As nearly any asexual person can attest, people who claim the often misunderstood orientation spend a good deal of time combatting the myth that it’s just celibacy.
Ultimately, this myth can be traced back to problematic assumptions and stereotypes that claim asexual people are unable to find sexual partners and so are making "celibacy" into a sexuality. This false correlation can lead to a number of challenges for asexual people.
The pervasive narrative that proclaims every person is or should be (at some point) sexual sees asexuals further stigmatized. Similar to how LGBT people are sometimes subjected to efforts to "cure" them through so-called conversion therapy, asexual people face a similar phenomenon in which they are told they just need to have the right sex. Some critics even go so far as to say that asexual individuals need medication to "fix" their lack of sex drive.
This false, damaging narrative can have dangerous consequences. Asexual people have faced “corrective rape,” wherein a rapist attempts to justify their assault as an effort to "correct" a victim's sexual orientation, gender identity, or, in this case, lack of sex drive. Further, many asexual people report feeling alienated within a sex-driven society that writes these individuals off as celibate.
In an effort to combat this abundance of misinformation, The Advocate asked the same four questions to 21 asexual individuals from all around North America. The diversity in the group reflects the assortment of experiences asexuals live. Some of the asexual participants are in relationships — monogamous, nonmonogramous, and polyamorous — while others are living single lives. Some participate in certain forms of sexual activity, and others are sex-repulsed (a term among asexuals meaning they do not have sex). Some masturbate and are even performers in pornography while others don't engage in any type of sexual activity.
In the first installment of #21AceStories, we asked asexual people about the biggest misconceptions they face. In this second installment of #21AceStories, our asexual participants educate us on the differences between asexuality and celibacy.