Asexuality is a sexual orientation of people who do not experience sexual attraction. As society has made rapid advances in understanding sexuality, there are some myths and misconceptions about the nature of asexuality that can prevent individuals from recognizing their own identity.
Asexuality is a sexual orientation, not a medical condition. It is often confused with other sexual orientations such as celibacy or abstinence. There are many myths and misconceptions about asexuality that an asexual person would like to clear up.
Allosexual persons often misunderstand asexuality. (Image courtesy of Getty Images/iStockphoto.)
Asexuality, regardless of gender, is defined as a lack of sexual attraction to others or a lack of interest in sexual activities. It is classified as a sexual orientation, akin to lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer.
Despite the fact that it is represented by the letter ‘A’ in the acronym ‘LGBTQIA,’ many people are unaware of what it means to be asexual.
As with all other sexualities, this orientation may express in a variety of ways in people, leading to a slew of misunderstandings and misconceptions.
Many allosexuals — those who feel sexual desire for others – are ignorant of the intricacies of asexuality, owing to the fact that it is seldom discussed.
Many of us will not immediately enter into a conversation about our sex life (or lack thereof) with someone we meet at the local bar, and it may not even seem worthwhile.
Furthermore, due of their lack of sexual attraction, which is frequently viewed as one of the most significant components of a romantic relationship, asexual persons may find it difficult to form meaningful partnerships, and they may not want to reveal it until forced to.
For these and other reasons, we may make assumptions about asexuality that are not totally accurate, especially if we lack the information to double-check statements.
Asexual persons are often assumed to have no romantic interest. (Image courtesy of Getty Images/iStockphoto)
We spoke with Yasmin Benoit, an award-winning asexual activist and model, to get a better understanding. She debunked these myths and explained why she believes asexual persons are misunderstood.
‘Asexuality is often misunderstood due to a lack of visibility and knowledge – and this is due to the way we conceptualize sexuality in our culture,’ explains Yasmin.
‘Most of our sexuality discourse focuses on what individuals feel and do rather than what they don’t, despite the fact that both may characterize our experiences equally.’
‘This alienates the asexual experience in and of itself, since many individuals discover their asexuality based on what they don’t feel.’ Even if it is one, it falls outside of our understanding of sexual orientations.’
Yasmin has been a vocal advocate for asexuality and the fight against acephobia, coining the hashtag #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike and often criticizing anti-asexual prejudice on her Instagram feed.
Her activism has ranged from advocating for asexuality to be included in school sex education to spreading understanding of the full range of human desire.
Yasmin also just teamed up with lingerie firm Playful Promises to make the industry more inclusive as a whole, ensuring that asexuals are represented.
The 25-year-old wants us to treat asexuality like any other sexual orientation, and to treat everyone with respect, regardless of their sexual orientation.
‘You wouldn’t assume anything about someone’s background, personality, looks, future, hobbies, or health just because they’re straight,’ she adds.
‘I’d like to believe that we’re making a deliberate effort not to do it to individuals who identify as gay or bisexual, either – most people recognize that it’s incorrect and discriminatory.’ Asexuality should be treated the same way.’
Yasmin spoke with us about the most common myths and misunderstandings regarding asexuality, with the goal of educating people on the subject.
There are several myths about asexuals, from the belief that they don’t feel attraction to the notion that it’s a ‘trend,’ which Yasmin debunks with cold hard facts.
1. Asexuality is a mental health condition.
‘In the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, asexuality is classified as a hypoactive sexual drive disease,’ adds Yasmin.
‘However, asexuality isn’t a mental illness or a comorbidity.’
2. Asexuality is a medical condition.
‘There is no proof that asexual persons suffer from a hormone shortage that results in a lack of desire.’
‘Asexuality does not imply a lack of desire, and a lack of libido isn’t always an issue.’
3. Asexuality is synonymous with celibacy.
Some individuals confuse asexuality with celibacy or abstinence, which is a conscious decision to abstain from sexual activity.
