by Carter Hemion, Staff Writer
Content warning: mentions of sexual assault
Asexual people are believed to make up at least 1% of the world’s population. By comparison, 1% of the world is about the same amount of people who have red hair, or about twice as many people living in Canada today. Despite this, asexual people are barely represented or talked about in media. When they are, they’re often misrepresented, and misinformation spreads far.
The definition of asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction. Asexuality can exist on a spectrum, which can include asexuals, gray-asexuals (folks who are largely asexual but still have sex), and demisexuals, the latter of whom usually do not experience sexual attraction but may on occasion.
Conversely, allosexuality refers to a sexual attraction to others. The umbrella term allosexual can include heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals, and pansexuals, among others. Allosexuals experience sexual attraction to others frequently, while asexuals experience little or no sexual attraction. Both asexuality and allosexuality exist on spectrums and are experienced in a variety of different ways, yet myths continue to spread about asexuality.
Myth: Asexuals cannot love
Asexuals are often stereotyped to seem cold, anti-social, and emotionless in the media. However, a lack of sexual attraction is, well, nothing more than that. While people of any sexual orientation can be aromatic (experiencing no romantic attraction), that is not true for every asexual. For those who are aromantic, they can also experience non-romantic and non-sexual love for people in their lives, sometimes forming dedicated platonic relationships. Many asexuals date, fall in love, and get married. Some have children, whom they also love. All asexuals make friends and love the people in their lives, just like allosexuals can.
Myth: Asexuals never have sex
Some asexual people can and do have sex for a variety of reasons. Some may enjoy the intimacy of the experience or choose sex as an act of love for their allosexual partner(s). Others may just enjoy physical arousal, or they may simply want to partake in the activity. Asexuality does not mean that a person cannot have sex. Some asexuals are sex-repulsed, some enjoy regular sexual activities, and many others fall on a spectrum somewhere in between. Asexuality also does not equal anti-sex attitudes, and asexuals can be sex-positive without experiencing sexual attraction or partaking in sexual activities.
Myth: Asexuals don’t experience arousal
Despite a lack of sexual attraction, some asexuals do have a libido, and most can experience physical arousal. An asexual person may masturbate, consume pornographic content, or have kinks, fetishes, or fantasies without it changing their sexual orientation. While many asexuals may not be as likely to partake in these activities as often as allosexuals (or at all), involvement in these activities has no bearing on sexual orientation.
Myth: Asexuality is unnatural or an illness
Asexuality is as normal and natural as any sexual orientation. It does not qualify as any kind of sexual dysfunction or mental illness. For the majority of asexuals, it is not a phase. There is nothing that makes asexuality unnatural or unhealthy; it is just one way of identifying sexual orientation.
Myth: Asexuality is a choice
Being asexual is not a choice. While some people may choose to be celibate or abstain from sex, that isn’t the same as being asexual. Asexuals are not necessarily virgins, anti-sex, or avoiding sex entirely. Asexuals can choose to abstain from sex, but that is not the same as someone who has sexual attraction avoiding sexual activities.
Myth: Asexuals are all closeted homosexuals
Because of a prevalent false belief that asexuality does not exist, people can assume that those identifying as asexual are lying about their sexual orientation. While it can be safer for some people to stay in the closet, identifying as asexual can be just as dangerous as identifying with other LGBTQI2S+ identities. Asexuals are not lying, and they need to be believed about their identities without question.
Myth: Asexuals don’t experience oppression or discrimination
With all the misinformation about asexuality out there, it can be easy for some people to think asexuals never experience oppression or discrimination like other members of the LGBTQI2S+ community. Asexuals experience harassment because of the negative beliefs that asexuality is unnatural and a choice. Asexuals are sometimes even rejected by the LGBTQI2S+ community. Because of dangerous bigotry and false beliefs about asexuals, people of other identities commit sexual assault in violent attempts to change asexuals’ sexual identities.
To connect with other asexuals or learn more about asexuality, see the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network at http://asexuality.org/.