Sex Isn’t Always The Answer

In an increasingly sexualised world, asexual students can struggle to be understood

Sex is everywhere.

It’s plastered across the pages of magazines and newspapers, whispered about by giggling teenagers, and practically all over the internet.

Sex doesn’t sell to everyone

As Woody Allen said, ‘I don’t know the question, but sex is definitely the answer.’ For a lot of people maybe sex is the answer, but not for those of us who are asexual. We simply aren’t that interested.

Human asexuality is defined as the lack of sexual attraction to other people. It is, like any sexual orientation, an integral part of who we are, making it quite different to celibacy, which is the choice to abstain from sex.

Pretty straightforward, right? Actually, it isn’t. Asexuality is not always that simple and there are a lot of misconceptions about what it really entails.

A common fallacy is that asexual people aren’t interested in relationships. In actual fact, a lot of asexuals actually do experience attraction, but generally this attraction will be much more romantic than sexual in nature. For this reason an asexual might choose to identify as gay, straight or bi as a way of describing their romantic orientation.

Another misconception is that asexual people don’t have sex. Sexual orientation is not determined by sexual activity and there are many reasons an asexual might choose to have sex; perhaps because they want to please their partner, or because they want to have children, or simply because they want to see what it’s like.

Photo: David Jay

Wrapping your head around some of this may seem like a tall order, but it only gets more confusing from here.

As I’ve said, asexuality encompasses a variety of people, and some of these people identify as grey-asexuals, which is a term used to describe the grey area between asexual and sexual.

These people might experience sexual attraction but only infrequently, or might only able to experience sexual attraction under particular circumstances.

To a lot of people these concepts may seem completely bizarre, but asexuality is a real, documented phenomenon. Recent studies have suggested around 1% of the UK’s population is asexual – about 630,000 people.

But why should you have noticed? Why do you need to notice? If asexuals don’t want to have sex then surely they should just not have sex, rather than moaning about it?

The problem is asexuals face misunderstanding and ignorance in a very similar way to the LGBT community. We may never have had to campaign for our rights in the way gay, bisexual and transgender people have, but it can still be a fight to be accepted by our peers, family and by society in general.

In a society obsessed with sex, realising you don’t want it can feel quite isolating. You might feel ashamed or scared to tell people in case they laugh at or reject you.

That’s why it’s important to take notice of asexuality. Not everybody is interested in sex, and that’s fine.