The following is a guest post for the July Carnival of Aces, on Asexual History
THE LIFE OF AN ASEXUAL PERSON
By “Angela,” a.k.a. Thylacine of Aven
It’s one in the morning, and the world is cloaked in darkness. The phone rings, shattering the night’s silence. “Oh sheesh… Who could this be? Hello?” It’s a friend from work. “Hey! I know this guy who would be perfect for you! And he’s definitely free! I know he’s free, ‘cause he just got out of the house of correction!” “Don’t bother! I’m going back to bed! Good night!” Yes, things like this can actually happen to nice decent people when they’re trying to get a good night’s sleep…
Some of us from AVEN (a.k.a. the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network) helped Sylvia Pagan Westphal when she wrote her article for New Scientist magazine entitled, “Glad To Be Asexual.” And, for privacy reasons, a few of us asked that she not use our real names. And so she decided to call me “Angela.” And I am in fact a real person, not someone she invented.
Most people are what asexual people call “sexual” – I guess this just means “everybody else.” That is, 99% of the population. Approximately 1% of the people are asexual. There are not many asexual people in the world, but there are far more than most people would realize.
Part of the reason I’m writing this article is not only to inform, but also to show that yes, we are here, and we do exist. We could be your co-worker, your neighbor, a friend whose eternal singletude frustrates you.
Most people describe feelings of “needing” sex or “wanting” sex. How do I know people have these feelings? Because they are constantly talking about their sexual feelings, and sometimes they talk about their sexual feelings in the most annoying way. They describe themselves as being in this state of “gotta get some.” And if the person I’m having a conversation with knows I’m single, they often continue with the quite very rude, “and you gotta get some too!” What they do not comprehend is that I don’t gotta get some. Unlike most people, I just don’t need any.
I actually never developed these feelings. And many people like me just don’t. Many of the other asexual people I’ve communicated with grew up, matured emotionally and physically and intellectually, but never found the need to pursue other people for sex.
You cannot tell if a person is asexual by seeing him or her in person. We are a diverse group of people. And we don’t walk around with neon signs that advertise “asexual.” We do not fit a stereotype of people who are not “into sex.” We are not all boring, or tragically shy, or ugly. We are who we are, and we’re all different. And one thing I notice asexuals have in common — the ones I have met are very intelligent and articulate people. Could it be that having no interest in chasing after sex clears up space in one’s head for other things? Well, possibly, yes. That’s my theory, and I’m sticking with it.
It might actually be beneficial to learn more about asexual people. Why? Because you may have one in your life, and just not realize it! It may be your daughter who doesn’t seem to date much, your friend who refuses to let you fix him / her up, or your new boyfriend who just doesn’t seem to be in a real big hurry to “get it on.”
So, what is it like to live the life of an asexual person? I cannot speak for everyone who is asexual. As I have said, we are all different. But, if you would like, I’ll share some of my life with you on these pages, and maybe you will be able to understand.
Well… this is how it goes… When you’re a kid, all of a sudden all the other kids go insane. And you don’t! For instance, once while in a schoolyard I was talking with some friends and they see the scruffy kid that the nuns hired to be the janitor’s assistant and they freak out, “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God! He’s so cute!” And I’m watching them lose their minds over this… ordinary person. “Yeah? So?”
Time goes on and you notice everyone else (especially those among the popular) are getting married in a “big hurry”… that is… they “got caught” — while you’re thinking about college…
While going to college I end up dating this jerk. At this point in time I did not know anything about asexuality. After all, what 19 year old knows anything about herself? Most young girls date because they want to. Some however date because they think they’re supposed to. It’s called “society’s expectations.” And many of us believe we are obligated to fulfill society’s expectations. Part of growing up is realizing that society’s expectations don’t really work for most people anyway.
To continue our story… For some strange reason, The Jerk was in a big hurry to get married. No kidding. I don’t know why. After all, he wasn’t pregnant… At least I didn’t think he was! If he was, it wasn’t me! Honest! I swear!
I still have wonderful memories of his, “No wife a mine gonna go to no college! You gonna marry me and do what you told!” He was insisting I quit college, quit my job, and marry him, immediately! Years have gone by and I still don’t get it. Maybe the thought entered his mind to get married since all his friends already were married and he didn’t want to be left out, and I was a female, and so therefore I was somehow qualified?
But no, I wanted to “do something with my life,” besides become a factory to manufacture his kids. Anyway… He simply could not comprehend that any woman would rather have a college degree than have his babies and live in a trailer park, with him and his gun collection. (I am not making this stuff up.) Truly, this paragon of manly virtue was amazed that any woman would prefer college to a life of housewifery.
Life goes on… College is awesome, Dean’s List. Yes! (Associate Degree.)
I will say that as a young person, I dated various people. Never have I felt that “whatever it is” that girls are supposed to feel. I never did see myself as a character in a romance novel. It just wasn’t the real me. I didn’t need to be someone’s girlfriend. I wanted to just be myself. So… I got a college ring instead of a wedding ring. And looking back, I know it really was the right decision. After all, even then I knew, there had to be more to life than changing diapers… and those were the days when marriage did in fact mean changing diapers.
Eventually I felt as if I simply had to give up dating. One of the reasons was because so many people want something I’m not really prepared to give them. And doing the laundry was more interesting. Even cleaning the cat’s litter box was more fun to me than going on a date.
