Editor’s Note: The following submission is from Amy Maria Flannigan. Have an LGBTQ+ related experience or story to share? Having your article published on this site will automatically enrol you into a raffle to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Submit an article today via queerdeermedia.com.
[amazon_link asins=’B01LX351DF’ template=’ProductAdRight’ store=’ourqueerstories-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’70784a6b-8cda-11e7-8b82-fbf0304f1d05′]First off, what does it truly mean to be asexual?
The definition of Asexuality is when one does not feel sexual attraction. There is nothing wrong with this, nothing that should be fixed. It is a real sexual orientation.
Now, let me debunk some of the claims people make about asexuality.
“Asexual? Have you been diagnosed….?”
It is not a disorder. Many think asexuality is a disorder, even some medical experts. There are many other terms for it, like hypoactive sexual desire disorder, but, again, asexuality is not a disorder. It is an orientation, just like heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, pansexuality, polysexuality and others. We do not need treatment or therapy, we can be perfectly happy as we are. The only thing that makes us unhappy and feel broken is this society that insists that we need to be fixed and that asexuality is not normal. It’s the same as when people claim it does not exist. Well, I have news for you, Asexuality is a very real sexual orientation and we are in no way broken or weird. We are still humans!
Personally, I think a big part of society is the unreasonable party here. First off, yes, sex can make you feel good, make you feel closer, have some health benefits, if you want it. And that is an important part, if you want it. There are people who don’t, or don’t care and it should be okay. Like there is sex without love, so there is love without sex. Yet, some parts of society make it seem like sex is the best of everything there is, when for some people it isn’t.
And then when you see sex everywhere, like ads, movies, in books, in music, it can be alienating and can make you feel broken.
If you like sex, that’s absolutely okay, but don’t pressure other people into it.
“You’re using the term wrong….!”
As for the term asexual itself, we are not using it wrong, but sometimes its use is deemed confusing, usually by some people who don’t feel like learning about the term. It’s true that it can be found in biology in terms of asexual reproduction. However, humans are not capable of this. We are not such simple organisms that we could make a clone of ourselves, nor does it mean that someone is born without reproductive organs, which something similar can perhaps happen, or that they have more than one, but for that there is a completely different term. But to return to the original issue with the term, well, words gain new meanings over time and this is one of them. So once again, asexuality means not feeling sexual attraction towards anyone.
“How can you be asexual if you masturbate….?”
People can be asexual and masturbate. The fact that someone masturbates means nothing. No sexual attraction is needed for that. Some people do it too and is for reasons such as it feels good, or that it helps to get rid of arousal and prevent perhaps some embarrassing situations, or perhaps because it helps you relax. And for those same reasons asexuals do it too. They can enjoy it, it can feel good to them. Others don’t, but they may still do it because perhaps they have a high libido and, in turn, may view it as a chore. Some don’t do it and some are repulsed by it. Neither makes someone more or less ace.
And no, you don’t need sexual attraction to have a libido. Those two are not dependent on each other. Being asexual doesn’t equal being non-libidoist, they are two very different things. Nor does being non-libidoist mean you have to be asexual.
Libido = a person’s overall sexual drive or desire for sexual activity.
Non-libidoist = the opposite of libido; that person doesn’t have a desire for sexual activity.
Ace(s) = People who identify as asexual.
“Ha! If you have sex you can’t be asexual….!”
Asexuals can have sex. You don’t need any attraction to do it as well as you don’t need any love to do it. Some aces do it for their partners, who are sexual. Such aces, who compromise on sex, can like sex. They can like the feeling it gives them, or they can like it because they make their partners happy. Those are valid reasons and they shouldn’t be used against someone, same with having sex. The important indicator is having no attraction towards anyone.
Some don’t have sex, either because they just decided they don’t want to, or because they are sex-averse or sex-repulsed. And no, neither of the last two terms mean they hate on people who have sex and/or sex itself, that’d be anti-sexualism.
And it doesn’t invalidate them as asexual if they do have sex, no attraction for that is needed. And for those who don’t have sex, don’t enjoy it, or even are repulsed by it, it does not make them any less human.
“But I want to have sex….”
Sex is a big issue in relationships. If you like it and want it in your relationship that is okay, find a deal that suits you. However, it is not a given. You may want sex, but the final decision is on your partner. They may want a relationship, but not the sex part, which may be a deal breaker for you, which is also okay. You shouldn’t push yourself into something you don’t want to, but you also shouldn’t push your partner into something they don’t want either. And not to want sex is as much a need as to want it. Not wanting sex is not inferior and trying to push your needs above someone else’s is a big problem.
Some aces can compromise on sex, but there are those who don’t want to, or even can’t. So how do those who don’t want to or can’t compromise negotiate their relationships if the sexual partner is not willing or really can’t go without sex? Well, one possibility is an open relationship, where the sexual partner looks for people with which they could satisfy their sexual needs. It is usually strictly negotiated what they can and cannot do. It’s all about communication.
“Relationships can’t work without sex! That is no real love….!”
