Asexual Stereotypes

A few months ago, I began a series addressing stereotypes for LGBTQ+ people—talking about people who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, as well as people who are intersex and asexual. This is the next-to-last post in the series, as I will do a wrap-up post next week.

As I am going in order of the acronyms for LGBTQ (or LGBTQIA), it is time for me to discuss stereotypes associated with being asexual. But before going into details about those stereotypes, I should start by talking about what it means to be asexual and stereotypes that I’ve learned (and stereotypes that others should also dismantle) about being asexual.

Asexual people are people who are not sexually attracted to anyone (men or women), and/or have low or no desire for sexual activity. You may hear the term “ace” when hearing talk about asexual people; “ace” is short for “asexual” (and the asexual community is often referred to as the “ace community” or as “aces”).

Now that we’ve talked about what it means to be asexual, here are a few stereotypes associated with being asexual:

  1. Asexual people can’t have sex. This stereotype confuses a lack of sexual desire with the lack of ability to have sex. Just because an asexual person does not have sexual desires does not mean that the person is incapable of having sex.
  2. Asexual people can’t be in romantic relationships, let alone get married. This is a stereotype where asexuality gets confused with another identity: aromantic. To keep things straight and to the point, asexual people lack sexual desires but can have romantic desires that don’t necessarily involve sex, while aromantic people have sexual desires but not necessarily romantic ones. In addition to the confusion between asexuality and aromanticism, this stereotype also breeds the notion that sex needs to be at the center of a deep relationship or a marriage, which need not be the case. Oh, and by the way, if you still have doubts about the ability of an asexual person to be in a romantic relationship or in a marriage, I encourage you to read this Vice article on asexual people who are in very deep romantic relationships.
  3. Asexual people just haven’t found the right person to have sex with yet. If someone is asexual, what this means is that there is nobody who an asexual person will have a deep desire to have sex with. And that is not about an inability to find the right person, but is instead just about a lack of sexual desire.
  4. Asexual people are afraid of sex. Not necessarily—asexual people just lack sexual attraction and/or desire. Lacking the desire to do something is not necessarily the fear of something.

These, of course, are just a few of the harmful stereotypes associated with being asexual. If there are other stereotypes about asexual people that should be discussed and/or if anyone wants to expand upon the intersex stereotypes mentioned here, please feel free to post a comment below!

The Asexual Pride Flag.

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32 Replies to “Asexual Stereotypes”

  1. Great write up. This subject really opened my eyes when I saw the documentary called (A)sexual. It shows some people on the Ace spectrum in relationships and even marriage. The one scene that really stood out to me as many who saw the same film was when that core group of Asexuals get their own section of the San Francisco Pride Parade. They got bullied by both straight people and the LGBT community which shocked me. I also learned about the different types like demisexual, gray-ace, etc.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks!

      Yeah, there is a lot of misunderstanding about asexuality–it’s often conflated with aromanticism and there is ridicule for the lack of desire for sex (as if sex is the be all and end all, which sorry, it isn’t). There is also a lot of misunderstanding that stems from not viewing sexuality as a spectrum (just as gender is a spectrum as well).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome.

        I will admit that I wasn’t sure about it until I saw the documentary. I confused it with celibacy for example. That thought of sex being the be all end all is certainly society’s problem regardless if someone is asexual or not. That’s very true as I’ve learned different parts of the spectrum in terms of romance and orientation.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Asexual is different from aromantic. You can have romantic desires without sexual desires, and you can have sexual desires without romantic ones. Each person, regardless of sexual orientation, should feel free to decide whether they want to marry or not.

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    1. I’m not quite sure I understand your question. Maybe it’s because I, at least, think of gender as a spectrum as well (there’s identifying with the male gender, identifying with the female gender, and things in between such as genderfluid, agender, genderqueer, nonbinary, etc.).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Being aromantic means that you don’t experience romantic attraction to anyone. I wouldn’t describe it so much as a mood, but as an experience (or lack thereof; in this case, not experiencing romantic attraction for anyone).

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    1. For that “how” question, I think it’d be best advised to listen to and read about the experiences of people who are aromantic. And, if you’re not sure where to turn to for those perspectives, I can send you some things.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this post, Brendan. I think it’s really important. Given the emphasis that our culture places on sex, I think it is very easy for asexual people to be misunderstood and mischaracterized. Posts like yours help to make a safe space for them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the compliment, Shelly. You are right that there is an emphasis on sex, and that this emphasis results in a lot of misunderstanding for those who don’t fit within the sexual norm of a man loving a woman, or a woman loving a man.

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    1. You’re welcome, Maren! It very much seems that way to me, that the understanding of the ace world is better than it used to be but has a ways to go. I’m hoping that this blog post can do its little part in improving understanding.

      Like

  3. 10 to 1 you have never heard or considered some one as self-sexual. A person who enjoys or is satisfied with having sexual pleasure with themselves. Also not heard of much is demisexual. This is being sexually attracted to those toward who you have strong emotional feelings regardless of the other persons sex/gender (In itself a difficult concept).

    Personally, I don’t like the “acronym.” Somehow it is supposed to be inclusive. But, it is not. Each time a letter or symbol is added it is further isolating of those whose initial isn’t in it. Plus, it gives the false impression that it is a unified community.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have heard of demisexual actually, but not self-sexual.

      I know what you’re saying about the acronym. I’ve had similar concerns at times about the acronym not being inclusive. I tend to say LGBTQ+ in order to acknowledge that there are lots of people in the community who don’t identify with the L, G, B, T, or Q, but that’s only a working solution as we’re trying to figure out a way to be more inclusive.

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      1. Self-sexual may or may not be someone’s only or even main sexual orientation, but it can be. It is pretty much equal to any form of masturbation of any form. The main thing in my book is that the individual is perfectly fine with that form of sex. I also think that there is a difference between how one likes to experience sexual pleasure and with who you want to be engage with during those sex acts. There is another form of sexual orientation and that is being polyamorous. It is basically a person who does not limit them selves to one sex partner. However, a main criteria is that these relationships are open so that each partner is fully informed that you have or may have multiple sex partners. Being polyamorous is independent on who your sexual attraction is towards. As you can see sex is complicated. No wonder it is so often kept in the closet, where, as someone I have read, said the only reason to go in it is to pick out something to wear. (lol)

        I have waffled a great deal with the inclusiveness of the T part of “the” acronym. I used to think of it as a spectrum, but some individuals don’t fall on the spectrum (e.g. agender), plus it privileges the binary. I then moved on to a gender umbrella but again where do some belong under it (again think of agender). Next I came across which maybe the best, but it is another acronym. TGNC, which stands for transgender and gender non-conforming persons). I will still use it. But, it needs to be spelled out at first use. More recently, I have read about the benefits of using trans* which is supposed to be all inclusive. But, again your interlocutor has to know this.

        Sorry for the length here, but there are no simple schemes that fully capture everything about sexual orientation and gender identity, which are completely independent. Another reason not to use “the” acronym of whichever form.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for explaining more what it means for someone to be self-sexual. I had never heard the term until you introduced it to me!

        In terms of the lack of simplicity in capturing everything about sexual orientation and gender identity, I agree that there are no simple schemes to capture everything. Granted, everyone has a different experience with sexuality and with gender, so how do we capture all those experiences under a spectrum or even an umbrella? All the billions of people? It would be difficult to do that, to say the least, if not impossible.

        Liked by 1 person

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