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Defining asexuality - a better definition?

  

566 members have voted

  1. 1. Please select your orientation;

    • asexual
      1255
    • grey-asexual
      183
    • demisexual
      72
    • heterosexual
      20
    • homosexual
      9
    • bisexual
      7
    • pansexual
      7
    • other
      24
    • rather not say
      18
  2. 2. Which of these would you prefer as a definition of asexuality/an asexual person?

    • a person who does not experience sexual attraction (current AVEN definition)
      777
    • a person who does not feel a desire for partnered sex (with emphasis on the "partnered")
      110
    • a person who does not feel a desire for partnered sex and/or little or no sexual attraction
      183
    • a person who experiences little or no sexual attraction and/or little or no desire for partnered sex (again an emphasis on the "partnered")
      373
    • another definition (please post below)
      27
    • a person who is not intrinsically attracted to any gender sexually
      125
  3. 3. do you think most non-asexuals understand you when you explain asexuality?

    • mostly
      172
    • to some extent
      578
    • not really
      463
    • not at all
      90
    • not sure
      292


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bonny

I ave confused feelings about the "no desire for partnered sex" definition, because I fantasize about sexual activity with fictional characters, and I don't know whether some people might think that counts as a "desire for partnered sex"? :unsure:

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PiF

Please do not use allo term...some members within aven who are sexuals find that term offensive....they are sexuals

Our definition has been here since asexuality began to be recognised and changes have been demanded only since the grey section has been introduced.

they are valueable sexual allies who have their own section within a Asexual forum......how is that excluding?

it is it overly restrictive?...of course not.....it is the correct definition..because it is correct and some dislike it, it does not mean it is restrctive or excluding....you simply are or are not

when you go to mcdonalds and a burger is 99p do you accuse them of excluding to 67p's or £1.50's?..of course you don't ..it's 99p..that's the correct price so you either accept it or move onto burger king...or start your own fast food store

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the bumbling rotifer

Please do not use allo term...some members within aven who are sexuals find that term offensive....they are sexuals

My apologies, I wasn't aware of this. I have edited my post to say 'sexual' rather than 'allosexual'

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PiF

thjb

sorry but you have failed to read me properly so you are incorrect

many asexuals do not masturbate so to say they do is wrong

I will also point out what I have already mentioned in response to this....so that we as a community can agree is the best definition for all asexuals

let me remind you of what I wrote...aven whilst the largest online asexual information site...... does NOT represent ALL ASEXUALS

I would politely disagree with you on most of aven fitting the definition. I again would politelty suggest most in aven are either sexuals or sexuals who feel they align within a personal sliding scale with asexuality...I have no beef with that but be carefull.

The definition is universally recognised after pushing it out there for decades...it is clear, precise and exact....to change it now would be like mcdonalds changing it's name .....it would be pr suicide let alone to those of us who are asexual who would tell those trying to politely do one.

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That asexual guy

Everyone is different. I think we can really only be expected to define ourselves and not absolutely everyone else to our friends and family. When someone first asks me why I'm asexual, I can only explain to them why I am and what it means for me. I can hardly be expected to give a dissertation of who all is included in the entire community. That's a conversation that would come much later if they were really interested.

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PiF

my apologies thjb

it's something I have as a bug bear...people who are not 100% asexual born this way trying to tell me my definition of my asexuality is wrong and it needs to change to me more inclusive of those who are not.

I see your point and agree the issue maybe mine rather than the communities but sometimes...it feels as though the most unwelcoming site for full time asexuals is aven itself

it is just a thread after all and unlikely to change anything so again I apologise if it came across as angry.

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Vampyremage

Thankfully this poll won't change anything because some of the options have not been thought through...let me give you and example

A person who does not feel a desire to have partnered sex (with the emphasis on partnered) ...to most people I would suggest.... this implies asexuals like sex and want sex as long as it is with themselves..aka wankers

I must admit I am tiring of people joining a club......then seeking to change the club just to fit themselves because they do not meet the clubs definition...also don't forget whilst aven is the largest online resource of asexuality....it does not represent all asexuals.

