Asexual Healing

Baby, when I think about you, I think about l-o-o-ve.’ So begins
the hoary ballad by Bad Company, a British band whose ‘Feel Like
Makin’ Love’ has been a sleazy anthem for the horny masses since
1975. But what if you think about other people and feel like making
lunch? There is a minority group out there that has absolutely no
interest affirming love by exchanging bodily fluids. Coalescing on
the Internet, this small but increasingly vocal faction claims to
be perfectly healthy and happy not to be getting any.

These self-described asexuals are ‘announcing to the world that
they are not broken or defective, or sexually dysfunctional’ writes
Sylvia Pagan Westphal in New Scientist (Oct. 16,
2004). They are simply ‘100 percent uninterested in sex.’ Unlike
celibates, who choose to abstain from intercourse even if they are
physically attracted to another person, asexuals claim to not be
aroused by either gender at any time.

The newly organized drive to bring asexuality out of the closet
is taking a lead from the gay liberation movement, according to the
Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN). Like the gay,
lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community, AVEN strives to offer
asexuals a sense of belonging without infringing on their diverse
senses of identity. For instance, some people identify as both gay
and asexual, some masturbate (albeit without fantasizing about a
specific person), while others enter sexual relationships as a way
to express romantic or emotional attraction (but not to satisfy a
sex drive). Many asexuals describe ‘romance drives,’ or the need to
be intimate, but not sexual, with another person.

One of the challenges asexuals face is convincing the rest of
the sex-crazed world that they really aren’t interested. ‘Most
people find that at some point or another they want to get it on
with another person,’ writes Punk Planet sex
columnist Sex Lady (Jan./Feb. 2005), ‘and to fall outside of that
huge mainstream can be difficult.’ Asexuals argue that
underreported studies have shown asexual activity in certain animal
populations, and a recent human survey in the United Kingdom found
that 1 percent of respondents had ‘never felt sexually attracted to
anyone at all.’ While there’s been virtually no research on the
genetic origins of asexuality, John DeLamater, a human sexuality
expert at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, says that
categorizing a percentage of the population as predisposed to
sexual inactivity might be novel ‘but it’s not unreasonable.’

Sex Lady admits initially thinking that asexuals are ‘latent
queers or abuse survivors who are horrified by the prospect of
sexual contact,’ since a lack of sexual desire is often the result
of physical or emotional trauma. While she still believes there are
a number of folks who fall into this category (and someone who is
sexless and unhappy should seek medical help), Sex Lady is now
convinced that asexuality is more than a state of mind. It’s ‘not
just that they have no interest in their unkempt, lazy-ass lover of
20 years,’ she writes. They have ‘a complete lack of desire for any
kind of sexual contact.’

As the asexuality movement gains momentum, more asexuals are out
and proud. AVEN founder David Jay, 22, works hard to raise
awareness by giving talks, networking, and getting the topic in the
media. He believes a true movement is under way. Indeed, asexuals
are discussing what it means to be A-sexy and have A-pride. And as
all effective movements eventually do, AVEN has a newly minted
slogan T-shirt available on its Web site
(www.asexuality.org):
‘Asexuality: It’s not just for amoebas anymore.’

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