Asexuality: An Insult to Personhood

When it comes to sexual orientation, I’m pretty accepting. Homosexual, bi-sexual, into only weird fantasy roleplay…sure, that’s all fine by me. However, there is one term that has come into vogue recently which I just completely don’t get.

Asexual.

In biology, the term means “lack of sexual organs”. This is the definition given by Merriam Webster, Oxford, and Dictionary.com. However, recently the term has come to take on another meaning.

Urbandictionary defines asexual as “a person who is not interest in or does not desire sexual activity”. The Wikipedia entry for “Asexuality” similarly describes the term as “the lack of sexual attraction and, in some cases, the lack of interest in and desire for sex”, and goes into detail about the emergence of asexualism.

This, I just don’t understand. I fully get that some people are not interested in sex, do not become sexually aroused, and simply do not consider themselves “sexual” people. Great.

But does that warrant a unique term? I am uninterested in sports, have no desire to play sports, and do not get any enjoyment or pleasure from athletic activity. Does that make me “a-athletic”? What about not liking to garden? “a-agricultural”? Can we really assign a term to the simple idea of not enjoying something? Do we really have to?

Perhaps the emergence of the term asexual is a direct result of our society’s huge emphasis on sexuality. No one would think it strange that I don’t enjoy sports (especially because I’m a woman, but that’s another discussion), but to not enojoy sex? There has to be something “wrong” or “different” about that. In fact, if I called myself a-athletic, people would wonder why in the world I am defining myself by my interest, or lack thereof, in sports.

Our liberal culture thinks that we are being so open and accepting by giving every approach to sexuality a new name, but really, in the case of asexuality, we are just playing into the expectations of society. We are saying that the people who don’t desire sex are different or odd in some way, that they belong in a category. We may feel that because we welcome them to our LGBTQIA clubs, we are helping them, but we are not. We are simply pushing our own understanding and approach to sexuality on to them. Not only that, but we are detracting from their personhood. Asexuals are interested in plenty of other things aside from sex. They are musicians, artists, athletes, scientists, politicians and writers. By pigeon-holing them into describing themselves simply by their lack of interest in sex, we are detracting from their true person. The pianist, the person that discovers the next scientific breakthrough, the award-winning novelist…these are the accomplishments that people want to be known for. Who really cares what they are or are not doing in their bedroom?

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One comment on “Asexuality: An Insult to Personhood

  1. It would be wonderful, wouldn’t it, if nobody cared what other people were doing in their bedroom?

    You are right, it is the prominence of sexuality in today’s culture that has driven the emergence of asexuality as a recognised orientation.

    But, please, go read around AVEN for a bit. It’s not just that “asexuals don’t enjoy having sex” – many do. And then again, some don’t. They key point is in the “not experiencing sexual attraction” – not looking at someone and finding them sexy. If the concept of an ace with a sex drive as the difference between having an itch to scratch, and wanting a specific person to scratch it for you.

    When you’ve done that reading, around the wiki and the forums, think again before saying we don’t need the term. Can you imagine how it feels to go through life thinking that there’s something wrong with you, that you must be ‘broken’, because everyone else has got this sexual attraction thing, and you don’t understand what on earth they mean? Try reading this http://writingfromfactorx.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/if-you-can-see-the-invisible-elephant-please-describe-it/

    It’s not the be all and end all of our selfdescription. But having the name tells us we’re not alone, and that can be an incredible relief.

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