Sunday, 10 July 2016

Asexuality 101

A beginners guide to being asexual, common misconceptions and things never to say to an asexual.
The asexual flag.

Firstly I must start this post with a disclaimer- this is all based upon my own knowledge and experience, if anyone reads this and thinks I'm incorrect on anything then please do let me know. I will use the terms 'asexual' and 'ace' interchangeably in case you wonder what I'm on about and I'm adding a potential trigger warning here just in case because I will be mentioning sex and similar throughout (not graphically so).

By definition asexuality is quite simply a lack of sexual attraction towards other people, this is often seen as being on three different 'levels': sex positive, sex neutral and sex repulsed. It is up to the individual to decide whether they choose to place themselves on one of these or not. I identify as sex repulsed meaning that the idea of having sex makes me feel really uncomfortable and it is not something that I have any desire to experience any time soon, but I'm just one person and this isn't the same for everyone who identifies as ace.

Being asexual does not mean that you are against having sex; that you have no libido nor does it mean that you do not or will not ever have sex.
Asexuals are fully capable of feeling aroused and experiencing pleasure and enjoyment through sexual encounters because we are humans too. It purely relates to the act of sexual attraction towards others, not the natural functioning of the human body!

Asexuals are fully capable of being in successful romantic (and sexual) relationships just like everybody else and their romantic attraction is a separate thing. A quick side note: romantic attraction is seeing others as potential romantic partners, this does not necessarily mean wanting to have sex with them; some people do not experience romantic attraction (this is known as being aromantic) and some asexuals identify as this too (often shortened to aro ace), but the two things do not always go hand in hand. It is very important to remember that romantic relationships can be successful without sex and that relationships should not dependent on the presence of sex or similar.

Sexuality and asexuality are viewed as being on two ends of a spectrum, anywhere between the two 'poles' is known as grey asexuality (sometimes shortened to grey-A or grey ace); this is where people experience sexual attraction sometimes but not always, it can vary from very rarely experiencing it to experiencing most of the time and only occasionally not doing so.
Another branch of asexuality is demisexuality, this is when someone only experiences sexual attraction when they develop a close emotional bond with a person. So they do not initially see someone as sexually attractive, it is a feeling that only comes with time.

To end this post, here are some misconceptions about asexuality which I have encountered and things that I would warn you never to say to an ace person:
  • "Asexuals can only date other asexuals." NOPE any loving and accepting person will respect you for who you are sex or no sex (and this stands for whether you are ace or not). Never let anybody convince you that being asexual is a problem or that it makes you undateable. It does not! People who say these things are not worth your time, your sexuality is valid!
  • "Oh so you're asexual, does that mean you're a virgin?" Back off pal, not experiencing sexual attraction does not give others the right to ask you personal questions just because they're nosey!
  • "You're just confused, once you have sex you'll change your mind." Please just stop right there, it's offensive and as I've said the sex isn't the thing that makes you ace in the first place so just no. Also, I was confused as hell about who I was before I learnt about asexuality and I have come so far in accepting myself since then, all because I could finally understand that I wasn't alone and that it isn't something wrong with me.
  • If someone tells you that they are asexual please do not try and 'make them feel better' with an anecdote such as "Oh don't worry, me and my boyfriend don't have sex every time we meet up." (yes, someone actually said this to me), we do not need comforting! Being asexual is not a bad thing, it just means you are different and that's cool! And also, I mean, what does that story even have to do with anything?
So in summary (or in case you can't be bothered to read all that):
  • asexuals are individuals who do not experience sexual attraction
  • we are fully capable of being in relationships and being ace does not mean that we won't have sex (that's dependent on the person)
  • we don't always like being asked personal questions and our asexuality is not a reason to let you interrogate us
  • asexuality is real and it does not need fixing!!! 
And there we have it, my complete ramblings, an asexuality 101. I really hope this is helpful and educates people and if you have any questions or you feel I've not explained something well enough let me know and I'll be very happy to chat things through.

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