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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2009 6:14 pm 
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'We're married, we just don't have sex'
by Paul Cox
Monday September 8 2008

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Paul Cox: 'On our wedding night, we invited friends over to play Scrabble'.
Photograph: Sarah Lee

Despite not being physically attracted to other people, Paul Cox, 24, explains how he and his wife found love and happiness as an asexual couple

People wonder why asexuals bother to get together, but Amanda and I have been happily married for nine months now and we're both still virgins. Some people even think asexuality doesn't exist. It's so underrepresented, I can understand why people are skeptical. I was too, even though I was perfectly used to thinking of myself in this way. For years I just thought I was the only person in the world who felt like this.

My parents are agricultural scientists, so I've lived overseas since around the age of 10. I was in India until I was 16, then Zimbabwe for two years, and then Kuwait. I studied in China and New York, before settling in London. Even at 10, I had a sense that I didn't want to get married and have children. I know a lot of kids say things like that, but I didn't change my mind about it later on. I wasn't interested in relationships or finding a girlfriend, and was very sure I didn't have an interest in boys either.

Gradually my school friends spent more and more time talking about girls and pursuing relationships, but I could never grasp what they were expecting to get out of it. There were family parties in India where all the kids would gather outside in the garden.

I was 13 and had a best friend, Kasim, who was a year younger than me. He had a crush on an Australian girl called Jessica - everyone seemed to think she was the prettiest. We had lots of whispered discussions about what he could say to her, and even though I thought it was a ridiculous game, I wanted to fit in, so I pretended I had a crush too - on a French girl called Sylvie. She was a safe bet because she was so unlikely to reciprocate. I knew she wasn't at all interested in me. I'd just discuss her with the boys.

There were times as I got older when girls did seem interested in me, but I always deliberately ignored their signals. I wanted to avoid getting into a situation I'd feel uncomfortable with, so I never even kissed a girl. The first girl I kissed became my wife.

When I was 13, my father gave me a book on sex education. I felt as if I was reading about a foreign culture; I just couldn't see why anyone would go to so much trouble just to have sex. I tried looking at pornography on the internet. I wasn't disgusted or appalled - it was just boring, like looking at wallpaper.

Masturbation was another topic of conversation in those days, and I did masturbate. It wasn't a sexual urge for me, I didn't fantasise, it was just something my body decided to do. People say about asexuals: "But if they masturbate doesn't that make them sexual?" It's hard to explain, but if you're asexual you don't necessarily feel an explicit connection between masturbation and sexual orientation. It's just part of having a human body - a physical, biological process.

After we moved to Zimbabwe I went back to visit my old friend Kasim. The last time we'd seen each other we'd been into computer games, drinking Coke and going for pizza. Two years on, it was a shock to see how much Kasim had changed. Sex was his major preoccupation. He had a girlfriend and was on the brink of going all the way with her. One afternoon we were with some of Kasim's friends, and he began goading two of the girls into kissing each other in front of a camera. The whole atmosphere was really charged, and I felt out of my depth. I'd fallen behind. Kasim had been my friend a long time, but he'd entered this different world without me.

By the time I went to university, I was happy to let people wonder about my sexuality. I wasn't pretending to talk about girls any more. Some people assumed I was gay, but my best friend Simon was the first person to confront me directly. We were studying in Hangzhou, in China, just south of Shanghai. It's a very beautiful city, on a lake with mountains, and we were walking through the streets when Simon asked me outright. First he made a joke about whether "I liked girls ... or boys?" I laughed but he persisted and said "So what are you?" I just said, "I'm not straight and I'm not gay, and that's it, full stop." Back then I didn't know what term to use.

The following summer I was surfing the internet when I read a post from a girl who wasn't attracted to anyone. Someone had suggested she should be aware of "asexuality", and gave the address of a website: asexuality.org. When I went to the site and read the material, I was quite dismissive at first, because you just don't hear about other asexuals. Since Freud and Kinsey, and even to an extent the sexual revolution of the 60s, we tend to believe anyone without a sexual orientation must be repressed or delusional. Asexuality is therefore an impossibility. Kinsey labelled us "X", a statistical throwaway category for anyone damaged to the point where they can't express any sexuality.

Gradually, though, through visiting the site, I came to realise that these were just ordinary people; people who were writing things I'd thought myself, but had never heard anyone else express. It was such a relief. Finally I had a label - a way to explain myself that could settle all the awkwardness and questioning.

I told my close friends straightaway. Only one female friend didn't really believe me. I think she thought I was secretly in love with her.

Back at college I decided to get it over with in one day by wearing a T-shirt saying: "Asexuality is not just for amoebas". I was nervous, but I'd already told a dozen or so people, and was used to answering the same questions over and over. No one has ever reacted really badly to me - I've been lucky.

I told my mother shortly after finding the asexual website, and she said: "Well as long as you understand the possibility that one of these days you'll meet someone and want to settle down with them." I wasn't so sure. I'd already resigned myself to a solitary existence. I'd convinced myself I could form strong friendships and was independent enough to fare OK. Luckily my mother always ends up being right about everything.

When my studies took me to New York, I got more involved with the asexual community there. I posted messages on their website and there were regular meet-ups in a little pink tea shop in the East Village - I guess you could call it the asexual equivalent of a gay bar.

One day I got an email from Amanda. She was asexual, living close by, and offered to show me around the neighbourhood. In case she was cruising for an asexual boyfriend, I responded with a warning that I was "vehemently anti-romantic". But we met up anyway, for tea and ice-skating, and we took to meeting a lot.

I loved Amanda's attitude to life and enjoyed hanging out with her. And she was pretty. At first I tried to treat it like any other friendship. Then I found myself travelling four miles downtown to deliver sandwiches when she told me she was hungry. Two months in, we were at a gig and it seemed like a good idea to hold her hand. I felt cautious about it but just wanted to. I wondered if I could. Then I found I couldn't let go.

That evening ended with us agreeing that our friendship was an important thing. We wanted to commit for life. In the asexual community we don't form relationships lightly. If you don't want to spend the rest of your life with a person, there's no reason to make such a special commitment.

When we announced our engagement, our families were happy for us, and our friends in the asexual community were particularly pleased. On our wedding night, my mother-in-law insisted on booking us into a honeymoon suite, so we invited all our friends to an after party. We played Scrabble late into the night and everyone stayed over and slept on the hotel-room floor.

People always ask how our marriage is different from just being friends, but I think a lot of relationships are about that - being friends. We have built on our friendship, rather than scrapping it and moving on somewhere else. The obvious way we differ is that we don't have sex, though we do kiss and cuddle. We like to joke that the longer we're married the less unusual this is. By the time we've been married five years we'll be just like everyone else.

Do I feel as if I'm missing out on something? Not really. We've decided that if either of us wants to try sex out in the future then we will see what we can do. We would both be willing to compromise because we're in a relationship and that's what you do.

When it comes to the future and to children, we're big advocates of adoption. We're not so fussed about passing on our own genes. Right now we're quite happy with what we've got. After moving around so much, I can say now that wherever Amanda is - that's home.

· Paul Cox was interviewed by Bridget O'Donnell. Some names have been changed.

· Do you have a story to tell about your life? Email it to my.story@guardian.co.uk. If possible, include a phone number.

Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2009 6:15 pm 
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Asexuals Push for Greater Recognition
By DAN CHILDS
January 16, 2009

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Asexuality advocates Andrew Hinderliter (left) and David Jay (right) are among those lobbying the psychological community for greater awareness of asexuality as a legitimate sexual orientation.
(You Tube/ABC News)

Those Who Have No Interest in Sex Want More Awareness of Orientation

In a society obsessed with sex, David Jay wants no part of it. Jay, a 26-year-old graduate student at the Presidio School of Management in San Francisco, acknowledges that his lack of interest in sex may seem unusual to many who view intercourse as the epitome of intimacy. But research suggests that about 1 percent of the population may share Jay's view on sex. And he said that for many of these people, coming to terms with their feelings about sex can be a major challenge.

"When I was younger, the message I would always hear is that you need sex to be happy," he said. "I realized probably around the age of 14 or 15 that all of my friends were actively talking about sex. I just couldn't relate to it; I had no interest at all." Jay said that it took him about four years of struggling to adjust to the fact that he simply did not view sex in the same way as most other people. "It was really scary, really frightening," Jay said. "I think that throughout the asexual community, there are a lot of people who really start in that place of being isolated and confused."

Jay says it's his choice not to engage in sex. To be sure, there are millions of other people who have no interest in sex or are unable to perform sexually who are not at all happy to be members of this club. For them, a variety of psychiatric and medical procedures are available. But asexuals like Jay are perfectly happy to take a pass on sex. Today, Jay is one of the most prominent voices in the asexuality community. In 2001, he started the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) with the aim of providing a community for people who identify themselves as asexual.

And he said that while one of the primary aims of the group is to foster a greater general understanding of asexuality, this does not mean that there should be less talk about sex. In fact, he believes more such talk is needed. "The problem is not that there is too much discussion about sex; 99 percent of the world really, really likes sex, so it is something that should be talked about openly and honestly," Jay said. "But we need to have more discussion about how people can not have sex and still be happy."

Recently, Jay and others within AVEN began lobbying for greater understanding of asexuality among the psychological community as well. Their message is simple: they want increased recognition of asexuality among psychological professionals -- while ensuring that it is seen as a legitimate sexual orientation rather than diagnosed as a mental illness. The group's current goal is to foster greater understanding among the architects of the new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is scheduled for release in 2012. The DSM, which is published by the American Psychiatric Association, provides diagnostic criteria for mental disorders.

Asexuality researcher Lori Brotto, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of British Columbia, is one of the medical experts working with AVEN toward this goal. And she said it is little surprise that this confusion exists -- not only in the clinical realm, but among the general public as well. "Because asexuality is a relatively new phenomenon that has been described -- not that it hasn't existed for many, many centuries -- people don't understand what it is," Brotto said. "Because most people can identify with the feeling of sexual attraction, the notion that someone would not have sexual attraction toward anyone seems bizarre."

The 'Missing' Sexual Orientation

Hints of the existence of asexuality have appeared in the scientific literature since the 1940s. But it was not until more than a half century later that Anthony Bogaert, professor and chair of the department of community health sciences at Brock University in Ontario, Canada, took a closer look at those who professed to have no sexual attraction whatsoever to either men or women.

Bogaert's 2004 study is viewed by some as the first solid toehold for asexuality in the spectrum of sexual orientation -- a group which until recently had been comprised only of three categories: heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality. In it, Bogaert looked at data from a survey of more than 18,000 British residents and examined their answers on a particular question on sexual attraction to others. While five of the possible answers to the question focused on varying levels of attraction to males or females, the sixth answer that respondents could choose read "I have never felt sexually attracted to anyone at all."

"About 1 percent of individuals reported having no sexual attraction to anyone at all," he said. "This was the missing fourth category of sexual orientation." What followed this finding was much discussion over whether asexuality should be seen as a distinct sexual orientation or treated as a pathological condition -- a debate that largely persists until today.

Prior to this research, and even until today, asexual tendencies were generally assumed to be a sign of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) -- in other words, a low sex drive. It is a distinction with which the psychological community still wrestles. "It is very hard to distinguish between asexuality and insufficient capability for desire or arousal or both," said Pepper Schwartz, professor of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle. "Perhaps the difference is how the person -- or their partner -- feels about it. The literature is certainly inadequate for differentiation between the two."

An Intimate Relationship -- Without the Sex

Bogaert said that a lack of widespread understanding about asexuality means that many of these individuals face many challenges -- particularly in a society that seems fixated on sex. "A big part of our media and culture expects people to have romantic/sexual relationships with others," he said. "The norm is for someone to form romantic sexual relationships with other people."

This norm, Bogaert noted, often poses problems for asexuals, who may be interested in romance and intimacy, but not in sex. "[Asexuals] may want to pair-bond with another individual, and most likely they will be pair-bonding with someone who's sexual," he said. "So then you often have pressure placed on the asexual person to have sex within the relationship, even if he or she really doesn't want to have sex."

Eli Coleman, professor and director of the program in human sexuality at the University of Minnesota Medical School, said that this clash of expectations could lead to serious relationship stress. "The biggest challenge would be the pressure to become sexual," Coleman said. "Asexuality has been assumed to be abnormal. Sexual drive is a basic and fundamental appetitive drive and would be the expected norm."

Jay agreed that the subject of relationships is complex when asexuality enters the picture. "I think it's a very tricky issue," said Jay, who has himself never had sex but has been in relationships in which he engaged in a certain degree of sexual activity. "There are plenty of people in the asexual community who have relationships with sexual people and have those relationships work," he said. "The sense that I have is that if sex is something that one person in the relationship wants, that's one thing. If that is the only way that they can communicate intimacy, then that's another issue."

Another option, of course, is for those who are asexual to form relationships with each other. Jay said that there is an emerging asexual dating scene, and some online dating services geared toward asexuals have appeared.

What is an asexual relationship like? Jay likened it to an intimate partnering of "very, very close best friends."

Pushing for a Change

Advocates say there is much to be gained from a greater awareness within the psychological community of asexuality, particularly when it comes to ensuring that the DSM does not treat asexuality as a disorder that must be treated. "The fear is that with a new definition, asexuality would somehow make its way into the DSM and be considered a psychological illness," Brotto said. For something to be considered a psychological illness, Brotto said, "a person needs to be distressed or bothered by the condition. Asexual people are not. Their only distress is distress over the idea that they will not be accepted by society. This is certainly not a sexual dysfunction, and it is certainly not a mental disorder."

But not all psychologists agree. "Given that I believe our sexuality is a great emotional and physical asset, it is hard for me to think asexuality is appropriate to declassify," Schwartz said. "On the other hand, we certainly do not want to oppress someone who is happily asexual and does not have a deprived partner."

Still, Jay said that he believes AVEM is making significant progress with those behind the DSM. And he said that he is hopeful that greater understanding among the public in general will follow. "The take-home point should really be a question they ask themselves," he said. "That question is: Why does sex matter so much?"

Source: ABC News.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2009 6:19 pm 
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Meet the asexuals: 'Sex' doesn't titillate them!
by Anjali Thomas
2 October 2009

Attachment:
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Not tonight, darling, Not Ever (Getty Images)

Mating and the rituals surrounding it have shaped world history and religion, divided countries, and toppled empires.

