1 (800) DID I ASK YOU TO COMMENT ON MY ASEXUALITY?
By Katie Golway
The following article was inspired by: “If you are not sexually active, you are going to have to have a C-Section, you know,” and other unsolicited advice from non-medical professionals.
I am asexual. I have never experienced sexual attraction. Expressing my lack of interest somehow invites responses of disbelief and questions I prefer not to answer. I have heard: “You’ve really never had sex?” “Do you watch porn?” “Do you masturbate?” “There must be an exception to the rule!” A particularly frustrating conversation with my friend about pap smear pain earned an incredulous, “Now I know you haven’t felt the touch of a man.” It seemed my word was not enough for her nor my gynecologist. My doctor’s surprise does lessen though every time I tell her that, yes, I am twenty-four. No, I am not sexually active.
Asexuality is not to be confused with abstinence. Asexuality is defined, according to whatisasexuality.com, as the absence of sexual attraction to other people. Abstinence acknowledges the attraction and the subsequent choice to avoid a sexual relationship. There is a spectrum of physical attraction ranging from a lack of desire to have sex, and experiencing sexual attraction only with certain people.
I explain my personal situation as being faced with a sign up sheet for extracurricular activities. Like some people may find no appeal in water polo, I find no appeal in sex. However, I do not put down people who enjoy sex. I listen to my friends referencing their sex lives with responses such as, “Okay, I am proud of you.” I wish I received a similar response when I mentioned to a girl from Tinder that I did not want sex.
She was quick to ask me for my phone number despite my hesitation. I was afraid that she would feel unfulfilled or unloved in a relationship with me because I do not want to have sex. Every romance in the media portrays sex as a pivotal part of the relationship.
My discomfort only grew when she asked me to bring her a pizza as an excuse to have sex. A response of, “Uh, hard pass,” launched a very serious dialogue I did not want to have so soon. She said she was not interested in something long term if we were not going to have sex at all. I said that was fine. I expressed that I was uncertain if my lack of interest was rooted in trauma, after which she implied that I would change my mind if I decided to have sex with her. I declined her generous proposal, and we have not spoken since.
I accept that it may be a difficult concept to not find sex appealing when we are constantly exposed to it, for lack of a better word. Physical intimacy is often a staple of romantic plots, coming of age dramas, and Greek tragedies. Some magazines in pop culture speculate who is sleeping with whom in Hollywood. The modern media seems consumed by sex, especially to someone who would prefer to avoid the topic as a whole.
I know that understanding and respect are not mutually exclusive. I do not force people to accept my lifestyle, but I do demand the same respect that I give. I do not have the power to advise someone on what to do with their body. No one has the power to tell me that I am somehow biologically obligated to do something with mine.