An Asexuality Primer

Part of being sex positive is accepting sexuality in all legal forms-- even the ones that don't involve any actual sex.

 

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The Asexual Visibility and Educational Network (AVEN) identifies asexual people as, "people who do not experience sexual attraction." This can encompass a lot of different identities and preferences-- and it does.

Being asexual does not always mean that you don’t have sex. It doesn’t mean that you don’t masturbate, don’t feel attracted to other people, or are incapable of romance. Of course, you don’t have to do or feel any of those things to identify as asexual. Asexuality doesn’t mean that something is wrong or broken. It isn't always a result of sexual abuse or religious oppression. It's a sexuality, just like heterosexuality, homosexuality, pansexuality, and every facet in between.

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People who are asexual still form deep and meaningful relationships with others. They’re capable of becoming wonderful parents, attentive and loving friends, and even great romantic partners. Many even have sexual relationships-- because they want to give pleasure to their partner even if they don't desire sex.

Just like all forms of sexuality, there is no black and white to asexuality. If you've been sexually attracted to people in the past but things have changed, you could be asexual. If you've never been sexually interested in anyone but you have a very high libido or you like masturbating, you could be asexual. If you are romantically attached to people but find the idea of sex to be repugnant, you could be asexual. No one can define this for you but you.

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Why don't we know more about the asexual community? Western society is very concerned with falling in love and having sex. Think about your favorite movie-- chances are, there is some kind of love story in it, and that love story is shown as the ultimate goal for the characters involved. If you had grown up knowing that the world around you thought romance and sex was the only goal in life, how would you feel telling your friends and family that that just wasn't for you?

There is an umbrella term for those who don't feel staunchly asexual but still don't feel like the confines of other forms of sexuality and romance encompass them-- that's grey-sexual.

Important tips about asexuality:

  • Just because they identify as asexual doesn't mean they haven't found the right person.

Saying that they'll grow out of it, or that you'll teach them to enjoy sex if they give you a chance can be very polarizing, even threatening. While anyone has the right to reassess their sexuality at different points in their lives, that option is exclusive to them-- just as you wouldn't want someone telling you that you're asexual if you aren't.

  • It doesn't mean they're nerds, virgins, autistic, mentally ill, depressed, socially inept, etc.

These are popular and sometimes harmful stereotypes for asexual people, and while some may identify with them, just like with any group of people, any percentage of members can identify with some or all of those traits. It has no bearing on their asexuality.

  • It doesn't mean that they can't be attracted to people or to the idea of romance and sex.

I have a very good friend who is asexual and aromantic, but she loves romance in novels and films. Just because she enjoys fantasizing about other people being in love or having sex doesn't mean it's what she wants in her life.

  • It doesn't mean they want everyone to know.

Just like you may not want the whole world knowing about what you do in the bedroom, your asexual friends may not want people to know what they don't do. You may have good intentions by telling someone off for flirting with your asexual friend, but your friend may not appreciate it, so always clarify with them if they're comfortable with you outing their sexuality to others.

  • Additionally, if you're curious, they may not feel comfortable discussing it with you.

Just like with sexual people, this can be a very intimate, private part of a person's life. Instead of pressuring them to tell you ever facet of their inner-most minds, look up asexuality online and get a good primer. Remember-- just like with any form of sexuality, any hobby, any preference, or style, being asexual may be important to a person's personal identity, but it doesn't mean that's all there is to them.

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The asexual community is very open and welcoming. If you think that you experience one facet of asexuality but not others, if you know you're asexual and looking for some folks to share your experience with, or even if you're just flat-out curious, check out AVEN’s forum.

 

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