I’ve heard this idea a number of different places, that somehow, asexuals have so much free time (because, as the story goes, we don’t spend as much time thinking about, seeking, or engaging in sexual activities) that we should all be amazingly accomplished. According to some people, we should be building the unbuildable, solving the unsolvable, and conquering the impossible. Often, great works of art are mentioned. We should be painting masterpieces, composing exquisite symphonies, and writing novels would make Shakespeare and Hemingway rise from the grave to personally award us the Nobel Prize for Literature. Sometimes people demand technological leaps like flying cars or warp drives or great humanitarian feats like ending hunger or making world peace. But the thing we’re most expected to be doing with all our free time is finding a cure for cancer.
Because apparently, that’s how it works.
Free Time = Cure For Cancer.
BINGO! Just like that. That’s all it takes.
Let’s take a look at this claim, shall we?
First, on the face of it, it’s utterly preposterous. In my case, with my free time, I collect video games and occasionally dabble in stereophotography. Sometimes, I’ll even combine the two hobbies (as shown below). But I know nothing about cancer.
- Knowledge of Vintage Video Games — Immense.
- Knowledge of Stereophotography — Practical, but limited.
- Knowledge of Oncology — Nil.
You can see how that might be a bit of a problem when it comes to my ability to discover a cure for cancer… Unless it involves ColecoVision games, it ain’t happening.
Beyond that, what does that assertion say about people who aren’t asexual? Apparently, a cure for cancer is just out there, ripe for the picking, and all it’s going to take is for someone to stop thinking about sex long enough to find it. You’re telling me that there haven’t been ANY research scientists who’ve given it up for the cause? They’re all so selfish that they’re willing to condemn millions of people to death, just because they’re that obsessed with sex? “Well, I could find the cure if Rihanna weren’t so hot!”
Somehow, I don’t buy that.
Really, if all it took were devoting the time you’d normally spend thinking about sex toward finding a cure, cancer would’ve been cured long ago by some horny playboy who figured this out:
- Giving up sex for a while = Lots of free time
- Lots of free time = Cure for cancer
- Cure for cancer = Instant mega celebrity
- Instant mega celebrity = All the sex I want, when I want it, with pretty much whoever I want, for the rest of my life.
And yet, no one’s taken that deal?
Let’s dive further into this argument, shall we? Whenever someone tries to make this claim, it’s always the extra free time that leads to the magnificent accomplishments. It’s never some mystical power of celibacy or some side effect of freeing up neurons that are typically devoted to sexual fantasy. It’s simply having more time to work on the problem.
So, why is it always a lack of sex that has to provide all that extra free time? Why not something else? I’d be willing to wager that there are a number of things that people do on a daily basis that take more time than dealing with sex does. So, couldn’t non-asexual people drop one of those activities and have as much (if not more) free time than an asexual supposedly gets from being sexless? For many people, their daily commute probably takes up more time than sex does. If that’s the case, why doesn’t somebody keep the sex, work from home, and use all that spare time to cure cancer. Hell, just think about all the incredible and amazing things that unemployed people must be doing all day!
(Then again, maybe they’d just fill that extra time gained by working from home or skipping reruns of Pawn Stars or whatever with more sex, which would defeat the purpose… I’m asexual, so I don’t know how that all works.)
Clearly, everyone should be offended by the suggestion. Asexuals should be offended because it’s clearly a snide and dismissive insult. Non-asexuals should be offended because it implies that they’re all enslaved by what’s in their pants to the point that they can’t even resist it if it meant that they’d be able to cure cancer. It’s just a ridiculous notion all around.
Then again, I did write a book in my free time…
I wrote this a while back for my friends and family. I sent it to them when I came out. It’s intended to be an overview of asexuality for someone who isn’t aware of what it entails and who was a bit blindsided and confused by an announcement from someone they’ve known for years. Hopefully it’s useful for other people, too.
So, wait, what? You’re… Huh? What’s going on again?
I’m asexual. It’s a bit like being straight except I’m not into women.
Oh, so you’re gay?
No. Asexual. I’m not into men or women.
So, you’re a woman trapped in a man’s body?
No, I’m not transgender. I’m quite comfortable with the factory original parts and don’t see any need to replace any components.
Although, some people who are trans are also asexual. They’re not mutually exclusive.
Are you missing pieces down below?
Uh, I don’t think so. Let me check…
Hang on a sec…
Ah, found it. Nope. All present and accounted for.
So, then, you’re saying down below doesn’t work or something?
Down below works just fine. It’s just I have no desire to interface my down below with anyone else’s down below.
You can clone yourself then?
No, different meaning of the word. Although, I’d have to say that binary fission would be an awesome trick for parties.
What are you talking about, then?
Asexuality means I don’t experience sexual attraction. That’s it. While other people are on an unending quest to find someone willing to test the repetitive compressive stress tolerance limits of their furniture, I’m on an unending quest to find a complete set of game cartridges for the Nintendo Virtual Boy. I’m simply not interested in having sex, although the customs and practices can be rather intriguing from a scientific or anthropological point of view.
You don’t want sex?
What, is it against your religion?
