I thought the asexual thing had come and gone. We had the flurry of interest a few years back – about the same time the term ‘metrosexual’ became a cool way to describe a particular kind of guy (urban, well-groomed, gay but not admitting it) – then the phenomenon faded. The way gourmet foods or design trends do. One moment we’re all over boutique beers and white sofas, the next it’s artisanal honey and Victorian plush we yearn for.
Asexuals of course, yearn for nothing. That’s their definition. They don’t feel sexually attracted to other people. They don’t experience the hot and sticky, embarrassing and yet deeply rewarding longing that afflicts the rest of the human population.
They also feel misunderstood. Well-meaning friends try to set them up with dates. Parents agitate about grandchildren. Co-workers are baffled by their lack of interest in water cooler scuttlebutt over who necked with whom at the Christmas party. That’s why asexuals set up AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network), so that they could have a place to hang out and be asexual together – and for a group that doesn’t reproduce (unless they’ve found a way to split themselves like amoeba) there’s quite a few of them out there. The website, established in 2001, now boasts over 50,000— totally platonic— members.
It seems the asexual thing never did go away. We stopped hearing about it, but that didn’t mean it stopped happening. David Jay, self-appointed spokesperson for the movement, claims that asexuality is now in its third phase. It has a public identity, it’s come out into the open and now, asexuals are going to challenge the definition of a normal sex drive. The aim is to get the rest of us to admit that being asexual is a perfectly legitimate way to be.
To which aim I feel a big fat nothing. A little the way asexuals claim that they feel when confronted with photos of nekkid guys or gals. It’s hard to get uptight about asexuality, to summon up much emotion at all about it, to be honest. These folks have, by their own admission, declared a lack of interest in an activity that along with eating, drinking and breathing, you could call a fundamental human drive. The thing that defines them isn’t their preference. It’s their lack of preference.
Promoting the cause of asexuality is like promoting the rights of teetotalers not to drink or vegans not to eat meat. No one is going to argue with it. No one is going to take to the street, banners unfolded and insist that asexuals get on out there and have sex with someone Goddarnit! Seriously. Not even the picket-crazy Westboro Baptists. Asexuals don’t get pregnant. They don’t get sexually transmitted diseases. They don’t kiss in the street or insist on getting married when others think they shouldn’t. Their whole message is predicated on them not doing the one thing that gets the forces of Conservatism in all their various colors and creeds, up in arms.
My prediction is that Jay’s campaign is doomed to failure. Not because the majority are opposed to his movement, or because the forces of darkness are ranged against him. He’ll fail because – like he feels about sex – the rest of us simply don’t care.