It"s hard to ignore the internal chemical tempest that rages under the veneer of civilised life, but the world over, there are people — youngsters mainly — who are simply shrugging off the need to have sex. They"re not nuns or priests opting for a life of chastity, nor do any of them suffer sexual disorders or hormonal imbalances. They"re simply people who don"t see what the sexual ballyhoo is all about.

In India too, where the sexual revolution is still taking off in fits and starts, there are men and women who have little or no sexual inclination. "Does that make me frigid?"" asks 25-year-old, Kolkata-based lawyer Indrani Banerjee, who calls herself an asexual — a word that many "sexually enlightened" people are identifying with. "I don"t have the desire to have sex with a man. And I"m not attracted to women either...unless you"re talking of Salma Hayek,"" says Banerjee who is not a virgin.

The website asexuality.org or rather, the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN) describes an asexual as someone who does not experience sexual attraction. "Unlike celibacy, which people choose, asexuality is an intrinsic part of who we are. There is considerable diversity among the asexual community: Each asexual person experiences things like relationships, attraction, and arousal somewhat differently," reads the homepage.

For a majority of impassioned people raised on a diet of films like Basic Instinct and Pretty Woman, the idea of feeling no spark, no sexual connection, is a denial of one"s basic needs. After all, didn"t someone say that man is a sexual being? A "true" asexual, however, can live life to the fullest, without missing that oft-quoted spark.

"We"re not eight-legged, pop-eyed aliens or amoeba in human form. Some asexuals don"t feel romantic love at all...but are otherwise normal. Some have romantic love...minus sexual feelings. We"re ordinary, normal people, you know," says Banerjee rather indignantly. Even people who masturbate, but do not feel the desire to have sex with anyone are asexuals, she says.

Chris D"Souza, 31, identifies with this. The Mumbai-based freelance graphic designer has lost interest in sex over the last year. "There was no dearth of experience during my college days," he says, wryly. "But for the last few years, sex gives me little pleasure. My work hours have gone haywire, and I just couldn"t be bothered to go through the whole ritual. Not even for Salma Hayek!" D"Souza is currently dating, and while he enjoys the companionship of his girlfriend — "the cuddling, hugging, emotional support" — he admits that there"s a strain on the relationship.

In that respect, Banerjee, who says she"s "almost single" does not want her parents sweating it out trying to find a suitable boy for her. "I don"t want a string of failed relationships because of my lack of willingness to have sex, either."

In a society that has coined at least 6,500 slang words and off-colour phrases for sex, there is little research on asexuality. In the Kinsey Reports of 1948 and 1953, sexologist Alfred Kinsey created a separate X category, for those with "no socio-sexual contacts or reactions". Around 1.5 per cent of the adult male population fell into the ambiguous X category. In 2004, Canadian researcher, Dr Anthony Bogaert, documented that one per cent of adults have absolutely no interest in sex. This was based on interviews with 18,000 people and their sexual practices, the findings of which were published in The Journal of Sex Research. In 2007, the Kinsey Institute in a small survey on the topic found that "self-identified asexuals reported significantly less desire for sex with a partner, and lower sexual excitation".

"There"s nothing wrong with being happily asexual," says Dr Shamsah Sonawalla, associate director (psychiatry research) and consultant psychiatrist, Jaslok Hospital. "Besides, what society considers normal includes a wide range of variables. Just as there"s nothing wrong with a person who has a high libido, the other end of the spectrum — someone with no libido — is also fine. To call it a disorder, it must adversely affect the person"s life."

In India, however, a person"s sexual orientation becomes a problem when they step over the threshold. Young men and women, who have had limited avenues of experimentation enter matrimony only to realise that they have no interest in spicing up the marital bed. Psychiatrist Dr Anjali Chhabria has had many a distraught parent dragging an unwilling son or daughter — in the age group of 22 to 26 — in an attempt to save a new marriage. "That"s when asexuality becomes a problem, a family problem of sorts," says Chhabria, adding that the first thing she does is rule out other possibilities such as sexual or emotional dysfunction, latent homosexuality, etc. Sonawalla stresses the importance of being happy with one"s choice: "There are individuals who may have a low sex drive — transient or long-standing — and are distressed by this." Called Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), it is defined as a deficiency or absence of sexual fantasies combined with the desire for sexual activity. Stress, effects of medication and hormonal changes can also reduce a person"s libido.

"Should I worry?" asks D"Souza, only half in jest. While he"s happy with his lack of desire, it"s taken a toll on his relationship with his girlfriend. But he can take comfort in the fact that his need not be a choice for life; the rules are not set in stone. Radhika S, 28, says that for five years she had no desire to have sex. "It didn"t make a dent in the way I lead my life. But yes, I did meet someone recently." And sparks are flying.

SEXLESS IN THE CITY

TINTIN
He"s 80 years old now but still hasn"t had his heart broken. The debate over Tintin"s sexuality continues with great vigour. A recent book even said that he was gay. The romantically (and sexually) detached youth with his cowlick, too-short trousers and scarf could well be asexual.

ISAAC NEWTON
A falling apple may have helped Newton define one of the most seminal laws of physics but when it came to the apple as a fruit of sexual temptation, he seemed to be gloriously unmoved. Researchers have remained foxed about Newton"s sexual bent. Perhaps, in this department, there was no gravitational pull

SHERLOCK HOLMES
To say that the Baker Street boy was blind to feminine charm would be an outright lie. Remember Irene Adler, the woman who outwitted him in A Scandal In Bohemia? But in Holmes" bachelor world of reason, tobacco and murder most foul, sex was but an inconvenience.

Source: Times of India.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 9:21 pm 
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Third of young Japanese men not interested in sex

More than a third of Japanese males aged between 16 and 19 have no interest in or are actively averse to sex, according to a government survey.

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As of March 2009, Japan's total population stood at just over 127 million Photo: REUTERS

By Julian Ryall
13 January 2011

Japan's birth rate stands at 1.21 per family, far below the rate of 2.08 babies that is required for a stable population. As of March 2009, Japan's total population stood at just over 127 million, but that figure is projected to decline to 95 million by 2050. And if more drastic measures fail to encourage people to have sex — and hence children — then there will be a mere 47.7 million Japanese at the turn of the next century.

According to the survey of 671 men and 869 women, issued by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, 35.1 per cent of men aged 16 to 19 said they are not interested in or averse to sex, more than double the 17.5 per cent of men in the previous study in 2008.

"Obviously, the most important reason for Japan's declining birth rate is that people are not having sex," Dr. Kunio Kitamura, head of the Japan Family Planning Association, told The Daily Telegraph. "Combined with the rising number of elderly people, this population imbalance is a major problem," he said. Equally worrying, he said, is the increase in the number of married couples who are officially recognised as "sexless," meaning they have not had sex for more than one month.

The figure has risen to 40.8 percent of all married couples, up from 36.5 percent two years ago and 31.9 percent in 2004.

The government has attempted a series of campaigns to encourage couples to have more children — from making companies insist that their staff leave work at 6pm to increasing child allowances — but none of that is gong to have an impact if people are not going to have sex, Kitamura said.

