When I wrote last year about Asexuality, I didn’t know where to begin or where to go. Asexuality is just as complex as the rest of human sexuality. It’s an overall term for many subheadings, and I only had my own experiences to go on. It’s very hard representing a group of people when there’s so much variety within, and any time someone explains asexuality, there’s always going to be one person who slips through the descriptions.
When I first heard about asexuality, the definition that seemed to be the most agreed on was “A lack of interest in sex”. Over the past year, as I’ve learnt more and as the sexuality has grown in visibility, the definition has changed somewhat. AVEN has grown in visibility and from what I understand, their definition is and always has been “A lack of sexual attraction to other people.”
When I first entered the world of the asexuality community, I found more people accepting of all the terms under the one big umbrella term. Over the past year, I’ve found that acceptance has waned. I come across people like me, who have no interest, resenting those who do have interest but lack sexual attraction, because it overshadows their personal definition. I’ve read blog entries from those who lack sexual attraction but have sex anyway saying there needs to be another term for the rest of us, because we’re making them look frigid.
And outside the community is getting worse too. The more visibility we’re getting, the more dismissive people are getting. I read the term “Special Snowflake” every single time asexuality comes up. I read people saying “If you don’t want to have sex, just don’t have sex!” as if that was ever the main issue being discussed. That’s of neither use nor ornament to someone who says they feel lonely because they can’t keep a boyfriend/girlfriend because they’re asexual. They know they don’t have to have sex, but their partner didn’t seem to get the memo.
And then of course there’s people who think that we can’t make up our minds and get unreasonably angry, because we have all the subheadings. I can see where they’re coming from, if we “can’t decide” on what asexuality is – whether it’s a lack of interest or attraction, then all the extra information just come across as bizarre. Asexual Aromantic, Asexual Biromantic, Asexual Panromantic, Asexual Heteromantic, Asexual Homoromantic, Grey Asexual, Demi-sexual.
But anger? Really? We’re not trying to be “Special Snowflakes”. As much as I’m not sure whether labels are a good thing or not, we are humans and as humans, we categorise. We put people into boxes for our own selfish reasons, and we put ourself into boxes for the sense of community.
It’s not that we “can’t decide”, it’s that all of those things can and do make us asexual. But explaining that doesn’t seem to go down well either. It’s as if we regard everyone else as not being as varied. They’re the progressive ones, because everything’s cool with them and they don’t need no stinking labels. Except the experience of a person who is heterosexual is different to that of an asexual, and that’s what we’re saying with the whole label thing. It doesn’t negate their experience, but it does negate ours when someone says “I had the exact same thing happen…” when it is different.
And there’s still people who don’t accept asexuality at all. Even those who accept that some people just have no interest in sex or experience attraction, will not accept that it’s a valid orientation.
Lately, thanks to the visibility and subsequent growth of acceptance against the growth of refusing to accept, it’s a bit like being in a very busy room with lots of people shouting. Some will be right, some will be wrong, and even if those who are wrong are in the minority, their words seem to be the only words they’re hearing.
But there’s no way around it. Asexuality exists and people are asexual. At least 1% of the whole entire world identify as such. What that entails will be up to them to decide and explain, all I can do as an asexual is describe my experience, explain what other possible experiences might have occurred for other people and hope for the best.