The Intern Investigates: Asexuality & Allosexuality
by: Emmett DuPont
Sexuality, the great human equalizer, that draws towards wild, loving, delicious sex is something we all share… or something we all want to share, right? This might not be as true as most people think.
What does it mean to be asexual, and what does it mean to be allosexual? Sexuality, a person’s capacity or desire for sexual activity or feelings, is a spectrum just like all human experience. Some of us feel sexual desire for complete strangers, I mean, did you see that tinder profile? Some of us don’t feel sexual desire until we know someone intimately well. Yet others have no sexual desire whatsoever. All three of these examples of (a)sexuality have labels to describe them. So let’s break it down, I’ll bust out my funky dance moves while you read.
On one end of the spectrum are people who are allosexual. Allosexuals experience sexual attraction and desire at a level that is considered normative in our society, which is pretty subjective. The majority of people are allosexual. Allosexuals may experience sexual desire for intimate partners as well as dat hottie on the street. For people who are allosexual, sexual intimacy is usually a part of intimate partner relationships, and is often a necessary part of the connection shared with boo.
Somewhere in the middle is gray asexuality. Gray-ace (ace = asexual), is a term that people might
use if they fall on the spectrum of asexuality, somewhere between completely asexual, and completely allosexual. For example, experiencing sexual attraction only after intimate friendships, or only occasionally. The experience of gray asexuality can be widely varied, so if a friend or partner comes out to you as asexual or gray-ace, inquire about their experiences and feelings.
Some asexual folks experience absolutely no sexual desire or attraction. Yeah, like, completely zero. Goose egg, as my grandma would say. Some allosexual people might find it hard to imagine being completely asexual, but some asexual people might find it as difficult to imagine allosexual life! Although plenty of aces don’t masturbate, some might find it to be a physical necessity, or a good way to relax, relieve tension, and get some good alone time, many of the same reasons anyone might masturbate. Some asexual folks are sex repulsed, wanting nothing to do with any sexual experience, while other aces might find that they are perfectly happy to do certain sexual acts to meet the needs of a partner. Consent is important in any relationship, and asexuals who are disinterested in sex are capable of giving consent, too!
Asexuality Myth Busting!
We’ve already busted myths like asexual people don’t masturbate, have sex, or ever experience sexual attraction. But let’s do our ace friends a favor and burst four of the most common stereotypes we didn’t cover earlier!
Asexuality is a phase
Just like any aspect of life, sexuality can, and often will change over a person’s lifetime. Evolution doesn’t mean falseness. I don’t identify as asexual today, but that doesn’t mean my sexuality won’t change in the next decade. Many asexual people will identify as asexual all their lives, whereas others might experience fluctuations.
Asexuality is a symptom of abuse
This is simply not true. Although sexual abuse can change a person’s sex drive, diminished sexual activity or desire because of trauma is completely different than asexuality. Asexuality is not something that necessarily can or should be treated with therapy, and although sexual abuse and asexuality can overlap within a person’s life, never assume that someone’s asexuality is a symptom of a problem.
Asexual people don’t have healthy intimate relationships
Many asexual people date and have intimate relationships, sometimes with other asexual people, but also with allosexual people, too!
Asexual people don’t need community around sexuality
Not so, my hypothetical friend! Asexual people need community to talk about the unique experiences, joys, and struggles of being asexual in a sexual world. Asexual people often must come out to friends and partners and navigate difficult conversations, so it is important to make room for asexual folks to celebrate asexuality!
Want more information and support around asexuality?
Emmett DuPont (they/them), Sex Educator Intern, is a first-generation college student at Hampshire College and a lifelong unschooler. Emmett lives at intersections of queerness, transness and disability, and is an enthusiastic educator around these and other topics. Read more about Emmett & their internship here.
To ask Emmett a sex, relationship or other relevant advice question for them to answer here on the blog, send us an email with the subject ASK THE INTERN.