Whether or not we like labels, we all have them. Sometimes we celebrate them. Sometimes we despise them. Sometimes we just try to avoid them altogether. Some labels are innocuous, like “female”. Some labels are bound to inspire judgment, like “feminist”. And others labels are impossible to shake, so we focus on owning them, like “fat”.
Ultimately, labels can’t define us, however they do help us to connect with others like us and find commonalities with people who seem so different. Within just the past year, I have had beautiful experiences connecting with individuals who share my experiences of being “fat and fabulous”, a feminist, an atheist, and a liberal.
But when it comes to one label, I still feel like the odd duck. I am asexual.
Talking about sexuality has lost much of its taboo. Without minimizing the still-pervasive prejudice (and sometimes violence) suffered by those identifying as homosexual or bisexual, it is still possible to acknowledge that being homosexual is generally understood as an accepted state of being. Being asexual? Not so much.
Not even sure what asexuality is? (Click here for more from the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network.) Asexual individuals do not experience sexual attraction. There are a lot of subtleties and degrees of asexuality. In addition to being asexual, I would consider myself also aromantic, indicating a lack of romantic attraction. As far as any other details of my sexuality, you aren’t getting any. (My dad reads this blog, for pete’s sake!)
Let me be clear – I am not suffering. In fact, I’m tempted to delete everything up above there and start over, because this all sounds so dramatic. My life is amazing. I would not change a thing. And that is, in fact, my point. There’s nothing wrong with me.
I have maybe used the word “asexual” out loud in conversation (in a serious way) maybe twice. It’s not something I talk about. Why? Because there is an assumption that a lack of sexual or romantic desire is the result of some medical or psychological issue. I can’t say this enough – there is nothing wrong with me.
I have never been abused. I do not have a medical condition that impacts my sex drive. I am not – and this is the most pervasive and most offensive assumption – insecure because of my weight. It is not because I simply “don’t know what I’m missing”. I’m not a late bloomer. I’m not afraid of sex. I’m not just waiting for the right person to come along and change my mind. I’m not, as it turns out, missing out on any of the wonderful things life has to offer. My life is amazing. And there is nothing wrong with me.
There is a downside, though. Asexuality is not the standard state of being; the world caters to a sexual and romantic society. I’m not necessarily suggesting that it should be different, but I do find myself wishing for more acknowledgment and understanding. It occurs to me, however, that acknowledgment and understanding can’t happen with open and honest conversation. So this is me, being honest and starting the conversation.