Fighting for visibility

You haven’t met the right person yet! Are you a virgin? How will you know you don’t like it until you try? So, you want to be alone to the end of your life? It’s just a phase, and you’ll get over it! Did you experience sexual trauma? So, you don’t masturbate? These misconceptions asexual people hear pretty often. Let’s debunk myths and learn something about asexuality!

Sharon McCutcheon | Unsplash

We all are born and raised in an allosexual world – allosexual means that it is natural to feel sexual attraction or intrinsic arousal to have sexual relationships. It can be explained by the instinct of human creatures to propagate the species. Not having any interest in sexual actions is unthinkable for allosexuals, like against nature. But I assure you, some people don’t feel sexual attraction, but for society, they are invisible.

In the 2000s in the USA, David Jay founded AVEN (The Asexual Visibility and Education Network). Their main goals are education about asexuality and the growth of the asexual community. Still, many people don’t know that they may be from the asexual spectrum because of information deficit. To better explain whom asexual people are, let’s start with the concept of aesthetic, romantic, sensual, and sexual attraction. 

Attraction can be defined as a force, mental or emotional, that draws people together. The aesthetic attraction is when you find it aesthetically pleasing to observe someone because of their beauty, but you haven’t any romantic or sexual plans towards them; it can be similar to when you admire a beautiful painting. Romantic attraction it’s like falling in love. Based on deep emotional feelings. You want to be romantically involved with another person and spend a lot of time together. Sensual attraction is about close physical contact. You want to cuddle, kiss, hug, or affectionate touch someone but in a non-sexual way.

And last but not least – sexual attraction. It can be defined as a desire to have sexual intercourse with someone. But it shouldn’t be confused with libido. Cody Daigle-Orians from Ace Dad Advice used a great culinary metaphor to differentiate libido from sexual attraction. Sexual attraction is like ‘being hungry for a pizza‘ (feeling sexual attraction to a specific person/group). Libido is being hungry in general (overall sexual drive, not directed towards a particular individual).

Asexuality is a fourth sexual orientation from the LGBTQIA+. Asexual (ace) people don’t experience intrinsic sexual attraction and don’t desire to form sexual relationships with others. But they have a libido and can experience arousal. Necessary to add that attraction is not equal to action. Asexuality cannot be defined by lack of sexual activity; it’s not a synonym to celibacy. So, ace folks can have sex; some of them might even like it if they are not fully sex-repulsed (they find sex uninteresting, unwanted, or uncomfortable). They can masturbate to release the tension. Some of them even may have children if they want to. More – there’s no point of not building a relationship- they can sense a romantic, sensual and aesthetic attraction. Unless they are aromantic, but that’s another broad topic.

We call asexuality and identities close to the asexual spectrum an ‘asexual umbrella.’ It contains a range of different approaches toward sexual attraction. Under the asexual umbrella, we can find demisexual and grey-sexual people. A demisexual person feels sexual attraction to another person, but only when they create a solid emotional bond with them – but it is entirely different than prevalent in catholic societies waiting with sex till the wedding. It’s not a choice; it is how their attraction works. Whereas grey-sexuality means that people can feel a bit of sexual attraction but is exceedingly rare, for instance, under specific circumstances or the intensity of interest is so low that it is ignorable. 

MissLunaRose12 | Wikimedia cc

You know now that it’s not about your actions, so people from your environment cannot say that you are asexual. Only you know the answer. People’s sexuality is flexible, and the boundaries between definitions are fluid. We are human beings; each has unique needs and interest levels in sexual activities, so extremely hard to fit us into the framework. “Before realizing you are ace, you may think you are a late bloomer, shy, afraid of sex, gay, or you need to check your hormones. Also, society sends you these messages that something is wrong with you. You may never realize that you belong to the asexual spectrum, even though you know that your behavior and thoughts regarding sex are different from those in your environment. It can happen with demisexual people, since they may also be stuck in the myth of romantic love.” – says Olivia Ávila Ruiz, asexual activist. 

Currently, ace people can find vast support on social media – on Tik Tok or Instagram. Olivia runs her profiles to educate and support the ace community in their daily struggles in the allosexual world. “They usually thank me because they see themselves in the contents I upload, mainly on Instagram. So, one of their key issues is feeling of being broken, wrong, ill, weird, different… They must face a world that doesn’t know asexuality. For instance, it’s tough for people in relationships when a partner doesn’t understand the reality of being asexual.” 

Problems of asexual people are often marginalized. “Even the LGBTQI (A) community often discriminates against us. They say we don’t suffer because asexuality is a medical condition, not sexual orientation, and there are more important topics to talk about. Also, when you seek help, some therapists may give you wrong answers if they have never learned about asexuality. Finally, when you notice and embrace your identity (it is a long process), you face one of the multiple violence that ace folks suffer: non-existence.”

We all can support the ace community and make them more visible. How to be an ally? It’s pretty simple. As Olivia says, we can start learning about sexual diversity and mention asexuality if the conversation and situation allow us to. Even adding the letter to the acronym: LGBTQIA+ can be a form of support. Above all, sexual education is a powerful tool, even though it’s demonized in some countries. Don’t forget about that.

Aleksandra Kanasiuk

Sources: 
The Asexual Visibility and Education Network 
Ace Dad Advice: Am I asexual or just disinterested in sex? 
Olivia Avila Ruiz

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