Why Asexual Awareness Week Is Important

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Asexuality, included in the ‘+’ in LGBT+, is one of the most overlooked sexualities. People often think it just means no sexual or romantic feelings whatsoever, but like everything else there’s a spectrum of asexuality, from no romantic or sexual feelings at all to demisexuality to romance but no sex.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what asexuality is, and this is why awareness and visibility weeks are so important for LGBT+ people. Some people can go for years without realising they’re ‘on the spectrum’ – I didn’t realise I was demisexual at all until I saw a YouTube video explaining it and it was like they were talking about me. Asexuality is opposite to sexuality (including heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual and pansexual).

People on the spectrum can be:

  • Asexual (also known as Ace)- no sexual attraction
  • Aromantic – a lack of interest in romantic relationships
  • Demisexual – a lack of sexual attraction unless there is an emotional or romantic connection
  • Grayasexual – sexual attraction but not enough to act on it
  • Or something else entirely!
Credit: pinknews.co.uk
Credit: pinknews.co.uk

The big thing when answering questions about asexuality is ‘some do, some don’t’. Some do have sex, some don’t. Some are in relationships, some aren’t. Some masturbate, some don’t. Some are repulsed by the idea of sex and some aren’t.

Even now there’s a lot of misunderstanding around asexuality. Some people think that someone who is asexual is a ‘prude’, that they’re choosing to be asexual. Some think it’s an abstinence pledge, or celibacy. Some people even think people make it up to get out of having sex with people they don’t want to sleep with! Ace people often have to deal with some pretty offensive questions, including things about if they’ve been abused or raped and did that ’cause’ their asexuality which is such a ridiculous thing to ask someone. Some ace people have been abused, some haven’t – all of them were probably asexual before it happened.

Often people question how someone can know they don’t like sex unless they’ve had it (even though there are asexual people who have had sex and are sexually active). Teenage years in particular can be difficult, especially when not interested in sex, and when hearing bragging about who someone slept with asexual people might wonder why they’re not interested in hearing about it or why it’s such a big conversation topic. Of course going back to some do, some don’t, some asexual people who aren’t interested in porn may focus more on how the plot is poor rather than the sex, or not find ‘sexy’ clothes sexy and just think they look uncomfortable instead. A lot of people feign interest in sex just to fit in, and it can just be very isolating.

It can be difficult for asexual people to feel represented, especially in the media, as really the only representation of anyone asexual is Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. A lot of asexual people don’t see relationships needing to be sexually focused, but instead need trust to be the main part of it. Many people never end up coming out and are pressured into having sex because ‘that’s what you’re meant to do’, or are just told they haven’t met the right person yet.

Asexuality is not a phase or something to mock. It isn’t a choice. It needs more awareness, and that’s what makes weeks like this so important.

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Third year PAIR student and head of events. Also The Edge's live editor and 2016-17 opinion editor. Fan of cats, gigs and a tea lover - find me rambling about politics and cats @_Carly_May on Twitter.

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