What is Asexuality?
Asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction. That’s it.
Okay so aces can’t have sex or anything to do with sex?
Nope, that’s not what I said.
Sexual behavior does not determine sexual orientation or lack thereof.
– Have a sex drive (libido)
– Watch porn
– Have dirty minds
– Bake cookies
– Have sex
– Have children
– Get married
– Play sports
– Fall in love
…Or they can have zero interest in any of these things, and none of this has anything to do with their status of being asexual.
Wait, if they can have sex then how are they asexual?!
Asexuals can have sex for lots of reasons. Some want to be close to their partner, or want to have kids, some don’t know they are asexual and have sex just because they think that’s what everyone is supposed to do, some get pressured into sex, some have a libido and have sex purely as a way to get off, but still don’t feel any sexual attraction. Some never have sex, never masturbate, and never understand the point of it.
Every asexual experience is different. Aces can range from sex-repulsed, to completely indifferent, to very sex positive! What all aces have in common is that they don’t feel sexual attraction, or very rarely ever feel sexual attraction.
How do you know if you’ve felt sexual attraction or not?
For some, there is never any doubt they are asexual. For others, sexual attraction can get confused with platonic, aesthetic, romantic, or even sensual attraction. Ultimately, it comes down to the individual to decide whether the asexual label suits them or not.
(Note: Platonic attraction is basically wanting to be friends with someone, Aesthetic attraction is finding someone beautiful (not necessarily ‘standard’ beauty, whatever is beautiful to you), Romantic is wanting to date someone and that can mean different things to different people, Sensual is wanting to have non-sexual contact with someone like kissing, touching, cuddling, and Sexual attraction is wanting to have sexual contact with someone.)
I don’t understand any of this!
It is absolutely okay to not understand asexuality! Trust me, asexuals don’t understand non-aces either. Just remember that even if it’s hard for you to understand, that doesn’t mean it isn’t real! (I don’t understand calculus, but it’s still real!)
How can I be a good ally?
– Educate yourself, read more about it, ask an ace if it’s okay to ask them questions! Odds are, you probably already know a bunch of people who are asexual even if you think you don’t.
– If you have asexual friends, ask them what they are comfortable with in regards to even talking and joking about sex, and then do your best to respect that. Some have dirtier minds than anybody, some are indifferent either way, but others might not be comfortable around any kind of sex talk. Just ask!
– Don’t make acephobic comments. Stuff like, “but everybody wants sex, it’s just natural”, “are you even human?”, “have you seen a doctor/therapist?”, “you’ll change your mind when you meet the right person”, “you’re too young to know”, “you just want attention”, “you must think you’re better than everyone else”, “you can’t be asexual because (I think I know your life better than you)”, “you’re just a prude/frigid/naive”, “you’re never going to have a happy relationship”, “if you don’t have sex with your partner, you don’t really love them”, “how do you know if you’ve never tried it?”, “asexual? so you think you’re a plant/sponge?”, “asexuality isn’t real”, “acephobia isn’t real”… etc and so on, are dehumanizing and just plain ignorant, even if you think you mean well. If you wouldn’t want someone saying that to you, don’t say it to us!
– Don’t erase us. Don’t invalidate us. It’s that simple. Even if you can’t understand asexuality, it’s 100% okay to say, “I don’t understand your experience, but I still support you.”
We aren’t weird, we aren’t trying to be special. Asexuality has always existed, it isn’t new, but lately we’re finally able to say, “Hey, by the way, we exist” and have pride in ourselves. All you need to do is say, “Okay, cool.” Respect it, and carry on. That’s it.
Okay here me out.
A young adult novel written by a disabled author.
Where the main character gets into an accident and must use a wheelchair.
(And is written fairly accurately as the author is also in a wheelchair.)
There are more disabled characters than you can count.
The ones who aren’t disabled are the enemies.
It takes place in an alternate version of the 1950s, at an institution for people with disabilities and superabilities.
You see how the disabilities relate to the superabilities (superpowers).
The main character goes through the stages of grief after she realizes that she won’t be able to walk again but she is able to come out of it, not because of a love interest, but because she’s able to find her own strength. (And hit her mentor in the face with a weight.)
In fact, the main character doesn’t have any love interest at all.
You could make the argument that she’s aromantic/asexual.
And the author would totally support that argument.
But despite not having a love interest, the main character is truly cared for, especially by her gruff mentor with a heart of gold.
Did somebody say found families and father-figure-daughter-figure relationships?
Also there’s an interracial couple thirty years in the making.
And an underground resistance of students with disabilities trying to prove that they’re stronger than people think.
And in the end, they’re able to save the day.
And there are a lot of hugs.
And a lot of chocolate milk.
And the main character comes to terms with the fact that her biological family is horrible but she’s fine with that because she’s got the gruff mentor with a heart of gold who may or may not be in the CIA and also knew Al Capone.
And nobody dies.
And nobody dies.
And nobody kills themselves because they think that their lives are over now that they are in fact disabled.
Unlike some other books!
Oh and there’s a pig in a wheelchair.
