Asobs. How to be an ally of asexual people?
In this day and age, we're all about embracing diversity and inclusivity, but sometimes, certain identities still get overlooked. Asexuality is one of them. Studies show that there's a significant number of people out there who identify as asexual. But despite this, they still face challenges when it comes to navigating relationships, friendships, and even dealing with societal pressures. But it's high time we change that!
So, in this article, we're going to dive deep into what asexuality is all about. We'll debunk some common myths, and most importantly, we'll explore how each one of us can be a kick-ass ally. Together, we can create a world where asexual individuals feel understood, accepted, and loved for exactly who they are.
Let’s dig right in!
What Is Asexuality?
Asexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by the lack of sexual attraction towards others. Individuals who identify as asexual typically do not experience sexual desire or interest in engaging in sexual activities with others, regardless of their gender or gender identity.
Asexuality is an intrinsic part of a person's identity and is not influenced by external factors or societal norms. People who are asexual may still experience romantic feelings and form emotional connections with others; this aspect of their identity is separate from their lack of sexual attraction.
It is essential to understand that asexuality is a valid and diverse sexual orientation, just like heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality. Asexual individuals may refer to themselves as "aces" and often seek to foster understanding and acceptance within society.
Labels You Should Know In Asexual Spectrum
The asexual and split attraction spectrum encompasses a diverse array of identities, each contributing to the ever-growing tapestry of human sexuality. Understanding the various labels within this spectrum fosters a more inclusive and compassionate society, where individuals can confidently express their authentic selves without fear of judgment or misunderstanding. By embracing and acknowledging these identities, we take another step forward in affirming the inherent dignity and worth of every individual, regardless of their orientation.
Let’s delve deeper into the lesser-known labels within the asexual and split attraction spectrum, exploring the richness and complexity of identities that defy traditional norms.
- Ace: Embracing an Identity Beyond Norms
The term "Ace" is a nickname commonly used by asexual individuals to describe themselves. It symbolizes not only their asexual orientation but also their rejection of heteronormative societal expectations. Many find solace in adopting the label "Queer Ace," as it acknowledges their departure from cisgender and heterosexual norms. By embracing the term "Ace," these individuals assert their autonomy and take pride in defining their identity on their terms.
- Aromantic: Embracing the Beauty of Non-Romantic Connections
Aromanticism is a romantic orientation where individuals experience little to no romantic attraction to others. For those identifying as aromantic, love and intimacy manifest in different ways, emphasizing the significance of non-romantic connections. Rather than subscribing to conventional romantic ideals, aromantic individuals cherish the emotional bonds forged through deep friendships and platonic relationships.
- Demisexual: Where Emotional Connection Sparks Desire
The demisexual orientation falls within the spectrum of both sexuality and romanticism. Demisexual individuals navigate the realm of sexual attraction differently, experiencing it only after establishing close emotional connections with others. Their desires are intrinsically tied to the emotional depth of their relationships, reflecting the intricate interplay of emotions and physical intimacy.
- Grey-A: Embracing the Spectrum Between Asexuality and Sexuality
Within the asexual spectrum, one may encounter the label "Grey-A" or grey asexuality. This term highlights the diversity within asexuality, acknowledging that it exists on a fluid continuum. Individuals who identify as grey-a experience sexual attraction occasionally or under specific circumstances. Embracing this label allows for a nuanced understanding of one's sexual orientation, avoiding rigid categorizations.
- Queer Platonic: Redefining Intimacy and Emotional Commitment
"Queer Platonic" defies traditional definitions of relationships and friendships. It captures the complexity of bonds that go beyond typical platonic connections yet fall short of romantic involvement. This label recognizes the importance of emotional commitment and deep connections, transcending societal norms and expectations for interpersonal relationships.
How To Support Asexuality?
Asexuality, like other sexual identities, has been an intrinsic part of human diversity since time immemorial. While the broader public awareness of asexuality might be relatively recent, it is crucial to recognize and acknowledge the experiences and contributions of asexual individuals.
Let’s explore some essential steps you can take to be a supportive ally to asexuals, or as they are affectionately known, "aces."
1. Educate Yourself
To be an effective ally, the first step is to educate yourself about the asexual spectrum. Asexuality encompasses a wide range of sexual orientations, each with its unique characteristics. At the core of the spectrum lies asexuality itself, where individuals experience little to no sexual attraction to others. It's important to remember that aces may still experience other forms of attraction, such as romantic, sensual, or aesthetic attraction, and they may choose to engage in sexual activity for various reasons, despite not experiencing sexual desire.
Another significant identity within the asexuality spectrum is Demisexuality. Individuals who identify as demisexual only experience sexual attraction once they form a strong emotional connection with someone. While primary sexual attraction based on superficial factors may not be present, they may develop secondary sexual attraction after getting to know someone better.
Additionally, the term Greysexual refers to individuals who identify as asexual while also being able to experience or have previously experienced sexual attraction. However, their experience of sexual attraction may be low in intensity, infrequent, ambiguous, or directed toward specific individuals. To deepen your understanding of these identities, resources like GLAAD's Glossary of Terms provide valuable information on various asexuality identities under the umbrella.
