About Us We are UCD's only registered student organization focusing on the asexual, demisexual, and gray-A community. ACUCD is a place for Asexuals, Grey-As, and Demis to find one another and share experiences, in order to build a sense of community on campus and increase awareness both of the resources available to aces at Davis and asexuality in general to the public Meetings are from 4-5pm every Friday in the UC Davis LGBTQIA+ Resource Center. You do not need to attend UC Davis to attend meetings (in other words, all are welcome:) ) For more information contact the UC Davis LGBTQIA+ Resource Center @ 530-752-2452 or [email protected]
The Ace Spectrum
Contrary to the popular belief of many of the general public, sexual and romantic/emotional attraction to a person are not always present(e.g. a person may not experience sexual attraction to anyone) or linked together (e.g. a person that can be romantically attracted to women and men but does not experience sexual attraction to anyone). Additionally, each form of attraction (or lack thereof) is not limited only to 'experiences attraction' and 'does not experience attraction'. Sexual and romantic/emotional attraction each have their own separate spectrum that can range from 'does not feel comfortable with or desire any form of [sexual/romantic/emotional] interaction and does not experience [that form of] attraction' to 'is comfortable with and/or desires any form of [sexual/romantic/emotional] interaction and experiences [that form of] attraction'. Someone on the ace spectrum would be closer to the 'does not experience/feel comfortable with/desire the interaction/attraction'. However, it is important to note that asexuality/aromanticism is defined by attraction and comfort level, not by experience or behavior. Some asexual people still have sex. Some aromantic people still have relationships.
Some Additional Things to Keep in Mind
Sexual Desire vs. Sexual Attraction- Sexual attraction can be distinguished from sexual desire, although the two are often conflated. Sexual desire is most easily compared to libido; it is the desire for sexual gratification, whether with or without a partner. Sexual attraction is t desire, but "aimed" at a particular person, group of people, or gender. It is possible to have sexual desire without experiencing sexual attraction.
Celibacy vs. Asexuality- Asexuality and celibacy are very different. Celibacy is the conscious choice not to have sex, regardless of desire or attraction. A celibate person might still feel sexual attraction, but choose not to act on it. This is different from an asexual person, who would never feel the sexual attraction in the first place, and who might still choose to have sex. Asexuality is an orientation; celibacy is a behavioral choice. The two should not be conflated.
Behavior vs. Identity- Engaging in sexual behavior does not invalidate a person's identity as asexual. Many behaviors commonly construed as sexual by mainstream society are viewed as non-sexual by asexuals. For example, masturbation is commonly seen as a sexual activity. However, an asexual person might masturbate to relieve tension, to aid concentration, or as a sleep aid. There are also many reasons an asexual person might engage in sexual intercourse, despite feeling no sexual attraction. Pleasing a partner, increasing intimacy, conceiving a child, or participating in certain kinky activities are all reasons an asexual might have sex. Some asexuals enjoy sex in and of itself, without experiencing sexual attraction. And for some people, their relationship with sex may be fluid or dependent on the situation. None of these activities invalidate a person's self-identification as asexual.
Asexuality vs Sexual Repulsion/Aversion- As mentioned previously, sexual desire does not equal sexual attraction and a person's sexual behavior does not always line up with their sexual identity. Similarly, a person that does not experience sexual attraction-an asexual person-will not necessarily experience sexual repulsion/aversion. The likelihood and level of a person's comfort level with sexual interactions varies from person to person (regardless of whether they are asexual or not). Asexuality is a sexual orientation defined by not feeling sexual attraction while sexual repulsion/aversion is defined by being generally disgusted by the thought of sex or of sexual things. The terms are not interchangeable. In actuality, sexual repulsion/aversion has it's own separate spectrum in relation to a person's comfort level with sexual acts. This spectrum can range from 'is completely disgusted by the thought or act of sex or of sexual things even if the act was not experienced by themselves personally' to 'is completely comfortable with the thought and act of sex and of sexual things whether experienced themselves or by someone else'.
Certain Related Definitions/Identities
Keep in mind that, even within these definitions/identities, each person's experiences within that definition/identity is different from another person that may define/identify themselves with that same definition/identity.
Useful Terms, Identifiers, and Forms of Attraction on the Asexual Spectrum:
Asexuality- A sexual orientation characterized by not feeling sexual attraction. Many asexuals have partnered affectional relationships, and some engage in sexual activity. There are many complicating factors and reasons why an asexual might want to have sex, but sex is not an inherent desire the way it is for many sexuals.
Gray-A-- Gray-A or gray-asexual is a catchall term for people who fill in the gradient between asexuality and sexuality. Gray-A's may experience sexual attraction with low frequency, low intensity, in narrow circumstances, or ambiguously. Some examples of gray-asexuality include people who experience sexual attraction but have very low sex drive, people who feel dissociated from standard sexual culture but may not fit the definitions of asexual or demisexual, or almost any other variation you can think of. There are as many ways to be gray-asexual as there are gray-asexuals.!