Source: Telegraph UK.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:10 am 
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Wedded miss
1 August 2011
by Kathryn Quinn

Happy couple Marina and Bratislav Popovic have revealed the secret of their blissful 20-year marriage: no sex.

The pair - both 45 - said they gave up on sex after their daughter was born.

"Now every night we cuddle up together and fall asleep. Sex is overrated," Marina Popovic from Split, Croatia, said.

Source: Romanian Times.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:37 pm 
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Among the asexuals

In a society obsessed with sex, it's hard if you have no sexual desire at all. Some are searching for a new form of intimacy

by Rosie Swash
Sunday 26 February 2012

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No sex please...: student Mary Kame Ginoza, 19, and David Jay, 29, the asexuality movement’s poster boy. Photograph: Alyson Aliano

"OK," writes Annette, in an introductory email: "I am 47 but look younger, probably because I take good care of myself and also do not have the stress of a husband and kids." At first glance it reads like the "describe yourself" section of a dating site, which is ironic, considering that Annette is one of several people responding to my search for case studies on a forum for people who are asexual. That is, people who have little to no interest in sex. "I live in a dull suburb in Minnesota and right now I'm eating lunch (and typing) at the law firm where I work as a paralegal. My job makes me happy to be asexual, as I see all the divorce cases and what really goes on. Yeah, really – the crap that is going on in the suburbs: her husband left her for his boyfriend, stuff like that."

Annette writes in the breathless, self-assured style of any typical, busy American too pushed for time to mince their words. Life as an asexual person in the suburbs has thrown her some curveballs, like the woman at her local church group who prayed she would find a husband, chanting: "Saint Anne! Saint Anne! Find her a man!" Or the time a relative, apparently perplexed by Annette's perpetual singledom, secretly signed her up to a dating agency. She's still getting newsletters from the company years later.

It's estimated that 1% of the world's population is asexual, although research is limited. Annette and others like her have never and probably will never experience sexual attraction. She has been single her whole life, something she repeatedly says that she is more than happy about. In a developed-world country, especially one where Christianity casts a long shadow over politics and the government, it's hard to see why not wanting to have sex would be a problem. But Annette has spent her life feeling misunderstood while simultaneously failing to comprehend what motivates those around her. When she wants to talk about politics, her colleagues want to talk about their "crappy husbands".

General public ignorance about asexuality can cause a surprising array of problems, even in these sexually enlightened times. This is why David Jay, the charismatic San Franciscan who has become a poster boy for asexuality, set up the Aven website (Asexuality Visibility and Education Network) in 2001, an online community that has grown to include more than 50,000 members who lie somewhere on the spectrum of asexuality. Jay is the focus of a new documentary called (A)sexual, in which he explains the "icky mystery" of going through adolescence without developing sexual attraction.

In the opening scenes of the documentary, director Angela Tucker asks people to tell her what asexuality means to them. "I think… moss is asexual?" one woman ponders, while another talks about tadpoles.

Listen to asexual people talk about everyday life and you realise they face social minefields that don't affect people of other sexualities. "Living in a world that holds the romantic and the sexual as the highest ideals possible is difficult," says Bryony, a 20-year-old biology student from Manchester. "The most pervasive effect on my life at the moment, as a student, is how many conversations revolve around sex and the sexual attractiveness of certain people that I just don't really want to join in with."

Jay tells me over the phone from his home in San Francisco that he thinks what the community often refers to as the "asexuality movement" is now in its third phase. Roughly speaking, the first phase began in the early 2000s, which isn't to suggest that asexuality didn't exist before – simply that it didn't have a coherent public identity. It was about identifying exactly what asexuality was: not the suppression of sexual desire, which is celibacy, but the absence of it. The internet facilitated asexuality's going overground; whereas it used to be associated with amoebas and plants, the turn of this century saw Yahoo forums opening up around the first people who, anonymously and tentatively, said: "I just don't get what all the fuss about sex is."

Phase two involved mobilisation. In 2006 David Jay hit the media with his message about asexuality. People were curious, but the response was brash and superficial. Appearing on The View, a US panel show not unlike ITV's Loose Women, Jay attempted to explain to mainstream America what asexuality was. "What's the problem? Why do you need to organise?" barked Joy Behar, an actress and comedian who looks like Bette Midler and makes Joan Rivers seem demure. "If you're not having sex, what's there to talk about?" said her co-panellist Star Jones, in an "Am I right, ladies?" tone of voice. The panel was playing for laughs, but the women immediately offered alternatives to Jay's assertion that he doesn't experience sexual desire. "Maybe it's repressed sexuality. Maybe you don't want to face what your sexuality means," said Behar, before the women joked about making Jay "lie down". "To be analysed or for something else?" they cackled.

In 2012, phase three of the asexuality movement, as Jay defines it, is about challenging the mainstream notion of what constitutes a normal sex drive. And that's when things get tricky. "Theoretically the absence of sexual desire shouldn't be a problem," says Dr Tony Bogaert, an associate professor at Brock University in Ontario who specialises in research into asexuality. "But ours is a media which suggests hypersexuality is the norm. Potentially, asexuality has become a 'problem' as it became more visible, and in a sense it's become the new stigma."

Suzie King, a counsellor and the founder of the UK dating website Platonic Partners, says that her patients often report a lack of awareness or understanding in the therapeutic industries when presented with asexuality. "That the industry wants to 'fix' asexuals and make them sexual is the most common comment I have heard; there is not much attention paid to the real psychological and emotional needs of asexuals."

Loneliness seems to be a recurrent issue for asexual people, and was even more so before the internet became a common way to reach out to other people under the cloak of anonymity. Sex, of course, forms only one part of a meaningful relationship, but if it is thought to be an indispensable part, then those who do not wish to have sex may also conclude that they are unable to have a relationship. Suzie King set up Platonic Partners in 2007 after a patient of hers attempted suicide. "He was deeply lonely and could not foresee a future in which someone would be willing to have a relationship with him without sex." Fortunately King was able to introduce him to a woman for whom no sex life was not a problem.

"How many times have you heard someone say: 'I hate my job, but coming home to my husband/wife makes it worth it'?" asks Bryony. "For a while I was very worried about how I'll never have that. My ideal would be to live in a commune-type set-up with some close friends, but as they grow up and form monogamous relationships I'm worried that that's going to become less likely. I'm a little jealous about people who have that one person that they would do anything for and who would do anything for them in return, but my aim is to get the same emotional connection on a platonic level with friends."

Platonic Partners caters not only for asexual people but also for the sexually impotent and for those who cannot have sex because of injury. But whatever the reason, the central message is the same: just because you don't want to or can't have sex, it doesn't mean you should spend your life alone. In the documentary (A)sexual, David Jay says: "When I came out to my parents they immediately told me not to limit myself. I think they had a hard time seeing how I could be happy without sexuality being part of my life."

Other experiences suggest that parents would have an easier time accepting their child coming out as gay, and that their responses are similar to those who did just that in previous eras: "Are you sure? Maybe you'll grow out of it? What about grandkids?"

