Sex sells. This has been the mantra of advertising since the dawn of the advertising age. And they’ve been right. But there’s a small part of the population who don’t notice it. Or don’t want to notice it. Or aren’t affected by it.
Statistically, one percent of the world’s population is asexual. And while this won’t change the face of advertising, it’s still to be acknowledged as a legitimate orientation. In an age of orientation freedom, you can declare yourself gay. Or bi. Or any number of things, and most people are accepting of it. But that one percent is seen as an anomaly, because they’re not into anything at all.
Why is this? Why can we accept that someone may be pansexual—sexually attracted to all genders—but not asexual—sexually attracted to none? Because sex sells. Because we see it everywhere, and it’s so ingrained in our culture that it seems improbable that someone may not want it.
But asexuality is still a complex spectrum of sex and romance. When you remove the sex, how do you define yourself? What are you searching for in a partner, if you’re searching at all? Because asexuality doesn’t mean a lot of things: it doesn’t mean one is void of emotion, or anti-sex, or doesn’t want a relationship. It’s not the same as celibacy, where the lack of sex is a conscious choice. It’s not a choice; it’s part of their genetic makeup. What asexuality is is a lack of sexual desire.
Due to society’s limited knowledge of asexuality, it’s common for sexuals to be skeptical. They say, “How do you know if you’ve never had sex?” or “You’ll change your mind when you’re in a relationship.” It’s like telling your lesbian friend, “you just need to get with a man.” It’s inaccurate, irksome, and offensive. Only you can decide your sexuality, or lack thereof. And the “lack thereof” counts, too.
The Asexuality Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) was established in 2001 to promote asexual awareness. And the site isn’t just for asexuals, or those who think they might be—there are resources for friends and family also searching for answers. Like with LGBT rights, it is important to be aware of asexuality’s existence. It’s important to support your friends who may be struggling with it, or to know not to say, “You’ll change your mind when you meet the right person.” The colors of the asexual flag itself encompass this:
Black represents asexuality; grey is grey-asexuality and demisexuality; white is sexuality; and purple is community.
Grey-A (as it’s more commonly known) and demisexuality are further proof of asexuality’s vast spectrum. Those who identify as grey-A rarely experience sexual desire, or have a low sex drive, and feel neither comfortable defining as sexual or asexual. Demisexuals do not experience sexual attraction until they have first established a strong emotional connection with their partner. Asexuality can be further narrowed down to romantic attraction, which follows the same mould as sexual attraction: One can be heteroromantic, or bi-, or homo-; whatever one’s preference is.
Sexual liberation has come a long way. We are free to discuss sex and sexuality in public and in the media with little controversy. More and more people have accepted their non-heterosexual friends and relatives, and these loved ones don’t have to conceal their relationships. It’s liberating to live in such an age. But we still have a long way to go—this vast acceptance of sexuality has clouded over the small population of people who aren’t sexual. AVEN has taken the first steps, but asexuality is still little-known. There is still much to do to expand its awareness.