Table of Contents
Asexuality is a sexual orientation but there is a lot of confusion among people who hear and use this terminology (Brotto, Yule & Gorzalka, 2015). As a sexual orientation, van der Kooi and Schwander (2014) explained that asexuality is a situation where a person does not experience sexual attraction towards other people. Unlike other forms of sexualities, asexuality is very unique in the sense that it does not come with types. For example for homosexuals, there may be females, also known as lesbians and males, also known as males. Asexually oriented persons are not classified based on gender, age or any other form of classification as they are generally known to be asexual. In the assessment of Yule, Brotto and Gorzalka (2015), it was explained that there are many explanations that people have given to asexuality in times past, all of which are misconceptions.
In order to explain what asexuality is therefore, it is always important to link up the definition with what it is not. In this regard, it would be emphasized that asexuality is not about personal decisions made by people to abstain from sex, such as in the case of celibacy (Brotto & Yule, 2017). Asexuality is also not by choice or a selection made out of fear of sex or other interpersonal relations due to a person’s past experience. All these descriptions do not merit the definition of asexuality because it is not a behavioral issue but an enduring part of a person’s life (Brotto, Yule & Gorzalka, 2015). In the remaining parts of the paper, the topic of asexuality will be treated in much detail. For example existing research about the topic will be explored, so as to understand the main problems and issues that emerge from being asexual in today’s social setting.
Why Asexuality was selected as topic
Asexuality was selected as a topic because of a number of reasons and motivations. Some of the reasons that influenced the selection are based on theory, whereas others are based on practical experiences in everyday life. From a more theoretical perspective, it would be noted that Maslow in his hierarchy of needs identified sex as one of the basic needs of life, together with other physiological needs such as sleep, food, breathing, and water.
Maslow Hierarchy of Needs, Source: Restructure (2011)
Very interestingly, there is very little or no argument about the other physiological needs, as the absence of most of them could come with death. Meanwhile, the topic of asexuality seem to challenge the very basis for which Maslow classifies sex as a basic physiological necessity. This is because Chasin and Chasin (2017) explained that Maslow’s classification is based on the basis that the physiological needs are not things that survival can take place without. Meanwhile asexual people are said to completely have lack of, or be low on sexual attraction, which means that if not provoked to the most extreme limit, these people will not want to engage in sex. By selecting this topic, it helps to draw a line between theory and practice, as viewed from the perspectives of Maslow and this sexual orientation of asexuality.
The second reason that informed the selection of the topic is that it is known to be very unfamiliar among a lot of people. That is, even though there are several people who have heard about other forms of sexual orientations including heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality, very few of these same people have heard about asexuality. A study by Yule, Brotto and Gorzalka (2015) actually showed that even among those who have heard the term, most of them have known them to be only associated with non-humans. Selecting the topic therefore creates an opportunity to bring more attention on the topic, based on research. In a like manner, when the topic is well researched through this paper, it will help people to have a better appreciation of who an asexual is. This is because currently, when an asexual person reveals his or her sexuality, there are several people who doubt them and think they are not being truthful.
Because asexuality is not well researched in the body of literature, there are several misconceptions about it. This was a major motivation that influenced the selection of the topic. The topic therefore paves way to shed more light on the little research available on the topic. By shedding such form of light, it becomes possible to clear the misconceptions that people have so that they can have the right concepts and understanding about the topic. Nathan (2017) found that a very common misconception that people hold about asexuality is that it is meant for people who have some form of spiritual or religious calling. Common examples that are cited in this regard are monks and catholic priests. Another misconception is that asexuality can be associated with a pledge to abstain from sex, due to personal reasons including health and religious ones (Yule, Brotto & Gorzalka, 2014). The last reason that informed the selection of the topic is that there are people who do not believe that asexuality exists at all. The topic will be an avenue by which such people can get stories about asexual people so that their stories will serve as an evidence for which they will believe.
Nature of the problem as presented in research
Even though the overall number of studies on asexuality is low when compared to other sexual orientations, Bogaert (2015) noted that in recent times, the number of scientific researches in the area has generally increased. In one such study by Van Houdenhove (2016), a clear distinction between asexuality and people who are not sexually active was established. As far as sexually inactive people were concerned, the research showed that a good number of them choose this line of life due to health reasons, while others do so because of the relationship problems they encounter with their partners. Meanwhile, for the asexual people, it emerged that none of these reasons can be explained to inform their orientation. By extension, the study by Van Houdenhove makes it very clear that the fact that a person is sexually inactive does not mean that that person is asexual. In the same study by Van Houdenhove (2016), attempts were made to identify gender differences that exist within people oriented as asexual. In this, there was variation from 17% to 37% in how many men are asexual. At the same time, the variation for women was from 63% to 71%, suggesting that more women may be asexual than men.