2. Celebrate Your Ace Friends
Celebrating the asexual individuals in your life is a powerful way to provide visibility and validation to the asexual community. Whether your friends or loved ones are openly out about their asexuality or not, they may have faced misconceptions and judgments about their orientation. By creating a supportive and accepting space for aces, you reinforce the message that their feelings surrounding sex are valid, and they deserve love and acceptance just like anyone else.
3. Advocate for Asexual People
Unfortunately, asexual individuals have often faced dismissal and erasure both from outside and within the LGBTQIA+ community. They may be misrepresented as merely choosing to abstain from sex, perpetuating the harmful narrative that sexuality is a matter of choice. Unlike the increasing representation of gay and bi individuals in media, asexual individuals often lack visibility and meaningful portrayal in books, movies, and shows.
As an ally, advocating for accurate and authentic representation of asexual people in the media is imperative. This representation helps challenge stereotypes and misconceptions about asexuality. Asexual individuals can experience meaningful and fulfilling relationships without the need for sexual attraction, and it is vital to recognize and respect their experiences.
4. Listen and Validate
Listening to the experiences of asexual individuals with an open mind and heart makes a lot of difference. As allies, it is vital to respect and honor each individual's self-identified identity, fostering a more inclusive and understanding society for all. Validating their feelings and acknowledging their identity as valid and real can be immensely empowering. Avoiding dismissive comments such as "It's just a phase" or "You just haven't found the right person yet" is essential in showing empathy and respect. Remember that everyone's journey is unique, and providing a safe space for asexual individuals to share their experiences can be an invaluable form of support.
5. Respect Boundaries and Choices
As an ally, it is essential to respect the boundaries and choices of asexual individuals. Some may choose to engage in romantic relationships, while others may prefer non-romantic partnerships. Asexual individuals may have varying levels of comfort regarding physical affection or intimacy, and it's important to be mindful of their preferences without judgment. Never pressure or coerce anyone into sexual activities, and be mindful of language and jokes that might be uncomfortable or offensive to asexual individuals.
6. Don’t Label Anyone
Being an ally to the asexual community involves respecting the individuality of each person's identity. Understanding the terms, they use to describe their experiences is a significant step towards fostering empathy and support. However, it is equally essential not to impose labels on someone else's behalf, as identity is deeply personal and should be self-defined. Asexual individuals have the autonomy to explore and express their feelings towards sex in their own terms, and allies should be mindful of this in their interactions and discussions.
7. Support Asexual Organizations And Events
Get involved in events, initiatives, or organizations that advocate for asexual rights and visibility. Getting involved in events and organizations dedicated to promoting asexual awareness allows for the creation of a safe space where asexual individuals can share their experiences and challenges. Moreover, this hands-on support empowers asexual people and validates their identities, ultimately challenging misconceptions and fostering understanding. Embracing and promoting asexuality as a valid orientation not only advances social progress but also cultivates a more accepting world where everyone can thrive without fear of judgment or discrimination.
Difference Between Being Sex-Repulsed, Indifferent To Sex Or Sex-Positive
Understanding asexuality and its diverse expressions is an essential aspect of being an inclusive and supportive ally. Asexuality, like all sexual and gender identities, is a deeply personal and unique experience for each individual. While some people may find comfort in using specific labels to describe their feelings towards sex, others may not feel the need to adhere to any particular terminology. Respecting and recognizing this individuality is crucial in fostering a more inclusive society.
- Sex Repulsed
One term commonly used within the asexual community is "sex-repulsed." For sex-repulsed individuals, the mere thought of engaging in sexual activities evokes feelings of disgust or aversion. It is important to understand that this repulsion is not rooted in a belief that sex is inherently wrong, but rather a strong sense of discomfort or unease with the idea of engaging in such activities. Describing it as "icky" is a way for them to express their emotional response to the concept of sex.
- Indifferent To Sex
On the other hand, some individuals identify as "indifferent to sex" or may prefer the term "sex-neutral." Unlike sex-repulsed individuals, sex-indifferent asexuals do not experience strong feelings of disgust or aversion towards sex. They simply do not harbor any particular positive emotions about sex either. It is a state of neutrality, where the idea of engaging in sexual activities does not elicit any intense emotions one way or the other. For some, this may translate to a general indifference to having sex, while for others, it encompasses a broader sense of apathy towards all sexual experiences. Some individuals who are sex-indifferent may engage in sex to please their partner or for reproductive purposes, but their emotional response to sex remains neutral.
- Sex Positive
Remember that asexuality, like any sexual orientation, exists on a spectrum. Not all asexual individuals fit neatly into one category, and their experiences may vary widely. This is where the term "sex-positive" comes into play. Also known as "sex-favorable," sex-positive asexual people may indeed enjoy engaging in sexual activities. Their reasons for seeking sexual relationships can be multifaceted, ranging from experiencing physical pleasure to building intimacy within romantic connections. Just like with the other categories, sex-positivity is not an all-encompassing sentiment. Sex-positive asexual individuals may still find certain sexual acts indifferent or repulsive, highlighting the diverse range of emotions and preferences within this identity.
Being an ally for asexuals is all about fostering a vibrant and accepting community where everyone can thrive and be themselves. Embrace the colors of the rainbow!
Let’s be compassionate listeners, and stand up against any discrimination or erasure this community may face. By understanding their experiences, acknowledging their validity, and standing up against the dreaded ace-invisibility, you can be a true ally for asexuals. So go forth, spread the love (platonically, of course), and let's make the world a more ace-inclusive place!