Information about asexuality, a sexual orientation that is characterised by a lack of sexual attraction. Asexuals are people who do not find other people sexually attractive and do not feel compelled to form sexual relationships.
Asexual - a person who does not experience sexual attraction
If you simply couldn't care less about sex, then you're probably finding relationships pretty difficult. Don't despair. You are not alone.
What exactly is asexuality?
In the last couple of years there has been an increasing awareness of a group of people who define themselves as asexual. In essence, asexuality is a sexual orientation that is characterised by a lack of sexual attraction. Put more simply, asexuals are people who do not find other people sexually attractive or feel compelled to form sexual relationships.
Asexuality is a recently described phenomenon and currently has a very low visibility. It is often confused with the other conditions, one of the most common of these being celibacy. The main difference between the two is that while celibate people choose not to act on any sexual attraction they might feel, asexuals don't experience sexual attraction in the first place.
Asexuality is also confused with sexual repression, psychiatric conditions such as sexual aversion disorder and hypoactive sexual desire disorder, a fear of intimacy, the inability to find a partner, emotional frigidity, and the inability to experience sexual arousal.
The main piece of research investigating asexuality, "Asexuality: Prevalence and Associated Factors in a National Probability Sample", was conducted by Anthony Bogaert, PhD, a Brock University professor and published in the peer reviewed Journal of Sex Research in August 2004. Using data from a 1994 British sexuality survey of 18,876 adults, Bogaert estimated that 1.05 percent of people in the U.K. are asexuals.
When asked to complete the statement "I have felt sexually attracted to", survey respondents were given five choices: (a) "only females, never males" (b) "more often to females, and at least once to a male" (c) "about equally often to males and females" (d) more often to males, and at least once to a female" (e) "only males, never to females" and (f) "I have never felt sexually attracted to anyone."
Nearly 200 people (138 women and 57 men) said they weren't attracted to either gender, leading Bogaert to conclude that these respondents were asexuals.
The fact that asexuals do not experience sexual attraction does not mean that they are unable to experience other forms of attraction. The majority of asexuals experience strong nonsexual attraction - often termed romantic attraction - to other people. Asexuals who experience this form of attraction are sometimes referred to as having a "romance drive". Like sexual attraction, romantic attraction can be orientated towards a specific type of person.
- hetero-romantic attraction - romantic attraction orientated towards the opposite sex
- homo-romantic attraction - romantic attraction orientated towards the same sex
- bi-romantic attraction - romantic attraction orientated towards either sex
The majority of asexuals experience romantic attraction and many of them want to act on this attraction and form relationships. The study by Bogaert showed that nearly half of the asexuals identified by the survey were currently in, or had been in, long-term cohabiting or marital relationships. Some asexuals are sex averse and avoid sex completely, while others are sex indifferent and can participate in sex for the sake of their sexual partners.
There are many ways in which asexuality can be expressed and asexuals use a wide range of terms to describe themselves. These include: hetero-romantic asexual, hetero-asexual, straight asexual, "straight A", bi-romantic asexual, bisexual-asexual, bi-asexual, homo-romantic asexual, homo-asexual, gay asexual, lesbian asexual. Asexuals may also identify as queer.
Since asexuality has only recently been discussed the majority of people do not know of its existence. Many asexuals have grown up in environments where they have perceived their feelings as being unique to themselves, often resulting in profound feelings of isolation.
Asexuals often feel deficient or inadequate because of their lack of sexual desire and will often feel pressured to "cure" or "fix" their sexual orientation.
Many asexuals are dismissed as sexually repressed. However research by Prause and Graham has shown that asexuals are no more sexually inhibited or repressed than members of other groups.
Asexuals face criticism or suspicion if they choose not to enter into sexual relationships.
Asexual relationships are not seen as valid as sexual ones.
The asexual community is, in general, one of honest, open and genuine reflection. It is open to all who wish to investigate their sexuality from this perspective. It reflects the importance of owning your own identity in a hostile world, and the self-acceptance and pride that comes with that. This is a place where people see the value of living with sexual integrity.