Guest Blog by Jennifer Cornell, MSW intern
Being an Asexual in a hypersexualized world can make a person feel like they are broken from an early age. While other teenagers are discussing their first sexual encounters, the Asexual can easily say they haven’t found “the one” yet; that person who will make them want to have sex as much as their friends. The person that will “ignite the flame” and make them become a sexual person like the rest of the world, the person who will make them “normal” and understand what it means to want to be sexual with someone else.
The truth is 1% of the world’s population is Asexual (AVEN, 2020), and that means there may never be “the one” who “fixes” the lack of sexual attraction or fixes the lack of desire for sex because there is nothing to fix. As Morticia Addams says, “Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.” In this world, being sexual is considered the normal but that throws the Asexual into a world of chaos as they question themselves and are questioned by the world around them.
MYTH #1 - Asexuals do not need to be fixed because they are not broken.
There are often well-meaning people, even health-care professionals, who will tell the Asexual they just need to find “the right one”, that person who will make them “change their mind about sex” but someone who is Asexual may very well find “the one”, the person who makes them happy and they want to spend the rest of their life with but this does not mean they want to have sex with them. We often mix love with sex because to be in love automatically means we have to want to have sex with that person, right? Not so. This idea of being in love means wanting sex can lead to a dangerous practice within the queer community; corrective sexual assault. Corrective sexual assault does not just happen to Asexuals but queer individuals from all walks of life. The assailant believes that the person just needs a good experience with someone and suddenly they will be “fixed”. For example, for homosexual individuals, the flawed thinking is that a sexual assault from the opposite sex will make them straight. For bisexual they face it from same-sex and opposite-sex partners, trying to “fix” them to be gay or straight, depending on their end goal. For the Asexual, the assault is to make them want physical/sexual attention.
MYTH #2 - Asexuals must have a problem somewhere that needs fixing in order to become sexually active.
There are horror stories from Asexuals about professionals asking if they have ever been the victim of sexual assault, as if all Asexuals only abhor sex because they have a history that has left them with PTSD and sexual contact triggers it. That is not true, some people just do not want sex or find other people “sexy”.
Another question professionals pose to Asexuals is if they have their hormones checked because magically if their hormones are fixed they will want to have sex. While some people do have low-sex drives due to hormone levels or because of medication affecting them, that is a difference in libido not in sexuality. Some people just have low libidos and it is not due to lack of sexual attraction - their bodies are content with fewer sexual encounters.
MYTH #3 - Asexuality means she's just a "frigid b**ch."
There is a difference between someone with a low sex drive and an Asexual. Someone with a low sex drive still looks at people who they are sexually attracted to and feels sexual attraction, they just don't need frequent sexual encounters. An Asexual sees someone and thinks, “That is aesthetically pleasing” or “DAMN! They are pretty!” They can appreciate the beauty of other people but that does not mean they want to be physically intimate with them.
MYTH #4 - All Asexuals are repulsed by sex.
Thanks to Alfred Kinsley, we know almost everyone is a little gay because he introduced the Kinsley scale to human sexuality. But Kinsley focused on heterosexual and homosexual, where people change how much they are straight or gay throughout their life, because sexuality (like so many things) is a spectrum, not an either-or decision.
The same idea can be applied to anything human, including asexuality. On one side of the spectrum are sex-repulsed Asexuals who want no intimate contact and find sex “icky” and on the other end are Asexuals who, while they do not have a sexual drive or sexual desire they are partnered with someone who likes sex, so the Asexual has sex because their pleasure comes from making their partner happy and fulfilled. In all sexual and non-sexual relationships it is important to know what boundaries people have and to respect those boundaries. So, as in all relationships, in an Asexual relationship, communication is key.
MYTH #5 - Asexuals don't want relationships with other people.
Being asexual does not mean “aromantic”, a person who does not feel attraction or affection towards others. Asexuals can and do have long-term loving and healthy relationships. An Asexual person may want hugs, kisses, cuddles and all types of other forms of the love languages - they just do not want sex. Or they could be willing to have sex if they are with an Allosexual partner. Allosexual just means someone who does have sex and does feel sexual attraction. As mentioned above, our world mixes the feelings of love with wanting to have sex but there is more to attraction and affection than what bodies can do in the bedroom (or the kitchen, whose to tell anyone where they can and can’t have some fun...!).
What Asexuals want people to know is they are not broken, and no one needs to fix them with force or pressure them into situations they do not want. If one partner is not interested in sex and the other is, then it may be a relationship that does not work or it means the relationship needs a different dynamic (open relationships or polyamorous) so that the Allosexual can have their needs met while the Asexual has their boundaries respected.
Ginicola, M. M., & Ruggiero, A. (2017). Counseling Asexual Clients. In M. M. Ginicola, C. Smith, & J. M. Filmore, Affirmative Counseling with LGBTQI+ People (pp. 251-258). Alexandria: American Counseling Association.
The Asexual Visibility and Education Network. (2020). The Asexual Visibility & Education Network. Retrieved from Overview: https://www.asexuality.org/?q=overview.html