1 having no or imperfectly developed or nonfunctional sex organs [syn: neuter]
2 having no sexual desire
3 sexually unattractive
Asexuality is a sexual orientation describing individuals who do not experience sexual attraction. Asexuality as a human sexual orientation has only been recognized and defined in a few academic studies since the late 1970s, and a community of self-identified asexuals has only coalesced since the start of the 21st century, aided by the widening popularity of online communities.
Asexuality is not the same as celibacy, which is the deliberate abstention from sexual activity; many asexuals do have sex, and most celibates are not asexual.
ResearchAlthough researchers in human sexuality have known about asexuality since at least the late 1940s, little research has been done. Most of this has been recent and there is increasing interest in the subject.
Alfred Kinsey, the father of sexology, was aware of an asexual element in the population but did little to investigate it. His Kinsey scale of sexual orientation consisted of a single axis lying between heterosexuality and homosexuality with bisexuality in between, and thus left no place for asexuality. In the Kinsey Reports of 1948 and 1953, subjects were scaled from 0 (completely heterosexual) to 6 (completely homosexual), but a separate category of X was created for those with "no socio-sexual contacts or reactions". He labeled 1.5% of the adult male population as "X"
In "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female," he further explained the category as people who "do not respond erotically to either heterosexual or homosexual stimuli, and do not have overt physical encounter with individuals of either sex in which there is evidence of any response.” The following percentages of the population assigned“X:” Unmarried females=14-19%. Married females= 1-3%. Previously married females=5-8%. Unmarried males=3-4%. Married males=0%. Previously married males=1-2%.
In a study published in 1979 in Advances in the Study of Affect vol. 5 and in another article using the same data published in 1980 in the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology," Michael D. Storms of the University of Kansas outlined his own reimagining of the Kinsey scale. Whereas Kinsey measured sexual orientation based on a combination of actual sexual behavior and fantasizing and eroticism, Storms only used fantasizing and eroticism. Storms, however, placed hetero-eroticism and homo-eroticism on separate axes rather than at two ends of a single scale; this allows for a distinction between bisexuality (exhibiting both hetero- and homo-eroticism in degrees comparable to hetero- or homosexuals, respectively) and asexuality (exhibiting a level of homo-eroticism comparable to a heterosexual, and a level of hetero-eroticism comparable to a homosexual: namely, little to none). Storms conjectured that many researchers following Kinsey's model could be mis-categorizing asexual subjects as bisexual, because both were simply defined by a lack of preference for gender in sexual partners.
The first study that gave empirical data about asexuals was published in 1983 by Paula Nurius, concerning the relationship between sexual orientation and mental health. Unlike previous studies on the subject, she used the above-mentioned two-dimensional model for sexual orientation. 689 subjects--most of whom were students at various universities in the United States taking psychology or sociology classes--were given several surveys, including four clinical well-being scales and a survey asking how frequently they engaged in various sexual activities and how often they would like to engage in those activities. Based on the results, respondents were given a score ranging from 0-100 for hetero-eroticism and from 0-100 for homo-eroticism. Respondents who scored lower than 10 on both were labeled "asexual." This consisted of 5% of the males and 10% of the females. Results showed that asexuals were more likely to have low self-esteem and more likely to be depressed than members of other sexual orientations. 25.88% of heterosexuals, 26.54% bisexuals (called "ambisexuals"), 29.88% of homosexuals, and 33.57% of asexuals were reported to have problems with self-esteem. A similar trend existed for depression. Nurius did not believe that firm conclusions can be drawn from this for a variety of reasons. Asexuals also reported much lower frequency and desired frequency of a variety of sexual activities including having multiple partners, anal sexual activities, having sexual encounters in a variety of locations, and autoerotic activities.
Further empirical data about an asexual demographic appeared in 1994, when a research team in the United Kingdom carried out a comprehensive survey of 18,876 British residents, spurred by the need for sexual information in the wake of the AIDS epidemic. The survey included a question on sexual attraction, to which 1.05% of the respondents replied that they had "never felt sexually attracted to anyone at all." This phenomenon was seized upon by the Canadian sexuality researcher Dr. Anthony Bogaert in 2004, who explored the asexual demographic in a series of studies. However, he believed that the figure 1% is probably too low. 30% of people contacted chose not to answer the survey. Since less sexually experienced people are more likely to refuse to participate in studies about sexuality, and asexuals tend to be less sexually experienced than non-asexuals, it is likely that asexuals were overrepresented in the 30% who did not participate. The same study found the number of gay males, lesbians and bisexuals combined to be about 1.1% of the population, which is much smaller than other studies indicate. The 1% statistic from the UK survey is the one most frequently quoted as the possible incidence of asexuality in the general population, though it should be considered very tentative. Assuming this statistic holds true, the world population of asexual people would stand at over 60 million.