Demisexual- A person might identify as demisexual if that person only feels sexual attraction in the context of a close relationship, often a romantic one. Demisexuals don't feel sexual attraction based on outward characteristics like physical appearance, but rather only feel sexual attraction if it is paired with an emotional connection. The demisexual and asexual communities have a lot in common, and many people fitting the definition of demisexuality choose to identify as asexual. Demisexuality is sometimes considered a subset of gray-asexuality.
Ace- A slang term for asexual used often in the asexual community. Can be an adjective or a noun. "My friend is so ace, she didn't even realize that girl was flirting with her!"
Asexy- The asexual equivalent of "sexy"! An adjective used to validate and celebrate non-sexual passions, or to describe something made more attractive by its lack of sexuality or its divergence from what is typically valued or deemed sexy. "Fighting climate change is asexy!"
Squish- Some asexuals use squish to mean an asexual crush, or an attraction to a person that isn't based on sex. Rather, a squish involves wanting to get to know or be close friends with a person. "I have a huge squish for Steve Irwin. I just want to stalk reptiles and enrage lions with him all day! I would follow him into the jaws of any crocodile, any time."
Useful Identifiers and Forms of Attraction on the Romantic Spectrum:
Romantic Attraction- Romantic attraction is similar to sexual attraction except that it deals solely with romantic feelings and not necessarily with sex; it is the presence of romantic feelings towards a person or the urge to engage in a romantic relationship. Romantic and sexual attraction are often conflated in our society, when in fact they are easily dissociable. If it is possible to have sex without love, then it should also be possible to have love- romantic love, not platonic or familial- without sex.
Romantic Orientation- Again, romantic orientation is similar to sexual orientation, except romantic orientation describes the set of people with whom a person desires a romantic connection instead of the set of people to whom a person feels sexually attracted. Thus, a person might identify as heteroromantic, homoromantic, biromantic, panromantic, etc. Many asexuals find these terms useful to describe their affectional relationships, identifying as homoromantic asexual, panromantic demisexual, or any other possible combination. Many sexual people also have a romantic orientation. Although romantic orientation and sexual orientation are often directed at the same group of people- as in a person who is romantically and sexually attracted only to members of their same gender- this is not always the case. This is most clearly seen with asexuality, but can occur with other sexualities as well. It is entirely possible for a person to be sexually attracted to one gender but romantically attracted to another. There are also asexuals who never experience any sort of romantic feelings or desire to be in a romantic relationship. These asexauls often refer to themselves as aromantic. Additionally, some asexuals feel that any sort of "romantic" label is not relevant to their experience, and may choose not to use one. Once again, this does not invalidate their identity as asexual.
Heteroromantic- A person who falls in love or forms romantic attachments only with people of the other binary gender. If a man only desires romantic relationships with women, he might identify as heteroromantic.
Homoromantic- A person who falls in love or forms romantic attachments only with people of the same gender. If a woman only desires romantic relationships with women, she might identify as homoromantic.
Biromantic- A person who falls in love with or forms romantic attachments with people of two genders. If a man desires romantic relationships with women and men, he might identify as biromantic.
Panromantic- A person falls in love or forms romantic attachments with people of all genders, of any gender or regardless of gender, including men, women, bigender people, agender folks, genderqueer people, etc.
Aromantic- A person who never experiences any romantic feelings or desire to be in a romantic relationship. Another kind of romantic orientation. Identifying as aromantic does not preclude non-romantic love and intimacy.
Other Forms of Attraction:
Aesthetic Attraction- It is possible to consider someone aesthetically pleasing without feeling any sexual attraction toward that person. Many asexuals experience something called aesthetic attraction, in which the asexual person can recognize that someone is hot, beautiful, good-looking, or handsome, but still feel no sexual attraction. This feeling is most easily compared to being drawn toward a particular painting in a museum, or enjoying watching a beautiful sunset.
Sensual Attraction- Some asexuals feel a strong urge for physical closeness unrelated to sexual or romantic attraction. This is called physical attraction, and is another form of attraction often grouped together with sexual attraction. Asexual people experience physical attraction on the same levels as sexual people: some feel no urge toward physical contact at all, some are repulsed by touch, and others are downright cuddly.
Some Other Useful Definitions/Identitifiers Related to the 'Sex Attitude' Spectrum (separate from the Ace Spectrum just as the Romantic Orientation Spectrum is separate):
sex-favorable: A person that is sex-favorable has a favorable attitude toward personally engaging in sex; enjoys sex.
sex indifferent: A person that does not have strong feelings about sex either way; having a lack of interest in sex but not having a problem with the idea of personally engaging in sex (though this does not necessarily mean that the person would want to have sex).
sex-averse/repulsed: A person that is personally repulsed by some aspect of sex; repulsed by the idea of personally engaging in sex or in sexual acts (some may even be repulsed of even the thought of other people engaging in sex or sexual acts).