Growing up in Korea and New Zealand before coming to Emory, I never heard about asexuality before. Sadly, the closest word I encountered before is probably ‘impotence’, which conveys a meaning of dysfunction and is definitely not the same meaning as asexuality. Perhaps because I was not aware of their existence, I thought the proportion of asexual population, one percent, was higher than I expected. Embarrassingly, I thought I was understanding variety of sexualities by talking about LGBT’s, but as I was reading the articles, I had so much to discover.
Asexuality first seemed to be a population of more variety because of the different life styles of the asexual people. Because asexuality is generally defined as ‘a person who does not experience sexual attraction’ (1), it includes all those who does not feel attraction but may or may not have romantic relationships, and do or do not engage in sexual activities. However Prause and Graham’s ‘Asexuality: Classification and Characterization’, had tested more aspects, including Sexual Desire indicator, Sexual Arousability indicator, and Sexual Inhibition indicator. Although asexuality sounds like they are not having any sexual activities, the investigation finds out that an asexual person may still have romantic relationship with a partner without sexual activities. In another examples, an asexual may even have both romance and sexual activities to make the partner pleased, and maybe avoid possible negative opinions from the society.
I thought that this is just as typical as more common, sexual (as opposed to asexual) people. ‘Normal’ people vary almost the same way as asexual people. Some of us have romantic and sexual relationship with the opposite sex or just the romance without the sexual activities before marriage. Fathers and nuns of catholic church, and monks in temples are attracted to their opposite sex, but do not have neither romance or sexual lives. Perhaps this similarity is one of the reasons why some people were not aware of asexuality. Compared to LGBT’s, who are different from heterosexuals in their behaviors, asexuals are different from heterosexuals in whether they feel or not. Since sexual lives are very private part of our daily lives, it will be almost impossible to see if a person is asexual unless we become very close to them.
It was mentioned in the reading that only some of the asexual people are in a romantic relationship because they like their partners ‘as a person’. However, from my narrow point of view, I could not understand the idea of being in a romance with somebody without being attracted to their sexuality. I could assume that LGBT’s are attracted to their partners in the same way as I feel when I see an attractive female, but I wanted to know how asexual person would start a relationship without such feeling.
I expect finding the answer for such question would be hard due to the low number of asexual people intending to participate in a research, and the private nature of the topic. However, as long as they exist in our society, we will more learn about them and start understanding them without prejudice.
(2) Prause, Nicole, Graham, C. A., Asexuality: Classification and Characterization.