Asexuals: The Fourth Sexual Orientation Gains Its Popularity

About 1 per cent of the world’s population is reported to feel no sexual attraction at all.

70 million people in the whole world are “asexuals” — people who feel no sexual attraction at all, experts claim. Photo: BRITICO/Flickr

A book published by Anthony Bogaert, an associate professor at Brock University in Canada, suggests such men and women should be recognised as a fourth sexual orientation – asexuals.

In his book, entitled Understanding Asexuality, the professor believes asexual people are “an under-studied population” who can feel excluded from our “very sexualised culture”.

He said our society, “can place expectations on both sexual and asexual people, but particularly asexual people”.

Joshua Hatton, 23, a language student from Birmingham, advocates the idea. “Three years ago, I came across asexuality – it explained everything. I no longer had to lie to myself. Young men are expected to have some sort of casual sex; it’s all around. Now I feel more comfortable.”

Amy Gallagher, 20, from High Barnet, studies at London College of Communication, added, “When everyone else my age at secondary school was talking about sex, I wasn’t interested at all. I thought there was something wrong with me.”

“I did have sex out of curiosity, but afterwards I had no desire. I’m trying to meet another asexual person. I only came to know of asexual orientation a few months ago. I think if there was more awareness, people would identify themselves. I haven’t told that many people,” the student continued.

Bogaert defines the fourth sexual orientation as a complete lack of sexual attraction. “There are two forms: people who have some level of sex drive, but don’t direct this drive toward others (so they may masturbate); and other people who have no sex drive whatsoever.”

About a decade ago, the professor examined the responses of 18,000 people in the United Kingdom in a survey on sexual attraction conducted in 1994.

He found out that 1 percent had agreed with the statement: “I have never felt sexually attracted to anyone at all.”

According to The Independent, the first non-academic conference to tackle asexuality was held at Southbank University, London, in last July.

Michael Doré, organiser of the World Pride conference, said: “We want asexuality to be recognised as a valid sexual orientation, rather than a disorder or something people have to hide.”

The term asexual gained its popularity in 2001, when David Jay launched the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network – or Aven – website which now has more than 50,000 members worldwide.

“Asexuality is distinct from abstention from sexual activity and from celibacy, which are behavioral and generally motivated by factors such as an individual’s personal or religious beliefs; sexual orientation, unlike sexual behavior, is believed to be “enduring,” explains Wikipedia.

“Some asexual people do engage in sexual activity despite lacking a desire for sex or sexual attraction, due to a variety of reasons, such as a desire to please romantic partners or a desire to have children.”

The Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) defines asexuality as “someone who does not experience sexual attraction.”

It stated, “Another small minority will think of themselves as asexual for a brief period of time while exploring and questioning their own sexuality” and that “there is no litmus test to determine if someone is asexual.”

“Asexuality is like any other identity – at its core, it’s just a word that people use to help figure themselves out. If at any point someone finds the word asexual useful to describe themselves, we encourage them to use it for as long as it makes sense to do so.”

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