Therapists and a student differ on clinical definition.
By R. Eguia
Jami Keeton, liberal arts sophomore, identifies as asexual.
Asexuality is defined as “Distinct from celibacy, which refers to sexual abstinence by choice (meaning that sexual attraction and desire may still be present), asexuality is seen in those experiencing a lack of sexual attraction or sexual desire,” in the book “Understanding Asexuality” by Anthony F. Bogaert.
“I have hormones, too. I just don’t act on them; sex sounds terrible to me. I have never had sex, and I have never been pressured to,” Keeton said.
Based on a study Bogaert published in 2004, he found that only 1 percent of humans are likely to be asexual.
“During Coming Out Week, I came out as asexual, and even the people in GALA had not heard about it. “
Keeton has a twin sister who came out as lesbian in the seventh grade, and her older sister identifies as pansexual, someone who has a sexual attraction, sexual desire, romantic love, or emotional attraction toward people of all sexes or gender identities.
“For a long time, I identified as straight and it was nerve–racking to tell my sisters that I was an asexual because they cared so much about sex, but I never felt the same as them and I didn’t know how to tell anyone. My sisters had never heard of it and told me that it made a lot of sense for me. They are the only approval I needed.”
Keeton, 19, realized her sexuality last semester when a series of stressful events prompted her to see a counselor.
“After watching a documentary about asexuality on NetFlix, I realized that I am an asexual. I read more research and studies about it and found that it really sounded like me. Some part of me knew, but I never knew the name. “
Licensed professional counselor Cay Crow, who heard about asexuality only 10 years ago, said, “There needs to be a lot more research about it. Is it severe low desire or is it really a sexual orientation? Calling it a disorder is a big controversy, but without more research, we can’t call it.”
Bogaert decouples romantic and sexual attraction when defining asexuality because romantic attraction refers to emotional attachment while sexual attraction refers to physical lust.
Keeton said, “People often confuse asexuals with aromantics who don’t want to be in a relationship, but although I have never cared for the sexualness itself, I don’t mind companionship; I just have never been a very romantic or gushy person.”
Not all sex therapists are prepared to adopt asexuality to the sexuality spectrum.
“I am on the fence about asexuality being defined as a sexual orientation because it’s not sexual,” said Ann Hardee, registered nurse and host of KSYM’s Wednesday night sex talk show, “Night Moves.”
“I cannot imagine asexuality. I have rarely heard about it, and most people refer to it in a humorous way. They don’t take it seriously. They say that person hasn’t met the right person and maybe they aren’t doing it right,” Hardee said.
All jokes aside, “Asexuality is not something you randomly commit to; it is who you are, not a phase,” Keeton said.
“An asexual person is never gonna knock on my door because they are fine with themselves. They are tired of being pathologized. Just like being gay or bi, you know what you’re attracted to,” Crow said.
Keeton said, “The top questions people always ask me are: Are you sure? What is asexuality? And do you masturbate? Which they ask in broad daylight, but if I were to ask that, that would be a no-no. They are just curious if I do what they do. Most people just think I am a plant.”
On Valentine’s Day Keeton will attend a National Association for Campus Activities workshop to learn how to organize fun events and meet potential vendors.
Keeton said, “I have never had a valentine. I don’t think Valentine’s is about two people; it’s about everyone. In elementary school, Valentine’s is for the whole class and I have kept that mentality.”