Thursday, June 18, 2009

Asexuality, Not Just For Amebas Anymore!

(originally posted 6/18/2007 at wordpress)

box of sexualities

by Jennifer Tennent
If you were to look up the word “asexual” in the dictionary chances are the entry would read: non-sexual reproduction exemplified by plants and single celled organisms. Unknown to many people the word asexual has taken on a new meaning: a person who does not experience sexual attraction according to AVEN, the asexual visibility and education network. So it would seem that asexuality is not just for amebas anymore, as one T-shirt on the AVEN website proclaims.

Recently the website and its registered users have received national exposure on the Montel Willam’s Show and 20/20.

Many people reading this may be alarmed at the notion that there are people who have no desire to have sex and conclude something must be psychologically or physically wrong with anyone who says they do not experience sexual attraction. Although there has yet to be any major studies done on asexuality, by browsing through the many forums, threads and unscientific polls there has yet to be discovered any pattern that points toward any biological or social factors that could play a role in causing someone to become asexual. However given there are people who have an extremely high sex drive should it be that much of a quantum leap to suppose there are people who exist who do not desire sex at all?

When I asked what asexuals wanted sexuals to know about asexuality they had this to say on the subject:

beyondthis wrote: “I'd like sexuals to know that if they are in a relationship with me, just because I don't want to get in their pants does not mean that (a) I don't care about/love them, (b) I'm not attracted to them (c) I’m getting sex elsewhere. I could go on, but those are the main things I’ve had come up when in a relationship with a sexual person.
wrote: “Personally I'd like people to know that "asexual" does not mean androgynous or non-gendered (even though there are asexual people who identify as such) because that's the way I most frequently hear the word "asexual" misused. Also, it does not mean I'm not capable of romantic relationships. It only means my romantic relationship lacks ONE dimension that most others have, and that we more than make up for it in other ways.”
wrote: “Mostly I want them to know that not every asexual is militantly opposed to sex, nor do we all think that sexual people just sit around thinking about sex all day long. There are many asexuals who are supportive of sexual people. As far as I'm concerned, it is fine for other people, I don’t consider them strange, deranged, sick etc. etc. Many asexuals recognize that the SEXUAL community is just as diverse as our own, we don't all wish to march in the street, thrust our fist in the air and denounce all sexual beings as horny dogs. We can exist in the same world."
wrote: “That hormone supplementation is not a cure. I've experienced that so I know.”
wrote: “I'd like to let them know to not look down on and completely dismiss the thoughts and opinions of someone just because they don’t experience attraction or have sex. I can’t even remember the number of times I've been thrown out of a conversation and told I’m not allowed an opinion on sex because I don’t have it.”

Perhaps in time when the asexual community has gained more visibility we can begin to start the conversation about the importance (or lack of importance) of sex in relationships. It seems that as we have become more accepting of sex and sexuality we have forgotten that having a healthy relationship depends on more than having good sex.

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