Asexual. That’s that science thing where the cell splits to reproduce, right? No! Okay, well, yes. But that’s not all it is. Asexuality is nothing new – but it has been emerging more and more lately. You might’ve heard of someone who identifies as asexual, and you might yourself. No matter what level of exposure you have to asexuality at the current moment, there’s always more to learn.
Being asexual is defined as having no sexual attraction to others. That’s it, period, end of sentence. There are a lot of variations on a personal level of what people perceive their own asexuality to be, and that’s where it gets a bit more complex.
Romantic attraction and sexual attraction are not the same thing. This is one point where many people get confused in a discussion about asexuality. Just because someone is simply not sexually attracted to another person does not mean that they cannot have a romantic attraction to another person and want to pursue that.
Asexuality is not to be confused with aromanticism. Aromanticism is not having romantic attraction to other people. While there are aromantic asexuals, not all asexuals are aromantic.
To the same point, not all asexual people are heteroromantic either. Many people make the assumption that asexuality is just heterosexuality minus desire, but that is not true. All the prefixes of sexuality: hetero-, homo-, bi-, pan-, demi-, etc., also apply to romantic attraction. Many asexual people identify as a variant of these romantic attractions.
One other myth surrounding asexuality is that it is a lack of libido. Asexuals may still experience periods of arousal, and many masturbate and or may have sexual experiences with other people. The difference lies in what is in the brain – attraction – versus what is biological.
Asexual people can still have kinks and fantasies, but the difference is that they do not have the desire toward another person to act on them. Asexual also does not equal sex-repulsed. Sex-repulsion is exactly what it sounds like – being disgusted by the idea, images of, or really most anything related to sex. It also depends on the person to what degree they are sex-repulsed. Sex-repulsion and asexuality are not the same thing, however, as discussed above.
Another mistake that is made where asexuality is concerned is assuming that it is equal to abstinence. Abstinence is a choice that someone makes – whether it is for religious or other reasons – to refrain from sexuality, whereas asexuality is not a choice, but rather the absence of sexual attraction.
Asexual people may also be cisgender, transgender, gender non-binary, etc.
Overall, the biggest thing you need to know about asexuality is that it is simply not having sexual attraction. All other parts of asexuality vary depending on the person. If you don’t understand how someone identifies, just ask!