Seven Myths About Asexuality, Debunked

2000px-asexual_flag-svgAsexuality – not experiencing sexual attraction – is one of the least widely understood sexual identities, and myths abound. In honour of Asexual Awareness Week, we’ve rounded up eight of the most common misunderstandings, ripe for debunking.

MYTH: Asexuality is just a made up new sexuality.

FACT: Leaving aside that all sexual identity labels are ‘made up’ at some point, the word ‘asexual’ has been used in its current sense since the 1890s. That’s exactly the same length of time as ‘homosexual’ has been around.

MYTH: Asexuality is just a fancy way of saying abstinent or celibate.

FACT: Abstinence is a behaviour. It is the choice not to engage in sexual activity. People who have chosen abstinence or celibacy still experience sexual attraction. By comparison, asexuality is defined by a lack of sexual attraction and is not a choice.

 

MYTH: Asexual people never have sex.

FACT: There are some asexual people who find the idea of having sex repulsive and don’t want to do it, and some that do it quite a lot. From wanting to do something that your partner enjoys to enjoying the romantic aspects of sex or simply enjoying the physical sensation of sexual activity, the fact is that there are lots of reasons to have sex that are not sexual attraction.

See also: Asexual people don’t enjoy sex.

MYTH: Asexual people don’t enjoy sex.

FACT: Again, some asexual people don’t take any pleasure from sexual activity, but that’s by no means a hard and fast rule. Sexual attraction is not the only factor that determines arousal, and asexual people may find they become physically aroused under the influence of sexual stimuli such as touch or exposure pornography, and enjoy the physical sensation of having sex. Remember, asexuality is about attraction not activity.

MYTH: You can’t identify as gay or bisexual if you’re asexual.

FACT: Not experiencing sexual attraction doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have romantic feelings, and just like for everyone else, those feelings may be restricted to a particular gender or subset of genders.

MYTH: Asexuals are just prudes.

FACT: You’ll find all sorts of attitudes among asexual people, just like you do with any group. Asexuality does not inherently mean a person disapproves of sex or finds discussion of it distasteful. In fact, since many asexuals consider themselves an active part of the LGBTQIA community, you might find that they’re much more liberal than you think.

MYTH: Asexual people cannot have fulfilling romantic relationships.

FACT: Some asexual people also consider themselves to be aromantic (that is, lacking in romantic attraction). Most, though, form fulfilling relationships with both sexual and asexual partners. The key, of course, is to communicate clearly and openly.

Have we missed any? Got something wrong? Comment and let us know!

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Libby Baxter-Williams

Libby is a 30-something Londoner, who spends more time reading picture books than is seemly. She became a bi activist entirely by accident, but now she can't imagine living any other way. In the event of an emergency, she'll have a large gin and tonic, thanks.
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