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What Does It Mean to Be Asexual?

Robyn Exton

Jul 30, 2019

What Does It Mean to Be Asexual?
  • Asexuality is defined as “the lack of sexual attraction to others, or low or absent interest in or desire for sexual activity“. Sometimes instead of being defined as a sexual orientation, it’s viewed as a lack of a sexual orientation.

    It is different from being celibate due to celibacy usually being a personal choice instead of an orientation. Now, that doesn’t mean asexual people never have sex. Some choose to for a wide variety of reasons such as pleasing their partner or wanting to have children.

    Asexual flag

    Compared to other sexual orientations, there is not a lot of research behind asexuality. Some scholars believe that because it is a sexuality that can generally go undetected and has never been illegal (compared to homosexuality), that it was never labeled.

    First mentions

    Asexuality was first reported in a survey done in the UK in 1994. The United Kingdom surveyed 18,876 British residents due to the AIDS pandemic. 1.05% of respondents said they had “never felt sexually attracted to anyone at all”.

    Before that, in 1977, a paper titled Asexual and Autoerotic Women: Two Invisible Groups, written by Myra T. Johnson, was one of the first places to acknowledge asexuality. She pulled her research from many letters to editors from various women’s magazines to see a trend in the lack of sexual desire at all amongst some people.

    Asexuality started being discussed in forums online in the 1990s, and gave people the ability to form communities based on their lack of sexual feelings. One of the first asexual organizations, Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) was founded by David Jay in 2001.

    Where to find more about asexuality?

    Until online communities were formed, many asexual people went to their doctors because they believed something was wrong with them. Many medical communities said the lack of sexual desire was due to hormones, trauma, lack of sexual attraction to a partner, or an undiagnosed disease. This is why so many asexual people could finally breathe a sigh of relief when they discovered online groups and other people who felt the same way.

    To find out more about asexuality, here are some great resources:

    Robyn Exton

    Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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