Asexuality is a sexual orientation where individuals may feel little or no sexual attraction to any gender. The last in the LQBTQIA acronym, it is one of the most underrepresented and misrepresented among sexual orientations. In a heteronormative culture that believes romance and sex to be mutually exclusive there is a sexual orientation that counters the norm.
One of the reasons being asexuality cannot be pinned down to a rigid definition; rather it functions as a spectrum. So there are many kinds of asexuality which range from being repulsed by sex or representations of a sexual nature to enjoying sex without feeling any sexual attraction or desire.
Yes, asexual individuals also have sex. One of the dominant myths with regards to asexuality is that it is a form of celibacy. Rather this identity, like a lot of other sexual identities, is fluid and depends on the individual experiencing it. While number of individuals who experience asexuality varies, the current number stands at 1% of the population who identify as asexual individuals. Let us look at some common forms of asexuality.
Demisexuality is an orientation within the spectrum of sexuality. A person who identifies as a demisexual experiences sexual attraction only when they have developed an emotional bond and connection with another person. Within demisexuality, there can also be demiromantics who feel a romantic attachment to another person after developing an emotional bond and connection with them.
Greysexuality is an orientation within the spectrum of asexuality. Individuals who identify as greysexuals can experience desire rarely and under specific circumstances. Among greysexuals there are also grey romantics who experience romantic attraction rarely and under specific circumstances.
Sex Positive Asexual
Among asexuals individuals, sex positive asexuals can indulge in sex and sexual activities. They may not experience sexual attraction but can have consensual sex and experiment. This could be because they take the view it is healthy and pleasurable and want to pleasure their partners.
Sex Repulsed Asexual
Among asexual individuals, sex repulsed individuals are repulsed by the idea and act of sex. They may still feel romantic attachment and the need for intimacy. However, they view sex as a distasteful act and do not experience any desire or attraction.
These are some common forms in which asexuality are experienced by individuals. However, since it is a spectrum, there are many shades of asexuality. It is highly subjective and depends on the individual undergoing that experience.
Asexuality, Romance and Intimacy
Asexual individuals are identified by a lack of sexual attraction. However, they can still be romantically involved with a partner and desire intimacy. Raj Saxena who identifies as asexual and also founded Indian Asexuals, tells SheThePeople, “I realized that I am romantically attracted to the same gender but feel sexual attraction towards none”. He further adds, “When I read the full acronym of LGBTQIA I discovered Asexuality. Back in 2012 nobody was talking about it. There were no blogs or articles. Slowly I realised that there must be more people who are confused”.
Echoing along the same lines, Sal, a student of National Law School Bangalore, sheds light upon the absence of sexual attraction they were with their partners. They identify as a pan romantic asexual and tells SheThePeople.tv, “I don’t necessarily want to have sexual relationships. I have been on Tinder but never derived any pleasure from making out or even kissing”. They further add, “I neither had any sexual fantasies, even as a teenager, never really understood why”. Sal speaks about the hyper-sexualisation of the queer culture which leads to an under-representation of asexuality which is the stark absence of sexual desire or attraction.
Adding to the complexity of romance and intimacy among asexual individuals, Saxena further adds, “When I was on Tinder, despite writing that I was an asexual, I often received messages where people wanted to cure me of my asexuality”.
Why it Matters?
Asexuality as a sexual orientation continues to be under-represented and misunderstood. This is due to the invisibilisation of this sexual orientation from conversations surrounding LGBTQIA. Through creation of groups and for asexual individuals and awareness programmes for allies there is a conversation that is being built around sexuality. Being an asexual person challenges the notion of love, sex, romance and desire as mutually exclusive categories. This, in some ways, reshapes the conversations we must be having around romance and sex.
Priyanka Chakrabarty is an intern SheThePeople.Tv