Others may mistake asexuality for being an incel (a slang word for persons who define themselves as “involuntarily celibate”). This trend has been linked to a sexist online subculture and has been mentioned by serial murderers such as Elliot Rodger and Jake Davidson.
As Yasmin reveals, however, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Asexuality, like any other sexual orientation, should be handled with respect. (Image courtesy of Getty Images/iStockphoto)
‘Asexuality isn’t a lifestyle or religious choice, however not feeling sexual attraction may influence whether or not you want to have sex with someone,’ she explains.
‘Asexual persons aren’t inherently celibate or abstinent; they are who they are, and it has nothing to do with their inability to find someone with whom to have sex.’
4. Asexuals are not attracted to other asexuals.
Persons may believe that asexual people are devoid of attraction, but this is not the case; they merely lack sexual desire.
Romantic attraction, platonic attraction, sensual attraction, aesthetic attraction, and other sorts of attraction that have nothing to do with sex may all be experienced by asexual persons.
5. Asexuals do not have sexuality.
Yasmin wishes to emphasize that asexuality does not imply a lack of desire or that asexuals are uninterested in sexuality.
‘Asexual individuals may have sex desires, have sex, or have quirks,’ she explains.
They may, however, choose not to act on this or have sex considerably less often than allosexuals.
‘Sexual desire is just one form of sexuality,’ Yasmin continues.
Asexuality is sometimes whitewashed, and the community has to be more accepting of people of all ethnicities. (Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
6. Asexuals despise sex
This is a widespread misunderstanding. Being asexual, on the other hand, is not a social attitude or posture that reflects a person’s sentiments about what others do.
‘Not having attraction has little to do with how you feel about sexuality in general, much alone how other people perceive their sexuality,’ explains Yasmin.
‘Just as you may be asexual without being anti-sex, you can be anti-sex without being asexual.’
‘It leads to our being viewed as threats to other people’s sexual freedom,’ she emphasizes the impact of this mindset.
‘It may also lead to the omission of asexuality from sex-positive discourse and the exclusion of asexual persons from sex-positive venues.’
7. There are just a few asexuals in the world.
Though some may feel that the bulk of the population, including your friends, relatives, and loved ones, is allosexual, this is not always the case.
Asexuals are believed to make up roughly 1% of the population, according to a 2004 research by Bogaert, a proportion that is likely to be much higher now given society’s evolving views.
If asexuals made up 1% of the world’s population, there would be 75 million of them. It is unquestionably a large quantity.
Asexuals account for around 1% of the population. (Photo courtesy of Getty/Metro)
8. There is always a certain ‘kind’ of asexual.
Asexuality is not associated with any particular demographic, look, age, or gender.
‘Asexual persons may look like anybody and come from any background,’ Yasmin explains. Asexuality does not imply that you are sexually ugly or drab in any manner.’
9. Asexuals are unable to form families.
Some people assume that asexual persons don’t want children because they don’t want to have sex. However, there is no link between being asexual and not having children or being single.
Though they may not desire biological children, it does not exclude them from becoming parents – and to say otherwise is insulting to parents of adopted children or those who have children created via surrogacy or IVF.
Furthermore, according to Yasmin, some asexual individuals have and can have biological children with romantic partners, or they may choose to create intense platonic relationships with others and co-parent in this manner.
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10. Asexuality is a character flaw.
‘Others aren’t asexual because they’re timid, have difficulties connecting with people, or believe they’re too good for anybody,’ Yasmin explains.
Some feel that asexuals are narcissistic, psychopathic, or have some kind of personality issue, similar to the belief that it might be a psychiatric condition.
This is not the case, and making such a claim is insulting.
11. There’s a new ‘trend’ in asexuality.
Human sexuality has evolved from the beginning of time, however the terminology we use now may not have applied in the past.
‘The word is becoming more prevalent today, and the asexual group is more well connected, owing to the internet, but asexuality is not new,’ Yasmin explains.
‘It may be unfamiliar to some, but it isn’t going away.’
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