Saturday, March 25, 2006

ABC News: Sexless and Proud

ABC News: Sexless and Proud: "No Libido — No Problem

Who are these people? From different ages and walks of life, they share one thing in common — not low libido — no libido. They call themselves 'asexual' and they proclaim that they are not attracted to men or women."

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But now asexuals are building a community through a Web site — asexuality.org. It has chat rooms, sells T-shirts and claims it has 6,000-plus members worldwide.

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Jay is the Web site's founder, and the leader of what some call a new asexuality movement. He explains what's behind the group. "We're told that you need sex to be happy. We're told that the rules are that if you have a relationship, sex has to fit into it this way. And it's kind of fun to break that rule," he said.

But some experts question if asexuality even exists. There's been virtually no research on the subject. Psychologists disagree on how to define it. And there's no certainty on what might influence it. Do hormones, genetics, personal experiences play a part? With no clinical or scientific conclusions on the subject, asexuals create their own definition.

And that definition is a far cry from celibacy, Jay pointed out. "It's not a choice. Celibacy is a choice, whereas asexuality is just the way that you are. Much like being gay is not a choice, or being straight or being right-handed," he said.

Some studies show that asexual behavior does exist in the animal world. Dr. Anthony Bogaert of Brock University in Ontario, who has conducted one of the few studies of human asexuality said he found as much as 1 percent of the population may be asexual.

"They may still have physiological arousal experiences, vaginal lubrication, erections, but they may not be able to, or [connect] that arousal to men, women or both," Bogaert said.

Living without that connection can be a challenge in a world fixated on sex.

"What I mind is when the idea gets enforced that people need sex. That without sex, you're somehow broken. And of course, we can be happy without sex," Jay said.

Sex Therapist Questions Label

But Joy Davidson, a certified sex therapist, believes Jay and his fellow asexuals may be shortchanging themselves with the asexual label.

"Sex is a fabulous, enormously pleasurable aspect of life. And your saying you don't miss it is like someone in a sense who's color blind saying, 'I don't miss color.' Of course, you don't miss what you've never had," Davidson said.

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