Today I had a chat with a very dear friend of mine. Among the subjects of discussion, the fact that I am asexual came up. After talking to her, I am now absolutely sure that discussing asexuality is never easy, and 9 out of 10 times that you try to explain it, even to someone you know well, people will get the wrong idea. For example, that asexuals are virgins and don’t like sex (see my article on common misconceptions).
She advised me to keep asexuality quiet until I tried sex. She argued that men get scared if you tell them that you are not interested in sex. Well, I know that. I know that (most) men rely enormously in the sexual aspect of a relationship. But I am a grown-up woman. I don’t have any reason to hide what I am just to “not scare” someone (a grown-up man???) away. If I was not open about my asexuality towards a guy, I would be nothing but an hypocritical. It’s like being a lesbian and not telling that particular detail to the guy you are dating. So, no, I have been and will continue to be as out of the pantry as possible (and yet “not being interested in sex” is not exactly what asexuality is about, though is close).
And given that she obviously didn’t get it, and just when I was thinking about a zillion different things I really needed to explain to her, she suddenly changed the subject, arguing that the issue had no further interest. That it was overrated, that she didn’t see how it could be as important and as discussion-worthy as I believed. That people were different, that asexuality was valid, but that talking too much about it just made it more important than it really was. That talking politics and social change were more useful.
I was shocked. I felt drown, suffocated, mutilated. Didn’t she realized how much I NEEDED to explain it?
It all comes down to happiness. Asexuality is important precisely because it seeks social change through more people being happy about themselves. A change of attitude towards “normality” and behavior, against the idea that people need sex, whatever form it takes, to be happy. Just as the homosexual community needs to be recognized as valid community, and people need to be educated about it, so does the asexual community. If there is something bad about being asexual (if at all) is the fact that people think you don’t exist. Hence our need to be talked about.
Now, let me say something about guys, interest in sex, and being asexual. First, I am asexual because, now, I just don’t feel like having sex. And I think it would be extremely misogynist from my part to date and have sex, even if I don’t want it, just to “stand a chance” of finding somebody among the population of average guys, just because guys get scared if you don’t.
Somehow there is a general perception that women are not as much into sex as guys are. As an asexual, I don’t like this particular generalization (because it disproves my fellow asexual male friends), but it kind of validates among the people I know. It’s as if it was in the psychology of women to tie sex to love, whereas for men, sex can be a physical pleasure with no further meaning. I personally can’t consider sex at an early stage of a relationship. No, let me rephrase it. I personally can’t consider relationships at an early stage of an acquaintance. Let alone sex. It just doesn’t click. Love, or some kind of deep emotional connection, has to be somewhere. When a woman is in love, mere sexual interest from a guy is a recipe for disaster (or vice-versa). I know it.
I’ve been told that sexual interest is valid and genuine. But there… I’m clueless. For me, and for (most) asexuals, sex and love are different things. I can love even if sex is not involved. So, if someone “gets scared” if sex is not present… I become suspicious. I don’t understand it.
Just as people can’t understand me.