There’s this confusion that surrounds the concept of asexuality which makes people say a lot of wrong judgments. Asexuals don’t lack the confidence to have sex, it’s also not that they haven’t yet found the love of their lives. And being asexual definitely doesn’t affect how sensitive or emotional those individuals could be. Every single asexual has a unique personality and life choices that aren’t less valuable than anyone else’s.
Let us begin by explaining what asexuality actually is. Asexuality or also named “ace”, is having a low or no sex drive meaning a person is capable of having sex, masturbating, and even getting married or becoming a parent. The whole idea is that asexuals don’t feel a strong need –sometimes no need at all, to do all or any of these things compared to other people who come from different sexual orientations.
Most importantly, Asexuality isn’t limited to one fixed definition because it is a long spectrum. That means we can’t put all asexuals in one group and expect them to behave the same and express their sexuality in the exact same way. Some choose to be in relationships while others prefer to build strong friendships that offer them a great amount of love.
A common misunderstanding about asexuality could be to classify asexuals as gay or straight based on the gender of the person who they build a strong bond with. Asexuals are neither gay nor straight. Meaning they are capable of building romantic bonds with people from the same sex or the opposite sex and YES that still doesn’t make them gay or straight.
When it comes to asexuality, there are two orientations which are the romantic orientation and the sexual orientation and each of these two has several identities falling under it.
Asexuals aren’t necessarily spending their lives without any partners or dying alone. They have feelings and emotional needs that they choose to fulfill the way they find convenient. When it comes to the romantic orientation, asexuals could be classified as either homoromantic or heteroromantic. Homoromanticism is when an asexual person builds a romantic bond with someone from the same gender while heteroromanticism is when an asexual person builds a romantic bond with someone from the opposite gender.
Baghdad, Mohammed, and Bassam are three Iraqi asexuals who come from different backgrounds to explain how each defines asexuality:
“I remember that when my boyfriend leaned in to kiss me for the first time, the kiss didn’t give me any good feelings. Actually, I was feeling uncomfortable”
Baghdad, who is an Iraqi asexual girl talks about her experience. She says, “I was 22 back when I was in relationship with a guy that I thought I was in love with. As the time for the first kiss came, the kiss didn’t give me any good feelings and that made curious but I didn’t make any assumptions.
I didn’t mind building close connections with people, it wasn’t like I hated being surrounded by people but the problem was that as someone got physically too close to me to get a hug or a kiss, I immediately felt uncomfortable. I had and still have the same feelings whether the person was a male or a female and as these feelings never left, I started questioning my sexuality.
As an asexual, I get a lot of these comments that tell that I just didn’t get my kiss from the right guy, or that I will change my mind as I find the right person, or that I am just not ready for it as things will change in the future.
I am not sure if things will change that much in the future, even if they do and I decide to be in a sexual relationship with someone that won’t take my right to call myself asexual. At the end, this is who I am even if others keep questioning it.
Sadly, most of the judgments and negative comments I hear about my sexuality come from my family members since they don’t seem to accept the idea. Lucky me, I am living away from them and that means there are way less arguments I have to go through about this subject.
With less pressure from my family side and constant support from one of my relatives, I am doing okay. I am giving myself time and not rushing it by looking for new relationships. Maybe, by taking it easy, I will figure out more things about myself that I am currently unaware of.
And although my sexuality gets questioned a lot as I previously mentioned, I still think that the Iraqi community accepts me and other asexuals much better compared to others from the LGBT+ community. It doesn’t seem right but the way the Iraqi society thinks about it is that no sex is better than having sex with someone of the same sex or gender. Unfortunately, our society thinks about relationships only from the sexual point of view. Not much importance is given to the romantic side and to the intimacy. Our society still doesn’t focus on what a partner can offer me to make me feel better from the inside without thinking about sex and any sexual intercourse.”
“I just hate how the majority of people think that asexuals can’t be sensitive or emotional”
Mohammed’s story began when he got introduced to the concept of asexuality two years ago as he found an Arabic page that discusses it. “Before finding that page, I used to call myself a sexless as that was the only common concept in the Iraqi society.
