Asexuality

Okay, hands up, who’s heard of asexuality?

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And who actually knows what it means?

Until a few months ago, I had no idea… and I, along with approximately 1% of the population, am asexual. Part of the reason behind this is that asexuality has only recently become the subject of scientific study and until not long ago was considered the symptom of several mental illnesses.

Two of the definitions students at Strode gave for asexuality were ‘Not being attracted to any gender’ and ‘Not wanting to have some physical aspects of a relationship (sex, kissing..)’.

While these definitions are partially correct, they are limiting in certain aspects and it can be much more complicated to know whether or not to call yourself asexual.

The definition AVEN (the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network) give for asexual is ‘Someone who does not experience sexual attraction’ which still makes up a broad spectrum of people. The asexual community is incredibly diverse, with each person experiencing attraction, relationships and arousal differently.

One of the big myths is that being asexual or not is black and white. Sexuality can be fluid. This can make it confusing to identify as one or the other as how you feel attracted to other people can and will change from day-to-day. There is a diverse ‘grey’ area in between sexuality and asexuality and many people chose to remain in that area instead of choosing one or the other.

For more information on defining your asexuality visit the AVEN website.

There are many other myths people have about being asexual. One of the big misconceptions is that being asexual is the same as celibacy. Celibacy is a choice people make for personal or religious reasons whereas being asexual is a part of who we are.

Another big myth about asexuality is that it’s the same as being aromantic. Aromantic is not feeling romantic attraction to other people, but many asexual people have romantic relationships, often identifying as hetro-, homo-, bi- or pan- romantic. Similarly many asexual people do identify as aromantic or on the aromantic spectrum.

In our increasingly sexualised society, it can be hard to tell the difference between finding someone aesthetically attractive and being sexually attracted to them. Most media portrays these as the same thing, strengthening the belief that not being sexually attracted to other people is somehow not a normal thing.

If you would like to find out more about asexuality there are many articles and videos online with more information.

Extract from The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality by Julia Sondra Decker

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