Asexuality: nature or nurture?

December 6, 2009 | By | 5 Replies More

As many as 1% of the population claim to be asexual–they claim that they do not experience sexual attraction.   They are “indifferent to and uninterested in having sex with either gender.”  According to this article, some academic researchers have been trying to determine whether asexuality is a biological phenomenon or “a slippery social label that some people may prefer to adopt and embrace.”  It turns out, the topic is fraught with definitional issues.  For instance, there are allegedly many ways of not being sexual:

[T]here is tremendous variation in the sexual inclinations of those who consider themselves to be asexual. Some masturbate, some don’t. Some are interested in nonsexual, romantic relationships (including cuddling and kissing but no genital contact), while others aren’t. Some consider themselves to be “hetero-asexual” (having a nonsexual aesthetic or romantic preference for those of the opposite sex), while others see themselves as “homo-” or “bi-asexuals.”  Yet many asexuals are also perfectly willing to have sex if it satisfies their sexual partners; it’s not awkward or painful for them but rather, like making toast or emptying the trash, they just don’t personally derive pleasure from the act. Others insist on being in completely sexless relationships, possibly with other asexuals.

AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network) provides additional information regarding asexuals.   In fact, I am related through marriage to the founder of AVEN (David Jay), a thoughtful young man who is absolutely sincere about his views on asexuality.

I do struggle with the claim that one can be an asexual when one has lots of sex.  On the other hand, I do know several  adults who I suspect are asexual–I doubt that they have any sexual cravings.  One of them is a woman with a chronically flat affect.  The other is a man who had a horrific marriage, several decades ago, which apparently turned off his sense of sexuality permanently.

Though it is my suspicion that virtually all healthy adults experience sexual feelings, I also suspect that there are some bona fide asexuals. I would like to see more science that might enlighten us as to whether this rather quiet segment of society is asexual due to nature, environment, choice, or something else.


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Category: Psychology Cognition, Sex

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (5)

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  1. Jay Fraz says:

    Must resist urge to recycle jokes about Kinsey report…

  2. A6UL-ONE says:

    A person's sexual orientation is normally defined by who or what they PREFER to have sex with, is it not? So why would a person who has sex automatically be excluded from being asexual? A homosexual man can have sex with a woman and father plenty of children while still wishing that his sexual partner were male. Lesbians can certainly have sex with men, even willingly in some circumstances.

    If an asexual submits to sex, even though they might prefer to be reading a novel, it can mean nothing more that that they value the relationship and are willing to compromise to keep it. Indifference to sex is just that – indifference. It doesn't mean abhorrence or inability to perform.

  3. Asexual means the person in question has no preference, proclivities, no desire, no interest in sex. Submitting to it may be a situation not of ones choosing, but all things being equal if given the choice, someone who is asexual would, like Bartleby, prefer not.

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Less sex in Japan.

    Less sex in the U.S. too The article does't explore, but i wonder, whether increased availability of pornography on the Internet a factor.

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    More on asexuality from The Atlantic:

    “And imagining how it could be different is something that has the potential to benefit us all. If we stop defining our significant relationships only as those that are romantic or sexual, being single will take on a whole new meaning. If we broaden our emotional focus from the person we share bodily fluids with to the sum of our friendships, acquaintances, and colleagues, our communities will grow stronger. If we stop treating penetrative sex as the be all and end all of physical intimacy, we will experience greater heights of pleasure. And if we can accept that although sex can be ecstatic and affirming and fulfilling, it is not all those things to all people all of the time, we will relieve it of some of its cultural baggage.”

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