I have been a long proponent of including desire in the definition for asexuality. Yet, this statement you have made is inaccurate to many of us who promote a desire based definition. I have stated in previous threads but I will state again for your benefit: I have never experienced sexual attraction. Period. Yet I till promote a desire based definition because it simply makes more sense for the varieties of reasons that have been stated both here and in a myriad of other threads. I think the same can be said for many who promote a desire based definition. I would argue that in the vast majority of cases it doesn't matter if the definition is based upon attraction or desire because in most cases the two occur together. However, the differentiation is still important both for overall understanding and for those minority of cases that do exist on both the sexual and asexual sides of the spectrum.

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Vampyremage

I ave confused feelings about the "no desire for partnered sex" definition, because I fantasize about sexual activity with fictional characters, and I don't know whether some people might think that counts as a "desire for partnered sex"? :unsure:

In the perfect circumstances of an ideal world, would you ever desire to act upon these fantasies? If the answer is yes then you have some desire for partnered sex. If the answer is no and these are merely fantasy, then you have no desire for partnered sex. Fantasy in and of itself does not imply a desire to transform that fantasy into reality.

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Vampyremage

To illustrate that most definitions of asexuality do not simply include attraction, here are a few examples.

Wikipedia - Asexuality (or nonsexuality)[1][2][3] is the lack of sexual attraction to anyone, or low or absent interest in sexual activity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asexuality

Urban Dictionary - asexual

a person who is not interested in or does not desire sexual activity, either within or outside of a relationship. asexuality is not the same as celibacy, which is the willful decision to not act on sexual feelings.
Free Online Dictionary - a·sex·u·al (amacr.gif-sebreve.gifkprime.gifshoomacr.gif-schwa.gifl)
adj.
1. Having no evident sex or sex organs; sexless.
2. Relating to, produced by, or involving reproduction that occurs without the union of male and female gametes, as in binary fission or budding.
3. Lacking interest in or desire for sex.

It should be clear by the above that those of us who support a desire based definition are not alone.

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bradbury

I don't think I'd agree with your new definitions because you can be asexual and still have a desire for partnered sex. At least, I'm pretty sure it's not just me who feels like that? To me, being asexual means that I don't get sexually attracted to other people; I have never in my life experienced sexual attraction. HOWEVER -- that doesn't mean I don't want to feel that sexual attraction, because I definitely do have a high libido and sometimes I just want to have sex with someone. So the desire for partnered sex is there, it's just something I don't act on because I've never met anyone that actually interests me enough to have sex with.

I guess it might sound a bit contradictory, but that's just my two cents :)

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Vampyremage

I don't think I'd agree with your new definitions because you can be asexual and still have a desire for partnered sex. At least, I'm pretty sure it's not just me who feels like that? To me, being asexual means that I don't get sexually attracted to other people; I have never in my life experienced sexual attraction. HOWEVER -- that doesn't mean I don't want to feel that sexual attraction, because I definitely do have a high libido and sometimes I just want to have sex with someone. So the desire for partnered sex is there, it's just something I don't act on because I've never met anyone that actually interests me enough to have sex with.

I guess it might sound a bit contradictory, but that's just my two cents :)

I am not calling you not asexual, however for those who prefer a purely desire based definition, some might argue that this does, in fact, make you not asexual. However, for those of us who feel a definition that includes both attraction and desire is an ideal one, there would be no change in whether or not you are asexual.

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bradbury

I don't think I'd agree with your new definitions because you can be asexual and still have a desire for partnered sex. At least, I'm pretty sure it's not just me who feels like that? To me, being asexual means that I don't get sexually attracted to other people; I have never in my life experienced sexual attraction. HOWEVER -- that doesn't mean I don't want to feel that sexual attraction, because I definitely do have a high libido and sometimes I just want to have sex with someone. So the desire for partnered sex is there, it's just something I don't act on because I've never met anyone that actually interests me enough to have sex with.

