AsexualitySex & Sexuality

13 Myths and Misconceptions About Asexual People: Part Two

This post is the second part of two – the first part was posted on Tuesday.

6. You hate people having sex – you must be scared or think you're above them.
The vast majority of asexual people do not hate sex. In fact, a lot of us are very sex-positive – just as long as sex-positivity doesn't mean negativity directed at us. Frankly, some asexual people do personally find sex a bit disgusting. This is understandable, when you think about it, but even these people don't believe no one should have any (unless they're especially misanthropic, in which case they don't represent the rest of us!). Perhaps asexual people get a bit bored of how sex saturates our culture so completely (and how certain famous TV writers equate asexuality with being boring), but this is not the same as hating sex. On a similar note, only the most arrogant or misguided asexual people believe that sex is an indicator of a person being any lesser. Most of us acknowledge it can be a wonderful experience – it's just not for us.

7. You're not queer. You're just trying to pretend you're oppressed.
Ah, the purists. I've heard people say that asexual people identifying as queer will distract attention and resources from "real" causes, or that there are too many letters in the acronym already. Some even claim we're trying to co-opt the past suffering of other queer people or are minimising the problems others face. These are all offensive and inaccurate statements – I will be examining these sorts of attitude in an upcoming post.

I understand whole degrees exist to debate definitions of "queer", and I'm only a science student, but here is my definition: queer people are all the people who aren't simultaneously cisgendered and heterosexual, and who want to identify as queer. I do not believe that anyone is obligated to identify as queer, but I also do not believe that anyone should be excluded because they make others feel uncomfortable or they're not "queer" enough. I will not deny that asexual people's experiences are quite different in many ways to those of other queer people, but that is not a disqualifier. The subset of asexuality where queerness is most an issue is heteroromantic and aromantic asexuality – people of these orientations are afforded a bit more straight privilege, but so are other members of the queer community. That doesn't change the fact that they can identify as queer if they wish – a hierarchy is the last thing the queer community needs.

Besides, you don't think it's oppressive to grow up in a culture that constantly tells you that you need to get fixed? That tells you you're repressed, or heartless, or must have been abused? Or denotes you as gay against your wishes? (And, while hopefully avoiding veering into Oppression Olympics, I ought to point out that corrective rape of asexual people is a thing that exists, and reactions so far indicate that maybe there would be more active asexual discrimination if a few more people were aware of it as an orientation.)

8. You’ve just not met the right person yet.
While this may be true of a small minority of asexual people, I'm given to believe that sexual people are aware of being attracted to people even if they aren't in a relationship with them. This attraction simply does not arise in asexual people – or, if it does, only does so after a sufficient emotional connection has formed. I suppose asexuality and bisexuality are similar in this regard – they are both disproportionately seen as transitory phases, which erases and devalues them.

9. You’re just socially inept and incapable of love.
The vast majority of asexual people are perfectly capable of love, but remember that love comes in all sorts of forms. Just because we don't experience sexual attraction, doesn't mean we're cold unfeeling monsters – nor do we just need a bit of a confidence boost. Perhaps I'm not the best person to address this, because I am socially inept, but I can assure you that my orientation and personality are not linked in that way. There are plenty of socially inept sexual people and plenty of socially fluent asexual people. Though perhaps you'd be socially inept too if you'd grown up experiencing homophobic bullying while also knowing you weren't gay, and felt like an incomplete person for not experiencing an allegedly vital part of life…

Some people go so far as to insist that all asexual people are autistic, which wins them bonus points for also being offensive to neuro-atypical people by erasing their sexualities. Some asexual people are autistic, some autistic people are asexual. Sexual orientation and social behaviour are separate things. [Thanks to commenter sidneyia for pointing out ambiguities in an earlier version of this section.]

10. I admire you. You must not have any problems.
Our "decision" to abstain is not a decision to be admired – it is just what comes naturally. While we're at it, can we please stop seeing a person's sexuality as having any intrinsic link to their morality? To an extent, asexual people do have fewer problems – when I hear about the relationship woes of some of my friends I feel lucky in some ways to not be caught up in that world. However, this discounts the fact that many asexual people do engage in relationships, not to mention being asexual can itself cause problems (see the rest of this article).

11. You’re missing out.
Just as I'm sure straight men are missing out on a lot of awesome gay sex, and so on. You can't "miss out" on something if you intrinsically don't desire it, no matter how much anyone else insists.

Here's the thing: asexual people are no more defined by their lack of attraction than sexual people are defined by their attraction. Just because you see us talking about a lot on the internet, doesn't mean that is all there is to us. At the moment we're in the awareness-raising stage of the asexual movement, so naturally we're going to be vocal about that aspect of ourselves. There is more to a person that who they let into their bed and this is no less true of asexual people. To some people though, "I don't experience sexual attraction" means the same as "I don't ever do anything except stare at walls and think about all the sex I'm not having".