Were you abused, then?
Repressed or repulsed or something?
They have a pill for that, you know.
That’s not what the pill is for. The pill is for people who are ready and willing, but not able. I’m perfectly able, just not ready and willing. Saying there’s a pill that’ll fix asexuality is like saying there’s a pill that’ll fix homosexuality. I’m not going to take a pill, feel a stirring in my loins, and suddenly want to sleep with the next woman I see.
What is wrong with you? Sex is AWESOME!
You can keep your sex. Red Alarm is awesome.
You should try it some time. You might like it!
“You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may, I say!”
I did try it. I didn’t care much for it. I mean, it was okay, I guess, but nothing spectacular. Nothing close to what all of you claim. Kinda boring, actually.
Wait, you had sex? Gotcha! That means you’re not asexual!
I had sex twice. Nine years ago. Call it a youthful indiscretion or whatever. I didn’t know I was ace at the time. I thought I was straight and that sex was what I was supposed to do at some point, and she offered. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Asexuality is a sexual orientation, just like being gay or straight. Orientation is not the same as behavior. A little bit of experimentation in college doesn’t make someone gay. A lesbian who wants a child and opts for natural insemination isn’t suddenly straight. I had sex for the experience and because I thought that doing it might make my libido turn on. It didn’t.
I don’t regret it at all. In fact, I think it’s good that I did try it, otherwise I’d probably have doubts that I’m really asexual because there’d be that chance that I would like it if I just tried it.
Maybe she just wasn’t any good. If you find someone good, you’ll change your mind.
Maybe she wasn’t. I don’t know. I don’t have any other data points to compare. But that’s irrelevant. I wasn’t put off by a bad experience. I never was really all that interested in it to begin with. She could have been the most mindblowingly skilled woman on the planet and I still probably would have said “Meh”.
It’s just a phase. It’ll pass.
19 years since puberty is “just a phase”? Well, I’ll give it another 20 minutes, but that’s it!
You could be a late bloomer.
I’m 32 and I’ve never been sexually attracted to anyone, not even a naked woman standing directly in front of me with her hands on my equipment. That’s not a late bloomer. Nothing was planted in my garden.
I’m so sorry for you. It must really suck for you.
No, it’s absolutely fine, actually. I don’t want sex. It’s not like I’m yearning to get laid but can’t, leading me to be a pent up bottle of frustration and sadness. I’m not missing out on anything because I’ve never felt anything to miss out on. It would be a bit like me telling you that your life must suck because you don’t want a copy of a game like Space Squash. You’d give me a funny look and shake your head in confusion over how I could possibly think that you’d be interested in that.
But sex is awesome! Everyone wants sex!
You can’t see me, but I’m giving you a funny look and shaking my head in confusion over how you could possibly think that I’d be interested in that.
By the way, weren’t these supposed to be questions?
Oh, right. So, uh… Aren’t you just putting a fancy name on celibacy?
No, not at all. Celibacy is the condition of not having sex, while asexuality is not feeling sexual attraction toward anyone. Think of it this way: Celibacy is “I don’t have sex because _________.” As in “I don’t have sex because it’s against my religion” or “because I can’t find anyone” or “because I’m in prison”. Asexuality is “Sex? Whatever. Please pass the cake.” So yes, I am celibate, but I’m celibate because I’m ace, not because I made some life choice to never have sex or just haven’t been able to get laid and have given up trying.
Not all celibate people are asexuals, and not all asexuals are celibate.
What you’re saying is that you can’t get laid and have given up trying?
Um. No. I’ve never even bothered trying because it’s just not that interesting to me. When I did have sex, it was entirely my partner’s idea, and it took a lot of persistence on her part to get me to the point where I said yes.
That’s a bit like claiming that I’m not interested in golf because I’m no good at it. No, I’m not interested in golf because it’s golf and it’s not interesting.
(Unless it’s Golf for the Virtual Boy. In which case I’m all there.)
Why do you hate sex?
I don’t hate sex. I just don’t care about it. As far as aces go, I’m fairly sex positive. I’m not repulsed by it and I don’t have any problem with it. In fact, I find it secretly amusing when someone thinks that I’m offended by a sexual conversation and tries to steer things in a different direction. If I seem offended, it’s probably because I’m zoning out and not paying any attention because I have nothing to add to the conversation.
In the right situation, I might even be willing to give it another go. I just don’t feel any need to find myself in the right situation.
Anyway, go forth and fornicate, just keep your damn kids off my lawn.
So you can’t fall in love?
I can and I have. It’s definitely more than a friendship, it’s just not tied to sex.
Wait, how can you fall in love and still call yourself asexual? If you fall in love, you’re straight, gay, or bi. Pick one.
Sex does not equal love. Sexual attraction does not equal love. Many people are sexually attracted to people they do not love. Many people love people they are not sexually attracted to. And clearly, many people love people they do not have sex with. Asexuality is the lack of sexual attraction, not the lack of capacity for love.
You’re just inexperienced. If you get out there and keep trying, you’ll come around.
