In recognition of Asexuality Awareness Week, members of Spectrum have developed this overview article to help explain and define what asexuality means and how it fits into the broader concepts of gender identity and sexual orientation.
What Is Asexuality?
Merriam-Webster defines asexual, among other definitions related to biology and botany, as “not having sexual feelings toward others” and “not experiencing sexual desire or attraction” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/asexuality)
In short, asexuality is a sexual orientation where an individual is not sexually attracted to anyone or any gender. Asexual people span a broad spectrum of romantic orientations, gender identities and expressions, and lifestyles. Just like any other sexual orientation, there is no single stereotype that fits all.
The asexual community has adopted the term “ace” as a shortened form of “asexual” for ease of conversation.
Romantic vs. Sexual Orientation
For asexual individuals, it is important to differentiate between one’s romantic orientation and one’s sexual orientation. For many people, these two are in alignment – the feeling of attraction to someone romantically is linked to or identical to the feeling of sexual attraction.
For asexual people, no sexual attraction is felt, but the desire to engage in a romantic relationship with an individual can still be present. Because of this, many asexual people desire a deep, romantic relationship.
Asexuality and Sex
It is important to recognize that asexuality, as a sexual orientation, is unrelated to the presence or absence of desire for sexual interaction. It simply defines an individual’s lack of sexual attraction to others.
The sexual behaviors that asexuals engage in differ as broadly as any other orientation: Some aces are routinely sexually active, while others may only engage in sex to please a partner or conceive children. Some are repulsed by the concept of sex and prefer not to even engage in conversation about it.
Common Misconceptions About Asexuality
- Misconception: Asexuality and celibacy are the same thing.
- Truth: Celibacy is a decision to abstain from sex, not a sexual orientation.
- Misconception: Asexuality is a phase that aces ‘grow out of’.
- Truth: It is an inborn sexual orientation like any other.
- Misconception: There is something biologically wrong if someone is asexual.
- Truth: There are some medical conditions and medicines that do reduce libido, but this is not the same as asexuality as an orientation.
- Misconception: Aces have no libido.
- Truth: Some do, some don’t, just like the rest of the population.
- Misconception: Aces are frigid and emotionless.
- Truth: Many aces are deeply longing for connection, but have no interest in expressing ‘love’ in the form of sex.
For More Information…
Please visit The Asexual Visibility & Education Network at https://asexuality.org