"I've found that people think it's okay
to have all kinds of sexual orientation..."
"...as long as you have one.
If you don't then you're broken."
The Asexual Orientation
Asexuality is a sexual orientation where a person does not experience sexual attraction. One out of every hundred people is likely to be asexual and facts such as this are still pushing boundaries and challenging the thought that the pursuit of happiness doesn't have to include sexual attraction.
I am very passionate about creating bridges of understanding, as I have said many times before. To understand asexuality better, take into consideration that there are different ways of being attracted to a person and that these attractions are not necessarily tied together. AVEN (the Asexual Visibility and Education Network) defines attraction as "a mental or emotional force that draws people together" and lists the different types of attraction as follows.
Aesthetic attraction: Attraction to someone's appearance, without it being romantic or sexual.
Romantic attraction: Desire of being romantically involved with another person.
Sensual attraction: Desire to have physical non-sexual contact with someone else, like affectionate touching.
Sexual attraction: Desire to have sexual contact with someone else, to share our sexuality with them.
Asexuality only concerns one aspect of attraction, sexual attraction, and plays strikingly little involvement with the other forces of attraction. Romantic asexuals will often seek out platonic romance— love without sex— while still doing sensual things like cuddling and kissing. Romantic asexuals often have a gender preference and identify as homoromantic, heteroromantic, or biromantic, but quite a few are panromantic— when it comes to love, gender doesn't matter.
Not a Choice
To say it outright, asexuality is not a choice. Unlike celibacy or abstinence, where a person actively chooses to forgo sex, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who a person is and how they see themselves that does not make their lives any worse or any better.
It's important to have a sexual identity you identify and relate with and it's important that we acknowledge others' sexual identities. When we don't, people experience discrimination and oppression, something that asexuals are familiar with despite the common notion that the asexual community is free of these things.
While it's true asexuals are not societally oppressed, asexuals are often targets for sexual harassment and corrective rape— rape that is committed with the intent to change the victim's orientation. Asexuals also face discrimination alongside the LGBT community. Surprisingly, some of the stigma asexuals primarily face is generated from within the LGBT community.
Asexual activist Julie Decker (known as swankivy) explains it as being "based on the supposition that asexual people do not experience oppression and that any prejudice, discrimination or discomfort we experience is not ‘as bad’ as theirs, which I think is odd because queerness is not -- or should not be -- defined by negative experiences."
Ignorance isn't Bliss
The amount of ignorance encountered in regards to asexuality, even when non-hostile, is troubling, and can be damaging and problematic on an individual level.
When someone comes out as an asexual it is not an open invitation to ask personal and invasive questions, nor is it time to keep a mental checklist of their sexual habits. When someone comes out as asexual, they are looking for support, acceptance and understanding for how they live their lives.
Acceptance can be as simple as saying "It's fine if you don't ever want to have sex" and meaning what you say.
I am louder than who I say am
Let's break away from all the information for a second and tap into what it is to be an individual who is struggling with their apparent lack of sexuality and subsequently, their loss of identity.
"Since I was about 15 I thought I was asexual, although when I was younger I didn't know there was a name for it I just thought I was broken. Before my first sexual experiences I didn't think about sex or particuarly like the idea of it.. Sounded sticky... then my first string of sexual experiences were, unfortunately, very bad and that made me feel very firmly against sex.
I've been in relationships that are 4 or 5 years long that I can count the number of times we've had ''sex'' on my hand.
and I found that people think its okay to have all kinds of sexual orientation... as long as you have one. If you don't then you're broken, or the victim of abuse, or traumatised, and itll pass or you need a psychiatrist... and sometimes those things are ALSO true but not related."
"You can't ever pinpoint asexuality. It's not like someone wakes up and just says, "hey, I'm just not into that." Sometimes, it's more than that, and you have to understand that concept in order to really be compassionate on the matter."
"...people just don't understand. Even I didn't, at first, but I always tried to be compassionate, asking questions instead of making assumptions. That's where most people are different. They don't like exploring things that are unfamiliar, for whatever reason. It must feel so invalidating. It's a difficult thing to come to terms with anyway, and others showing a lack of openness to it can make it that much more difficult."
hopeburnsblue on a close family member's asexual orientation
"I grew up assuming I was straight, but found myself attracted to women too. I spent about a week wondering if I was actually bi, before realising it didn't matter, what's a label. Eventually I realised that I was attracted to intelligence and personality, the package it came in didn't matter at all. Yet, as the years passed, along with a couple of long term relationships, I realised I was happiest when single, and I was only having relationships because that's what was expected.
Because there are unhappy singles looking for a partner, society assumes all single are unhappy and somehow missing out on something. But for me, there are more upsides to being single. I came to understand that I like my own company and I spend a lot of time doing solo things, such as writing.
Honestly, Id rather wake up next to my laptop and a pile of paperwork, than have to go somewhere else to write at night because I have a partner.
I don't know if this makes me Asexual. Sex is great, but for me, only with a loving partner."
Resources and Further Reading
Asexual Visibility and Education Network
Asexuality in Entertainment
Asexuality: The 'X' In A Sexual World
Study: One in 100 adults asexual
swankivy (asexual activist)