What is Asexuality? Seeing the Invisible Sexual Orientation

Updated on August 21, 2017
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Katleigh is a college student and loves time management, personal finance, video games, and writing about their college experiences.

Asexual people are often referred to as "ace."
Asexual people are often referred to as "ace." | Source

What Is Asexuality?

Human sexuality is a beautiful, broad, and diverse spectrum. Human beings can be attracted to anyone of any gender; they can also be attracted to no one at all. This sexual orientation is commonly known as the 4th or invisible sexuality - asexuality.
Asexual people, often referred to as "ace," feel no sexual attraction to anyone of any gender. They simply don't feel attracted to other people because of their gender, regardless of physical attractiveness. Asexuals aren't blind, however. They still recognize the attractive qualities of attractive people, much how a heterosexual man can still see that another man is attractive, without being attracted to him.

While most of the following is intuitive, it is important to note that asexuals still experience sexual pleasure, and that some asexuals still engage in sexual activities in a monogamous or polyamorous relationship. Just as people of other sexual orientations don't enjoy all kinds of sexual activity, asexuals have preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions About Asexuality

Asexuality is still seen as obscure by many people, which causes a lot of confusion about what asexuality is and isn't. To make things simple, here's a few frequently asked questions about asexuality and asexuals.

  • Do asexuals choose to be asexual? No, asexuals, like members of any other sexual orientation, don't choose Asexuality isn't celibacy, a choice, or a religious conviction
  • Is asexuality a mental disorder? No, asexuality isn't a mental disorder, a disease, or caused by sexual abuse or trauma.
  • Aren't asexuals just prudish straight people? Of course not! Some asexual people are grossed out by sex, just like some straight or gay people are grossed out.
  • Aren't asexuals just gay people trying to look special? Of course not! Asexual people feel no sexual attraction to other individuals, which doesn't make them gay or straight or anything in between - it makes them asexual.
  • Do asexual people have a medical problem or disease that makes them think they're asexual? That's a tricky question. No, asexual people aren't asexual because of medical problems. But, at the time, asexuals can have medical problems just like anyone else. People of all orientations experience hormone dysfunctions, erectile dysfunction, and other problems.
  • What's wrong with asexual people that they don't want sex? Nothing is wrong is asexuals that don't want to have sex. There's nothing wrong with straight people who don't have to have sex with people of the same gender, and there's nothing wrong with gay people who don't want to have sex with people of the opposite gender.
  • Why do asexual people think sex is gross? Asexuals don't always think sex is gross, disgusting, or wrong. They're just not interested in it.

Sexual Orientations Similar to Asexuality

Although the standard asexual definition excludes sexual attraction to anyone, asexuality is viewed as an "umbrella term." This means that asexuality may sometimes serve as the broader definition to many more specific types of sexuality or sexual orientation.

  • Aromantic: someone who experiences little to no romantic attraction to another person, but may or may not still feel sexual attraction to another person.
  • Graysexual: someone who experiences very little sexual attraction.
  • Demisexual: someone who is sexually or romantically attracted to another person only after a strong emotional connection has been established.

Society and Asexuality

Sexual orientation can be a very sensitive subject for many people, especially asexuals. There is constant discussion of other, better known sexual orientations like homosexual, bisexual, and pansexual in the media and other areas of popular culture, but few representations of asexual people.

Without question, the greatest problem asexuals face is invisibility. Although other sexual orientations are recognized in the media, asexuals receive little to no recognition of their sexuality. There are still many people who believe that asexuality doesn't exist, or that it's just a phase. Asexuality is still seen as obscure and some people are quick to disregard someone who describes their self as asexual.

While this has prevented aggressive persecution, it has also caused many to be unaware that asexuality even exists. Many people assume asexuals have a medical condition or religious conviction. Others may feel that asexual people are prudish or even selfish. Like with other sexual minorities, this fear or resistance often comes from a lack of understanding.

Understand that if your partner is sensitive about their sexuality, it is most likely not a sense of shame, but a feeling that you, as a sexual person, may not be able to understand their feelings. These factors may have made your asexual partner feel objectified and cause them to be sensitive about talking about it with other people. If your partner is open to talking about this with you, broach the subject delicately and with respect.

Do Asexuals Have Sex?

The simple answer is: it depends on the person. Although asexuals don't feel sexually attracted to other people, they still may engage in sexual activities for a variety of reasons.

For many asexual people, sexual intercourse is a way to grow closer to their partner and strengthen their relationship. Asexual people can still enjoy intimacy and the bond that comes from sexual activity. Most romantic relationships thrive from physical touch, whether this is intercourse or merely holding hands.

There are also asexuals who enjoy sexual intercourse because they enjoy sexual pleasure. Although they don't experience sexual attraction to other people, a lot of asexuals are still open to sex because they enjoy how it feels and all the physical benefits that come from sexual pleasure.

In addition, asexuals may be open to sex to start a family. The paternal drive to have children can be present in any person, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, and asexuals are no exception.

Have you heard of asexuality before this article? Do you have any unanswered questions? Let me know in the comments below!

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