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Robin L

Asexuality in two student papers

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Robin L

The Amherst Student - [Queeriosity] The A Stands for Asexual

B][Queeriosity] The A Stands for Asexual[/b]

By Anonymous Contributor

Issue 143-16

Tue, 02/18/2014 - 22:00

Asexual people can be casually referred to as aces, as in the ace of hearts.

Asexuality is invisible. It isnt discussed; its not on TV, teenagers cant learn about it in health class. The people who have heard of it usually doubt that its even real. I havent come out to many people at home. Ill hint at it, dip my toes into the water as a senior in high school I told my best friends. I mentioned it to my mother. None of them really believed me. Surrounded by people who had come out to their families, it was strange to realize that I couldnt just tell people the truth and have them accept it at face value, the way my friends could. I would look into the mirror and think, what am I supposed to come out about, anyway? What Im not doing?

I identify as asexual. This means that I feel little to no sexual attraction to anyone, regardless of gender. This is the most straightforward definition of asexuality, but not all asexual people (or aces) are the same. Some aces are gray-sexual (or gray-A), meaning that they fall somewhere on a spectrum between asexual and sexual. Some are aromantic in addition to asexual, meaning they dont feel romantic attraction either. Some aces are sex-repulsed, and will rarely or never choose to have sex, while others are fine with it and will agree to sex with significant others for a variety of reasons. If they havent explained their asexuality to you, its completely inappropriate to assume that an ace is uninterested in dating, marriage, hookups or even sex.

While Im more open about my sexuality at Amherst than I am anywhere else, every now and then I wonder if that was a mistake. When I tell people, Im usually greeted with doubt, confusion and (eventually) intrusive questions. Theres something about outing yourself as asexual that awakens a sudden and extreme disrespect in others for your privacy this doesnt go away after you first come out, either. This semester, I mentioned to a few people that Id been seeing someone over the break and that Id had a really great time. Id forgotten that Id already told them I was ace. Almost immediately, someone asked me, in front of people that I hadnt come out to, arent you asexual? Then they asked about my sex life. This isnt that unusual; virtual strangers ask me about my sex life more often than youd think. People ask me to explain exactly what asexuality is, and they demand an explanation if I say that I hooked up with someone. They want to know why I say Im asexual if Im okay with having sex, they want to know why Im lying to people I date. Heres how it is: if Im not dating you, it isnt your business. I have no obligation to educate you by sharing anecdotes about my sexual history. These questions dont embarrass or upset me, but that is only because I happen to be an unusually open and unabashed person. But when you question me, as a person, you do more harm than you might think. Responding to a friend coming out to you with something as seemingly innocuous as really? still causes harm.

With asexuality, its incredibly easy to doubt yourself. Through its silence on the subject, the entire world, including Amherst College, implicitly tells you that asexuality isnt a valid form of sexuality. More directly, people will tell you that theyre sure youll change your mind. That youll feel differently after you meet the right person. I dont desire sex, and yet I think about sex all the time. I feel as though I need explanations and sexual experiences in order to justify myself. I feel as though if I ever change my mind and choose a new label, everyone I ever told who doubted me will feel vindicated. Sometimes Ill use vague language to describe myself. My coming outs are muddled and unobtrusive. As loud as I might normally be, I feel quiet and small when it comes to this. Im not proud of my identity, because I dont feel like I have one.

In many ways, aces are isolated from the general queer community unless space is made for them; Ive faced ribbing from my queer friends (and acquaintances) just as often as I have from my straight ones. You wouldnt get it, a queer friend once said when I asked what he was laughing about. Its a sex thing. And while I fight for LGBTQIA rights, I dont feel as though a shirt that says I support love supports me. Asexual students face different problems than people who are fighting for their right to love someone. There are huge gaps in our experiences that might be unbridgeable, and thats fine, so long as those gaps are at least acknowledged. I cant live on an island forever.

So this is my statement for a community in which asexuality isnt taught, isnt discussed and isnt truly accepted. A community where the email inviting students to write this column asked for LGBTQ students and allies, and I had to assume that this included me as well. A community where allies claim the A at the end of the acronym. Ill keep smiling, and correcting people who really do mean well: actually, the A stands for asexual.

The Northern Iowan - Make a place for aces in your heart

Make a place for aces in your heart


Opinion Columnist

Published: Thursday, February 13, 2014

As Valentines Day approaches, I am constantly reminded of the manner in which our society conflates love and sex. We assume that everyone will have sex at some point and that there is something wrong with people who dont feel sexual attraction.

As an asexual person, a sexual orientation in which people do not experience sexual attraction, these ideologies are alienating and hurtful. These cultural ideas have led members of the progressive community to assert that my sexual orientation was a phase.

When I took introduction to psychology, my professor said, if you dont feel sexual attraction, something is wrong with you and you need to see a doctor. I have had friends in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community ask me if I am asexual because I was raped, yet they never would have asked a gay person the same question.

When I went to the Counseling Center, my counselor told me I couldnt be asexual when I questioned it. Close friends have told me no one would ever find me worth dating.

My experience mirrors that of a lot of asexual people. This alienation of asexual people needs to stop. Its high time we construct love and sex positivity that includes the asexual experience.

According to a study by Anthony Bogaert, asexual people, colloquially referred to as aces, comprise approximately 1 percent of the population.

Other research from a 2010 study done at the University of British Columbia found that aces have a mental illness rate comparative with the general population. This research suggests that asexual people are a product of nature, not repression or hormonal imbalances. We dont need to be medicated, others just need to be educated.

Although asexuals dont experience sexual attraction, many of them still fall in love. The idea that love will always be accompanied by sex and sexual attraction isnt just false, its ridiculous. Many people can have sex without love, and our society fully accepts that notion. We need to accept the notion that there can be love without sex, too.

Some aces even have sex, but for reasons other than sexual attraction, like the desire to please a partner or have children. Many asexuals experience sex drive; its just undirected because they feel attraction to no one.

Others feel no desire to have sex, or they feel repulsed by sex. None of these experiences are bad or abnormal. Aces can lead fulfilling, sexless lives, contrary to popular belief.

People are gravitating to the stance of sex positivity, the idea that sex is pleasurable, good for you and should be explored. This is a great ideology to have, but it does not include the asexual experience. True sex positivity includes the caveat that some people will never want sex and can live healthy lives without it.

Progressives, professors, counselors and future educators at the University of Northern Iowa should include this part of the sexual spectrum when they talk about sexuality. We should accept the diversity of the human sexual experience, or lack thereof.

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