FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Monday, October 18, 2004

Asexuality: A New Identity Movement?

An article in New Scientist identifies what might be a new sexual identity: Asexuality. There's no formal definition for what it means to be asexual, but it can be loosely described as never having had any desire for any kind of sexual intimacy (different from having had sexual desires at one point and then losing them).

Recently, an "A-pride" movement has been building among those identifying themselves as asexual, supported through Internet websites and chat groups. Among other things, they reject the notion that a lack of sex drive is unhealthy in of itself. And unlike people who choose celibacy as a way of life, asexuals feel they have no choice over their identity. Asexuals also seem to vary widely in their relationships with others, from those who want few or no relationships, to those who want close yet non-sexual friendships. Most imporantly, they want to convince the rest of the world that there's nothing wrong with them physically, mentally or emotionally, and that they are happy the way they are.

The asexual movement, such as it is, says a couple of intersting things... one about society, the other about technology. On the social level, it shows how far we've come in being able to talk about sexual issues openly, and how sexuality has become a source of pride rather than shame or embarassment. On the technical level, it's hard to imagine how such a scattered and as-yet ill-defined group could have cohesed without the Internet and its ability to connect disparate people who in the past would have been hopelessly isolated.