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Teenagers at the Gatecrasher Ball in London. Photograph: Rex Features

Part of what is so fascinating about the asexuality movement is the broad spectrum of sexuality that it reveals. Neth, a 24-year-old from the West Country, describes herself as a "panromantic asexual". Like all the asexual people I spoke to, Neth explains that she has known she was asexual since adolescence but only recently realised that there was a term for how she felt. Neth also identifies herself as "genderqueer", a general term used by people who don't identify themselves as men or women. "Sometimes I feel more like a girl and sometimes I don't at all. If we were all in some magical world, I'd love to be able to change the shape of my body to go along with those shifts, but, alas, that's a fantasy." She is currently single. Her previous relationship with a boyfriend ended some years ago, before she "came out" as asexual: "His desires and attractions were, well, different from my own, and I don't think he ever realised what was going on with me. There was some sexual stuff at the start: he wanted it and I was caught up in having a boyfriend. I remember feeling awkward afterwards. Having spent years not thinking about any of this, it was obvious I didn't really want sex. I ended up avoiding him a fair bit and it just fizzled out and we ended up as friends."

We know asexuality isn't celibacy, but it invariably raises a few knee-jerk questions: are you just repressed? Are you secretly gay? Were you abused?

Dr Lori Brotto, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of British Columbia, is, alongside Dr Bogaert, one of the leading academics in the field of asexuality. But Brotto's findings raise more questions about asexuality than they answer. For example, her research shows there is no gender split; men and women are equally likely to be asexual. However, asexual men are much more likely to masturbate than asexual women; as likely, it would seem, as men with "normal" sex drives, suggesting that they are responding to a physical imperative. When Brotto conducted an experiment to measure the vaginal reactions of female participants to visual sexual stimulus, the physical reactions among asexual women were the same as that of women who report an otherwise "normal" sex drive. Brotto also says there is nothing to suggest that asexual people are any more or less likely to have suffered childhood abuse than anyone else.

Dr Bogaert's research suggests that a "fraternal birth effect" seemed to be a factor: asexuals are more likely to have older brothers. His findings have also established that "asexuals, like gay people, are more likely to be left-handed". But what does any of this mean in terms of understanding asexuality better? "If I had the funds, I'd commission brain-imagery studies to show how an asexual person processes sex. This would help lead us to other answers: is this hormone related? Is asexuality genetic?" Brotto and Bogaert have each applied for funds, but as asexuality presents no danger in the way, for example, the Aids epidemic did, there is little interest in the funding further research.

In a long email exchange with Andrew, a 28-year-old asexual man from St Louis, Missouri, I find myself asking the kinds of questions that are, frankly, offensive. He had a deeply religious upbringing, and describes how bizarre the chastity doctrine passed on to him and his peers seemed to someone who didn't want to have sex anyway. So did your religious upbringing have anything to do with your asexuality, I ask. "Most of the 'mainstream' responses you get are, basically, attempts to explain away asexuality and to not have to take it seriously. It'll be a long time before we have any idea as to what causes asexuality, and I think that causation has little relevance to validity, " he writes back. I'm embarrassed. I would never ask a gay person whether their upbringing had made them gay, so why does it trip off the tongue when talking to an asexual person? Asexuals don't necessarily have an issue with being asexual, but they do with the assumption that it is "caused".

Andrew suggests I contact Mark Carrigan, a doctoral researcher at Warwick University. Carrigan disagrees with David Jay's theory that we are in the third phase of the asexuality movement: "I don't see how it's possible to say we're now at a stage where mainstream assumptions about asexuality are being changed while most of the population are only dimly aware of its existence." Carrigan's theory is that the visibility of asexuality is a reaction to the postwar arrival of consumer consumption, sexual liberation and the pill. "Most of the asexual people that I speak to find that 'coming out' to their parents is hard but that their grandparents are actually very understanding." Is the way we respond to asexuals, then, partly a generational issue? "I suspect it's only when sex becomes something public, visible and widely discussed that a lack of sexual attraction becomes problematic," says Corrigan. "While it remained a private thing, asexuality wasn't rendered an 'issue' for asexual individuals and there was no need to find a term and claim recognition for their identity."

Suzie King echoes Carrigan's ideas: "Anything that goes against the norm, and threatens the status quo, is to be ridiculed and got rid of. The reactions that asexual people have to deal with show how ill-educated, narrow-minded and not really 'open' about sex we really are."

Laura, 21, from Scotland, has known she was asexual from adolescence. "At school, all the other girls started getting crushes when we were about 13. I had no idea what they were talking about." At her job in a local bar, Laura is propositioned by customers regularly. "I've tried to explain a few times that I'm asexual but they just say, 'Well you've never had it with me, love!' so in the end it just seems easier not to talk about it at all."

For more information and advice visit platonicpartners.co.uk and asexuality.org.
Some names have been changed.
Source: Guardian UK.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:16 pm 
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Japanese man cooks, serves own genitals
25 May 2012

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A Japanese chef prepares food at a cookery school in Paris.

AFP - A Japanese artist cooked his own genitals and served them to five paying diners in Tokyo to cover the medical costs, in a bizarre act to raise awareness about sexual minorities.

Mao Sugiyama had his penis and testicles surgically removed in March and kept them frozen for two months before dishing them out -- seasoned and braised -- to customers at an event hall on May 13, according to postings on his Twitter account and local police.

Diners paid 20,000 yen ($250) for the plate with a portion of genitals. Pictures published on a website appeared to show the meal came complete with mushrooms and a parsley garnish. The painter, who is reportedly 22, said on Twitter the organ had been removed by a physician and certified to be free of infections.

The meal was prepared under the supervision of a certified cook and diners were required to sign a waiver indemnifying Sugiyama and event organisers. In May 18 tweets, the artist said steps were taken so the act met all relevant laws, including a ban on organ sales, processing of medical waste and even food sanitation requirements.

"I receive questions from some women and men... asking 'Will there be a next time? Please host it again.' But there is only one set of male organ," he tweeted on May 16. "Unfortunately, I have no plan for the next time."

Sugiyama, who considers himself "asexual", that is without gender, initially thought about eating the genitals himself, but decided to solicit paying customers to help pay his hospital bills for the surgery. In an email to AFP, he confirmed the event had taken place and said it was organised to raise awareness about "sexual minorities, x-gender, asexual people". He said he was readying to publish an official account of the day.

Police in Tokyo said they knew of the episode, but added that it had not broken the law as cannibalism was not illegal in Japan. "We are aware of the case. There was nothing (criminal) to it. It does not violate any detailed rules. There is nothing to take action about," an officer at Suginami police station told AFP.

Source: France24.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:33 pm 
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Asexuals – the fourth sexual orientation
by Genevieve Roberts
Sunday 19 August 2012

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No desire to know about sex: Amy Gallagher, 20, at her home in High Barnet, London, on Friday - Micha Theiner

Around 1 per cent of the world's population is reckoned to feel no sexual attraction at all

From playground chatter to high-street billboards; from magazines, newspapers and television to the subject of junk emails in our inboxes, sex is common currency. But a small, often misunderstood, sometimes disbelieved minority of the population is almost totally overlooked: they feel absolutely no sexual attraction to other people.

A book published in the UK next month claims such men and women, an estimated 1 per cent of the population, should be recognised as a fourth sexual orientation – asexuals.

Professor Anthony Bogaert's book, Understanding Asexuality, argues that a growing number of people consider themselves asexual. He believes asexual people are "an under-studied population" who can feel excluded from our "very sexualised culture". He said our society, "can place expectations on both sexual and asexual people, but particularly asexual people".

