Alien, that’s what I thought I was all my life. I idolized Kurt Cobain in my teenage years because he felt that way too. From the simplest things to the most complex issues in life, I was always different. Even in my early days at school, I was the only left-handed kid I knew!
While people’s lives seemed to be clear for them, I was living in a permanent limbo, observing them and wondering why I didn’t share their dreams or feel the same way. While all the girls had visions of wearing the white gown, getting married, having children and all the boys wanted to be doctors, lawyers and soldiers, I was wondering why I had my father’s last name not my mother’s, why I could wear a dress or pants and boys couldn’t, why I could play boys’ games and boys couldn’t, why a girl had to be removed from her family’s register when she got married… Alas, nobody else was interested in my questions. Nobody else ever wondered about these things like me. “It is how it is,” was a satisfying answer to them.
Then, as I grew older, my friends and siblings “grew up” and shifted their attention to the mating game and I was still waiting there on the margin, wondering when it’d be my turn “to bloom.”
Physically, I did my best to look a-gender. I didn’t want to be either a boy or a girl, and I didn’t like the gender roles assigned by society. I liked stuff that were traditionally “masculine” but I also liked stuff that were traditionally “feminine.”
However, mostly, I wanted people to see me as a person. So I suppressed some of my feminine side because I didn’t want to mislead people – mostly men.
But as years passed, I gained more confidence. And although I’d lost all hope in fitting in the Lebanese society, I learned how to pretend, how to smile and “dress up” just so I’d pass unnoticed in social events, family gatherings, work environments. If I gained anything positive from that, it was learning how to accept that repressed feminine side, as I saw it, not as society perceived it. I learned that you didn’t need to hide your femininity. Sothiopathic males needed to keep their hands to themselves, even if you were walking naked in public.
When people would ask me about my orientation, I always replied with the default answer: heterosexual. When people would ask me why I wasn’t dating or married, I’d say “You can’t force those things, they have to come naturally” or “I haven’t found the right person” or my favorite “I’m too busy for that right now.” To my friends and in online forums, I used to facetiously say “I’m asexual.” I always thought I’d made up that word, that it wasn’t used for humans. I used to say it negatively, as if there was something wrong with me.
Whenever a guy treated me based on my gender, be it verbal or physical harassment or a simple gesture like paying a tab at a restaurant, I’d have a fight with him. When a guy would show any romantic or sexual interest in me, I took it as an insult. Everybody around me kept telling me “those are compliments.” But try as I might, I couldn’t change how I felt inside.
Then, just a while ago, and at the age of 31, everything fell into place and the puzzle was solved. I was doing some research and, by chance, I opened a page about asexuality. And lo and behold, it was used for humans!
The definition of Asexual is: someone who does not experience sexual attraction.
It doesn’t mean you don’t have a sex drive. It doesn’t mean you have some physical problem preventing you from having sex. It just means you don’t feel that particular attraction to people.
As a Lebanese woman, I didn’t have the same experience as the other asexuals around the world; females in the Arab world aren’t supposed to be sexual in the first place. They’re supposed to only want sex to please their male partner or to procreate. So, in the sex department, I was rarely pressured to “become” sexual. However, living in a liberal family and thinking there must be something wrong with me, I did exhaustive research on the topic, from medical encyclopedias, to watching porn… I became my friends’ sex/relationship advisor although they all knew I’d never ever been in a relationship myself.
So the problem for me wasn’t the sex part, it was the heteronormative lifestyle: marriage and kids. Caring people were worried I’d end up a spinster. My ambition in life is to end up a spinster! What’s wrong with that? People still find it hard to believe that I feel fulfilled and very happy, alone. The idea of having someone sharing my space, physically and emotionally, chokes me and saps my energy. I feel that my life is saturated as it is.
However, not all asexuals are like that. Just like any other orientations, we come in different shapes and sizes. But we all agree on one thing: The labels are there to help us explain where we’re at but we shouldn’t, at any point, restrict or shape ourselves to fit any of them.
Among the romantic asexuals, people identify as homoromantic, heteroromantic, biromantic, transromantic, panromantic, polyromantic… They feel emotionally attracted to certain genders more than others and seek relationships with them. Many romantic asexuals – and even a few aromantic ones – are in relationships or married.
Then there are the aromantic asexuals, like me, who feel no sexual or romantic attraction toward any gender. Personally, I see beauty in all genders but I seem to prefer the androgynous look the most and only esthetically.
Within the scope of asexuality, there are also people who identify as Gray-As and demisexual.
It should be noted though that asexuality is not celibacy. Celibates are sexual people who abstain from sex for their own reasons. It’s a choice.
Asexuality has nothing to do with physical functions. It’s not due to a low sexual libido, although some asexuals do experience that. Many asexuals have a strong sex drive and masturbate. The reasons range between getting rid of an annoying itch, to enjoying autoerotic pleasure. As long as you do not feel sexual attraction toward another person, asexuality would be the right label for you.
Thus, in my journey of self-discovery so far, I’m a sex-positive aromantic asexual feminist. And thanks to AVEN The Asexual Visibility Education Network (AVEN), I’m glad to find out that I’m not a freak of nature anymore. But hopefully, I’ll find out I’m less unique in my own country as well!
- Contributed by CL.