While it is true that we are all sexual beings, we do not all get satisfaction or pleasure from sexual activity. Recently, several research studies interviewed people who identity as asexual to explore the experiences of this particular community. According to Brotto, Knudson, Inskip, Rhodes, and Erskine (2010), “asexuality is best conceptualized as a lack of sexual attraction.”
In one study, four people were interviewed with a resulting four themes: sexual experience, defining asexuality, sexual motivation, and sexual concerns (Prause & Graham, 2007). Regarding the sexual experiences, the participants reported they never felt the same level of excitement or satisfaction that peers expressed. One woman explained that she could not experience pleasure when she participated in masturbation activities. Another woman expressed no sexual response to watching pornography: “It’s just boring…it’s not even remotely interesting to me.”
How do people who identify as asexual define asexuality?
“…I experienced sexual things, but that doesn’t make me sexual. I have no interest in it. So I think to me having an interest in sex is what makes you sexual…” –female participant.
When research participants were asked about what motivated them to participate in the sexual activities that led to their discovery that they were asexual, there were two common motivators: curiosity and the desire to please a romantic partner. The participants talked about getting married or being in sexual relationships and pretending to be sexual like other people to satisfy the sexual partner. The most common sexual concern, however, was the question of normality: “…am I the only one not doing this?”
In another study, Brotto et al found positive and negative themes of sexuality within the asexual community. Positive influences included the discovery of a larger asexual community through the Asexuality Visibility ad Education Network, while some themes had a negative impact on the asexual community. “There was a resistance to labeling asexuality as any type of disorder because of the emphasis on the pathological aspects of the term,” however, the themes regarding asexuality as a symptom of social withdrawal (overlap with schizoid personality disorder) or implications that asexual behavior may fit the criteria for Asperger’s syndrome definitely attempts to pathologize this group of individuals.
Asexual Awareness Week 2011 starts Sunday, October 23 and ends Saturday, October 29. During this week, the Center for Sex and Culture is hosting the Naked Spooky Girls Reading Thursday, October 27th at 8:00pm.