Friday 01-04-2016 - 10:12
I’m really pleased to bring you the first of our LGBT+ consent workshop briefings - Asexuality and consent.
As soon as I launched the I Heart Consent Workshops, I knew that we should be doing more work directed at people with under represented sexualities. This was a thought that was also shared by the student movement, which is why we passed policy on intersectional consent education at the NUS National Women’s Campaign Conference 2015.
Now some people may think “well, isn't consent the same for everyone?” On one hand that’s right, but on the other hand, we live in a world so overtaken with heteronormative perspectives of sex and relationships that we all still need to do a lot of unlearning of LGBT+ phobic ideas when it comes to respecting boundaries. And that’s why I’m really pleased to bring you the first of our LGBT+ consent workshop briefings - Asexuality and consent.
What is Asexuality?
Asexuality is the orientation of lacking or having no sexual attraction, opposed to sexual (sometimes also known as allosexual), which is used to refer to someone who experiences sexual attraction. It's estimated that around 1 percent of the UK population is asexual. The word ace is used as an umbrella term to include everyone who is on the asexual spectrum, i.e. asexuals, grey-As, demisexual people and sometimes those on the aromantic spectrum too.
How does asexual attraction work?
There are different ways that people can be attracted to people who they like besides sexually, this includes:
- Romantic attraction: attraction that makes people desire romantic contact or interact with another person(s).
- Aesthetic attraction: occurs when someone appreciates the appearance or beauty of another person(s), disconnected from sexual or romantic attraction.
- Sensual attraction: the desire to interact with someone in a tactile, non-sexual, way - such as hugging or cuddling.
- Emotional attraction: the desire to get to know someone, often as a result of their personality instead of their physicality. This type of attraction is present in most relationships from platonic friendships to romantic and sexual relationships.
If ace people hardly have sex, why are asexual consent workshops important?
In a hypersexualised world, where people think that everyone experiences and enjoys sexual attraction and where there is a lack of education about what consent means, many asexual people may feel pressured taking part in sexual activity in order to fit in and avoid discrimination or bullying. Some asexuals are sex repulsed and would not consent to sex in any circumstances and some asexuals are not sex repulsed and will consent to sex under certain circumstances. Understanding consent and how to communicate boundaries means that asexuals can also enjoy safe and happy relationships.
Some people consider mutual "enthusiasm" a compulsory element of sexual consent. However, this can be an issue for asexual people. This is because many, but not all, asexual people do not experience, or a combination of inexperience on, libido, arousal nor orgasm. This means that an asexual person may not give an enthusiastic yes, but they can still consent and that should be acknowledged and respected.
So if you want to run an asexual consent workshop for students you can now download our workshop briefing and presentation alongside the original I Heart Consent facilitator guide.