The Definition of Asexuality.

The repercussions of that now infamous AVEN BoD (Board of Directors) message to the users continues. Perhaps that is a little disingenuous, as the debate about how one defines asexuality has been going on it seems since people discovered the word, and appropriated it as a label; the BoD message just reignited the flame, and a thread to discuss the subject was setup. We asked Mysticus Insanus – the soon to be ex-AVENite who threw in the towel over the BoD post – what he thought the definition of asexuality should be. He replied:

Mysticus Insanus wrote
I’ve sided with a definition purely based on the lack of (inherent) desire for partnered sex, for several years now. Just as German AVEN defines it (“kein Verlangen nach sexueller Interaktion” – no desire/urge/longing for sexual interaction).

I don’t think “sexual attraction” functions as a criterion for defining any sexual orientation, including asexuality.

The Thread starts out with a question I think we sadly know the answer to:

Mysticus Insanus

Fist things first…

Is there any chance at all that any hypothetical result of this thread could ever result in a change of boardwide policy regarding AVEN’s current definition?

The response to this was little short of a flat “no.”

This would tend to confirm the view that AVEN is at best an oligarchy with a pretence of democracy, and for some it effectively robs any debate over definitions of a sense of purpose. What is the point – they would ask – of our discussing this, if the site’s leadership will not be swayed by even the strongest arguments?

Before I go on any further I should remind you of the definition of asexuality that AVEN officially uses:

Taken from the front page of AVEN
An asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction.

@CakeSpadeAce asks:


AVEN states in its FAQ that:


Sexual attraction: Desire to have sexual contact with someone else, to share our sexuality with them.

So if you replace “sexual attraction” in the AVEN definition, it’s basically “An asexual is a person that does not desire sex”.


AVEN says they are the same thing, but a lot of the staff members and apparently even the people who created this site say they are very different. Could someone explain this to me please?

A question that doesn’t get answered.

The thread then goes in to discussing nuanced positions and tries to separate things like “sexual attraction” and “sexual desire”. However, there are issues with making a definition out of phrases that in themselves need more thorough understanding. Such definitions will always leave themselves open for misinterpretation.

@Snow Cone makes an interesting point:

Snow Cone
We can’t look at asexuality on the same line as the homosexual – heterosexual spectrum. It’s a different question being asked. It’s a different spectrum based on innate desire, on which asexuality is one point at the very end. The rest of it is varying degrees of sexual. That needs to be established first, and once it’s determined that a person does not fall on that one asexual dot, they can move to the homosexual – heterosexual spectrum. Yes, people generally describe homo/bi/hetero orientations as “attracted to people of the same/both/other gender(s)” and that’s why some have felt the need to use the word “attraction” in an asexuality definition. But that is not relevant. It’s a different question than homo/bi/hetero that needs to be established first, and it’s based on a different thing – not attraction, but desire.

As did @Homer later:

I believe that the innate desire for labels (:D) is a BIG factor in this.

Let’s assume for a second that asexuality has become a thoroughly researched part of human sexual behaviour. Scientists, experts and professionals have now agreed upon asexuality as pretty much what we know as a nonlibidoist ace.

Personally, I’d be totally cool with that. Yet I believe that A LOT of people on here wouldn’t. They’d argue and fight and disagree and dissociate from their behaviour and motivation, just to hang on to their precious little label.

As it is, we don’t only face the obstacle of defining asexuality properly in the first place (which is pretty much impossible as a part of the sample that is the very object of research), but there’s also the mentality of desperately wanting to hang on to a label that we have to get rid of.

And @Chair Jockey brought a smile to my face with this comment:

Chair Jockey
People are still treating their personal opinions like facts.

I have left out the meat of the debate, as this is not the sort of thread on can easily boil down to a “Highlight reel”.

Please feel free to give your own suggestions for what you think the definition of asexuality should be.

The thread in question is HERE.


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