I’m (A)sexy and I know it
Hugh Bassett goes on an asex-ploration.
You’d be forgiven for forgetting, what with all the election hubbub (a male woman’s officer? Whatever next, a female prime minister?), that this week is actually ‘asexual awareness week.’ In fact I’d totally and completely sympathise, because up until about two o’ clock today when my editor suggested it as an idea for an article neither did I! So at least we’re all in the same place.
Now, if you happened to have only just really heard of the concept of asexuality, and had to write an article about it, you’d probably be tempted to just senselessly rail against it, because ranting is fairly easy and it’s been a busy Tuesday all round. So you’d probably discover that people who identify themselves as asexual feel the need to ‘come out’, like gay people do, and you might think something along the lines of ‘how can you come out from nothing?’, and ‘surely there’s no burning desire to tell everyone that you don’t want to have sex with anyone, as it’s not exactly causing much harm (unless you’re Bradley Cooper, and then some people might be very upset)’.
You can Silver Linings my Playbook anytime. Sorry.
You might wonder if there was any real problem to be dealt with if you were asexual. If you didn’t really want to have sex with anyone, why not just continue to keep not doing that? There are very few situations in life where we are completely forced to be regularly having sex with someone and making sure everyone else knows that this is occurring. People have rarely committed hate crimes against someone who was just quietly not sleeping with anyone in the corner.
You might even be tempted to bemoan the fact that every single possible figment of anyone’s idea is now entitled to their own week, leaving your calendar so full of ‘Fisherman appreciation day’ and ‘People who sort of believe in something but aren’t quite sure what history month’ that you can barely work out when your own birthday is.
You don’t need a whole day, you already have these. Greedy.
But then there’s a chance you’d discover you had a free hour before a meeting and you might do some actual research. And if you were to take this path, you might discover that asexuality is a minor, but still very valid concern among a certain amount of the population.
Imagine if you never had any sexual feelings for anyone or anything ever. You might think that this wasn’t a particularly huge deal, because if you didn’t know what you were missing it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But then imagine the point where all your friends were starting have incredibly awkward fourteen year-old sexual experiences with people they will never want to remember for the rest of their lives. You might feel a bit left out, lonely, rejected even. Then imagine that although you didn’t feel sexual attraction, you still had the desire to form a relationship with someone else, but knew that because of the way you felt that would make it incredibly difficult, and the likelihood of finding someone else just like you who you were compatible with was incredibly low. Then you’d probably appreciate a week dedicated to events about your orientation where things could be discussed and you could meet other people like yourself.
That’s the reality for a not inconsiderable amount of our population (estimates are at around 800,000 people in the UK), and an awareness week is not a totally ridiculous idea to clear up some of the misconceptions about asexuality perceived by people unaware of the details of the orientation or lazy student journalists who kind of wanted to be outside in the sunshine (even though it’s March?).
But today was supposed to be for solemnly waiting for summer?
For instance, asexuality is very different to celibacy, which is a choice rather than an orientation, and most people associate with Stephen Fry’s horror at actually having to touch people that aren’t as amazing as him. It’s also quite common for asexual people to develop proper relationships with others, either through a sort of sexual compromise, or with other ‘aces’ (as they like to be referred to), where they act like any other couple, just without the sex. It probably also doesn’t help that that most people don’t really see asexuality as a ‘thing’, when in fact it’s just as real any other sexual orientation. On top of that, it’s unlikely that an asexual awareness week is likely to infringe on anyone’s day-to-day activities unless they want it to.
If you’d come this far on your journey, you might even be tempted to think that being asexual is a rather enviable minority to be in. You’d never have to worry about S.T.I.s. You’d never have those awkward fourteen year-old memories of that person who you’d rather not have bumped uglies with. You’d never have that moment when you realise mid-sex that it doesn’t look like at all like the movies and in fact you’re nearly purple, covered in sweat and appear to be speaking in tongues. And you’d never, ever have a moment where you’re texting your friend about that hot person who always sits opposite you, and then they look up and realise you’ve been looking at them weirdly for a while and are probably texting your friend about them so they get up and change seats. That could never happen to you. And it’d be great.