Stories are written by people who don’t necessarily work or study in fields related to sexology. They convey emotions, perceptions, and subjective perspectives. Opinions voiced in the stories are those of their authors, and in no way represent the position of Les 3 sex*.
Ce témoignage est aussi disponible en français [➦].
Translated by Zoe Yarymowich
I am truly fascinated by human sexuality. Really. I think my fascination began the day I started questioning my sexual orientation.
No, I’m not coming out as lesbian, where, in this binary society, everything has to be either one or the other: heterosexual or homosexual.
I am neither one nor the other; neither bi, not even pan, maybe queer. On the other hand, I am more comfortable with the term “asexual”, because I don’t feel any sexual attraction toward anyone.
I won’t go into explicit detail on what asexuality is. It is rather complex and this is a story and not an educational article or asexual propaganda.
Every time I mention my asexuality, I need to educate, inform and even justify myself!
To justify that I am not against sexuality and that on the contrary, I strongly encourage people to live their sexuality in a healthy way. Everyone's sexuality is different and I have my own.
The minute I name my orientation, I notice personal barriers coming down. I am asked an array of questions, often inappropriate, that I would not normally be asked otherwise. I am asked about my masturbation habits, my sexual history, and they pick at my childhood wounds to falsely prove that I’m not actually asexual. I don’t need people to act like they are psychologists. Such intrusion into my life makes me hate my orientation even though I am normally at peace with her. Her. Yes, I sometimes consider her a separate entity because she takes up so much space in my intimacy.
To be honest, the questioning of asexual identities is undoubtedly difficult.
How do we know what we’re attracted to when the answer is: nothing?
I often joke by adding: “not even animals, objects or children.” I know, dark humour isn’t particularly funny to some people but it helps to lessen the stigmatization of my orientation. I say “stigmatization” because that’s what happens in most cases, that is to say that the remarks and questions I receive have the effect of stigma on me. These often unconscious words on the part of others affect how I interact with them, my trust in them, and my self-esteem.
I myself thought about all the possibilities and questions I am asked when I was in my period of reflection that I affectionately call “my asexual identity crisis”. I even wondered if I had experienced a sexual trauma in my childhood that I couldn’t remember because of a possible post-traumatic shock! So don’t come to me and suggest the cause of my orientation, believing that you will find a solution to make me “normal”.
All of these suggestions unconsciously invalidate my asexuality and this is called the denial of epistemic authority: I am denied my sexual identity.
I realized that ignorance plays a big role in this denial of epistemic authority. It is natural to ask questions about a subject that we’re unfamiliar with, but other people's intolerance of what they don't understand becomes a lot to bear.
I even think I see this same phenomenon among health professionals who pathologize asexuality, especially because they confuse it with the disorder of low sexual desire found in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). An asexual person will be much less stigmatized if they affirm their orientation loud and clear since they will not appear to be suffering from any distress. Let me explain: I have to insist over and over on my orientation to avoid this pathologization. Once, my psychologist naively asked me, “being asexual, do you think it’s possible?” I think I stammered a weak “yes”, but I didn’t insist, since I was in the middle of my asexual identity crisis. It was probably a bit of ignorance on her part and even though I wasn’t there to explore the subject, I dreaded her coming back to the topic to "treat" me. Since that day, even though my personal experience could have been worse, I dread appointments with health professionals, regardless of the field, because I dread confrontations with these people who supposedly have more credibility because of their degrees.
However, asexuality also sometimes causes distress (stigmatization, marginalization, prejudice, and distress related to the failure to find a romantic partner because, yes, asexual people can also have a love life…). And all of this can lead to a misdiagnosis by health professionals who pathologize asexuality.
It’s hard for me to imagine why it’s so important to force myself to be sexually fulfilled when I don't feel the need to. Since I am the opposite of an allosexual person (who needs others to satisfy their sexual needs), I wonder if I live in a sexuality-centred society or if it’s just me who feels that sexuality is everywhere.
Sometimes, I wonder where I fit in as an asexual person in this hypersexuality-centric world. And I answer myself inwardly and sarcastically: “Surely in the letters that are hidden in the + of LGBTQ+”. Yet, I don’t feel like I belong anywhere. Even less so when the term “asexual”, defined as low or absent interest in sexual activity, is confused with “ally” or with that of asexual, defined as not having sexual organs, sometimes even with “chastity” or “abstinence”, and so on.
Comparing my sexual desires and needs to those I observe in others is a bit of what allowed me to learn about and understand asexuality. But then, what is normal sexuality really? If I had to personally answer this question, I would say that it is a social construct.
Perhaps we should turn to feminism, which promotes equality, to get the slightest impression that asexuality is valid. So, let’s talk about feminism, revolution and sexual freedom.
On one hand, I feel blessed to be able to live in a society that is said to be open to sexual diversity, at least more open compared to many other places. I read multiple articles where the authors affirm that sexuality only brings benefits to human health as well as to a happy and healthy marital life. Despite everything, I can assure you and tell you that sex would only bring me psychological alienation. It’s not that sex itself seems like a chore to me, but a bit anyway, given that I am not sexually attracted to anyone.
As I already mentioned, the lack of sexual attraction is sometimes seen as a disorder, whereas for me the disorder comes after. After thinking or being told that I must be a “sexual” person, after people doubt my words, and especially after not listening to me and forcing me to have sex… I should have known that I didn’t need this in order to know who I wasn’t attracted to.
I get the impression that in general sexuality and sexual freedom are used to sell, attract attention, to be socially accepted and I consider the absence of sexuality to be negatively judged to such an extent that it is considered detrimental to one’s well-being and seen as a pathology.
Even if claiming my asexual identity is not necessarily perceived as a frustration, sexual disorder, psychological disorder or a consequence of a trauma, it still risks being considered either sexual immaturity or sexual anarchism opposing patriarchy and toxic masculinity by refusing to engage in any sexual act. If only that were the case! Sorry to disappoint you, but it’s just one orientation among many others, that of feeling no or very little sexual attraction.
More and more, I get the impression that feminist movements are now claiming female sexual pleasure. I too am a feminist. I too, claim my pleasure, even if it is not the same as others. I have to keep explaining this.
Therefore, I become by default a sexual anarchist who struggles to live her sexuality outside the norms conceived by society. Not by choice, but by necessity. I also automatically become a spokesperson, role model or educator for the people around me on everything related to asexuality. Once again, not by choice but because I’m the only source of information they have. Perhaps I’ll be told to wait since sexual education courses in school will be back in full force and I’ll laugh a genuine laugh like it’s the funniest joke that I’ve ever heard. Asexuality is often invisible and I fear that it will be in education too.