Joshua Hatton, 23, a language student from Birmingham, agrees. "Three years ago, I came across asexuality – it explained everything. I no longer had to lie to myself. Young men are expected to have some sort of casual sex; it's all around. Now I feel more comfortable."

Bogaert, an associate professor at Brock University in Canada, defines asexuality as a complete lack of sexual attraction. "There are two forms: people who have some level of sex drive, but don't direct this drive toward others (so they may masturbate); and other people who have no sex drive whatsoever."

The first non-academic conference to tackle asexuality took place at Southbank University, London, last month. Michael Doré, organiser of the World Pride conference, said: "We want asexuality to be recognised as a valid sexual orientation, rather than a disorder or something people have to hide."

The term asexual became popular in 2001, when David Jay launched the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network – or Aven – website. There are now more than 50,000 members worldwide. The asexual community is made up of people who define themselves as hetero-romantic, meaning they feel romantic feelings towards the opposite sex, though no sexual desire, homo-romantic, meaning they feel affection for the same sex, and bi-romantic.

Amy Gallagher, 20, from High Barnet, studies at London College of Communication. "When everyone else my age at secondary school was talking about sex, I wasn't interested at all. I thought there was something wrong with me. I did have sex out of curiosity, but afterwards I had no desire. I'm trying to meet another asexual person. I only came to know of asexual orientation a few months ago. I think if there was more awareness, people would identify themselves. I haven't told that many people."

Source: Independent UK.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:28 pm 
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'The moment I realised I was asexual'
By Olivia Gordon
12 November 2012

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Anwen Hayward Photo: KATE PETERS

Anwen, 20, is confident that sex will never be part of her life. Olivia Gordon talks to her and other asexual women looking for love when love-making is strictly off the agenda.

Most people never forget the time, usually in adolescence, when they feel the first buzz of sexual attraction. But other people never forget the moment they realise they don’t experience sexual attraction – the moment they discover they are asexual.

For Anwen Hayward, a 20-year-old student at Aberystwyth University, it was when her twin sister got her first boyfriend at 17 that she thought, 'Hang on, I’m a bit different here.’ She explains: 'When you’re in school and university, everyone’s really focused on relationships. I never wanted that at all.’ At first she thought she was a slow developer, or a lesbian, but then she heard about the global online community for asexuality, AVEN (the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network).

Anwen defines herself as a romantic asexual and says she would be open to a romantic relationship with a man or a woman. So far she has had two relationships, both with 'sexuals’, which didn’t work. A recent date 'ended awfully when I told him that I was asexual’. She explains: 'Holding hands is as far as I would ever take anything. For me [sex is] just revulsion, it really is. Just, ugh, no. [Cuddling] – that’s OK. Not kissing.’ She does not want to marry or have children because of the sex involved.

Anwen is a bright, confident young woman. But she says that because she’s young, fragile-looking and blonde, 'people assume that I’m very naive, that I’m not well versed in the world, and they talk down to me a lot, as if I’m unintelligent.’ She acknowledges that she may change her mind when she’s older, but then again, she says, one of the main issues she struggles with as an asexual is hearing that it’s just a phase she’s going through. '“You’ll grow out of it, it’s just a hormonal thing, you never know until you try, how do you know, you just haven’t found what you like yet…” are all very common things to be told.’

When you’re over 60 and still being told you just haven’t met the right person, it’s more annoying, of course. 'I let it slip one time at work that I’m an asexual aromantic [an asexual who is also not interested in making romantic attachments], and they think it’s absolutely hysterical,’ says Jean Wilson, a sales assistant and 63-year-old grandmother from Banbury. 'One of the women I work with said, “I don’t think you’ve met the right man yet.” I said: “Trish, I’m 63. If I haven’t met him by now I don’t think I’m going to.”’

Jean vividly recalls her moment of asexual awakening, eight years ago. She had come across a newspaper article about asexuality, which led her, in turn, to AVEN. 'It was just so wonderful and liberating that there were other people who felt as I did, and [to know I wasn’t] a freak anymore. I’d sit up writing comments on the website until stupid o’clock in the morning.’

AVEN now has about 50,000 to 60,000 members around the world, who chat on its online forums as well as meeting up in person, and even dating through the site. The founder, David Jay, a 30-year-old scientific researcher from San Francisco, says that human asexuality started to be hypothesised by scientific researchers in the 1970s and 1980s, but that it has only been in the past decade that a community of people started to identify with the term. 'It’s still something that’s expanding,’ he says.

The first major book on the subject, Understanding Asexuality, by Prof Anthony Bogaert, of Brock University, Canada, has just been published and this summer the first worldwide conference on asexuality was held in London.

'An asexual is someone who doesn’t experience sexual attraction,’ is how Jay defines it. But, he says, someone who has lost interest in sex, for instance, probably wouldn’t define themselves as asexual because they used to be interested in sex and probably will be again. For most asexuals, 'It’s like a sexual orientation because it’s not a choice, it’s the way most of us have been for our entire lives.’ Jay himself is in a romantic relationship with an asexual girlfriend and they hope to adopt a child in future.

According to Prof Bogaert, one in 100 people is asexual, although many may not realise they are. Most asexuals are female. In one study, using data collected in the 1990s from 18,000 British people, Prof Bogaert found that about 70 per cent of asexual people were women. And asexuals are more likely than sexual people to stay single, he says, 'but some asexual people may still have nonsexual love or romantic bonds with partners’.

What is often hardest for 'sexuals’ to get their heads around is that this is not the same as sexual dysfunction or celibacy. Some asexuals are disgusted by the idea of sex and remain virgins for life, but others may masturbate and be capable of feeling pleasure sexually and having orgasms.

Isn’t this a contradiction in terms? No, says Prof Bogaert. 'Some asexuals do not have any masturbation experiences, and perhaps very little arousal experience. So there is no apparent contradiction there. But some asexuals have arousal experiences and do masturbate. They still have a general “sex drive”, but they just don’t connect that drive to anyone. So they have no sexual attraction to others. Thus, they are asexual from a sexual orientation perspective.’

In other words, some people are attracted to the opposite sex, some to the same sex, some to both, and some to no one (asexual). Michael Doré, a 30-year-old mathematics researcher at the University of Birmingham, who organised the London asexuality conference, explains it using the 'desert island analogy’. 'Imagine you’re a straight man on a desert island with only men. You’re not sexually attracted to anybody because everybody is male but you still have sexual desires and you can still feel pleasure down there.’ So is it like someone who has no appetite but can still experience the pleasant taste of food? Yes, exactly, he says.

Growing up with no interest in sex during the sexual revolution, Jean Wilson recalls, 'My friends couldn’t believe it. They said, “How can you still be a virgin? That’s stupid.” It was just unheard of. I went out with a lot of boys. But every relationship, it was like a brother. I just wanted to be friends.’

Although she could orgasm, she never understood society’s fascination with sex. 'It’s never appealed to me, it’s never interested me, it’s a total mystery to me why people are so obsessed.’