12. You're just trying to be different.
Lots of people feel that asexuality is a trend that people only engage in to go against the grain – I wonder if they’re the same people who think that of bisexuality too. There are easier (and better!) ways to be different, believe me. Our differences are natural – dismissing them as childish phases only serves to make things more difficult for us.

13. I don’t care about you not having sex, therefore there is no point in you blabbing about it. There are bigger problems in the world.
Um, well… tough? I wish asexual people didn't have to be so vocal about our private lives, just as I wish we lived in a society where no one needed to come out, but that's not the way things work, particularly in a society that is all about doing it. There are plenty of things that I don't care about, but they don't encroach on me so I either ignore them or give them a chance. If you're still not convinced, look at it this way – the more we "blab" now, the less we have to "blab" in the future!

Finally, while there certainly are bigger problems in the world than lack of asexual awareness, the same could be said of virtually everything. Asexual awareness aims to make life easier for the estimated one percent of people who are asexual and change some attitudes regarding the importance of sex in living a fulfilling life. We do not claim it is the biggest problem in the world, but it affects us and we are the ones most qualified to talk about it and hopefully change things. As someone who has experienced the pain of feeling less than a person because I didn't have adequate information, I can't see how that isn't a worthy cause.

If you have any questions or myths that you feel I haven't covered, or any points you require clarifying, feel free to leave them in the comments. I will also be adding some good resources to our resource page shortly – in the meantime, a great starting point is AVEN, the hub for all things asexual.

Feature image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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Internalized Homophobia Turned Outward

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Quickies: 4/13/2012



Courtney is a theoretical physics student at Imperial College London, broadly identifying as cisfemale, panromantic, asexual and atheist. She lives with mental illness (worst room-mate ever) and hopes to help break down the stigma attached to admitting that. Her hobbies include campaigning, internetting and spectacularly failing to defy any stereotypes regarding British people and tea. She also identifies as an X-Phile/Browncoat/Whovian, which are clearly the most important things.


  1. […] second part of my first post on Queereka, 13 Myths and Misconceptions About Asexual People, is up! Check it out here – if you missed part one, you can check that out too. Related posts:This is what it's like […]

  2. April 12, 2012 at 8:51 pm —

    Fascinating piece!  I was also wondering what you opinion was on the "pathologies" associated with asexuality.
    Asexuality seems different from other sexual identities in that sometimes a complete lack of interest in sex can be caused by serious medical issues.  Having no interest in sex can be indicative of thyroid cancer or a hormonal imbalance.  Do you worry that if you vigorously promote asexuality as normal, then people who have no interest in sex because they have thryoid cancer might accept it as natural rather than getting an MRI?  Should everyone who considers themselves to be asexual get a medical check-up before accepting their identity?     

    • April 12, 2012 at 11:00 pm —

      I suspect that one of the main differences between asexuality and a medical situation is that those medical causes have a distinct start, and a noticeable medical reason that can be tested for.  Thyroid cancer doesn't tend to start in puberty, and low testosterone levels (the cause of some problems in a friend of mine) is easy to test for.  An asexual orientation would exist without those problems, would exist before medical problems, and would exist after the treatment for such problems.
      I do think it's a good idea for someone who has a significant change in sexual interest, especially in the diminishing direction, to have a good physical exam.  But if it's a consistent trait, it seems unlikely to be medical.

    • April 12, 2012 at 11:44 pm —

      Besides by timing, I'd also distinguish asexuality and medical conditions by making a distinction between sexual attraction (what asexuality is about) and I'm going to call libido (what most medical conditions are about).

      Sexual attraction you probably have an idea of (it's a pain to define), but it is a subjective mental state.

      Libido (note that I may be using it in a weird way, so feel free to replace it with some other more appropiate word if you have one- maybe "sex drive"?) I use to describe a more physiological thing. I use libido to describe, for lack of a better phrasing, how often my body wants sex/masturbation/something like that. So, if I haven't done anything like that in awhile then I'll probably get aroused easier. Libido measures how frequently I need to have that kind of relase to be comfortable.

      So, if you've ever found someone attractive but just not felt like having sex-perhaps you've had a lot recently, or something else has left you not in the mood- then you probably are experiencing attraction but your libido isn't really up for it. Likewise, some asexuals may not find anyone attractive but still find masturbation helpful (personally I like comparing it to taking a crap- it can nice in that its a release, but it's still something of a chore that I'd rather be without).

      I'm under the impression all of the medical conditions in question affect libido, not attraction.

