Sex is considered a central part of university, indeed it’s seen as a central part of society. When we aren’t being encouraged to have sex, we’re being encouraged to buy things that will further the pursuit of sex. In that context, it’s understandable that people who don’t feel that passionate about sex, don’t prioritise it or are repulsed by it can end up feeling isolated, alone and unusual. But if you feel that sex isn’t a priority for you, or you feel that you’d only consider having it with someone very close to you, that isn’t unusual: you could be on the asexual spectrum.
Asexuality is broad, describing a spectrum of attitudes to sex ranging from repulsion to indifference to only feeling sexually attracted to someone you have an emotional bond with. Lots of people are asexual, and groups in the asexual community recently organised an Awareness Week from 26th October to 1st November.
Just like anybody else, some asexual people desire relationships and some donít. Asexual people can experience romantic and aesthetic attraction and fall in love, but for them these things do not have a sexual dimension. Romantic attraction is as broad as sexual attraction: there are heteroromantic asexuals (attracted to a different gender), homoromantic asexuals (attracted to the same gender), biromantic asexuals (attracted to more than one gender) and panromantic asexuals (who can be attracted to people of all genders). There are also aromantic folks, who do not feel romantic attraction.
Rachel Sowerby, a second year Environmental Science student, has identified as asexual since she was 17 and discovered the phrase in a discussion about Sherlock Holmes. “Within a few seconds”, she said, “I went yes, this is me, I’m not a freak and I am not alone. For a long time I had felt different and broken because I lacked the sexual drive of my friends, so to find a community of people just like me was a wonderful thing”.
Some asexuals have had sex. They might feel close enough to a person to be comfortable with it, or they might enjoy the emotional connection. But this just means that sexual attraction isn’t an important factor in their relationship with somebody. They might identify as demisexual, like Ru Wilson, a second year Law student. For him, “demisexuality fits comfortably as it gets across that I’m into sex, in a limited way, but it’s more monogamous than most…it means being able to have an interest in sex, but only with people I truly love”.
Being asexual can be difficult in our society; being asexual in the sexually charged atmosphere of a university is doubly so. But if you’re reading this and you’re wondering why you don’t feel as much passion for sex as your classmates; if you can’t see what all the fuss is about; if you can only conceive of having sex with someone you have an emotional bond with, then you might well be asexual.