I guess I should start with the main point of this post, and that’s:
ASEXUALITY =/= CELIBACY
Asexual people are physically capable of having sex. Seriously, you’d be amazed as to how many people doubt this. I’ve been asked whether being asexual means I look like a Barbie doll, y’know, ‘down there’. I don’t, but thanks for your concern, I guess? It’s got nothing to do with how I’m built, but rather, it just means I lack sexual attraction.
Equally, celibate people are capable too. (Okay, so I know I’m generalising and there’s probably a few exceptions, but bear with me.) In their case, it’s a choice – they choose not to have sex.
Surprising as it may sound, asexual people are not always celibate people. After all, sexual behaviour does not define orientation - how many people have ‘experimented’ in a way that does not reflect their orientation?
There are many reasons to have sex, of which just one is sexual attraction. I’m sure that, if you are a sexual person, you can probably imagine cases where you may sleep with someone you don’t find sexually attractive - perhaps you want affection, perhaps you want to show them you love them, perhaps you just really want to have sex and don’t mind who with. So, surely it’s an easy step from this to being able to understand why some asexual people may have sex? If you’re still struggling to separate out sexual attraction from everything else, try this little thought experiment. Think of your favourite celebrity. Are you romantically attracted to them? Probably not. Sexually attracted? Well, if this experiment has worked the way I hoped, yes. The two are not intrinsically linked, and the former is just as valid a reason to sleep with someone as the latter.
It’s important to note here that there are all sorts of different things linked in around sex – as well as sexual attraction, there’s sexual desire and libido. Now, some asexual people lack all three, some just sexual attraction. But it’s the attraction part that defines the orientation. After all, you could be hetero-sexual and have an almost non-existent libido. If you only lack sexual attraction, but you’ve got a moderate libido and some level of sexual desire (for the actual act, not for a person), then it makes perfect sense for you to have sex – and still be an asexual person. I’m not sure how to make this any clearer, but do ask if it’s still a bit confusing sounding.
And just to throw one last spanner in the works – asexual people can also be kinky! Again, remember that it means lacking sexual attraction, and this should all be clear. After all, fetishes don’t necessarily involve finding a person sexually attractive, so why should it be surprising that some asexual people do have particular fetishes? There’s a thriving kinky asexual community beginning to start up, and once again, it’s fantastic for redefining how we view sex and relationships.
Assuming that all asexual people don’t and will never have sex is as bad as assuming all sexual people only ever think about sex. Both are blatantly false statements, and should be recognised as such. The easiest way to work out whether someone (be they a sexual person or an asexual one) wants to have sex is to do that age old trick of asking them. That’s right. I can’t guarantee people won’t be offended (I mean, really, it all depends on how you ask them), but I can guarantee it’ll offend them less than just making assumptions.