Healthy Living

Different Meanings of Asexual

Different Meanings of Asexual

Key Takeaways

  • Asexual exists when a person is not feeling sexual attraction to anyone or is having low or no interest in sexual activity.
  • In biology, asexual is associated with a creature that does not have sexual organs.
  • Asexual can be used as an adjective to describe a person's actions as being asexual or not having sexual desire or feelings.

Asexual definitions

What is asexual? Asexual exists when a person is not feeling sexual attraction to anyone or is having low or no interest in sexual activity. In the modern world, it is a little bit hard to understand this because we are forced to see sexuality everywhere and the general rule is that sex sells. Some consider asexuality as a lack of sexual orientation and others consider it as one of four sexual orientations (asexuality, heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality). Whether is it considered a sexual orientation or not, its meaning stays the same. So, what does asexuality mean? The definition of asexuality as a lack of sexual attraction can lead to a lot of confusion where people are not really sure if they are asexual or not. That is why it is essential to know what makes you an asexual person, and also know what are the behaviors that are similar to asexuality but have a completely different meaning.

What does asexual mean in biology?

First of all, we should differentiate the meaning of asexual in biology and in the context of human beings. In biology, asexual is associated with a creature that does not have sexual organs, and among human beings it is associated with a lack of sexual attraction or interest in having sex.

When it comes to organisms other than humans, there are different kinds that do not have sexual organs. Living organisms without sex organs are asexual in the sense of biology, and they reproduce differently than sexual reproduction which is a combination of genetic materials from two parents. There are a lot of asexual living things like bacteria, worms, hydras, copperhead snakes, etc. These living things are reproducing themselves without genetic material from another organism.

Asexual humans

However, when talking about asexuality in terms of humans, it is vital to know what kinds of attractions there are. So, there are: sexual, aesthetic, romantic, platonic and sensual attraction. Sexual attraction exists when you find a person attractive in a way that you want to have sex with her or him. Aesthetic attraction is when you are attracted to a person’s appearance. When you find someone romantically attractive you want to do romantic things with him or her which do not include sexual intercourse. Platonic attraction exists when you are attracted to someone in a way that you want to be friends with them. And, last but not least, when you are sensually attracted to someone, you want to do physical things with them, which do not necessarily include sexual or romantic things but they are not excluded.

As the name says, for asexuality the only relevant attraction is the sexual one, or to be exact, the lack of it. The above means that asexual persons can feel all of the other kinds of attractions towards someone but still be asexual. It is assumed that when two people are in a relationship, they are having a sexual and romantic one, but there are a lot of other types of relationships. So asexual persons, for example, can be in a romantic, non-sexual relationship which can include commitment and often cuddling and physical affection or in an aromantic, non-sexual relationship with a strong commitment between partners, but not including romance. There is even a category of pan-romantic asexual which is when a person feels romantic attraction towards people regardless of their gender but does not have an interest in having sexual partners.

Among human beings, celebrities and famous people do play a big part of our lives, we love them or hate them, imitate their style, the way they talk, walk or dance, which means that we certainly identify with them even though they are complete strangers. Because of that, if a celebrity comes out with a statement that some condition or way of life is okay or normal, we might make peace with it more easily. There is nothing different when it comes to (a)sexuality. Since celebrities and famous people are just people like the rest of us, they suffer from certain diseases, have the same life troubles as we do and cope with anything that life gave them, so there is no wonder that there are a lot of famous people who are asexual like Tim Gunn, Morrissey, Karl Lagerfeld, Mike Skinner, John Frusciante, Richey Edwards, Caitlyn Jenner, Janeane Garofalo, Nikola Tesla, H.P. Lovecraft, Isaac Newton, Sherlock Holmes and many others.

In order to understand asexual and asexuality, we will list the things that are usually confused with asexual. First of all, you should set apart asexuality from abstinence and celibacy. Abstinence and celibacy are both a choice and asexuality is not a choice. When a person chooses abstinence, they choose not to have sex with anyone, which this decision can be influenced by many reasons including personal or any other nature. On the other hand, when someone chooses to live in celibacy, they are choosing life without sex and marriage, which this decision can be made for multiple reasons. Asexuality is not a choice. An asexual person is born that way and cannot change how they feel about sexual attraction and can’t be forced to feel sexual attraction towards someone. Also, asexuality should not be confused with gender identity where the person’s true inside gender does not match the outside gender, so the person feels like one gender but their sexual organs say otherwise and that is why they are feeling conflicted. Regardless of some people’s opinion, asexuality is not a disorder or hormone imbalance, nor is it a fear of relationship or sex. It is simply a lack of feeling of sexual attraction. What needs to be emphasized is that an asexual person can have any of the things mentioned above like hormone imbalance for example but it is not related to asexuality nor is it caused by it.