At 28, Jean married and had sex for the first time. 'I felt: “Good grief, what the hell was it all about? OK, what can I do now that’s more interesting?” I was [told I was] just frigid. That was a dreadful thing to hear as a woman.’ She wanted children, so agreed to sex as a 'chore’ ('In the 1970s I don’t think we knew about turkey basters,’ she explains). But after their second child was born, her husband left, and subsequent relationships haven’t worked out.

'The problem is that as you get older [dating is] more difficult anyway, and when you add in the asexuality, it makes it even more difficult. I did go on to Friends Reunited thinking once a bloke gets to 65, that’ll be it, we can just be friends. No, 65-year-olds are randy old goats. They’re trying to prove something. I gave that up. I might meet up with another aromantic, but I’m not looking for it.’

She lives with her divorced eldest son (who is aware of her asexuality) and his daughter. 'I really don’t need a close relationship, I don’t even need a best friend, and I’m quite happy the way I am.’

Prof Bogaert stresses that asexuality is not a problem. 'If someone is not distressed by their asexuality then, no, I don’t think it is a disorder. Someone can be healthy and happy as an asexual person.’

It can be stressful, though, to be in a sexual/asexual relationship. Clare Green, 37, has been married for 10 years and has a seven-year-old daughter. Although she has had normal sexual relationships (and now a marriage), she says she doesn’t understand what it means to be aroused: 'My sister talks about having an itch or something like a need; the word “horny”. I don’t tell people, but I don’t know what “sexual spark” means. Does it mean you get a twinge down there? It’s not like sex is unbearable – there’s pleasure, as such… It’s just that I don’t have the need to have sex. I like photography, I do sports, I do charity events, I play cello, I write. My energy is that way rather than towards sex.’

In her twenties, Clare thought she might be a lesbian and dated a woman, but her partner left her because she did not want to have sex. She hasn’t masturbated for about 10 years – having only ever tried it out of curiosity. Today, she sleeps with her husband every fortnight to keep him satisfied. 'I love him to bits, he’s my best friend, but I don’t have a sexual attraction to him. He finds me absolutely sexy. It’s a shame because I can’t go, “Oh, I think he’s sexy, too.” When I have sex it’s because I know it’s been long enough that he must want to have it.’

Clare told her husband she is asexual but he can’t understand. 'Recently he said, “What is it – don’t you love me?” I try to explain it’s not because I’m interested in someone else; I’m just not interested.’ How would she feel if he had an affair? She confesses, 'Sometimes I have thought to myself that maybe it would be a good idea.’

Some people argue that there’s no need for a label for every orientation. Anwen says: 'People say, “Asexuality’s not a real sexuality, you’re trying to be special or different.”’ As Jean explains, that’s not the case: 'Asexuality is a part of who I am but it does not define me. It’s like having blue eyes or grey hair.’

And there is marginalisation. In a world saturated with pornography, Viagra and sex scandals, asexuals – especially young ones – can feel as if they don’t officially exist.

David Jay remembers, 'When I was 13, all my friends were talking about sexuality. They sensed this mandate culturally that sexuality was a thing that they needed to be experiencing. I just internally, intrinsically didn’t understand it; I couldn’t relate to that experience. That’s something scary for a lot of asexuals.’

Anwen says, 'I do think that people focus too much nowadays on sexualising everything. I mean, people sell toilet roll nowadays with sexualised images. I’ve made it a mission in my life to let other people know it’s perfectly fine to be different.’

Some names have been changed
Source: Telegraph UK.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:51 am 
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French asexuals come out about their lack of desire
26 April 2013

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AFP - Julien has had girlfriends, it's just that he has never felt any desire for them. Men don't do it for him either.

Instead, the 27-year-old Frenchman says he has found happiness by coming out as asexual.

It may seem odd in a country known for love and seduction. But according to studies on the subject, people who have no or little sexual appetite could make up one percent of the global population. That equates to hundreds of thousands of people in France alone and a newly-formed association is attempting to raise awareness of the issue with the country's first Asexuality Day on Friday.

"I learnt that I was asexual by watching a TV programme one evening," Julien, a computer engineer from central France who would only give his first name, told AFP over the phone. Before that, "I didn't feel normal, and so I completely suppressed it," he said, adding he had had a girlfriend with whom he had sexual intercourse, but only to please her rather than himself. It was not until he discovered asexuality existed that he started consulting specialist web forums. That led to him meeting an asexual girl with whom he is now in a happy, sexless relationship.

Asexuality is still largely misunderstood, particularly in countries where sex is splashed all over magazines, films and on television, and very few studies have been done on the subject.

Paul, vice president of the Association for Asexual Visibility (AVA) which is organising the awareness day, explained that it is different to abstinence. "Society presents sex as something that is obligatory... What is of concern to us is that absence of sexuality or desire be considered as a disorder, a lack of freedom, due to psychological factors or a strict education," he told AFP. "Asexuality is a form of sexuality. It belongs to the diversity of human sexuality and it's way more important to recognise its existence and validity than to try and criticise."

On one popular web forum on the subject, desperate, confused, sympathetic and positive comments abound from asexuals. "I had buried my emotions for many years due to almost inexistant desire," says one man on www.asexuality.org, who only identifies himself as "Empatic" from the southern city of Lyon. "I met a woman around five months ago, and I fell in love... But there is no sexual desire and I can feel she is distancing herself even though it is hard for her as she loves me deeply. What suffering. I cry with rage."

According to Paul, many asexuals get into relationships with other asexuals -- like Julien -- or fall in love with so-called "sexuals", in which case it can be difficult. Some of these couples end up having open relationships. Pioneer sexologist Alfred Kinsey touched upon asexuality in the late 1940s when he created a scale where zero was exclusive heterosexuality and seven exclusive homosexuality.

Asexuals, though, were classed in a separate, "X" category, and Kinsey found that a larger proportion of women were asexual than men. After that, studies on the subjects went quiet until Anthony Bogaert, a professor at Brock University in Canada, published an extensive study on the issue in 2004, suggesting around one percent of the population was asexual. Since then, the author of "Understanding Asexuality" has published other studies on the subject, as have others. "There is more evidence of pre-natal hormonal influences having some sort of permanent effect that makes one more pre-disposed to being asexual or heterosexual or gay than there is for having atypical levels of hormones in adulthood," he said.

After years of studying the subject, Bogaert says asexuals can have a tough time finding their place in society. "There is some evidence that gay and lesbian people are viewed more positively by average heterosexual people than asexual people," he said. "But it's probably also the case that average asexual people can stay in the closet more comfortably than average gay and lesbian people."

The term started entering the mainstream at the beginning of the noughties, with the emergence of the Internet, which made it easier for asexuals to find each other and exchange experiences. It has since gathered strength, and since 2010, an international asexual awareness week has been organised every year, with educational projects taking place in several countries such as the United States. But this is the first time that a special day for asexuality has been organised in France, although AVA says it will be low-key.

Asexuals have been asked to send in personal contributions such as poems that will be published on Tumblr: http://journeeasexualite.tumblr.com/

Source: France24.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2015 9:36 pm 
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Asexuality: when life isn't all about sex
By Anthony Bogaert
20 July 2015

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Benedict Cumberbatch has enjoyed huge success as detective Sherlock Holmes BBC

Research suggests 1% of the population (more women than men) are asexual.

