Content Warning: Q-Slur, sexual assault, and rape.
Asexual Awareness Week started today, October 23rd, 2016! As some of you know, I am an asexual person myself, so this week is really important to me and I feel an obligation to educate people on what it means to be asexual. To do this, I plan to try and debunk some common misconceptions people have about what it means to be ace! So let’s get started!
#1: Asexual people never want sex!
This one is a little tricky to talk about to those who know very little about the asexual community. There are many ace people who are turned away from the idea of sexual intercourse; some even are repulsed by the thought of it. This is completely valid — however, not everyone feels this way!
Asexuality is defined as the lack of sexual attraction to a specific person. This doesn’t mean that an asexual person doesn’t have a libido. Some aces enjoy how sex feels and still choose to partake in it. This is also absolutely valid and these people are still asexual as long as they don’t experience sexual attraction at what society would deem is a “normal” level (we’ll come back to this point later!).
#2: Asexuals aren’t a part of the LGBTQIA+ community!
I personally have never understood this one. Despite the fact there’s an “A” in the acronym for asexuality, there are many people — even people in the LGBT community — who think that asexuals aren’t valid members of the community. They believe that a lack of sexual attraction =/= queer. This mentality has lead to a lot of unnecessary hate toward the ace community that needs to stop.
By default, asexual people are not heterosexual. Having a sexual orientation that is not heterosexual means you are in the LGBTQIA+ community, period. Even if you are an ace who happen to be dating someone who is a different gender than you, you are still queer. This whole idea that you have to be in a relationship with someone who is the same gender as you to be queer is frankly quite ridiculous. First of all, this completely erases those who are non-binary or who are dating a non-binary individual. An agender person cannot date someone who is the “opposite” gender as them. (Or if you want to get technical, anyone with a gender identity is the opposite gender as them. By the ludicrous standards of necessary same-gender attracted (SGA) relationships, then an agender person dating anyone is queer even if they’re dating someone who is the binary gender that the agender person doesn’t present as — despite the fact that many people would view that as heterosexual.)
Furthermore, this is the same tired argument that’s been used against bisexual people for years. The continuous rhetoric that if a bisexual girl is dating a man then she’s straight, and if she dates a girl then she’s gay. Applying this logic to asexual people in romantic relationships is just as harmful and just as inaccurate.
#3: If you feel sexual attraction at ALL, you are immediately not ace!
This statement causes a lot of controversy in the community, but it actually has a relatively simple explanation. Asexuality, like all sexuality, is a spectrum. There are those that never experience sexual attraction their whole lives, and there are people who experience it, but it’s such a rare occurrence that it still falls on the gray-area of the spectrum. (Which is appropriately called gray-asexuality.)
There is also demisexuality, which is defined as only experiencing sexual attraction after you have made a deep, emotional connection with a person. Experiencing attraction only under certain circumstances is also something that falls on the spectrum.
But keep in mind that sexuality is a fluid thing. There is always the possibility that as you grow, you will begin to experience sexual attraction frequently enough that you potentially are not asexual anymore. This is perfectly okay as people naturally change over time! Don’t feel like anyone who has told you “it’s just a phase” is now in the right and you’ve let the ace community down; it just means you’ve grown as a person. The opposite is also true; you may suddenly not feel sexual attraction anymore after having felt it before. If this happens very suddenly and out of nowhere, you may want to see a doctor just for the peace of mind that there’s nothing wrong. Which brings me to my next point!
#4: There’s someone wrong with asexuals!
There is nothing inherently wrong with people who are asexual. There doesn’t have to be some underlying “cause” of a lack of sexual attraction. Some people just don’t experience it.
This doesn’t mean that it’s invalid if there was some sort of cause. Some people lose their ability to feel sexual attraction for a variety of reasons: sexual assault/rape, abuse, health issues, trauma, as well as others. This is also completely legitimate and doesn’t invalidate someone’s asexuality.
These are just a few common misconceptions about asexuality. There are many, many more that I may or may not write about throughout the week.
I hope this article was helpful for anyone trying to learn more about asexuality or trying to educate themselves for the sake of a family member, friend, romantic partner, or anyone else. I wish everyone a happy and safe Asexuality Awareness Week! Please share if you found this informative to spread the word about asexuality. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next week!