By ApostleOfCarlin / Daily Kos
I’ll come out of my closet and state up front that this is a topic close to my heart, because I am asexual. No, I don’t reproduce through mitosis. I simply don’t experience sexual attraction to the same sex or to the opposite sex.
I have not spotted much in the way of discussion … on asexuality, though I’m glad to see there’s a lot of support here for the LGBT* community in general. I thought I’d be helpful and post a little introduction to asexuality, also known as the Fourth Orientation.
Unless you live in a cave, I’ll assume you’re familiar with heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality, characterized as attraction to the opposite sex, the same sex, and both sexes respectively. You can plot heterosexual and homosexual attraction on a two-axis graph, and find these orientations easily. Asexuality is also on the graph, characterized as a lack of sexual attraction, be it to the same or opposite sex.
Some basic information
Approximately 1% of the population is asexual, according to the studies, if I remember correctly. Like people in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities, asexuals (or “aces”) are born that way. We didn’t choose to not have sexual attraction, it’s just how we’re wired. That makes asexuality a different phenomenon from celibacy, which is the conscious decision to abstain from sex.
Some asexual people are romantic asexuals, that is, they experience romantic attraction, even though they’re not interested in sex. There are heteroromantic, homoromantic, and biromantic asexuals, and many of them are in active relationships. There are also aromantic asexuals, who are not interested in pair-bonding relationships. Many people in the asexual community are also transgender or genderqueer.
Some asexuals identify as “gray-aces”, that is, they may have some sexual attraction, or they experience sexual attraction, but only under specific circumstances. One example is demisexuality. Demisexuals experience secondary, but not primary sexual attraction, meaning they tend to only become attracted to those they’ve grown close to.
The old joke in the asexual community is that cake is better than sex, thus cake has become one of the symbols of asexuality. A black ring on the right middle finger is another symbol of asexuality, as is a flag with the colors black, gray, white and purple. There is also a triangle symbol, with a purple border. The top edge represents the original linear Kinsey scale, with a gradient from white to grey to black representing the range between sexual and asexual.
Unfortunately, asexuals have been subjected to ignorance and occasional nastiness from those around them. Asexuals have sometimes been labeled as “sick”, made to feel as if they’re broken, have been told that asexuality does not exist, or told “Try it, you might like it.” They’ve been told that they’re just attention seekers. Worse, some asexuals, especially women, have been subjected to sexual harassment, or even threatened with “corrective” rape by people reacting badly to their asexuality. Some asexuals have experienced discrimination and bullying in school settings, in the workplace, on the Internet, and elsewhere, and they’ve often been invalidated and made to be invisible. Asexual men, including me, can get bad reactions when they fail to conform to heteronormative expectations, including pursuing women. I’ve personally been called a bundle of sticks, if you catch my drift, by people making nasty remarks about my lack of pursuit of the opposite sex.
Swankivy, an asexuality activist and author, who blogs and puts videos on Youtube, tells us of the reactions she gets from people who learn of her asexuality. Asexual Bingo is a funny video, but some of the remarks she posts in the video from various jerks are very unfunny.
The biggest and best Internet resource for asexuals is the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, which provides basic information, as well as web forums and a chat room for the asexual community. Asexuality Archive is another great resource, with a wiki full of information about asexuality.
That’s pretty much the quick, quick introduction to asexuality. I’ll finish by going on a limb, and I’ll ask all of you to help us out by educating people, fending off the jerks and bigots, and showing us some love and respect.
Thank you, and peace out!