[Writer's Choice] AceAro

Jun Ko, Dec. 28, 2017, 6:20 p.m.

When it comes to the types of sexual orientation, there's no doubt that heterosexuality is the most well-known form of sexuality as it's the most common. After heterosexuality comes homosexuality, bisexuality, pansexuality, and more. Knowledge of the LGBTQ+ community and the different varieties of sexualities might be more well-known within Western countries as Asian countries tend to be a bit behind when it comes to LGBTQ+ matters (even though asexuality and aromanticism might not quite fall under the LGBTQ+ umbrella for some people as the orientations deal with the lack of desire/attraction while the sexual/romantic orientations under the LGBTQ+ umbrella deals with having the desire/attraction (for the same sex)).

Since Asian countries tend to be a bit more behind, it definitely came as a shock when I came across the information of former ToppDogg member Hansol coming out as asexual. I never expected for any K-Pop idol to come out as anything but heterosexual, given the terrible stigma South Korea still possesses of the LGBTQ+ community. Coming out as gay/lesbian is already rare as it is, so the fact that a K-Pop idol has come out as asexual is mind-blowing. I'm more amazed that someone in the Korean celebrity world even knew of the sexuality. 

To give a little bit more detail on asexuality, it means that someone experiences no sexual attraction towards anyone. It might be a little hard to believe with how humans tend to put a lot of focus on sexual attraction. It might be even more surprising to hear of aromanticism, which is someone experiencing no romantic attraction towards anyone. There has a phrase that went around that granted asexuality a pass because "(romantic) love can exist without sex", but imagine their surprise if they knew of that 'something' can exist even without (romantic) love or sex. It definitely might seem absurd because it's off-putting seeing someone who holds neither romantic or sexual attraction towards others. It might be weird, but those people definitely exist. In fact, the writer of this particular piece is asexual and aromantic (or acearo in short). 

Now that my sexual and romantic orientation is now out, it might come into crystal clear focus on the reason behind my surprise and excitement of Hansol's coming out as asexual. It's always nice to see a fellow member of the asexual spectrum. It brings about validation; the feeling of what I am being reaffirmed by someone else being the same is a wonderful feeling. While I have only experienced it a minimal amount, the expectation of being in a relationship that contains romantic love and/or sexual activity is very in-your-face. It's to be expected, given most humans' basic needs, but it only serves to reaffirm how different I am from others. I've come to terms with my asexuality/aromanticism, so I'm not too bothered about it, but there are a lot out there the same as me who are constantly pressured into engaging in romantic love or sexual activities. It's disheartening to say the least. 

It might be even more apparent in South Korea since they take romance and being in a relationship quite seriously. The need to be in a relationship and engage in sexual activities might have risen the past few years with South Korea's declining birthrate. I have heard from friends who had visited South Korea that relationships are extremely prevalent there. I was told that someone would be in a relationship, just for the sake of being in a relationship. In my opinion, I feel like the intense need of being in a relationship might be detrimental to oneself, but also I'm extremely interested in the psychology behind that sort of mindset and how the entire stigma even formed. But that's for a future article. 

Back to the topic of asexuality and aromanticism, there are different categories that an asexual/aromantic can be towards sex and romance. There might be more categories out there, but the basic categories are divided into two sections with three options: positive, neutral, negative & favorable, indifferent, repulsed. The former three (positive, neutral, and negative) deals with how one feels about sex or romance in general. Putting it in a question, it would go, "How do I feel about sex or romance?" The latter three (favorable, indifferent, repulsed) deals with how one feels about sex or romance in regards to themselves. Again putting in question form, it would go, "Do I want to engage in sex or romance?"  

Laying out the categories in more detail, it goes like this.

>Sex/romance-positive: Approval of sex or romance 

>Sex/romance-neutral: Not having an opinion on sex or romance 

>Sex/romance-negative: Disapproval of sex or romance 

>Sex/romance-favorable: Desiring the act of sex or romance 

>Sex/romance-indifferent: Not caring if the act of sex or romance happens

>Sex/romance-repulsed: Rejecting the act of sex or romance

Most people will naturally tag asexuals and aromantics under the 'negative' or 'repulsed' category because if nothing is felt, it means they don't like it or they don't want it happening to themselves. That's not really quite true. In fact, the fact that 'positive' and 'favorable' are included in the categories above must have thrown people for a spin. Most people might be baffled on seeing a sex/romance-positive asexual/aromantic because it seems like a clash. A sex/romantic-favorable might even confuse them more because why would you desire sex or romance for yourself if you feel no sexual or romantic attraction. But the thing is people can deifnitely engage in things that they feel nothing for. It might not be the best example, but it can be something similar to working at a company that you don't feel anything for. It can also be eating something that you hold no feelings for. It's hard to use an example when it comes across as dislike when the phrase 'feel nothing for' is said. It might be a tad hard to understand because people usually divide between things like "you either like it or you don't." But trust me when I say there can be things where you feel absolutely nothing for. 

The thing is just because someone feels no sexual or romantic attraction towards someone doesn't mean they can't engage in those activities. There isn't a correlation between personal feelings and an activity, even though people tend to believe that there is. You can love an activity, but not do it. You can hate an activity, but still do it. You can feel nothing towards an activity and still engage in it or not. The reason for engaging in it can be vast. You can do it for your partner, you can do it because it feels good biologically, or you can do it just because you want to. Who knows how many reasons are out there? Any reason that asexuals/aromantics have when it comes to engaging in sex/romance is valid. 

Another thing that many people have a tendency to do when it comes to asexuals/aromantics is that they think we're people devoid of emotions and feelings. I personally find that funny because it's such a huge leap to make. Not being attracted to someone sexually or romantically = cold, unfeeling robot. You have to admit it's a little silly. We're still people with emotions and feelings and we enjoy things as much as next person. To me, it just brings about the question if people just get personally offended if someone's not sexually or romantically interested in them? I suppose it might be the case since it can give off a negative feeling when there's no interest involved. But there are other types of interests than just romantic and sexual. It's not focused on enough in my opinion, but the interest of friendship is one. Just going off of my own self, the interest of friendship is the highest form of interest for me. It might seem childish compared to romantic interest or sexual interest, but it's the best one for me. 

Asexuality and aromanticism might be rare, but it's out there and being experienced by a vast amount of people. You can say, "Only 1% of the population is asexual/aromantic!" in order to make it seem like no one engages in it, but the population is currently 7.2 billion and 1% of that is 72,000,000 people. That's a lot of people. It's a real type of sexual/romantic orientation, even though it might be hard to find. So don't be so quick to dismiss us or peg us as cold, unfeeling individuals. We still like people, but just not in a romantic or sexual way. 

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