Every marketing professional knows that few things sell as well as sex. You want to promote a holiday destination? Make sure to include some naked skin. There is a new wall paint on the market? Give the brush to some young woman in a tight dress! What does the woman have to do with that? Oh, who the hell cares, she’s sexy! These things work because sex is exciting – to most. While the acceptance of more liberal ideas of love and same-sex couples is growing within most societies, there is one concept that is frequently left out: people who don’t want to have sex at all.
There are, of course, many reasons why people decide not to have sex: some of them for religious reasons, some of them because of traumatic experiences in the past. Then, there are asexuals: people who don’t want to have sex just because they are not interested in sex or related practices. They do not experience sexual attraction to any gender and sometimes don’t have any sex drive at all. So far, there has been barely any scientific research on asexuality: In 2004, a study found that around 1% of the British population could identify as asexual. Last year, Stanford University announced to focus more on research about asexuality. Asexuality in Mexico has not been addressed at all and is also barely acknowledged by the public.
On occasion of the 2016 “Asexuality Awareness Week“, to clarify confusing terms and to see what a life devoid of sexual attraction is like, I talked to three asexuals: to Luna who does not identify as either male or female and thus has a special view on the gender perception of asexuals in Mexico; to Arturo who does not look for any romantic relationship either; and to Mai who told me what it’s like to have sex as an asexual:
Q: What are the most pervasive stereotypes about asexuals?
Mai: There are two sterotypes which are very common. First, the stereotype about Mexicans or Latinos in general that all women are supposed to be sexy, passionate and desireable. And I’m saying that because I was with a foreigner once and yes, he did arrive with the idea of the supersexual, hot mexican.
Arturo: Also, celibate!
Mai: Yes, others think you’re asexual because you live as a celibate or that you choose to remain abstitent. But how do you want to abstain from something you don’t have the slightest desire to do?
Q: In a former interview, a transexual woman told me that Mexico was a hypersexual society – do you agree?
Q: Then, what is your personal definition of asexuality?
Q: Do people treat asexual women and men differently?
Arturo: Definitely. Especially if you say you’re asexual around other men they tell you to do it, to try it. They tell you it’s your duty to satisfy women.
Mai: And as a woman, you are supposed to act like a woman. You are supposed to give birth to children, to have sex with your partner, to fulfill all those feminine expectations. For some, having sex and giving birth are the main ideas of what constitutes a woman.
Luna: I feel like in Mexico, for women, it has changed. Before, there was the perception that women had to guard their virginity until they were married. Today, if you as a woman say “you know what, I don’t like sex” they say “You’re not enjoying your life”. Again, they think you choose to abstain from it. For men – oh, quite a coincidence that it’s me sitting in the middle – there is the Mexican image of the macho. He is supposed to have a lot of sex with a lot of women. So if you as a man say that you are not interested in sex, they get angry and ask: “What’s wrong with you, are you a faggot, are you gay or what”. So we have a counter-culture to the culture that tries to force you to have sex. These are stigmas we have to live with.
Q: How do you personally feel about sex?
Q: With respect to the “Asexual Awareness Week” which is supposed to tell people what asexuality is and to create visibility – what do you want people to know about asexuals?
Mai: It’s not hating sex, it’s not a trauma, it’s not like we don’t like other people. Yes, we can fall in love, we can marry, we can have kids. And in my case- yes, you can even have sex. I identify as heteroromantic, so several times I did have sex to please my partner. Did I physically enjoy it? No. For me, it is doing someone you love a favour. So yes, my body works and also reacts to stimuli. But this is not enough for me to enjoy and desire it.
Arturo: Our bodies function normally and sometimes do so in a way we can’t control. For example, a woman who cries might say: “Why am I doing this, I don’t want to cry” but her body just reacts. On a sexual level, physical stimuli do not mean that you feel fully attracted to someone. Some asexuals do have a sex drive, they masturbate and that’s just as fine and others, like Mai, are willing to have sex with their partners to please them. It’s not that common but it happens.
Luna: It’s just very important that it happens consensually.
Arturo: If a sexual person is with an asexual it requires a lot of communication and also a lot of work.
Luna: Also, I would like to add that sex and love are not inseperably intertwined. Nowadays, there’s a lot of sex without love. And we believe in love without sex.
Header Picture: Asexual Flag by Trollhare on Flickr