      (I should note I haven't done these kinds of definitions in awhile, so I'm a bit rusty. Maybe someone else can explain this in a better way?)

      • April 12, 2012 at 11:56 pm —

        I can only speak from personal experience here, but I have dealt with medical loss of sexual interest a few times for between a few weeks and a few months at a time (due to too-low testosterone doses).  I have to admit I didn't see much difference between what you describe as libido and attraction.  They are the same for me, but that doesn't mean my experience is the same as anyone else's.

    • April 13, 2012 at 5:08 am —

      Thank you 🙂 I actually have an article planned on science/medicine vs asexuality (and a sister one on religion vs asexuality), and really found this comment thread interesting.
      Asexual people are in kind of a unique place in the queer spectrum, in that it's almost legitimate to speculate about whether there's something medically wrong with us. However, there is a clear distinction between asexuality and medical conditions such as thyroid cancer. I understand how all the different components of sexuality might get confused or overlap, but as Benny said, the latter involves a *change* in sexual interest. The latter also often manifests itself in physical issues like erectile dysfunction (as Captain Heartless said – I think those definitions were spot on btw), whereas most asexual people have nothing physically wrong with them that would cause their lack of interest in sex.
      I would say if you lose interest in sex or have other symptoms, it's definitely time to see a doctor. If you had no sexual interest to lose in the first place and have no other symptoms, that's probably not medical, and is most likely asexuality.
      I think that sex education in schools should cover loss of sexual interest and show how asexuality is a different thing. Along with queer sex education in general, which was almost entirely neglected while I was at school. Plus consent and how people can have different levels of sexual interest and how to deal with that in a relationship and everything else that kids need to know but aren't taught because people suck. I don't see how promoting awareness of asexuality would necessarily have to impact on educating people about medical loss of sexual interest. I do, however, see a lot wrong with automatically pathologising asexuality (I know you didn't do that, but some people do).
      In my own experiences, I went through puberty normally, have no developmental issues and have had full blood tests that indicate I have no underlying health problems. There's nothing wrong physically either. I have just never experienced sexual attraction – when all the kids in school were pairing off or talking about people they fancied I just didn't relate. Where there is possible diagnosis to be done is my mental health problems, which started around puberty, but again it's *loss* of sexual interest that's a symptom of depression. Plus, my lack of sexual attraction has always remained constant, even when I've been in recovery periods, and it’s not something that upsets or frustrates me.

      Hope that helps!

    • April 18, 2012 at 8:32 am —

      During my life I had severe "downs" in my sexdrive.
      Taking the pill really reduced it. Pregnancy and breastfeeding turned it down to zero.
      I never considered myself asexual. Those were fluctuations in the sex-drive of a sexual person.

  3. April 12, 2012 at 8:52 pm —

    "(Some people go so far as to insist that all asexual people are autistic, which wins them bonus points for also being offensive to neuroatypical people.)"
    This implies that none of us are autistic, or that one can't simultaneously be both. And it also kind of implies that being called asexual is itself offensive. I'm sure you didn't mean it that way, but you might consider rewording this part. 

    • April 13, 2012 at 4:36 am —

      Sorry I gave that impression – thank you for your corrections. I didn’t mean to imply that autism and asexuality are mutually exclusive, and thought that would be indicated by the “all”, but I see now there’s room for misinterpretation – I will edit it to make it clearer 🙂

      To me equating asexuality with autism in any way smacks of denying the sexuality of people with disabilities*. I’m not an expert in autism, but I’ve read that autistic people are just as likely to be sexual as anyone else, and even if they weren’t sexual orientation and social interaction are separate things. (I’ve read that autistic people are more likely to be queer, and speculation that this could be down to peer pressure to stay in the closet not having the desired effect, but I’d need to do more research.) Lots of people feel it would be “convenient” for people with disabilities to be asexual, or assume that this is the case, and that IS offensive, not to mention making things more difficult for people with disabilities who are sexual. I will add a caveat of some kind to make this clearer. Thanks again, and hope this has solved your points – let me know if it hasn’t.

      * I’m aware of a whole debate over whether ASDs should be called “disabilities” – for the purposes of this commment not going off-topic I’m grouping them that way and hope it won’t cause any offence.

      • April 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm —

        Thanks for the reply! There's definitely a whole other topic to be unpacked re: PWD being desexualized – but I think it's also important to maintain a distinction between being coercively desexualized because your body and/or your sexuality is viewed as uncomfortable or inconvenient by the privileged class, and positively claiming an asexual identity, which is itself an act of sexual agency that subverts the trope of coercive desexualization. In other words, PWD are not expected to have sexualities, but that's not the same as saying we're expected to be asexual. 
        The prevalence of ASCs among the asexual community does seem to be a lot higher than in the general population, although I don't know if the converse is true. The idea that we don't internalize the same pressure to stay closeted is interesting (I'm semi-closeted, so I can't say for sure whether it's true for me). I also wonder if we're simply more likely to be exposed to minority sexual and gender identities simply because many of us do the bulk of our socializing online, where people tend to be freer to talk about those things. I know, for instance, that I didn't know about non-binary genders until I started using AVEN. 
        (FWIW I'm fine with ASCs being framed as disabilities. To say otherwise implies that "disability" is a negative thing to be avoided – to me, anyway.) 

