Dispelling Common Myths about Asexuality
Welcome to the other AA - Asexuals Anonymous
The life of an asexual can be exhausting. Why? Because no one knows what asexuals are and then as soon as you give them one line, "I'm not interested in sex" they suddenly come up with a whole assortment of profoundly aggravating ideas about what that means. They make snap judgements and speculations and before you know it you're staring on a stage involving a completely ignorant public trying out their new shiniest bit of pop psychology on you. So let's go back to the beginning and start over, shall we? Before anyone has a chance to utter a word just listen, or rather read, and I will dispel some of these bat-shit crazy ideas some of you have.
1. Asexuality is the same as celibacy. Asexuality is a sexual orientation, it has no more to do with celibacy than heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality. Celibacy is when a person with a normal sex drive decides for whatever reason that they are not going to engage in sex. Asexuality may include celibacy but it's not synonymous, or a choice. Asexuals just don't feel that desire to have sex. In simple terms it is a complete lack of a libido.
2. Asexuality isn't real, or something seen in humans. Only space aliens in weird avante guard sci-fi can be asexual. Actually in recent studies asexuals are believed to make up at least 2% of the population of humans. Some researchers even guess we could even be as high as 10% of the population and we've been here for as long as anyone else. In fact the first time we were mentioned in a scientific study was when we showed up to answer questionnaires for the infamous Kinsey report. Kinsey believed two basic things 1) People were having a lot more sex in far more varieties than was socially acceptable for the time and 2) Everyone was either homosexual, bi-sexual, or heterosexual. He used a scale of 1-6 to determine if his subjects tilted more towards homosexuality or heterosexuality but frustratingly there were some that didn't tilt anywhere. They were listed as simply as "X" and weren't studied any further until recently. Current studies learned the same way as this entire article, believing as the public did, that there was something wrong with asexuals - mental disorders or hormone imbalances but after looking into this they found there as no more or less disorders among asexuals as there was in the general population with one possible exception - there was a larger number of people with Asperger's than the general population. Curiously this might be why asexuality has found its way into sci-fi as this is a genre very comfortable for a disproportionate of Autistics and "aspies." Any Doctor Who or Ursela K Le Guin fans here? Got to love em'.
3. Asexuality is a great way to cop out if you don't want to fess up to your own homosexuality. I admit, this one hits a nerve in me that makes me pretty hostile. I guess because I am a very open person who loves people for who they are, including gay people, so it not only makes no sense but also makes me out to be some sort of closeted homophobe which is not cool. Still, this is the most favored theory of a lot of people and it's so annoying. Just to be clear asexuality does NOT mean that a person has no interest in having a romantic relationship, some of us absolutely do, it just means we're not into the whole sex thing. However if you include a romantic relationship as being a sexuality in and of itself then asexuals are all over the board just like the rest of the population. Some of us prefer to be alone, some of us like to bond with members of the opposite sex, some of us like to be in a relationship of someone of the same sex. So this whole closeted homosexual is complete bunk.
4. Repression: That's what asexuality is. In my life I have come across a great many people from a great many backgrounds, some of which repression might make sense. However repression can only be employed by an individual if they have something to repress. A gay man living in the 1920s would probably find it beneficial to repress his homosexual desires but that just means he's not acting out on something that's going on in his mind. There's nothing going on in an asexual's mind that relates to sex. We don't see attractive people and automatically categorize them in our hot or not files. We see an attractive person and we may or may not even recognize they're attractive. If we do we can see them attractive in the same way a fine piece of art would be. It's just different. Besides in the end if we were repressing something it'd be way easier to pretend to be whatever is socially "normal" than to pull this asexuality out of the air. I mean just think of the time we have to spend explaining it! Fwew!
5. Asexuality is the end result of abuse or tragedy. I have the upmost respect and sympathy for anyone who has been a victim of sexual, emotional, or physical abuse at any time during their life. With that being said I had a happy abuse-free childhood and didn't fall for any bad men. Life for me, at least in this regard, has been uncomplicated. Now I can only speak for myself but I know there are a lot of others out there who identify as asexual who also claim no history of abuse, as well as some that do. In any event we can't all be lumped together and given a one size fits all sort of attitude.
