Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why Asexual Awareness?

I never really appreciated the need for asexual awareness, until I heard the term used negatively in one of my classes.  A fellow student used the term "asexual" to describe a group of people that is often portrayed as sexless and thereby equated asexuality with something negative and even harmful.

You might be wondering why there needs to be an asexual awareness week.  It might seem like a trivial issue.  That is, until you realize how the lack of visibility effects individuals that identify as asexual.

For one thing, asexuality is still seen as a disorder, both officially and unofficially.  The DSM still views asexuals as suffering from "Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder".  It was not that long ago that homosexuality was viewed as a disorder and transgendered individuals are still fighting to remove "Gender Identity Disorder" from the DSM.  In her article, Coming to an Asexual Identity: Negotiating Identity, Negotiating Desire, Kristin S. Scherrer identifies the shared experience of asexuals and the LGBTQ community in regards to historical and contemporary medical views of their communities.  Asexuals have never experienced the kind of legislative difficulty that the LGBTQ community has, but they also lack the visibility and subsequent acknowledgment.

Asexuals are an invisible sexual orientation.  Living in a sexual society, they are often confronted with being the constant outsider.  Most people in our society cannot understand how one can be in a "sexless" relationship, which frequently leads to asexuals feeling an enormous amount of pressure to be sexual to please their partner.  People that identify as asexual often risk feeling as though they are broken or that there is something wrong with them.  They may enter into a sexual relationship just to prove that they are normal.

Asexuals are frequently met with a number of misunderstandings.  They are viewed a cold and aloof.  Many are dismissed with "S/He just hasn't met the right person yet."  Asexual women are often labeled as "frigid" or "cockteases", asexual men are often viewed as somehow abnormal.  People equate a lack of desire for sex with an inability to love.  Asexuals are often defined solely by what they lack and not what they can offer.  Scherrer observes that asexuals offer a new discourse on sexuality, a valuable perspective in defining what constitutes "sexual behavior".

Asexual awareness is being held to let people know that it is okay to be asexual and they are not alone.  There are a number of asexual individuals out there that are happy, well-adjusted individuals who lead normal lives.  There is a community out there that most people just might not know about.  It is also meant to promote a greater understanding of asexuals and asexuality.  The asexual community is hoping to clear up some misunderstandings in regard to asexuality.

Asexuality is not a choice.  It is not celibacy or abstinence.  People are born asexual.

Asexuals are not afraid or disgusted by sex or those that engage in sex.  They simply do not experience a sexual desire/drive.

Asexuals are able to experience and express passion just as deeply and profoundly as sexuals.

Asexuals are just as capable of love as sexuals and require as much understanding and empathy as sexuals.  There are some asexuals that marry and even start families.

Asexuality is not caused by any disorder, past trauma, or repressed sexuality.  There is nothing wrong with an individual that identifies as asexual.


I have created a page of links that I have used for researching this site, which provide links to other pages that people (both asexuals and sexuals) may find helpful.

Tomorrow, I will post a glossary of terms common to the asexual community.

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