BY: JESSICA BEUKER
We live in a hyper-sexualized society. Where TV shows and movies are consistently showing more and more skin, specifically designed apps can connect you with someone to have sex with in an “instant” and breasts are used to sell burgers and cars. So what happens then, when you don’t fit in with the norm? When the shows and movies make you feel uncomfortable instead of turned on, and you’re the only person in the room who doesn’t want to ogle Jessica Simpson washing a car. If you feel a sense of alienation or disconnection from sexuality, you’re not the only one. You may be standing under the Ace Umbrella.
According to the Asexuality Archive, the Ace Umbrella is a term that encompasses asexuality—lack of sexual attraction to anyone and low or absent interest in sexual activity—as well as people who fit into a grey area. For example, grey-asexuals experience sexual attraction infrequently, not very strongly or they don’t know if what they feel is classified as sexual attraction. Another group that fits under the Ace Umbrella are demisexuals. Demisexuals can experience sexual attraction, but only after developing a close emotional bond with someone.
Demisexuality has stirred up a few debates regarding the variety of sexual orientations. Many people see asexuality or demisexuality as “fake.” Some question the validity of the Ace Umbrella and wonder if this is just another way for people to attempt to be different and unique. Like any sexuality that doesn’t happen to fit into the tiny hole that society has deemed the “right” sexuality, demis find themselves subject to opposition and a whole lot of ignorance.
It is important to note that demisexuality is about attraction and not action. It has nothing to do with sex. It’s possible to be demisexual and a virgin and it’s possible to be demisexual and have sex frequently; the focus is on the circumstance. It’s about when and where a person will feel sexual attraction.
There is a public misconception that sexuality is black and white, but in fact there are many different shades of sexualities that fall in between.
In her blog post, Defense of Demisexuality, Olivia Davis who identifies as demisexual, breaks down some misconceptions. One of the biggest misconceptions is that demisexuality is fake. Shae McDonovan of Thought Catalog, thinks that pretending to be oppressed is a new fad. Of demisexuals, McDonovan states: “They’re very oppressed, if you ask some of them. Oppressed how, exactly? No one knows, but you can’t expect them to provide any evidence. That would be wrong. Personally, I think they all suffer from plain old ‘being boring’ oppression. You know, the kind where you’re dull and you watch too much TV and you feel a desperate need to be cool, different, and part of a group.”
Davis responds by noting that it is very likely that most people would only have sex with people they feel emotionally connected to, however it isn’t a description of what demisexuality is. Demisexuality is about desire and arousal, not just sex and who you do it with. “It’s not merely that I’m only interested in having sex with people that I love, it’s also that I feel a complete absence of desire or sexual feelings toward everyone else,” writes Davis. “What makes me demisexual is that absence. What makes me demisexual is that I’ve only ever been sexually attracted to three people in my whole life. My partner is sexually attracted to that many people during particularly sexy bus rides.”
Another example that Davis uses to support the validity of demisexuality is porn. In 2014 Pornhub received 18.35 billion visits, clearly indicating, that a large portion of people find porn sexually arousing. Davis says that she has never been aroused by porn or erotica, and therefore doesn’t watch it. She adds that if everyone were a demisexual, sex wouldn’t sell. Since it does, demisexuality must be an orientation distinctly different from the way most people experience sex and desire.
Despite what McDonovan says, demisexuals do not feel that they are oppressed. Davis says that no one has ever reacted to it with hatred or disgust, nor has it ever gotten in the way of her being able to have happy and fulfilling relationships. Instead what is occurring is a lack of knowledge on the subject of sexuality itself. Our society leaves little room for an open-minded discussion about different sexualities. Instead of trying to understand people who identify as asexual or demisexual, or somewhere in between, we disregard them completely by convincing ourselves they don’t exist. In an article for the Huffington Post, Brie talks about her experiences with demisexuality: “I didn’t know what was wrong with me that I seemed the only person in my high school who didn’t want sex for the sake of sex itself, and I struggled a lot with that until I went to college and learned more about the different sexualities.”
We need to openly acknowledge that sexuality isn’t black and white. We need to educate ourselves and others about the fluidity of sexuality. Lest we fail to recognize that not everybody fits the hyper-sexualized mould, and our heavy-handed judgement silences the very few who “cannot claim oppression.”