Heterosexuality: Sexual attraction to the opposite binary gender. Homosexuality: Sexual attraction to the same binary gender. Pansexuality: Sexual attraction to all genders. Sexuality is often defined by what there is, but what if it were defined by what there isn’t?
Sexual attraction is a desire to engage in sexual activities with a specific other person. The majority of the population feels some sort of sexual attraction as they reach maturity, as reproduction continues the species. However, a small percentage of the population does not feel this to some or any degree, and they would be described as asexual.
Sounds straightforward, right? Well, let me tell you: I’ve been asked so many questions about this topic (some well-meaning, some less so) that I could probably teach a college course on the topic. In fact, maybe that isn’t such a bad idea.
Confused about asexuality? Got some burning questions you need answered?
Welcome to Asexuality 101: The Non-Sexuality.
Lesson 1: “Asexual? Doesn’t that mean you’re like a plant or something?”
Asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction towards anyone. A person who is completely asexual, more commonly described as ace, does not experience any sexual attraction under any circumstances. Asexuality is a spectrum as well, just like any other sexuality. A person who is grey asexual (grey-ace, grace, grey, etc.) experiences sexual attraction, but more rarely and perhaps only under certain circumstances. This is often confused with celibacy, which is a choice to not engage in sexual activity for personal or religious reasons. Asexuality is a natural state of being rather than an ethical choice.
Nothing can make a person decide to be asexual. It is a sexuality just like any other, on a spectrum, and an extremely fluid one at that. While some instances may make a person’s sexuality change, the individual has no control over that. If a person has a bad sexual experience in some way shape or form, that may cause their sexuality to lean more towards one end of the spectrum, but that still wouldn’t make it a choice.
Lesson 2: “So asexual people must hate sex and anyone who has it.”
Asexual people have different dispositions towards sex, as do non-asexual people, also known as allosexual people. Sex-repulsed people have a distinct distaste or disgust for sex and sexual images. This can include sexual allusions or jokes, talking about sex, or actually engaging in a sexual encounter.
However, sexual repulsion does not apply to all asexual individuals. Both asexual and allosexual people can be sex-indifferent or sex-favorable. Being sex-indifferent means that the individual is not affected by sexual ideas either way. To them, sex simply exists, and there’s nothing more than that. A person who is sex-favorable, however, enjoys sex and other sexual activities.
Lesson 3: “But I thought asexual people don’t get aroused?”
False. Asexual people have sex drives and libidos just like any allosexual person. There does seem to be a tendency towards a lowered or absent sex drive, however that does not mean that aces with a high sex drive do not exist. Aces can masturbate, orgasm, have kinks and fantasies, and enjoy sex just like any other allosexual person.
Final Exam: List all 700 ways asexual people are different from allosexual people.
Trick question! The only thing making an asexual person different than any other person of another sexuality is the fact that we do not feel sexual attraction. I write this from an acespec (i.e. asexual-spectrum) perspective, going off of my personal experiences. I feel no different and can do all the same things anyone else can. I'm in a relationship, I can make sex jokes with my friends, and I can be aroused. These are who I am, and I can't change any part of me—nor would I ever want to.