Today is two posts. Go read the other here.
Alright, so lately I’ve been running into a lot of confusion from others as to what being asexual means and what it stems from. People literally do not understand it; it’s so far outside their scope of understanding that they cannot comprehend it. My therapist thinks it stems from forgotten sexual abuse as a child. My roommate thinks it’s just being celibate and that one day I’ll find the right person and want to jump their bones constantly. My friends and associates at the local trans youth group (who are all extremely sexual) had no clue what it is. The VA psychiatrist I saw yesterday (more on him in the other post for today) didn’t understand it and had a hard time wrapping his head around the fact that I’ve never had attractions, and was about ready to make the “how do you know you don’t like it if you’ve never had it” argument until I explained that I have had it before. My grandparents were boggled that I’ve only ever had a handful of relationships in my life. Since so many people are confused by it, I thought I’d try to explain it a bit better.
Asexuality, simply put, is the lack of physical or sexual attractions to anyone else, as well as a lack of sexual desire. If you were to put the most attractive man and woman in the world (by any cultural standards) in front of me, I would have one of two reactions. If they were naked, I’d say something along the lines of “aren’t you guys cold? Do you want a blanket or something?” And if they were clothed, it would likely be something along the lines of “hey, I’m kinda hungry, do you guys wanna grab a bite to eat?” This does not mean that we’re celibate. We’re perfectly capable of having sex, as the VA psychiatrist yesterday learned, but we just don’t want it. Some even enjoy it when they have it (I don’t, and I’m not the only one who doesn’t), but they don’t actively desire it. If we’re in a relationship with a sexual partner, we’ll often have sex for their sake, but we wouldn’t be unhappy or bothered if sex were completely taken out of the picture.
Speaking of which, many asexuals still want relationships. Sure, there are some who are aromantic (Nikola Tesla is suspected to have been such), but many others who desire relationships. Thus all the various -romantic terms (aromantic, heteroromantic, homoromantic, panromantic, etc.) I personally am basically homoromantic (prefer erelationships with other women) but open to the possibility of a relationship with a man if I were to find the right guy (i.e. panromantic). A friend of mine last night jokingly called it lesbofluid, which isn’t all that far off. We’ve begun seeing terms like heteroflexible and homoflexible come into use, and that kind of describes me on an emotional level. And this mixing of physical/sexual desire vs emotional/romantic desire is not restricted to asexuals. I once had a friend who was bisexual, but she only wanted relationships with men (i.e. heteroromantic). Most people have the two line up, but not all.
As for the myths behind asexuality (and there are quite a few), well, they’re just that: myths. Asexuality is not caused by childhood sexual trauma, and in fact is most likely caused by much the same thing that causes homosexuality or bisexuality. There’s even an argument that “asexuality can’t exist because the single strongest drive of the species is to reproduce.” This argument is sometimes used against any form of sexuality that isn’t straight, but most often against asexuals (as they reason that others still have the drive, but turn it to sex with members of the same gender). Likewise, it’s not an outright aversion to sex (though some are averse to it). We’re just as capable of having sex as anyone else, and many of us have had it, either while trying to figure ourselves out (as I did) or for our partners. Lack of desire is not the same as aversion. Someone who is outright averse to sex (either due to sexual abuse, or being so dysphoric about their bodies that they can’t enjoy sex) is not necessarily asexual. I don’t enjoy sex, partially because of my dysphoria, but also partially because when I do try it for a partner, I’m bored during the act if I’m not bothered by my dysphoria. Finally, this is not “just a phase,” it is not something that will be cured by meeting “the right person.” It is an integral part of who we are. It does not go away any more than our gender identities will go away.
Do any of you have any thoughts or questions on the topic?