I guess it might sound a bit contradictory, but that's just my two cents :)

I am not calling you not asexual, however for those who prefer a purely desire based definition, some might argue that this does, in fact, make you not asexual. However, for those of us who feel a definition that includes both attraction and desire is an ideal one, there would be no change in whether or not you are asexual.

I guess that's true; I do understand that adding an and/or option for desire works best for those who both don't experience sexual attraction nor the desire for partnered sex. However, I have a hard time trying to group "people who don't experience sexual attraction" and "people who do experience sexual attraction but don't desire partnered sex" together because (to me) they're two completely different things and I've always understood asexuality as "someone who doesn't experience sexual attraction" so I guess the 2nd one doesn't make much sense to me. But that's mainly because almost everyone I know already assumes 'asexuality' means "someone who doesn't desire partnered sex" and I'm a bit tired of that assumption. But I can see that many people do prefer the and/or option in the definition, and I have no problem accepting that as a new definition.

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TheStarrySkai

To me sexual orientation is a directed sex drive. So if a person has a sex drive that isn't directed towards anyone then that person is asexual. For people who don't really have a sex drive... dunno

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PiF

I know you have long been an proponent of including desire vamp but not as long as the definition has been, remains and is widely known as ...an asexual is a person who lacks sexual attraction.....lacks is the key word

because desire is a want ...and the accepted definition is lack..nada...zilch...zero...nothing...not a little bit..not on sundays and not on a sliding scale depending on who the person opposite you is

as to the wiki...never a good reference point when every man,woman and their dog can edit it

for me..the insistence of pushing the desire definition is due more to people not meeting the definition of asexuality and they feel left out of something they want to belong to.... so are seeking to change the definition to suit individual purpose rather than improve and retain clarity of what an asexual is and help our visibility

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Vampyremage

I don't think I'd agree with your new definitions because you can be asexual and still have a desire for partnered sex. At least, I'm pretty sure it's not just me who feels like that? To me, being asexual means that I don't get sexually attracted to other people; I have never in my life experienced sexual attraction. HOWEVER -- that doesn't mean I don't want to feel that sexual attraction, because I definitely do have a high libido and sometimes I just want to have sex with someone. So the desire for partnered sex is there, it's just something I don't act on because I've never met anyone that actually interests me enough to have sex with.

I guess it might sound a bit contradictory, but that's just my two cents :)

I am not calling you not asexual, however for those who prefer a purely desire based definition, some might argue that this does, in fact, make you not asexual. However, for those of us who feel a definition that includes both attraction and desire is an ideal one, there would be no change in whether or not you are asexual.

I guess that's true; I do understand that adding an and/or option for desire works best for those who both don't experience sexual attraction nor the desire for partnered sex. However, I have a hard time trying to group "people who don't experience sexual attraction" and "people who do experience sexual attraction but don't desire partnered sex" together because (to me) they're two completely different things and I've always understood asexuality as "someone who doesn't experience sexual attraction" so I guess the 2nd one doesn't make much sense to me. But that's mainly because almost everyone I know already assumes 'asexuality' means "someone who doesn't desire partnered sex" and I'm a bit tired of that assumption. But I can see that many people do prefer the and/or option in the definition, and I have no problem accepting that as a new definition.

If you talk to sexual individuals about what it means to experience sexual attraction, inevitably a desire for sex of one's gender of choice will come into the conversation. That, as much as anything else, is why I continue and will continue to push so strongly for a definition that includes sexual desire. For all other orientations, sexual desire is a direct implication of sexual attraction and it is really only within asexual communities that there is such a hard and fast divide between the two concepts. While they are different (though related concepts), they do most often appear together. Due to the asexual orientation's unique position of being a lack of something rather than a direction towards something, I believe the differentiation to be more of an important one.

