I have a new post up at Everyday Feminism about supporting the asexual youth in your life. Check it out:
Growing up, teens face a frustrating double standard.
On the one hand, the messages most of them get about sex from parents, other adults, and school is that sex is very bad and you shouldn’t do it (at least not until you’re an adult and married to someone of the “opposite” gender).
On the other hand, the way sex is presented in the media suggests that the desire for it is so overwhelming and overpowering that you can’t possibly control it – a dangerous message that feeds right into rape culture.
So what is sex? A terrible sin that good people should stay abstinent from, or an uncontrollable, animal urge that’s so euphoric and wonderful that we can’t live without it?
Any young person would get confused trying to sort these messages out. For an asexualyoung person, though, it can be even harder.
Asexual (or “ace”) kids and teens get all the same messages from our culture that allosexualkids and teens get, but they can rarely relate to them.
For them, sex might be pleasant, but not really a form of attraction or desire (watch out: those words mean slightly different things!). It might inspire curiosity, but not insatiable lust or that butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling. It might be something they don’t care about one way or the other, or it might be something they’re actively repulsed or horrified by.
Asexual people experience and imagine sex in a variety of ways, few of which are considered “normal” in our culture.
Indeed, our society privileges people who experience sexual attraction and desire, and this impacts asexual youth in a variety of ways.
For example, adults often tell asexual youth that they’ll “grow out of it,” which can be very invalidating. Even if your sexuality changes later in life, the one you’ve got right now is still quite real.
Adults may erase asexuality from sex education and from media depictions of sexuality and relationships. They may completely refuse to believe a young person who identifies as asexual because all teens are obsessed with sex, amirite?
This is a form of gaslighting, and it teaches young people not to trust their own perceptions of themselves and their desires.
All asexual people have to deal with comments like these, but they may especially impact young people who are just starting to think about their own sexuality and are less likely to have found supportive people and spaces that will affirm their identities.
So how can we be better at supporting asexual youth? Here are five ways to start.
Read the rest here.