The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Asexuality in a world of the highly sexual

The downward-pointing triangle is the symbol for asexuality, similar to the triangle logo for homosexuality. Illustration by Kristin Hugo / Opinions Editor

Sex can be rough. It seems like though our society condemns sexual promiscuity, it tells us that sex is also the key to happiness and fulfillment – if you can’t find sex in your city, go become a hermit and live in a cave.

If you are happy not getting any and you have no desire to get lucky, tell people who pressure you to get laid to go screw themselves.

Having no sexual attraction toward others does not have to demonstrate a social problem or a sexual disorder, but can indicate an asexual orientation.

According to the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), an asexual is “someone who does not experience sexual attraction” to others.

According to a study published in 2007 called “Asexuality: Classification and Characterization” by Nicole Prause and Cynthia A. Graham, people with asexual orientations may be mistakenly diagnosed with sexual disorders such as “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” or “sexual aversion disorder.”

“Indeed, a decrease in sexual desire can signal psychological or physiological disorders (e.g., depression, hypothyroidism),” the study states. “Currently, evidence does not suggest that cognitions and behaviors associated with asexuality necessarily signal a problem.”

The study also mentioned how research done in 1994 in the United Kingdom found that asexuality was found more in females, older people, single people, people with higher religiosity, low education, socioeconomic status and poor health, among other variables. However, current analysis of this older study showed that it had limitations – participants were asked to identify as asexual using a very narrow definition of asexuality; questions about arousal and measures of attraction was limited; and no questions about masturbation were asked.

Research is growing in the medical and psychological world about asexuality, which gives hope for asexual people seeking help from those resources. However, asexual people still have much more difficulty finding validation and acceptance from popular culture, especially in American society.

“The world, at least our world, does seem obsessed with sex,” wrote Hara Marano in a 2005 edition of Psychology Today. “Whole industries are devoted to making people think everyone else is having more, doing more, doing it better. It’s a principle of Marketing 101 that anxiety about one’s ultimate desirability as a mate is a great sales tool.”

“You don’t have to have a low sex drive to understand that the reality is not quite so florid. Human endowments, like sex drive, are generally distributed along the infamous bell-shaped curve; most people cluster in the middle. There are fewer people with high sex drive and similarly few who feel asexual. Culturally, we’ve acted as if everyone were at the high end.”

Fortunately, more activists in the asexual community are working to increase visibility through education and outreach so that asexual individuals can accept and empower their identity.

“Unlike celibacy, which people choose, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who we are,” AVEN’s website states. “Asexuality does not make our lives any worse or any better, we just face a different set of challenges than most sexual people.”

“People feel if you’re not sexual then there’s something wrong with you,” said Gaia Steinberg, an asexual activist from Israel. Steinberg educates people from around the world with her web presence.

In a YouTube video, Steinberg explained why it is important for her to raise awareness about asexuality.

“A lot of asexual people live their lives not knowing that it’s legitimate to not want sex,” Steinberg said. “A lot of asexuals have this feeling of feeling “broken” a feeling like something in their lives needs to change in order for them to function as normal human beings.  A lot of asexuals just don’t  understand … that it’s really okay to not want sex and that’s just how they’re made.”

Being asexual does not doom someone to a life of loneliness and isolation. Asexual people can have meaningful romantic or non-romantic relationships and just like sexual people, they can identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex, queer and questioning. Asexual people can date and have long-term relationships with individuals within the asexual community as well as with sexual people.

“Sexual or nonsexual, all relationships are made up of the same basic stuff,” states the AVEN website. “Communication, closeness, fun, humor, excitement and trust all happen just as much in sexual relationships as in nonsexual ones.”

“Unlike sexual people, asexual people are given few expectations about the way that our intimate relationships will work. Figuring out how to flirt, to be intimate, or to be monogamous in nonsexual relationships can be challenging, but free of sexual expectations we can form relationships in ways that are grounded in our individual needs and desires.”

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