Understanding Asexuality

The purpose of this website is to inform the public about asexuality and, common myths and misconceptions associated with it. This website defines what it means to be asexual, with emphasis sexual and nonsexual types of attraction. This website also touches on problems such as erasure and discrimination associated with asexuality. 

What is Asexuality?

 Asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction, and/or low or absent interest in sexual activity. Asexuality is not a disorder, or a phase a person grows out of. Unlike celibacy, which is the choice to abstain from sexual activity (due to religious or personal beliefs) in spite of sexual attraction to any number of genders, asexuality is a sexual orientation, not a choice. Asexual people simply do not feel sexual attraction. This does not mean that they do not feel love or have romantic desires. Sexual attraction and romantic attraction are two entirely separate things. While some asexuals may be aromantic, and are not interested in or desire for romantic relationships, others date and seek long term partners. There is no binary split between sexuality and asexuality. Asexuality is a spectrum just as any other sexuality. (1)

Asexuality, as with most other non-heteronormative sexual identities, has likely been around for longer than history has conceded. In the past, acceptance was likely difficult due to cultural requirements on arranged or forced marriages in order to carry on the family line, as well as stigma on remaining single. However, throughout history there have been accounts of people dying virgins, such as Isaac Newton, Queen Elizabeth I of England, and Nikola Tesla. (15) Asexuality is a relatively new term that is still highly misunderstood by the general public. It is important to raise awareness for asexuality. This helps asexual people feel accepted and comfortable with themselves, making it easier to open up about their feelings without any pressure to conform to societal constraints on sexual attraction. 

Asexuality and Sex

Some asexuals do in fact have sex, this does not change the fact that they are asexual. Feeling sexual pleasure and wanting to have sex are two entirely different things. Asexuals have sex for a number of reasons. Some do so because they want to feel close to their partner or simply to give their partner pleasure. Others may have sex out of curiosity or because they want to try it. There are asexual individuals who do not have or want sex of any kind, and some hate sex. However, being asexual does not definitively mean a person hates, can't have, or doesn't want sex. Asexuality is about sexual attraction, not the physical action of sex. Just as in the case of a homosexual man having sex with a woman will not make him straight, an asexual person having sex does not change their sexual orientation. (7) 

There is a strange misconception within society, as well as the asexual community, that asexuals do not get anything out of having sex. As a result some asexuals feel as though they need to simply let their partners do what they want and not feel any sexual pleasure from it. Being asexual does not mean that a person cannot feel sexual pleasure or have orgasms. Orgasms are an experience of physical pleasure, and do not have an affect on the sexual orientation of a person. (7)

Relatedly, an asexual individual could have never had sex before and still know they are asexual. The act of sex does not tell a person if they are or aren't attracted to another person, or even who they are attracted to in the first place. 

Additional Resources 


(1) "The Asexual Visibility and Education Network | Asexuality.org." The Asexual Visibility and Education Network/ Asexuality.org. Asexual Visibility and Education Network, n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.

(2) Bogaert, A. F. (2004). Asexuality: Prevalence and associated factors in a national probability sample. Journal of Sex Research, 41, 279–287.

(3) MacInnis, Cara C.; Hodson, Gordon (2012). "Intergroup bias toward "Group X": Evidence of prejudice, dehumanization, avoidance, and discrimination against asexuals". Group Processes Intergroup Relations 15 (6): 725–743.doi:10.1177/1368430212442419.

(4) Mosbergen Dominique. Asexuality: The X In a Sensual World. The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com n.d. Wed 09 Feb. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/17/asexuality-the-x-in-a-sexual-world_n_3444417.html?1371476630>

(5) Vroege, J. A., Gijs, L., & Hengeveld, M. W. (2001). Classification of sexual dysfunctions in women. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 27, 237–243.

(6) Prause, Nicole; Cynthia A. Graham (August 2004)."Asexuality: Classification and Characterization" (PDF). Archives of Sexual Behavior 36 (3): 341–356. doi:10.1007/s10508-006-9142-3. Retrieved 12, February 2015.

(7) "An Asexual's Guide To Having Sex." Asexuality Archive. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <http://www.asexualityarchive.com/an-asexuals-guide-to-having-sex/>.

(8) "Sexual and Romantic Orientations Chart." The Thinking Asexaulity . N.p., 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <https://thethinkingasexual.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/sexual-and-romantic-orientations-chart/>.

(9) "Asexuality, Attraction, and Romantic Orientation | LGBTQ." Asexuality, Attractions and Romantic Orientation / LGBTQ. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2015. <https://lgbtq.unc.edu/asexuality-attraction-and-romantic-orientation>.

(10) Di Silvo L (2011) Correcting Corrective Rape: Carmichele and Developing South Africa’s
Affirmative Obligations To Prevent Violence AgainstWomen. The Georgetown
Law Journal 99: 1469-1514

(11) Tauches, Kimberly. "Chapter 20: Transgendering:Challenging the Normal." Introducing the New Sexuality Studies: Seidman, Steven, Nancy Fischer, and Chet Meeks. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2011. 134-39. Print.

(12) Tolman, L. Deborah. "Chapter 23: Adolescent girls' sexulity: The more it changes, the more it stays the same." Introducing the New Sexuality Studies: Seidman, Steven, Nancy Fischer, and Chet Meeks. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2011. 153-157. Print.

(13) Ingraham, Chrys. "Chapter 43: One Is Not Born a Bride: How Weddings Regulate Heterosexuality." Introducing the New Sexuality Studies: Seidman, Steven, Nancy Fischer, and Chet Meeks. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2011. 303-07. Print.

(14) Esterberg, G. Kristin. "Chapter 40: The Bisexual Menace Revisited: Or, Shaking up Social Categories Is Hard to Do" Introducing the New Sexuality Studies: Seidman, Steven, Nancy Fischer, and Chet Meeks. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2011. 283-84. Print. 

(15) "Top 10 Famous Virgins | Alternative." Before it's news. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2014/09/top-10-famous-virgins-3036252.html>.