One of the upsides to being a queer person is feeling like the unique confetti-coloured snowflake that you think you are. One of the downsides is constantly having to eke out a space for yourself because you’re the furthest thing from ‘default mode’ on universal settings. You tend to see yourself in terms of opposition to ‘the normal’, and a huge part of this othering process comes in the form of even innocuous-sounding questions. As an asexual person, that is a person who does not experience sexual attraction, I’ve heard these questions come from both straight and queer people who can’t fathom life without sex.
Is this a medical condition?
No, it’s a perfectly normal sexual orientation that needs neither medical attention nor treatment. You must be confusing asexuality with Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, where a person’s lack of interest in sex can cause them physical and psychological distress. I can assure you, aces are not distressed by anything except people’s reluctance to understand what we’re about.
Don’t you know what you’re missing out on?
Missing out on what? Relationships? Gratification of the senses? Climax? Well, how about I put it this way – does a fish need a bicycle? You can only “miss out” on things that you take an active interest in or are in some way entitled to. As an asexual, I neither desire sexual intercourse with anyone, nor am I shredding up some sort of sex fantasy hall-pass that everyone apparently shot out of the womb with. I’m just living my life, what’s biting you?
Shouldn’t you have sex first before you decide?
You make it sound like I’m a child fussing at dinner. I’m not. I’m somebody who knows what my body wants. Many queer people get asked about the veracity of their identity. It’s a directive from the heteropatriarchy saying “you gotta do it our way first, or it’s not legit.” And that can be very upsetting, because it takes your body’s autonomy away from you.
Aren’t all virgins asexual, though?
Nooooo! Your sexual orientation and the mythical use-by-date of your junk have no bearing on each other. Asexuality is not something you can shed with a one night stand! ‘Asexual’ doesn’t denote a person who is yet to have sex. It doesn’t denote a person who is celibate either. Can virgins be sexually attracted? Yes! You can absolutely have desirous, lustful virgins who experience sexual attraction, as well as asexuals who have had sex. Say whaaaat? But it’s true! Also, virginity is a very relative and, let’s face it, problematic concept in itself. The point I’m trying to make is your sexuality and your virginity are not indicative of each other.
Did somebody hurt you?
Destroy the idea that any type of non-heterosexual orientation is the outcome of some horrible sexual trauma. Bad boyfriends don’t turn straight girls into lesbians. And bad relationships don’t turn people into asexuals. Asexuality is not something that can be done to you, it’s just who you are, and if you are a person who does not want to have sex, it doesn’t mean you’re obsessing over a bad past experience.
No, but what could be better than sex?
We like to think cake is. But for us, literally ANYTHING is better than sex. We can’t seem to understand the centrality given to sex in so many people’s lives. Obviously there is more to life than jumping into the sack with somebody. Sure, sex must be really great for some people, and we can respect that, but our business is elsewhere and believe it or not, we actually like the arrangement!
Do Asexuals only have sex with Asexuals?
I can see why someone would make this mistake. Really. I do. Homosexuals have sex with homosexuals. Heterosexuals have sex with heterosexuals. But it’s logic gone astray, we have to call it back and calm it down with some milk and cookies. Asexuals have sex with – here it comes – nobody! That’s kind of why the word is a-sexual, meaning without sexual desire.
So, this means you won’t get married?
Let’s be realistic. Sexual intercourse ends in marriage only in some very select situations (mostly those monitored by religio-cultural codes). Marriage, for all the paper hearts and diamonds and symbolic ceremonies, has more to do with social security than anything else. Sure, sexual intercourse may be a huge part of some people’s marriages, but let’s not presuppose a mandatory link between sexuality and marriage. Whether I decided to marry or not has nothing to do with how much sex I’m having. If that was the case, we wouldn’t still be fighting for same-sex marriage, now would we? Let’s not forget that many heterosexual people remain unmarried, and it speaks nothing of their sex lives.
But surely you’ll want children, right? If humans don’t reproduce won’t the species die out?
No problem, I can just split down the middle like an amoeba. Kidding. Like the social contract of marriage, the biological process of reproduction and asexuality are not interdependent. Yes ‘traditional’ baby making requires sexual intercourse. Some asexuals may choose to use the sex organs they possess, but this doesn’t mean their sexual orientation has changed. Also it’s the 21st century – have you heard of surrogacy and adoption? Your concerns about the endurance of our species assumes the entire world is comprised of homosexual or asexual people, which, as we know and despair, is not the case. I assure you the species is in no danger of dying because 1% of the population is not having sex. We’re probably going to die out from climate change and poor healthcare, though, I’d be more concerned about that if I were you.
You’ll change your mind.
This isn’t a question. It’s a statement. It’s almost always accompanied by a knowing smirk, that says, “I’ve gone my entire life without ever once challenging the way I’ve been told things should be.” It’s a statement that means someone else thinks they know you better than you know yourself. It’s a statement that strips you of your individuality, of your choice, of your comfort. It’s a statement that really means, “we’ll change it for you”.
I can’t speak for all asexual people, since there are varied orientations even within that broader category. But I know responding to these questions is almost a part-time job for many asexuals. Good thing we’ve devised some ways to not go up in flames at regular intervals. Other times, it takes a lot of cake to recover.