Asexuality has been in the news quite a bit lately—from the Guardian to Huffington Post to Teen Vogue. In case you have questions about it, your friendly asexual sex educator, Paige, is here answer some of the more common ones.
Food is a good metaphor because hunger can be similar to libido.
First, a definition: an asexual is simply a person who doesn’t experience sexual attraction. You can see all sorts of foods that you’re just not interested in. Not repulsed by, but don’t want to consume.
Most people have certain foods they like—some people crave very specific foods and are ‘hungry’ for those foods (meat or vegetarian dishes or both) a lot. Like… a lot.
Other people are hungry for certain foods, but only occasionally. Either way, they know what they want and they definitely want it.
Asexuals don’t. They may get hungry sometimes (or they may not), but if they do, they don’t fancy anything on offer.
Like when you realise you haven’t eaten all day and you’re starving so wind up standing over the sink and scarfing four pickles, a pot of yoghurt and the rest of the leftover Chinese just to keep from fainting?
Except the metaphor falls apart there because that would be an orgy… Nevermind.
Ugh. This is hard. Let’s do bullet points. The Internet loves those.
Things They Used To Say to Gay People They Now Say To Asexuals
- You were abused and that made you asexual.
- It’s a phase.
- You’re too young to know.
- It’s unnatural.
- You just haven’t met the right person yet.
As a culture, we tend to pathologize and look for ‘explanations’ for non-normative behaviour (non-hetero, actively sexual people). We don’t look for ways to explain the acceptable, no one would say these things to a heterosexual or to gay people anymore, for example.
A special note about the final one. In our highly-sexualised culture we understand that some people are sexually attracted to nearly everyone who breathes. It makes sense that nature’s pendulum would swing in the opposite direction and there would be people who wouldn’t be attracted to anyone.
The ‘Some Do/Some Don’t’ Questions
- Do asexuals masturbate?
- Do asexuals want to be married/have kids?
- Do asexuals date/only date other asexuals/date someone not asexual?
- Do asexuals have sex if they’re in a relationship with a sexual person?
- Do asexuals find sex enjoyable/repulsive?
Some do. Some don’t. To be fair, some of those questions could be asked of sexual people, as well, and they’d receive the same answer.
We’re not all one way or another—just like any other group.
Weirdly Complimentary Things People Say to Asexuals
- Asexuals are closer to God/more spiritual beings.
- Asexuals are more evolved/the next step in humanity.
- Asexuals are so much more productive.
- Asexuals are concerned with more important things than sex/more intellectual.
- Asexuals are innocent and pure.
One, no. I know many utterly non-spiritual asexuals who spend time arguing about complete nonsense on the internet and playing games on their phones (or writing some of the filthiest porn you can imagine). We’re not out becoming One with the Universe and saving the world anymore than any sexual is.
Two, ascribing superhero qualities to us is turning us into something other than regular old human beings who simply aren’t interested in touching anyone else’s genitals, no matter how much we like them in any other way. ‘You make me laugh so I’d like to put my mouth on your germy bits,’ is an odd leap to make. Admit it.
Asexual People Are In Denial About Being Gay
Some asexuals have romantic attraction to people of the same sex, some don’t. Asexuals, any minority sexuality, has given a great deal of thought to the way their interest lies. If someone is gay, they know.
Your Hormones are Out of Whack
Everyone gets a degree in endocrinology when they meet an asexual, let me tell you. This is similar to ‘it’s unnatural’, but deserves its own response. Even if a person’s hormones aren’t ‘normal’, (which would be indicated in other ways), if the person isn’t in distress about it then it’s not a problem.
You Can’t Be Asexual. You Look Like a (Boy/Girl)
These are people who are confusing asexuality with … I don’t know what. They’re thinking it’s a hormonal imbalance, I think, but when this comes up I picture an actual amoeba that’s what they expect to be standing in front of them. An amoeba in jeans.
Your Relationship Isn’t Real If You Don’t Have Sex/Oh, So You’re Just Best Friends, Then
Sex doesn’t define a relationship. If it does, how many times does a couple have to have sex for their relationship to be considered legitimate and do they have to have maintenance shags? You can have sex without love so you can certainly have love without sex.
Not to mention that saying a relationship doesn’t ‘count’ unless sex is happening, where does that leave couples who can’t have sex due to physical disabilities or illness?
It’s the tone of voice that this particular sort of sentence is said in that really butters my biscuit. It’s ‘Oh, I’ve found the correct box for you and sorted that out. Here you go.’ The person practically brushing their hands off before going about their day, ignoring how I define my own life.
If I were to find out enough about their marriage and discovered they rarely spoke about anything except bills and had sex once-a-week and said, ‘Oh, so you’re basically roommates who fuck once a week, then. Right.’ They’d fall apart. Because the majority of any group gets to pass judgment on (label) the minority, but not the other way round.
Most Asexuals are Women, Right?
There aren’t many studies on us, but from what we do have, it’s about a 50/50 split. Our culture tells us women aren’t supposed to want sex and men are supposed to be over-sexed so it’s understandable why this is a common belief (among men), though.
In conclusion: Asexuals are the same as the rest of humanity, we just probably spend far less time thinking about our genitals and their various features and flaws than other people do.