        • April 14, 2012 at 4:32 pm —

          That disabilities are necessarily negative is, as I understand it, the entire reason the debate over ASD exists in the first place. The entire 'it's not a disability' argument hinges on the fact that it doesn't always negatively affect those who have it.

          • April 15, 2012 at 11:35 am

            Thanks for the comment! That's what I thought too. I guess reframing disability as a not completely negative thing would be an option, but the word itself seems to have an intrinsic negativity. Hmm. Like I said, I don't have any real experience of ASDs or anything else surrounding this issue, so I think I'll stop here and read up on the debate myself. Thanks everyone for the insights!

          • April 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm

            Why would you want to? This whole overly-PC "nobody is inferior, just different" bullshit is…well, bullshit. To go with a more clear-cut example, if you are incapable of walking it's going to have an impact on your life. It's going to prevent you doing things. To ignore that, to me, seems dismissive of just how difficult it is to live with a disability.
            Sure, the idea that disabled people should/can be mocked or insulted or whatever is bad, but then how often does that sort of thing really happen? But it's not like 'slut', where the only problem with being a slut is the reactions of others. It legitimately affects your life in many ways, none of which are particularly positive.

          • April 15, 2012 at 1:48 pm

            (There's a limit to the number of nested comments, which is why I'm replying here.) That's a good point, though I have to say I don't think anyone should be considered inferior, particularly not because of something they can't help. I know you didn't mean that, but lots of people express that opinion – whether unconsciously through things like ableist language or consciously through things like abuse. I think it's probably more important that people in general don't see disability as one homogenous thing, or something that defines a person completely, or something that *can't* have any positive outcomes (as in ASDs). Again, it's the issue of a spectrum rather than a binary.

          • April 15, 2012 at 3:11 pm

            Depends how you're defining 'inferior'. I can run faster than someone with no legs. This is a fact, and it can't be ignored or brushed over just because they don't have legs. To attempt to do so would be silly. Some people are inferior to others, often because of things they can't help. That's life. In a basketball-playing sense, I'm inferior to LeBron James. Were I seven inches taller, eighty pounds heavier, made with significantly more muscle and less fat, and however ridiculously athletic and well-coordinated he is, I'd be just as good if not better. But I'm not, and that's life, and I'm not going to argue with people who point out that he's better than I am, because they're right.
            If we're talking in a more general sense, you obviously can't say one person is inferior to another, because there's no way to measure that. It's completely subjective. It's like those ridiculous hair product commercials that promise to make your hair however many times shinier. Until we can measure 'shiny', and we all agree on a way to measure it, that claim is meaningless. Superiority/inferiority of people is worse, because we're not even working with something as specific as 'shiny'.
            And as far as positive outcomes go, I wouldn't say that anything that can be accurately described as a disability can have positive outcomes. People can work around it and do positive things, but any positivity is despite the disability (in the case of, say, Christy Brown) or completely unrelated to it. How many situations are there where someone would think, 'hey, good thing I don't have legs!'?
            And even in cases like Brown's, how much of it is genuine positivity and how much of it is them doing things nobody would think twice about if it were an able-bodied person, but getting a heap of attention for much the same reason that parents praise their kids' shitty drawings? Because sure, typing out books with one foot is an incredible effort, but giving the result of that effort more literary praise than is justified is just patronising. Though I should note I've never read any of his work, and make no comment as to its value, I'm merely speaking hypothetically.

          • September 24, 2013 at 3:15 am

            I know this is over a year old, but in regards to

            Depends how you’re defining ‘inferior’. I can run faster than someone with no legs. This is a fact, and it can’t be ignored or brushed over just because they don’t have legs. To attempt to do so would be silly. Some people are inferior to others, often because of things they can’t help.

            Footage please of you outrunning the Olympic-level runner with no legs. Post links here. Otherwise, science and real life call bullshit. There’s a kind of a huge issue when you mindlessly box in people and call it fact. In many cases it causes you to say things that completely contradict what goes on in reality.

            As for ASD. Really, if we were in an ideal world, the only people who should define if it’s a disability or not are people who live with the condition. However, some are so far down the spectrum that they aren’t able to. If I spoke with a relative of mine who had it, I’d be really surprised if he understood 5% of the discussion. That’s with him being relatively high functioning. I’ve always wanted to know what he thinks on this kind of issue, but he doesn’t really have the capacity to understand tough subjects like that.

