Asexuality can be used as a label for a person who does not experience sexual attraction. However, like everything that revolves around sexuality, there is no clear black or white categorisation. A lot of misconceptions can arise from its quite blunt and short definition. Asexuality itself is on a spectrum and different people using the label experience a variety of sexual attractions and arousal or a lack thereof. We are going to look at three of the most common misconceptions around the topic.
Asexual people don’t masturbate
Some do. As already mentioned, the lack of sexual attraction is fundamental to the asexual identification. What must seem paradoxical then is the fact that a considerable number of asexual individuals do masturbate. The motivation behind it often times, however, is not because asexual individuals found the act particularly sexually pleasurable or fun. Some reasons for masturbation are simply boredom, sleeplessness, procrastination and relieve some tension. Whereas some evidence points to asexual men masturbating at the same rate as sexual men, asexual women who score higher on the asexuality scale are also less likely to masturbate compared to sexual women.
Asexual people can’t orgasm
They can. Most asexual individuals have fully functioning sexual organs which means that they are very well able to orgasm as everyone else. In fact, it is absolutely possible to experience sexual arousal physiologically, like an erection or vaginal lubrication and increased blood flow that can lead to orgasm, without the desire to engage in sexual activity with others. Asexuality is merely a description of sexual orientation and does not describe sexual ability.
Asexual people aren’t sexual
Some of them are. Asexuality is on a spectrum, meaning some asexual people do not engage in sexual activity at all, some of them do without enjoying it and some even like it. Furthermore, asexuality should not be confused with antisexuality. Asexual individuals can be against the idea of sex overall, however, their label does not inherently mean that they are anti-sex. They can be indifferent to the idea or even be sex-positive. When it comes to sexual fantasies, most asexual women and men experience them but at a significantly lower rate than sexual people. A common difference is that asexual fantasies often times do not involve other people.
Overall the diversity within the asexual label is beautiful and worth exploring. Whereas some asexual individuals do not experience any sexual attraction or desire towards themselves or others, the term merely describes the sexual attraction that lies on a continuum and that includes a variety of people who can be sexual and fantasize and masturbate even though they would categorize themselves as not experiencing sexual attraction.
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Sara Felber is a Student of psychology from Graz, Austria interested in a variety of issues concerning sex, relationships and LGBTQ+ topics. She is currently researching guidelines on the sexuality of psychiatric inpatients and is interning at the Willingness Sex Clinic.
Savin-Williams, R. (2017, February 19). Do asexuals have sexual fantasies, and do they masturbate? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sex-sexuality-and-romance/201702/do-asexuals-have-sexual-fantasies-and-do-they-masturbate.
Yule, M. A., Brotto, L. A., & Gorzalka, B. B. (2016). Sexual fantasy and masturbation among asexual individuals: An in-depth exploration. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46(1), 311–328. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-016-0870-8
Asexuality: Myths, misconceptions and other things that are just plain wrong. Asexuality Archive. (2012, June 9). http://www.asexualityarchive.com/asexuality-misconceptions-and-mistakes/.