Wednesday, October 13, 2010

People Who Are Not Asexual

I struggle with finding the right word, or the right set of words, to describe people who define their orientations as something other than asexual. Yes, I could just say the latter half of the previous sentence, but it's a mouthful.

Many people say "sexuals," but I feel that this is too broad and that it might actually encompass asexuals. If you say "sexuals," do you mean people who experience sexual attraction, people who identify as an orientation other than asexual, people who have sex or do things that are sexual, or something else? Whenever I read or hear the word "sexuals," I think about how anything could be considered sexual. Whether or not one chooses to think of any behavior as sexual is pretty much subjective, and this is probably part of the reason why so many people object to the word asexual. "You can't be asexual, because you do x, y, z" or even, "I think of you sexually, so you're not asexual," are examples of reactions which indicate how subjective the idea of what is sexual actually is.

I usually say "nonasexual," but even then I feel that I'm splitting sexuality into this horrible binary of asexuals and nonasexuals which fails to encompass the diversity of sexualities and narrows the focus down to identity, rather than orientation.

I'd like to hear more ideas about how to handle this situation.


  1. I usually go with "nonasexuals," because I feel like "sexuals" reduces people to their sexualities in a way I don't really like. On the other hand, nonasexuals is sort of double-negativey in a way I'm also not thrilled with. (Not-not-sexual? What on earth is that?)

    They both have the problem of ignoring grey-As and demisexuals, though, unless we're assuming that given the context that demis and greys fall under the broader umbrella of "asexual?" But there's not a specific word for that. I'd go with something like "on the asexual spectrum," except that's already taken.

  2. Aaaaand that's me, Sciatrix. I'm sorry, it must have messed with my naming system.

  3. Sciatrix! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I agree that "nonasexuals" is potentially exclusive of those who fall into alternative categories of asexuality. Though personally, I think I am one of those alterna-aces and I still feel included in the category of "asexuals." So maybe until somebody comes up with something better, "nonasexuals," it is?

  4. The main problem with "sexual" is that it suggests that asexual = not sexual. And then people are confused when asexuals exhibit sexual tendencies like masturbation, sex drive, fetishes, and so forth.

    Really, it's meant to be the other way around: sexual = not asexual. But this is too fine a point to explain to people hearing about asexuality for the first time.

    I personally don't mind the binary implied by "nonasexual" (I identify as gray-A). It's never come up as a problem. Sure, people assume a binary sometimes, but it doesn't ever seem like the language is to blame.