            And, well, ASD being labeled as a disability actually helps out a ton of families who get government aid for being caretakers. If it wasn’t, there’d be a lot of families up a creek with no paddle. Though it’s good that high functioning people can now freely express themselves due to the Internet, not everyone with ASD is high functioning. Some need to be constantly supervised and cared for perhaps even for life, which can directly affect a family’s ability to generate income. It’d be great for people with ASD to have more recognition and be treated more fairly in society, but there’s also the concern that changing that definition would put a lot of families in a really bad situation.

            As for being “inferior”, I beg to differ. My relative has an astonishingly good memory where as I cannot even remember what I had for breakfast or if I even ate breakfast. My parents can’t figure out how a cellphone works despite having owned one for ten years now, but their English is better than my Chinese. People tend to be skilled at different things, so putting people into boxes of “inferior” and “superior” is very black and white thinking. And, well, the world doesn’t really work like that so you’ll often find yourself contradicting reality as well.

        • April 15, 2012 at 11:49 am —

          No problem – sorry I've taken a while with this one. I definitely agree that that distinction is an important one and the subtleties in your "PWD are not expected to have sexualities…" statement are important to note. I guess the bottom line is that nobody deserves to have their sexual/gender identity assumed, doubted or thrust upon them, particularly when based on an irrelevant characteristic.
          Your thesis about the higher prevalence of people with ASDs in the asexual community and the role of the internet is very interesting and makes a lot of sense. I'd be interested to read a study on it if one was carried out. (I know asexuality is growing in prominence in psychological literature.) I've learned most of what I know about non-hetero/cisnormative sexuality online – plus a good chunk of the hetero/cisnormative stuff too!
          I guess the issue comes because "disability" sounds like an intrinsically negative word. I think you could get over that association though and reclaim it. I have to admit it's not my area, so I hesitate to make any statements.

      • April 14, 2012 at 4:30 pm —

        You might want to change 'neuroatypical', too. I initially read it as 'neurotypical', which was obviously quite confusing. Then I thought it was a typo. I read over the sentence several times before getting the actual point.

        • April 15, 2012 at 11:06 am —

          Thanks for catching that – I'm going to insert a hyphen so it's a bit clearer.

        • April 15, 2012 at 7:26 pm —

          (Replying here again because of nesting comments limit.) I guess as long as you specify as you did then there isn't a problem. I have to say that "inferior" is a word harsher than I'd use, but what you said makes sense. And what you also said about positive outcomes directly from things *accurately described* as disabilities brings us back to the original point about ASDs. And yes, while it is patronising to anyone to have their work unjustly praised simply because of the effort they put into it, particularly if that effort was partly in working against a disability, at the same time we have to recognise and celebrate that effort, though obviously without that being patronising either.

  4. April 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm —

    My favorite day in therapy to date was the day I realized I never had to have sex again.  Until I was in my 30's I identified as a lesbian but sex was not that interesting. It was beyond a chore and something I "had" to do because of expectations and something I thought was an abnormality in me.
    I have been in a 12 year marriage with a very VERY sexual gay man. It works exceptionally well for both of us. He gets to have sex with all of the men he wants without any consequences to his wife. I get to not have sex with anyone without any consequences to my husband. We both have a stable and wonderful emotional relationship with each other.
    Sexuality exists on a spectrum, just as skin color, hair color and height. I wish the binary was not such an assumed standard.

    • April 15, 2012 at 9:19 am —

      Thanks for your comment – and congratulations! It's always great to hear when a couple have found an arrangement that makes them both happy 🙂 I wish the binary weren't assumed too – it seems so strange, considering we're human, that so many people automatically fall into "you are THIS or you are THAT" ways of thinking.

  5. April 14, 2012 at 7:42 pm —

    Some of these aren't as common as the first batch, but still get used plenty. I hope you continue writing about asexuality because I truly enout your work Courtney.

    • April 15, 2012 at 9:35 am —

      Thanks so much 🙂 I am sticking around as long as the internet will have me!
      Also, I'm assuming "enout" = "enjoy", but autocorrected? (Barely related anecdote: I once tried to tell my university tutor I'd "add" them [on Skype]. Autocorrect decided that I meant to say I'd "bed" them. Thankfully I caught it.)

  6. […] 13 mitos y conceptos erróneos sobre la gente asexual (esp) […]

  7. […] Part two of this series can be found here. […]

  8. June 14, 2012 at 7:56 pm —

    I sometimes think I am asexual because somethings gross me out, and how flawed is our social way of viewing sexual taboos. But it’s hard to imagine anyone not enjoying orgasms. Even fetuses can experience it, like little kids they do not know what society says it means.