And it’s all written by a disabled college student who really really needs the money for college and her apartment because apparently life is expensive (who knew?)
And it’s not the best written and it’s not error free but it was written with a lot of heart and a lot of passion in the early hours of the morning because that’s when the author had free time. But if nothing else, it has amazing disability representation. And a pig in a wheelchair.
Well, guess what?
That author is me, that book is mine, that book is published, that book is available for you to buy, that book even comes in a paperback version so that you can hold in your hands a story with disability representation in which none of the characters die or talk about how they’re a burden and how they’re lives are over (well, Juniper does once but Ryder knocks some sense into her.)
It’s called The Defectives and you can buy it here:
So if you’re looking for disability representation that doesn’t end with death and you want to help out a novice disabled author who really needs the money, please consider buying this book.
If nothing else, please signal boost!
OH MY GOSH GUYS I JUST READ THIS AND WHY ISN’T EVERYONE TALKING ABOUT IT
Imagine, if you will:
A boarding school for children who went to magical worlds like Narnia and Wonderland…and came back and now have to adjust to being stuck in the Real World again. Ever wonder what Alice, Dorothy, and the Pevensie kids went through afterwards? It was probably something like this.
The main character, Nancy, is openly asexual. RED ALERT RED ALERT AN ACTUAL FANTASY BOOK BY AN ACCLAIMED AUTHOR WITH A CANONICAL ASEXUAL HEROINE WHOSE ASEXUALITY IS OPENLY DISCUSSED BUT IS NOT CENTRAL TO HER PLOTLINE! THIS IS NOT A DRILL!
The deuteragonist is a trans boy*. His name is Kade; he’s really cool. (He’s a former Goblin Prince-in-Waiting, I want his story so much, come on Seanan McGuire give us a prequel about him).
There’s also a creepy murder mystery because why the heck not.
Basically, it’s everything I ever wanted in a book. And did I mention actual asexual representation…I swear, if I’d had this book as a teenager, my life would have been so different.
And the author is demi/bisexual.
(The kindle book is like $2.99 over at Amazon right now, if you want to go check it out.)
*(Trigger warning for some transphobist comments made by one character that are refuted by literally everyone else)
Sex Positive: I don’t feel sexual attraction but I do enjoy the physical sensation of sex. (Maybe even crave it!)
Sex Neutral: I can have sex but I don’t need it. To be honest I have no strong feelings about sex. But a slice of pizza would be better.
Sex Repulsed: I don’t like sex. I don’t want to have sex. I’m not going to have sex with you. I understand that people enjoy sex but I do not.
The presence of a libido does not invalidate any of these orientations. Dicks jokes and sexual humor do not invalidate these asexuals. These orientations are a SPECTRUM and are very fluid. Asexuals can and do exist in between theses definitions.
Ok no, you know what? I AM pissed right now.
I had a very dear friend of mine literally break down crying in my arms when I told her that asexuality exists and that she might be asexual like me and that she was not broken or the only person on this planet who didn’t feel any sexual attraction to anybody.
I used to have another friend who was told by her family that she was useless for her husband and that there was something wrong with her because she did not feel sexual attraction. She went through several relationships involving sexual actions that she did not want but went through anyway because she thought she had to. When she told me that she actually never felt sexually attracted to anyone she had basically already resigned to being a weirdo, being abnormal, being less than.
I used to hate myself. I still struggle with that but I really used to hate myself because I couldn’t get myself to feel the same things that other people seemed to feel. When I realised asexuality was a thing and that that thing might be something that actually described me and my situation and how I felt, I was so relieved – mostly because I had thought I was alone and then suddenly there were all these people who felt the same thing, who had the same experiences. For the first time since puberty started basically I did not feel awkward and weird and somehow less than everyone around me. I felt like a whole person. I felt complete.
So how DARE you say that asexuals are “basically straight”, “just identifying as ace to avoid straight privilege”?! How DARE you mock that moment of relief that so many people on the ace spectrum experience when they realise that they are not alone, that they are not the only ones feeling like this, that they do have a community and support and people they can talk to about their experiences?! Shame on you!
I’m not ace myself, so I’m coming at the whole acephobia thing from an outsider’s perspective, and as such, it’s not my place to speak to the experience of those on the receiving end of it.
However, as a bisexual dude, I can observe that many of the arguments that are employed to establish that ace folks have no place in the queer community are strikingly similar – indeed, at times practically word-for-word identical – to the arguments that were for many years (and in some circles still are) employed to establish that bisexual folks have no place in the queer community.
It’s enough to make a guy suspicious on general principle, you know?
I’ve gotten a few messages asking for (well, in some cases more “demanding”) elaboration, so: here are a few of the primary areas in which I’ve observed that arguments against bi inclusion and arguments against ace inclusion tend to exhibit significant overlap. There may well be others – these are simply the ones I’ve run into most frequently.
The Passing Argument
It has been argued that bisexual folks don’t have any grounds to complain about discrimination and violence suffered in relation to their orientation, because a bisexual person is able to pass as straight simply by choosing partners of the appropriate gender. Therefore, any discrimination and violence that a bisexual person does experience must be construed as voluntarily undertaken, since they could have passed, and freely chose not to.