It’s hard to say that there was one specific experience that made me question and determine my sexuality so it’s wiser to say that I learned about it after several experiences that lasted for years. The most notable would be the time when I had the change to have sex with a person. Although I was charmed by the beauty of their body, that wasn’t enough to make me want sex. To me, I believe that relationships and connections are all about true love and true passion and that made me realize I was different from many others since my teenage years.
Sometimes, I feel the need to find a partner and build a strong relationship with them, but other times, I run away from this need. I would say that I’m 80% against having kids and I know very well that our society pushes everyone into having kids so I don’t think I will be ever encouraged to do otherwise even if I called myself asexual. But I will definitely do what’s best for me rather than what the society wants me to be.”
“Asexuals aren’t psychopaths. Although people say the opposite the whole time, they don’t have any evidence. Almost all of them don’t even know how and when to consider a person a psychopath. I believe that most people just don’t like to support each other, rather they enjoy ruining each other’s lives by bully. At the end, even if I had a mental illness, I wouldn’t ever appreciate it if someone comes and explains me that I’m ill as if they are cursing me”
Bassam, who is another Iraqi asexual man says, “When I was sixteen years old, I realized that I was different from my friends who were my age or only few years older than me. They liked to talk about girls sexually while I didn’t know how to interact in such conversations because the subject wasn’t really appealing to me.
At first, I thought I was just too young to find the subject interesting. A year later, when I was 17, I realized that I was asexual by reading an article about asexuality that I found on a scientific Facebook page. Not a long time after that, I found the asexuality page that was run by Alaa Yasin and Nabeel Alal who introduced me to a group of asexuals on Facebook. And that was the time when things became clearer to me.
Usually, I don’t care how others see me or think of me when they know I’m asexual. Still, when someone asks me about the subject, I try my best to explain the meaning of asexuality clearly so the person doesn’t misunderstand it. And when it comes to my family, they don’t believe there’s such a thing as being asexual so we try not to discuss this subject too often.
As an asexual man, I hear comments like “You aren’t a man” and I believe that others like me hear the same or even uglier comments. Although I’m against reproduction and never planning on having kids, I still wouldn’t let anyone stop me in case I was planning on becoming a father. The society shouldn’t take away my right to do that.
The way I define asexuality would be that it has multiple types meaning there are asexuals who don’t get attracted neither romantically nor sexually to others while there are asexuals who get attracted romantically but not sexually to others meaning they refuse to have sex. There are asexuals who have an extremely low sexual attraction and that is called Grey Asexuality. Also, there are others, like myself, who experience the sexual attraction only when they are in a serious relationship and the love between the couple is too deep.
Asexuality is expressed differently by different asexual individuals. I personally masturbate and I believe that everyone does that. I don’t like being in a relationship because I’m simply not interested. Maybe I just prefer getting myself a dog and living alone in a peaceful and quite place. That’s the way I want to live my life while other asexuals probably have different plans on how to live their lives. I believe that each one of us has the right to choose how to spend this life.
I see that the majority of Iraqis might accept asexuality more than accepting homosexuality and that’s because Iraq is an Islamic country. Iraqis wouldn’t have a problem if you decide not to have sex but their problem is when you decide to have it. And that’s why being gay, for example, is way more rejected than being asexual.
In my opinion, homosexuality and asexuality are two different things that I don’t want to compare, but I think that it all starts with the way kids are raised in this country. Kid’s heads get filled with old religious ideas that create this hatred in their heads for people who decide to live in a different style. That makes some of them hate homosexuals even without knowing what the word “Homosexuality’ means. After all, the problem with our Arabic communities is their lack of knowledge which creates all that hatred and misunderstandings.”
As a reader, tell us your journey of discovering your sexuality. What your biggest challenges were during that time? And most importantly, who helped you during that phase of your life? IraQueer likes to know more about these interesting stories.