    Much like being gay or bi CAN be a choice. I know someone who chose to be bi for several rational reasons.

    I believe that everyone is naturally pansexual, some people just choose to conform and oppress themselves. Environment factor plays a major role in the way we are, sexually.

    • June 15, 2012 at 10:09 am —

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. There were a few misconceptions in your comment, so I’ll try to address them in turn. My central point will be this: asexuality is, at its most fundamental, the absence of sexual attraction.

      Asexuality isn’t a response to our society’s approach to sex, any more than homosexuality is a response to our society’s heterocentrism. While some asexual people are grossed out by sex, some are indifferent, and some are even interested by it – and every other feeling in between. Asexuality also isn’t related to physical sexuality (you were right to separate them when you talked about babies and children) – asexual people are still capable of having and enjoying orgasms (and many do, but perhaps as a form of release instead of the usual). People who don’t enjoy orgasms may be asexual, or they may be *sexual. Perhaps the difference would be an asexual wouldn’t view it as a problem, whereas it might cause a *sexual person frustration and upset. (Physical dysfunction might also be a reason to check there was nothing medically wrong – absence of attraction is asexuality, and therefore an orientation rather than a grounds for diagnosis.)

      When it comes to not enjoying orgasms, and sex in general, I like the chocolate cake analogy. Most people love chocolate cake, but some just don’t. It’s not in their make-up. They’re not on a diet, they’re not allergic, they just don’t experience happy feelings when they have a slice. They don’t daydream about it while munching salad. But how is that POSSIBLE?! I can’t imagine how anyone couldn’t like chocolate cake. I’m salivating just typing this! Well, they exist, and it’s no good shoving cake down their throat to try and change it (that would probably have the opposite effect). And so it is with sex.

      Implying sexuality is a choice is treading dangerous, not to mention inaccurate, ground. I’m sure environmental factors have some effect on sexuality (probably relatively small), but I don’t think you can choose to be attracted to someone. Maybe you can choose whether or not to act on attraction, but there’s got to be an attraction there in the first place. I would be interested to hear your bi friend’s “rational reasons [for choosing to be bi]”. I’m not sure it would count as a choice unless they specifically didn’t fancy one gender but engaged in sexual relationships with that gender anyway for whatever reason. Sure, some people do suppress urges or act on them selectively, but that isn’t the origin of every sexual orientation. It certainly isn’t the origin of asexuality – that’s a particularly dangerous myth, covered in #1 of this list of 13.

      As for your belief that “everyone is naturally pansexual”, this FAQ answers particularly well.

      • June 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm —

        It really irks me as a person who has lived with a disability for the last several years that has at times necessitated medications that have the side effect of anorgasmia to hear that experience compared to asexuality. No matter what I was feeling down there, in my head, I did still want to have sexytime with another person (and with myself), but, well, I couldn’t.

        The desire to be with my partner didn’t go away just because I couldn’t enjoy it the way I used to. And when my body adjusted and those feelings came back, I didn’t magically start wanting to do it with people I had previously not been attracted to. I think it’s pretty obvious that ramping up an asexual person’s sex drive isn’t going to lead them to want to involve another person.

        I can easily see these attempts to medicalize asexuality resulting in a lot of misery for asexual people, based on historical examples of pathologized heterosexuality, intersexuality and transexuality.

        I am not asexual, but I figure an asexual person is like a gay person in that both can have orgasms, but would rather not have them with roughly half the population.

        Except with asexual people, it’s both halves.

        • June 16, 2012 at 8:49 pm —

          I agree with everything you said, Yessenia – thanks for adding a side to the argument that I wasn’t in a position to add (even though I obviously wish you didn’t have those experiences!).

  9. September 17, 2012 at 1:22 am —

    I created an account purely to thank you for this article. I’m not a writer by any means so I’m sorry if I ramble or lose my train of thought.

    I when I was younger I always thought I was just not interested in sex because I was waiting. Then as I got older and got a boyfriend it still didn’t feel right. When we broke up and I got a girlfriend it still didn’t feel right. I am now 25 and still have no drive for sex.

    Recently, during an explosion of my GF, I thought there was something wrong with me, having 0 interest such things. I felt like I was messed up and something was wrong with me. Then by chance I found your article. Everything clicked into place with me and I finally stopped feeling like something was wrong with me. Thank you for this. It was amazingly well written and helpful.

    • October 4, 2012 at 10:02 am —

      Thank you so much for this comment – knowing something I’ve written has helped someone makes it all worth it 🙂 I hope that now you’ve worked out this aspect of yourself things will be easier. At least there’s plenty of stuff out there online for you to explore and see that you’re definitely not alone.

  10. […] brushed off as “just a phase” or “experimenting.” Asexuality is treated as a disease or grab for attention. This heteronormative culture is demeaning and hurtful, but not dangerous, […]

  11. October 15, 2012 at 3:03 pm —

    So like, I’m heavily burdened by the nagging esoterics of daily life…and I found myself on an intense google search about asexuality
    As much as it seems to click with me, I do have some questions:
    Can you still be asexual while still having sexual fantasies? But you don’t see yourself actually physically doing it? (Unless you are heavily intoxicated)

    I came across the term Gray-A, maybe that’s where this falls in? Or is this really just low self-esteem?

    • October 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm —

      Thanks for the questions! Yes, having sexual fantasies doesn’t preclude you from being asexual. Asexual means lacking sexual attraction, and sexual fantasies are distinct from attraction. If you had fantasies and wanted to act on them (while able to consent), that might mean you weren’t asexual. Grey-A comes into play more when someone is mostly asexual, but experiences some form of sexual attraction. However, it’s kind of a grey area (as you may have guessed) so these labels aren’t completely prescriptive – here’s a site that covers grey-asexuality in a reasonable amount of depth.

      Low self-esteem can seem superficially similar to asexuality, but it’s definitely wrong to equate them. Whereas a person with low self-esteem could experience any level of sexual attraction but independently feel unable/unwilling to act on it, an asexual or grey-A person could just be experiencing little or no sexual attraction upon which to act. Asexuality is also distinct because it can’t be “treated” or “fixed”. (Of course, asexual people can have low self-esteem too!) Someone making this distinction would have to work out themselves which side they came down on, based on whether they wanted to act on their impulses.

  12. December 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm —

    Nice article! I’m grey-asexual (95% of the time I have 0 sexual attraction to anyone)and 22. There are older asexuals out there.

    Though I feel like some of the earlier points seem to say that asexuals don’t like sex or masturbating. While many asexuals don’t like sex, a whole lot of them -do- masturbate. It’s just not tied to attraction for other people. It’s just an enjoyable sensation and just like guys get morning wood, your body just randomly gets excited. I do know some asexuals who view it as a “chore”, something they do to get rid of the “annoying” feeling of being turned on–but some enjoy it and it has nothing to do with wanting to jump another person’s bones. There’s no attraction to any gender in there.

    And some asexuals enjoy sex for very similar reasons.

    It’s hard to include everyone though. One thing I’ve learned from talking to a lot of asexuals and sex-positive people is that sexuality is far more fluid than most people think. Many asexuals experience their sexuality in very different ways but still come to be under the asexual umbrella.

    • January 31, 2013 at 8:19 am —

      Thanks for the comment, and sorry for taking so long to respond to it (long enough, in fact, that I’m no longer able to edit it, which was prudent of me ). I agree, it is hard to include everyone – sadly the closest I got to saying what you mentioned is in point 3 – and sexuality is definitely a fluid thing. It’s always difficult to try and put discrete markers on something so continuous – sorry I didn’t do that well enough!

  13. April 29, 2013 at 12:07 pm —

    […] 13 Myths and Misconceptions about Asexual People (Parts One and Two) by Courtney By far the most popular post on Queereka this year has been Courtney’s two-part post […]

  14. […] of all the 101 resources that emphasize that some aces have and enjoy having sex or that asexuals “don’t hate sex” or “aren’t afraid of sex.” Since several major asexual communities actively […]

  15. […] two part series on myths and misconceptions about asexuals on Queereka (part 1, part 2). Less recent than the other links, but good […]

  16. June 14, 2014 at 9:24 pm —

    This is kind of a late comment, but I just saw this article.
    I don’t really know much about internet etiquette, but is it ok to ask questions? I’m just going to assume so for the moment (sorry if it’s not!).
    All of my friends (first year high school, fourteen fifteen) are figuring out their orientations now, going on dates, kissing, a few even doing a bit more than kissing, and I’m not interested in girls or boys or both. Everyone says I just need to wait a few years and then I’ll be flirting and asking people out every other week, but I really don’t want to ever do that and don’t think I’ll change my mind anytime soon.
    Anyway, all that is just a bit of context to my real question… Do asexuals always self-identify later? I mean, is there a minimum age to know that you’re not just still too young?