Personally, I don't and never have completely understood how one can label themselves as asexual when they still experience some degree of sexual desire. Having gone through a transition from asexual to grey demisexual myself, and the defining feature of that transition being the addition of sexual desire and not sexual attraction, said transition has only served to further my lack of understanding regarding how one can desire sex and still comfortably call themselves asexual. However, I also have enough respect for both an individual's right and proper understanding of themselves to state whether or not they feel they are asexual. Thus, while on a personal level I most strongly support a purely desire based definition, I feel including both attraction and desire is an acceptable compromise.

Additionally,it is true that sexual orientation is typically spoken of in terms of direction of attraction. However, as mentioned earlier, the direct implication of attraction is desire and when speaking of other orientations the differentiation between the two of them is almost a moot point and to clarify that differentiation is mostly redundant and not needed. Because of the nature of asexuality, that clarification is more important than others orientations with a positive direction of attraction and/or desire.

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PiF

I initially felt asexuality was an orientation but more as a group thing than a sexual thing but over the years I feel more convinced than ever that asexuality is not an orientation as it is and should be who you orientate towards

because of that I've never felt comfortable with the claim we orientate towards nothing as asexuals...we do but like sexuals it's towards same opposite or both

I don't believe in the we don't orientate towards anyone so we must be an orientattion ...that would be like saying atheism is a religion

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Sally
bradbury, on 28 Jun 2014 - 10:06 AM, said:

I don't think I'd agree with your new definitions because you can be asexual and still have a desire for partnered sex.

So just HOW would that person be asexual? HOW would that person differ from a sexual and has a desire for partnered sex? Geez/

I'm shoutijng the how's because that definition just seems insane to me.

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bradbury
bradbury, on 28 Jun 2014 - 10:06 AM, said:

I don't think I'd agree with your new definitions because you can be asexual and still have a desire for partnered sex.

So just HOW would that person be asexual? HOW would that person differ from a sexual and has a desire for partnered sex? Geez/

I'm shoutijng the how's because that definition just seems insane to me.

But there are still asexual people who have sex? I now realise that my usage of 'desire' might not be the right one, but I can't really think of any other way to describe it. Maybe it's more of a 'want to want' kind of situation? For instance, I personally don't want to actually have sex with anyone, but in theory I still sort of do? I don't know, it might be a case of I-wish-I-weren't-asexual but I am and I can't change that and I don't appreciate being shouted at just because I have different feelings on the subject :)

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Vampyremage
bradbury, on 28 Jun 2014 - 10:06 AM, said:

I don't think I'd agree with your new definitions because you can be asexual and still have a desire for partnered sex.

So just HOW would that person be asexual? HOW would that person differ from a sexual and has a desire for partnered sex? Geez/

I'm shoutijng the how's because that definition just seems insane to me.

But there are still asexual people who have sex? I now realise that my usage of 'desire' might not be the right one, but I can't really think of any other way to describe it. Maybe it's more of a 'want to want' kind of situation? For instance, I personally don't want to actually have sex with anyone, but in theory I still sort of do? I don't know, it might be a case of I-wish-I-weren't-asexual but I am and I can't change that and I don't appreciate being shouted at just because I have different feelings on the subject :)

I know when I'm using the term desire, I mean something a little stronger than simple want or presence. To me, desire implies a definite feeling of something missing if that desire isn't fulfilled to some degree. Sexuals often speak in terms of needing sex and, while I think most of us can agree that its not a need in the same way as food and shelter in which its lack could lead to illness or death, I think it is accurate on a psychological level. Being curious about something isn't really a need. Feeling like you wish you had a desire for sex isn't really a need. Feeling an accute lack in your day to day life that can lead to psychological strain can be defined as a need in this context.

A desire for sex might be placed in a similar context as a desire for love. For the romantics among us, we aren't going to die if you don't have a romantic partner. However, there may very well come a point where if we don't have that romantic attachment for a certain period of time, it can lead to psychological stress and depression. I think, for most sexuals, a lack of sex for a certain period of time is of a similar nature.

