The Low-Down on Asexuality
Society these days is obsessed with sex and relationships. Whether it’s on TV, in a book, or the lyrics of a typical chart hit, the mention of sex is EVERYWHERE.
But what about the people who don’t want to have sex? And I’m not talking about those who are opposed to it for religious or moral reasons. What about the ones who are repulsed by it and therefore are deemed by society as ‘weird’? Asexuality is real, yet often ignored. In some cases it’s not even recognised.
People who identify as asexual are known as ‘aces’ in the asexual community, just like bisexuals are called bi, and gay people are known as… well, gay.
When people find out that I’m asexual, they usually ask the same series of questions; “How do you know you’re asexual if you’ve never tried it?” “Were you abused when you were younger?” “So if you’re asexual, do you never get crushes or anything?” The thing is, I don’t get these kind of urges. I can look at a photo of someone that society deems ‘attractive’; say for example, Harry Styles or Taylor Lautner, and I don’t feel anything. I don’t get butterflies, I don’t start hyperventilating, I don’t get excited. I just don’t feel anything at all. To me, it’s just another photo of some famous person whom society thinks I should be falling in love with. The thought of “wow, I would sleep with that person” never crosses my mind.
When I was younger, mainly from the ages of 13-19, I thought I was weird. My female friends would gush over photos of Robert Pattinson or Justin Bieber, and comment on how ‘hot’ and ‘attractive’ they were. I was incredibly confused; I wasn’t getting the same feelings that they were, when I looked at the same photos I didn’t feel anything. I was convinced I was weird, a freak, I considered the thought of “maybe there’s something wrong with my brain”. For a brief while, I even wondered if I was perhaps gay. Maybe that would explain the lack of attractiveness? I looked at photos of female celebrities that both my male and female friends looked up to, and felt the exact same way: no attractiveness, no feelings towards them. I had come to accept that something had clearly gone haywire in my genes, or my DNA. I was weird, and there was something wrong with me.
One day when I was 19, after another long drawn out conversation with my family about why I STILL didn’t have a boyfriend, my mum announced: “She’s probably asexual.” I brushed her off, asexual was probably one of those words for ‘gay’, right? I wasn’t gay, so I ignored her and changed the subject. A few days later, I was still confused by what ‘asexual’ meant, so I Googled it. Finally, after years of thinking I was a freak and that my brain didn’t work properly, I discovered asexuality. I was no longer a freak! There was a reason I felt the way I did! I discovered that there is a HUGE ace community on Tumblr, and I’ve made several fellow ace friends through it. There’s advice blogs, blogs which post facts and myths about asexuality, and even blogs which promote it through photos, poems, songs, stories, you get the picture.
According to statistics obtained by the BBC, only 1% of the population in the UK identity as asexual. Even then, that’s only the people who publicly acknowledge being asexual, there’s probably thousands, possibly even millions, who are asexual, but don’t realise it. If there was more support, and asexuality was more widely recognised and accepted, aces would be less scared to be open about their sexuality (or, in this case, lack of) and people who think they’re asexual would be less afraid to ask for advice.
Support for asexuals does exist, but it’s not exactly ‘promoted’. Stonewall is heavily promoted and well known for gay people, yet asexuals often feel ignored and like they’re not as important. But there is still some hope. AVEN – The Asexual Visibility and Education Network is a website and online community which aims to educate people about asexuality, whilst also offering support and advice to aces. It offers FAQ’s on a variety of subjects, ranging from ‘”to tell if I’m asexual?”, to “Can asexuals have successful romantic relationships with each other?” AVEN was founded in 2001, and has grown to accommodate thousands of aces and non-aces on its forums.
I long for the day when I can be open about my sexuality and admit that I don’t, and might never, need sex as a part of my life. I have several ace friends, and they all feel the same. I hope one day that I can talk about it and not face questions about why I’m perfectly fine with being ace and why I choose to abstain from sex (Am I religious? Do I have issues? NO.)
Perhaps one day asexuality will be accepted, just as normal sexuality is, by society.