• France's news in English
New charity helps French asexuals come out
Photo: puzzlescript

New charity helps French asexuals come out

AFP · 26 Apr 2013, 08:26

Published: 26 Apr 2013 08:26 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

It may seem odd in a country known for love and seduction. But according to studies on the subject, people who have no or little sexual appetite could make up 1 percent of the global population.

That equates to hundreds of thousands of people in France alone and a newly-formed association is attempting to raise awareness of the issue with the country's first Asexuality Day on Friday.

"I learnt that I was asexual by watching a TV programme one evening," Julien, a computer engineer from central France who would only give his first name, told AFP.

Before that, "I didn't feel normal, and so I completely suppressed it," he said, adding he had had a girlfriend with whom he had sexual intercourse, but only to please her rather than himself.

It was not until he discovered asexuality existed that he started consulting specialist web forums. That led to him meeting an asexual girl with whom he is now in a happy, sexless relationship.

Asexuality is still largely misunderstood, particularly in countries where sex is splashed all over magazines, films and on television, and very few studies have been done on the subject.

Asexuality not the same as abstinence

Paul, vice president of the Association for Asexual Visibility (AVA) which is organising the awareness day, explained that it is different to abstinence.

"Society presents sex as something that is obligatory... What is of concern to us is that absence of sexuality or desire be considered as a disorder, a lack of freedom, due to psychological factors or a strict education," he told AFP.

"Asexuality is a form of sexuality. It belongs to the diversity of human sexuality and it's way more important to recognize its existence and validity than to try and criticize."

On one popular web forum on the subject, desperate, confused, sympathetic and positive comments abound from asexuals.

"I had buried my emotions for many years due to almost non-existant desire," says one man on www.asexuality.org, who only identifies himself as "Empatic" from the southern city of Lyon.

"I met a woman around five months ago, and I fell in love... But there is no sexual desire and I can feel she is distancing herself even though it is hard for her as she loves me deeply. What suffering. I cry with rage."

Classed in a separate category

According to Paul, many asexuals get into relationships with other asexuals - like Julien - or fall in love with so-called "sexuals", in which case it can be difficult. Some of these couples end up having open relationships.

Pioneer sexologist Alfred Kinsey touched upon asexuality in the late 1940s when he created a scale where zero was exclusive heterosexuality and seven exclusive homosexuality.

Asexuals, though, were classed in a separate, "X" category, and Kinsey found that a larger proportion of women were asexual than men.

After that, studies on the subjects went quiet until Anthony Bogaert, a professor at Brock University in Canada, published an extensive study on the issue in 2004, suggesting around 1 percent of the population was asexual.

Since then, the author of "Understanding Asexuality" has published other studies on the subject, as have others.

"There is more evidence of pre-natal hormonal influences having some sort of permanent effect that makes one more pre-disposed to being asexual or heterosexual or gay than there is for having atypical levels of hormones in adulthood," he said.

Story continues below…

After years of studying the subject, Bogaert says asexuals can have a tough time finding their place in society.

"There is some evidence that gay and lesbian people are viewed more positively by average heterosexual people than asexual people," he said.

"But it's probably also the case that average asexual people can stay in the closet more comfortably than average gay and lesbian people."

The term started entering the mainstream at the beginning of the noughties, with the emergence of the Internet, which made it easier for asexuals to find each other and exchange experiences.

It has since gathered strength, and since 2010, an international asexual awareness week has been organised every year, with educational projects taking place in several countries such as the United States.

But this is the first time that a special day for asexuality has been organized in France, although AVA says it will be low-key.

Asexuals have been asked to send in personal contributions such as poems that will be published on Tumblr: http://journeeasexualite.tumblr.com/

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half British person can answer
Photo: Beery/Flickr/AFP

Being half French, half British is means you get asked a lot of questions (and some of them can be a little annoying.)

Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'to sell their French chateau'
All photos: AFP

Want to live where Brangelina got married?

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available