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Sally
bradbury, on 28 Jun 2014 - 12:52 PM, said:
Sally, on 28 Jun 2014 - 12:23 PM, said:
bradbury, on 28 Jun 2014 - 10:06 AM, said:bradbury, on 28 Jun 2014 - 10:06 AM, said:

I don't think I'd agree with your new definitions because you can be asexual and still have a desire for partnered sex.

So just HOW would that person be asexual? HOW would that person differ from a sexual and has a desire for partnered sex? Geez/

I'm shoutijng the how's because that definition just seems insane to me.

But there are still asexual people who have sex?

Yes, there are. I was one of them. But I did it to please my partners, not because I desired sex with them. As you say, the "desire" thing is key. Because someone participates in an activity (sex) doesn't mean they desire it. Sex = behavior; desire for sex = feeling.

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PiF

I would go so far as to say that this is kinda showing the reason why desire has nothing to do with asexuality

nor has having sex

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Vampyremage

PiF, if someone does not experience sexual attraction but do have an active desire for partnered sex, do you consider that individual to be asexual? Why or why not?

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chair jockey

I think we have to face the fact that we're discussing hypotheses rather than theories. While asexuality is real, no _definition_ of asexuality has been verified scientifically as reflecting anything real, and I have never seen a genuine theory of asexuality based on scientifically rigorous testing. Yes, the word "asexual" does appear to reflect both personal and social realities that aren't made up but are very much real, but there is nothing we can call knowledge in the absence of scientifically rigorous testing, just a wealth of subjective impressions that people might happen to agree on. AVEN's definition is personally repulsive to me because it was formulated for political reasons, and I despise everything political. Even the hypothesis regarding no desire for partnered sex, however, is so far just speculation rather than knowledge. I'm kind of amused by the fact that people are getting into hiss and spit fights over what amounts to a bunch of subjective assertions.

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Naosuu

I would go so far as to say that this is kinda showing the reason why desire has nothing to do with asexuality

nor has having sex

I disagree with the bolded part; considering "sexual attraction" is hard to define and it means different things to people, it actually fails pretty hard. This is like two groups of people labeling each other sluts but having entirely different reasons for applying the term, whether the application of the term is or isn't accurate.

The feeling to share sexual intimacy with another person is the key component to other orientations. Whether someone wants to call it "sexual attraction' or "sexual desire" doesn't really matter to me; however it's important to communicate that asexuals do not have any drive for shared sexual intimacy with other people.

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Himegami

PiF,

I think the suggested answers have been well thought through.

I have purposefully included many different permutations of definitions so that we can see what we as a community can agree is the best definition for all asexuals.

To say that the AVEN definition is accurate enough is all well and good, but does it explain fully to non-asexuals what asexuality means?

If I were to give a non-asexual the definition "an asexual person is a person who does not experience sexual attraction", some would, guaranteed, misinterpret this definition and think that asexuals are people with low sex drives, which is not always the case.

Some asexuals, as you put in your example, do have sex drives and masturbate, but it is not the act (which itself is auto-erotic anyway) that defines an asexual, it is to whom that sex drive is directed. Asexuals who masturbate are not attracted to themselves - sexual attraction to themselves would make them auto-sexual, which is very different.

Whether an asexual masturbates or not, that sex drive is not directed at anyone else. As Jess O'Reilly puts it very often, it's like "cleaning out the plumbing".

In any case, we are not "joining a club......then seeking to change the club just to fit [our]selves because [we] do not meet the clubs definition" - the vast majority of us on here do meet AVEN's definition, but some of us here think that we ought to better clarify to help other non-asexual people understand what being asexual truly means. We aren't adding to the definition - we're defining it more precisely. Being asexual definitely does not mean having a low sex drive, as you seem to put it.

If anything, an important part of defining asexuality properly is so that people who are really sexual with a low sex drive or sexual disorders do not identify as asexual. This has been flagged up by many professionals who now do not believe asexuality is a true orientation because of clients who mistakenly (most of the time) assume that they are asexual.