This argument is similarly applied to ace folks via the assertion that being ace poses no particular barrier to seeking a partner of a socially acceptable gender, so any failure to do so must likewise be construed as voluntary.
The Performativity Argument
It has been argued that bisexual folks ought to be excluded from queer communities because sexual orientation is purely performative; i.e., being gay is defined in terms of currently having a sexual partner of the same gender. A bisexual person who has a partner of a different gender is functionally indistinguishable from a straight person, and must therefore be regarded as straight. Conversely, a bisexual person whose current partner is of the same gender must nonetheless be regarded with suspicion, because they could “turn straight” at any time simply by leaving that partner.
This argument is similarly applied to ace folks via the assertion that their orientation has no discernible performative component; an ace person is functionally indistinguishable from a straight person who simply isn’t involved in a sexual relationship at that particular moment, so ace folks must therefore be regarded as straight by default.
(An astute reader may notice that the passing argument dovetails neatly into the performativity argument: those who choose not to seek partners of a socially acceptable gender may be dismissed because any violence and discrimination they experience is a consequence of their voluntary failure to pass, while those who do seek such partners are performatively straight and therefore to be shunned. It’s a neat little system.)
The Mistaken Identity Argument
It has been argued that, while bisexual folks may suffer discrimination and physical and sexual violence, they’re not targeted by such acts because they’re bisexual. Any discrimination and violence a bisexual person suffers in relation to their orientation is suffered because they were mistaken for a gay person. Any effort on their part to discuss such experiences is therefore to be regarded as appropriative, in spite of the fact that they personally experienced it. In short, a bisexual person’s own experience of violence and discrimination doesn’t truly “belong” to them: it “belongs” to the purely hypothetical gay person their persecutors allegedly mistook them for.
This argument is applied to ace folks practically verbatim – no particular adaptation is necessary.
I have nothing to add except my gratitude for this
Petition to destroy the myth that every person who doesn’t identify as ace experiences sexual attraction in this one specific way made up by the ace community that is a universal truth for all non-aces. Sexual attraction is /complicated/, for a lot of people. This idea of ‘normative sexual attraction’ doesn’t exist. It’s a myth. Not every non-ace person has a straight forward, healthy uncomplicated understanding of their relation to sex.
Like I understand the need to have words to describe what yourself and what you’re feeling. It’s important, it’s helpful, it’s why I identify as ace. But acting as if these terms are somehow coherent identities with definitive separation from those who don’t identify with them is useless and grasping at straws as well as putting a lot of people into boxes that don’t exist and don’t make any sense.
Like if you want to identify as demisexual that is fine and okay, but at the same time you have to recognise that ‘doesn’t want to have sex with someone until you’re close to them/doesn’t develop sexual feelings for people until you’re emotionally attached to someone’ is true for A LOT of people, most of which do not and will never identify as demi.
The same goes for asexuality and the entirety of the spectrum; a lot of people, especially LGBT people and various other marginalised groups have complicated relationships with their sexuality and sexual identity and easily fall on the ace spectrum by pure definition, regardless of whether or not they self-identify that way.
To act like there’s a coherent group of ‘allosexuals’ who all experience sexual attraction in a similar way that is considered ‘normal’ without issue is troubling and flat out a myth.
Honestly I wonder how many aces with sex drives actually thought they were bi/pan before discovering the term asexual?
I wonder how many aces thought, “huh, sex sounds alright, and I get turned on while thinking about sex no matter the gender of the person, so that must mean I’m bi/pan.”
Because for me, that’s exactly how it was – before I learned what sexual attraction actually was, that having sexual desire for somebody who WASN’T engaged in a sexual act was actually a thing, I thought I was bi simply because sex with any gender was appealing. It was the stimulation, not the person.
Same thing for aromantics interested in life partnerships/QP relationships, who thought that wanting that intimacy with somebody and not caring what gender they were.
That kind of journey of self discovery is just as important as feeling broken before discovering the terms asexuality and aromanticism; don’t let anybody invalidate you because of your past identities, or for having a sex drive/want for a intimate relationship. You’re beautiful and valid and so important!
Yes!!!!! RELATABLE CONTENT!!!
I think this can apply to aces without a sex drive too. I assumed I was pan for a bit because my feelings about sex were broadly the same regardless of the gender of the person I was thinking of. Just took me awhile to figure out those feelings were actually ‘complete disinterest’. (Because, of course, everyone must want sex and I’m an everyone so obviously this is just what wanting sex feels like despite it not feeling like much of anything.)
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT!
*nodnod* I definitely stopped at bi(-sexual and -romantic asexual) on the way to figuring out I was aro/ace and it was for EXACTLY this reason: “Well… I feel the same way about men and women so I guess I must be bi?” It took me a really long time to figure out that “I feel the same way” meant “I don’t feel anything for either.” That had me confused for YEARS. (As well as other things similar to those mentioned above that I’d be happy to talk about in private but not as an addition to a post. -.-;;;)