Rachel Hodgson discusses the sexual orientation that omits sex itself, and the difficulties for those who identify as asexual.
Given our overly sexualised society today it may come as a surprise to some to learn of a sexual orientation in which the individual does not desire a sexual relationship, and therefore will often omit any form of physical intimacy from any and all of their relationships.
Asexuality is a sexual orientation that does not hold much recognition in today’s society and as such is often met with confusion. Kelly Jenkins, a first year undergraduate student from Durham University explained that when she told people of her sexual orientation at university ‘they weren’t even aware it existed’.
There is a lot of ambiguity as to what it means to identify as an asexual. Often equated to having similar connotations to celibacy, many do not realise that being asexual is not a choice. Arguably the key method to adopt when faced with any confusion regarding asexuality is one of raising awareness and increasing personal knowledge.
Asexuality first became used for defining someone’s sexual orientation in 2001, although it has been identifiable for a large amount of time, the amount of available resourceful information is somewhat lacking. Given our societies current recognition of various sexualities it is rather surprising that asexuality is less known.
Organisations such as LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) often establish support groups within institutes of education in order to offer their guidance and advice. With this in mind ‘it’s odd that every other sexuality is represented in things like uni groups,’ says Kelly.
There are other resources, such as the website AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network), which offers support for asexuals looking for information and guidance with anything they may be struggling with.
Unbeknownst to some, identifying as an asexual isn’t as black and white as simply stating that they don’t have sexual relationships. Although asexuals do not experience a sexual attraction towards others, some do have romantic relationships.
Romantic asexuals experience romantic attractions towards other individuals and have successful relationships without partaking in the sexual aspects of the relationship. Although it does depend on the individual as to how intimate they are with their partner, some may only be comfortable with holding hands, whilst others may be comfortable with kissing their partners. Aromantic asexuals experience neither romantic nor sexual attractions towards other individuals and as a result often shirk away from physical touch.
Asexuality is an ever growing sexual orientation. It’s estimated that 1% of the world’s population is asexual, which roughly amounts to an estimated figure of 70 million. With figures like these it undoubtedly deserves a wider sphere of recognition amongst society in order to help with any confusion people may experience.
Recently the students of Swansea University took an active role in trying to raise awareness of asexuality. The LGBT student led campaign ran an Awareness Week that looked to raise awareness of not only asexuality, but also other sexualities too, as well as Trans and issues that often arise with Gender Identity.
With the statistically estimated figure of around 70 million of the world’s population identifying themselves as asexual, it can be difficult to comprehend that there still remains an air of ambiguity around this sexuality. However the encouraging growing inclusion of asexuality in certain aspects of the media; from newspaper articles to even a brief discussion on Loose Women, gives rise to the hope of a future world-wide recognition that may once and for all dispel any lingering confusion.