It’s assumed that if you’re a human being, you are sexual and interested in engaging in sexual activity.
From the time we are babies, we are inundated with messages about how we should and shouldn’t express our sexualities. And within those messages is a discourse that assumes that everyone is having sex – or at the very least desires it – when in fact, that actually is not true.
Approximately 1% of the population is asexual – although because of a lack of visibility is such an issue, this number is in actuality, likely higher – meaning that they do not practice active sexuality and don’t necessarily have sexual relationships or desire.
Asexuality is a sexual orientation – and it is legitimate.
Being asexual doesn’t mean you “just haven’t met the right person” or are sexually repressed. This way of experiencing and labeling attraction, just like any other, is authentic and deserves to be treated with respect. Its existence is not up for debate.
Although asexuals don’t experience sexual desire, they can and do still engage in romantic relationships.
Sexual orientations are about attraction, behavior, and desire, and are not necessarily contingent on relationships.
Sex and relationships often intersect, but are not dependent upon each other for existence.
In fact, many asexuals have a separate romantic orientation that informs their romantic connections to others. For example, if your romantic orientation is gay, that means that you desire to form romantic relationships with people who are of the same gender as you.
Just like any sexual orientation, asexuality exists on a spectrum.
This means that not all asexuals experience asexuality in the same way or to the same degree.
There are asexuals who masturbate, who perform sexual activities on others (for their partner’s benefit, for instance), and who experience arousal.
However, this experience is not the same as it is for sexuals, as the attraction and desire asexuals experience is not connected to partnered sexuality.
Asexuality is not a phase.
It is a sexual orientation like any other, which is central to one’s identity. It is not a medical condition, nor a pathology. Asexuality is a perfectly normal and healthy sexual orientation.
And if you’re sexual, you have privilege.
Having privilege means that you, by default, are afforded entitlement in society. You are given a disproportionate amount of representation, preferential treatment, access to more resources, and are seen as the “norm” or standard to which everything else is compared.
If you have privilege (which all of us do in some form), it does not automatically make you a bad person. We cannot help (most) of the privilege that we have been given and do not need to apologize for having it.
However, we do need to check the privilege that we have and make sure that we are not using it to perpetuate oppression, but rather, to change the status quo.
Having privilege and failing to recognize it does make you part of the problem.
Many people often don’t think about the ways in which their sexual selves afford them privilege. Because sexuality itself is so shrouded with guilt and shame in our culture, we rarely think to ourselves “By virtue of being a sexual person, I have privilege.”
But you do.
Well, you can use this list as a mechanism of checking your privilege and understanding the struggles that asexuals experience every day.
Keep in mind that a lot of these items are things you probably never even considered as being of privilege. Keep in mind that asexuals’ experiences are usually unseen and forgotten. That is the very definition of privilege.
(Please note that some of these examples of privilege overlap with heterosexual privilege, and that some LGBTQ+ people may find that these examples do not apply to them, as they experience marginalization in their sexual identity as well.)
You have privilege by virtue of being sexual because…
1. You can easily see your sexuality represented in every facet of popular media.
2. You are not questioned about your sexuality, as you are assumed to be sexual.
3. You have information about sexuality and your experiences of sexuality at your fingertips.
4. You’re able to form relationships with other sexual people without having to go to great lengths.
5. You don’t have to worry about having to explain your status to people, especially those who are attracted to you.
6. You don’t have to face being misunderstood or uninformed reactions to your sexuality.
7. You can easily date people of your same orientation.
8. There is a wide range of platforms for dating available to you, including online.
9. You don’t face a lack of intimacy because of your sexuality.
10. You don’t have to educate others about your sexual preference.
11. Your sexuality isn’t invisible.
12. Your sexuality is the norm in society.
13. You don’t face being labeled as abnormal for your sexual preferences.
14. Sexual situations don’t have to be navigated with extreme caution or panic.
15. People know what your sexual orientation label means.
16. Your intimacy and relationships are not constantly questioned.
17. You don’t need awareness campaigns for your sexuality to be recognized.
18. Your sex drive isn’t a deal breaker for potential partners.
19. Society doesn’t question your sexual desires or why you have them.
20. Your form of sexuality will probably be discussed in sex education classes.
21. Your sexuality is not assumed to be an impossibility.
22. You aren’t told that your sexuality is a matter of having the right experience.
23. You don’t have to worry about others not knowing what your sexual orientation means or is.
24. You are not labeled as pathological or mentally deranged because of your sexual orientation._
25. The existence of your sexuality is not up for debate.
If you have sexual privilege, think about how you can use your privilege for good.
Something as simple as posting about asexuality (or this article!) on your Facebook or Twitter feed can make a world of difference and encourage others to be educated and realize the privilege that they, too, have.
If you’re a student, professor, or researcher, consider writing about asexuality or conducting much-needed research in this field.
If you don’t have sexual privilege, consider connecting with other asexuals for support and community.
AVEN, the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, has online forums and discussion boards that you can join, as well as access to a plethora of resources about asexuality. If you like to write or do art, you can submit to their newsletter, AVENues.
Let’s all commit to making the world a more accepting place for asexuals and increasing their visibility to society, because we all deserve to be accepted, regardless of our sexuality.
Erin McKelle is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. She’s an e-activist, video blogger, student, and non-profit advocate and has launched several projects including Fearless Feminism and Consent is Sexy. In her spare time, Erin enjoys reading, writing bad poetry, drawing, politics and reality TV. You can visit her site here find her blogging at Fearless Feminism, Facts About Feminism, and Period Positive. Follow her on Twitter @ErinMckelle and read her articles here.