Today, I’ll deviate from books to talk to you about something close to my heart: asexuality.
If you know what it is, feel free to skip to the dinosaur (this will make sense as you scroll down). If, however, you have never heard the term, read on.
Asexuality can be loosely defined as “someone who does not experience sexual attraction.” It is, however, an umbrella term. Asexuality encompasses a huge amount of diversity. To name a few, there are those who never experience sexual attraction, those who only do when there’s an emotional bound (demisexual), and those who do so rarely (grey-asexual).
“These people don’t want sex? But isn’t that what makes us human?!”
First of all, no, it isn’t. Your DNA makes you human. As for the wanting, some do, some don’t see what the big deal is but don’t mind having it, others are fine with other people having it but can’t imagine themselves doing it, and others are completely repulsed by the idea. It depends from person to person.
“So what you’re saying is that they don’t look at a good-looking person and go “damn“?”
Sort of. But not experiencing sexual attraction does not mean one can’t think someone is aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Just like you can think a portrait is beautiful but you wouldn’t even dream of taking it to bed.
“Okay but… do they fall in love? Do they have feelings?”
Yes, asexuals have do feelings. Against popular belief, we are not amoebas or robots. As for falling in love, the answer is, once again, it depends. There are, for example, those who don’t feel romantic attraction (aromantic), those who very rarely do (demiromantic), and those who are romantically attracted to people of the opposite sex (heteroromantic), same sex (homoromantic), every gender (panromantic), etc.
I should say, though, that romantic orientations are not just for people in the asexual spectrum. There are homoromantic heterosexuals and heteroromantic bisexuals out there too!
“I don’t get anything you’re saying.”
That’s okay. A lot of people have explained all of this better than I possibly could. If you’re still confused, or want to know more, these are very good starting points:
- AVEN’s general FAQ
- Adri T.’s comic
- Asexual Awareness Week’s resources
- Kelly Delahanty’s video
- Writing From Factor X’s blog post
- DiversifYA’s asexual tag
But this post is meant to be more than an asexual 101 class.
Growing up and living as an asexual in a world that only associates the term with asexual reproduction kind of sucks. Not only because it feels like everyone is obsessed with something we’re not interested in, but because everyone looks at you funny when you say that “no, I don’t really want to tap him”.
Let me tell you, it’s not exactly pleasant.
And why do we get so many stares?
No, it’s not just because the majority of people does experience sexual attraction. It’s because people have never heard of it. Films, TV series, advertising, books, all of them contain romance/sex. By trying to create a sex-positive world, we sort of created a sex-obligatory one. How can people understand something they’re not exposed to?
And where are asexuals in this media-centric world? Mostly nowhere. The characters who don’t experience romantic and/or sexual attraction (rarely openly asexuals) tend to be villains, robots, sick people, and the elderly. In fact, in an episode of House, they actually had an asexual couple, only for House to discover that no, the patient’s lack of sexual desire was part of a curable disease and the wife only said she was asexual to appease her husband. To which I have to say: no, stop.
All of this is not only insulting, but it erases too much diversity and perpetuates the idea that without sex, without romance, a person cannot be happy and healthy. An idea that is harmful to asexuals, single people, and allosexual sex-repulsed people alike.
“It can’t be that bad”, you may think, “surely there is good representation out there.” Maybe, but if there is, I haven’t encountered it yet. And if there was a lot of it, something tells me I would have found it in the media by now. I mean, try as I might I couldn’t even set up a week full of asexual book themed posts!
The only way to change this is by adding more asexuality to our storytelling, to the media.
Now, I could go on about this for ages. Instead, I’ll nudge you to this post, where I tackle the need for asexual characters in mainstream YA books, and to the rest of GayYA’s asexual awareness week posts, which have been absolutely lovely and thorough about how important representation is.
Because representation, visibility and awareness are important. Asexuals grow up thinking they are broken. And the longer they live thinking themselves as such, the harder it is to shake off this absurd feeling. Trust me.
So I ask you, every single one of you, to help us spread the word that asexuals exist, that they can be happy with as much or as little sex as they want, and that they are not broken.