The Kinsey Institute sponsored another small survey on the topic in 2007, which found that self-identified asexuals "reported significantly less desire for sex with a partner, lower sexual arousability, and lower sexual excitation but did not differ consistently from non-asexuals in their sexual inhibition scores or their desire to masturbate".
Though comparisons with non-human sexuality are problematic, a series of studies done on ram mating preferences at the United States Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois, Idaho, starting in 2001 found that about 2–3% of the animals being studied had no apparent interest in mating with either sex; the researchers classified these animals as asexual, but found them to be otherwise healthy with no recorded differences in hormone levels. .
CommunityDr. Elizabeth Abbot, author of A History of Celibacy, acknowledges a difference between asexuality and celibacy and posits that there has always been an asexual element in the population but that asexual people kept a low profile. While failure to consummate marriage was seen as "an insult to the sacrament of marriage" in medieval Europe, asexuality, unlike homosexuality, has never been illegal, and asexual people have been able to "fly under the radar". However, in the 21st century the anonymity of online communication and general popularity of social networking online has facilitated the formation of a community built around a common asexual identity.
The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) was founded in 2001 with two primary goals: to create public acceptance and discussion of asexuality and to facilitate the growth of an asexual community. Since that time it has grown to host the world’s largest online asexual community, serving as an informational resource and meeting place for people who are asexual and questioning, their friends and families, academic researchers and the press. The network has additional satellite communities in ten languages. Members of AVEN have been involved in media coverage spanning television, print, and radio, and participate in lectures, conferences and Pride events around the world.
As an emerging identity with a broad definition, there is an enormous amount of variation among people who identify as asexual. Some asexuals may masturbate as a solitary form of release, while others do not feel a need to.
RelationshipsAsexuals may experience romantic attraction, or the desire for, fantasy of, or propensity towards romantic love, often directed at people of genders falling within an affectional orientation. Many asexuals also identify as straight, gay, or bi, using the terms in a strictly affectional sense, or alternatively as hetero-, homo-, or bi-romantic. Some asexuals identify as "aromantic." A relationship between an asexual and a sexual person may or may not involve sexual activity.
If an asexual individual's lack of sexual desire or response does cause dysfunction in a relationship with a sexual person, it is medically defined as Primary (not caused by another condition) Inhibited Sexual Desire (ISD), also known as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder or Sexual Aversion Disorder. It should be noted that the medical community only considers ISD a disorder inasmuch as it causes personal distress or relationship dysfunction, and appropriate treatment most commonly consists of a broad range of tailored counselling. Thus these designations do not define asexuality itself as a disorder, but rather describe the problems asexual people often face coping with relationships and personal development.
CriticismAs there is still little scholarly or scientific discussion of asexuality as an orientation
- AVEN: Asexual Visibility and Education Network
- "The Fourth Way", Fyne Times Gay and Lesbian Magazine
- Study: One in 100 Adults Asexual
- AVENTube, a group of asexuals on youtube with videos about asexuality
sexless in Breton: Amrevelezh
sexless in Bulgarian: Асексуалност
sexless in Czech: Asexualita
sexless in Welsh: Anrhywioldeb
sexless in Danish: Aseksualitet
sexless in German: Asexualität
sexless in Estonian: Aseksuaalsus
sexless in Spanish: Asexualidad
sexless in French: Asexualité
sexless in Croatian: Aseksualnost
sexless in Italian: Asessualità
sexless in Hebrew: א-מיניות
sexless in Kurdish: Aseksûalîte
sexless in Hungarian: Aszexualitás
sexless in Dutch: Aseksualiteit
sexless in Japanese: 非性愛
sexless in Macedonian: Асексуалност
sexless in Norwegian: Aseksualitet
sexless in Polish: Aseksualizm
sexless in Portuguese: Assexual
sexless in Romanian: Asexualitate
sexless in Russian: Асексуальность
sexless in Simple English: Asexuality
sexless in Slovak: Asexualita
sexless in Finnish: Aseksuaalisuus
sexless in Swedish: Asexualitet
sexless in Turkish: Aseksüel
sexless in Chinese: 無性戀