Part 3 of the SexED: Discovering Alternative Sexualities
You know the numero uno assumption asexual people hate encountering?
“You just haven’t met the right guy/girl.”
It looks like the 21st-century layman cannot easily come to terms with the fact that there might be an extremely small minority on earth who are not interested in sex by any means. But it is a fact; there are people who simply lack an instinctual sex drive.
It begins with the historical assumption that people naturally want to want sex, heterosexually, to procreate. We have seen enough of the LGBT movement to see that this is a cultural construct rather than a biological predisposition. Yet again, the fact that a person MUST have a sex drive is a misunderstanding too.
For the very same biological, psychological and cultural reasons that people on earth have a differential sex drive, an asexual person lacks it entirely. For the same cocktail of reasons a person may be heterosexual, gay or queer, a person can be asexual too.
It is not rocket science unless you are a geneticist.
“But, you are not a Tree.”
Pages after pages, forums after forums will detail the lack among asexuals in feeling sexual attraction towards any gender. Through a myriad collection of personal narratives, you will be appalled to find the lack of understanding and bullying asexuals encounter.
This is a group of individuals who had no answers to their inability to conform to the regular understanding of sexual development. They were confused, frustrated, pained and lost. Many even begin to think that they are gay because they deviate from heterosexuality, but are flabbergasted when a homosexual identity feels like a misfit too.
It is not a phenomenon that is ‘out there’, among people we only heard about remotely. Like we acknowledge the LGBTQ population, it is very much there around us, among people we interact with.
They do not come out clean for the fear of ridicule, or probably because they frankly do not understand it themselves.
So, what’s there to understand about Asexuality?
Julie Sondra Decker in an article for Time for her book, ‘The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality’ begins with an assertion that it definitely is not a dysfunction that needs a cure. She writes,
“Are you sexually attracted to other people? Do you feel the need to make sex a part of your life? Do you have a desire to introduce sexual activities into your relationships? If you answered no to one or more of these questions, you may very well be asexual. No expert can “diagnose” you; only you can answer this for yourself.”
This is a good set of interrogations, to begin with. And you are not alone in your journey to find out.
Is There A Community for Asexuals?
Asexuals are at least 1% of the world population strong, and researchers believe if awareness is spread through the correct channels, they should be more in number.
So, in pursuit of these many answers, along with the need for a community that could bond over shared experiences, The Asexuality Visibility and Education Network, in short AVEN, was created in 2001. It is pretty much the go-to network for any kind of knowledge about this movement. For anyone and for all.
What is AVEN?
It is often said that asexuality is a millennial phenomenon; it didn’t exist until the idea started circulating on the internet. Contrary to that, any amount of research shows that this minority simply remained unrepresented for the lack of a good label.
So, what AVEN did was borrow a well-bodied term from biology (to which no amoeba screamed, “It cannot be, it’s specific!”) to make visible an orientation that had so far remained the least understood. It found positive currency and acceptance, finally bringing it out in the open.
But Friendships Apart, Asexuals Hate Any Romantic Relationships in Life, Right?
Wrong. Sexual orientation and romantic orientation most definitely do not have to align. Therefore in stark contrast to popular assumptions, asexuals do crave for close human relationships. Many are open to romantic relationships where kissing or cuddling is acceptable. As many asexuals identify being repulsed or are indifferent towards sex, many date and even have active sexual lives.
Puzzled? Because Asexuality is a ‘Spectrum’
Meaning, it has various gradations of sexual activity. Just like among heterosexuals and homosexuals, no two people can have the ditto sex drive. Many may have a lower sex-drive as opposed to a zero sex drive, but choose to adopt the label of asexuals.
These people fall under the category of Gray-Asexuals. They do exhibit arousal but only when a number of limited conditions are met, unlike possessing a basic instinct for sex.
So If You Are Not Having Enough Sex, You Are An Asexual?
I would suggest you do not corner the friend with a lack of social-sexual life as an asexual. It is an orientation, not an empty label.
So, if you like to assert yourself as an asexual, be proud of it! Nobody can coerce you to feel otherwise. But if you think you do have a partial sex-drive, don’t be shy. Come back next week, we will decode Gray-Asexuality together. :)
For more information on alternative sexualities: