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Asexual People Don’t Hate Sex: Asexuality is Sex Positive

Asexual People Don’t Hate Sex: Asexuality is Sex Positive

Cody Daigle-Orians | October 28, 2021 | 5 min. read

“So, like… you hate sex?”

The man across the table from me is earnestly confused. We’re having coffee. This is kind of a date. We’ve gotten past the basics – what do you do? what kind of music do you like? have you seen…? – and it’s going really well. He’s cute. We have chemistry. So, it’s time. It’s the point where I tell him I’m asexual. And this, as it has been many times before, is the reply.

“No, I don’t hate sex. That’s not… Why do you think I would hate sex?”

“You just told me you’re asexual.” His brow furrows deeper. “That’s what asexual means, right?”

Inside, I feel a rant brewing. No. That’s not what asexual means. No. I don’t hate sex. I actually enjoy sex. Sometimes. I mean, it’s complicated, but I don’t hate sex. That’s such a negative… look, just say you don’t understand asexuality instead of making these sweeping – and wrong! – generalisations about us.

I don’t say this. I breathe and give a little self-deprecating shrug.

“Not quite, no.” I add a little laugh to show I’m good-humored about it. “I don’t hate sex. Actually –”

“I don’t know, man. If you aren’t having it, what am I supposed to think?”

There’s a pervasive belief that asexual people are essentially blank slates: sexless, emotionless, relationship-less people who, in rejecting sex, reject human connection. We’re pitied (“Oh, it must be really hard knowing you’ll end up alone.”), we’re infantilized (“Don’t worry, maybe you’re just scared or just haven’t met the right person.”), or we’re treated as adversaries to “normal” human behavior (“There’s got to be something wrong with you to hate sex like that.”) You tell someone you’re ace, and their conception of you is neutered. With no perceived possibility to get in your pants, they erase all possibilities you might otherwise be a part of.

All of it is maddening, but the misconception that particularly grates at me is that asexuals hate sex. It’s one thing to misunderstand asexuality as an orientation, but it’s another to turn asexuality into an enemy combatant. It perceives a natural human variation as a rejection of human connection.

But asexuality doesn’t reject human connection. Asexuality doesn’t reject sex. To frame it that way dehumanizes ace people and limits our possibilities. It decides that a connection without the possibility of sex is absent worth and that those who don’t have sex are absent that worth as well.

"There’s a pervasive belief that asexual people are essentially blank slates: sexless, emotionless, relationship-less people who, in rejecting sex, reject human connection."

We should reflect here on what asexuality actually is: asexuals don’t or rarely experience sexual attraction. The orientation exists on a spectrum, and there are many different ways to be asexual: from those of us who never experience sexual attraction (asexuals), to those of us who only rarely do (graysexuals) to those of us who only experience sexual attraction once a strong emotional bond is formed (demisexuals). Attraction, or lack of, is the unifier. Asexuality only describes our relationship to sexual attraction.

This doesn’t mean that asexuals don’t have sex. Attraction isn’t action, and there are many of us who do have sex. Sex-favorable asexuals are those who, despite not or rarely experiencing sexual attraction, may enjoy and seek out sexual experiences. Sex-neutral asexuals experience no feeling, positive or negative, about sex but also may choose to seek out sexual experiences. There are many reasons we have sex without sexual attraction: enjoying the physical sensation of it, wanting to please our partners, having sex to express other attractions we experience for people, or wanting to start a family. Aces who have sex embody an expanded set of relational possibilities. Untethering sexual attraction from the other attractions that build human relationships (romantic, aesthetic, emotional, intellectual) amplifies the individual importance of all of them. They can combine in new ways. They can be experienced in new ways. They can be more powerful tools for us to shape shared identities with others.

"Sex-positivity is about removing moral judgment attached to any form of healthy, safe and consensual sex between willing adult partners… including not having any sex at all."

But what about asexual folks who don’t have sex? Asexual folks who identify as sex-repulsed (having very strong negative feelings about sex that makes one not want to participate in, hear about or think about sex) or sex-averse (having negative feelings about oneself participating in sex, but not having negative feelings about sex in general) are expanding relational possibilities as well. They imagine a world without harsh relationship hierarchies, where love, commitment, partnership and family can be built (if desired) without sex as a foundation. Aces who don’t have sex show us perhaps the most radical relationship reality: you can be fully human and build fulfilling, whole and valid human networks that achieve everything sexual and romantic relationships do without sex.

Asexuality offers a complete way of being that conceives of friendships, relationships, love and family with or without a sexual dimension. It decouples sex from romantic and emotional connections. It views sex as an optional piece instead of a fundamental necessity of human experience.

Asexuality doesn’t hate sex. Asexuality is sex-positive.

Sex-positivity isn’t just having a ton of sex. That can be one of the end results, of course, but it’s not what’s at the core. At its heart, sex-positivity is about removing moral judgment attached to any form of healthy, safe and consensual sex between willing adult partners. It’s about all safe, sane and consensual choices around sex being respected – including not having any sex at all. It’s about rejecting all of the normative constructs around sex, including the allonormative idea that experiencing sexual attraction is necessary and fundamental to a full human experience.

Whether asexuality includes sex or not, the experience hits that mark. Asexuality imagines more possibilities for us, not less.

Cody Daigle-Orians is an asexual writer and educator living in Hartford, Connecticut. He is a member of The Ace and Aro Advocacy Project, a Washington, DC-based organization providing resources on asexuality and romanticism to the public. And he is t... Read More
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