As any other sexuality, asexuality has its own variations. Apart from the general asexuality, there are also gray-asexuality and demisexuality. Gray-asexual persons do feel sexual attraction, but with low intensity and not so often, which means that they feel (low) sexual attraction from time to time and they fall in between asexuality and non-sexuality. On the other hand, demisexual persons feel high-intensity sexual attraction, but only when and after they build a strong emotional bond with the significant other, and that means that they cannot be sexually attracted to any person but only to the one they love. 

Asexual reproduction

As we mentioned earlier, sexual reproduction consists of putting together two genetic materials from two different parents. Most living things do reproduce this way. On the other hand, asexual organisms reproduce differently. In biology, asexual means having no sexual organs which means that asexual organisms can reproduce themselves, so one creature can make an exactly same copy of themselves without the interference of another creature of the same kind. This is, for example, typical for single-celled organisms like bacteria that reproduce by binary fission, many species of worms that reproduce by fragmentation, hydras, copperhead snakes, etc. Also, a lot of plants reproduce asexually. It is a rare type of reproduction among the multi-celled organisms, especially animals because they reproduce almost exclusively by sex. The interesting thing is that over time, some organisms have developed the ability to reproduce asexually if it becomes necessary, which means that their primary way of reproduction is sexual reproduction, but they have the ability to reproduce asexually if they do not have any other choice. We are familiar with this kind of behavior among Hammerhead Sharks, Scorpions, Komodo Dragons, Water Fleas, Wasps, Brahminy Snakes, Bees and certain types of birds.

On the opposite side, things do not work like that among asexual humans, since they do have sexual organs and need another human to conceive an offspring, which means that they are biologically capable of sexual reproduction.

An asexual person

An asexual person (short “ace”) is a person who does not feel sexual attraction to anyone and can be any age, gender, body type, ethnic group, religion or social status. It is believed that about 1% of world’s population is asexual, and they even have their own flag, “The Asexuality Flag”.  Unlike the meaning of asexual in biology, where asexual means not having sex organs, asexual persons do have sexual organs and are able to reproduce with a partner. Since the asexuality, just like any other sexual orientation, is the question of attraction, not action, the crucial thing is what the person feels, not what the person does. Even though they are asexual, most asexual persons lead a pretty normal life like anyone of us. An asexual person, as we said earlier, can be abstinent or celibate, and can be sexually active with a partner they are dating or through masturbation.

Some people are unsure about their sexual identity where they have doubts about being asexual but cannot be certain of it. There are some general questions you can answer which can help you figure out (and determine if you have the symptoms) if you are asexual. Some of those questions are: Are you disinterested in sex? Does it interest you from the view of science and curiosity rather than from an emotional side? When people are talking about the emotional side of sex, do you find it boring? After having sex, did you find it boring and nothing special and exciting, which made you feel bad because people around you find it amazing? Did you ever identify yourself as homosexual or bisexual because you felt you are not interested in any gender? Did you ever have sex or went on a date because everybody is doing it and you didn’t want to feel left out? On the internet, you can even find an asexual quiz that can help with this but maybe the best way is to talk with another asexual to hear their experiences and see what it looks like to be asexual and that can help you figure out your feelings. Also, keep in mind if you are asexual or if you like an asexual person or you are both asexual, that the most important thing is open communication. Being able to talk openly about your states, wishes, desires and expectations in a relationship is the foundation to a strong and happy relationship.

Asexual the adjective

As a noun, asexual is associated with an asexual person who has no sexual attraction to anyone or has low or no desire for sexual activity. But as the adjective, asexual can have two meanings. The first is the lack of sexual desire or feelings and the other is, as we mentioned earlier, the biological meaning of non-existing reproductive organs. Usually, when we talk about sexuality, we think of the first meaning. The second meaning is probably most (and only) popular among biologists.