Rise of the Asexual by Robin Yapp, from dailymail.co.uk
This is a very interesting article about the rise in visibility of asexual people as a sexual minority. Not as small of a minority as I might have thought!
Rise of the asexual
By ROBIN YAPP, Daily Mail
Last updated at 14:47 14 October 2004
Marilyn Monroe: A sex symbol full of self-doubts
Madonna said she would rather read a book, Marilyn Monroe thought she was doing it wrong and Andy Warhol declared it “the biggest nothing of all time”.
Now scientists say that far from being the one thing we all desire, a sizable minority of people have absolutely no interest in sex.
Experts say a group known as “asexuals” is starting to emerge – people who say they have never felt any physical attraction to anyone.
Early studies suggest that far from being just a handful of loners, the number of asexuals may be almost as large as the gay community.
Websites dedicated to “A-pride” have sprung up and some predict that in ten years their group will be as prominent in society as the gay movement.
The findings may explain why housewives’ favourite Sir Cliff Richard has remained celibate and said he will never marry.
And they could show us why it is that Jackie Kennedy thought that sex was a “bad thing” because it rumpled her clothes.
Experts say a certain number of asexuals may have always existed but are only now starting to “come out” as society becomes more liberal.
But they also believe that constant exposure to sexual images in magazines and on television may have turned some people off sex rather than fuelling their interest.
There are, as yet, no statistics available to say whether the phenomenon is more common among women or men.
Christine Northam, a relationship counsellor with Relate, said: “I suspect there have always been people who haven’t been interested in sex and I would think that is related to attitudes in their family during childhood.
“The amount of sexual imagery all around us now could also have a reverse effect.”
Some asexuals may have extremely low sex drives but others have normal sex drives and are simply not attracted to others, a report in New Scientist says today.
Some still want to form close and lasting emotional bonds with other people and may even want to have children by using IVF to avoid having sex, the magazine reports.
Dr Anthony Bogaert, a psychologist at Brock University in St Catherines, Canada, recently analysed the responses of 18,000 people in the UK to a 1994 survey on sexual attraction. He found that one per cent agreed with the statement: “I have never felt sexually attracted to anyone at all.”
But researchers believe that the stigma attached to being different means the true extent of the asexual population could be larger and possibly close to the three per cent of people attracted to the same sex.
More to come out of the closet
Animal studies in the U.S. support the idea that there may be many more asexuals to come out of the closet. Scientists have found that two to three per cent of rams show no signs of sexual desire, while the figure may be as high as 12 per cent in male rats and gerbils.
Phillip Hodson, a fellow of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, said: “There are many people who find the portrayal of sex in the media is not the way life is for them, so they may become angry and upset and withdraw from the mating game.”
David Jay, a 22-year-old from St Louis, set up the Asexual Visibility and Education Network website three years ago. It has more than 1,200 members across the globe and sells T-shirts and underwear making declarations of A-pride.
“It’s interesting because we’re in the shadow of the gay rights movement,” he said. “There is also a culture that is ready to accept sexual variation much more readily than it was before.”