Thursday, March 1, 2012

Not Wired That Way

Recently asexuality has been appearing more and more in the media, from the positive documentary made by the BBC a few weeks ago, to the not so well done House episode which portrayed asexuality as a dysfunction caused by an illness that could be cured rather than a legitimate orientation. The latter, provoked a certain uproar in the asexual community which is only understandable. Here we are, trying to get ourselves recognized as the fourth major sexual orientation alongside heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality, when suddenly this TV series pops up portraying asexuality as an illness which can be cured. And with society as it is today, there are more chances of it listening to a fiction's definition of the orientation rather than the real definition portrayed in the news. The producer, after many complaints sent by aces expressed their apologies about having given the wrong impression about asexuality, as it was not their intention.

It seems that asexuality in the media goes from one extreme to the other, either it receives a good and genuine representation, or one that implies that it is an illness or a disability.
A recent article quite annoyed me, two relationship experts, Ryeal Simms and DeAnna Lorraine, were discussing how asexuality affects relationships on a dating advice show, and while the two happened to differ on certain elements of asexuality, both agreed that sex was important in relationships. I agree with them up to a certain extent on that statement. Yes, sex is important in a relationship when two people feel that to express their love for one another they need that extra step of intimacy. For sexuals, sex is something that is needed to maintain a healthy balance in their relationship. But in the case where asexuals are involved no, I don't see how it is important, as they have no sexual desires; for an asexual sex generally compromises intimacy. Often, this is why relationships between asexuals/sexuals are complicated and difficult for both partners.

Dating coach DeAnna, seems to believe that asexuality is a barrier preventing happiness. It isn't. Lack of sexual desire doesn't mean lack of happiness. Asexuals are happy as who they are, making an asexual have sex is likely to make them unhappy. Someone who doesn't like chocolate cake is perfectly happy without eating it, make them eat it and then they will be unhappy. DeAnna also says that she "[doesn't] think it's actually healthy for someone to be Asexual their whole life." How is it unhealthy? Asexuals are as healthy as anyone else. Not having sex doesn't make one ill. People can go their entire life without having sex, but without bowel movement one can die within a week. As an asexual, for me, a healthy sex life is a no sex life.

A certain aspect of DeAnna's explanation reminds me of the psychoanalyst Freud, who believed that repressing sexual urges led to an unhealthy psychic, as she declares that "it’s important to unleash that sexual part of you". Well if you don't have a sexual beast within you, you can't unleash it, can you? Asexuals are not repressed or emotionally impaired, we're just not wired that way.

"Studies have shown that finding a healthy sexual balance and enjoying great communication are both key in strong relationships". If we remove the sex, an asexual's healthy relationship is exactly the same as anyone else's. We all need the same emotional connections in a relationship, trust, communication, fun, closeness and humour are equally important in nonsexual relationships and sexual ones.

I guess that it is still difficult for some people to get their head round asexuality as it challenges one of the principal assumptions of today's society which is: sex is an essential part of our lives.