But the majority of people may view asexuality more negatively than other sexual minorities, and it has been identified as a 'sexual disorder' in the past. Though asexuality isn't something which is often discussed in the media, it is used in entertainment: think Sherlock Holmes eschewing of all things sexual and thus adding to the dramatic portrayal of the character’s single-minded pursuit of intellectual truth, or think Sheldon in Big Bang Theory brushing up against a sexualised world and thus ramping up the comedic tension in the sit-com.

In the modern, real-world incarnation of the no/low sex spectrum we find asexual people, a group increasingly interested in “coming out” and staking their claim on the social landscape. A defining feature of asexuality is little or no sexual attraction to other people — in short, no lustful lure for others.

Not surprisingly, many asexual people also exhibit very little sex drive or sexual interest whatsoever (including no masturbation), although some may still have some “solitary” desire. Thus, some asexual people may still evince some sexual drive but it is not connected to others.

Recent research has suggested that perhaps as many as one per cent of the population — with more women than men — are asexual. Research also suggests that the origins of asexuality, like traditional sexual orientations, are at least partly rooted in early development.

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Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory

Researchers have also begun to examine a variety of issues related to asexuality, including how some asexual people are content to “fly under the radar,” socially speaking, while others may form a strong asexual identity and “come out” to others, and how asexual people may be the subject of prejudice and discrimination. In the latter case, recent research suggests that the sexual majority may view asexual people more negatively than other sexual minorities.

Asexual people, particularly if they are comfortable with themselves, have also recently challenged health professionals, including writers of the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (or DSM), as to what it means to have a sexual disorder. For example, there is now a provision in the recent DSM that allows self-identified asexual people to avoid being diagnosed with having a sexual disorder.

As I suggest in my book, Understanding Asexuality, there are many reasons why those interested in sex — including sex researchers/educators — should try to understand asexual people and their view of the world. First, studying asexual people provides information on a relatively unstudied group, and knowledge of this minority may help asexual people understand themselves better and ease their negotiation through a complex and foreign sexual world.

Studying asexuality also provides a unique window on sexuality and its mysteries, including its complex relationship to love and romance. For example, although some asexual people do not want romantic relationships — one person on AVEN, the most popular online forum for asexual people, writes succinctly “Never had a relationship, never want one” — many asexual people desire romantic relationships, even if they eschew sexual ones. Another AVEN participant writes: “I am now in a relationship with a heterosexual person, I don't know how it will work out but I am trying to be positive about it and keep the focus on what we have in common rather than what we don't have in common…”

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Given that asexual people often want a romantic relationship (despite its challenges), they provide a model of how romantic love can be de-coupled from sex, and such a model also holds for sexual people. Indeed, the popularity of movies in the bromance genre — e.g. two (burly) straight men forming a deep bond — demonstrates the usefulness of the romance versus sex model of human attachment.

Examining asexuality also can afford a clear view on how deeply infused sex is in our society — from the pervasiveness of sex in the media to our enduring interest in gossip on the sex lives of others. We also may begin to see more clearly the strange and often mad complexity of sex, with its jealousies, obsessions, and distortions of reality. Sex is unquestionably part of the great story of human life — our means of reproduction and a deep source of passion and pleasure for many — but it is also a strange and mad world at times, and one that is better understood if we take a glimpse or two from the outside.

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Anthony F. Bogaert, PhD, is a Professor at the Department of Health Sciences, and Department of Psychology, at Brock University, Canada. His latest book is Understanding Asexuality

Source: Independent UK

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2015 7:21 pm 
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French court in landmark 'neutral' intersex ruling
14 October 2015

Paris - A French court has set a European precedent by granting a 64-year-old the right to write 'gender neutral" on official forms. upholding the right of an intersex person to be identified as 'neutral' in the civil register, media reported Wednesday.

The ruling, dating to August 20, represents the first time a European court has recognised the right of an individual to go beyond the binary definition of male and female. The judges in Tours ruled in favour of a 64-year-old who was born with a "rudimentary vagina" and "micropenis" and without testes. Some 1.7 per cent of newborns have this condition, but doctors normally operate straight after birth to remove one or the other external genitalia and pronounce the person a girl or a boy.

The child was registered as male at birth, but during adolescence he realised he wasn't a boy. "I had no beard, my muscles didn't develop; at the same time, it was impossible to think I could become a woman," the person told 20 Minutes. "I only had to look in the mirror to understand this."

In the August 20 ruling, which came to public light on Wednesday, the court concluded that his gender was “pure fiction”. "It was imposed upon him for his entire existence without him ever being able to express his deepest feelings," it said. The court ruled that by virtue of the person’s “right to private life, the birth certificate of Monsieur X, which for the past 65 years has attributed to him a masculine gender, should be rectified and now include a ‘neutral status’”.

The Tours authorities will now have to modify the birth certificate as a result of the ruling. "It is not a matter of recognising the existence of a 'third sex' but of acknowledging the impossibility of defining the interested party as this or that sex," the judges said in their ruling.

Since 2011, people born intersex can have a neutral status on birth certifications in France, but only temporarily while a decision is made on their gender. According to his lawyer, only two other countries in the world have come to similar conclusions. In Australia, a person obtained a non-specific gender status, and in Nepal, a “third sex” is recognised. In France transexual people, who have irreversibly changed sex, are allowed to accordingly change their gender status on forms.

Sources: ANSA, Telegraph UK

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 08, 2017 9:33 pm 
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Top German court strengthens intersex identity rights
By GEIR MOULSON
8 November 2017

BERLIN (AP) -- Germany's highest court has decided that people must be allowed to be entered in official records as neither male nor female, saying in a ruling published Wednesday that authorities should create a third identity or scrap gender entries altogether.

The Federal Constitutional Court ruled on a case in which a plaintiff, identified by advocacy group Dritte Option only as Vanja, born in 1989, sought to have their entry in the birth register changed from "female" to "inter/diverse" or "diverse." Officials rejected the application on the grounds that the law only allows for children to be registered as male or female, or for the gender to be left blank.

The plaintiff argued that that was a violation of their personal rights. In a three-year legal battle, Vanja provided courts with a genetic analysis showing the plaintiff has one X chromosome but no second sex chromosome. Women have two X chromosomes, while men have one X and one Y chromosome.

The supreme court found that the law protects sexual identity, which has a "key position" in how individuals perceive themselves and are perceived by others. It said that "the sexual identity of those people who can be assigned neither to the male nor the female sex is also protected," and said the constitution also protects them against discrimination because of their gender.

The government has until the end of 2018 to draw up new rules. The court said that authorities have two ways to ensure that the rules comply with the constitution. It said that they could decide to do without any gender entry in civil registers but could also "create the possibility for the affected people to choose another positive designation of their sex that is not male or female." It didn't specify what that should be.

Dritte Option, which has campaigned for a third gender option and was involved in preparing the case, wrote on Twitter that it was "completely overwhelmed and speechless." It added that "this borders on a small revolution."

The minister for families in Chancellor Angela Merkel's outgoing government, Katarina Barley, said a third gender option was "overdue." Barley's center-left Social Democrats have vowed to go into opposition after Germany's September election, but Merkel's conservatives are negotiating with two socially liberal parties to form a new administration. Interior Ministry spokesman Johannes Dimroth said the government is studying the verdict and will abide by the court's December 2018 deadline.

Source: AP

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