Asexuality: what even is it?

So, what even is asexuality? This article takes you through the a-z of everything you need to know about asexuality as an identity. Very few people truly understand what asexuality is and it is often forgotten about within the LGBTQ+ community. We're hoping to change that by starting you out with some of the most important things to know about being ace.  

There’s a lot of confusion out there surrounding asexuality. I’m open about my aceness to my friends, but I don’t tend to mention it to people I don’t know well. Not because I’m ashamed or feel uncomfortable with my sexuality, but because mentioning it to anyone either results in them staring at you blankly, or aggressively telling you you don’t know what you’re talking about. So, here are the common questions I get asked when I mention that I am asexual (or ‘ace’) to pretty much anyone.

What is asexuality?

Asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction. While heterosexual people experience sexual attraction towards people of a different gender, asexual people don’t experience sexual attraction towards anyone.

What actually is sexual attraction?

As far as I can tell from the confusing and vague explanations given to me, sexual attraction is a physical sexual response to seeing someone you’re attracted to naked or in some sort of sexually suggestive situation. Example: your dick gets hard upon watching someone in a tight shirt gyrate their hips on the dance floor. For people without dicks, it’s usually something along the lines of nipples getting hard or vulvas getting wet.

So you never get turned on?

Untrue. I do get turned on. I simply don’t get turned on by other people and their bodies. For instance, the sexiest person on the planet could strip naked in front of me and I’d probably just feel awkward. However, I do find certain situations and power dynamics arousing, so if you put me in a certain situation (such as: tying me up and blindfolding me while talking dirty) that would absolutely turn me on. But it doesn’t particularly matter to me who the other actors are in the situation.

So do you not want to have sex?

Every asexual person is different in this regard. Many asexual people aren’t interested in sex for myriad reasons: they have a low sex drive, they think sex sounds gross. When you don’t lust after anyone, there’s a lot less incentive to have sex. However, some asexuals, myself included, do choose to have sex. Some of us have sex because we want kids, or because we like intimacy, or because sex is just fun. I’m not sexually attracted to my vibrator, but it still gives me fantastic orgasms. Think of it like this: if you blindfolded someone with a dick and (consensually) gave them the blowjob, they’re probably going to enjoy the blowjob, even if it’s given by someone of a gender they’re not attracted to. Fundamentally, they feel good. As long as you’re having sex with someone who’s concerned about your pleasure, sex can be enjoyable, even if you’re not attracted to your partner.

Wait—you masturbate?

Yes. Asexuals still have sex drives, there’s just no object to focus them on. It’s like being hungry but looking in the fridge and not wanting to eat anything you see. It’s entirely possible to eat a toasty when you’re hungry even if you’re not craving a toasty. In the same way, it’s entirely possible to be horny and get off even if your horniness isn’t directed towards anyone. Orgasms, much like toasties, are awesome even when you’re not craving them. Some ace people don’t masturbate, but plenty do.

Doesn’t it upset you that you’ll never fall in love though?

I get this one a lot, and it always confuses me. Asexual people are entirely capable of wanting to date people and fall in love. This is because there’s a difference between sexual and romantic attraction. Sexual attraction is getting turned on by someone hot. Romantic attraction is feeling romantic affection towards another person and craving intimacy with them. You might see a hot stranger on the street and your body whispers I want to bang them, but that’s very different to meeting someone and feeling entranced by them, desperately wanting to make them happy, and spending a large chunk of your time with them. For many people these two feelings are linked, but they don’t have to be.

But you can’t be asexual—you just called that girl pretty. You wouldn’t think she was pretty unless you were attracted to her.

I think waterfalls are pretty too but I never feel any urge to sleep with them.

So should I just never talk to an asexual person about their sexuality?

No! Please talk to me. Believe it or not, I love talking about asexuality. What I don’t love is when people act like my sexuality is exhausting to learn about, or tell me things like “well you just haven’t met the right person yet” or “that’s how everyone feels, you don’t have to act like such a special snowflake”. While I can’t speak for everyone, most asexuals are happy to explain to you how they feel when you’re respectful to them and genuinely interested in learning.

But wait—I’m still really confused. This doesn’t make any sense at all.

Then I suggest you do some research! A quick google search will reveal a myriad of resources about asexuality. There are many different ace experiences, ranging from people who are incredibly uncomfortable with all things sexual to ace people who have very active sex lives. I can only explain how I feel, but experiences of asexuality are equally as diverse and complex as experiences of any other sexuality.