Did you have to “get out there and keep trying” to decide you were interested in sex in the first place? And who knows, maybe you’ll really get into gay sex if you just “get out there and keep trying”. After all, how can you say you’re not gay if you haven’t tried it out?
And that wasn’t a question.
But you’re like totally socially inept. Sometimes you don’t even want to go outside if there are people on the street. Ever think that maybe you’re not asexual, but that you really just have some sort of social anxiety disorder?
I can’t imagine that my social anxiety issues would cause me not to feel attracted to anyone. It’s not a matter of just being too nervous to ask someone out on a date. If that’s all it were, I would still likely feel attracted, but be unable to approach them. On the contrary, I think asexuality and the social issues have a symbiotic relationship going on. I’m not attracted to anyone, so I never feel compelled to break out and try to talk to someone that I’m attracted to.
Then again, maybe both are caused by my deep-seated fear of having to share a closet with someone.
So, uh… Do you feel anything, uh, down there?
Of course I do. There’s nothing physically wrong with my body.
Wait a minute, how do you know that?
A: Like I said, I’ve had sex.
B: Equipment is tested regularly and has been found to be functioning within normal operating parameters.
“Tested regularly”? So, that means you, uh…? How can you be asexual if you… you know?
That has absolutely nothing to do with asexuality. Like I’ve said, asexuality is an orientation. It relates to who I find sexually attractive, namely, no one. You don’t need to find anyone sexually attractive for that, it’s a physical response.
Of course, that’s absolutely none of your business, but anyway…
Have you ever thought that maybe you haven’t met the right person yet?
Right, maybe I haven’t. But given that I’ve never found anyone attractive in all the years I’ve been looking and that everyone else seems to find multiple people attractive EVERY DAY, I think it’s fairly safe to say that she’s not hiding behind a tree, just waiting for me to walk by.
Why did you choose to be asexual?
It wasn’t a choice. As the song goes, “baby, I was born this way.” (Of course, the song doesn’t mention asexuality, but whatever. We’re there in spirit.)
How did you realize you were asexual?
Last year, I realized that I didn’t think about sex the same way as anyone else I’d ever met. I started to explore those feelings and came to discover that I wasn’t really interested in sex at all. And I’ve always been that way. During puberty, as a teenager, when I had a girlfriend, and now as an adult. I didn’t really understand it. There weren’t any signs that my hormones were awry and I wasn’t depressed. Perhaps most significantly, I hadn’t had sex in eight and a half years and it didn’t bother me at all. Everyone else seems like they’d go insane if they hadn’t had sex in eight and a half days.
So, I was a mystery to myself, a puzzle to be solved.
I like solving puzzles.
And so I went looking for answers. Asexuality was the one that fit the best, so I took it.
But hey, I’m a scientist. I go with the theory that fits the evidence. Right now, the evidence points toward my being ace. But in the future, I recognize that there may be some new evidence that’ll come along and disprove the theory. Should that happen, I’m willing to go where that leads.
Ace? What’s that?
Ace…xual. It beats “amoeba”.
Why are you telling me all this, anyway?
To spread awareness and hope it’ll contribute to a better understanding of asexuality. I see other aces facing ignorance and struggling with those who are unable or unwilling to understand. On top of that, asexuality is almost completely invisible. I mean, I’ve felt this way for at least 19 years, since puberty, possibly even earlier, and I didn’t even know this was an option until April.
I’ve been a supporter of gay rights for years. It would be hypocritical for me to be open in my support there, yet be completely silent about who I am, now that I know who I am.
I know that one of the greatest factors in someone being willing to accept homosexuality is to know someone who is gay. I know that if I’m open about who I am and how I feel, that all of you will gain a greater understanding of asexuality and be more willing to accept us. You won’t see asexuality as some scary alien concept. You’ll see me. (Granted, I can be a scary alien concept at times, though…)
Were you hiding all this time, then? What took you so long to come out of the closet?
I haven’t been hiding. I really just found out myself back in April. I’ve been confirming the hypothesis since then and trying to figure out how to say anything about it. And it’s not like I’ve been trying to pass or anything. Even before I made the discovery, I never went around claiming to be sexually attracted to anyone. I’m sure everyone who knows me had already figured out that there was something off here. I mean, I have this picture on my desk at the office:
(I’m not really sure aces come out of the closet, though. I think we come out of the pantry, because of the cake.)
Yes. We have cake. That’s how we recruit people.
Of course. Just like any other sexual minority, we recruit people to help carry out our sinister agenda.
Yes. Say, would you like some cake?
Some excellent resources for learning more about asexuality are the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, at http://www.asexuality.org, and the Hot Pieces of Ace YouTube channel, at http://www.youtube.com/user/HotPiecesofAce
Mario went from the ice covered reaches of the highest mountain to the depths of the ocean, from the parched desert to inside a volcano, he was shrunk to microscopic size, shot out of a cannon, harassed by a rabbit, smacked in the head by a giant pendulum, attacked by a carnivorous piano, choked on toxic gas, fell into an endless abyss more times than he can count, and even had his hat stolen by a monkey. And for what?
THE PRINCESS PROMISED TO BAKE HIM A CAKE.
Talk about ace.