Asexuality is that thing that most of us have heard of, but don’t understand. For some, it can be hard to fathom a lack of sexual attraction– sex is such an integral part of how our society functions that it seems impossible for someone to not want to have sex! But believe it or not, asexuality is real.
Here are some common myths associated with asexuality, and ways that everyone can be an ally- even if you don’t believe it’s real. (Spoiler alert: it is)
1.Asexuals can’t be in relationships
No. There is a difference between romantic and sexual relationships.
Someone who is asexual can have a romantic or even aesthetic attraction, something I explained in my very first blog post. This info-graph helps to explain how your sexuality isn’t tied to who you want to date or being in a relationship with.
2. You are either sexual or asexual
Just like any other sexuality, asexuality also exists on a spectrum. This is why we have terms like gray-sexual, or demi-sexual. Being “gray” basically means that you do not feel sexual attraction, with some exceptions. See my first post for more information about the asexual spectrum identities!
3. Asexuals can’t have sex.
While it isn’t anyone’s business to know, asexual people can and do have sex for a variety of reasons: sometimes to reproduce, pr to make a partner happy. However, just because someone can have sex, doesn’t mean that they want to. We shouldn’t devalue someone’s experiences just because we don’t understand their sexuality.
4. Asexuals haven’t met the right person yet
Similar to what queer women go through, asexuals are often told that they haven’t found the right person yet. Presumably, their past partners just weren’t good enough at sex.
No, no, and…no. My friend Julia, someone who identifies as asexual, says that she has found the right person: herself.
5. Asexuality is a sexual disorder
People assume that an asexual person is suffering from loss of libido due to a sexual disorder, or even because of depression. Though lack of sexual desire is a symptom of some disorders, asexuality itself is not a disorder. This is due to the fact that those who are asexual feel no distress, and many are proud of their asexual identity! Just like a homosexual or heterosexual, sexual orientation is not and never will be a disorder.
With these myths officially busted, we have to work towards being more aware of the words we say and the questions we ask asexual people. The Asexual Visibility and Education Network has some tips for allies:
- Educate yourself and others about asexuality.
- Speak up if you hear an asexual being ridiculed or harassed for their orientation.
- Explicitly include asexuality and its related identities in sexual orientation-focused groups, workshops, discussions, etc.
- Don’t automatically assume that everyone you meet is sexual, even if they seem perfectly comfortable talking or writing about sex.
- Respect a person’s self-identity and refer to them by whatever labels (or lack thereof) they apply to themselves.
- Don’t ask highly personal questions about a person’s sexual feelings or experiences, unless you are close enough to the person that you know such questions would be acceptable.
- Recognize that asexuals may have varying degrees of comfort with discussions of sex; some asexuals may be very uncomfortable with it, others may be completely fine with it and may even enjoy flirting or making sexual jokes just for fun. If you’re not sure where someone’s boundaries are, ask them.
- Don’t assume anything about an asexual’s romantic orientation, or about their past or present sexual experiences (or lack thereof).
- Cultivate a vision of sex-positivity in which not wanting sex is just as valid and affirming as wanting it.