. They pitied me for missing out on all the sex to be had and enjoyed in the world.
It’s not that asexuals are being vocal for rights the way that others are trying to gain marriage/workplace/social equality, it’s that we’re trying to raise awareness. My family are mostly of the opinion that asexuality isn’t a real thing. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve been asked if I was abused, it that’s why I hate sex. (click to read the rest on Tumblr)
We’re not raising awareness for rights, we’re raising awareness because the world needs to know that we exist. Erasure and ignorance is a huge problem for the asexual community. The world needs to know we exist so that the next generation of children can grow up without feeling like something is broken or missing inside of them. Without feeling wrong for not understanding their peers’ obsession with sex.
If you’re here, read up and reach out. Whether you’re an asexual or an ally, you’ll find a lot of understanding and support in the asexuality community.
If you have a question you’d like answered, submit it to my Coming up Aces series by clicking here, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask me privately.
My Writing About Asexuality:
- Coming Up Aces:
- Don’t Erase the Aces – my essay on the importance of awareness
- Identity, Spectrums, and Labels – an essay
- My interview on DiversifYA about Growing Up Ace
- Article on B&N Teen Blog about LBGTQIAP+ authors
- YA Open Mic – Dec 2015
- My asexuality tag on Tumblr
- What American Apparel did and why it matters
Other Links and Resources:
- Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN)
- Asexuality Archive
- Possible Signs of Asexuality:
- Under the Ace Umbrella: Gray-asexuality and Demisexuality
- Asexual Outreach
- Finding Asexuality in the Archives – Slate article written by Michael Waters