Just because someone can’t live without sex, doesn’t mean there are not people who can. There are and not just asexuals, but many people of various sexualities. And why would anyone go without sex? Well, some people don’t care about it or have a low libido and don’t mind going without it while others prefer doing things themselves: people may go celibate, or just stop because of a romantic partner. Also, people can be sex-repulsed and so the idea of them and sex feels very, very uncomfortable and can make them feel sick to their stomachs. Others can be non-libidoist and so doing something they don’t have a drive for doesn’t seem appealing. People like this exist and are out there. They can be of various sexes, genders, sexual orientations, and colors of skin, and backgrounds. There is nothing wrong with them, as in they don’t need fixing or therapy. It’s just part of who they are and it should be okay. Not everyone has to be interested, or see it as a necessity. We are, after all, very diverse beings. It has always been this way and always will be. It’s only just that nowadays people don’t have to fear the wrath of society so much, usually, and can live their lives like they want to as this world becomes more accepting, which didn’t exist in the past.
As for love without sex not being real, well, why would you say something like that? This is very rude to say and it’s invalidating for many people. There are several kinds of love. Yes, there is sexual love and it’s okay if it is important to you, but it doesn’t have to be for everyone, that is stereotyping. There is sexual love, romantic love, platonic love, friendship love, family love, and none is better than the other. Granted, you can see one as more important to you, but pushing this view on everyone else isn’t right.
If you have and want to have sex in your relationships that’s cool, go ahead. No non-elitist/antisexual aces will judge you, but in return we ask the same from you.
“Oh, that’s just because you’re disabled….”
Another issues is having disabilities, may it be physical or mental, does not make people asexual, nor does it undermine their identity if they chose to identify as such. Disabled people are so often desexualized, like it’s completely clear that the disability is responsible for it, yet it says nothing about their sexuality or libido, or anything else really. Disabled people can be of any sexual orientation and have varying sexual needs like any other person, disabled or not. You have to remember that having a disability is only one of the many parts of a person and does not define them as a whole.
And if someone is taking medication for some issue(s) of theirs, it can be quite frustrating when someone starts to question you about it and/or tries to invalidate your identity based on this, telling you it’s because of some meds. It can be very uncomfortable having to defend your own identity and very rude of the person doing the questioning. Respect the persons in question feelings and wishes.
“But you were born to be this way (sexual)….”
Other groups that are often sexually stereotyped or targeted by entertainment or media frequently include African-Americans, Africans, Latinos, Asians, and other diverse ethnic groups. It can happen that these groups are desexualized, but usually they are oversexualized, even fetishized. But it is only a social stereotype. Any person of any other skin color than white have as diverse sexualities, sexual desires and needs, and libidos as Caucasians do.
And it is not just common folks from work, school, or your group of friends, or even just strangers on the street, though yes, they all can do it, but you find a ton of this in movies, in music videos, in magazines and books as well. So it’s not just sex everywhere you look, like for the rest of the Aces, but oversexualization everywhere you look. And actually, as some asexuals target other asexuals for their activities or ideas, sexual or otherwise, people of color can be found oversexualizing their own ethnic group as well.
You should be careful when making such assumptions. It could hurt someone badly. Usually such stereotypes are just harmful.
“Oh, it’s just a phase….”
How many have heard this and others like, “You just haven’t found the right person yet.” Or, “You’re too young to know.” Many adults hear some of these, but it’s mostly teens who are invalidated by these responses. As it seems some think they can know the feelings of others better than themselves. Especially teens hear these from their own parents, which isn’t exactly helpful and can make them feel worse than if it came from anyone else. Truth is if anyone is coming out to you they are putting trust in you for respect and help, and if you put them down like this they may close up to you and be very careful what they say in front of you.
What adults forget is that they themselves were young and started experiencing things early, even if they didn’t act upon them. Children usually start experiencing sexual attraction at beginning of or during puberty. Puberty on average starts, with girls at ages 10–11; boys at ages 11–12. But sometimes kids can know even younger. Everyone is different and so people find out at different ages and even though it can be true that someone can start later than others, using it to generalize and put all kids down because of this is silly and only does more harm than any good.
Listen to what others tell you. Don’t assume that you know their feelings better than they themselves because you never can. Respect what they say to you and if you have to ask, be respectful about it. Coming out isn’t an easy process and takes a lot of courage, so try and show support to make people feel at ease around you.
“Oh please, that’s because of your dysphoria, you’ll want sex when you have the right parts….”
Being transgender or gender non-binary seems to support in people the belief that it is obvious that we are asexual, all thanks to our dysphoria. Yet, no link whatsoever was discovered between gender dysphoria and sexual attraction, and only a small part identifies as asexual. It’s like saying that portraying homosexuality in TV makes children gay, which is utter nonsense. People have to understand that sexuality is not a choice, nor is it a symptom of something. Sexuality is generally considered to be a natural, diverse trait, a part of someone, present from birth. And yes, it can be fluid. It can be fluid with trans and non-binary folk as it can with cisgender people. And what does it matter if it could change at some point, the important thing is the here and now.
And the same goes for intersex individuals. They too are subjected to this, yet the same facts apply to them as they do to trans and non-binary people.
Cisgender – describes related types of gender identity perceptions, where individuals’ experiences of their own gender agree with the sex they were assigned at birth.
