Working with my local student organisation ‘Project sex’ on a new PR-campaign, I realised that we never get hold of these persons that are not interested in sex. This was the start for my interest in asexuality. I figured that a lack of sexual lust and/or the lack of desire for having sex with others does not mean not having a sexuality. This is an entire group that we just do not reach in our organisation, and I think this is a pity since our aim is to be open about different types of human sexuality. Therefore I set out to learn more about asexuality, by writing my bachelor thesis in sociology about this topic.
The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate three aspects of asexuality. I used the following definition of being asexual as a point of departure: “A person who does not experience sexual attraction towards other persons”
However, my interest lies within investigating what asexuality means to my interviewees who are SIA´s (self-identified asexuals).
The research questions were 1) When and how did the participants in this study realise that they were asexual? 2) How do the asexual persons in this study explain the reasons for their asexuality? 3) What does it mean for the participants in this study to be asexual?
Qualitative method was used in order to explore how SIA´s view their asexuality. The main focus was on semi-structured interviews. Those were complemented with a small content analysis of how a lack of sexual lust is talked about on the internet, and a participatory observation at a meeting for asexuals.
The SIA´s in this study are well aware of that they do not conform to the common sexual norms, namely: the desire to have sex often and, to have an experimental and ‘self-fulfilling’ sexlife. The idea of not conforming to the norms would explain both the reasons for, and, the importance of, internet communities and meetings for asexuals. This search for an identity starts when the persons realise that they are not conforming to those sexual norms. My interviewees expressed feeling left out, confused and as though they had missed something. Finding the label asexual helped to create an own identity, outside the common heterosexual norms, within the asexual community. The function of the meetings for asexuals seem to be the sharing of thoughts, experiences and questions. Further, it serves a function positioning themselves in relation to others with similar sexualities. It is worth to pay attention to that all of my six interviewees had tried to be sexual
Most of them have had sex, even though they did not want to. The idea that sex should be a (important) part of their lives seemed thoroughly rooted. If the desire for sex is not there, this means there is a problem, a problem that should be taken care of by all means. The content analysis of how a lack of sexual lust is talked about on the internet confirms this.
To self-identify as an asexual has lead to relief for the persons in this study. Finding the label asexual means that they are not alone concerning how they feel. It also gives them an option to choose a life without sex, rather than continuing trying to conform to heterosexual norms. To conclude the answers for the research questions, the participants in the study have always, or for a long time, known that they were different from others regarding sexual lust and interest in sex. They use different variants of medical and psychological reasons to explain their asexuality, for examples aspbergers, a problematic childhood with weak or poor relations to the parents, not feeling at home in the own body or the own sex. The use of medical and psychological explanations are most likely due to that the interviewees live in a discourse were medical and psychological explanations are favoured. The answer to the third question is that being asexual is about not feeling interested in sex, not having the desire to have sex and not feeling sexually attracted to anything or anyone.
Having the opportunity to interview these SIA´s was a great experience for me, and it gave me a better perspective on how different human sexuality can be. It becomes extra interesting in a time were sex have become commercialised, and I hope that more research will be made about asexuality. I believe this is important in order to give us more knowledge about this orientation, and to help asexual persons get accepted, with or without sexual lust.
Read the thesis itself online here