I know now that I just dated because a girl is expected to date someone. A few years back I heard the term asexual and began doing research. I was like, “Wow! I have found my lost tribe!”
Life goes on… Got associate degree. Then got lousy job. Office pervert kept annoying me. Never could comprehend his sick jokes. My friends in the office kept trying to fix me up, telling me they “felt sorry for me.” What a nuisance. I really wished they believed me when I said I wasn’t interested!
I could never understand my friends’ constant excitement about men, or their terrible neediness, and lack of personal independence. They needed men for everything. If a package weighed only five pounds, they would still ask a man to lift it. If a complicated math problem came up, they would ask their boyfriends to solve it. They would not endeavor to find out how to use jumper cables, or fix simple things.
Was the appearance of neediness a device to make them more attractive? Or did they really see themselves as genuinely helpless? Does society still dictate that women must play this foolish game? Or by acting helpless, do they help create the society that dictates that women should be helpless? I still do not know. And perhaps I never will.
Life continues. Got sick of not getting promoted so I went nights for my Bachelor of Science. Dean’s List on that, too. (Public Service Announcement: To all those out there who are no longer 19 and want to go back to school: Go ahead. Just DO IT!)
Life isn’t all about studying. I do stuff… I don’t just sit at home, staring into my computer all the time…
I took riding lessons that summer that I was attending college the second time around. It was wonderful to gallop an Arabian through the forest that was next to the farm… jumped the horse over a fence… it felt like flying.
I’ve restored a classic car. And that was a lot of work! It literally took many years to do. I didn’t do all of it myself, of course. Just the minor repairs. I leave major engine rebuilding to professionals! But I taught myself to understand how things work and how to care for a car, especially a stubborn and antiquated old machine with a distributor and an automatic choke.
Now this is another situation, which has frustrated me. Sadly, many people simply can’t believe that I like the car for itself. “You must get a lot of hot guys with that car!” Now is it logical that I would do all that vast amount of work, spend all that money… just to get a guy??? Some people think that every single activity a woman does is motivated by the chance to “get a guy.” If a guy restores a car, it’s like, okay, so he’s restoring a car. If a woman restores a car… deep Freudian meaning in that, right? Nope.
I have traveled to many places that most people have never been. Paris, the UK, Canada (Toronto is wonderful!), Ireland, Bermuda, Austria… Portugal and Spain… and North Africa…
Another one of my hobbies is creative writing. I’ve actually had a few things published, mostly science fiction and fantasy. I’ve written a few small features in old car publications, too.
I’m taking martial arts class at night, twice a week. The younger kids are a heck of a lot faster than me. It’s hard to keep up with 19 year olds. I keep trying, though!
I’m not a recluse. I often wonder if people may possibly imagine asexual people to be like these people who live in a basement and don’t go outside or something… But this is wrong. I do a lot with my life.
I go to art museums. I love science, literature, nature, music, and culture in general. I love the theatre.
I want to let people know, you don’t need a sex life to be creative. You don’t need a sex life to dress nice and like yourself, or to just basically live, either… You don’t need a sex life to go places, do things, have experiences, adventures, or be successful. You really don’t need a sex life to be happy, or to have inner peace. Most people describe feeling they are “missing” something, or they are “frustrated” if they lack sex. I have never felt this way, and I’m just happy to basically exist.
Continuing on… Got great job. Then got laid off. It’s called life. Or they called it “budgetary shortfall.” Figured I needed a job there is a lot of opportunity… many employees at that workplace were threatening to sue because of various issues, and then I realized — everyone sues everyone! Right? Right!
College degree No. 3 is coming right up! On to paralegal school! Dean’s List again. This is what happens to people who aren’t always out trying to get some. You end up studying all night long!
This is where my life is now… Working at a law firm. Happily single. Of course… Still have the nice old Buick I restored. Two cats. I have the scratches to prove it. Still writing and getting stuff published… my novella is now available on Amazon.
Still not interested in marriage… not even interested in dating, and now I realize I never was, really. Now I realize why it didn’t interest me… I’m just at peace with my condition in life.
It would be nice to have friends who understand, though…
And here’s the problem: If I could have just one wish, I’d hope that society would accept asexual people, and just let us live damn it… I once read a book about the turbulence of the sixties, the decade in which I arrived on this Earth, and the writer at the time interviewed this hippie, and he asked, “What do you people want?” “We just wanna be, man!” I wish people would accept me as an asexual person, because I just wanna be, man, but they can never know… I can’t tell them! And why is that?
Sadly, many of the people I associate with on a daily basis have a lot of anger towards various different “types” of people. They become very descriptive about how they feel about this minority group, that minority group, “and I don’t like those immigrants!” People I must associate with will colorfully describe their feelings about African Americans, Hispanics, feminists… Why give them another minority to hate?
And so… that’s my motive for writing this. I want people to know: I’m a good person. I have a good life… I’m a lot like you, but not exactly. I have a life, I have a job, I pay bills, and I have hopes and dreams. Those hopes and dreams just don’t include sex or finding a man to make my existence meaningful. And I don’t always see things the same way as most people do. I realize that vast numbers of people hate gays, Muslims, Rastafarians, Catholics, Puerto Ricans, Your Group in This Space Here…
So, to conclude, if you know anyone who appears to be permanently dateless, please refrain from constantly attempting to fix her up. It truly may not be what she really wants.
And please stop calling people like us late at night! We need sleep too, you know.
Thank you for reading this. Any questions?