Garance Pellet opens up about asexuality.
A friend from home put it best when voicing the confusion most people feel when talking to me about sexuality: ‘I won’t ask you how your love life is going because I know how you’re always lost inside your own head about these things’. My lack of interest in sexuality is I understand quite baffling to most people I grew up with, and usually ends with people labelling me into two different categories:
– as a lesbian who’s too scared to come out of the closet
– as a commitment-phobe with daddy issues traumatised by her childhood
The same confusion is felt by my family who assures me that I am ‘attractive’ enough and shouldn’t let insecurities get in the way of me being intimate with people. For all the times my sexuality is assumed very rarely do people actually want to ask me or talk to me about how I feel about it.
The important thing is that I do feel intimate with people, and always have valued my friendships and the people I surround myself with. My life doesn’t feel empty or broken. I have a million things to tell people when they ask me how I’m doing but sometimes all they really mean is who I’m doing. If you think about it, a lot of what is considered or represented as ‘girl talk’ is focused on that, and though I always felt comfortable listening to my friends’ relationship or sex problems, some of them felt uncomfortable about my lack of stories or opinions on the subject.
If we lived in a world where everything wasn’t centred around sexuality and romance, I think I would have never felt as uncomfortable as I did growing up. You can’t watch a commercial, see a film or listen to a song without being reminded that sex is what makes the world go round, with people going as far as pointing out that sex is the primary motivation for every aspect of our lives. I always considered myself a feminist and worried that maybe I had internalised some type of negative image of myself that prevented me from having a ‘healthy’ sex life. After all, in the age of sexual liberation, women are told that they can embrace their sexuality and feel free to do what they want how they want, and not be shamed for it, which is wonderful. I found myself thinking that perhaps I wasn’t ‘liberated’ enough, or too prudish for not wanting to partake in the sexcapades my favourite TV show characters enjoyed. There had to be something wrong with me if I didn’t want those things, right?
What I hadn’t realised is that being sexually liberated means having
a choice – the same choice women have to want sex they should have when it comes to not having sex. I remember reading a few years back an article about how young Japanese people had ‘stopped having sex’, and how this was a true testament to the virtual age and the decline of civilisation. Everything I read on the subject was negative and focused on the economic reasoning behind it, but I remember feeling elated to know that perhaps I wasn’t the only one out there not really bothered about sex. Everyone I showed the article to thought it was really sad that there was a world of people who weren’t well adjusted – I felt like that was my perfect world.
That was probably the first time I came in contact with the word asexual outside of a biology class about asexual reproduction. I had no idea that that could be a thing or an identity until then, and though I still feel uncomfortable with the idea of needing or using a label, I’m glad to see that there’s a community, increasing in representation, out there. I understand that because of its lack of visibility, asexuality is not really considered ‘real’ by a lot of people, but I think it’s really damaging to tell young people that they’ll mature into a sexuality or ‘grow into themselves’ when they voice concerns about not wanting to have sex. At the end of the day, maybe they will but maybe they won’t. And that’s beautiful and fulfilling too.
Illustrations by Amy Knox.