6. You'll change your mind when you find the right man/woman. This isn't any less crass or ignorant when you say it to an asexual than when you say it to a gay person. There are a great many of us who aspire to or are in a relationship. Sometimes these relationships are with other asexual individuals, sometimes they're with sexual individuals. Things can get somewhat tricky when you involve yourself with a sexual as an asexual yourself. Do you still have sex for the sake of your partner? Do you demand celibacy of them? Or are you OK letting them have lovers to fill that need? There's no right or wrong answer - it's just a questions of individual and circumstance. Either way the "right man" or "right woman" could fill all needs of an asexual but an asexual might not fill all of theirs. At least now we live in a day and age we can talk about it. That's always good.
7. There's something deeply off about Asexuals. Let me stress there is nothing "wrong" with identifying as an asexual. There hasn't been any human studies but studies in sheep have found that hormone levels of asexual rams match those of sexually active ones. So there's rarely something physically "wrong" and most times there's not anything emotionally or mentally "wrong" either. I do hear, "but you're limiting yourself if you deny all sex forever!" Look, asexuality is a very fluid thing. I think most individuals experience what its like at some point in their life - libidos plummet when a normal person is stressed, not sleeping enough, in a bad relationship, or what-have-you. Some people go in and out of asexual phases, some of us grow out of it, and some of us grow into it. We're not limiting ourselves by expressing our genuine feelings about it. Limiting ourselves would only happen if we started feeling sexual and then decided to hold onto the label rather than explore that but I don't think many people do that, there'd be no point. It's not like we have a huge peer-pressuring community. So please, don't offend out current sensibilities by comparing our sexual orientation as a phase or wishing we'd find our way out of it. Trust me, if someone is claiming to be asexual they're already cool with it.
8. Asexuals are virgins or have had bad luck with finding good lovers. If only I have a nickel for every time someone aid, "Just try it! You'll like it!" If only they realized that's like me saying, "Just try bungee jumping! It's awesome! You're a total freak if you don't love lopping yourself off a bridge!" Some people do love bungee jumping, but those same people shouldn't consider anyone else a freak for not enjoying such an activity. This is an easy concept to understand so why doesn't it apply to sex as well? It's a funny thing. Some Asexuals do sort of enjoy sex, they just don't have the drive to do it again. It's like going to Paris. It's fun but they'll be OK if they live another 50 years and die without going again.
9. Asexuals are man haters/misanthropes/anti-social. I'm not going to sit here and say I love people, all people, all the time. That's just not true. I'm an introvert but that being said I don't hate any particular group of people over another and I don't hate all of humanity either. Hate is a strong word. Just because Asexuals don't have a desire to have sex doesn't mean they're anti-social. Some of us may love the night life, partying, being around a lot of people, some of us not so much. It shouldn't make a difference because that's not what this is about.
10. Asexuality is a convenient excuse not to bang me/date. Quite possibly. I'm just kidding. I am always astounded by men who are so full of themselves they can't understand why I wouldn't want to throw them on the floor and bang them right then and there in the middle of Wal-Mart. They always take it so personally when I show my profound disinterest in their wily ways. I'll admit I tend to find this sort of person to be.... less than what I feel like I should be hanging around with but believe me if I were a sexual being I'd still turn you down, just for completely different reasons, so please get off yourself. Thanks. In the mean time it's not a good idea to date a sexual person who clearly isn't going to be OK with asexuality if you yourself are asexual. So be clear and communicate, it'll save you a lot of hassle down the road.
Thanks for reading and if you have any other questions or misconceptions you'd like me to add write out a comment or an e-mail and I'll be sure to reply.
Also here's some more musings I have written on asexuality, they're a little less formulated than this one but still might be interesting. Enjoy.