"It is not for me to judge another man's life. I must judge, I must choose, I must spurn, purely for myself. For myself, alone."
I personally identify as sexually active and interested in the many and myriad sexual acts. Many of you may agree! However, questions must necessarily arise. Asexual, is that an amoeba? Why don't you like sex? Is there something wrong with you, physically or emotionally? How can people like you exist? These are all questions the LGBTQ community has likely heard.
Certain criticisms of asexuality arise on the topic of reproducing and children, most of which seems to implicate the so-called natural process of procreation. Many transsexual and homosexual individuals have probably heard this criticism before. Even as a straight female who hasn’t encountered this reaction, the irony surprises me that the differences between people (even if they seem to be accepted for some groups) appear again for a group like asexuals. What does tolerance really mean if the same facts are not accepted group to group?
The expectation that asexual people must have something wrong with them is extremely prevalent. The idea that asexuality is the result of repressed sexuality, pasts filled with abuse and even biological or hormonal problems could be considered insensitive. Speculations on personal fears about pregnancy or performance certainly begin to be insulting. Psychological profiles of asexuals rarely show indications of depression, post-traumatic stress or other disorders.
Intimacy with others is not a problem. The desire to be with and make connections to other people is unaffected and completely separated from sex for asexual people. I would put forth that sex both solves and creates so many problems. The value in understanding asexuality lies not just in learning another aspect of tolerance but also in understanding the way relationships can be formed.
One thing I had trouble understanding, however, was that rates of masturbation compared between asexual people and those who identified as heterosexual were the same. In the documentary, several explanations are put forth, ranging from masturbation as an indication that asexuality doesn’t exist to masturbation as an indication that nothing is physically wrong.
A certain apathy exists -- if you don’t want to have sex, no one’s making you! Yet, the experience of asexual people has been rife with alienation, which is common to us all as individuals. Founder of the movement to recognize asexuality, David Jay, notes that having sex is a rite of passage into adulthood -- therefore, if an individual doesn't want to have sex, they frequently feel unrecognized as an adult. There’s something different about everyone, but we all deserve understanding. Ultimately, the key to tolerance is making an effort to understand and educate. Societal pressures are rough on everyone who doesn’t fit the mold. It’s hard to wrap your head about an idea that may feel very out of the box. Sex seems like an integral experience to the human condition. The benefits of sex cannot be ignored and frequently it enriches lives. But it’s not the answer for everyone, which is the core reality we must all accept in order to be truly sex-positive and tolerant.