“If you went through sexual abuse or harassment it’s no wonder you’re ace….”
This is one of the worst things anyone could say and not just to an asexual, but anyone. First, it is offensive to assume our orientation has to come from abuse. Secondly, what if that someone or someone who may be there was really abused or harassed? This may only deeply upset them, if not trigger some worse reaction. Are you really okay with doing this?
And from what I have observed about people who ask questions like this one and others like it about masturbation and others, do not really want to help, but to invalidate that someone’s identity. Even worse when they claim they can cure you. Such people don’t sound like they want to help, more like they just want to sleep with you. So once again the best way is to listen what people tell you and be respectful and tactful if you want to ask something. Yes, trauma and other issues from abuse and/or harassment can cause changes and other problems. People can renounce sex after such a traumatic experience, but that doesn’t make them asexual. Same with the claim that all asexuals had to go through some traumatic experience and that’s why we are asexual. There are asexuals who did, the number of what part is unknown, but not all, and for those who did, it doesn’t have to mean that that’s why they are asexual. Asexuality is a sexual orientation, not a symptom. So making it a “rule” makes no sense and is insulting as well as invalidating to those who did.
“Asexuals don’t belong into Queer/LGBT spaces, they haven’t been oppressed enough….”
Many LGBT/Queer people and communities around the world say this. They also ask why anything like Asexuality would need visibility. Well, here is why.
Though perhaps asexuals don’t experience violence like homosexuals, transgender individuals and others, they still experience other forms of oppression and ignorance.
– Discrimination by health professionals – Where homosexuality isn’t considered a disorder anymore asexuality still is. Not to mention how few professionals, health and psychological, don’t know about it and will hence treat it as a symptom, even if someone tells them they are fine with this and that it actually is a sexual orientation.
At the website thewip.net I’ve read about a mental health professional who right away denied the existence of asexuality by saying it is the depression of her patient and informed her that the right treatment would “clear that up.”
– Housing and accommodation discrimination – Yes, asexuals can be denied Housing and accommodation on the basis they are asexual. Even more should that one be single, and still more should that someone be aromantic, or not wanting a romantic relationship for any reason.
– Job discrimination – An asexual can be denied work opportunity on the basis of being asexual, or can be fired on this basis. Apparently not showing interest in what other people deem natural and/ or not wanting or showing interest in relationships seem for many employers a good reason to fire you.
– Marriage discrimination – Even asexuals form same sex/gender couples and would like to get married, yet in many countries they can’t. America recently allowed it, but this is not where the trouble for asexuals end. Marriage for asexuals can be actually terminated on the terms that there is no sex. Yes, you heard correctly, on this basis a marriage can be terminated, no matter how loving those two parties are and how much romance there is in their relationship.
And now imagine one of the partners is an immigrant. Not just that the marriage will be terminated on the basis that if it doesn’t contain sex it is a fake marriage, that someone will be deported back where they came from.
And personally I think a termination can hurt more than being unable to marry.
Adoption discrimination – Same sex/gender couples aren’t allowed to adopt may they be asexual or not.
In the book The Invisible Orientation I read about a couple that wanted to adopt a child and they been asked why they couldn’t have any kids on their own, the couple answered they were asexual. The answer they got chilled even me. The worker there told them that then they are wrong, that asexuality is wrong and their marriage should be terminated. Sweet, isn’t it!
– “Corrective” rape – Oh yes, even this isn’t unknown to many asexuals and the same “rules” apply as to any rape victim, they may be blamed instead of the rapist. And the reason behind this? To awaken the sleeping sexual attraction or drive in asexuals. To show them how amazing it is through violence. Sadly, many see corrective rape as a logical or even the right thing to do. Here is a more specified article on it: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/20/asexual-discrimination_n_3380551.html
– Mocking – Personally I think asexuals are mocked as much as homosexuals are, if not more, a lot more. Homosexuality is quite known nowadays and many accept it. However, asexuality isn’t nowhere as known and much less accepted, as with the public as with professionals. People mock us that we are amoebas, tell us we are broken, that we need therapy, or right away tell us that asexuality doesn’t exist and we are saying it to be special, and many other.
Not to mention the survey, which I read about again in The Invisible Sexuality, conducted about whom people would accommodate and/or employ from the minorities. Homosexuals were first, then bisexuals, pansexuals, and asexuals were the very last. And here is also a nice part on it:
And here is more on it as well
Asexuality Awareness Week
Still think we don’t belong into Queer/LGBT spaces, or is hate and discrimination used as a means to decide who has a place and who not? And if so, since when discrimination became such a privilege? Shouldn’t it be enough that we all don’t belong into the heteronormative society by not being heterosexual and cisgender? Do we get points now for hate?
Some say it’s because we don’t feel sexual attraction, which is true, we don’t, but is this really a good reason to deny us? True, we can feel alienated by it, but the fact stands that we do not consider ourselves a part of the (common) heteronormative society. And so if you deny us too, where do we belong then?
These are just a few. Of course, there is more to asexuality, much more, but for now I think this is enough and gives you a nice overview of what it really is and isn’t and why we need awareness work.