Uncovering the world of sex with ‘Aces’

by Paola Battista - 2014.09.26
Uncovering the world of sex with ‘Aces’
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Tired of living in a world where they just don't exist, asexual Americans have decided to come out. This unique 'call to arms' comes from a book by Julie Sondra Decker called The invisible orientation: an introduction to asexuality, which has just been published. In an interview with the New York Times, the author says that the book tells the story of how, as a teenager, she discovered that she belonged to the 'fourth orientation', in other words that she is asexual.

“I’m thirty-six years old, not interested in dating or marriage, and not planning to have children. In other words, I’m an a-romantic asexual woman,” writes Decker. What made her speak out? The mistaken 'diagnosis' ascribed to her, as in so many other cases. Asexuality, explains the writer, is not an illness; it's not something to be treated and, most importantly, it has nothing to do with “waiting for the right person”.

“That's how we're born,” she says. Why should asexuals be considered 'strange', seeing as a lack of sexual attraction is not a choice, in the way that celibacy is a choice, for example? Rather it's a sexual orientation you have from birth.

The fourth orientation is a complex, diverse galaxy of emotional situations that are difficult to describe because we lack the appropriate words. So while there are plenty of labels, what's missing is the language and vocabulary that can represent and correctly describe the specific emotional state of people who are born and feel asexual.

This is why 'Aces', a nickname that comes from a phonetic shortening of the word 'asexual', often use the symbolism of playing cards to refer to themselves. The ace of hearts refers to romantic asexuals, while the ace of spades represents those who are a-romantic. Because, as Decker explains, there is a profound difference between sexual arousal, desire and attraction: “An asexual person might have a libido and be able to get aroused, but not have those experiences directed at anyone.” She adds that some may feel romantically attracted to someone but with no sexual impulse, while others might feel some sexual attraction some of the time.

The fourth orientation includes a spectrum of colours that range from the 'grey-asexuals' (who rarely experience sexual attraction) to 'demisexuals' (who experience sexual desire only after a strong emotional bond is established). But the essential point is that asexuality should not be associated with the demonisation of sex. This was demonstrated by the online survey conducted during Asexual Awareness Week 2011, in which 72% of 'sex positive' asexuals saw nothing wrong if two asexual people wanted to have sex.

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