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July 23, 2012 | by  | in Features |
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Freedom From Desire

Some notes on asexuality

Asexuality (or ‘nonsexuality’) is a word describing the sexual orientation of some people (some of whom call themselves ‘aces’). What does it mean?

Distinctly different to celibacy or abstention from sexual activity—which are generally motivated by a person’s beliefs or morals— asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction to others, and the lack of interest in sex. There has been an ongoing debate about whether asexuality classifies as a sexual orientation, as it is, by definition, the antithesis of sexual attraction—which usually corresponds to sexual orientation—but most of those who identify as asexual feel secure within the LGBTQXYZ community.

Do you know anyone who identifies as asexual? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Either way, it’s a rare thing, with commonly cited studies placing the prevalence of asexuality at a mere one per cent of the population. A few famous people who identified as asexual have been J.M Barrie (author of Peter Pan) and musician Emilie Autumn. Asexuality is a strangely hidden facet on the LGBTQXYZ sparkly gem, and I think it needs more visibility than it currently receives. The amount of asexual people in fiction, however, is worth noting. Many fictional characters have been identified as asexual or suspected of being asexual—Virginia Woolf’s Lily Briscoe from To the Lighthouse, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, and even Tolkien’s Bilbo Baggins. We know asexuals, but maybe we don’t know them to be asexual. Can you imagine Bilbo gettin’ down with some hawt hobbit babe? Nope. That’s the point.

Because the above mentioned LGBTQXYZ community is made up of those who come together to celebrate their sexual attraction— some of those without that drive sometimes end up feeling excluded. This has lead to the birth of networks such as AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network).

With the rise of networks and discussion around asexuality, a fairly small number of asexual people have posted their thoughts on the internet regarding “sexuals” and their behaviour. The general tone of these posts have been to do with the idea that sexuals do not understand nonsexual love and/or intimacy. In my brief search around the internets for things to do with asexuality, I came upon an alarming amount of discourse that could be categorised as slut-shaming. Points such as “When I look at the human body, I see art; sexuals just see sex,” and marginalising the queer community: “heterosexuality and homosexuality don’t exist, only asexuality and multisexuality.”

At the other extreme, people in the LGBTQXYZ community have questioned whether asexuality fits within their realm, as it doesn’t really come under “alternate sexual expression”, but the lack of such. What gives, guys? Queer-on-queer fighting is heartbreaking. Solidarity!

For perspective, try imagining yourself without sex. No, really, give it a go. Not just intercourse, but attraction and lust, too. As a concept, it seems to defy a huge amount of social activities that are almost specifically engineered for sex. Going out to clubs? Having coffee with someone you think is cute? It is hard to think about your identity without at least some thought about the sex you’ve had, the sex you want to have, and the sex you’re going to have. Asexuals are programmed differently, like anybody else on the LGBTQXYZ spectrum, but difference is cool! Difference is perhaps the best part of being queer. Own it, aces!

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