Erasure And Misrepresentation: Insidious Myths About Asexuality

Asexuality is often misunderstood thanks to offensive myths. Let’s dispel those myths while highlighting books with some good ace representation.

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Someone holding up a small asexual flag

Asexuality is when someone experiences little to no sexual attraction to others. Like with any other minority group, there are countless myths about asexuality. They’re pretty much all offensive, and some are cruel and dehumanizing. That’s why it’s important to both debunk these myths, but also to encourage and spread positive representation. Read on for more, including recommendations for books with great ace representation.

Myth #1: Haven’t Met the Right Person

To be fair, this one is used for queer people in general, not just asexual people. Just like with everyone else, there isn’t one person who will come along and change our sexuality to allosexual — someone who feels sexual attraction. It doesn’t work like that. Besides, the “right person” wouldn’t force us to change.

'Let's Talk About Love' by Claire Kann book cover showing a young woman smiling with her eyes closed.
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Alice from Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann has her entire summer planned. She’s going to buffets, watching her favorite TV shows with her best friends, and working at a library in order to pay for rent. All that’s missing is her now-ex girlfriend who left when Alice said she was asexual, so Alice is now done with dating. But when she meets her new co-worker, Takumi, she starts to fall in love. She has to decide if she is willing to risk ruining this new friendship with love that may not be reciprocated, or even understood.

Myth #2: Asexuality is an Illness

This was such a prevalent belief that any lack of sexual desire was classified as a mental disorder in the DSM — or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — until it was finally removed in 2013. There are disorders that have similar criteria, such as Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder. But people with sexual disorders are upset or distressed about their lack of sexual desire, while ace people aren’t.

'Royal Rescue' by A. Alex Logan book cover showing a mountain range from inside a cave.
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In Royal Rescue by A. Alex Logan, every royal child in the Thousand Kingdoms has to either go on a quest to save another royal or hide away waiting to be rescued at age eighteen. Sometimes princes rescue princesses, sometimes princes want to rescue other princes. But Prince Gerald has no interest in marriage and refuses both roles. As a last resort, his parents have him magicked away to wait for a partner. However, he decides to recruit his guardian dragon and would-be rescuer instead, and they journey everywhere to ruin the system.

Myth #3: Asexuals are Always Aromantic

Asexuality and aromanticism are similar in that they both mean a lack of attraction, but they’re not the same. Someone can be asexual but not aromantic, and vice versa. It is possible to be both asexual and aromantic, but they don’t always go together. Sexual attraction and romantic attraction are two separate things, which is why they have different names.

'In My Dreams' by Elin Annalise book cover showing a man and woman on a nature path and a heart in a thought bubble above the woman's head.
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The Aces in Love series by Elin Annalise features different asexual characters in each book. In the first one, In My Dreams, Polly was supposed to go on a dating holiday to meet other asexual people. But the nature reserve she works at goes into lockdown, and she’s stuck with her childhood friend and first love, Harry Weller. But not only does he not know about her feelings, but he’s also very sex-orientated. Still, Polly’s determined to at least try, and she has a plan to make him notice her.

Myth #4: Asexuals Hate Sex

There is some truth to this, but it’s not true for every asexual person. Some of us do like sex, some of us don’t care, and others are repulsed or strongly against it. It’s important to remember that sexual attraction and sex drive are separate. This is different for each of us, so making blanket statements like this does more harm than anything else.

'Beyond the Black Door' by A.M. Strickland book cover showing a peek through a keyhole of a women descending a spiral staircase.
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In Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland, everyone has a soul. Some are beautiful, and some are frightening. There are Soulwalkers like Kamai and her mother who can enter souls when people are asleep. But Kamai always sees a black door, one her mother says to never open. She touches it, and it has a pulse, and she can hear it call out her name. When tragedy comes, Kamai breaks her mother’s rule — she opens the door.

Myth #5: Asexuals Can’t Experience Love

Sexual attraction and love are not the same. Not to mention that there are several types of love: romantic, familial, platonic, etc. We feel love just like anyone else can. In romantic relationships, love and sex often go hand-in-hand, but it doesn’t have to be like this. Love is for everybody, no matter what form it takes.

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Loveless by Alice Oseman tells the hilarious, honest, and relatable story of Georgia, who doesn’t understand why she can’t have crushes and make out like all her friends do. All she’s ever heard is that dating and sex equal love, and nothing else — until she goes to college and discovers what the A in LGBTQIA means. She discovers she’s aromantic asexual, or aroace, but this isn’t easy. She’s going against what she’s always been told about love, and she makes lots of mistakes when trying to tell others. But she’s determined to get her life right for once.

Myth #6: Asexuality is the Same as Celibacy or Abstinence

No. Asexuality isn’t a choice; we didn’t wake up and decide that we were going to be asexual. Celibacy, however, is a choice, one typically made for religious reasons. Abstinence is refraining from doing something, but this is an active choice someone makes, rather than just how they are. Saying that asexuality is the same as these two also excludes asexual people who choose to have sex, for their or their partner’s pleasure.

'Elatsoe' by Darcie Little Badger book cover showing a teenage girl standing on a snowy mountain.
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Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger tells the story of Elatsoe, or Ellie, in an alternate America that’s been shaped by the ancestral magic and knowledge of both immigrant and Indigenous groups. Ellie can raise the spirits of the dead like her dog, Kirby. When her cousin dies, everyone thinks it was in a car crash, but he tells her he was murdered. With the help of her best friend and spirits, Ellie must solve the mystery of his death and the town and find the killer. But the townsfolk and a mysterious Doctor stand in her way, and they may stop her before she can begin.

Myth #7: All Asexuals are the Same

Asexuality is a spectrum. For example, graysexual people sometimes feel attraction, but not always, and demisexual people experience sexual attraction after forming a close, emotional bond with someone. Asexuality isn’t a one-size-fits-all sexuality, but more of a spectrum.

'Every Heart a Doorway' by Seanan McGuire book cover showing an open door in a forest.
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Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire is about children who disappear under the right conditions, like slipping through shadows under beds, tumbling down rabbit holes, and ending up somewhere else. Nancy tumbled once, but she returned to her world. She changed from her experiences, something that all the children under Miss West’s care understand. And they all want to go back. But when Nancy arrives, things change. Darkness lurks around every corner, and when a tragedy happens, Nancy and the others have to solve the mystery, no matter what.

Hopefully, there won’t be a need for articles like this one day. But until then, it’s important to keep pushing against misconceptions and to promote positive and accurate representation.


For more articles on asexuality, click here.

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