With the percentages given by Van Houdenhove, there is a nature of problem that can be seen to emerge. That is, even though a reasonable number of people are asexual within societies, very little or not attention is given to them in the social circles, including popular culture and media such as television, movies, news, social media, and even books (van der Kooi & Schwander, 2014). It was for this reason that Bogaert (2017) described the asexual community as being virtually invisible. It is not surprising that there are now groups like The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) that seek to create a social voice for these people. In one study by Nathan (2017), the issue of social invisibility was linked to the fact that the current culture within society is overly sexualized. That is, sex and sexual attraction has almost become a popular culture on its own, whereby sex is now seen as a highly marketable service (Brotto & Yule, 2017). As a result of this, the media now emphasizes on showbiz and news, which has very strong sexual content and message that tend to tilt towards heterosexuals, bisexuals and homosexuals. By extension, it can be inferred that most people within the media circles are suppressing the popularity of asexuality because it could be a way of killing their business if more attention is brought on it and people begin to defend their right for their asexual orientation to be respected.
If society is indeed to respect the right of asexual people, then it means it would have to limit the level to which the media and society in general has been sexualized. Indeed Bogaert (2015) confirmed that one of the major problems that most people with asexual orientation complain about is lack of social protection, particularly from the media. Some respondents explained that even though they could fall in love and experience arousal, they are not sexually attracted and so do not expect that they will be sexually provoked. When there is high level of sexual provocation in the media, the asexual people could suffer in the long run because they could become preys to people of sexual orientation, who may want to satisfy their sexual desires and attractions (Gerber & Kokko, 2016). Another study by Bogaert (2017) found that another problem common with asexual people is that they face social pressures to get into relationships, give birth, and also satisfy their partners sexually. This happens as these people are not well understood and thus treated as all other people who are sexual. Explaining why the people with asexual orientation give in to the forms of social pressures they face, Dawson, McDonnell and Scott (2016) noted that they do so as a mechanism to avoid the pain that would come with it if people described their orientation as not being normal.
Who is impacted and how
Based on the outcomes presented from research, there are a number of ways in which the question of who is impacted may be answered. First, both men and women are impacted by the outcome of the research, especially by the revelations made about the problems that asexual people go through. Both men and women are affected in this regard because the condition could involve any of them, as it has already been explained that asexuality cannot be classified based on gender (Gerber & Kokko, 2016). Indeed given the limited research in the area, there could be people who are actually of this sexual orientation but do not even know they are, as they have not heard about the term or read anything that makes them understand their feelings better. Again, those who are in relationship with asexual people will be heavily impacted by the research about the sexual preferences on asexual people. That is, people in such relationships will now get the realization that even though their asexual partners engage in sex with them, they only do so to satisfy them and not the asexual ones. This realization may make someone have a feeling of being selfish, and this could affect relationships negatively (Yule, Brotto & Gorzalka, 2014). Finally, the larger society will be impacted by the knowledge of how they have neglected asexual people. Particularly, policymakers would not have second thoughts on the need to have policies that protect asexual people from the abundance of sexual contents in the media.
We can do it today.
Lessons and conclusion
Based on the research, there are a number of lessons that also emerge from it. First, it emerges that asexuality is perfectly normal rather than a dysfunction or disease. This outcome from research will come with much relief to people who have been experiencing the descriptions given to the asexual orientation. It would put them in a stronger position not to be intimidated by what and how they feel about themselves. Also, they will not pay attention to those with misconceptions about their conditions and have therefore described them as not being normal or healthy people. It has also emerged from the study that it a sexual orientation and therefore a more permanent or enduring part of a person. For those who decide to withdraw from sex due or personal, health or behavioral reasons, they will by this study come to appreciate that they belong to other forms of sexual orientation other than asexuality.
With reference to the lessons and all outcomes from research, there are a number of conclusions that can be made. The first is that unlike what Maslow seems to advocate as the basis for considering sex as a basis necessity of life, it is actually possible and normal for people to have sexual orientations that do not make them attracted to sex. Meanwhile, these people may have feeling of love and compassion. In effect, it is best to place sex under love and belonging, where friendship, family and sexual intimacy fall. This is because when placed in this category, the notion that sex is needed for survival will be erased. As long as asexuality has been justified scientifically, continuing to hold sex as a basic need when asexual people can indeed choose not to have sex forever makes it seem that those people deviate from accepted standards or norm. Finally, it can be concluded that society has been biased towards asexual people, since society continues to glorify and overemphasize on sex. More avenues are thus needed to ensure equality between asexually oriented and sexually oriented people.
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