The ABCs of Asexuality

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Following a previous, more personal, introductory article, Alien.

Asexuality, the term might seem clear to most people, but it has actually caused more confusion than clarity as a label to a “new orientation” that has gone virtually unnoticed till the past few decades.

Unfortunately, this is the label that we got stuck with and now we have to live with it. However, as confining and restricting as labels can be, they are sometimes necessary to explain one’s identity. Within the asexual community, it is agreed that one identifies with the label that fits them best, but should, in no way, strive to abide by any label or mold themselves to fit one. It is also agreed that human sexuality is fluid and can in no way be categorized into definite black and white boxes.

That being said, what exactly is asexuality? In its simplest definition, it is the lack of sexual attraction and the word “attraction” is key.

To understand this apparently simple sentence, it is easier to say what it doesn’t mean. So, let’s explain it by eliminating the common misconceptions that people have when they first hear the word “asexual.”

Physically speaking, asexuality has absolutely nothing to do with physical ability, libido or sex drive. For instance, people with a disability preventing them from having sex are not necessarily asexual.

Some asexuals might have a strong libido and might masturbate. Asexuality is not the lack of sexual ability; it is the fact of not feeling sexual attraction and a desire to engage in sex, regardless of physical state, gender, medical conditions, etc.

Conversely, people with a low sex drive are not necessarily asexual.

Celibacy, which is a behavioral choice, has nothing to do with asexuality either.

In short, bodily functions do not define whether or not a person is asexual, rather, it is whether or not that person feels sexually attracted to someone else.

Emotionally speaking, asexuals are not devoid of feelings; many asexuals feel what we call “romantic attraction” towards others. And here, it would be appropriate to stop and shortly explain the different groups within the asexual community itself.

  • Homoromantic asexuals are attracted to people of the same gender.
  • Heteromantic asexuals are attracted to people of the opposite gender.
  • Biromantic asexuals are attracted to people of either gender.
  • Transromantic asexuals are attracted to people of variant or ambiguous gender.
  • Panromantic asexuals are attracted to people of any gender or genderless people.

Then, there are people who call themselves “Gray-As” or “Demisexuals” and they are those who do feel sexual attraction under certain circumstances. (Read  different grades between sexuality and asexuality for further details).

Last but not least, there’s the group mostly misconceived as “unfeeling” and that’s the aromantic asexuals who define themselves as not being attracted, neither sexually nor romantically, to anyone of any gender.

Finally, whatever the label under the more generic term “asexuality,” it is essential to note that asexuals are not defined by their behavior: they can and might engage in sex just like a homosexual man can and might engage in sex with a woman. Even aromantic asexuals can and might form relationships and get married.

In a world defined by and based on sex as a power tool, an advertisement tool, a discrimination tool, and in a heteronormative society where procreation is a primary goal, it is hard to explain the lack of interest, but for the least, one hopes for acceptance and the acknowledgement of existence.

- Contributed by CL

Guest Contributor

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