Asexuality is a sexual orientation — thought to describe 1% of the population — that refers to people who do not experience sexual attraction.
Some people on the asexual spectrum may experience low or rare sexual attraction and may identify as graysexual or demisexual. Asexuality does not distinguish whether a person desires or engages in romantic or other close relationships, nor does it specify whether a person is having or would like to have sex or other intimate behaviours.
It’s a sexual orientation — a way of answering “who are you attracted to?” with “none of the above.” And it is largely misunderstood, even by those who’d like to support the community.
Just to keep you on the safe side, here are some questions you should never ask an asexual person:
1. Don’t You Mean ‘Celibate?’
Many people confuse asexuality and celibacy because they often lead to the same results. But there are some major differences.
Someone who is celibate is choosing to abstain from sex for any number of reasons but does have a desire for sex. Someone who is asexual might not abstain from sex but does not have the same drive for sex like most other people.
Asking someone this is somewhat rude and even though it may be a genuine confusion, you can always clear it out by asking someone else - like Google!
2. But What About Marriage or Kids?
For people who are aromantic, marriage and often children are not on the table at all (though everyone has a different experience), but for romantic asexuals, there are a lot of options.
First, if they choose to have sex, they can - some asexuals will choose to have children using traditional methods. Others might opt for adoption or in-vitro fertilization. Either way, someone's family planning is none of your business - so maybe stay out of it.
3. So, Do You Not Masturbate?
If you find the need to ask an asexual this, the first thing you need to do is take a huge step back and reevaluate your entire life. You have no right to ask this of anyone, regardless of sexual/romantic orientation, and it's downright rude.
This question isn't seen as okay to ask in today's society, but it seems as if once someone finds out you're asexual, they need to know.
So, let me answer you before the thought even crosses your mind: Like everyone else, some do and some don't, and it has nothing to do with their sexual orientation and in no way invalidates their asexuality.
4. How Do You Know If You Haven't Tried It?
In the same way you know you don't want to have sex with a watermelon. It's as simple as that.
For people who are asexual, the experience of being uninterested in sex can range from rarely interested or interested only in specific circumstances to complete repulsion and an overwhelming urge to vomit, but no matter what, it’s innate and something we just know.
Just like you know who you're attracted to and who you are sexually appealed by. It's the same process, really - except asexual people usually don't feel having sex a lot of times.
5. Are You Sure? I Can Change That
No, you can't. At best, it’s a joke that minimizes asexual identity by suggesting asexuality is something that will just go away with some sex. For many asexual people, this is deeply confusing because it’s difficult to know how to respond to a person who can frivolously joke about the authenticity of our identity.
At worst, it’s laden with rape culture and threatening language. “Corrective rape” is very real for members of the LGBT and asexual communities. People actually claim to believe that rape will “fix” the perceived “problem” by, supposedly, causing the victim to enjoy their assault.
So with whatever intention you meant to say the statement with, it's best to avoid it entirely. No one's going to be laughing, except you.
A good rule of thumb is don't ask an asexual person a question you wouldn't ask someone of any other orientation and try to be polite. It's really that simple. And you always have Google to guide you through your weird, annoying or rude questions, so spare the asexual person the pain.