Scattered ideas about sex education in relation to asexuals
This is for October’s Carnival of Aces, which is about sex education and hosted by Queenieofaces on Tumblr.
When I started writing this post, I wrote a long account of each of the five or six sex education classes I had either witnessed or been in during the course of my middle-school to high-school education, but I think it’s more important to talk about things that were common to all of them.
In none of my experiences of sex education was it ever stated that it was okay to not be interested in heterosexual sexual activity. Because of this, I went through a long period of wondering if something was wrong with me because I wasn’t sexually attracted to other people. I did independently come to the conclusion that I did not see it as a problem in myself that I didn’t experience sexual attraction, but I was always very aware that other people thought it was something wrong with me, as my classmates made very clear to me every time they sexually harassed me about my asexuality. If it were mentioned in sex education classes that it is okay to not experience any sexual attraction, I might have experienced less harassment for being out as asexual in high school.
Earlier this month in my partner’s post for this carnival, he briefly mentioned the importance of discussing sexual ethics in sex education. Discussions of sexual ethics and healthy interpersonal dynamics were completely absent from all of my experiences of school-led sex education. We learned about the prevalence and propagation of AIDS, but not about the prevalence of and the attitudes that propogate sexual assault. It makes me angry that discussions of these subjects are absent from sex education classes. If high school students are sexually active, they need to be given the tools to tell when a relationship is unhealthy or abusive, and so that they do not sexually assault other people. If all you tell students in a sex education class other than stuff about reproduction is that sex is how people express their love for one another, of course people will walk away with the message “Saying no to sex is saying no to love!” And that is an extremely harmful idea for anyone to have, especially if they go on to have a partner who is uninterested in sex*.
One of the questions in the call for submissions for the carnival involved considering whether or not asexuals need sex education. I think that asexuals do need sex education, not only because some asexuals will have sex, but because conversations of sexual ethics are applicable to physical touch in general, and asexuals are not immune from picking up harmful ideas about sex. It is also important to have an understanding of your own anatomy in the interest of general health. Since people in your life who are important to you may have different genital configurations than your own, it is similarly important to be knowledgeable of male-assigned anatomy if you are female-assigned and vice versa.
Because of my sex education, I was able to figure out very early in my life what my ideal body configuration was, although I didn’t learn the word “neutrois” until my late teens. Although asexuality was never mentioned in my sex education, I was also clued-in to the fact that other people experienced this thing called sexual attraction, so I learned fairly early that I was different from most people. Mentioning the facts that it is okay to not experience sexual attraction to other people and that attraction, behavior and arousal are all different from one another, is a good first step toward making what is considered “comprehensive” sex education inclusive of asexuality.
* Asexuals are not by definition uninterested in sex; they are just more likely to be uninterested in or to actively not want sexual activity.