These days, more and more people feel the freedom to express their sexuality. However, one form of sexual expression has been widely overlooked: asexuality. What exactly is asexuality?
In basic terms, asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction, but there are different types of asexuals. Asexual individuals can be male, female, transgender, cisgender, intersex, gay, straight, bisexual, polyamorous — any and every identifier that can be applied to a sexual individual can also be applied to someone who identifies as asexual. The only difference between being sexual and being asexual is simply that asexual people do not feel the urge to have sex. This can be confusing to people who feel that urge — they have difficulties imagining being without it. Here are some lesser known facts about asexuality.
Asexual does not mean anti-romantic.
The single most common misconception about asexuality is that asexual people do not fall in love or enjoy romantic intimacy. That simply isn’t true. In fact, many asexual people seek out and thrive in long-term romantic relationships. Sexual relationships can exist without love, so it stands to reason that loving, romantic relationships can exist without sex.
Asexual individuals often use the term “ace” to describe their experience.
For example, someone may say, “Stacey identifies with the ace community” or “I am ace.” People who identify with the ace community also have a flag: black, grey, white and purple.
Asexual people can still engage in sexual activity.
Because asexuality is the absence of attraction and not necessarily the absence of feeling sexual pleasure, asexual individuals can still feel that pleasure. When it comes down to it, sex is about the stimulation of a bundle of nerves, and the entire purpose of that is to feel good! Being able to feel sexual pleasure, being attracted to someone and wanting to have sex are all separate things.
Asexuality is not the same as celibacy or abstinence.
Celibacy or abstinence is the choice to refrain from sexual activity, despite the desire to do so. Asexuality is a sexual orientation — the same way that being gay or straight is a sexual orientation.
There are different types of asexuality.
There are several levels of asexuality, including demi-sexuality and gray-ace. Demi-sexuality refers to someone who does not feel sexual attraction unless they feel a strong emotional bond with another person. People who identify as gray-ace sometimes feels sexual attraction. They may have a low libido and rarely feel the need to act on sexual urges, but they experience feelings of sexuality from time to time and do not identify fully as “ace.” Sexual attraction is a spectrum and is not simply black and white; hence the “gray” in gray-ace.
Asexuality is not a disorder.
Asexuality has often been diagnosed as “hypoactive sexual desire disorder,” considered by some to be a psychiatric condition. However, plenty of experts and ace-identifying individuals certainly do not hold that opinion. They maintain that asexuality is a healthy expression, though a separate study did find that about 34 percent of asexuals did have problems with self-esteem.
Asexuality does not necessarily mean no masturbation.
There is a difference between having the desire for sexual satisfaction and seeking that satisfaction with a partner. To reiterate, asexuality is the absence of sexual attraction to another person. It can also mean the absence of sexual urges, but it does not necessarily mean that. Asexual people can feel sexual pleasure and may choose only to find it on their own.
Asexuality represents about 2 percent of the population.
When the Kinsey scale was created — where 0 was completely homosexual and 6 was completely heterosexual — a separate category was also created, which was simply called “X” to encapsulated those that did not otherwise fit on the spectrum. According to Kinsey’s research, 1.5 percent of adult males were categorized as “X,” meaning they just were not interested in sex at all. In 1994, a study discovered that about 1.05 percent of respondents had never felt any sexual attraction to anyone at all, and a 1982 survey of Playboy Readers found that 2 percent of respondents were asexual.