Living with a sexual identity that does not fall into the heteronormative idea is difficult. Things tend to get way more difficult if the individual identifies themselves as asexual. Asexuals and asexuality are one of the most under-discussed and misrepresented sexual identities in popular media (BoJack Horseman is an exception).
So let’s get our facts right, shall we? The Asexual Visibility and Education Network describes asexuals as individuals who do not experience sexual attraction – they are not drawn to people sexually and do not have the desire to act upon attraction to others in a sexual way.
There are various misconceptions people have about asexuals. Here are nine things people often get wrong about asexual individuals and asexuality.
1. Asexuality = Celibacy.
No! Asexuality is often confused with sexual abstinence or celibacy. Celibacy is a chosen lifelong commitment. Sexual abstinence is a temporary decision. Asexuality, on the other hand, is an identity and a sexual orientation.
2. Asexuals are anti-sex.
Definitely not. Asexuality is a spectrum. Some asexuals are repulsed by the idea of sex, some are neutral to it, while some have an interest but only in specific circumstances within the boundaries of a pre-existing emotionally intimate relationship. Asexual people can engage in sexual behaviours for various reasons even while not experiencing sexual attraction.
3. Asexual people cannot be attracted to anyone.
In a nutshell, an asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction toward individuals of any gender. There are some asexuals who do not experience any romantic attraction towards any individual. But that does not mean that they cannot experience other forms of attraction, such as emotional, platonic, or even sensual bonds.
4. Asexuality cannot be real.
Asexuality and asexuals are completely real. They are as real as the sky over your head. Asexuality is not a cause for medical concern either.
5. Asexuals cannot get married.
Someone’s sexual identity has no connection with their desire of wanting to get married. If people share a connection and they want to get married, they can get married. The notion that asexuals will remain single forever is a myth. Sex is never the foundation for marriage.
6. Maybe asexuals will get over it once they date a hotter person.
Asexuals often hear various statements that continue to delegitimize their identity. These statements range from passing judgements about the sex life of asexuals or even calling them names. Most of the time, these statements subtly promote rape culture.
7. Asexuals have a fear of intimacy.
Sexual attraction and engaging in sexual behaviour are not the basis for forming an intimate bond with another person. Asexuals do not fear intimacy. There are plenty of non-sexual ways to build intimacy and show affection.
8. There has to be an underlying reason why they are asexual.
There is no underlying cause of asexuality. Asexuality is not genetic nor the result of any trauma. People can say no to sex for various reasons, it’s okay to not want sex.
9. And of course, the classic – asexuality is a phase.
For some people, their sexual orientation can be fluid and change over time. But if someone tells you they are asexual and your first instinct is to shut them down by stating that it might be a phase, then you are doing a bad job as an ally.
Educate yourself, and be a better ally.