I am mainly responding to to the colored text in purple.

I think asexuality is a broad spectrum, and if we add "does not feel desire for partnered sex" it would completely disregard a part of the spectrum. The love of sensation does not equal always equal orientation. I think an asexual can have "desire for partnered sex". Just like masturbation, the desire may not be directed toward the other person but rather for the enjoyed sensation (or it may be part of the fantasy/fetish rather than having to do with sexual attraction). An asexual may enjoy experiencing intimate things with their partner, but it doesn't mean they have sexual attraction directed at one another. Simply an activity enjoyed together.

This may not be a popular opinion. Oh well.

Anyone feel free to express their opinions or ask questions about this. :)

Much cake~

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Guest

I also don't understand how adding more variations to an already clear definition.....will help avoid confusion or doubt over what an asexual is...could someone explain that bit too me?

Because the current definition is not clear at all. Changing it to a desire-based one wouldn't muddy the waters, it would clear the current muddyness out.

Just look at the numbers in this poll. Especially the three yes-no questions. Calling the current definition "clear" in that light is nothing but ridiculous.

To me sexual orientation is a directed sex drive. So if a person has a sex drive that isn't directed towards anyone then that person is asexual. For people who don't really have a sex drive... dunno

All nonlibidoists are asexual. Not all asexuals are nonlibidoists. Simple as that.

But there are still asexual people who have sex?

Yes, there are. I was one of them. But I did it to please my partners, not because I desired sex with them. As you say, the "desire" thing is key. Because someone participates in an activity (sex) doesn't mean they desire it. Sex = behavior; desire for sex = feeling.

This, a million times. Desire (and thus, orientation) is not the same as behavior. At all.

If it were, getting aroused at looking at someone without their explicit consent would be completely equal to rape. (So, we should either put 99% of people in jail because pretty much everyone is a repeat rapist, or just legalize rape already. There's no point in criminalizing normal, everyday facts of life.).

You can desire sex and have sex;

not desire sex and have sex;

desire sex and not have sex;

not desire sex and not have sex.

None of these combinations is inherently "weirder" than the other, there's just two who are more frustrating than the other two.

I don't think asexuality will stand a chance of ever being taken serious as an orientation unless we finally make the definition about desire. I think that the fuzzyness of all this "attraction" talk is a major factor in feeding the "that's not real" and "special snowflake" reactions... because actual orientations do not work that way.

If we stick to this "attraction" and pretend it's not about desire at all... well, maybe the doubters have a point. I'm not sure if asexuality, defined like that, really exists except as an arbitraray self-label. The doubters are not necessarily invalidating us, they may well just be raising legitimate, well-grounded concerns about the validity of our criteria. We'd do well to listen to that.

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PiF

vamp the key here is the definition the desire for partnered sex has nothing to do with asexuality and this is where the constant attack on the definition has gotten us.

we now have created so many falsehoods/theories etc that are nothing to do with asexuality that we are discussing them as fact when they are not

example....I love aston martins....someone then over some time keeps going on about Ferraris and lambo's hoping if said enough it will become true and using the idealogyn they are all cars so all qualify...but no...the aston martin is then only aston martin...other wise someone would have a fiat 500 calling itself an aston martin

bad smell...pray tell the political reason for the definition

naosuu...you can highlight and disagree all you wish but the definition is the definition..and it isn't difficult at all...who mentioned sluts? I never

let me put this to you...when all the grey semi demi crew try to explain what they are..why do they resort to saying what an asexual is when they are in fact sexual? my point on this is that even sexuals know what the definition is and it to be correct, asexuals know this to be correct...that is how we define ourselves

want or partnered sex is and has never been part of what an asexual is and like first nmentioned....it is something that never was that has been attempted to be added to the definition to bolster numbers and create confusion

Mystic...the current and original definition has always been incredibly clear accurate and self explanatory....those with a vested interest in changing it to suit purpose believe it to be not clear but clear never the less it is

kawaii..to a certain degree I think I would agree with you

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