    • June 18, 2014 at 1:06 am —

      Courtney has stepped away from writing for the site (though she may still get an e-mail notification about your comment and come respond, I’m not sure). I’m not asexual, but ‘ll answer to the best of my ability though! 😉

      I would say that there is not any minimum age to come to an understanding about your asexuality, just as there isn’t for a person to come to an understanding about their sexuality. When I was young and came out as gay for the first time, I got a lot of the same sorts of responses (“it’s a phase,” “just wait a while, you’ll find the right girl,” “are you sure? How can you know when you’re so young?” etc.). What I would argue is that those responses stem from a person’s discomfort with being confronted with non-heteronormative people’s existence. When we don’t align with others’ expectations of how we should be (in this case, reproductive heterosexual people), their first response is often to try to problematize our own understandings of our selves, rather than to be supportive.

      If you feel like the label “asexual” describes how you feel about and understand your self, then use it. And, if later on in your life that changes, then use a different label. One thing to keep in mind is that as we continue through our lives, we continue to change in many ways, often in ways unforeseen. Don’t think that whatever you decide now–whether it is to start identifying as asexual or to wait a while to do so–is the be-all-end-all and something that you will be stuck with forever. I don’t really identify as “gay” anymore (though if people ask me if I’m gay, sometimes I say yes because it’s easier than a lesson on being an androsexual genderqueer), an identity that made a lot of sense to me and felt right for a good 20+ years.

      I hope this has been helpful for you. Maybe there are some asexual-specific things that I’m unaware of since I don’t identify that way, and if there are I hope others can chime in there. I would also definitely encourage you to find some asexual-specific forums to reach out for guidance and to ask questions on (but, of course, you are welcome here!).

    • June 19, 2014 at 4:37 pm —

      Thank you for your comment! I was intending to reply with a bit of a story about how I came to identify as asexual and why I don’t really identify as anything any more, and how that doesn’t invalidate my past feelings or asexuality as a whole, but it involves some personal stuff that I’m not entirely okay with discussing online yet. Sorry about that; Will and Ser have said everything else I wanted to say though and with great clarity (thanks!).

  17. June 18, 2014 at 12:24 pm —

    nocturnea There is no minimum age. I was nineteen when I discovered asexuality, began to self-identify as asexual and came out for the first time (all in less than a week). I would have self-identified sooner if I had heard of asexuality sooner. You can read my story, if you want to, here
    The current trend of people self-identifying more frequently later in life is, I believe, in part due to the fact that until 2001 or so (when the Asexual Visibility and Education Network ( was founded, which is a great resource if you are looking for other asexuals to talk to) there wasn’t really any terminology available that would allow someone to self-identify as asexual. So over the last thirteen years, everyone of all ages was given the opportunity to self-identify with new terms. About 65% of the population is over 25 years old, making the majority of people who might start self-identifying as asexual right after the development of new terminology fit into the category of “identifying later in life.” Now that the terminology exists, has existed for almost fifteen years, and is working its way into mainstream awareness, I expect the proportions will shift so the majority of people beginning to self-identify will be in the 10 to 25 age range.
    Additionally, and tagging onto what Will wrote, I do think that the cultural ideas of a “late bloomer” and how most young people go through “phases” in which they try on different identities will continue to give people “reasons” to doubt their own identity or someone else’s self-identification. However, I’ve been reading more and more articles like this one ( about children under ten whose parents already know they are gay. Cultural attitudes are shifting, accepting that people can self-identify at younger and younger ages.
    And ultimately, you are the only person who sees through your eyes, thinks with your brain, and lives your experiences. No matter what anyone else says, you are the only person who will ever know if you are ready to self-identify and what that self-identification will be.
    Let me know if you have any other questions and I will do my best to answer them!

  18. August 13, 2015 at 12:55 pm —

    I’m disagree with your metaphor on #11 (“You’re missing out”)

    You made a reference to other forms of sexual desire in the metaphor saying, “all gay sex straight guys are missing out on.”
    But it disregards the fact that the straight man is feeling ‘some’ (one or more) forms of sexual pleasure. I’m assuming heterosexual, homosexual, or any other form of sexual intercourse fits under the same banner of “Sexual pleasure.” Something asexuals lack all together. If you feel less physical pleasure on a weekly basis than a sexual individual, how is that not missing out? Many things in our day make us feel pleasure. Physical pleasure is pleasure regardless of the stimuli. Asexuals are just receiving less.

    I mean no hostility by making this post, and am honestly curious what your response will be.

    • August 25, 2015 at 1:52 pm —

      If a person doesn’t like chocolate, but they like olives very much, do they experience less pleasure in their life than I do as a person who likes chocolate and dislikes olives?

      In the same vein, a person who does not experience sexual attraction or sexual pleasure, but they experience pleasure in other ways in life, I don’t think we can say they are necessarily missing out on pleasure. They can get it from a different source than sexuality. For many people who are not asexual the experience of sexual pleasure is a BIG one – but there are a ton of other options out there for enjoying ourselves, and many ace people experience those quite strongly. They’re not missing out on pleasure any more than I am missing out on olives.

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