Thanet Writers Research Asexuality
Us humans have a tendency to label everything, which can be both a good and bad thing at times. Sexuality is a wider spectrum than we give it credit for, and so requires a lot of different labels if we want to understand who experiences what kind of attraction.
Within the asexual spectrum, there are quite a few different labels, so it makes sense to start this article with a list of the main types. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but gives a good overview of the main areas.
Asexual: You do not experience sexual attraction.
Demisexual: You only experience sexual attraction after already forming an emotional bond – and the emotional bond doesn’t have to be a romantic bond, but one based on friendship, for example.
Grey: A grey-sexual person could best be described as a person who sits somewhere between being asexual and sexual. They might experience sexual attraction incredibly rarely, for example, or at such a low level that it could very easily be ignored.
One thing it’s important to note: if you’re asexual, you can’t also be gay, straight, or bisexual. As the names suggest, these belong to people who are on the sexual spectrum. If you’re in a relationship, then you are in an asexual relationship; dating someone of the same sex doesn’t therefore make you gay, it makes you an asexual person who is attracted to the same sex. It’s a potent difference, but one that’s important to make.
Being asexual puts you on the same type of spectrum as anyone else; you can just as easily be attracted to people of both sexes, either sex, or neither. People will often make assumptions about two people being together, and that’s understandable to a degree; you’re relying on an outward perception that you can only briefly see, but once you’ve learnt more about them, then you need to adjust your thinking.
One percent of the population is on the asexual spectrum. One first reading, this doesn’t sound a lot when you consider how large the world’s population actually is, but let me reframe it. Roughly 74.4 million people in the world are asexual. That’s a huge number. Yet where do they appear in fiction? I don’t think I can honestly say I’ve ever encountered an asexual character. It’s such a shame; I’d love to see James Bond’s reaction to meeting someone who’s asexual. I’d love to see James Bond himself be asexual. He’d certainly be less distracted in one sense, although would he then just replace that desire with twice as many Martinis? Something to think about.
It’s also important to note what asexuality isn’t; it’s isn’t abstinence, and it’s not celibacy. Both of these things are based on personal choices; your orientation, however, cannot be chosen. It’s part of who you are. Also, some asexuals have sex; they might want to pleasure themselves, give pleasure to their partner, or have children of their own. Just because they have sex doesn’t make them any less asexual.
People always seek out others like themselves; it’s another part of the human psyche, especially as we all want to understand that we’re not alone and not broken. To find fellow asexuals amongst a community which overwhelmingly is like finding a needle in a haystack, so is a huge relief and joy when it happens. Developing friendships with people who get it is such a lovely feeling, and thanks to the internet, asexual communities have appeared and grown.
Us asexuals are a silent minority, but a minority with over 74 million people; we are right there in front of you, sometimes unaware of our orientation ourselves. But it would be an interesting plot point to consider, as there is such a spectrum to consider. How would a spy use a honey trap on someone who’s asexual? If a villain or hero didn’t harbour erotic thoughts about someone, what would inspire them to do their terrible or great things? There’s so much for writers to consider, and opens up so many other plot devices to us writers.
© 2018 Matthew Munson
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Thanet-based author Matthew has three novels published by Inspired Quill, is an inveterate blogger, and writing is his passion.