Yasmin Benoit Debunks Asexual Sex & Relationship Myths
Yasmin Benoit, british model and activist for asexual community, creator of #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike talks to us about harming stereotypes on asexuality. Let’s debunk those myths once and for all.
What is asexuality?
Asexuality is characterised by experiencing a lack of sexual attraction towards anyone, regardless of their gender. Like most sexualities, it exists on a spectrum or under an umbrella, encompassing a range of experiences with that key characteristic in common. This is often referred to as the asexual or ace umbrella/spectrum, and it includes other identities like graysexuality and demisexuality. Asexuality falls under the A in LGBTQIA+, and despite our diversifying conversations about sexuality, it's often left out of the conversation.
Myth: Asexuality means having no sexuality
Despite the more literal etymology of the word, asexuality does not mean having absolutely no sexuality. Asexual people experience little-to-no sexual attraction, but sexual attraction is just one element of sexuality.
Asexual people can still experience sexual arousal, have a libido, masturbate, have orgasms, have sexual feelings, interests or desires.
None of these things are dependent on experiencing sexual attraction, and some people on the ace spectrum might have experienced sexual attraction before, albeit a negligible amount.
Myth: Aces are anti-sex
Asexual people aren't more likely to have negative attitudes towards sex itself, or other people's participation in it, or take issue with how others express their sexuality. The misconception that asexuals are inherently prude or have anti-sex beliefs leads to asexuality being left out of sex-positive discourse, asexual people excluded from sex-positive spaces and even from queer spaces. This rhetoric frames asexual people as being a potential danger to sexual freedom.
You can be asexual and sex-positive, even if you aren't having sex yourself.
Myth: Asexual people don't have sex
For some people, not being sexually attracted to someone rules out all possibility of having sex with them. However, this isn't the same for everyone. There are many reasons why people, including those on the ace spectrum, choose to have sex. It is possible for someone who is asexual or on the ace spectrum to experience pleasure during sex, to enjoy sex, and to be interested in having sex. It just tends not to come from a place of instinsic sexual desire towards other people. Of course, there are many asexual people who choose not to have sex because they don't experience sexual attraction (like me), and that is a valid experience too..
Myth: Aces don't experience romantic attraction
Romantic attraction and sexual attraction overlap for many people in the majority of instances, but not always. You can experience romantic attraction without sexual attraction and vice versa, as explained within the split-attraction model. There are plenty of asexual people who still experience romantic attraction and desire romantic relationships. Those relationships can be as intimate, enduring and legitimate as any other. Experiencing a lack of romantic attraction is known as aromanticism. Some people, like myself, are asexual and aromantic (aro-ace) but they aren't mutually exclusive
Things to remember
Every ace person has a different experience
We all have different experiences of our asexuality, different feelings towards our own participation in sex, we develop different forms of attraction to different degrees with different emphasis, we want different kinds of relationships and are on different paths. Asexuality isn't a limitation on what we can achieve, whether it's in relationships or in our lives.
Communication is key
When starting any kind of relationship with an asexual person, it's best not to make assumptions. It's okay to ask respectful questions in the appropriate setting with the ace person you're getting to know. Communication is key. It's essential to understand each other's needs, wants and boundaries - whether that concerns sex or anything else.
Sex isn't everything
Someone not being sexually attracted to you doesn't necessarily mean that they care about you any less. The degree to which someone is lusting after you is not an indicator of how much they value you, how your relationship is going or how legitimate it is. A sexless relationship is not necessarily a bad one. A relationship where one person isn't sexually attracted to the other doesn't necessarily make it worse. There are many ways to desire someone and more important components to a relationship than sex.