Asexuality is one of the most misunderstood sexual orientations. This is what it's really like.

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Julia Naftulin
·4 min read
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Yasmin Benoit asexuality
Yasmin Benoit is a model and asexuality advocate. Yasmin Benoit
  • 1% of the world identifies as asexual, meaning they have little to no sexual attraction to others.

  • People wrongly assume asexual folks are broken, or haven't experienced good sex before.

  • In reality, asexuality is as valid as any other sexuality, like bisexuality or heterosexuality.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

When Yasmin Benoit's friends and peers became boy-obsessed in their early teens, she thought something must be wrong with her.

"It became obvious that I didn't think that any passing boy was like a hunk. I didn't think any teacher under 30 was hot. I wasn't interested in hooking up with the other girls. I thought everyone in 'Twilight' was unattractive," Benoit told Insider.

"I just thought it all seemed very silly. You'd have girls arguing with each other over some very mediocre boy. It seemed to really dominate people's thoughts and people's lives, and I just didn't care in the slightest."

It wasn't until she was 15 and other students questioned Benoit about her lack of sexual interest that she found, on Google, the word to describe herself: Asexual.

Millions of people identify as asexual

Asexuality, or a lack of sexual attraction, is often misunderstood in our sex-driven culture. Asexual people, who make up an estimated 1% of the global population, can still become sexually aroused, masturbate, and have sex with others, Teen Vogue previously reported. But sexual attraction isn't a driving factor in their relationships with others.

As Benoit puts it, "It's kind of like a sexual orientation that isn't oriented anywhere."

For Benoit, the most frustrating part of growing into her asexual identity was others' opinions of it. Their constant questioning, and suggestion that she wasn't normal, made her question herself, she told Insider.

That's why she started writing about asexual people like herself on internet blogs. In 2018, Benoit created #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike, a hashtag asexual folks can add to their own social media posts to put more faces to the misunderstood and underrepresented sexual orientation.

Asexuality is seldom portrayed in the media

Compared to other sexualities like bisexuality, homosexuality, and heterosexuality, asexuality is rarely discussed or portrayed in the media.

One of the only accurate asexual portrayals in recent television history is that of Todd Chavez from Netflix's "BoJack Horseman." Other portrayals, like in "House," "The Big Bang Theory," and "Dexter" wrongly suggest asexual people are broken or confused.

That's why Benoit and other asexuality activists created International Asexuality Day, with its inaugural celebration this April 6.

"It's about celebration and solidarity as much as it's about education and advocacy, with a particular emphasis on [asexual] communities outside of the UK and the US," Benoit told Insider, adding that the asexual community also celebrates Ace Week each year in October. ("Ace" is a term for a person who is asexual.)

Asexuality exists on a spectrum

Like all sexual orientations, asexuality exists on a spectrum.

Some asexual people experience slight sexual attraction, while others experience none, according to the Trevor Project. There are also asexual folks who identify as demisexual because they feel sexual attraction only after developing emotional connections with another person.

Additionally, asexual people may feel romantic attractions to certain people despite a lack of sexual attraction. Terms like "biromatic," which means you're romantically attracted to both genders, or "homoromantic" for feeling romantic attraction to only the same gender, are used to describe those sexualities, according to the Trevor Project.

It's also possible for an asexual person to be aromantic, or lack romantic attraction to others, Benoit told Insider.

Asexuality isn't the same thing as celibacy

It's a common misconception that asexual people avoid sex for lifestyle reasons, and that it's a synonym for celibacy.

While celibacy is a choice some people make in spite of their sexual urges, asexual people have little to no urge to act sexually towards another person and, "It's just the way we are," Benoit previously told Teen Vogue.

"Many people tend to assume that asexual people are just innocent or don't know what they're missing out on. This is absolutely untrue. We aren't broken, we aren't naive, and we aren't just waiting for the right person," Addie Orr, a student at University of Alabama told GLAAD.

Asexual people can have successful romantic relationships

It's also a myth that all asexual people can't hold, or don't want, romantic relationships.

Though that may be the case for some, there are plenty of asexual people who crave romantic connections, according to the Asexual Visibility and Education Network.

Read the original article on Insider