The state of not really having any sexual preference or desire whatsoever; whereas most people are heterosexual, homosexual, pan-sexual, or bisexual, many are asexual, and don't really seek out sexual intercourse.

Alternatively, it's someone whose sexual preference is for the letter A, as in "Hey man, tonight I'm fucking a!"

It's easy to get confused about the meaning of this term. Asexuals don't particularly care about sex specifically--that's what the term means, after all--but they don't necessarily eschew flirtation or dating or romance or love. The asexuals I've met don't have much libido, but they can still feel philia and agape and even eros, because eros involves all sorts of romantic attraction, not just lust. I don't know what you'd call a person who wasn't interested in any kind of romance--anerotic, perhaps? Aphilic? Anagapic? "Anerotic" sounds too much like "a neurotic," so I doubt it'll catch on, but we need some term to distinguish disinterest in sex from disinterest in relationships.

A good friend of mine explained the difference to me when she was trying to come to terms with her asexuality. As far as she could tell (she said), she was just as susceptible to debilitating crushes as anyone else, but they just didn't evoke a desire to rub body parts with anybody and she couldn't understand why they would. To her, sex seemed like an irrelevancy, an inexplicable fixation, a glitch in the neural wiring, an obsession as bizarre as an obscure, disgusting fetish would seem to you. "Why," she asked, "does the development of a long-standing, stable companionship require periodic episodes in which two people throw aside reason and act like wild animals? How can people argue that sex stabilizes and enriches a relationship when the opposite is obviously true a lot of the time?"

I had no answer for her. I still don't, really, except to say that some of us are wired (short-circuited?) that way.

Here I am, perfectly comfortable in my sports bra, granny underwear, plain t-shirt and jeans, my hair pinned up modestly. I am 19, albeit a young-looking 19, first year of university, unattatched. I feel no need to advertise my body or put it on display. I have no urge to try to attract another individual with which to engage in any sort of sexual activities.

Pretty uncommon for a 19 year old freshman, huh?

Although I prefer the term "nonsexual" (asexual to me sounds like I am against sex), 'asexual' is the term widely used with people with whom I identify. Apparent asexuality has been observed in many animal species(e.g. sheep, as told in the article from New Scientist: http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn6533), but seems to remain an unheard of phenomenon among many humans. There is AVEN, the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, at http://www.asexuality.org which is the only large online community I have found for people of "our orientation". It has an excellent FAQ and defines asexuality broadly to include people who masturbate, orgasm, and enjoy sex but simply don't feel the need or desire to seek it out, to people like me, who kind of try to just avoid the whole topic altogether.

In addition, there are a few communities on LiveJournal, and a few online dating networks (e.g. asexualpals.com) set up, and exploring those links as well as AVEN has proven very informative. Below I will give a brief description of what being asexual is like for me. It is by no means intended to be comprehensive or inclusive, only informative.

What's The Big Deal?
Imagine that, for most of your life, most everyone around you has very strong cravings for vegemite. Even people who have never tried it seem to have this insatiable need for it. Much of the Western World seems to revolve around it, relationships are made or broken because of it, and some people are simply obsessed with it (although, to me, it seems almost like a mini-obsession in most everyone.) People go to great lengths to get it, they spend time and energy trying to get the best variety of vegemite, they gossip about whether person A likes vanilla vegemite, chocolate vegemite, or both, it seems to be all-important. You, yourself, have never understood the appeal and have always felt satisfied without having to reach for this condiment. It seems nearly frivilous...which is not to say that it cannot taste good, but merely that it does not, to you, seem to be something you must have to satiate your (nonexistent) insane vegemite cravings.

I remember, when I was about 12 or 13, Titanic came out. All my female classmates went ga-ga over Leonardo DiCaprio. I couldn't understand the fascination. Sure, the movie was good, and he was pleasing to the eyes, but what was the appeal? Out of an attempt to fit in, I bought a book about him from Waldenbooks, and showed my friends. They all said, "Well, I don't like him that much, not enough to buy a book about him." I couldn't understand their reaction (I still don't.) They seemed utterly obsessed; they bought posters and magazines, but not a book about his personality and acting career?

Now is the "hypothetical questions and answers" game.

How do you know you don't have a hormonal imbalance?
I don't. It could be the case. However, I have never had any other indicating factors of such, nor do I feel a need to seek out medical help for my 'condition'.

How do you know you aren't just repressed, that you weren't abused as a child, etc.?
To the best of my knowledge, I was not abused. It is possible that I am 'repressing the memories'. However, the same thing could be said about anyone.

How do you know you don't like it if you haven't tried it?
Well, as a matter of fact, I have tried it. So nyah. I have engaged in numerous types of heterosexual sex, so strictly speaking I could try lesbianism, but I am pretty satisfied that sex is not for me. It wasn't terrible or scarring or anything like that, it was simply not something I would like to engage in as a pastime.

What about propagation of the species?
The human species seems to be doing quite well for itself without my contribution.

What about the joys of motherhood?
Well, I can always adopt.

What about passing on something of yourself?
Although I have no urge to seek immortality, if I did, there are plenty of other ways I could strive to achieve it, 'leave my mark on the world' so to speak.

You just haven't met the right person yet.
This could also be true, but again, it could also apply to anyone and a person of opposing sexual orientation.

Most reactions I have gotten when I have revealed this about myself have been positive. Some people think it is 'cool', and one person even said that she had read an article about how the next sexual revolution will be the asexual revolution. (Personally, I am not sure what we need a revolution for. Recognition? I don't know. I do not feel as if I am discriminated against...)

I will admit, it does seem like I have a whole lot less to worry about. However, there are times when other individuals will admit to having an interest in me, and this becomes very awkward,(particularly if they don't believe me right away) as I feel very sorry and wonder if I have unintentionally led the person on, because apparently what I consider 'witty conversation' actually turns out to be 'heavy flirting', after which I feel extremely embarassed. It is not the easiest thing in the world. I still feel as if maybe I am just 'not getting' it, and can feel very out of place in numerous conversations, with nothing to contribute and things going right over my head.

So, it is not all lala-land of 'whee look at me no worries' because I do sometimes feel as if I am missing out. However, I would not try to change who I am, as I am very comfortable this way.

I have noticed a serious malfunction with the term asexual as a definition for a person lacking the desire to fornicate. In biology, it is taught the definition to mean having no apparent sex or sex organs. To me this is not someone who has the proper tools but does not use them; asexual should be reserved for the people born with congenital absences. If for some reason a person is repulsed by sex or just indefferent, this is not cause to be called asexual. I do not care if this is the most widely accepted definition, it is at conflict with the original definition. Those who are androgynous could call themselves asexual if they choose but only very loosely at most because in most cases it is not possible for someone with androgyny to reproduce by themselves and most commonly are quite distinct in their phenotype. However that is besides the point, there are far better terms for people that are not interested in coitus, please choose one and move on. Can I suggest hypo-sexual, non-erotic or even antisexual, but whatever the choice please stop diluting the English language with this ignorance. Thank you.

A*sex"u*al (?; 135), a. [Pref. a- not + sexual.] Biol.

Having no distinct; without sexual action; as, asexual reproduction. See Fission and Gemmation.

 

© Webster 1913.

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